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Sen. Cory Gardner On Immigration And State Of The Union


All right. Let's get one view from Congress on the president's speech last night. Senator Cory Gardner's a Republican from Colorado. He has, at times, diverged with President Trump. Our co-host, David Greene, spoke with Senator Gardner just after the president's speech.

CORY GARDNER: You know, I think it touched on a lot of themes that the president needed to. I thought it was a good global view and certainly a good local view when it comes to making sure our communities in this country are the focus of the benefit of congressional policies.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: I wonder if you trust this message. I mean, in the past year, there have been so many times when President Trump has at least spoken words of bipartisanship, and then he sends a tweet or does something that seems to just really spoil that. So how much faith do you have coming out of this speech?

GARDNER: I think - look at the immigration - the meetings that we've had over the past several weeks, laying out a plan, a four-part plan, to try to address the DREAMer situation. I've been part of a bipartisan working group to find a solution for the DREAMers. And I think that's exactly what we're going to see happen.

GREENE: I'm glad you brought up immigration because weren't you part of that bipartisan group that went to the White House with a lot of optimism and then President Trump really blew up that bipartisan deal in a very angry meeting?

GARDNER: I was at the first meeting on Tuesday that was basically covered live in a press-conference-style atmosphere. I was not at the meeting later that week that, unfortunately, some outcomes didn't turn out so good out of that meeting. But we have to get beyond the finger-pointing and the partisanship. And we need to make sure that we're moving forward on actual policy solutions. If we do that, then I'm confident we can find the right solution that makes Americans happy about what we've done on border security while also addressing children who were brought here at a very young age through no fault of their own.

GREENE: But are you worried that this president might do something like that again, use a term or do something that just sort of blows up the bipartisanship that might exist temporarily?

GARDNER: I certainly hope not. I think that was an incredibly unfortunate moment, and I hope that it's never repeated. But we can't let that moment define what we do over the next several months as we search for these solutions. It's too important that we get this right.

GREENE: Let me ask you about the solutions. You know, the president laid out this four-part plan. One of the most controversial parts of it is what he calls chain migration. But it would limit the family members who immigrants could bring into the United States. How different is his plan compared to the bipartisan deal that you worked on?

GARDNER: I think you heard the president say that there's going to be compromise and that nobody's going to get everything that they want. And I think that would include and extend to his own ideas. I do think the chain migration, as he calls it, will be the most difficult part of this discussion. But I believe where good faith people come together for a solution, we can find it.

GREENE: Where are you on that specific issue? I mean, he is saying that that immigrants should only be able to bring in spouses and minors. What do you believe?

GARDNER: This is going to be a negotiated point. I think as the president said, there is going to have to be compromise. Obviously, the bipartisan plan that we had developed early on addressed parents, and that was not accepted by the White House. But I think we have to maintain the ability and the willingness to negotiate with each other a solution that can actually get Democrat and Republican support out of the House, the Senate and signed by the president. Look. If we pass a bill that simply gets out of the Senate but doesn't get in the House and doesn't get on to the president's desk, then we haven't accomplished our goal.

GREENE: What's your advice to the president coming out of this speech?

GARDNER: I think he laid out a very aggressive economic policy, continuing to double down on reduced regulations, continuing to tout the benefits of the tax cuts that are growing this economy. He laid out some pretty bold visions when it comes to ending the defense budget sequester. And so, you know, that's something the American people are going to expect to be achieved.

GREENE: Do you think he has to behave differently as a president in 2018 if he's truly going to bring this country together?

GARDNER: I think the president tonight was somebody who showed the ability to lead, who showed the ability to have that statesmanship that we - this country has come to expect from our presidents. And I hope going forward this is the kind of action that we see.

GREENE: Cory Gardner is a Republican senator from the state of Colorado talking to us about the State of the Union that he just listened to. Senator, thanks for the time.

GARDNER: Thanks for having me. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF YPPAH'S "SPIDER HANDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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