Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” May 26, 2024

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan: 

  • Reps. Pat Ryan, Democrat of New York, and Tim Waltz, Republican of Florida 
  • Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut
  • Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas 
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg 
  • David Becker and Samantha Becker 

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”   


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan.

And on this Memorial Day weekend, we will take a look at some American traditions and the challenges those traditions face in the modern era.

This weekend included one sure sign of summer, the presidential commencement speech at West Point. This year, it was delivered with words of warning.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Freedom is not free. It requires constant vigilance. From the very beginning, nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Then: The late may tornado rampage continued overnight, with intense twisters touching down in at least three states. How will severe weather, exacerbated by climate change, impact what is expected to be a busy summer travel season? We will ask Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Israeli forces press on in Rafah in the conflict that’s coming up on the eight-month mark. The U.S.-built floating pier off the coast of Gaza is finally up and running, but the military is struggling to maintain it and to get humanitarian aid to desperate Palestinians. We will have the latest from the region.

Plus, an update on immigration. Border crossings for this time of year are atypically down. But the push for border reform continues. We will talk to Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales.

And on this Memorial Day weekend, a bipartisan conversation with two veterans in Congress on their annual tribute to fallen soldiers at the Vietnam Memorial. It’s their way of putting the partisanship aside.

(Begin VT)

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL WALTZ (R-Florida): And it’s not just that we have a – we agree on everything or having served is a silver bullet as a legislator. But, you know, we have that commonality of service. And I think that matters.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome the FACE THE NATION on this Memorial Day weekend, where we honor those Americans who died in service and reflect on what they fought for.

Those principles are nearly 250 years old and are becoming increasingly challenged by political forces these days. Politics was set aside Thursday morning, at least long enough for a group of House members, all veterans, who are part of the For Country Caucus to join the annual cleanup of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ahead of the holiday weekend.

We asked Florida Republican Mike Waltz and New York Democrat Pat Ryan about the now annual tradition for the caucus.

(Begin VT)

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL WALTZ (R-Florida): Once I got elected and I saw the acrimony and the infighting, and I said, you know, let’s – let’s get a group of veterans together, people who really have skin in the game.

I think that’s important for the American people to see, to see us honoring our forefathers, to see us where Democrat, Republican, black, white, brown, none of that matters. It just matters that we’re all Americans, we’re all veterans, and we’re honoring those that came before us.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN (D-New York): This is the most powerful thing I have done in Congress, truly, very – it’s very emotional, and it’s pos – it’s positive.

I mean, there’s so many divisive forces. And so to get together with fellow veterans, all services, all generations, and just actually do something with your hands that improves the world, that honors our veterans, that prepares this memorial for hundreds of thousands of Americans that are going to come here this weekend, it’s – it’s really – it’s an honor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who are you thinking of this Memorial Day weekend?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: I – I think about actually one of my soldiers who I brought home from my first 12-month deployment and then tragically succumbed to the – the invisible wounds of war and took his own life, and – Sergeant Keith Nowicki.

And I think it’s important we talk about that too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: Because now we have more post-9/11 veterans that have taken their own lives post-service than gave their lives during service. And that’s something all – else that we’re working on together.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: Yes, I – I think of my uncle, who was a Vietnam helicopter pilot, Greg (sp?) Waltz.

He survived, but he’s told me about the people that are on this wall. And even though he survived, to this day, unfortunately, he’s very bitter about how he was treated when they came home.

Sergeant Matt Pucino was one of my Green Berets that we lost in Afghanistan. He volunteered to go on point every single mission. And, eventually, a trip wire IED killed him. I think about him. I think about his family.

And – and I have to say – I think Pat would agree with me – you know, survivor’s guilt is a very real thing. Why him and not me? He was my responsibility, as were the other Green Berets that I didn’t bring home.

And I just tell myself – I look in the mirror every time – every morning before I go into the Capitol and tell myself to be worthy, you know, be worthy of that sacrifice. And our charge, I, think as leaders, as elected leaders is to comport ourselves in a way that’s worthy of their sacrifice in – in front of the American people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

You mentioned that stunning statistic. What, 7,000 service members died in the war since 9/11, but it’s 6,000 veterans every single year since 2001 who have succumbed to suicide.

Do you think that the government and American taxpayers are doing enough to address this?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: We’re not doing enough. We don’t have the urgency. It – it needs to be a national problem. It needs to be a problem that every American recognizes as theirs, because these are the – the small percentage of the American people who have put their life on the line and – and ultimately given their life.

