My friend Congressman Tim Ryan (D-#TheLand) joined me this morning, and of course he’s running…or so most listeners think:
HH: I’m looking at a picture right here of Congressman Tim Ryan of the Youngstown-Warren area, good friend of mine, alumni of Warren JFK. But he’s standing with Representative Ro Khanna. It’s a very bad, bad look, Tim Ryan. Welcome, good morning.
TR: Brutal. Brutal. Brutal.
HH: Well, this, look, you’re giving away, the Warriors beat us, but do you have to meet with the real opposition in the House which are Warriors fans?
TR: And hold up a Steph Curry jersey. I mean, it was a painful day yesterday.
HH: Oh, well, oh well. The good news is, before we turn to politics, Josh Gordon says the Browns have the best receiving corps in the league. Do you agree with that assessment?
TR: It’s looking good. It’s looking good. And I’ve got to tell you, I was a lone wolf, and I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I like the Baker Mayfield pick. I just, I think he’s a winner when he stuck the flag in the ground in Columbus a couple years back, as upset as I was, I thought that’s the kind of guy I’d like to have on my team one day. And now, we’ve got him.
HH: Well, you and I, I’m becoming a convert, because he’s doing the right thing with Tyrod Taylor. We will see. Let’s go away from Browns, though, and talk about this. I see you gave the commencement address up at New Hampshire Law School a month ago. Up in New Hampshire, are you?
TR: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. You know how we, we have affection for the schools we went to, Hugh, and I know you’re the same way. And I got invited up to do the law school address, and we had a great time in Concord, New Hampshire.
HH: Just happened to be going back to see the old school flag, right? It just happens to be in the Granite State. How about Iowa? When was the last time you were in Iowa?
TR: I haven’t been to Iowa for a little while. I was there, well, actually, I was there a month or so ago campaigning for a Congressional candidate. So we’ve been to Iowa, too.
HH: Yeah, a month or so. Okay, let’s go to the issues. I’m going to disagree with you on the summit, so let’s start with what we agree on. Family separation has got to end at the border. Will that be included in either of the bills as you understand it that Speaker Ryan is bringing to the floor later this week?
TR: You know, I’m hearing that it may be in there. But I don’t think they’ve made a decision on the Republican side, yet. I think there’s a better way to do this. We’re getting stories of, you know, babies getting ripped out of their mom’s arms while they’re breastfeeding. I just don’t think that’s the kind of country we want to be. There’s a way to handle these situations humanely. And I just think there’s a way for us to have a comprehensive reform where we say to people who are here who may be undocumented you have to pay a fine. You pay your back taxes. If you don’t know English, you need to learn it. And over the course of five, six, seven, eight years, we assimilate you into the country, and that, at the end of the day, helps grow the economy. I think it’s good for everybody. And I tell my labor folks, too, if you’re an undocumented worker, you’re making less money than someone who’s in the Brotherhood of Electrical Union. And so the best way to keep wages up and get wages moving up, which they’re not now as quickly as we want them to be, is to make sure everybody’s registered in the country and paying taxes and getting a fair wage. And that’s going to be good for everybody who earns an hourly wage.
HH: All right, I like to start with areas of agreement, and then find out where they diverge. Can we agree on this? If anyone is detained at the border, apprehended at the border and detained for purposes of determining their status, whether they’re going to be charged with criminally entering the country, whether they’re seeking asylum, whether they’re a refugee, that they ought not to be separated from their minor children? Do we agree on that?
HH: Then that means we need facilities. And so whatever bill comes in, I don’t know if you’re going to be, it’s a closed bill of if you’re going to be allowed to offer amendments, offer an amendment to build some detention facilities for apprehended people crossing the border where families can stay together. That, to me, is the most obvious area of agreement.
TR: Well, yeah, I would agree. But we have a problem here, Hugh, with the Republican Party on spending money on certain things is a non-starter. And I just don’t know, I mean, if they brought the bill, would they get bipartisan support for that? I think they probably would, but at the end of the day, there’s a lot of people who would, in the Republican Caucus, who wouldn’t be for spending money for that situation. It just wouldn’t be, the votes just wouldn’t be there, I don’t think. I mean, I’d be surprised if they were.
HH: Would Tim Ryan vote for a package that both constructed family-friendly centers awaiting adjudication, for people waiting adjudication so they could stay with their kids, as well as money for border security, which could include fencing?
TR: I am for investments in the border security. I think that we let the experts determine exactly what that means. But what we do know is that 90% of the drugs coming into the country over the border are coming in through ports of entry, which is why this, the big wall issue is not necessarily the smartest use of our money, because the drugs are coming in through the ports of entry. So we would need more security, more border patrol on those sites to be able to you know, detect the heroin and the drugs coming in, not to mention what’s coming in through United States Postal Service or FedEx or wherever, coming in through the mail. That’s another place where we should be spending money to keep the drugs out. So the wall, not to mention that the President said Mexico was going to pay for it, I don’t think is the best use of our money. But I want a package, Hugh, if we’re going to be spending money on all of these things, I want a package that is going to actually fix the problem and address the challenge that we have, and that means getting the 10, 11 million people, whatever the number is, assimilated back into the country. Let’s solve the problem, and like I said earlier, get wages. But you can tell them you have to pay a fine. You have to pay your back taxes. You have to learn English if you don’t know it. And then welcome to America like all the immigrants that we grew up with back home. I mean, this is the history of our country. But it’s got to be a package that has everything together, or it’s, we’re going to be…
HH: But a comprehensive solution is not going to happen this summer. Meanwhile, families are getting separated. So I’m just thinking this summer, you could actually get family unification facilities built, border security enhanced, that includes crossing technology and DACA relief. It’s doable if Democrats and Republicans leave their respective camps on this one issue. And I think you’ve got an opportunity given the just absolute outrage people have at family separation.
