Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Dec. 10, 2023

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan: 

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont 
  • Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma 
  • White House Office of Budget and Management director Shalanda Young
  • Janti Soeripto, Save the Children president and CEO  

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”    


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation, we will take a closer look at the challenges facing the country, inflation, immigration at the border, foreign policy and more. As Washington prepares for the holidays, Congress is at yet another impasse. President Biden is stepping up his battle cry for 2024.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Trump just talks the talk. We walk the walk.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that walk is a tough sell so far for the president.

Despite inflation being at its lowest level in two years, six out of 10 Americans say the economy is bad. Democrats say Biden is still better than the leading alternative.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: In the end, when people are – they’re mad at Joe Biden, and they’re going to be more mad at Donald Trump. Even if they have to hold their nose, they’re going to support Joe Biden.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Former President Trump is also making a pitch to the voters.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): I said I want to be a dictator for one day. And you know why I wanted to be a dictator? Because I want a wall, right? I want a wall. And I want to drill, drill, drill.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republican voters like what Trump says, but some aren’t convinced he can win.

(Begin VT)

MAN: Trump’s policies are good. I think, with him, he’s – you know, he’s – he’s so divisive as a figure, which is, you know – his fault or not, that’s just the reality of it.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And worldwide concern over Israel’s response to the Hamas attack grows, along with concern about hate here at home.

We will talk to Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford, plus Biden administration Budget Director Shalanda Young.

Politics and policy, it’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We will get to what Americans are focused on as we wind up 2023 in just a moment.

But we want to go first to our Charlie D’Agata, reporting from Israel.

(Begin VT)

CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice-over): The southern city of Khan Yunis in flames from a bombardment Israel says is aimed at hunting down Hamas leaders.

And with the U.S. alone in vetoing a U.N. Security Council cease-fire proposal, anti-American sentiment is higher than ever.

(ABU ABED YUSEF SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHARLIE D’AGATA: “These weapons and rockets are made in America,” says resident Abu Abed Yusef (sp?). “They support Israel to kill the youth, children and women.”

Even as Israel’s military chief tells forces, “We need to press even harder,” the head of the U.N.’s World Food Program warned today, half the population in Gaza faces starvation and a severe lack of clean water.

Save the Children says deaths from starvation and disease might top those killed in bombings. It’s becoming too dangerous for aid agencies to operate, says spokesperson for the U.N. in Gaza Juliette Touma.

JULIETTE TOUMA (Communications Director, United Nations Relief and Works Agency): We have come to a point where we’re not sure if we are able to fulfill our mandate and provide assistance to people in need in Gaza. This is unprecedented.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: It’s too early to know exactly how the war in Gaza ends. The next big question is who governs the territory next, and the answer may lie here in the West Bank.

We’re told postwar plans are already being drawn up with the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority.

Can I just confirm that you are in conversations with the United States about the future of Gaza?

AHMAD MAJDALANI (Palestinian Social Affairs Minister): Yes.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: That’s confirmed?

MINISTER AHMAD MAJDALANI: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MINISTER AHMAD MAJDALANI: They are discussions. They have idea.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: OK.

MINISTER AHMAD MAJDALANI: And we have idea.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: But those ideas may not be the same. According to Minister of Social Affairs Ahmad Majdalani, their plan would include an element of Hamas as a junior partner, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence Hamas must be completely destroyed.

MINISTER AHMAD MAJDALANI: Maybe Israel, they can destroy his military forces.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: And capabilities.

MINISTER AHMAD MAJDALANI: And capability. But they cannot destroy Hamas as organization.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: An organization accused of mass murder, and still holding more than 130 hostages.

And families are still no closer to knowing their fate as the season of Hanukkah began, instead of joy, nightly vigils like this one in Tel Aviv. There’s not much to celebrate until their loved ones come home.

(End VT)

CHARLIE D’AGATA: With our colleagues inside Gaza reporting heavy fighting overnight, the U.N. says it’s impossible to get aid into Southern Gaza.

But, Margaret, an Israeli military official we spoke to insisted there is a safe corridor leading from the Rafah Crossing to so-called safe zones, but the U.N. just isn’t using it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata, thank you.

We turn now to independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who joins us this morning from Burlington, Vermont.

Good morning to you, Senator.

I’m not sure…

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. I think we’ve got your audio now, sir.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he sees a gap between Israel’s stated intent of limiting civilian casualties and reality. And the secretary of defense said they could face a strategic defeat, given civilian casualties.

Is this vocal enough criticism from the administration, in your point of view?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, it’s a start.

