Transcript: Representative Pramila Jayapal on “Face the Nation”

The following is a transcript of an interview with Representative Pramila Jayapal that aired on Sunday, September 26, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, a very busy week ahead of her and now Pramila Jayapal of Washington is leading the progressives in the house and joins us on set. Good morning to you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman, I want to get to this very busy agenda, but first, have your reaction to the conversation we just had on police reform. Sen. Scott specifically referred to the City of Seattle–


MARGARET BRENNAN: –right in your district as an example of what goes wrong when you cut funding. The city did cut the police budget 18% . Crime did go up. The mayor has asked for more money, but does the senator have a point when he says this just shows it is not time to reduce funding for police?

REP. JAYAPAL: MARGARET, I just have to take everyone back to eight minutes and 46 seconds. That’s what we’re talking about, the eight minutes and 46 seconds that led to George Floyd’s murder. The chokeholds and everything that have been happening across the country with Breonna Taylor. And the reality is we need real accountability. And I think that Senator Scott was just not willing to admit that he doesn’t want real accountability for our law enforcement to treat people humanely with dignity. And we’ve got to transform public safety in this country, or we are not going to give black and brown people a fair shot.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And he argued Democrats were the ones to walk away. We’re going to check in on that conversation next week, again. I want to get on to the business right ahead of you. Democrats control the White House, the Senate, the House. A slim majority as you know. President Biden said to reporters on Friday that he told progressives and moderates who met with him this week that they need to focus less on the number and more on their priorities. Speaker Pelosi said today that it is self-evident this bill will not be $3.5 trillion. Have you agreed to compromise and give up some of your requests?

REP. JAYAPAL: Yeah, you know, what we’ve said is we are happy to hear what it is that somebody wants to cut. They- so far, we have not seen any negotiation back from the Senate, and we understand MARGARET, that we’ve got to get every Democrat on board in the House and the Senate. We don’t have the margins to do anything except that. So, we’ve put out our vision. And I think the key thing is not the top line number. It’s what is it that you actually want to fund because if you want childcare, if you want paid leave, if you want to take on climate change, if you want to repair housing in this country, if you want to make sure people have health care, there’s going to be a price tag that goes with it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, it will be less than three and a half trillion, as the speaker suggested.

REP. JAYAPAL: Well, let’s talk about what people want and then let’s come to the number from that. It’s not just a random number, so if somebody wants less than $3.5 trillion, tell us what you want to cut. Do you want to cut the childcare? Do you want to cut paid leave? What is it you want to cut? And then let’s figure it out from there. But President Biden also said something very important the other day, which is this is a zero-dollar bill because it’s going to be completely paid for with taxes on the wealthiest and the largest corporations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Joint Committee on Taxation says, actually, that in raising this revenue taxes could go up at least 2% on those making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. It also will raise taxes for corporations and those who are wealthier. That’s not no cost.

REP. JAYAPAL: Well, what the president has said is people making under $400,000 will not pay more. We will make sure of that in the package that we put together. But we do want people who are making billions through the profits, not reporting their taxes, not being held accountable by the IRS to pay their fair share. That’s really all it is. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: When it comes to the things that you have to prioritize, what about free community college? The president threw that out as an example and mentioned means testing, adjusting for cost of living and things like that. Are you open to that?

REP. JAYAPAL: We’re open to whatever negotiation is out there, but on means testing. We saw what happened when we put in tons of barriers in the rental assistance program. People didn’t get it. If you have a 25-page document that somebody has to go through to figure out whether or not they qualified, the most vulnerable are not going to get the assistance they need. So, I think we should be universal in our programs, make sure people get the benefits immediately and make it as easy as possible to get this assistance out to the people who need it the most.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I- I do want to ask you about immigration. Homeland Security said four thousand Haitians have been forcibly expelled back to their home country. Others, some of them will be appearing before a judge. Are you satisfied, though, with how the administration is handling this crisis and the fact that they’re keeping the same pandemic era regulations as the Trump administration?

REP. JAYAPAL: I am not. I think we have a responsibility to be humane and compassionate and create alternatives pathways for people to be able to get here who are struggling. Sending people back to a country that has been torn apart where there is no food, no water, no opportunity is not the way to handle this. So, I’m looking for the administration to come out with humane pathways and alternatives in those countries to be able to get people here quickly and to be able to make sure that we are upholding our values as a country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman, good luck in the week ahead. We’ll be watching the negotiations. Thank you for your time today.