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tv   Congressional Career of Rep. Nita Lowey D-NY  CSPAN  December 24, 2020 5:43am-6:15am EST

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listen using the free c-span radio app. representative of new york is retiring from congress after 32 years in the house. she has love the appropriations committee since 2013 and is the first woman to do so. this is 30 minutes. after a congressional career that has spanned 32 years including two presidential impeachments, 9/11, and the retiringdemic, she is after being elected from her district in new york 16 times. why are you leaving now? i think after 32 years and, frankly, i have a career that i'm very proud of, i have done a great deal, i think it's time. it has been such an honor and a
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privilege to serve my community and my country in the united states congress, and i'll always be grateful to the people who entrusted me to represent them. they all, all these people who elected me, made it possible for me to become the first woman to chair the house appropriations committee, the greatest honor of when theyional life, look at my future on the appropriation wall, will inspire other women and girls to get back to the community. host: do you remember when you first got interested in politics? guest: well, shall i tell you?
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this is my true confessions interview. i was president of my class in the sixth grade, president of my class at the high school of while i was doing those things, i was a mother of for 50i had been married and frankly, i was brought up by my mother to believe that if you see a , and there are many people who see problems and walk on. when i was brought up to believe if you see a problem, you have to at least try to do something about it. host: tell us about your mother.
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>> my mother was a very, very devoted mother. she didn't go to college, she went to business school, but she was active in everything in my community. president of the synagogue, president of the pta, president of the league that helped children. she was an activist. and i think that's where i got that from. were she and your father both first-generation, correct? guest: correct. host: and where were they from? guest: no, i'm sorry, they were both born here. their parents were first-generation. host: and what did your father do for a living? guest: my father was a certified public accountant. and my mother was active in many nonprofit organizations.
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but during the time that i was she was working to make life better for the many organizations she was involved in. children, adults, and many others. were representative lloyd, they democrats going up? guest: oh, of course. you have been a democrat, i have been a democrat. my mother was very active in the community. in so many different organizations. trying to make life better for children, adults. my father worked hard as a cpa and he was not active in the community. he left that to my mother. host: you have said that your jewish upbringing was important to your political career, to your values. how so?
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woman,well, as a jewish growing up, went to synagogue, went to hebrew school. and we believed that we had a responsibility to make this a better world. and whether it was my parents active in the community, or i had, i always knew that a responsibility when i saw a problem to do something about it. and in fact, i went to mount and although i was not brought up as an i didox jewish woman, organize saturday night services around holyoke college. organizinged from and the jewish population was very small.
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but we did go to friday night services that i organized. for a jewishrare woman to go to mount holyoke at that time? were 10nk maybe there of us, something like that. very small part of the population. ast: and you served president of the student body there as well, correct? guest: no, no. i was president of the student body, i was involved in mount holyoke, but i did not run for office. there a 1998, was singular event that sparked you to say, hey, i think i'm going to run for congress against a pretty popular republican? guest: well, i do think that the fact that several friends came and said we need effective
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, and it's time for you to run for office, before i had been president of the pta, active in the community. but a couple of others said i think it's time for you to run. and my husband and i thought and i think we were going on a vacation for a week and we came back and said i'm going to run. host: what was that first campaign like? guest: first of all, my husband was very active. i remember knocking on doors at mount vernon and they were about to close the door on me because they didn't know who i was. and my husband said you really
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should get to know her, she would be a great congresswoman. and he was very active in the campaign, he took time off, and i was everywhere. i was at train stations, i was at bus stops. knocking on doors, talking to various leaders. busy time.ry, very that does the outgoingness is sometimes required of a politician, does not come naturally to you? guest: absolutely. i had a great life, i've met a good boy, i've been blessed with a wonderful husband. i have three great children. eight grandchildren. i have a son-in-law, daughter-in-law. so i've been blessed. retiring,ecause i'm that doesn't mean that i'm slowing down. there are many issues that need attention, and i will probably
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continue to be involved. but i feel very comfortable with this decision, i've done a great deal to be chair of the appropriations committee. and frankly, one of the great privileges has been interacting with my colleagues. and irse, nancy pelosi came into the congress at about the same time, give or take a few years. we became the friends on the committee that funded labor, health, human services. , and i knowgether congress, many good men will continue my efforts. is oneo speaker pelosi of your close friends in the congress. who else are you close to after all these years? say,: well, let me just
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you aren't -- you're going to get me into difficulty. i have many dear friends that i work with. and we will continue that relationship, i know. host: what about on the republican side? >> sure. we have worked together on appropriations. tom cole has been a good friend. i have worked with so many republicans in my committee work and as chair of the committee, and i know we will stay in touch and continue to work together. has the congress changed in your view over the last 32 years? guest: well, first of all, i personally as a woman never felt that i was held back.