I think both Blinken and Austin are right. What the president is trying to do, he is trying to make clear to Netanyahu and his right-wing extreme– extremist government is, yes, you can go to war against Hamas, but you cannot go to war against the Palestinian people and cause the horrific damage to human life that we are seeing right now.

Margaret, there have been 16,000 people killed so far, Palestinians, two- thirds of whom are women and children. You’re talking about 1.9 million people displaced, going around without any water, food, without any medical supplies.

It is a humanitarian disaster. And the United States has got to put all of the pressure that it can to tell Netanyahu to stop this disastrous military approach.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And just to be clear, Israel says it’s killed 7,000 militants. They haven’t explained how many civilians they estimate they’ve killed.

The U.S. says they can’t – can’t tally it. The number you cited there is from the Gaza Ministry of Health.

But the bottom line here is, I know you have been very clear to your colleagues the U.S. should not provide more aid to Israel, to the Netanyahu government with no strings attached, you wrote, because it would make the U.S. complicit, you said – quote – “in an all-out war against innocent men, women and children who have nothing to do with Hamas.”

What do you believe the Netanyahu government’s intent is here?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Hard to say. It really is hard to say.

It may be that they’re responding in rage against the horrific and terrible Hamas attack that killed 1,200 innocent Israelis. Maybe, in some of the right-wing extremists’ minds, there is the goal to drive the Palestinian people off of Gaza completely.

But they have now destroyed about half of the housing units in Gaza. So it’s hard to predict. But I think, when General Austin said, you can win the battle, but lose the war, Israel is losing the war in terms of how the world is looking at this situation.

And I think that it would be irresponsible for the United States to give Netanyahu another $10 billion to continue to wage this awful war.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib have been clear in calling for a cease-fire.

You’ve taken some flak because you have not. The United States government is opposing a cease-fire as well, and they’re – they’re isolated at the U.N. on that point. Why is it you oppose a cease-fire?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, first of all, I strongly support and wish and hope that the United States will support the United Nations resolution that was vetoed, that we vetoed the other day.

That was a humanitarian pause, a humanitarian cease-fire, that would have, by the way, called for the release of all of the hostages held by Hamas, and what have allowed the U.N. and other agencies to begin to supply the enormous amount of humanitarian aid that the Palestinian people (AUDIO GAP)

In terms of a permanent cease-fire, I don’t know how you could have a permanent cease-fire with Hamas, who have said before October 7 and after October 7 that they want to destroy Israel, they want a permanent war. I don’t know how you have a permanent cease-fire with an attitude like that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, so you – the war, you’re saying, against Hamas is justified in that way?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I think Israel has the right to defend itself…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: … and to go after Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

Would you vote against a version of the supplemental bill that President Biden is asking Congress for if it lacked the conditions on Israel aid you are calling for? Because you know there’s other things that may be attached to it, like Ukraine aid.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I voted against the motion to proceed on that bill.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: (AUDIO GAP) see a different bill.

I support, strongly support, aid for Ukraine to stand up to Putin’s aggression. But I think what the Congress has got to do is make it clear, though, to Netanyahu that we’re not going to simply give him a blank check to kill women and children in Palestine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

White House officials say privately they don’t think that the blowback from this war will impact them negatively with Democratic voters by the time we get to the presidential election. Do you think they’re miscalculating?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I think this war has been – I don’t know the answer to that.

But I think the war clearly has been very harmful, not just among progressives, not just among Democrats. The American people were outraged by the Hamas attack against Israel, rightfully so. But they are equally outraged now by what Israel is doing.

So, you’re seeing all over this country people saying, why are we giving money to an Israeli government that is doing such awful things?

Will it hurt politically? It might. At the end of the day, I think, you know, Biden is going to win this election, but what’s going on now is not helpful.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about hate in this country and concerns around it.

As you know, strong concern about antisemitism right now. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik had a really pointed question-and-answer with university presidents this week. One of those presidents has since resigned as a result of the fallout. I wonder your thoughts of – of how far free speech should be protected when it is calling for genocide?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I agree.

Look, we believe strongly in free speech, and academia is an area where you’re going to hear a lot of debate about issues that may make us uncomfortable. But, at the end of the day, when somebody is saying they believe in genocide for the Jewish people or racist attacks against black Americans, or et cetera, that is not acceptable, I think, on a college campus, where all of the students, black, Jewish, whatever, Islamic, have got to feel comfortable on campus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, do you – OK.

Senator, we’re going to have to leave it there, because we’re running out of time. But thank you for…

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … weighing in today and dealing with us through those audio problems.

