Transcript: Rep. Michael McCaul on "Face the Nation," July 16, 2023
The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that aired on "Face the Nation" on July 16, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Republican Representative Mike McCaul. Welcome back.
HOUSE FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I have a lot to get to with you, but I want to start on the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Republican controlled House and it was- it drew a lot of attention this week because of the social policy issues attached to it. So this is a bill, it pays military personnel, does things necessary for national security. Once this goes to the Senate, they're going to chop out all those things, you know that. It comes back to you in the House. Are you confident that Republicans can get this necessary piece of legislation through without having to turn to Democrats to help you get it over the finish line?
REP. MCCAUL: You know, we saw the session when the Democrats had the majority, they passed a very partisan, you know, NDAA bill, went over to the Senate, you know, I'm on the conference- we did the conference committee, and traditionally the more partisan minutes get stripped out. At the end of the day, this always ends up as a bipartisan bill. But there were some- certain policies like for instance, the Hyde Amendment since 1980 not to fund taxpayer abortions our members felt was very important to put in there. I think that's one that will survive.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you're talking about the provision that would restrict funding to allow service members to travel.
REP. MCCAUL: And pay expenses, yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it doesn't in any way, the Pentagon policy, fund abortions.
REP. MCCAUL: Well, you know, I wish they hadn't--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Or fertility services.
REP. MCCAUL: They actually kind of started this argument, and look, this is a process, you know. We had a lot of amendments, our members needed that vote, and I do think at the end of the day, we come together as a conference and it will be a bipartisan bill. I think there's nothing more important than our national defense and our military. We give the largest pay raise in 20 years. We upgrade our triad system and our- our nuclear capabilities, hypersonics, a lot to counter China and particularly in Taiwan. So it's vitally important we not politicize this bill at the end of the day, and I feel very confident we'll have a bipartisan bill coming out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Because you did vote to eliminate the diversity offices at the Pentagon, to deny transgender troops coverage for hormone therapy, for this restriction on funding for people to get reproductive services including fertility treatments and abortions to travel. None of that you think ends up in the final bill--
REP. MCCAUL: That goes against --
MARGARET BRENNAN: None of those things will get Democratic votes --
REP. MCCAUL: Goes against- since 1980 we haven't funded anything that goes towards taxpayer, you know, abortions. I think some of the policies on culture that the- that the Defense Department has instituted has caused problems within our own military. Recruitment is at an all-time low now. After Afghanistan and then to watch these videos that these- these trained, you know, say S.E.A.L.S. have to watch, you know, injecting their own social, moral policies. Let's make it about readiness and our ability to fight a war.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well yeah, and that's why the Defense Secretary said, what, one in five troops are now female, and that- what he put this policy in to be able to do is for them to travel to get things that aren't covered in the states they're living. So should- shouldn't all troops, regardless of where they're stationed, get the same treatment? Like why penalize them for living in Texas versus California?
REP. MCCAUL: Well they're free- they're free to travel to another state to have- to have an abortion--
MARGARET BRENNAN: They would be penalized, they'd have to take time off.
REP. MCCAUL: Just not at taxpayer expense.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They'd have to take the time off and the like, and so that would impact their ability to do their jobs, arguably, right? If they have to go on leave. Anyway, I want to ask you about one of the things that's in there- not in there, but many conservative members of your caucus wanted it to, and those are restrictions on funding for Ukraine. What does that indicate about what Republicans will get over the finish line in the fall in terms of an actual supplemental to help Ukraine?
REP. MCCAUL: Well you know my position on Ukraine. We should have a year ago been putting in the weapons we've been putting in just now, for victory, not to- just to survive. There were several Ukraine amendments, they all failed, and I would say the majority of Republicans voted to support Ukraine. At the end of the day, the Reagan Institute did a great- a great poll that showed that over 70% of Republicans support Ukraine and I think that was reflected in our vote. Yes, we had about 70 members that voted against it, but I do think when it comes back, you're going to see a more bipartisan support for things like our efforts in Ukraine, particularly as we're in the counteroffensive. To me, it's very dangerous to have these amendments when Ukraine is in the crossfire trying to push the aggression of Russia back on the counteroffensive--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking amendments like what Marjorie Taylor Greene was trying to attach and Republicans did oppose this thing that they --
REP. MCCAUL: Correct. Correct. We did. And it failed. And I think that's good news.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been pushing for longer range missile systems like ATACMS. Do you have enough funding in this current allotment or what you can put together in the fall to continue the pace of weapons?
REP. MCCAUL: Sure. It was already appropriated in the supplemental last year. You know, the $90 billion. I mean, it's a drawdown authority. We have ATACMS. I have great sources on the ground and they're telling me right- right now, because of the mines and the fortifications that what they need- the cluster munitions will help with, you know, killing Russians in the field; however, they need the longer range artilleries to hit the depots, the energy, the logistical supply lines, they don't have that, and they don't have air cover. That's really important here. Because the F-16s were held back so long, by the administration, and the pilot training, that they don't have what they need to win in this counteroffensive and it's really sad.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you quickly about Iran. You've been vocal in asking the administration for a briefing on the presidential envoy Rob Malley and why he is suspended. Do you have any promise that you'll get it? That you'll get information?
REP. MCCAUL: Well, we sent- I sent a letter. We were rebuked. We have been given no answer about his status. Remember, this is a top negotiator to Iran on one of the most, you know, nuclear weapons programs --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REP. MCCAUL: Highest classified secrets. So we are giving a deadline of July 25th to have, you know, the diplomatic security and management secretary come in and brief us in a classified space. Margaret, I can't tell you how important this is because if he somehow- you know, worst case scenario, transferred intelligence and secrets to our foreign adversaries--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But there's no proof of that at this point.
REP. MCCAUL: There's no proof of that, but if he did, that would be treason in my view.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Unfortunately I have to leave it there. Because we have a hard out here. But more to talk to you about as always. We'll be right back.
REP. MCCAUL: Thanks Margaret.