CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Interview with Congressman Max Rose

By: Max Rose
By: Max Rose
Date: Oct. 18, 2020



BLITZER: President Trump just landed in Reno, Nevada, briefly, very briefly, spoke to reporters and he said this. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of the crowds have been incredible and they have been incredible size, too. I don't think there's anybody that's covered that properly because the kind of size that we have, I don't think has ever been done before and the enthusiasm that we have, I don't think anybody has ever had more enthusiasm. So it's a real honor. We will see you in a little while, I assume you're all going and we'll see you over in Carson City.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- update on the stimulus talk (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: We're talking about it. I think Nancy Pelosi is maybe coming along. We'll find out. We want to do it. I want to do it at a bigger number than she wants. That doesn't mean all the Republicans agree with me but I think they will in the end. If she would go along, I think they would, too, on stimulus. So let's see what happens. Thank you very much. See you over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: You just heard the president say he wants a bigger economic stimulus package than the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi earlier today said the clock is ticking and a deal must be reached with the Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin within the next 48 hours if they want to pass a desperately needed stimulus bill before the November 3rd election. A bill that millions of Americans right now are so desperate to see pass in some form. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Forty-eight only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.


PELOSI: Yes, so which we do but we're saying to them, we have to freeze the design on some of these things. Are we going with it or not? And what is the language? I'm optimistic.


BLITZER: Democratic Congressman Max Rose of New York is joining us right now.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. Let me get your reaction to what we just heard from the president and from the speaker. Are you optimistic that a deal between the administration and the House of Representatives can be worked out in the next 48 hours and then presumably the president will squeeze the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to pass it in the Senate?

REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY): Well, look, I'm not sure if I'm a big fan of a 48-hour deadline. No one should be walking away from these negotiations, not while we have millions of Americans suffering and millions of Americans who don't want to wait five months, six months until a new administration and a new Senate gets settled in. Now, hearing the president say those words, I'm happy to hear he wants a big stimulus.


Suffice it to say that's not where he was two months ago. The Democratic Party needs to learn to a certain extent how to declare victory and go home. It was through sheer force of will, reason and persuasion that we pushed the Republican party to the point that they are at. We should pass a bold and nonetheless bipartisan bill out of the House and then put the pressure and the focus of the nation where it should be, on Mitch McConnell, who has only expressed support for this point for a skinny bill.

It's a good thing we can have a skinny plan to beat the Nazis. But we -- let me cause up by saying this, though, about Mitch McConnell. He's not a demigod. OK. He's just a rich guy from the Midwest. We have pushed him before to do the right thing. Just remember the Victims Compensation Fund where we were there for 9/11 first responders. At first, he was saying we don't have the money or that's just a blue state problem, and then we forced him to do it. The stories of 9/11 first responders forced him to do it and we will do it again with COVID relief.

BLITZER: Well, tell us what's going on in your congressional district Staten Island, in New York, parts of Brooklyn, I understand. How desperate are a lot of the people there? How badly do they need some serious economic assistance right now to help them pay the bills, pay the rent, feed their families?

ROSE: Well, people are in desperate need of direct assistance, whether it is extended unemployment, stimulus checks and the like. But we also cannot forget about the importance of state and local aid. If we don't have that, you will see thousands of New York City workers, whether it's cops, firemen, teachers, sanitation workers and so many others potentially laid off. You'll see a dramatic reduction in social services. You'll see tolls increased.

You'll see transportation cut incredibly and transportation is a social justice issue. So at this point, everything is on the line. That's why we need a bold bill. We can't have something small like Mitch McConnell had pushed in the past. We have to have something that is commensurate with the scale of the public health and economic crisis that we're facing right now.

BLITZER: So what's your message to the speaker? You're a Democrat. She's obviously the top Democrat in the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House. What's your message to her at this very sensitive moment?

ROSE: Sure. Well, the first message is, and this is a message to the entire Democratic leadership, do not under any circumstances figure this next election into your calculations. OK. We should not for a second be saying to ourselves or publicly, we're not going to make a deal with the Trump administration because it could potentially help him in his campaign. That is why the American people hate politics.

The second message is, of course, don't give up on things like state and local aid. OK. Then we're just passing a Mitch McConnell skinny bill. We are so close to being there for the American people and in the process we will show them that we can still be bipartisan in this country and we can still put country first.

BLITZER: But do you believe that if Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and the speaker work out a deal, the president will in fact squeeze, pressure Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority in the Senate to pass it as well so he can sign it into law and that money can go to all those desperate people out there?

ROSE: Listen, Mitch McConnell has demonstrated time and again that he is a fully owned subsidiary of Donald Trump, Incorporated. He's a blind sycophant. So he, I do believe, that will do it. Not because he necessarily cares. But with that being said as well, though, I'll never give up hope on this country. OK? I'll never give up hope that we will finally be able to meet this crisis with a dramatic governmental action, state and local aid, more money for testing, more stimulus checks and the like, because as we've said time and again, millions of people are suffering.

BLITZER: They certainly are. But you've heard it and I've heard it as well from some Democrats if a deal is worked out with only 16 or 15 or 14 days left, the president will use that to his political advantage, get the checks going out there and it could help him potentially get reelected. You've heard that from some of your Democratic colleagues, right?

ROSE: Stop. This is everything that's wrong here. OK? Think about it from this perspective. OK? If you are struggling to make rent, if you're struggling to keep your small business open, do you think people care about an election? If we delay this until the Biden administration, we're talking about three, four, five months, the American people cannot wait.

If we continue to just kick the can down the road until the next election and the next election, this vicious cycle in American politics will never end. We have to meet the needs of the American people. That's why they elected us. Not to plan for our next election.


BLITZER: If it's not done between now and November 3rd, do you think it could be done during the lame-duck session assuming if the president were to lose the election?

ROSE: Absolutely, I think that that's possible. As I said, and this is why I oppose some, you know, 48-hour deadline. It was wrong when Donald Trump walked away from the negotiating table. It would be wrong if the Democrats walk away from the negotiating table. And that is the case after the election as well because all I know and all I can guarantee is that with each passing day without action, the American people will be suffering more.

This pandemic is not going away and this economic crisis is not going away, and the only ones that can step in the United States Congress and the president of the United States.

BLITZER: It's a huge, huge moment right now. We'll see what happens. The pressure is clearly there.

Congressman Max Rose of New York, thanks so much for joining us.

ROSE: Thank you again.