We turn now to what Americans are seeing as the biggest problems facing the country, as we head into a consequential election year.

Our new CBS News polls says the most important challenge facing the country is inflation, with seven in 10 Americans disapproving of President Biden’s handling of it, next, immigration at the border. And that issue is keeping a foreign aid package with badly needed support for Ukraine and aid to Israel tied up in Congress.

The state of democracy is the third biggest problem in the eyes of Americans, and rounding out the top four, gun violence, another problem for which there seems to be little solution or political appetite for legislation that might help fix it.

The executive director of our elections and surveys unit, Anthony Salvanto, is here.

So, Anthony, Americans say inflation is the top problem, but it’s at the lowest level in two years. Why is there a disconnect between data and perception?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: I think it starts with this larger sense of lost opportunity, beyond the immediate, where more people say that they feel worse off than their parents were at their age than better. And that runs counter to what we typically think of as the American dream, right?

And it’s especially true for millennials, for Gen X’ers, for people in that – in that age range wherein they’re in the prime of their working and earning years.

And, look, for context, this is new. This inflationary period is new for the bulk of them. You have to go back 40 years to find a period in the U.S. where people faced these kinds of inflationary pressures at this kind of a rate.

So, we asked people, OK, put this in context. The U.S. has been through ups and downs before. What’s been the most difficult? And the most immediate is right now, is coming out of the pandemic and the economic impact of that, and then this post-pandemic inflationary period.

Yes, there’s some recency to that. But it just underlines the point of how much people process the economy right now by comparing their lives pre-and post-pandemic. And it’s that framing that I think is essential to understanding how they process all of this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the White House would argue inflation is headed in the right direction. It is going lower. And they look at that strong jobs number, just like we saw on Friday.

So, what is it that people need to experience on a personal level?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yes, so I asked people directly, what do you take into account when you evaluate these things?

And the personal outweighs what we call the macro numbers, the large numbers, not discount them, but it’s personal experience, experience of the people you know and your friends, even the businesses around your local community. So that’s number one.

Number two is, look, the rate is slowing, but prices are still high. And so when you ask people, OK, the jobs market is strong. Yes, they acknowledge that, but their income isn’t keeping up with inflation. And that’s that immediate pocketbook impact, where you see such big numbers say that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because prices are still not back at those pre-pandemic levels now.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Right.

And – and when you look at what can be done from there…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: … people say, OK, well, number one, there’s no appetite for more rate hikes. And that’s important. That’s affecting a lot of – especially a lot of young people as well.

There’s a large sense that they think the president can control inflation. And, look, objectively, that may or may not be the case, but it kind of comes with the job, right? They’re not certain, in fact, many aren’t sure what exactly the White House has done about all of this. And so his handling of inflation, in particular, remains low.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president has a lot of foreign policy and national security crises on his desk right now.

The Israel-Hamas war is one of them. What is perception of that?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So, his handling of the war is negative, and it’s gone a little lower, in part because people aren’t sure that the steps his administration is taking are bringing the war, helping bring the war to a peaceful resolution, number one.

And, number two, we have talked a lot about some of the splits within his own party on this, which is always important for a president on foreign policy. There’s an increasing number of Democrats who now say they think the president is giving too much support to Israel. So that’s important.

Having said all of that, his overall job approval is still both stable and hinges so much more, back to the top of this, on the economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, good to have you here.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Thanks, Margaret.

Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Turning to immigration, the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico is once again nearing an all-time high.

Last week, Customs and Border Protection recorded nearly 19,000 apprehensions in its Tucson sector alone.

And that is where we find our Adam Yamaguchi.

(Begin VT)

ADAM YAMAGUCHI (voice-over): Every day last week, hundreds of migrants gathered to turn themselves over to border agents at the Lukeville crossing in Arizona near a port of entry that was officially closed Monday due to the massive number of arrivals.

MAN: Get back in line. Get back in line.

ADAM YAMAGUCHI: It’s daybreak. And so, after a long, cold night of sleeping around campfires, trying to sleep around campfires, the processing may – may begin momentarily.

This mother of four tells us she’s escaping the violence of Mexican cartels.

WOMAN (through translator): I’m fighting as much as I can, so my children can have something better.

ADAM YAMAGUCHI: This is one of the border’s most remote stretches, now one of the busiest. In the last year, there’s been a 140 percent spike in migrant apprehensions in this area.

Our cameras capture the moment smugglers help dozens of people cross illegally.

And there the smugglers go. This is the breach in the wall that the smugglers have cut through. And this is why at the Border Patrol is up against. And this is not an anomaly, by any means. Here’s another one rod that was just cut and repaired today.