TR: Yeah, and if you’re talking DACA as well in there, now you’re starting to talk about a potential deal. I mean, I think that’s…
HH: Okay, I hope that happens. Let’s talk…
TR: I do, too. I mean, I would be happy with that.
HH: Let’s talk now about your old buddy, Pompeo. He’s my friend as well, and the Secretary of State. If I had to say who’s the counterpart for Tim Ryan in the House, I’d say Mike Pompeo. And did you guys get along when he was in the House?
TR: We didn’t work a whole lot together. We weren’t on committees together or anything like that, so we didn’t do a whole lot together.
HH: Okay, same age, same kind of attitude towards the world, kind of get stuff done and athletic, sort of thinking about things the way that a team person would think about things. He is in China as we speak across the table from the Chinese foreign minister. Earlier today, he said contra the North Korea media reports, there will be no sanctions relief until denuclearization is done. Are you glad to hear that from the Secretary of State?
TR: I’m very glad to hear that, yeah.
HH: What did you make of the Singapore Summit, including the press conference, because the actual document, I described it on Meet the Press, as Spartan. There’s just not much in the document.
TR: Well, from what I’ve heard, like you said, there’s not a whole lot there. But what I heard about no longer partnering with or suspending our military exercises with South Korea, I think, is completely foolish and shows, I think, the President’s naiveté on what’s happening in that region. It’s not just about North Korea. It’s also about the expansion of China and what they’re doing, and their long term plan. And every American, I think, should be concerned about this. And General Mattis was very careful when he put together the national strategic security review and talked about throughout the whole document, I just reread it yesterday, Russia and China. And China, Hugh, we have got to help wake up the American people to this growing threat. And to suspend our military exercises with South Korea that can help us combat a growing China in the South China Sea, they’re building bases in Africa, they’re locking down long term contracts in Africa for raw materials that continue to feed their industrial machine. Obviously, the islands in the South China Sea that are now militarized, we can’t handle that problem alone. We need South Korea. We need to continue to do what we’re doing with India and continue our military exercises there. This is a growing threat for us both economically and militarily. And we need friends in that region. And to say we’re no longer going to be doing military exercises, and to blow it off as though we’re wasting money on war gaming, I think, is not the proper way to lead the American people.
HH: You know, I think he is suspending only one set of exercises, according to Senator Cotton, the March-April one that brings the B52’s to the border of the South, not the South China Sea exercises, not the Indian cross-training with our pilots. And I would agree with you if that were the case, but I don’t think that’s happening. But I agree. Let’s contest China. You’ll be voting for every appropriation for the 355 ship Navy then, Tim Ryan?
TR: I’m supporting, I just supported the Defense Appropriations Bill, and will continue to support the military. I think we have made a mistake letting it get hollowed out the past few years. And again, these threats are real, and we’ve all got to talk in a bipartisan way about the threats, whether it’s Russia or China. We need the technology to, and the capacity especially in our Navy, to be able to deal with these situations. And it’s going to take an investment. We could talk about how we’re going to pay for that, too, Hugh. I’m sure we have some disagreements on that. But at the end of the day, that’s why I thought the tax cut, not to get too contentious, but I thought the tax cut, at the end of the day, borrowing $2.2 or 2.3 trillion dollars over ten years was money that we needed to make not only domestic investments here in our economy and research and all the rest, but also to make sure that we have that robust military that we need to push back on China as they continue to grow.
HH: Far be it for me from being contentious. I’m just reading the Fed report yesterday. The economy is going to grow 2.8% this year, up from 2.7. The unemployment’s going to go to 3.6% by year’s end. Things are cooking, Congressman Ryan. I want to close on a high note. Are you playing in the baseball game tonight?
TR: I’m sitting right outside the Nationals’ stadium, buddy. And I’m having, I’m having a cup of coffee, and I’m wearing the Mountain Union baseball uniform tonight.
HH: Oh, I had two nephews and a niece go there. Good choice of jersey tonight. Now Steve Scalise is playing. I just watched an interview with him. It was a year ago he was shot. It’ll be another big night for people coming together. That’ll be cool when he takes the field.
TR: Yeah, he was at our practice. He came to our practice the other day and hung out with us for an hour or so. And he’s a great guy. I just love him, and he obviously shows a lot of courage. And he gave one of the best speeches on the House floor I’ve seen in a long time when he came back about bringing the country together. And I hope some of that continues to rub off.
HH: They got you in left field? I know you haven’t got much of an arm. Where are they, where have they got you put?
TR: (laughing) I’ll be playing third base. I was at third the last…
HH: Oh, third (laughing)
TR: I was a shortstop, Hugh, and so listen to this. The third baseman’s daughter is having graduation, so they moved me to third, because you know, everybody’s old, and I’m one of the younger guys. I could actually make the throw. And my wife says to me, isn’t that a demotion to go from short to third?
HH: (laughing) You’re right. She’s right.
TR: And I said who’s team are you on, Honey?
HH: Well, you know, but I love the fact that you ask an old quarterback anything about whether or not they’re falling apart, and boy, they get sparky. Tim Ryan, good, have a good game tonight. Good stuff tonight in D.C., a little bipartisanship. Always good to talk to Congressman Ryan.
End of interview.