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the men and women, the equities were so evident as i reflect on my time in washington. assumed it was just that members were men. they would be welcoming bags for him. there wasn't even a ladies room off the house floor until i think 2011. when i came to congress in 1989, there were only 31 women in the legislative branch. today, there are 127. say, i am so inspired, so impressed with this freshman class of women. new perspectives, new voices.
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from so many different backgrounds. they are an extraordinary group of women. important is seniority when it comes to being a member of congress? >> i'm just thinking when i began, seniority was very important. i think now, there are those who and in fact,ty, when i became chair of the appropriations committee, i challenged seniority as well. members who work hard to get things done regardless of their seniority. again, there was one person ,efore me decided not to run
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another person, i challenged seniority when i ran for chair. as an appropriations member over the years, the appropriations committee has changed a little bit, too over the years. was it tough to get on the appropriations committee to begin with? i must admit, it wasn't for me. said icame to me and think you should do appropriations. i was recommended for appropriations and i got on. earmarks went away, was that a blow to how you legislate? i get back tofore the earmarks i want to say i was in a position where i was welcomed on appropriations and ways and means. makedifficult decision to was which one to choose.
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and it wasn't that hard because i have such a vast number of in,es that i'm interested and appropriations really gave me the opportunity to help the most people, to work on a huge range of issues. and that's why, to me, it was very easy to determine that i wanted to be on appropriations rather than ways and means. for partmeans issues of my agenda. obviously, i worked with all the committees. host: so, earmarks. guest: yes. host: when they went away, did that change how you legislated? let me think about that. did it change the way i legislated?
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hm. i think even when we didn't have members were able to determine where they put their efforts, decide on their and fund a whole range of issues without specifically earmarking them. many people felt that earmarks made it easier to help build. i'm not sure i agree with that. but that was the view of many members. host: over the years, has the congress become more polarized?
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we see less votes where there is partisan crossover, and more partisan votes. unfortunately, yes. unfortunately, now, remember, i'm a democrat, and democrats are individuals with their own minds. and i have to work hard to get to support issues that are critical to me on appropriations. side, i doblican think they follow the leader, follow trump. make sure that they are taking a vote in accordance with his wishes. i think if you look at president trump's actions with mitch
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side,ell, on the senate they certainly don't have an appetite to cooperate and compromise. but on our side of the aisle, we i've beengether and able to get a lot of republican support for the issues i care about. want to say one other thing about it. i think bipartisanship is essential on appropriations. has their own values, their own mind, their own issues. but as chair of appropriations, i work hard to reach out to democrats, to republicans, and to try to get bipartisan support for the key issues. host: as a new yorker, the you know president trump prior to him coming to the white house? guest: not really.
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maybe i had met him at large events, but i did not have any personal relationship with him at all. years, you've been written about as a potential senate candidate from new york. why did you never run for that? guest: that is such a good question. i remember when people were encouraging me to run for the senate, i traveled around the state, i met more county chairs, activists, and they also remember cough -- i also remember calling my husband on the phone. said, i love what i do in the house. i love funding the issues that i care about. i was working on i
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think pandemic preparedness. love being in the house, i love being the chair. i certainly love being chair of appropriations. if i wanted to join the senate, would probably not become the first female chair of the appropriations committee. host: you've mentioned your husband many times. what does he do for a living? my husband is a retired attorney for three years, four years, five years. i can get back to you on how long. he is very wise and keeps up with all the news and most of our discussion at the dinner table is about politics, democrats, republicans.
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he has been a great advisor to me and a good friend in addition to being a loving husband. guest: do you to ever disagree? -- host: do you two ever disagree? guest: you would never believe anything i ever told you if i said no. this interview would be wasteful if i said no. of course we do. agreest of the time we do and i usually can convince him or he can convince me. we definitely have our own point of view, but we've been living together a long time, we've been married almost 60 years, i can even believe it. and we read the new york times every day. tv is on the news
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programs, so we may have some differences at issue. but for the most part, we see most issues the same way. is one of the biggest frustrations about being only one of 435 members of congress? guest: i must tell you. i don't feel frustrated. i don't get frustrated easily. and as chair of the appropriations committee, i work with all of my colleagues and i don't get frustrated. this is a difficult time. i would rather be working with president biden rather than president trump. diverse time.ry of course there are differences of opinions, even among democrats and certainly between democrats and republicans.
