EAGLE PASS, Texas (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - CBS News' chief foreign affairs correspondent and Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan traveled to Eagle Pass, Texas to tour the same federal facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border that GOP lawmakers saw.
"I'm undaunted by this. We deal with the numbers that we have. It will be one of the smallest majorities in the history of the Congress, clearly..." Johnson expressed.
When asked if this doesn't give Congress any wiggle room to work with, Johnson said:
"It doesn't. But we do have, I think, a lot of unity on the big important issues that we're really focused on. And I'm confident that we'll get the job done and be able to demonstrate that we can govern well, and I think that's one of the reasons it will expand this majority in the next election cycle. I'm very optimistic about that."
Goverment shutdown deadline and Trump's immigration stance
During the interview, Brennan and Johnson discussed the upcoming government shutdown deadline, which will occur on January 19.
"We've been negotiating in good faith all through the holidays every day over the holidays, except for Christmas, on the top line numbers, and I think that we may be close to a deal, but we have insisted that federal spending must be addressed in a very serious and sober manner. We crossed an important threshold this week, 30-34 trillion dollars in federal debt. There's never been anything of that magnitude in the history of the country and it's not sustainable. The Congress has a responsibility. We have the power of the purse, of course, and we have to be good stewards of precious taxpayer resources. We cannot continue to borrow money to spend it. And so, reducing non-defense discretionary spending must be a priority of Congress. And we're trying to insist upon that in these negotiations."Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
Brennan asked Johnson if former President Trump's comments on immigration is something Johnson agreed with, and whether it was hateful, Johnson responded by saying:
"That's not language I would use, but I understand the urgency of President Trump's admonition...it's not hateful. What President Trump is trying to advance is his America first priority. And I think that makes sense to a lot of people. The current President, President Biden wants additional supplemental spending on national security, but he denies the most important point of our own national security. And that is our own border. And so that’s frustrating to him."Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
Ukraine funding and involvement in challenging 2020 election outcome
Brennan then spoke with Johnson about the funding for the War in Ukraine.
"I think if the White House and the Senate are serious about this, and they listen to the American people, remembering this is an 80% issue with the American people. They understand the necessity of what we're talking about, we have to insist upon securing our own country. And also if we get the necessary information, and the necessary answers with regard to what is the endgame in Ukraine, and how will we be responsible with expenditure of those resources. The White House has not given us the necessary information."Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
Brennan and Johnson discussed the latter's involvement in the Texas Amicus Brief, back in 2021, which challenged the 2020 election outcome in a number of states.
"President Biden was certified as the winner of the election. He took the oath of office. He's been the president for three years. What the argument that we presented to the court, which is our only avenue to do so, was that the Constitution was clearly violated in the 2020 election. It's article two, section one, and anyone can Google it and read it for themselves. The system by which you choose electors to elect the president of the United States must be done by the individual states and the system must be ratified the state legislatures, that is plain language in the Constitution."Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
Border funding and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
Later in the interview, Brennan and Johnson talked about immigration policy choices and congressional financial support for the border.
"I think anyone with common sense would tell you that you cannot throw more money at a bad system. We don't want to empower more of this. The White House, the administration, Secretary Mayorkas, have put a welcome mat out. So we know that we have people coming from nearly 170 countries around the world...In a triage situation, you have to stop the flow first before you can commence with the surgery and we're hemorrhaging here. And everyone knows it."Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
When asked if Congress needed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas' help instead of trying to impeach him, Johnson said this:
"We've been asking Secretary Mayorkas, since he took office, to enforce the law, to do his job, and he's done exactly the opposite...I believe Secretary Mayorkas is an abject failure, but it's not because of incompetence. I believe he has done this intentionally. I think these are intentional policy decisions that he's made. And I think there must be accountability for that."
Impeachment inquiry into President Biden
Before the interview concluded, Brennan and Johnson discussed the impeachment inquiry against President Biden.
"The House has, among the very heavy responsibilities that the House of Representatives holds next to the declaration of war, impeachment is probably the heaviest power that we have. In the previous administration, we were very critical of the House Democrats because they politicized impeachment. They used it for raw partisan purposes, in my view...We do have responsibility, however, to investigate things that are untoward. And this has happened with the Biden administration, very methodically, very carefully in a way that is exactly the opposite of what the House Democrats did during the Trump administration. We have investigated these credible claims, whistleblowers have come forward, we had three different committees of the House do extensive investigation on this. The investigations led to a certain point, the truth has been followed wherever it led, because that's the responsibility of Congress. And now, the investigation has been impeded. The White House has suddenly refused to turn over documents that have been requested and certain witnesses that are key to unwinding exactly what happened. So, there are still some questions that must be answered. So, it came to a certain point that the House had to pass the impeachment inquiry as a measure because that puts us at the apex of our constitutional authority because we'll have to enforce the subpoenas in a court of law. That was a necessary step that we had to take. So again, it's still not been prejudge. We've not made a determination that impeachment is going to happen here. But, we have to take those next necessary steps to get those remaining depositions and those documents to be able to uncover the remainder of the truth.Rep. Mike Johnson, House Speaker (R-LA)
When asked if Congress hasn't made the conclusion that they've seen evidence for the impeachment to move forward, Johnson said, "Well, no. You can't prejudge an impeachment inquiry or investigation. I think that would be a violation of our duty under the Constitution, you have to investigate and follow the truth where it leads, but we know where that truth is shown us thus far."
To watch Brennan's full interview with Johnson, click here.