(End VT)

ADAM YAMAGUCHI: Agents are really sort of playing a game of Whac-A-Mole.

They see a breach, they respond to it, they try to seal it up, and then somewhere else along this very long corridor of the wall, another breach occurs. And this is all by design. The smugglers realize that this particular area is vulnerable because there are so few resources and agents.

And so they stand a much better chance of being able to funnel as many migrants as they can illegally into the U.S.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re joined now by Senator James Lankford. He is the lead Republican negotiator as the Senate tries to come up with a deal to shore up the U.S. border. He joins us from Oklahoma City.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD (R-Oklahoma): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This morning, on another network, the lead democratic negotiator, Senator Chris Murphy, said it is tragic Republicans are tying the border aid package to the issue of Ukraine aid.

He said Republican demands right now are unreasonable and must become reasonable in the next 24 to 48 hours.

That doesn’t sound like you’re on the cusp of an agreement.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: So, let me – let me just try to make a couple things clear on this.

Actually, this started with the Biden administration saying that we need to do a national security package that has Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and the border. And then they immediately came out and said, we need more than funding. In fact, the word they used is, funding for the border is a tourniquet. We need a change in policy.

We’ve responded back to that, say we 100 percent agree on it. We’ve got to be able to have a change in policy on this. Right now, the push and pull is really a political push and pull, rather than just anything else.

If I talk to just about anyone in the country outside of Washington D.C., they would say the border is chaotic right now. We had the highest number of crossings of any September ever last September…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: … the highest October ever, the highest November ever, and we had the highest single day just this last week.

It is literally spiraling out of control. All we’re trying to do is to say what tools are needed to be able to get this back in control, so we don’t have the chaos on our Southern border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the president is asking for that $14 billion, as you said, but they separate funding from policy changes.

But the president did say he’s – he’s willing to make significant compromises on policy to fix a broken immigration system. He’s signaling flexibility. So what is the problem?

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: So, the problem is the administration is trying to be able to figure out how to be able to just slow down a little bit of the flow. We had 12,000 people, for instance, on Tuesday of this last week that crossed the border illegally.

They’re trying to figure out some way to be able to say, well, we’ll do a few thousand less, but not actually stop the flow. Just to give you a perspective, we’ve had more people cross illegally…

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, what would stop the flow?

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Well, I would tell you it’s a lot of things.

But let me just give you a context piece on this, though. During – you take any year during the Obama administration, we’ve had more people cross illegally just October, November and December so far this year than we had in any year in the Obama administration. So this is not a matter of just let’s turn it down a little bit.

We’ve got to figure out how to be able to manage this. The first thing’s first is asylum. Right now, people come in and say, I want to request asylum. There’s so many people, and the cartels know it, and the smugglers know, that they can throw thousands of people a day. There’s no way to process that.

And so it’s years before they’re processed, so they’re just released in the country. That becomes a pull factor for more.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I thought the White House was willing, on asylum, to tighten those regulations.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Right now, we’re actually screening about 500 people a day for asylum. A typical day in this last week was 10,000 people a day. Even if you double or triple, as the administration would say, well, let’s just double the number of screens we’re doing, now we’re screening 1,000 people a day, and we’re still releasing 9,000 people into the country.

So that doesn’t manage the actual issue. We’ve got to be able to figure out, how we are going to manage capacity, and what does that actually look like? As long as we’re saying, we’ll – we’ll screen 1,000, and then we’ll release everyone else into the country…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: … the cartels know that, and everyone coming will just pay the cartels, and they know they’ll be released.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

Well, I know you don’t want to negotiate in public, but I want to talk to you about what you are actually proposing to fix the problem you’re describing.

So, let’s take a break, and we’ll come back and continue that conversation.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be taking a closer look at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in the next half-hour.

If you want to help some of those aid organizations, here’s how you can contact some of them.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation.

We want to pick up where we left off with Oklahoma Republican James Lankford.

Senator, I know the majority leader in the Senate has said that the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, will not pass a supplemental package without this bill, H.R.2, that passed the House with no Democratic votes. You’ve said that’s not realistic.

But has the speaker been clear to you what his red lines are? Can you get House Republicans to approve something if you can get Democrats to agree to it?

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, we’re going to find out.

On that note, Speaker Johnson has not given me the red line of what it has to be on this. Obviously, it’s got to be able to pass the Senate. But it is the challenge. The House Republicans laid out a very good proposal, very thorough, covered a lot of issues, had no Democrats. Obviously, we’re not going to get 20, 30 Democrats in the Senate or a Democratic White House to be able to sign that.