It’s such a small percentage. It’s about 1 percent –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right –

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: – of the American population. And there’s just too much of a disconnect. I actually think that’s a big part of the reason why we see people coming home from service and feeling alone, even surrounded in their hometowns, feeling alone, because they can’t relate.

And so there’s so many aspects to solving it, but it – it – it can’t – the government has to do a whole lot more. The whole country has to come into Memorial Day weekend, and, yes, you can celebrate, but please take a moment and think about the names on this wall, the names on your local hometown memorial, the names on the memorial bracelets of the veterans that you see.

Ask them about it. Ask them to tell you those stories. And – and we should be sharing those stories.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you’re working on legislation together to try to expand health care coverage for the children of veterans until age 26. Do you have any pledge from leadership to actually move this anytime soon?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: We’ve been having this fight in this country for longer than both of our time in Congress.

So we’ve been working together with this caucus of bipartisan military veterans to apply pressure, because, if we don’t apply that pressure, if we don’t shine the spotlight on this problem, it will get sort of stuck in the dysfunction of the Congress right now.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: I – I do think we’ll get it through. At the end of the day, it’s becoming a recruiting and retention problem when service members can’t have their kids covered.

Then that’s becoming an issue for the Pentagon. We’re working with them to make it a priority and working with leadership to make it a priority and get it paid for.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: I mean, it’s – it’s hundreds of thousands of military service members and their families right now in this country that don’t have the same health care coverage as other Americans. That is outrageous.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think your past service does for your thinking? Why do you think it’s important for leadership?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: It’s essential to have people that have been on the receiving end of foreign policy at the table, especially with the – with the 58,000 names behind us to keep in mind that every one of these decisions has tremendous human consequences for the service members, for their families.

And there’s not enough of that right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you think the number serving is so low, when it’s less than 1 percent of the population is active duty?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: Yes. In Congress, at least we’re getting the number up closer to 20 percent –

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: We’ve increased it for the first time in 40 years.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: – just this last – this congressional cycle.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: But in terms of the divide between 99 percent of Americans who aren’t serving and the 1 percent, that is deeply problematic as a democracy.

When you lose touch between those that are fighting our wars and their families and everyone else, that’s something so essential that we have to figure out how to bring folks together and – and get more folks serving. So that’s, again, another thing that – that we’re focused on.

I mean, a lot of the work we did last night on the defense bill is recruiting. Every service has been challenged on recruiting numbers. And we’ve been pushing and a bunch of directions to say that is not acceptable to the Department of Defense. And – and we’re starting to see the numbers come up.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: And – and service doesn’t just have to be in the military.

And one of the things that we’re both, adamant and advocates of is getting us back to national service as a country. That’s not a draft. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be in uniform, but it could be with the national park, inner-city tutoring, elderly care.

Like how do we get young people out in an environment where they’re learning leadership, discipline, followership, serving a cause bigger than themselves, and with fellow Americans who may not look or come from the same backgrounds as them?

I think there’s ways we can incentivize that. You know, people here are talking about just giving away college or just eliminating debt. Well, how about the American taxpayer gets something in exchange for that in terms of service? You graduate high school, you go serve a year or two.

Maybe it’s FEMA. Maybe it’s the – the Peace Corps. And then you get some type of benefit. So I think we need to rethink service as a – as a country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I was looking at a Pentagon study that said one in four active-duty service members suffer from food insecurity. And then, within that subset, there were over 120,000 dealing with extreme food insecurity.

How is that possible in America right now?

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: It’s a disgrace. We have soldiers – I had this in my unit when we were deployed overseas in combat. Their families were home on food stamps, using SNAP benefits.

So one of the things we’ve done the last several years is raise baseline pay significantly.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE WALTZ: For the most junior, yes.

REP. PAT RYAN: For the most junior soldiers who are the most left behind right now.

Raise housing, basic allowance for housing, VAH. Housing costs across the country are so high.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE PAT RYAN: So, bringing up housing and – and the quality of life in – in barracks, thinking about all the elements of a family’s cost.

Like, that’s why this health care bill is so important, because health insurance is such a driver of – of that pressure. So, again, if the American people knew you had people putting their life on the line for the country not able to put food on the table, we have to wake people up and stop focusing – I mean, some of the – with respect to our colleagues, some of the – the tenor and the tone is disgraceful, when you think about the urgency of just that problem we just talked about.

We’ve got to come together.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we turn now to the latest in the war between Israel and Hamas, with foreign correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reporting from East Jerusalem.

(Begin VT)

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice-over): Israeli police crack down hard as protesters gather in central Tel Aviv to demand the government reach a deal to bring the hostages home.

