The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas that aired on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go to another Republican Tony Gonzales of Texas. He is in San Antonio this morning. Congressman, let’s get right to it. I saw you said on Fox News Friday, you’re very worried. And the American public should be “terrified” at what the 118th Congress is going to look like with all this division. Exactly what do we need to be prepared for?
REP. TONY GONZALES: Yeah, Margaret. Good morning. Thank you for having me. You know, the Speaker vote is the easiest vote we’ll take in Congress. And it was pretty chaotic. The rules, the rules package is the next easiest vote. It’s – look the House of Representatives is a rough and rowdy place. Anybody that watched C-span this week got to see it firsthand. This is only the beginning. And with a such a small minority, Republicans are much different than Democrats. We’re not just going to line up and jump off the cliff. All of us represent our districts and we’re going to fight for that. I spent 20 years in the military. Beyond my district, we’ve gotten a nation to save and – and part of this division doesn’t help. But at the end of the day, you can’t let you know the insurgency caucus take hold and dictate. You know, Kevin McCarthy ran on this commitment to America. Great leadership. He put this together, many of us got elected this cycle because of his commitment to America. These are the type of policies that we have to initiate
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you dropped a bit of a bomb when you said that even though you have supported McCarthy and voted for him, you are going to vote against this rules package tomorrow, that includes some of the deals he brokered, Why? And how many Republicans are with you? And then what happens?
REP. GONZALES: Yeah, McCarthy’s a great leader like, once again, you know, he put together this commitment to America agenda that we have all circled behind. The reason why I’m voting against the rules package was really two – two specific reasons. One, you know, we were supposed to vote on this rules package in the dead of the night right after swearing in, which I think is very, not transparent of what happens. I’m pleased to see that that has now been pushed to Monday. that gives a lot of people an opportunity to, to, to vote on it in during during the daylight hours.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did it change your mind?
REP. GONZALES: And more importantly, was this – this has a proposed billions of dollar cut to defense, which I think is a horrible idea. When you have aggressive Russia and Ukraine, you’ve got a growing threat of China in the Pacific, you know, I’m going to visit Taiwan here in a couple of weeks, how am I going to look at our allies in the eye and say, I need you to increase your defense budget, but yet America is going to decrease ours.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So that is – you are still going to vote against it tomorrow. How many Republicans are with you? And does this cause further chaos?
REP. TONY GONZALES: You know, I am gonna vote against it. But there’s a difference between voting against it and whipping other members to vote against it. I would say in this case, I’m not whipping other members to vote against it. But what I will give me example if you know if this insurgency caucus decides to put anti immigrant legislation on the floor and masqueraded as border security policy, that’s not going to fly. And I will do everything in my power to make sure that type of legislation fails on the floor. So this is this is one of many votes, I think, in the 118th Congress that have to be well thought out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, I want to get to the border in a quick moment. But let me quickly ask you, how can Republicans possibly govern and do things that are essential, like dealing with the debt ceiling without causing more chaos and potentially economic catastrophe? How can you get your party in line for important basic work?
REP. TONY GONZALES: Yeah, it’s gonna be ugly. I mean, you look at the White House, the White House is a dumpster fire. You look at the Senate, the Senate is chaotic. You look at the House. And you I mean, if you’re an American, sitting down watching TV, you’re going, where is this country gone? What – what I see is there’s nothing but politicians getting up here and grandstanding. It’s time for leadership. And I think what you’re going to see is leadership has to be from the ground up. It has to be the rank and file come together and say, enough is enough. You know, I’m a conservative Republican that wants to see the border secure, that wants to see inflation get put down. So these type of things, is what we need to focus on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Last time you were here, you said you want to go with President Biden to the border. He’s going there today. Are you participating at all? Have you had any contact with the White House about migration?
REP. TONY GONZALES: I’m very disappointed in the administration. You know, seven months ago, I hosted the President in Uvalde and I asked him to visit on the border. He looked me in the eye and he said, Tony, yes. Seven months later, when I tried to be part of this El Paso visit, which I represent El Paso. I represent 50 – nearly 50% of the southern border. The White House told me I wasn’t I wasn’t able to be part of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
REP. TONY GONZALES: What does that mean? That means that means that Democrats are using this as a political – they think this is a political challenge, not a policy challenge. Clearly that you know, you see these images a couple of weeks ago of hundreds of people in a cell. That’s not a political challenge. That is a policy challenge.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why? Why did they tell you can’t come? What did they say?
REP. TONY GONZALES: I don’t know. That’s the frustrating part. You know, on one end, you’re hearing them say – you know that they want to work with Republicans. I’m not this crazy, extremist Republican. I’m jumping up and down, pushing against my party when I think it’s right, looking for ways to solve problems. What I don’t want to see is a terrorist action happen and say, I told you so. I have no interest in that. I’m trying to keep America safe. The administration just has turned a blind eye. And it goes to show they think that their policy is correct. And it’s dangerous. If you’re- it should scare the hell out of every American out there to say this administration is going to gonna double down. And it’s going to taint the Biden administration. It’s going to taint Biden’s legacy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, well, actual legislation on the border would require your party to also help out. But very quickly, George Santos, new New York Congressman. We just talked to Congresswoman Mace. She has a problem with the fact that he is consistently lying. He is also under investigation. Do you think he should be removed from office?
REP. TONY GONZALES: I think look, there’s a lot of frauds in Congress. I think a lot of people got to see that firsthand, over the last week. I mean, George Santos is the least of this country’s worries.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So he should stay?
REP. TONY GONZALES: We have a lot of things to worry about. Step one is- is getting this rules package done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. All right. I gotta go. Congressman, thank you very much. When we come back in one minute, new insights into how Americans are feeling about the economy, democracy and politics in the new year. Stay with us.
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