House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) blames the Democratic leaders Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi's refusal to fund President Donald Trump's border wall for the partial shutdown of the federal government that he says is looking like it could be "a very long-term shutdown."
DANA BASH, CNN: We're back with our politics lead.
And just moments ago, the House and Senate adjourned with no deal in sight to end the government shutdown. This afternoon, the House majority whip's office told members no votes on a deal are expected this week.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina. He's the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate it.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: Good to be with you, Dana.
BASH: Where are things right now?
MEADOWS: Well, obviously, over the last 24, 48 hours, things have not progressed. There's been a lot of conversation between rank and file members, not necessarily Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, but senators, House members with some of their Democrat colleagues.
And it really comes down to this. Democrats are dug in that there's not going to be any money for the wall. We passed obviously $5.7 billion out of the House, and even a compromise that the administration, the president has put forth a number of different proposals with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have really fallen on deaf ears. So, at this point, it looks like it could be in for a very long-term shutdown.
BASH: When you said the Democrats aren't proposing any money for the wall. You know that they had a proposal on the table for $1.3 billion. That's --
MEADOWS: Well, but even then, I clarified that today because I want to make sure, knew I was coming on to talk to you, but even the $1.3 billion that they were talking about is really for fencing. It's not even for the wall. Chuck Schumer, you can listen to his words on the Senate floor. He said there will be no wall. He's talking about replacing the fencing, and yet, here we see the same Chuck Schumer that in 2006 voted for a Secure Fence Act that would -- with 700 miles of fencing and the same Chuck Schumer that in 2013 probably voted for that Gang of Eight bill that talked about bothered security.
So, you know, at some point, you have to understand that part of our immigration problem has to be addressing border security.
BASH: You're blaming Chuck Schumer here. You did it on Twitter earlier, but the Senate passed a funding bill. It was the House --
MEADOWS: Well, with no money for the wall. But no money for the wall, Dana.
And let me just tell you. It may be different in New York, but I can tell you the vast majority of Americans believe that a secure border and a secure community is something that is important to them, and to suggest otherwise, you know, with caravans coming in. I mean, Chuck Schumer had $1.6 billion in the Department of Homeland Security bill just recently, and then all of a sudden, they went from $1.6 back to zero. You know, I don't think it's something that the president should support. It's certainly not something that House Republicans support.
BASH: I don't think it's fair to say that the Democrats aren't proposing anything for border security.
MEADOWS: What are they proposing, Dana? I mean, you know, you cover the hill. This is not your first rodeo.
BASH: No, it's not.
MEADOWS: So, what are they proposing? Are they willing to meet halfway? The president and his team offered $2.5 billion, 2.6 billion. BASH: Let me ask you this while you're on this. You're putting
pressure, just so everybody understands, on the White House from the right. Would you be okay -- let's just say in this theoretical conversation, Democrats went for that. Would you be OK with 2.5?
MEADOWS: Certainly, the vast majority of Republican members of the conference understand that there may be a compromise between $5.7 billion and 1.6 or wherever the number may be. But as we're looking at it the, whether it's 2.5 or 2.7 it doesn't matter. Chuck Schumer has said no. The American people she as a compromise. I see as a compromise.
And so, certainly if that's on the table, you would find a number of Republican members encouraging the president to go ahead and accept that.
BASH: I want to ask you about something that happened earlier this year. There was a deal on the table, included $25 billion.
BASH: Now, we're talking about 1.3 -- $25 billion for border security, including the wall in exchange for a number of changes to the immigration system.
BASH: And at least legal status for so called Dreamers, children who come to America illegally with their undocumented parents. Given where we are now, was leaving that on the table a mistake?
MEADOWS: Well, I think given where we are today, it's all about trust, and part of that -- that deal was about securing our border, and if the Democrats are not willing to put up even $2.5 billion or $2.6 billion, they were never serious about it. They were wanting the amnesty portion but not the border security portion, and when you look at, that that's one of the tragedies of today is if the Democrats are not willing to embrace some of the ideals that Republicans believe are important to secure our community. Then how do they expect some of the Republicans to come along on some of the things that maybe are more for their constituency, whether it be Dreamers or DACA recipients?
