Transcript: Rep. Gregory Meeks on “Face the Nation”

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York that aired Sunday, Aug. 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-governed island last week. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Good morning to you, Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE GREGORY MEEKS: Good morning. Good to be with you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you have been globe trotting, but I imagine you’ll soon be back in Washington to vote on this big spending bill. It is a big win, potentially, but it’s a tenth of the size of the President’s original ask. Is what’s about to pass and this reduction in gas prices enough to help Democrats win in November?

REP. MEEKS: There’s no question. This is a big and important bill. It reduces inflation. It makes sure that we can now reduce drug prices. It helps on fighting climate change. And- and we will be moving forward. That goes on top of wins already made in a bipartisan manner during this Congress like bipartisan wins in infrastructure, gun control, CHIPS and Science Act, PACT Act for the veterans, Select Committee, the first Black woman elected or appointed to be the Supreme Court. So yes, this is icing on the cake of moving forward of Democratic achievements in a bipartisan way in this election year. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But despite all of what you just laid out, I know you know that many polls, including those from CBS projected that Republicans will win the majority in the House. Can you reverse that?

REP. MEEKS: Oh, absolutely. I think that the conversations as we’re entering the crucial months of September and October, look, we had an all time low unemployment rate. And we see a court that is regressive. And trying to take away a woman’s right to choose we’re fighting and standing for that. 

 MARGARET BRENNAN: To your trip to Taiwan, we have seen these dramatic Chinese war games. In response to this visit, China cut off some of the diplomatic ties with the United States to protest the fact that you went there to Taipei with Speaker Pelosi. Did this trip backfire by undermining some of the Biden administration priorities?

REP. MEEKS: Not at all, you know, clearly the Biden administration by his presence there, and by increasing economic ties there, is something that shows that the region is very important. And President Biden understands by being a private- prior member of the Senate, that you know, the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. And so what we have to do at this time, because there’s very clearly- it’s very clearly a tense moment on the Taiwan Strait and that’s why it’s very important that all sides respect the status quo, which we did when we’re there, and don’t resort to force or to change things. And it’s just as important that the United States, we doubled our economic, cultural and security cooperation with Taiwan in face of Beijing’s aggression. So this was a very appropriate trip at the time for the region. And I think that when we talked to the Taiwanese, they were appreciative of us being there. You should have seen over 250,000 Taiwanese tracked our flight flying in, on the largest building in Taiwan, big sign saying we love you Nancy Pelosi–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hmm.

REP. MEEKS: People lining the streets when we were driving to our hotel. So clearly the Taiwanese were very happy–

MARGARET BRENNAN: No doubt.

REP. MEEKS: Let me tell you. We were- all of our allies, all of our partners and friends in the region, and the other nations that we visited, was very happy that we were there. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Beijing was- Beijing was furious. They cut off climate change talks with the United States, they’ve cut 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-highest ranking official in the US government on a military aircraft was “provocative,” and sends a strong signal the US is on Taiwan side. Is the US on Taiwan’s side?

REP. MEEKS: We did nothing that was  – if you look at provocative, the ones that was sending missiles over Taiwan and China encircle the island was, in fact, Beijing. This was nothing unusual, members of Congress this year have traveled to Taiwan previously. I’ve traveled to Taiwan a number of times, I’ve traveled to China. But we’re not going to allow, and Speaker Pelosi is absolutely right about this, that to have President Xi dictate to us where we should or should not go, we are going to stand by our friends, our partners and our allies. And clearly Taiwan is one of those. And so the provocative – being provocative is not us. It’s 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 one of strategic ambiguity, the US sells arms to Taiwan, but doesn’t promise to actually defend it. Do you need to change that? Does Congress need to prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan?

REP. MEEKS: Look, what we have done, and I think that what we have shown we will do is to give and we have given in that policy, defensive weapons to Taiwan. Ultimately, this should be decided by people sitting down and not China, and not Beijing, and not Xi, continue his provocative actions. It is his provocative actions that is trying to–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REP. MEEKS: –change the status quo. What we need at this time is the status quo to remain as is, and that is the best way to reduce tensions, not the provocations that are being put on by Beijing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Meeks, thank you for your time this morning. We’ll be right back.