LOS ANGELES - This week, coronavirus cases continued to surge, congressional relief remained hanging in the balance, court challenges to the Presidential election were halted, and members of Congress were revealed to have been targeted by foreign intelligence.
With insight on those stories, and others, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by three members of California’s House delegation for the upcoming 117th Congress: Adam Schiff (D), Michelle Steel (R), and David Valadao (R).
The conversation began with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) on the status of the long-awaited Congressional coronavirus relief.
This, as California, with more than 1.5 million confirmed cases, and 20,000 deaths related to COVID-19, is experiencing a record number of daily infections, dwindling ICU capacities, and another round of business shutdowns.
“I thought we were very close on a bipartisan basis in the Senate, a number of Republicans and Democrats got together and hammered out a deal that would provide a lot less aid than I would like to see, but nonetheless, a sound compromise,” Schiff said. “I support it, the Democratic leadership in the House supports it, but Mitch McConnell threw cold water on it.”
“People need the help,” Schiff, in his tenth appearance on The Issue Is, continued. “Businesses are going to close, potentially for good, if they don’t get it right now, unemployment compensation is running out, so this has to get done. I’m at the office, as you can see, I’m going to do everything I can, I don’t think anybody should leave town until this is done.”
Regarding specifics of what relief that bipartisan package would provide, Schiff said the $908 billion Senate compromise would, among others, extend unemployment compensation, provide help to renters, replenish PPP funds for small businesses, and provide help to state and local governments so they don’t only have to avoid massive layoffs, but also to assist in the impending local distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
While the bill may now be passed next week, Michaelson asked Schiff what he had to say to those Americans who allege it is outrageous relief has been held up so long.
Schiff, pointing to legislation passed by the House roughly six months ago, said he understood Americans’ frustration, and that blame for the delayed relief fell squarely on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“I think [Americans] need to weigh in, all over the country, with Mr. McConnell,” Schiff said. “Let him know people are suffering, and if he can’t be constructive, he needs to get out of the way.”
From the issue of coronavirus relief, the conversation shifted to Schiff’s work as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and how that body’s focus may change under an incoming Biden administration.
While Schiff discussed a continued examination of “our theaters of war in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he indicated the Committee’s attention was focused on the growing threat of China.
“Part of what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years, in addition to very high-profile investigative work, is we did a deep dive on China, and what it will take for our intelligence agencies to reorient themselves to that rising challenge,” Schiff said “We really need to address the challenge posed by China in space, on land, in the cyber realm and technology, and that’s going to require really turning this aircraft carrier around and making sure we’re prepared to meet that rise.”
On the subject of China, Michaelson asked Schiff what he made of recent reports that Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, had been targeted by Chinese intelligence operations. The revelations led many on the Right, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to allege Swalwell may be a “security threat,” and should be removed from the Intelligence Committee.
“There are members of Congress in both House and Senate who have been targeted by China,” Schiff, said. “Mr. Swalwell did everything right, there was no suggestion of any impropriety on his part.”
Schiff called the entire episode “faux outrage,” while also responding to McCarthy, saying that the Minority Leader is attempting to deflect from “problems within his own conference.”
The conversation concluded with a celebration of the Hanukkah holiday.
“Hanukkah is about resilience, about struggle and resilience against the odds. I think how fortunate I am, that we’re a resilient country, and that we’re a resilient family, and that we’re getting through this,” Schiff said. “I look at it as a time to just enjoy something light, something delicious, like latkes, but also, following Thanksgiving, to reflect on what I have to be grateful for, and that’s an awful lot.”
Next, Michaelson was joined by Michelle Steel and David Valadao, two of the four California Republicans, alongside Young Kim and Mike Garcia, who managed to flip House districts this election.
Before this year, no Democratic California House district had been flipped by a Republican in nearly thirty years.
Michaelson began by asking the two incoming Representatives why, in a year in which Joe Biden won the state of California by more than five million votes, their messages still seemed to resonate.
“Lower taxes and less regulations for businesses, so businesses can come back,” Steel said, emphasizing her belief that her message stood out because she focused on the issues. “Another thing, as Chair of the County, the most important issue was public safety, so we were working with police and sheriffs departments very closely, and I think that’s what did it.”
“I think we ran on a different message,” Valadao agreed. “Over the last few years, I think there was a lot of buyer’s remorse, they saw all the division, they saw all the back-and-forth, the nastiness that we’re seeing across the country.”
Now that they’re headed to Congress, a return for Valadao, who served from 2013 through 2019, Michaelson asked what they made of the ongoing coronavirus relief efforts, and what Congress should do moving forward.
“Stop the bickering,” Valadao said. “They’re using the opportunity of the pandemic as an excuse to pull, again, some political games with things that people desperately need. Even one of the members here in California, Katie Porter (D), had posted a video about it being a partisan wish-list, and a piece of legislation which should never see the light of day because it is an absolute disaster, for us to be going through this pandemic, and to have Nancy Pelosi holding hostage the resources our communities need.”
But as the virus continues to ravage California, Steel and Valadao expressed concern not only for those infected and hospitalized, but also for those being impacted by continuing closures.
“Everybody’s waiting for the vaccinations, so when vaccinations come, it will be a relief,” Steel said. “But at the same time, what we have to do, is open the businesses and let people work, because they cannot put food on the table for their families.”
Likewise, Valadao noted that schools districts in his area, as a result of distanced learning, have reported more failing students than ever before. Valadao called the situation “scary,” and said it will “have a lasting impact on our children.”
Next, on a week in which the Supreme Court refused to hear a number of cases looking to challenge the results of the Presidential election, Michaelson asked the two incoming members of Congress if they were ready to acknowledge that Joe Biden had won and was now President-Elect Biden.
“President Trump, he has the right to review everything, because every vote is very precious, because this is the voice of the people, so, you know what, he’s reviewing,” Steel responded. “They’re going to vote on the Electoral College on December 14, we’re going to find out who’s going to win that day, and you know what, I have confidence in our system, and January 20, we’re going to have a President.”
Valadao admitted that, as of now, he does believe Biden won.
“We all know there is fraud out there. Do I believe there’s enough to overturn the President’s election… no I don’t,” Valadao said. “But I do believe we have a responsibility as American citizens to make sure that every single ballot is counted honestly, and fairly, and in a transparent process, and I think that process is going forward as we speak.”
The conversation ended with a round of Personal Issues, an opportunity for viewers, and their future constituents, to get to know Steel and Valadao beyond politics.
While Steel revealed her favorite TV show, outside of FOX News, was Blue Bloods, Valadao chose Yellowstone. In the realm of music, Steel said, as someone born in South Korea, she was a fan of KPop, Valadao chose Poor Mans Poison, a former band that hailed from his district. Steel chose Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) as her favorite Democrat, while Valadao gave that honor to Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
Finally, their role models.
Steel chose Secretary Elaine Chao, who currently leads the Department of Transportation.
“I’ve known her more than 30 years,” Steel said. “She is my mentor, she is an amazing woman, and I want to be like her.”
Valadao looked closer to home for his role mode, selecting his dad.
“I think my wife married me thinking I was going to be like my dad, and I’ll never live up to that,” Valadao said. “He immigrated to this country, didn’t speak the language, worked in a processing plant down there in Southern California before he came up to the Valley to start his own business that us kids could work alongside him… he’s a great man, and someone I wish to be like someday.”
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.