Rep. Mark Walker talks offsetting disaster relief costs
North Carolina congressman on 'Your World' discusses Puerto Rico recovery and response to other hurricanes and fires.
This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: Mark Walker joins us now, the North Carolina congressman, House Republican Study Committee chairman.
Congressman, I know there's a limit obviously to how much we can do.
And the president wasn't extracting or taking away any funds from Puerto Rico or anyone else.
But given the sheer number of storms and disasters and now the fires we're dealing with, we have got to have a better way to deal with this. Right? What do you think?
REP. MARK WALKER, R-NORTH CAROLINA: We do.
We have got to make sure we're offsetting this. We can't be complaining for eight years of the previous administration for funding, whether it's relief bills or what have you.
We're — we're very compassionate people. But just on the lines that you were just talking about with the president, we have got 17,000 troops right now in Puerto Rico. We're there to protect those American citizens.
But, at some point, we do have to begin to transition back where — where there's — the responsibility component kicks in.
CAVUTO: So when you here the San Juan mayor complaining, as she often has, even though the Puerto Rico governor was here and saying the aid, the soldiers, the support has been more than forthcoming, he's more than satisfied, says it is going to be a long and tough slide through all of this, how do you feel about the mixed messages you're getting?
WALKER: Well, I know this.
I have only been a politician for a little less than three years. And I have realized that some people are about attention, and some people are about the cause. And you learn to live with that, whether it's here in Washington, D.C., or whether it's a mayor like that.
A lot of times, the people are trying just to promote themselves, as opposed to the overall cause and the relief that is needed.
CAVUTO: So, I guess what I'm asking now, given we don't have any tabs yet certainly on the California fires — it's still too early, I guess, Congressman — but we know it's probably going to be expensive.
We do know already from Puerto Rico and Texas and Florida and all the other storms in and around that it's already been expensive. So, how do we offset, let's say conservatively, the $100 billion that many peg as a minimum figure? Some go as high as $200 billion.
How is that offset? A lot of Democrats, for example, seize on this and say, well, you shouldn't be giving big old tax cuts. You say what?
WALKER: Well, I say this.
We have places where we can reprioritize that spending. We have got things like Obamacare marketing and advertising. There's billions of dollars there. We have still got fraud places that we're already adding up this past year in the House of Congress.
There are places. Now, it takes intentionality and it takes the will of Congress to be able to reprioritize this money. But we can't say on one hand that there's been a problems — problem with the deficit and debt that continues to spiral even under the watch of the 115th Congress.
We can't fuss about it for the eight previous years, and not be doing diligence about it now.
CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you very much. We will watch closely.
Crazy times. Mother Nature.
WALKER: Thank you. Absolutely.
CAVUTO: All right.
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