MSNBC Host Rants: GOP Budget 'Does Not Respect Women's Rights...the Environment'

In an interview with Congressman Mike Pence on Friday, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer slammed a Republican proposal to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency: "...what it does not respect are women's rights, what it does not respect is the environment. Is it going to undermine potential success here if you force social issues on to the budget table?"  

Brewer opened the 12PM ET hour segment with the Indiana Republican by blaming the Tea Party for the budget stalemate on Capitol Hill: "At issue, freshman Republicans, many with Tea Party support, who insist on slashing at least $61 billion. They also want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Social goals. Democrats are not on board."

She then grilled Pence and pushed for GOP concessions: "...it takes compromise and it takes negotiation. I know they're dirty words now, but I mean unless you're a dictator, you've got to find common ground. Is that in the future?" Pence replied: "House Republicans believe that HR-1 – with $61 billion in budget cuts that respects our Treasury, respects our values – was a compromise."

He also challenged Brewer's claim that Republicans were "slashing" the budget: "And when you're looking at a $1.65 trillion deficit this year alone, it's hard to say you're 'slashing' $61 billion. That feels a little bit more to the American people like a paper cut. But it's a start. It's a small step in the direction of fiscal discipline and we think it's worth fighting for."

After Brewer attacked the Republican proposal as against women's rights, Pence explained that it "...would just simply say the largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funding..." Brewer quickly fired back with Planned Parenthood talking points: "But they treat all kinds of women's needs. Planned Parenthood is not just an abortion provider." Pence responded: "Well that's true, but they are the largest abortion provider in the country. Performed, I think, over 300,000 abortions in the last year and received more than $350 million in taxpayer money."        

When Pence described how "240 members of Congress, a bipartisan majority, voted to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America," Brewer dismissed the effort "Well, the Democrats who are in control in the Senate are unlikely to move on something like that."

Near the end of the interview, Brewer wondered if Republicans were prepared for the "consequences" of a government shutdown. Pence replied: "I think if liberals in the Senate are unwilling to embrace even this modest step toward fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., then I say shut it down." Brewer proclaimed: "Congressman, the last time it shut down, 800,000 federal workers got furloughed. The OMB said it cost more than $1.25 billion in 1995 when Newt Gingrich led a government shutdown. Those furloughed workers go home. They don't get paychecks. But you do."

Pence explained: "Well Republicans are moving legislation on the floor today that would change that, that would say that members of the House and Senate would not be paid in the event of a government shutdown." He then added: "And it's important when we finish the budget work this year that we find at least – you know, we take one small step in the direction of fiscal discipline. $61 billion when you're facing a $1.65 trillion deficit this year is really just a down payment on fiscal discipline and House Republicans are determined to fight for it."

Here is a full transcript of the April 1 segment:

12:08PM ET

CONTESSA BREWER: Negotiators in Washington have just one more week to pass a budget and avoid government shutdown. Right now the two sides can't even agree on a base line number and some senior Republicans are reportedly getting tired of the stalemate. At issue, freshman Republicans, many with Tea Party support, who insist on slashing at least $61 billion. They also want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Social goals. Democrats are not on board.

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN [D-MD]: We've got to, you know, send a signal that you can't take the position that unless we get everything that we want, including trying to impose a social agenda, that we're going to shut down the government.

BREWER: I'm joined by Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, he's the former Republican Conference Chair. Congressman, good to see you today.

MIKE PENCE [R-IN]: Thank you.

BREWER: Listen, you have a lot of experience in the ways of Washington. You know to get things done, especially in a split Congress here, it takes compromise and it takes negotiation. I know they're dirty words now, but I mean unless you're a dictator, you've got to find common ground. Is that in the future?

PENCE: Well, you know, I expect we are going to find a way forward. But House Republicans believe that HR-1 with $61 billion in budget cuts that respects our Treasury, respects our values, was a compromise. We had more than 90 hours of debate. Many amendments passed on a bipartisan basis. And when you're looking at a $1.65 trillion deficit this year alone, it's hard to say you're 'slashing' $61 billion. That feels a little bit more to the American people like a paper cut. But it's a start. It's a small step in the direction of fiscal discipline and we think it's worth fighting for.

BREWER: If it respects the Treasury, what it does not respect are women's rights, what it does not respect is the environment. Is it going to undermine potential success here if you force social issues on to the budget table?

PENCE: Well, let me say I – you know, I am – I was the champion and the author of the Pence Amendment, which would deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America, but nothing in the Pence Amendment would deny funding to Title X, to women's health services or inner city clinics. It would just simply say the largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X, so-

BREWER: But they treat all kinds of women's needs. Planned Parenthood is not just an abortion provider.

PENCE: Well that's true, but they are the largest abortion provider in the country. Performed, I think, over 300,000 abortions in the last year and received more than $350 million in taxpayer money.

BREWER: Right, I get that you want that – again, I that you want that and that's important to you. What I'm asking though is-

PENCE: Well I think it's important to – it's important to a majority in Congress. 240 members of Congress, a bipartisan majority, voted to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America. So I think it's important to the American people.

BREWER: Well, the Democrats who are in control in the Senate are unlikely to move on something like that.

PENCE: Well, we'll see.

BREWER: So without their support you're facing now – without a deal – you're facing a government shutdown. Are you prepared for those consequences?

PENCE: Well, look, I think that really is, Contessa – I think that really is the important question. And that, you know, I think if liberals in the Senate are unwilling to embrace even this modest step toward fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., then I say shut it down. I mean, you know, look, I think the American people sent this-

BREWER: So the last time it shut down-

PENCE: This historic new majority to Washington D.C. to change the fiscal direction.

BREWER: Congressman, the last time it shut down, 800,000 federal workers got furloughed. The OMB said it cost more than $1.25 billion in 1995 when Newt Gingrich led a government shutdown. Those furloughed workers go home. They don't get paychecks. But you do.

PENCE: Well Republicans are moving legislation on the floor today that would change that, that would say that members of the House and Senate would not be paid in the event of a government shutdown. So, you know, we'll address that. I just think most Americans know that we're facing a fiscal crisis, a sea of red ink of unprecedented proportions. And it's important when we finish the budget work this year that we find at least – you know, we take one small step in the direction of fiscal discipline. $61 billion when you're facing a $1.65 trillion deficit this year is really just a down payment on fiscal discipline. And House Republicans are determined to fight for it.

BREWER: I think that you're right. I think the vast majority of Americans will agree that, financially speaking, something has got to be done. I just think that where we stand is the big disagreement on how it gets done and what should be done. Congressman, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you.         

PENCE: Thank you, Contessa.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC