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Interview with Representative Renee Ellmers

Interview with Representative Renee Ellmers

By The Situation Room - August 1, 2011

BLITZER: On Capitol Hill right now, the House is nearing a vote on the deal to raise the federal debt limit before tomorrow's deadline. We're keeping a very close watch on what's going on on the floor right now. We expect a vote within an hour or so. The debate has just started.

Aides say a Senate vote is likely to happen tomorrow. Many Republican lawmakers have been facing enormous pressure to hold the line on spending and taxes especially from the Tea Party movement.

Let's go to Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. She's joining us live right now.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you. Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: How are you going to vote on this legislation?

ELLMERS: I am in favor of this bill. You know none of us wants to raise the debt ceiling, but this bill comes with spending cuts and no tax increases and the chance for a balanced budget amendment. It is a foundation that we'll be able to put in place. It doesn't answer every question. I wish it were more cuts. But you know what, we're going to be able to put this in place for a foundation for a future.

BLITZER: Do you see yourself as a member of the Tea Party?

ELLMERS: You know I have had Tea Party support. Certainly I wouldn't be here right now if not for the Tea Party. And my principles go right in line with the Tea Party.

BLITZER: Well, Michele Bachmann is a member of the Tea Party, and she's a leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House.

ELLMERS: Sure.

BLITZER: I don't know if you're a member of the Tea Party Caucus.

ELLMERS: Yes.

BLITZER: You are. All right. She says this -- and I'll read it and put it up on the screen -- "Throughout this process, the president has failed to lead and failed to provide a plan. The deal, he announced spends too much and doesn't cut enough."

"This isn't the deal the American people preferred either, Mr. President. Someone has to say no. I will."

Why is she wrong?

ELLMERS: Well, the thing of it is, is she's not wrong. She's pointed out many of the same principles that we also believe in, but this is not the end game. This bill does not stop what we're doing.

We are going to continue to cut spending. We re going to move forward.

This is actually a beginning. So many of us have had to make that compromise and say OK, if we raise that debt ceiling to pay for all that spending that's already taken place -- this isn't an increase in the debt ceiling for more spending, this is to take care of the bills that have already been spent.

So this is why it is so important, because the consequences of a financial disaster are just too great and we have to be responsible. And the president hasn't led.

BLITZER: Well, you just made the case why she's wrong, the financial consequences are enormous and we can't afford that. So, clearly, Michele Bachmann is wrong.

ELLMERS: Well, she's voting no, I'm voting yes. We have got to vote our conscience, we've got to do what we believe is right for the American people.

You know, the American people sent us here because they want accountability in Washington. And sometimes that comes with very difficult decisions. I understand where she's coming from and I respect her vote. I hope she respects mine as well.

BLITZER: I'm sure she does, but maybe she doesn't. I haven't asked her. But you acknowledge she's wrong. You're willing -- because a second ago, you said you didn't think she was wrong, but now you're saying she is wrong.

ELLMERS: Well, what I'm saying is that I understand where she's coming from with all the things that's she's outlined. She's coming at it from a different approach, as I am, too. In comparison, I hate to look at one person or another. I believe in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, thou shall not speak unfavorably of another Republican.

You know, she's going to take her approach and I'm going to take mine. And we're going to go back to our constituents and we're explain what they've done so that they understand as well, because we know how important it is. We get it, it's just a different perspective.

BLITZER: So I assume you believe your constituents want you to vote in favor of this deal, even though part two of the deal would call for very significant defense cuts, cuts in U.S. military spending if there's no agreement on this so-called super committee, these 12 members that are supposed to come up with long-term entitlement reform, tax reform, and all of that? There's going to be across-the- board defense cuts if there's no deal, something you're voting in favor of right now.

ELLMERS: Well, let me just say this: we've been listening to constituents all day. What the constituents want is for us to act, for us to take responsibility for all of the spending that's taking place here in Washington. We have a spending problem, we don't have a revenue problem.

And you're right. If the committee cannot come up with an answer, if the House and the Senate cannot agree on something, there will be across-the-board cuts that are put in place. But that's not the end game. There are other things that could be put in place.

Defense is part of that, but it is more national security and many programs that the Democrats favor. And that's why we feel that this is more of a mechanism to hold the feet to the fire so that we do do our job.

BLITZER: Does this legislation you're voting for right now create any jobs?

ELLMERS: I believe it will, because, again, we're laying a foundation for the future. We have got to put certainty back in the private sector. That's where the answer and solution is.

You know, we're not going to come up with a solution here in Washington. The solution lies in the private sector with putting certainty back in the market. And I do believe that this will start that process in place.

BLITZER: All right. Go to the floor. You're going to be voting very, very soon, Congresswoman.

ELLMERS: Yes.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

ELLMERS: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Renee Ellmers is a Republican of North Carolina. 

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