But that doesn’t mean we just sit and do nothing. We’ve got to be able to solve this crisis. With 10,000-plus people a day, on average, just this last week crossing every day and half-a-million so far in the last two months, we can’t just sit and say we’re going to do nothing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Politico has reported you are proposing a new expulsion authority similar to Title 42. That would also automate a border shutdown if the number of migrants crossing hits a certain level.

You’d mandate electronic monitoring for everyone, including children. And you want to restrict the administration’s parole authority to release migrants from detention. Is that accurate?

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: No, it’s actually not accurate.

There are several things that I have proposed on that, some things that I have and some things I have not. As you mentioned, in the last segment, we’re not going to have the opportunity to be able to, you and I, negotiate this out.

But I would say we have to deal with the capacity issues. Just like any restaurant or theater, they have a capacity issue, so do we on a day-to- day. We have thousands of agents that have been pulled in. And, right now, there’s been no consideration from the White House of, how do we actually manage the capacity issues that are there?

They seem to be focused on how many people can we just release into the country and tell them, we’ll do a hearing sometime later, when, literally, we don’t know these people. Literally, thousands of people have crossed the border just in the past few months…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: … that this administration identified as what they call special interest aliens, specifically saying they’re a national security risk. But they were released into the country on their own recognizance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: We’ve got to be able to stop that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

But you’d have to negotiate changes to the law. And we are running out of time in 2023. You’ve also attached this – well, the House has argued that the border bill would need to be attached to Ukraine funding in order to pass.

President Biden says that you, sir, are giving Vladimir Putin a Christmas present, because this doesn’t look like it’s going to pass in 2023, and it’s unclear when it could.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, I’m by far no fan of Vladimir Putin, and the president knows that full well.

This is not a Christmas present to him. Actually, the president himself started by saying, if we’re going to deal with national security…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: … we’ve got to deal with Ukraine and we have to deal with the border. We’ve responded, that’s correct.

I don’t meet very many Americans that think what’s happening at the border is going well. And even the president’s team themselves actually said, if you hand them more money, it doesn’t solve the problem. It just facilitates more people coming into the country. We have drugs coming into the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: We have national security risks coming into the country, and they’ve literally shut down legal migration.

The San Ysidro Port, the busiest port in America, was shut down this weekend as they moved…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: … all the staff off of legal migration to help facilitate illegal migration. That’s got to stop.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, no, we’re seeing in our own polling that this is a top issue for Americans. So the president would be incentivized here.

But what you’re talking about is policy changes. And this linkage to Ukraine, the president says, if they don’t get this funding now, that it will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield. Can you get Ukraine aid passed separate from this?

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: No. No. The focus is – what you hear from so many people is, why would we deal with other people’s national security and ignore American national security?

Why would we literally allow people across our southern border that this administration labels national security risks by the thousands coming into the country? Separate from just the migrants that are coming here for employment, we have individuals they’ve literally labeled national security risks coming into the country.

Why would we not work to be able to stop that? We can do two things at once for the United States of America. These negotiations haven’t been going on a week. They’ve been going on months.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: So, we’ve come a long ways. It’s time to be able to finish this, make a decision, and do what we can do to be able to help the nation.

We can’t do everything on the border, but we can do the things to actually begin to control the border, so that the United States is in control of our boundaries, not the cartels.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will watch and see what you’re able to get done in these coming days.

Senator, thank you for your time.

And now, for the administration’s position on that national security funding package, we turn to the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young.

Good morning to you.

SHALANDA YOUNG (Director, Office of Management and Budget Director): Hi, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here in person.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Thanks for being here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me just start with what we are talking about here.

Is the president going to get more directly involved this week? We know his chief of staff has been involved in these border talks. If this is an emergency, does he need to be more hands on?

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Look, Congress is having conversations.

You heard Senator Lankford’s purview. Conversations are happening that need to happen. The one thing I agree with that the senator said is, it’s time. I sent a letter to Congress outlining the stakes if Ukraine aid is cut off, what that means.

The one thing I do take issue with is, Americans want their national security taken care of. We agree with that. What happens if Putin marches through Ukraine? What’s next? NATO countries. Our sons and daughters are at risk of being a part of a larger conflict. And it’s not just Putin. Other dictators are watching what Congress is doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: What does – what signal does that send? So our national security is also influenced with not providing Ukraine.

(CROSSTALK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, you’re talking past each other, because Senator Lankford is saying he also agrees aid for Ukraine needs to pass. It’s this method of being able to get it through Congress that seems to be the problem right now.

