tv Washington Journal Rep. Ami Bera CSPAN February 4, 2022 3:27am-4:00am EST
california, democrat from that state. he is a member of the foreign affairs committee. thank you for your time, sir. i want to talk about issues of russia and ukraine, but first i want to get your thoughts on this announcement by the president on the death of the isis leader and the operation by the united states. guest: we're still getting the details and i think we expect to hear from the president this morning. it still shows there is a continued threat for isis, and we saw the hostages a couple weeks ago. we have to remain vigilant in states like syria. host: do you get information about this beforehand or afterward? how does that usually work? guest: usually we won't get the information on airstrikes ahead of time. we get some after the fact. host: decisions about russia and
afghanistan, what was the purpose of that trip? guest: the purpose of the trip centered on ukraine, where we went to give -- kyiv to get an assessment of our european and nato allies. but also to have a direct conversation with a zelensky -- with the linsky -- with zelensky and ukraine to see if these russians are threatening him. we are taking the threats very seriously. host: as far as the nature of it, since two say it is not imminent, what status do you think it is? and what does that mean to the united states, especially with president biden adding more troops to the mix? guest: we are trying to make sure that the russians and mr. putin -- the ukrainians, they have been on board with russia since 2018 when russia invaded
crimea. they have been in a constant fight for the last eight years. they are not asking for the united states to send troops in. they're asking for security assistance, economic assistance. on the nato front, we are shoring up the eastern european-nato allies. i think that is the right thing to do. host: i was going to ask you about your level of comfort, using american troops in that process. guest: that is part of nato obligations. it is not just american troops. he was seeing the british, the french, but also ukraine shoring up their defenses. host: ukraine is not a nato country. what is the point of the u.s. being involved in the first place? guest: i went down to the house floor yesterday and really pointed out that when you talk to the ukrainian people, they are a young democracy. they appreciate their freedoms.
i think that is what scares vladimir putin. you have democracy, and it is moving westward. they are going to fight for their democracy. i think we as the oldest democracy in the world ought to stand with people who want to choose their own path forward, who want freedom and liberty. as at the birth of our nation, others like the french supported us in our quest for freedom. host: how much interaction did you have with president zelensky? guest: we had time with president zelensky and some of his staff, open, frank conversation. i think he does get the russian threat. they are concerned about crating panic in the ukraine. they're concerned about the impact on their economy. that said, he is willing to fight and defend his country. host: he has made messages over the last few days about tempering down concerns
expressed by the west concerning what is going on. how do you respond to that? guest: i understand why he is doing that, because he wants to keep calm in his country. my sense, talking to high-level leaders and ukraine, fully preparing -- they understand that if the russians have a full-scale invasion, the russians are better equipped. they have got a bigger military. they have got to be -- they are not able to defeat a full russian invasion. what they are also hunkering down and willing to fight an insurgency and fight back. host: representative ami bera joining us, mccright from california. if you want to questions, particularly on issues of foreign policy, call him. you can also text us.
representative, in those discussions, what sense did you get as far as the preparedness about a possible invasion by ukraine? how prepared are they? they are getting -- guest: they are getting prepared. based on conversations, if the russians were to invade, it probably happens in the next few weeks, based on weather patterns in the region. there is a lot of snow and ice and cold in the region. as soon as the ice and snow starts to melt, it becomes harder for folks to move heavy equipment through there. the timeframe is short for them to do all the necessary preparations. it does seem like they are moving ahead. i think in the united states as well as our nato allies, we are supporting them with equipment and expertise. host: as far as troops are concerned, do you foresee the level of troops committed to staying the same, or do you see an increase possible? as far as american troops
assisting in nato. guest: we will meet our nato obligations. president biden has activated 8500 troops to be at the ready. i think 3000 are going to eastern europe along with other nato allies coming to shore up other nato members. that could increase if there is a full-scale invasion. the point here is to deter vladimir putin from invading ukraine. guest: senator mike braun of indiana said this. as far as troops are concerned, i've strongly opposed president biden's decision to send troops to eastern europe to defend countries that should defend themselves. two weeks ago, president biden killed an action that would have ended the pipeline.