With divisions among Israelis only deepening over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s handling of the war, diplomatic efforts to broker a hostage release will continue this week, four sources with knowledge told CBS News, efforts which can’t come soon enough for Ali Alziadna, whose brother Youssef and nephew Hamza were abducted on October 7.

“I want to talk to Netanyahu,” he says, “and tell him there’s no victory without first bringing the hostages back.” Alziadna belongs to a Muslim Bedouin community in Southern Israel, close to the barrier wall with Gaza. While they are Israeli citizens, their towns and villages are often neglected by the government.

It’s so important for you to stop the war, as well as release the hostages. Not everybody feels that way in Israel.

“You can’t release the hostages if there’s a war,” Alziadna says. “What has eight months of war achieved? It’s a disaster, and disaster brings more disaster.”

Something aid agencies say is currently unfolding in Rafah, where Israel has sharply ramped up its offensive there after the Netanyahu government dismissed an order by the U.N.’s top court to stop its military campaign in the southern city to protect civilian life, as desperately needed humanitarian supplies continue to only trickle off the $320 million U.S. military-constructed pier, which has been plagued with problem after problem since becoming operational a little over one week ago.

(End VT)

IMTIAZ TYAB: And the latest problem for the pier saw a small U.S. vessel, along with part of the dock, becomes stuck on Israel’s Ashdod shore because of rough seas, and as the U.N. estimates just 15 percent of the aid needed for the over two million people facing famine in Gaza is currently getting in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Imtiaz Tyab.

And we’re joined now by Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

Good morning.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (D-Connecticut): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I want to start here on the Middle East.

The president’s national security adviser said, so far, Israel has been somewhat targeted and limited in what they’re doing in Southern Gaza. But the U.S. is watching to see whether there’s a lot of death and destruction from this operation or if it is more precise and proportional.

Are you clear on what the red line is here?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Well, what we know is that there’s a humanitarian disaster unfolding right now in and around Rafah. We’ve not been able to get in significant shipments of humanitarian aid.

And so, no matter how many people are dying from Israeli military operations, there are people dying every single day from an inability to access food and medicine. This is ultimately accruing to the benefit, not the detriment, of terrorist recruiting.

And that’s my big worry here. There’s a moral cost to the number of civilians that are dying inside of Gaza. But when you continue to withhold food and aid from the people, that ultimately makes these terrorist causes stronger, not just in Israel, but around the world.

Our own intelligence experts have told us that this is having a generational impact on terrorism. And so, for many of us that want Israel to bring this military operation to a close and focus on the future political settlement inside Gaza, it is in part because we worry that this is a boon to terrorism, to terrorism groups growing all around the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But the national security adviser was suggesting there that the line hasn’t been crossed yet –

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Well –

(CROSSTALK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: – looking at whether there’s a lot of death and destruction. There already is a heck of a lot of death and destruction.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Yes, which is why I am amongst many of my colleagues who have caused – who have called on Israel to pause military operations to try to get this humanitarian nightmare under control and to take the time to come up with a realistic solution for what Gaza looks like after the fighting stops.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: What you have seen in the past few weeks is that, as Israel clears out of certain areas, like Northern Gaza, Hamas is just filling back in, because there is no viable plan for governance.

Israel has to take the time to both be less cavalier about the humanitarian costs, but also come up with a plan for what Gaza looks like after the fighting stops. And the fighting is going to stop at some point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I – I understand the intention behind building the pier, but $320 million, three soldiers injured, the thing is breaking apart because of rough seas.

It – it’s insufficient to need. Was it a mistake to do this?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: No, it wasn’t a mistake. I mean, listen, there’s nothing that the United –

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s not even fully being delivered.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Listen, I think there’ll be some – some rough moments in the early going of trying to get this pier operational.

But you are absolutely right. Whether it’s the airdrops, or the deliveries on the pier, there’s nothing that the United States can do that will substitute for the decision by Israel to open up crossings, to stop using these checkpoints as a means to interrupt the flow of vital goods.

Israel has to make a commitment to solve the humanitarian crisis inside Gaza. The United States is not going to be able to do that for Israel.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

I want to ask you about here at home, the southern border. Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants actually has been going down in these warmer weather months. It – they went down in April. They went down in March. Is that just because of the Mexican government? If it’s a Biden policy, why isn’t the president claiming a success?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: So, it is because of, I think, smart, effective diplomacy between the United States and the Mexican government.

I don’t know that it’s permanent. And so I think we have to just recognize that, without updating the laws of this country, without surging more resources to the border, we can’t count on the numbers staying as low as they are today.

