Transcript: Rep. James Clyburn on "Face the Nation," August 2, 2020

Clyburn calls for long-term extension of unemployment
Clyburn calls for long-term extension of unem... 06:51

The following is a transcript of an interview with House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn that aired Sunday, August 2, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to House Majority Whip James Clyburn, he joins us from Santee, South Carolina. Good morning, Congressman. 

REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN:  Good morning. How are you?

JOHN DICKERSON: I'm well, thanks. I want to bring up what I discussed with Mr. Meadows this morning. I asked him what question he would ask you about getting this aid package put forward, and he said, your former colleague in Congress, he said, why won't the Democrats in Congress agree to a short term measure that- that brings back this unemployment assistance and then deal with those other issues later? What's your answer?

REP. CLYBURN: Well, I would ask them is short term one week, or is it six months or even 90 days? I really think we ought to quit jerking low income people around. Let's lay out some security in their lives, some stability in their lives. And if we were to talk about extending the UI or the $600 supplement to the UI for the next six months while we negotiate all these other issues, then that would be one thing. This one week, one week, two weeks, this jerking people around is not the way we ought to be conducting ourselves as custodians of this great democracy of ours.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. But sometimes you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And wouldn't it be good to get those people who've just been getting gut punch after gut punch, now don't have the help that they- that they expected, why not give them- OK, it may not be perfect, give them a little something now while Congress works out the rest?

REP. CLYBURN: Well, I just think that they're not doing any earnest negotiations here. I don't know, I'm not in the rooms. So I don't know if they're taking the FBI building off the table. They had that in here. Did it take their business 100% deduction for business lunches off the table? I don't know if they have done that. Have they put state or local support on the table? I don't know. So it's a little bit difficult for me to say what is or is not what I would call earnest discussions, because I don't know where those things are.

JOHN DICKERSON: The allegation is that the Democrats see themselves, they have the high hand here. The president's numbers are bad and they're using the pain that people are feeling as leverage in these negotiations with Republicans.

REP. CLYBURN: No, I think what Democrats are doing, trying to keep ordinary people in focus, people who we depended on as so-called essential workers, the people seem not to think about- at least the Republicans. Why would you put a 100% deduction for business lunches in this plan? That tells you a little bit what they're thinking about. And not do anything to try to protect state and local governments. I'm here in the little town of Santee, South Carolina. This mayor and this council cannot do business if they don't get support from the federal government. And what would that do to the local banks around here? There's a little back down the corner from city hall. Those banks are not going to have deposits if- if the city of Santee or the town of Santee does not have stability in this government. So we need to look at this holistically and stop developing silos within which to deal with people.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you is- it was your hearing where the president contradicted Dr. Fauci on the question of- of tests. And the president made you the subject of one of his tweets in which he said that some figures you put forward about the number of testing in America did not take into account the fact that America has more cases because it does more testing. What's your response to the president?

REP. CLYBURN: Well, I simply laid out the facts. The president has his opinions, and he is entitled to his opinions, but I laid out the facts. I put the chart up on the board to show what happened between the European countries and what happened here. And I believe very strongly that we do not have the kind of national leadership that we need from this White House. There needs to be one coordinated, concerted effort to bring our attention to this problem nationally. This piecemeal approach that we are having, Dr. Birx saying one thing. Dr. Fauci, who I believe in very much. Dr. Redfield, I- I really believe is an earnest guy. Admiral Giroir. they were all very good. I don't find myself in disagreement with any one of them, but they are talking about facts. And this president is putting forth a political agenda and will not have the information that they have got. They had a national plan back in March. They refused to go forward with it because they were told by political consultants that don't worry about it because this thing is hanging out in New Jersey and New York and, those are blue states--

JOHN DICKERSON: Well--

REP. CLYBURN: --those are not our states. But where is it now? It's in Florida.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

REP. CLYBURN: It's in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, all red states.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the White House obviously strongly denies that- that allegation about allowing it only to happen in blue states. Let me ask you a question about your district. You used to teach public schools. If you were still a school teacher, would you go back into the classroom to teach students?

REP. CLYBURN: Absolutely not, not until we have a national plan that the school district here in South Carolina ought to be coordinated. We can't have children going to school when we have not laid out a plan for there to be social distancing, for there to be everybody required a mask. I saw where a school district down in Georgia, I believe, they are saying well you've got to have a mask on the bus but in the classroom is optional. Come on. That's not the way to run this stuff.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me--

REP. CLYBURN: We ought to have these superintendents and these teachers in these discussions informing those of us in Washington as to what's best.

JOHN DICKERSON: But in the last 30 seconds we have, I know in Charleston, in the school district, they found that kids are hard to track when they're not going to school and the kids aren't getting the services they need to get to school. So that's quite important, too, though, isn't it?

REP. CLYBURN: It is very important. That's why I have been such a long time proponent of having universal access to broadband. Everything that's great about this country, and the Internet is one of those great things, it ought to be accessible, ought to be affordable for everybody. 

JOHN DICKERSON: OK.

REP. CLYBURN: That's why rural communities where you got 34, 35% Internet adoption, that's not good.

JOHN DICKERSON: OK

REP. CLYBURN: We ought to spend the money necessary to build out 100% of broadband.

JOHN DICKERSON: Alright, Congressman Clyburn, we're out of time. Thank you so much for being with us.

REP. CLYBURN: Thanks for having me.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.