Can there be a deal on the border, do you think, that would unlock the Ukraine aid?

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: So, I have done a lot of funding negotiations over my career in this town. Negotiations that fail is when one side can’t take yes for an answer. They push for too much.

They push for an H.R.2, which, as the senator pointed out, all Democrats voted against. The White House had a veto threat. You can’t have everything your way in a negotiation. Democrats and Republicans have to vote for this bill. So, I agree. It’s time to cut a deal that both sides can agree to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So let’s talk about Ukraine specifically.

You warned in October and back in September that funding was running low. You sent a letter Monday to the speaker saying: “We are out of money to support Ukraine in this fight. This isn’t a next-year problem.”

When precisely will U.S. funding be exhausted?

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Look, we have – you know, a budgetary standpoint, we have about a billion dollars left to replenish our own stockpile.

So this comes down to a policy decision. Do we risk our own U.S. readiness, as the world is more complex – we’ve seen it – or does Congress ensure that we can protect our – our own national security, while also being there for our allies like Ukraine?

And it shouldn’t be an either/or. Congress should do what it’s done several other times in a bipartisan manner, fund our own national security, and make sure we are there for our allies.

And, by the way, Margaret, I think it’s important to know, the majority of money that we talk about for Ukraine stays at home. Our defense industrial base gets the majority of this funding to build more equipment, weapons, ammunition. That means American jobs, good-paying American jobs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. So, a deal, you’re not completely ruling out here.

But I want to ask you to weigh in on some of the polling that we shared with our viewers. The top two issues for American voters are inflation and the border. And the president gets large disapproval rates for handling inflation. And Americans think his administration’s actions led to it growing, as you can see there, not slowing.

Why don’t you think the president’s policies are resonating more?

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Look, the president gets it. I get it. I have a 95-year-old grandmother in Clinton, Louisiana. So I get firsthand feedback on what people are feeling at the ground in these small little towns, like I’m from. So I get it.

The macro numbers are going as well as anybody could have predicted, right, inflation coming down, job numbers remaining strong. But people have got to feel it. And it’s going to take time. When the macroeconomy, we see good numbers, that often takes time to – to trickle through.

But we can’t give up. I’m on his economics team. And the thing we focus on the most is, how do we bring down costs? That’s why you hear us talk about junk fees.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: What is that? That saves people’s money when we go after banks and hotels, people who charge you an extra $20 or $50 a – everything we can…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But they see supermarket prices up 2 percent versus last year. That’s…

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Yes, but everything we can do – we cannot leave any stone unturned to make sure people are paying less for these out-of- pocket prescription drugs. There’s a reason the president asked and fought for Congress to cap insulin at $35 a month.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re not seeing the awareness. We saw that in our polling.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re not seeing the linkage between what you’re saying the president’s doing and the public’s perception of it.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: That is right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that messaging, or is it just that these programs are slow in rolling out, so people aren’t feeling the impact?

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: I think it is – I just said, you know, as inflation comes down, it does take time for that – macro effects to be felt on the ground.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: And I believe, as we continue to see that progress on inflation, people will feel it in their pocketbooks as they go to the grocery store. That is going to come home. And we just have to continue to make progress on a macro level. And we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for coming…

DIRECTOR SHALANDA YOUNG: Thank you so much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … to talk to us today.

We’ll have to leave it there.

And we’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And for some political analysis, we’re joined now by CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa and CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe.

Good to have you both here.

ED O’KEEFE: Good to see you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Robert Costa, you had a key interview with Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the House, and he has announced he’s stepping away. This is going to make the GOP slim margin even skinnier.

I want to play a portion of your interview here.

(Begin VT)

ROBERT COSTA: Speaker Johnson, so far, is he a dear in the headlights or doing a decent job?

REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-California): This is a very hard job.

You know, if I – if I was the best to give advice, I’d still be in it. And to be fair to Speaker Johnson, he didn’t have the years before to plan. He wasn’t the majority leader. He wasn’t the minority leader. He’s doing fine. It – it’s like anything else, 10,000, you improve at your job.

I think the best advice I could give to him, you’re the speaker of the House. Do not – do not govern in the idea that you’re afraid somebody’s going to make a motion to vacate.

When I made the decision to pay our troops and not shut down, I knew they were going to make a motion to vacate on me. I didn’t even know the Democrats would go along with it. But what I did know is, I had been in that room before. I had watched what had failed.

And I knew, at that moment, that when I thought before I ran for office, you would always tell yourself, would you do what you think was right, would you literally risk your job and do it, you say you would, but when you came to that moment, I hope history writes that I actually did what I said I would do before I ever got elected when that moment came.