that is on the senate side, but what do you think of the sentiment? guest: i voted for sanctions on nord stream 2 because i do think it gives vladimir putin the ability for recursive measures. that said, the president has, pretty strong, saying that if there is an invasion, but are prudent can kiss nord stream 2 goodbye. the germans may not like that, but there have to be economic consequences. there are impacts on europe because of their dependence on russian energy needs. he saw the meeting earlier this week, trying to shore up natural gas supplies. host: joe in west plains, missouri, republican line. go ahead. caller: i don't think the russians or putin are going to do anything.
they would have did it already. it is not a good military strategy to wait until your opponent that's their troops in order, and then we are going to do it. they are not going to do nothing. they are just pushing our buttons. and what the hell do you mean by security assistance? what does that mean? i think it means nothing. goodbye. guest: it is entirely possible that vladimir putin is full of bluster. we hope he thinks better of this. when we think about sending military equipment, we are getting to basics like body armor, munitions, and the like. in a bipartisan way, congress has to support people. caller: i've got a question. why is he willing to send american troops to ukraine but won't do nothing about the southern border? guest: nobody is talking about
sending american troops into ukraine, and ukraine is not asking for boots on the ground. they're fully prepared to defend their own country. we are meeting our nato obligations. through article five, we all come together. when we went into afghanistan, the nato forces sent the forces beside our forces. there are former soviet union countries that are now part of nato. we have been working with nato. host: we heard the secretary of state talking with russia. how confident are you in diplomacy? guest: my hope is that we find a dip a medic path forward. a relationship with russia has not been great in recent years. i would like to get us to a better place. in the pre-first century, we
don't need this type of armed conflict. i am empathetic to viewers who after 20 years in afghanistan are a bit war weary. there has been this rise in autocratic leaders. you see it in beijing, you see it in russia, and it is not a given that the democratic way will be the path forward in the 21st century. i think we have to stand up for democracy. i think we have to stand up for freedom and liberty. host: you mentioned afghanistan. critics citing the pullout in afghanistan. much like going with russia, ukraine, are there comparisons to be made? guest: i think afghanistan is a very different situation than ukraine. certainly, the withdrawal from afghanistan could have gone much more smoothly. but at the end of the day i
don't think people disagree that after 20 years of fighting it was time to start bringing our troops home. what you saw was that the afghan army, the afghan people, did not step up to fight to preserve their country. the taliban kind of rolled through. i think that is the difference. in ukraine, even talking to everyday citizens, they are getting ready to fight to defend their own country. i hope this is not an invasion. i hope there is not a full-scale war between russia and ukraine. but i would -- i walked away from my visit to luov -- kyiv knowing the people will fight to defend their own country. this was a bipartisan trip. it is important for democrats and republicans to go talk to folks directly together. if there is a confrontation between russia and ukraine, it
is always going to be stronger if democrats and republicans can speak with one voice. host: in albuquerque, new mexico, democrats line, you are up. caller: good morning, pedro. i have been trying to reach you a few times, and it has been difficult. thank you for taking my call. good morning, representative. thank you for what you have done and how you stand for it. i strongly agree with the caller that was talking about our brothers and sisters from our southern border. they do work hard. they do live in multifamily homes. but they do work for their own single homes. that is what we all work for. isn't that the american dream, to get the house with the white picket fence and a little dog called -- what is that little dog called? i'm a sheet metal worker. i've been in the traits for a long time. in our trade, on the, we have
seen a lot of ethnicities come from different cultures, different parts of the world, even our own country, from different states, travelers. and we have always respected them. they work hard. they work for the paycheck, earn money for their family. give them a chance. this country is based off of sweat, blood, and tears, and even death, of immigrants. that is what this country is based on. can't we all get along? guest: i appreciate that sentiment. we are a nation of immigrants. one generation after another has come to the united states to build a better life for ourselves as well as our children. that is what makes america great nature, people bring their traditions and religions with them, all woven into this great tapestry.