And, remember, today, you have about 3,000 people crossing the border on a daily basis. That’s still a high number compared to what we saw 10 years ago. And so, for many of us, we are just heartbroken, we’re sick over the fact that our Republican colleagues in Congress continue to vote against bipartisan border security that would give us the opportunity to actually give the president the resources and the authorities to make this a permanent change, to get the numbers under control on a permanent basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re talking about the bill you helped author.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And – and it was put up for a vote, which they knew it was going to fail. It – this was about messaging.

But, like, Senator Gary Peters, who’s trying to help Democrats defend the majority in the Senate, was on this program last week, and he said, absolutely, the president should be talking about the border more. Why isn’t he?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: So, I – I agree that the American people want to talk about border security.

And, right now, the president has the opportunity to go out there and talk about a Democratic Party proposal negotiated with Republicans that would get the border under control. And an opponent, President –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Or could’ve spent months and weeks whipping support for it.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Or – and President Trump’s desire to keep the border a mess because he thinks that it helps him politically.

This is as clear a contrast as has ever been available to the Democratic Party on the issue of the border. Democrats support bipartisan border security. Republicans want the border to be a mess, because it’s good politics for them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: And the president and every Democrat running for office should be talking about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But – but you know – and we really dug in deep on this bill that you helped author on this program.

But for Americans who just want something done, you know, the ifs and buts really don’t matter much. The president could take executive action and has been talking about it since back in February, when the homeland security secretary mentioned it was being considered.

Should he just get caught trying, pull the trigger, do something on executive action?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: The president has such limited ability to issue executive orders that would have an impact on the border.

He can’t conjure resources out of thin air. If he were to try to shut down portions of the border, the courts would throw that out, I think, within a matter of weeks. The only thing that will bring –

MARGARET BRENNAN: The 212(f) authority that’s being mulled here?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Yes, I – I think the only thing that will bring order to the southwest border is bipartisan legislation.

We have a bipartisan border bill. If Republicans decided to support it, it would pass, we could get it to the president’s desk. It is up to Donald Trump and Republicans as to whether they want to solve the problem at the border or whether they want to keep the border a mess because it helps them politically in this upcoming election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, quickly, before I – I let you go here, there was a lawsuit that was brought this week by the families of those in Uvalde, Texas –

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: – whose children died in Robb Elementary School.

And you represent Sandy Hook. I know you follow this very closely. They are trying to bring suit against video game makers and Meta Platforms, which owns Instagram.

What do you think of the premise of the idea that social media companies are – and video companies are to blame here?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Well, listen, there’s no doubt that these social media companies are feeding violent content to our kids.

I don’t know the underlying dynamics of that legal case, but our social media companies have a lot to answer for, because these would-be killers whose brains are breaking often find inspiration for the crime that they are contemplating online.

But the solution here, again, is the same. You have to pass legislation. The courts can’t solve this problem of school shootings. And the good news is that, since we passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: – right after the Uvalde shooting, urban gun homicides in this country have dropped by 20 percent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: And that’s something that’s very, very important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re going to talk to Tony Gonzales, who helped get that over the finish line as well, ahead.

Thank you.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales. Good morning to you.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Good morning. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start on the border. That is your district.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do the agents that you represent explain the drop- off in crossings?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I think a large part of it – well, first off, it doesn’t have to do with what Joe Biden has done. We’re on pace for 1.3 million people to come over illegally.

The numbers are down. The explanation is Mexico. A lot of people don’t realize Mexico has an election next month for its presidency, nine governorships and its congress. So, in many cases, the – those that are running on security platforms are keeping the numbers down.

But the cartels are like – they are like companies. So they’re taking a loss in Q1 and Q2 in order to increase the volume in Q3 and Q4. So, if any – in many – in many ways, this is just Mexico carrying Biden a couple rounds.

Now, if Joe Biden wants to secure this thing long term, I think he needs to stop looking at the Senate for a solution and look to the House.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean by that? What are you proposing?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I think there’s opportunities. Look, H.R.2 is a good start, but just a conversation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s a nonstarter.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Let’s just say a conversation. The president has not had any real conversations with anyone on the – anyone in the House.

The Senate, yes, they’ve sat down, they’ve had these conversations. But, in the House, they’ve given no oxygen to it. This is a different Congress than in years past. The House is where I believe you start, if you truly wanted to solve it.

Now, if you want to make it about politics and just blame someone else, then you hold it in the Senate and you say, we’re trying, we’re doing the best we can. But, meanwhile, Americans are dying of fentanyl. The numbers, we’re on pace for 1.3 million. It’s insane.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there’s a lot of policy to get into with you on this and other topics.

We’re going to have to take a break here, so stay with me, and we’ll do that on the other side of it.

