Wednesday Q+A With Patrick McHenry

The House GOP’s chief deputy whip on repealing Obamacare, building Trump’s border wall, and the “rambling brood” of Republicans he helps manage.

Rep. Patrick McHenry is interviewed in his Capitol Hill office on Jan. 3, 2017.
Chet Susslin
Jan. 3, 2017, 8 p.m.

As the chief deputy whip for House Re­pub­lic­ans, Rep. Patrick McHenry has his hands full count­ing votes in a some­times di­vided con­fer­ence. The North Car­o­lina law­maker spoke with Daniel Ne­whaus­er on Tues­day about the pri­or­it­ies and chal­lenges of the 115th Con­gress.

We’ve got a big year ahead, with lots of le­gis­lat­ive pri­or­it­ies. What will the or­der of these big-tick­et items will be?

What we do know is the open­ing act is: re­peal Obama­care. That is a more con­trolled op­er­a­tion, mean­ing there are time lim­its in the Sen­ate, there’s a 51-vote mar­gin to vote all those things that en­able us to get a re­peal budget res­ol­u­tion through, and our pro­cess is con­trolled get­ting the re­con­cili­ation pack­age out of the House and in­to the Sen­ate. We have, then, Janu­ary, Feb­ru­ary mapped out, res­ult­ing in a re­peal, and per­haps that goes in­to March. We then have the un­do­ing of a num­ber of reg­u­la­tions that will hap­pen in the first two months. …

In­fra­struc­ture is sort of an un­deter­mined time peri­od be­cause you have to have the abil­ity to pay for that, and that leads to its own level of com­plex­ity. So all the while that’s hap­pen­ing, you have the form and nature of tax re­form work­ing its way through com­mit­tee and work­ing its way through the pro­cess to build some type of broad­er con­sensus around our tax-re­form plan. That has to hap­pen over a series of months. And the health care re­form pack­ages that we want to put to­geth­er have to take form in com­mit­tee. So a lot of that stuff will take time to bake. How you fund a wall, how you fund bor­der se­cur­ity, how you fund im­mig­ra­tion en­force­ment and that pack­age around im­mig­ra­tion en­force­ment can hap­pen in the next six months. … Then the cul­min­a­tion of tax re­form is between now and Septem­ber, for us here in the House.

Can you re­peal Obama­care out­right on Day One, or does there have to be a wind-down peri­od, and if so, how long?

It’s really a ques­tion of two or three years, be­cause you have to first ad­mit you’re not go­ing to do it im­me­di­ately. You’re not go­ing to take away people’s in­sur­ance. So how do you en­sure you have a struc­tur­al change? OK, then you’re look­ing at two or three years, and that de­cision has not been fi­nal­ized. It’s go­ing to be a ques­tion of, really, the prac­tic­al real­it­ies of im­ple­ment­a­tion.

In­fra­struc­ture has not ne­ces­sar­ily been a House or Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an pri­or­ity, but will this get done if Pres­id­ent-elect Don­ald Trump really pushes for it? And how?

To achieve an in­fra­struc­ture plan, I think we would have to have a way to pay for it. I’ve long sup­por­ted, and a num­ber of us in the House have sup­por­ted, a con­nec­tion between en­ergy sources and the move­ment of goods and people. … Let’s go to that next gen­er­a­tion of rev­en­ue, which is our nat­ur­al re­sources on pub­lic lands, and con­nect that in­come to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment for util­iz­ing those re­sources, pay­ing for our in­fra­struc­ture. Or en­able us, for the oil that we ex­port—which we can now ex­port be­cause we lif­ted the ex­port ban on crude oil—and con­nect that rev­en­ue to fund­ing our high­ways, roads, and bridges.

Will there be an ac­tu­al wall along the na­tion­al bor­der? Are we talk­ing about a fence, or a sur­veil­lance wall, like drones?

The pres­id­ent ran on build­ing a big, beau­ti­ful wall. He will achieve the first steps of that, I be­lieve, in the first half of this year. … How Con­gress has pre­vi­ously passed this is we’ve en­abled the ad­min­is­tra­tion to define what that is. So in cer­tain areas, the in­fra­struc­ture will be dif­fer­ent. But that’s a de­tail to be worked out. … So the ques­tion be­comes, how do you have a more im­me­di­ate down pay­ment for real bor­der se­cur­ity? … We can change the law so the Bor­der Patrol can ac­tu­ally patrol the full­ness of our south­ern bor­der. We can change the law so that those that present them­selves at the bor­der are not taken in­to cus­tody in the United States and re­leased in the United States.

The CIA, FBI, and Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment have all said Rus­sia hacked U.S. tar­gets to in­flu­ence the elec­tion in Trump’s fa­vor. With the Benghazi and Planned Par­ent­hood scan­dals, spe­cial com­mit­tees were em­paneled. Why would it not be ap­pro­pri­ate to do the same for this?

I’m not a big be­liev­er in cre­at­ing new com­mit­tees. … We have the Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence. We have sol­id, smart mem­bers who are work­ing on this to make sure they are hold­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­munity to ac­count and mak­ing sure there’s a check and bal­ance on what hap­pens in the ex­ec­ut­ive-branch in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. I’m con­fid­ent they’re do­ing their part to en­sure there’s prop­er over­sight. I’m not go­ing to rush to judg­ment about the next steps that will be taken.

Do you think a Trump vic­tory makes it easi­er to deal with the Free­dom Caucus?

We have a ram­bling brood, a cir­cus of a fam­ily, if you will. Like any good fam­ily we can have large dis­agree­ments, but when we’re ac­tu­ally try­ing to achieve something, we can work to­geth­er and we can achieve res­ults. I ac­tu­ally am ex­traordin­ar­ily hope­ful. The Free­dom Caucus is smal­ler go­ing in­to this Con­gress and is smal­ler as a per­cent­age of the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence, but those battles of last Con­gress are so dif­fer­ent than what we’ll face go­ing in­to this Con­gress.

What We're Following See More »
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
1 weeks ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
COULD SOW DIVISION AMONG REPUBLICANS
House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
1 weeks ago
THE DETAILS

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Source:
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DRUG FORFEITURE FUND
Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
1 weeks ago
THE DETAILS

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

Source:
TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN
House Passes Funding Deal
1 weeks ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login