And I would do it all again, because I hope others would look at that and do the exact same thing. It was right.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s passionate there.

But what he’s putting his finger on is that question of, can Mike Johnson govern and, by the way, work with Democrats?

ROBERT COSTA: Former Speaker McCarthy’s comment there is so revealing.

Publicly, he’s saying he believes the new speaker, Mike Johnson, is doing just fine. But, based on my reporting, my conversations with other House Republicans, key insiders in Washington, they say Speaker Johnson has political capital with House Republicans. He’s popular with conservatives in the House, but he doesn’t have political capital in Washington.

Just as he needs to probably cut a deal with President Biden, as you have been discussing with your guests, on Ukraine, on Israel, he’s moving forward with an impeachment process inside of the House of Representatives, of course, testing his relationship with the president at this crucial time.

He doesn’t have much of a relationship with Leader McConnell, the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, Senate Republicans keeping the House out of those discussions over immigration with Senator Lankford and others.

The question looming over the new speaker is, how is he going to address Israel, Ukraine, government funding early next year? And he doesn’t have answers at this point because he’s still settling into the job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And he has a January 19 shutdown deadline hanging over his head.

I mean, Ed, we have been talking about this all throughout the program. Does the White House need to step in here and close a deal on the border? Do they want to?

ED O’KEEFE: They would like to.

The president certainly would like to come up with something. He knows there will be some pain to pay with certain elements of the Democratic Party. But dealmaking is his thing, especially if it’s a bipartisan deal, even it could – even if it could be ugly.

But, yes, they have got to try to get something done on this, if only to sort of go into an election year and say, I’m addressing what is now, what, the second most important or urgent issue to voters and demonstrate that you can do something.

Whether he picks up the phone himself this week and starts getting into the details remains to be seen. If we see more active engagement from the chief of staff, from others around the president doing this, that’s a sign that they’re getting closer.

But he, remember, got burned a lot spending too much time on legislative details in the beginning, so he’s spent most of this year backing off, saying, leave it to Congress.

That also allows him to blame Congress for the inaction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

ED O’KEEFE: We will see now in the coming days if he jumps in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Another thing we saw in our polling that Anthony shared was that Americans are disapproving of the president’s handling of this crisis in Israel.

ED O’KEEFE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you went out to that key state of Michigan to report on what voters there are thinking.

ED O’KEEFE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What did you learn on the ground?

ED O’KEEFE: So, important, as Anthony pointed out earlier, the war is not necessarily the biggest issue of concern.

But it is in parts of Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan, especially, the largest concentration of Arab American voters in that critical swing state, who look at what’s happened over the last 60 days and say: I can’t vote for him. He’s allowed my relatives or my friends’ relatives or my friends’ neighbors to get killed. How can we possibly support somebody who’s allowed so much civilian death?

These are people who campaigned against Donald Trump four years – in 2016 and in 2020, voted for Biden in 2020 because they knew he was a better option. They look at the two of them now, if that is your option next November, and say, we’ll just skip that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

ED O’KEEFE: Why that matters, small, but influential group of voters inside a big county, inside a big swing state that Joe Biden needs to win, that Donald Trump wants to win back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

ED O’KEEFE: If you start losing those small groups, when these elections are being won the margins, you’re in real trouble.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly.

And we’re going to continue to watch that. I know you are, Ed.

Robert Costa, before I let you go, the president – the former president is walking into a courtroom tomorrow with this New York civil fraud case. How much are these legal complications impacting his thinking?

ROBERT COSTA: I will be there in New York sitting behind him. I have sat behind him in court before in the civil fraud trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What’s that like?

ROBERT COSTA: Well, it’s revealing. You’re seeing his silhouette in front of you kind of bobbing and weaving in frustration, because he can’t stand this judge in the civil fraud case.

What an American scene to see a former president sitting in a courtroom, while he’s also the Republican front-runner. And this trial, more than anything, I’m told by his allies, frustrates him. He talks more in private, I’m told, about the civil fraud trial than his own Republican rivals, who had a debate a few days ago that many Republicans seemed to shrug off.

At this point, it looks like, as McCarthy told me, Trump is going to be the nominee, unless former Ambassador Haley or Governor DeSantis or Governor Christie really start to pick up momentum. And it seems like the party, based on my conversations with party leaders, are starting to just come around to that fact, even though Trump might wrap up the nomination next year just as he begins a federal trial over January 6.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we have plenty more to talk to you about, and I know we will in the weeks and months ahead.