We’ll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION and more with Congressman Gonzales, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and an update on election security ahead of November.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We return now to our conversation with Texas Republican Tony Gonzales.

Good to have you here in person. You know, Uvalde, Texas, that is your district, 19 kids and two adults killed at Robb Elementary some two years ago. And that horrible anniversary was this past week.

How is your community doing now?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: It’s still healing. It’s still very raw two years later. In many cases you’re constantly revictimized over and over again.

The other part of it to is, a lot has changed, but a lot hasn’t changed. Everyone talks about Robb, you know, what happened at Robb, everyone talks about the new elementary school, Uvalde Elementary School, but there’s nine other schools in Uvalde that, in many cases, are still in the same situation. Yes, they put some fencing up, but how do we protect our kids long term?

And one of the things that I did – I mean I’m in the middle of a runoff fighting for my life politically on there, I held a bipartisan safety – bipartisan school safety caucus where we brought all these different partners together to have discussions on how we fix things. I had the superintendent of Uvalde, I had the new police chief of Uvalde. There’s a lot of changes happening in Uvalde. One of the things that came out of that was $10 million for school safety, not just for Robb and Uvalde Elementary School, but all the other elementary schools as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you mentioned that runoff election and this primary challenger you have faced. That’s the 28th. In the initial you received 45 percent of the primary vote, just short of that 50 percent threshold.

I want to ask, because last March you were censured by the Texas Republican Party and you connected that to the votes that you took to help get the bipartisan Safer Communities Act through the Congress.

Do you feel that some of the challenges you’re facing now are because of the work you did after those school kids were killed?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: You know, Margaret, you cannot be afraid to do what you think is right. You’re never going to get it perfect, but you have to fight for the things that are important to us. Keeping our kids safe from being murdered from crazy people, that should be important to all of us. It shouldn’t just be talking points. We couldn’t – we shouldn’t just blame someone else, we shouldn’t just talk about mental health, we should actually do something about it to keep us safe.

The Safer Community Act has prevented over 500 school shootings from happening. But that is only the start. We have to do much, much more. Part of that is, why isn’t there a national standard for school safety? Why are every – all these schools in a silo when it comes to fighting some of these things. And we have to give them the resources. We passed this bill, but a lot of the money has not made it back to the schools.

I’m not afraid of that vote. I’m not afraid of this runoff. I ran very hard in order to win this election, and I’ll keep delivering for my district.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It sounds like you’re saying, yes, that that vote hurt your prospects in your district?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I am in a runoff for a reason. Part of that was that vote. And, you know what, I knew it at the time. When somebody comes – I like to call them the devil. When the devil comes and visits you and says, hey, Tony, you’re going to do this or else, and you tell the devil to go pack sand, you better be ready for a fight.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who’s the devil?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: The devil’s – has many faces and many names.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And so what ends up happening is, people – there are no more debates in Washington. Everybody is defending positions that are already defined for them. We got to get back to having debates. Real conversations that help real people. It can’t just be these, you know, this cosplay. It has to be real people doing real things. You started this segment with the For Country Caucus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: It was a great segment of bipartisanship.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re a part of it.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I’m part of it. I’m the co-chair for For Country Caucus. That almost did not happen. And the reason it didn’t happen is because everybody’s at each other’s throats. And nobody wants to be seen with one another, more or less doing things together.

It took a member of Congress by the name of Jim Baird. He’s one of the last surviving Vietnam veterans serving in Congress. I don’t like to share private conversations of members, but he basically told everybody in the caucus, he goes, here’s the deal, someday somebody is going to be there to honor your memorial, and I hope you take the time to show up. And I tell you what, that hit everyone pretty hard and everyone set aside – and set aside our differences and put it together.

But this is a bigger thing that’s happening. You know, the working together is almost a bad thing in Washington. We got to push back against that. Let’s have debates. Let’s fix things. Let’s solve real problems for real people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think a lot of Americans would like to see that.

We just showed video there of Jim Baird.

On your point, though, you know, Donald Trump is campaigning, saying he’s going to peel back all of Joe Biden’s restrictions on guns. There weren’t a lot of restrictions on guns in this community – Safer Community Act, but you’re telling Republicans, don’t repeal this. You’re telling Donald Trump, don’t repeal the work you did.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I’d argue there weren’t any restrictions on guns in this bill. This was a mental health bill that got spun as a gun control bill for the different, you know, advocacies so they could campaign against it or campaign for it. What it was – what it did do is it provided mental health resources and it gave background checks to minors. I’m OK with background checks. Americans should be OK with background checks. We have to do more to keep our kids safe in school.

