Rep. Ted Poe tells Newsmax the Obama administration is trying to exploit the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., as a “political agenda item” even before all the victims have been buried.
The Texas Republican also declares that Republicans must take the lead on the immigration issue, which is currently “in chaos,” insists that the White House must “come clean” and explain exactly what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, and predicts that a deal with President Barack Obama on the fiscal cliff “isn’t going to happen.”
Poe was first elected in 2004 and is a member of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Poe was asked if he expects significant changes to gun laws following the Newtown massacre.
“We need to probably have that conversation but not now,” he says. “Some of these kids aren’t even buried yet and yet we’ve got the administration using this is a political agenda item to promote [its] own philosophy. We should deal with the grief and the mourning of the people in Newtown, and then down the road let’s have the conversation.
“But the left continues to look at the wrong thing. They always blame objects, they blame circumstances, they never hold people accountable. I’ll just say this about gun violence: Mexico has the most stringent gun control laws probably in the world. You can’t even own a firearm down there and look at the gun violence they have. That issue has not been solved by more government laws.
“Certainly we need to talk about people with mental issues having access to guns and other things, but down the road. Right now, let’s deal with and concentrate on the victims of this horrible murder.”
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As the representative of a Houston-area district, Poe is vitally concerned with immigration and undocumented aliens. Asked if this is an issue that needs to be dealt with before 2014, he responds: “Yes, we have to deal with it and Republicans have to take the lead on this issue for several reasons.
“One, we need to make sure the left does not continue to define Republicans as anti-immigrant. They did a good job. That’s one reason they won the election. That is not a true depiction of Republicans. Most Republicans and conservatives believe in immigration, we just want it verifiable. We want it legal and we want to be able to document people who come in and know who they are, know where they’re going and make sure they and their employer pay taxes.
“Right now, the immigration system is in chaos. We don’t even have a foolproof identification system. We don’t know who’s here, we don’t know when they leave or when they come back. So we start with the basics. And we also understand that most people who want to come to the U.S., they don’t want to be citizens. They want to be able to work.
“So start with a verifiable identification system for workers so that we know who they are and give them some legal status in the country, not permanent status, not a pathway to citizenship, not amnesty, but know who they are and verify them.
“I’ve been in Congress eight years and I’ve heard this conversation before I started in Congress: We’ve got to fix the immigration system. Well nothing’s happened, so when all is said and done, more is said than done. Immigration should be something we deal with. We can do it fairly and Republicans and conservatives must take the lead on this issue for political reasons but also for reasons that the problem has to be solved.”
A new report on the events in Benghazi, where terrorists killed four American diplomatic personnel, places the blame on the leadership at the State Department.
Poe, vice chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, comments: “The first thing we want to see is the White House come clean and tell us exactly what happened and when they knew the events that were taking place.”
“Of course, the immediate thing the White House did was blame some video rather than the killers, the terrorists, and they’ve changed their story.
“The report that was just released says that Benghazi was not a safe place for our ambassador. We knew that. The country should have had security for him. The State Department should be held accountable for not giving the security. The comment that there wasn’t any money — there was money available for the State Department for that security.
“We also need to track down the killers of the ambassador. We need to find those people that attacked America again on September 11.
“So the report holds the State Department accountable. They made some mistakes. Those mistakes cost the lives of four people.”
Poe adds that it is “unfortunate” the committee has not heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding Benghazi. “She is the one that we want to talk to and, hopefully, we will eventually get to talk to her before she leaves office,” he says.
“The whole problem is the fact that the administration has really been keeping silent on what true facts were. They said one thing and then they say something else. That makes the administration lose credibility.”
As for ongoing negotiations between Obama and the Republican leadership over the looming fiscal cliff, Poe says “the problem is very big and they’re dealing in minutia in trying to come up with some agreement.”
He opines that House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise taxes on only the highest-earning Americans doesn’t constitute a tax increase.
“I look at it this way, voting to freeze tax rates for most Americans permanently is not a tax increase. It’s to help out some Americans. If we can help out some Americans, I still look at that as voting to help out as many Americans as we can, even though we’re not helping all Americans.
“It’s kind of like a lifeguard where there’s 10 people drowning. The lifeguard is able to save nine of those. He can’t save the 10th. Does that mean he shouldn’t save any of them? So I don’t think it’s a tax increase, either logically or legally, to make permanent certain tax rates for most Americans.”
He adds that Republicans “can’t control the Siesta Senate because they don’t vote on anything. We can’t control the president. But we can send to the Senate a good bill or bills that state the conservative principles. That’s our obligation.”
“That’s what we ought to do rather than wait and wait and wait to try to make a deal with the president, which isn’t going to happen.”
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