We will be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to return to the Gaza humanitarian crisis and the devastating impact on its residents, particularly children.

Joining us is the president and CEO of Save the Children U.S., Janti Soeripto.

Good to have you here…

JANTI SOERIPTO (President and CEO, Save the Children): Thank you for having me, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … in person.

We knew half of the residents of Gaza before the war were children. For those who have survived the war to date, what is life like for them?

JANTI SOERIPTO: It’s an unbelievable humanitarian catastrophe, Margaret.

We have no access to basic services. There is an absence of clean water. We saw in the earlier segment children drinking dirty water from a – from a pipe on the ground. Will – there’s – the rainy season has started. There is sewage in the streets. There is no food. There is no electricity. Most of the hospitals are not functioning anymore.

There is no acc – there’s no electricity. It is unspeakable, essentially, what’s unfolding before our eyes. And humanitarian agencies cannot help the population of Gaza and those children in the current situation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Cannot help them. Why? Is that because there is only this one open gate at present to allow aid in, and Israel’s screening it all?

JANTI SOERIPTO: That is – is one of the issues as well.

But in the current – I mean, when the humanitarian pause happened a few days ago, for seven days…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

JANTI SOERIPTO: … those seven days were not enough. You cannot really rebuild a warehouse in seven days.

But we – and the – but there was aid coming in. We could even deliver some of those supplies, even without fuel, the necessary fuel, to get stuff all the way up to the north.

But, currently, with all this violence, the – the attacks, the shelling, the violence, we cannot go out and deliver safely. We cannot even – we also cannot ask families and children to come out and receive those deliveries, because that is not safe either.

People are putting up tents in the middle of the road, because that’s the only way to get shelter currently.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, I think any parent seeing images of a child in pain or suffering, it is just so hard to stomach.

But the other statistic that I saw from the U.N. was that 180 women give birth each day in Gaza, and UNICEF said 105,000 breast-feeding mothers are struggling to even feed themselves.

If you aren’t getting a newborn baby food in those first six months, you are setting them up for a horrible life. So what is happening to that next generation?

JANTI SOERIPTO: Well, exactly right.

We see, you know, mothers can’t feed their children. Mothers are giving birth in overcrowded shelters. They’re having C-sections without anesthesia. I mean, you know, we’ve got premature babies in incubators that cannot run because there’s no electricity.

No, it is absolutely horrific what has happened to this generation of children. And we know that, if they don’t get the food and the necessary supplies that they need, certainly in those first, you know, months of life, that is already setting them behind.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. vetoed that cease-fire call at the United Nations.

JANTI SOERIPTO: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, afterwards, your organization released a statement, said Israel is forcing civilians into so-called safe zones that cannot accommodate them and – quote – “deliberately depriving the civilian population of food, water and fuel, willfully impeding relief supplies and using starvation as a method of warfare.”

That is a very strong allegation in that press release yesterday. Why do you say this is deliberate?

JANTI SOERIPTO: There is – I mean, look, humanitarian organizations like ours, we’re really running out of words to describe how bad it is.

We work in crises all over the world, from Afghanistan, to Sudan, to Ethiopia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. So we are no strangers to war and conflict. But what is happening here is that there is – there’s two million people, a million children in a very, very small space.

There is no way to get out. Nobody can flee, which is not the case in most of these other crises. And there’s nothing coming in. And there’s an absence of basic necessities. So the siege that’s put on the people of Gaza is not – A, we cannot do it. There is no market of sorts to allow people to get access to food and water and anything they need. So – so, we think that is a willful, you know…

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a choice.

JANTI SOERIPTO: It’s a choice. It’s a choice. And it’s withholding aid from the population.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United States, the president himself has been on the phone pressing for aid to flow in more. There are other ways to get into Gaza.

Israel controls those gates.

JANTI SOERIPTO: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have they opened yet? Because the White House said they were about to.

JANTI SOERIPTO: We haven’t heard anything of that effect.

The Rafah Crossing is open. It was never set up to allow for that capacity of aid that is required. Also, we haven’t seen even those 100, 150 trucks, 200 trucks come – come across the Rafah Crossing over the past couple of days after the ending of the pause.

So we are continuously calling for Kerem Shalom to also open to allow for more to come in if and when the fighting stops.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you stay working in Gaza? Can you?

JANTI SOERIPTO: We will.

We have been there since 1953. We are not leaving now. We have 25 staff there. We won’t leave. But, at the moment, working for us in a safe and quality way is impossible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you for sharing that story of what’s happening inside.

We’ll be right back.

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