My kids go to school with a bulletproof backpack. You should think about sending your kids to school with bulletproof backpacks. It’s not fair, it’s not the world that we grew up in, but something has to change. And it can’t just be words. And it can’t just be pointing blame. We have to solve real problems. We have to debate the issue and we have to solve real problems by bringing money back.

And one of my community projects, I brought $5 million back to the northeast independent school district in San Antonio for a quick reaction force, essentially a SWAT team for the local ISD.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot to unpack there. But, thank you.

We’ll be right back. And thank you for your service.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Thank you, Margaret.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: A new record number of air travelers are taking to the skies this weekend according to the TSA. That’s despite severe weather in parts of the country.

And there will be more extreme weather this summer. The 2024 hurricane season is projected to be busy according to both U.S. and world meteorological organization predictions.

We spoke with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Friday and began by asking if federal regulations need to change to deal with increased air turbulence.

(Begin VT)

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG (Department of Transportation): The reality is the effects of climate change are already upon us in terms of our transportation. We’ve seen that in the form of everything from heat waves that shouldn’t statistically even be possible, threatening to melt the cables of transit systems in the pacific northwest, to hurricane seasons becoming more and more extreme and indications that turbulence is up by about 15 percent. That means assessing anything and everything that we can do about it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Here in the U.S.?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, in the atmosphere generally.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: But certainly something that will affect American travelers, whether here or abroad.

Now, there are protocols and patterns for things like how pilots who encounter turbulence can notify those who might be coming in the path, but I do think we need to continually reevaluate that, in the face of the reality that these things are more frequent and more severe than before.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That horrific video that people were terrified by when they saw the Singapore Airlines encounter such severe turbulence that actually killed someone –

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was rare. But you’re saying you do expect to see more incidents like that here in the U.S.?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: To be clear, something that extreme is very rare, but turbulence can happen and sometimes it can happen unexpectedly. Our climate is evolving. Our policies and our technology and our infrastructure have to evolve accordingly too. This is all about making sure that we stay ahead of the curve, keeping aviation as safe as it is. It’s not for nothing that it became the safest form of travel in America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Boeing released a report that said they saw a 500 percent increase in the number of employee submissions about safety concerns during the first two months of 2024. This is, of course, after all these high- profile incidents that happened with that plane door just flying off. It’s good employees are seeing something and saying something, but a 500 percent increase, I mean, that would suggest that there are actual issues here.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: That’s right. There’s an encouraging part and a concerning part. The encouraging part is we want Boeing and any producer in the aviation space to have a culture of, if you see something, say something. We want to make sure those mechanisms for reporting work. We have both whistleblower mechanisms to let us know something directly at the FAA, but in a healthy company that should also be happening within the company.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Were they discouraging it earlier?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: If there were evidence of that, that would – that would lead to direct action. I’m not here to make an accusation like that at this time.

If anything, we want you to err on the side of reporting. So, that’s the encouraging part.

The concerning part, of course, is if any of those issues are happening at all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: And that’s why Boeing is under a huge amount of scrutiny right now, including from the FAA. The administrator took the extraordinary step of saying that Boeing cannot increase their production –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: – until they’ve demonstrated that they can do it safely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That FAA decision also goes with it that 90-day timeline and report that Boeing has to hand in.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: That’s right. That ends more or less right at the end of May. So, we’re coming up on the period where Boeing will put forward their plan. FAA will access it. Then begins a process of accountability, monitoring, making sure they’re conforming to that plan and that it’s getting the results that it should.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That doesn’t sound like that moves quickly. I mean the FAA administrator was on another network this week and said Boeing has a long road ahead to improve safety.

How quickly is this going to move?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: They’re – yes, there – there needs to be some major change. And that’s not overnight work.

Now, to be clear, if there were an immediate safety issue, any time there is, FAA acts immediately. It’s why it took the extraordinary step of grounding, for example, all of those 737 Max 9 aircraft until they could be specifically inspected and returned to service.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that hold is not going to be lifted next week when the report is turned in? That’s what it sounds like.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: They’re going to have to do more to demonstrate their readiness to safely increase production. And again, obviously the goal is for them to do so, but only on a safe and healthy basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about something that we hear quite a lot about on the campaign trail, and that is electric cars, electric vehicles. Donald Trump repeatedly talks about President Biden’s decision to force the industry towards making 56 percent of car batteries electric by 2032, 13 percent hybrid.

Listen to what he said in New Jersey recently.

(Begin VC)

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you notice, he’s trying to save the electrical vehicle but not the gas powered, which is the vehicle that everybody wants.

