The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York that aired Sunday, August 7, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: China launched its most dramatic show of military force in decades with four days of war games off the coast of Taiwan, all in response to Speaker Pelosi leading a congressional delegation to the self-ruled island last week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: With us now is Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Good morning to you, MP.
REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MIX: Good morning. I’m glad to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you’ve been around the world, but I imagine you’ll be back in Washington soon to pass this big spending bill. It’s a big win, possibly, but it’s one-tenth the size of the President’s original question. Is what’s going to pass, and is this drop in gas prices enough to help Democrats win in November?
REP. MEEKS: No question. This is a large and important bill. It reduces inflation. It ensures that we can now reduce drug prices. It helps fight climate change. And- and we’ll move on. This comes on top of wins already made in a bipartisan way during this Congress, such as bipartisan wins on infrastructure, gun control, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act for veterans, the Select Committee, the first black woman elected or appointed to the Supreme Court. So, yes, that’s the icing on the cake for promoting democratic achievements in a bipartisan way this election year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But despite everything you just presented, I know you’re aware that many polls, including those from CBS, predicted that the Republicans would win the majority in the House. Can you reverse it?
REP. MEEKS: Oh, absolutely. I think the conversations as we go into the critical months of September and October, look, we’ve had an all-time low unemployment rate. And we see a court that is regressive. And by trying to take away a woman’s right to choose, we fight and defend that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On your trip to Taiwan, we saw these dramatic Chinese war games. In response to that visit, China severed some of its diplomatic ties with the United States to protest the fact that you went there to Taipei with President Pelosi. Did this trip backfire by undermining some of the priorities of the Biden administration?
REP. MEEKS: Not at all, you know, clearly the Biden administration with his presence there and increasing economic ties there, it’s something that shows that the region is very important. And President Biden understands, being a private former member of the Senate, you know, the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. And what should we do right now, because there’s very clearly – it’s very clearly a tense moment in the Taiwan Strait, and so it’s very important that all sides respect the status quo, which we did when we’re there, and don’t resort to to violence or change things. And just as importantly, the United States has redoubled our economic, cultural, and security cooperation with Taiwan in the face of Beijing’s aggression. So this was a very appropriate trip at that time for the area. And I think when we talked to the Taiwanese, they appreciated us being there. You should have seen over 250,000 Taiwanese watching our flight to the largest building in Taiwan, a big sign that said we love you Nancy Pelosi–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REP. MEEKS: People lining the streets when we were driving to our hotel. So clearly the Taiwanese were very happy–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Without a doubt.
REP. MEEKS: Let me tell you. We were all allies, all our partners and friends in the region, and the other nations that we visited, were very happy to have us there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But Beijing was – Beijing was furious. They cut off climate change talks with the United States, cut off other cooperation. And in fact, Beijing said this is the one issue that the US and China, the two most powerful countries in the world, could come into conflict with Beijing, said a visit by the third-ranking US government official to a military aircraft was “provocative”, and sends a strong message that the US is on Taiwan’s side. Is the US on Taiwan’s side?
REP. MEEKS: We didn’t do anything that was – if you look provocatively, the ones that were sending missiles over Taiwan and China that surrounded the island was, in fact, Beijing. This was nothing unusual, members of Congress this year have traveled to Taiwan before. I have traveled to Taiwan several times, I have traveled to China. But we’re not going to allow, and Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right about this, that for President Xi to dictate where we should or shouldn’t go, we’re going to stand with our friends, our partners, and our allies. And clearly Taiwan is one of them. And so the provocative – being provocative is not us. It is the Beijing government. And we’re just not going to allow that to happen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of this policy for decades, it’s been a strategy of ambiguity, the US selling arms to Taiwan but not promising to actually defend it. Do you need to change this? Does Congress Need to Prepare for a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan?
REP. MEEKS: Look, what we’ve done, and I think what we’ve indicated we’re going to do is give, and we have given this policy, defensive weapons to Taiwan. Ultimately, this should be decided by people sitting down and not China, and not Beijing and not Xi, to continue his provocative actions. It is his defiant actions that he tries to…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REP. MEEKS: –change the status quo. What we need right now is for the status quo to remain as it is, and that is the best way to reduce tensions, not provocations from Beijing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Meeks, thank you for your time this morning. We will be right back.