Alex Witt | September 14, 2013
>>> welcome back to "weekends with alex witt ". breaking news at the half hour with a done deem in geneva. john kerry and sergei lavrov announced just an hour ago they have reached an agreement for the confiscation and destruction of syria 's chemical weapons .
>> the united states and russia are committed to the elimination of syrian chemical weapons in the soonest and safest manner. we agreed that syria must submit within a week. not in 30 days , but in one week, a comprehensive listing and additional details will be addressed regarding that in the coming days.
>> joining me now is democratic congressman, member of the armed services committee . and with a welcome to you, ma'am, you just heard the secretary of state there announcing this agreement. what's your reaction to that? and do you trust syria to comply?
>> good morning, alex. you know, we just heard the announcement a little while ago, read it. and i'm -- i believe syria will comply simply because they have their major ally on as part of this deal.
>> okay. and you're talking there certainly about russia . beyond the chemical weapons , u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon was quoted as saying the assad government is guilty of crimes against humanity. human rights watch . a new report said the government, soldiers executed 250 men, women, and children in this two-day spree, and that was back in may. not to mention the 100,000 or so that died overall. so confiscating chemical weapons , is that an adequate international response?
>> as you know, the the issue before congress was the chemical weapons . and the use of the limited directed force was about the chemical weapons . and i believe that the response that the united states is looking at is regarding the chemical weapons . and that's what the negotiations were about. i think the first thing we must address is the chemical weapons , which was the whole idea of the universal norm that had been violated by syria .
>> okay. but when you see reports in the wall street journal about elite syrian units moving around their chemical weapons stockpiles, how concerned are you that whatever is presented by the assad government will be truthfully representing what they have in total?
>> well, i think that's the whole issue behind secretary kerry's meeting as well as the foreign minister from russia and the agreement that was reached that in a week there will be an inventory and agreement as to the size of the weapons and we also know that u.n. forces are supposed to be on the ground. or inspectors on the ground no later than november and all the weapons turned over and potentially destroyed by mid- 2014 . we can only assume that the intelligence that our secretary has is in line with what this agreement was struck. so at some point we've all called for a negotiated resolution. in calling for that negotiated resolution we have also got to admit that the negotiated resolution reflects the information that the secretary and therefore the united states is comfortable with.
>> of course the situation in syria has really taken away the focus from a fiscal crisis we have here at home. the house canceled a vote on the spending bill because it didn't cut funding to obama care. will you get a deal in time?
>> as you know, i'm in the house of representatives which is controlled. the majority is the republicans. and they control what comes to the house. we have faced this crisis time and time again. that's why the people of this great country are always so disenchanted and feel that congress is so dysfunctional. we have managed to do it every time. and i believe that thepl come to their senses and that the something will be agreed to by the end of this month.
>> okay. what about the president, though? do you think he would really follow through on his threat to veto any spending bill that cuts health care funds even if it means a government shutdown ?
>> it is not only the president. it will have to get through the senate. it's not just the house. so i think the house republicans are very well aware that it takes basically the two branches of government to agree and therefore knowing that the president will veto it they can't continue to push it because if they do, what will happen is they will cause the government shutdown as they have in the past.
>> if there is a government shutdown , if fiscal deals are not reached, ma'am, how much do you think the weight of that will echo into the 2014 midterms?
>> oh, definitely. when people are now looking again at the budget, they raise issues regarding sequestration, the cuts, is the economy getting better. as you know, the most important part of the economy getting better is public confidence, as the deficit numbers, as you know, are going down. in other words, we may not have the deficit percentage of the gdp as we thought we were going to have. yeah, the people are going to hold us accountable. it will go to 2014 . if it becomes a situation where obama care has been found constitutional by the united states supreme court , people are going to start to ask, why are we still holding up this country and the budgets that are so necessary to run it over an issue that the supreme court has said, hey, it's constitutional.
>> democratic congresswoman from hawaii, thank you very much for your time.