They’re going crazy with the electric car, costing us a fortune. We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing a car that nobody wants and nobody’s ever going to buy.

(End VC)

MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s not wrong on the purchasing.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Oh, he’s wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s not. Of the – of the 4 million vehicles purchased, you know, what, 269,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. market. It’s up like 2 percent.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: And every single year more Americans buy EVs than the year – the year before.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But why aren’t we seeing it move more quickly.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, this is really important. Every single year more Americans buy EVs than the year prior. There are two things that I think are needed for that to happen even more quickly. One is the price, which is why the Inflation Reduction Act acted to cut the price of an electric vehicle. The second is making sure we have the charging network we need across America.

But I want to talk about the bigger point here, and I take this very personally because I grew up in the industrial Midwest literally in the shadow of broken down factories from car companies that did not survive into the turn of the century because they didn’t keep up with the times.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And many of those autoworkers are concerned electric vehicles require fewer humans to manufacture.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: The most important thing is that the EV revolution will happen with or without us. And we’ve got to make sure that it’s American led.

And that’s what the president is focused on. We don’t want China – look, under the Trump administration, they allowed China to build an advantage in the EV industry. But under President Biden’s leadership, we’re making sure that the EV revolution will be a made in America EV revolution. That is critically important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because of these tariffs you were talking about that President Biden says he’s going to roll out?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, also just making sure that we invest in America’s capacity. Making sure that we are onshoring or friend sourcing the – friend shoring the materials and the processing of what goes into these EVs, making sure that America masters these processes because, look, there is no way that we’re going to get to the middle of this century –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: With the technology that – that we counted on a century ago. Now, there are, obviously, a lot of voices here in Washington who are interested in keeping the status quo.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He says it’s going to be one of the first things he does if he’s re-elected.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Would be happy to see Americans trapped with dirty and expensive fuels. But the reality – and I know he’s made a lot of promises to the oil and gas CEOs about some of the favors that he believes his administration will deliver for them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it – it, obviously, is resonating for him because he wouldn’t bring it up so frequently if there wasn’t some anxiety that he’s tapping into. And let me ask you about a portion of this that I think does fall under your portfolio, and that’s the charging stations you mentioned. The Federal Highway Administration says only seven or eight charging stations have been produced with a $7.5 billion investment that taxpayers made back in 2021.

Why isn’t that happening more quickly?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: So, the president’s goal is to have half a million chargers up by the end of this decade. Now, in order to do a charger, it’s more than just plunking a small device into the ground. There’s utility work and this is also really a new category of federal investment. But we’ve been working with each of the 50 states. Every one of them is getting formula dollars to do this work, engaging them in the first handful –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Seven or eight, though?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Again, by 2030, 500,000 chargers. And the very first handful of chargers are now already being physically built. But again, that’s the absolute very, very beginning stages of the construction to come.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: The reason that we’re investing federal dollars is to fill in some of the gaps in areas where it is not yet profitable for the private sector to do it.

Now, again, the majority of charging will happen at home. And in some senses an electric vehicle has more in common – fueling it has more in common with charging your phone than it does with filling up a gas car, in ways that are both helpful and challenging. But that is exactly the transition that America is going through right now. And the other thing, again, is the price, right?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: We have seen the cost of EVs fall to now where it’s within a few percent of an equivalent gas car. Depending on the model, you may come out ahead now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Buttigieg, thank you for your insights today.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For an update on efforts secure our elections, we’re joined now by CBS News election law contributor David Becker, the founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, and CBS News national security contributor Samantha Vinograd, who was a top counterterrorism officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

Good to have you both here.

I want to start with you, David.

We talked last week, and we’ll continue to talk about, election security and integrity. And we know that top officials have testified to Congress that election infrastructure has never been more secure. But there are a lot of buts in this environment we’re going into.

DAVID BECKER: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One specific example, Republican activist in at least three states now where Donald Trump tried to reverse his defeat in 2020, nearly all of them under criminal indictment, are now poised to reprise a role in the upcoming election as presidential electors. This is all “Washington Post” reporting.

What does that mean for the integrity of the events they are directly going to be involved with?

DAVID BECKER: Yes, as you noted, the 2020 election was an incredible success with regard to election security. Higher turnout than we’ve ever seen before, in the middle of a global pandemic, and that work has withstood the highest scrutiny we’ve ever seen in any election for now over three and a half years and not a single –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Due to court challenge.

DAVID BECKER: Yes, exactly. No evidence in any court of any problem.