part of the issue with supply chains and inflation, i believe -- the last five years, the flow of immigrants has just trickled. i think that is going to be a real issue. to rebuild america's infrastructure, we passed the largest infrastructure bill in our history, and a bipartisan way. there is going to be a real issue. we have the workers to rebuild those highways, water systems? that is where the immigrant workforce -- i would hope that we could come up with a bipartisan way to allow some of those workers to come here, contribute to our economy. as one of the earlier callers said, allow them to pay their fair share of taxes. let's treat them with respect. they do contribute to the united states. host: robert, brooklyn, new york, republican line. caller: i don't know military,
russia, ukraine. in world war ii, 20 million people died. was world war ii for race or was it for some other reason? could you explain world war ii for me, if it was for race or not? can i get my explanation, please? guest: i think i got some of that. i think the world war ii analogy is important. if you look at our history, the united states did not want to get involved. after pearl harbor, the united states got involved. those in the pacific theater as well as the european/african theater. there was tremendous loss of life. that is what we are trying to avoid at this point. if you think about the 75 plus years past world war ii -- the united states, we helped rebuild
europe. we created relative peace and prosperity on the european continent after decades and centuries of ongoing conflict in europe. i don't think we want to go back to that time in the early 20th century, where there was constant conflict on the european peninsula. i don't think the countries in europe want to go back there either. that is why it is important for us to step up, to work with our european union allies, to work with our nato allies, and hopefully engage in dialogue with vladimir putin and russia, to find a better path forward. war is not beneficial to anyone. and obviously there are lots of humanitarian issues created by it that are not beneficial to anyone. host: one of the discussions with ukraine is the idea of the
expansion of nato and whether ukraine should be part of the expansion. what do think about expanding nato and making ukraine part of it? guest: nobody is talking about ukraine joining nato. the president said that. the nato allies are all coming together to admit any additional countries into a nato bloc. at this point, i don't think russia has to worry about that. i think that is a false flag. host: dorothy in north carolina, democrats line. caller: hello, gentlemen. you know, our democratic party, i know they are trying to do good, but people are talking about immigration, which is true. you could just have people come in and you could weed in who is who, and it would be over there, but you would have some guards
come in the national guard or whatever, to make sure people don't get killed. that could be solved right there. russia is not going to attack ukraine. they are just messing with us. and one more suggestion. senior citizens. you never talk about giving us a break on that medicare that they take out almost $200. most seniors can't afford that. but you all don't even mention anything to seniors, and you let republicans run all over you with all kind of everything. and you never message good messaging about helping people. you bundle everything together. nobody knows what is what. it is just terrible. it is horrible. guest: yeah, there is a lot in there. on the messaging side, i do think we could be a lot clearer on who we want to help. when it comes to seniors, i think we are pretty clear that
we understand the burdens that are on so many american seniors, particularly on health care costs, the cost of medicare. one thing it certainly helps you do is address the cost of prescription drugs. that is a burden on so many of america's seniors. that is something we did negotiate and put in the build back better act. if there is not going to be a big bill, i think that is one piece we have to pull out and try to pass. host: can that happen even on the piece aspect? has leadership told you that will happen? guest: i think leadership is still trying to push together a bigger package. it might not be as big as originally envisioned. as the caller said, if we do not do something on prescription drug prices when he -- when we have talked about it so long, there will be a backlash. a lot of democrats feel at a minimum that peace which was negotiated, which was not what
the leadership originally wanted -- it was a compromise. senator sinema said she could support that package. i imagine joe manchin would support it. you could get it out of the house, and i bet you could get 50 votes in the senate. host: you talk about the success of the infrastructure law, the current status of bill back better. as far as those issues are concerned, are you concerned going toward november, the midterm elections, what democrats will be able to offer that you would be able to support, as far as why would that support be given? guest: i think as we go back to our districts and you get into campaign season -- we spend too much time saying what we did not get done. what we got done back in march with the american rescue plan, which really didn't rape up vaccinations but also provided necessary funding for law enforcement to rehire firefighters, to get small businesses back up and running, and to get our kids back in school -- what we did was a
bipartisan infrastructure plan, rebuilding america, investing in ourselves. what we are debating on the house for today which will go to conference with the senate -- we will invest in technology, bringing jobs back to the united states. those three bills, taken together, even including the build back better act, are huge, and i think they will jump start a recovery if we come out -- as we come out of the pandemic. host: our guest was formerly a clinical professor of medicine and associate dean for admissions, and sacramento county's chief medical officer. as far as covid is concerned, from your medical perspective, where are we, particularly as far as testing by the federal government, in particular as far as how people are cared for? where do you think we are? guest: i think we have to start
making the shift to thinking about this as a pandemic that is going to end one day, and start to message to the public and talk to the public honestly. covid is not going away. we have to learn how to live with it. we certainly know that the vaccines are very effective, especially if you have your booster shots. get vaccinated, get your booster, it is very effective. we also know that we cannot take our kids out of school any longer. we have given school districts billions of dollars to improve their ventilation systems. if we did that, we would keep our kids very safe. and we have learned a lot about how to mitigate covid, so let's use common sense. if you are feeling ill, you have a sore throat, a runny nose, we should have readily available covid tests, where you can test yourself.