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as chair of the committee, i have to understand the needs of each of my members and we have to find common ground. and i usually do. host: what are some of the issues that you've amplified over your career in congress? oh, my goodness gracious. well. let me say one of the most memorable moments in congress was going down to the world trade center and working to recover and rebuild after september 11. and then again after superstorm sandy.
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one of the most memorable moments i will never forget is marching over to the senate with some of my colleagues and insisting that anita hill be allowed to testify in the nomination hearings. and all these years later, i still try and fight for what is right. give me that question again. host: what are some of the issues that you have amplified. you've been very vocal about being pro-choice, you've mentioned a couple now as well. when i brought birds and early to the labor age committee room, we made a big deal about
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pbs and fighting to keep pbs. i'm trying to think of what i didn't say before. i probably talked about all the issues and protecting the long island sound. protecting and cleaning up the hudson river. i don't remember if i mentioned it before. food allergy labeling. important, required -- [dog barking] somebody get the dog. host: who is that? guest: my son came to visit. he let his dog come up to see me. i don't have a dog anymore. if i'm repeating
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myself, tell me. food allergy labeling, did i say that? host: yes, ma'am. one of the issues you have been known for his being pro-choice. why is that important to you? let guest: me just say these other issues i want to go through, because i am known for them as well, and then i would go back to choice. food allergy labeling. that saves lives, that is incredible. equity in the center for medical research. record funding and the u.s. strategy for education, especially for girls around the world. i was very thrilled in pakistan to go up in the mountains and and fund athe women
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whole range of education issues for them. title x, international family planning. going? to keep host: you've given us several issues. but do go back to choice. why have you been so vocal? guest: because it is the right thing to do, very simple. it is the right thing to do. women should have control over their own lives, their own and i have felt from the start this is a decision that women have to make for themselves. just a couple more questions. how have the two presidential impeachments that you've been a part of as a member of congress,
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do they feel the same? do they feel different? guest: huh. i have to think about that. um. host: tell you what, we can move on from there. i do: i just must say, think that the breach of trust from the president was far more egregious and i am very, very concerned about the impact that this president and even the time remaining on the people of this country, men and women, i am very worried about it. tot: what is your advice
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representative elect jones who is replacing you in the 17th district? guest: i took him for lunch, we had a lovely meeting. about to make decisions issues that he is passionate about. i wanted to be sure there is a smooth transition. and i was there and i will be there and my staff is there to give him all the advice he needs. just, when i met with him and it took them to lunch, i just said this is the most extraordinary job you can ever have. take advantage of the opportunity. think about who you are, think about the community. think about what you want to accomplish. and i know you'll make the right decisions.
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it is a tough job because it consumes you. is an extraordinary opportunity to help people. years, i love 32 every minute and i've enjoyed working with my colleagues, i've enjoyed work as chairman. toe enjoyed an opportunity get things done. and i've always said when you see a problem, you have an obligation to do something about it. presidentthat as pta and i've been doing it as a member of congress, and i can even do it more effectively as the chair. you have an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives, and that is what this job is all about. host: and finally, when we did in exit interview with represented eliot engel, he said
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when we asked him who his friends were, he mentioned your name. is this a passing of the old guard? both of you born before world war ii, two much younger members are coming in to replace you both. me just say let i've been honored to serve with my friend eliot engel all these years, and we have a great working relationship. we are very lucky. we have similar priorities on the house foreign affairs committee. both seen our districts change over the years. i have represented some of the people that he has represented, and certainly, with elliott his district will
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continue to be served with distinction, and i know mine will as well. host: share of the appropriations committee in the house, thank you for joining us after 32 years in the house of representatives. guest: thank you so much, it is a pleasure to be talking with you. announcer: you're watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. america's created by cable television companies in 1979. today, we are brought to you by these television companies to provide c-span to viewers as a public service. yorkbeen peter king of new is retiring from the u.s. house after 14 terms, and nearly three decades, including four years atop the homeland security committee. we spoke with him last week. this is 40 minutes.


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