And yet we remember going back to Detroit in 2020, attacks on counting centers. There were efforts to organize fake lectors, which are being litigated and criminal charges have been brought in many states. There were efforts to fail to certify elections to give legal effect to elections in places like Arizona and New Mexico, and just earlier this month in Michigan.

And it is likely that we will see efforts like that by in – by supporters of losing candidates in November of 2020 and afterwards. That’s troubling. These are legal duties that people have to certify elections, particularly when legal challenges have not been successful. But that said, I think election officials all over the country are ready for that in many ways, just like they were in elections since 2020. They were ready for it in Arizona when it happened, and New Mexico when it happened, and just earlier this month in Michigan election officials in the state quickly required that county to act and certify the election.

So, we will expect that there will be efforts to slow down, delay or even attack the counting, auditing and certification process perhaps in the last two months of 2024 –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

DAVID BECKER: But I’m cautiously optimistic that election officials are ready to keep that moving on track so that electors can be ascertained on December 11th, meet on December 17th and be counted on January 6th.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Sam, you were in the administration until recently. Spreading lies about candidates is not illegal. It is protected free speech. But what David’s talking about poses a threat at the state level, and it’s states that run these elections. How concerned are you, and whose job is it to set the record straight?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, Margaret, just because speech is protected by the First Amendment does not mean that it’s cost free. We know that in today’s threat environment disinformation is, unfortunately, becoming the norm rather than the exception when it comes to election security and it’s having a direct impact. We know that there’s been an unprecedented level of physical threats arising out of election related disinformation. January 6th is just one example. The Department of Justice’s election threats task force has made 17 arrests, 13 convictions in their ongoing investigations.

And when election related disinformation spreads, every American needs to understand that does give a benefit to our adversaries, Russia and China, who want to sow discord and undermine our democratic processes. Americans should be confident in our election infrastructure security, but our information ecosystem remains incredibly vulnerable. And the federal government is not and should not be the omni present fact checker for the American people. The federal government is undergoing rigorous processes to debunk specific inaccurate information about elections, as are state and local state board of elections.

At the same time, social media companies should be thinking about what kinds of elections disinformation violate their terms of service. And every American, frankly, has a patriotic duty to engage in additional security checks when it comes to the information that they are digesting and sharing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Americans lock their doors. We wear our seat belts. We take security precautions in other domains. And we need to apply that same rigor to our information ecosystem for our national security and physical security as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, we put a lot on the electorate to keep themselves informed and certainly here we will try to be fact checking, but there is so much disinformation, misinformation sometimes, but a lot of it’s deliberate. I want to ask you, David, Speaker Johnson told reporters earlier this week he knew intuitively that non-U.S. citizens had been voting in the elections. He said it’s not easily proven, but he issued a statement saying Russian spies, Chinese diplomats and illegal aliens are influencing the election.

How does an election official certify that someone is a U.S. citizen when they come to vote?

DAVID BECKER: There are multiple protections around this. First, it is against the law, there is a federal statute, 18 U.S. Code Section 611 that says it’s unlawful, up to a year in jail and fines if – for a noncitizen that votes. In addition, under the Help America Vote Act, which has been in place for over two decades, every single registered voter needs to provide I.D. before registering. And that I.D. is almost always a driver’s license number, which is checked against the motor vehicles file. And when you go to motor vehicles, you know you need to show legal presence. Most people show a birth certificate from the United States or a passport, which shows that they’re citizens. That can be checked against that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If they don’t have that?

DAVID BECKER: And if – if they – if they don’t have that, they can provide a Social Security Number, which is also checked, or they have to provide I.D. at the polls before they vote. So, there’s absolute I.D. for voter registration. And we know these two protections have been enormously successful because this is knowable despite what the speaker might have said.

Georgia, for instance, ran an audit of their entire voter registration system. They found about 1,500 people that they couldn’t confirm whether they were citizens or not and determined that literally zero of them had voted. Same with other states have done similar things. The data is all in the state databases. They can check it. We can be very confident that voting by noncitizens is extremely rare.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

DAVID BECKER: Virtually nonexistent. Not zero probably but very close to zero.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sam, how much planning is the federal government doing going into this election when we know there may be, perhaps, even violent disagreement?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, I do want to emphasize, it’s not just the federal government. Federal, state, and local officials are engaged in a range of contingency planning for various threats in areas, whether that be deep fake circulating that could impact voter suppression, for example. We saw attempts at that in New Hampshire. Or whether it’s actual physical security incidents coming out of election results. The federal government, with its state and local partners, is engaged in contingency planning for physical security threats and other threats that could impact the elections and its aftermath.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is good to have both of you here to fact check. And we will stay on it, as you indicated, Sam, part of our duty as well.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

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