if you work from home, you take that day off, you wear a mask -- there will be stops and starts, but i think it is time to start getting our lives back and living with covid, and doing what we have to do to mitigate it. host: the administration approach to testing -- could the administration have done things differently when it comes to putting more tests out? guest: certainly going back to the last administration, there was a mandal with testing on the front-end, which probably did make the initial phases of covid much harder in the united states than it needed to be. if there is readily available testing, we should get those out to individuals that request them. if you just go out and buy a test, you should be able to get reimbursed for that. but again, the rapid tests should be readily available. host: from illinois, democrats
line, good morning. caller: good morning. do you think there is a chance that biden and trump -- i'm sorry -- have decided to create this russian/ukraine hoax to increase the price of oil and gas? it seems like if you correlate the stories of ukraine and russia, they are correlated to very high increases in oil and gas, and trump and putin could have futures markets on the oil exchange. i'm wondering, is there any talk about that at all? guest: certainly, former president trump and vladimir putin have an unusual relationship. i think many of us in congress would like to know the things that they talked about in private, and everything else.
i don't think this was necessarily collision -- collusion between latimer pump -- between president trump and vladimir putin. gas prices are high in the united states, and i don't think any of us wants to see gas prices go up. that would certainly impact president biden's standing. i don't think this is a plot by president trump. host: howard, chicago, illinois. caller: i am responding to the previous caller from illinois. trump is not really relevant. no one ever talks about the relationship between our current president and the head of china, or -- our current president, one reason our price of gas is so high is, didn't he cut the keystone pipeline? and didn't he approve the deal for russia to sell fuel to germany? no germany, one of our nato
allies, who we are there to protect, is buying from our enemy. but in nato, germany would not allow weapons to be transported from germany because of that relationship. everyone keeps saying trump this and trump that. trump has nothing to do with anything anymore. you are giving him a voice where there is not one. no one ever looks at the president and his relationships with former heads of state. host: howard, you made a point. we will let our guest respond. guest: howard, i am not focused on president trump, since he is no longer president. i think there is some legitimacy to what happened to u.s. oil. right now, we export more oil, and i believe right now we are the largest producer of oil and natural gas. we keep them here to bring down
the price of gas for consumers. on the german element, you were talking about nord stream 2, a pipeline. some of us had agreements with president biden. i voted against north stream in the past because of the very concern we are living through right now. russia could use it in a coercive way over europe. we have been very clear with the germans. if there was this invasion, nord stream 2 would never come online. it would get shut down. that is a sentiment shared by a lot of european countries. i would like the germans to stand up a little bit stronger and speak with the same voice that we are speaking. i think the biden administration is trying to work on that. host: stephanie on our independent line. go ahead quickly please with your question or comment. caller: mr. bera, i heard you
say they were doing the nato obligation. what about the obligation to the u.s. citizens about keeping the illegals out? i mean seriously, come on. guest: so we do have an obligation to protect our own borders. how i would look at that is a combination of protecting the southern and order borders. viewers talked about folks that are coming in our airports. i don't think it is a huge risk, but we certainly should be doing things. i think the best way to address immigration is to come up and reform our immigration system, as a number of viewers have talked about, folks that are coming here for work. the truth is we need those workers to keep our economy going. we need those workers to help with their supply chain in the agriculture and construction
sector. these are folks that are hard-working individuals that would like to live a better life, want to contribute to the american dream. i think it behooves us as congress to come up with comprehensive aggression reform. host: february 18 is the deadline for government funding. would you keep the government funded, do you think? guest: i do think we will do an omnibus bill as opposed to a continuing resolution. you might see a short-term fix for a week or two, but we ought to pass the omnibus bill in the regular order. host: that is representative ami bera of california, joining us to talk about issues of ukraine and