I can tell you, that on a lot of that, there's been discussions even this week, should we go ahead and allow for a short-term three-year work visa for DACA recipients, the ones that 750,000 or so people that signed up so that it gives us a chance to work on that in exchange for the wall? Some of those discussions are happening even as we speak, and yet what happens is, is when you see this entrenched, no money for the wall, border security ever, it means that the Democrats are not really serious about getting a compromise.
BASH: So, this is by definition how had a standoff happens. You say they are entrenched you, and they see you entrenched so since I'm here talking to you. What are you willing to give up?
MEADOWS: I'm telling you there's a compromise, between 1.6 --
BASH: And what is it?
MEADOWS: You know, obviously, is --
BASH: Well, I'm saying to get that money, for the Democrats to give in on that money, what are you willing to give them --
MEADOWS: Well, 5.7 was a compromise. You mentioned $25 billion, 5.7 is just a down payment for that. But as we're looking in, there's been a number of options that have been floated.
You know, obviously, we can continue -- we've made an offer of $5.7 billion. We passed that out of the House. Nancy Pelosi said there wasn't the votes. Indeed, there were the votes in the House to do that.
Here's what we have to do. At some point Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and those that work closely with them have to come up with a counterproposal or not, and then they can say zero is the number, but most Americans do not believe that zero for border security
BASH: What are you willing to accept in such a counterproposal?
MEADOWS: Obviously, the number that the president has put out there or that has been reported that they put out, I haven't been in those rooms. I've had discussions, as you know, with the president and his team directly. Those numbers are in that $2.5 billion to $3 billion range.
BASH: I mean, besides the money, take the money aside. The negotiation --
MEADOWS: We're talking about border security.
BASH: OK, but that's part of border security.
MEADOWS: All immigration reform starts with border security. I mean, at some point, you know, if we go back to Reagan, all the way up to today, you have to secure your border eventually in order to have a legal immigration system that works.
BASH: So far, the Dreamers have -- the Democrats, they don't want to be part of this deal. But if it comes down to it, anyway, would you be OK with that, allowing legal status for Dreamers as part of this wall funding?
MEADOWS: At this point, it takes a while to get wall funding done. Part of what Mario Diaz-Balart who is considered to be more moderate on this issue than perhaps a member of the Freedom Caucus, even he says that we have to start with looking at border security, and then we can look at legal status --
BASH: So that's a no?
MEADOWS: No, I don't think that's a no, but I think that's part of a process. You can't take one thing out and say will you give citizenship to this group of people without looking at the other parts of comprehensive immigration reform.
BASH: Let's talk about the workers.
BASH: People who are not working right now.
BASH: "The New York Times" talked to several workers, including one woman who works for the IRS. She doesn't live here. She lives in Wisconsin, a state that the president won, I should add.
And she said we're all kind of waiting to see how we go forward. Do we apply for unemployment? Do we start looking for part-time jobs?
BASH: And you're talking about just to put numbers on this, 42,000 employees in the Coast Guard, 41,000 federal law enforcement officers. Tens of thousands of Customs and Border Patrol agents.
BASH: The people who are trying to do exactly what you say needs to be done with the wall. They are not getting paid.
Last week, you said that this is -- effectively said this is what you signed up for in a public service job.
MEADOWS: Well, in that interview what I went on further to say is listen, it's not lost on me in terms of anybody that is caught up in this particular thing. I can tell you, I was in the White House with the president and his team saying how can we make sure that this shutdown has minimal impact on federal workers and minimal impact on those people on Main Street, and part of that may be to those essential employees that are having to show up is to make sure that we fund them to make sure that they don't have to miss a paycheck because some of those --
BASH: You'd be OK with that.
MEADOWS: I would be OK with that. It's something that I've recommended, that we look at, so it's only those that are truly furloughed that are not working, not showing up to work, that you have to deal with. Now, it's not to minimize the impact on them as well, but --
BASH: You realize there are people out there if in goes on they won't be able to pay their mortgage.
BASH: They won't be able to go to the grocery store. MEADOWS: It's critically important that we look at, that one of the
reasons why I put in the with the CAO to withhold my paycheck as well. I get, that and it's not lost on me.
BASH: Congressman Mark Meadows, thank you for coming in.
MEADOWS: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: I really appreciate it.
MEADOWS: Appreciate it.