Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA): The Trump Administration is "Tone Deaf" on Offshore Drilling

March 5, 2018

The Department of the Interior announced plans to expand offshore drilling, upsetting environmentalists and members of Congress alike. Congressman Donald McEachin, a democrat representing Virginia's fourth district, serves on the Natural Resources Committee. He believes the move shows the Trump Administration is "tone deaf" on the issue of offshore drilling.

Congressman McEachin says protecting the "We don't want any environmental issue, really, to fall down between Democrats and Republicans," the Congressman said.

The Congressman has also co-sponsored the Military Spouse Employment Act. If passed, the bill will provided resources for military spouses struggling to find jobs as their loved ones serve in the military.


MALE_1: A Democrat from Virginia's Fourth good enough to take the time to join us here. Sir, good to have you.

MALE_2: Good to be with you. Thank you.

MALE_1: Of course. Let's start right there. My colleague Brad was teeing up Secretary Zinke of the Interior Department these expansive plans for offshore drilling. The Trump administration sir, they've called it responsible, they've called it well-regulated, and they have called it vital to the US economy. Sir, how do you respond?

MALE_2: Well, it's not vital to the Virginia economy at all. In fact, we have 91,000 jobs that are potentially at risk between, uh, military assets in that area, as well as tourism, uh, dollars that are at risk, uh, from this plan. And what's so interesting about it to me is is that they came all the way into my district, and the northernmost part of my district, which is not by any area that would be affected by drilling to hear from folks, to hear from people about how they felt about drilling, rather than going down to the seashore, rather than going down to the Chesapeake part of my district and actually listening to people. So, I don't know that their intentions are are well-founded, uh, or well-placed, and uh, I'm very concerned about the plan. But, obviously, I'm against the plan. I think it's the worst thing that could happen to Virginia.

MALE_1: And of course Secretary Zinke has met with the California governor who's a Democrat, there have been other Democrats he's been meeting with as well. Do you have any sort sense of optimism that he is willing to listen to perhaps some viewpoints that are different than his own?

MALE_2: Uh, I have no doubt that he will listen. Whether he'll act on those viewpoints or not is a whole condi- a whole different story.

MALE_1: And there has been bipartisan criticism. It's not just Democrats, a lot of Republicans who live in these coastal states are also perhaps rightfully, expressing a lot of concern about this. What does that tell you about the state of, ah, how crucial this issue is, an- and the messaging coming out of the Trump White House?

MALE_2: It's it's incredibly important that we speak out on a bipartisan basis. We don't want any environmental issue really to fall down to between Democrats or Republicans. You know, the Republican Mayor of Virginia Beach has come out against it. Many Republicans in our state have come out against this plan. And what I really think it shows is that the Trump administration is tone-deaf when it comes to offshore drilling.

MALE_1: Of course you serve on the committee of natural resources. How do you ensure then a crucial issue to yourself, like the environment, maintains a heavy priority of Congress when you're facing spending bills, a new omnibus bill? Obviously, a lot of Congress focus tends to be th- reactionary to current news items. How do you make sure the environment is prioritized in the long term?

MALE_2: By prioritizing in the things that we say, and in the actions that we take in our individual offices. I think that's how we do it. And then we speak to our our colleagues whenever and wherever we can about the importance of the environment. And don't leave out my HAS service as well, House Armed Services Committee. We know that off the Virginia coast we have a lot of naval resources, uh, that need areas to train in, areas to practice, in the in the putting up of oil rigs we'll limit that in a in a severe way. So, we don't need that in Virginia.

MALE_1: I certainly know one of your key goals is to try and cut down on military spousal unemployment. This is a bipartisan effort of yours. What can you tell us about the signature piece of relatively new legislation to the Senate, Congressman ?

MALE_2: Well. We know that somewhere between 12 and 25 percent of all, ah, military spouses are unemployed, and another 25 percent are underemployed. And if you think about it for a moment, you are always following your spouse around the country or around the world even, and you're always having to uproot, to start your career all over again. So, we wanna see if we can build in some things through this legislation that'll require DOD to, first of all give us a plan, and then as we analyze that plan, look at it to see are we giving, uh, these spouses preferences? Are we helping them, ah, with career opportunities? Are we helping them learn how to start their own businesses? Are we making sure that as they transition from being, eh, a military spouse, to being the spouse of a veteran, that they understand the options for their families as they are transition back into civilian life. And so, this is a plan that, yes, we are working on a, with on a bipartisan basis. I'm so happy about that. That's sort of the hallmark of the HASC committee, there was, we work on a bipartisan basis because we all understand that partisanship ends at the war's edge.

MALE_1: If I'm not mistaken, you come from a military family yourself, so that there's a personal draw to this. So, what is it about your experience that better informs this issue for you to take so seriously?

MALE_2: Well, you know, I am the, uh, I'm proud son of an Army veteran. My dad was a warrant officer in the Army and my mom obviously, and I followed him around the globe, and just watching their experiences and watching my mom always have to restart. So, that helps bring some some flavor to this for me. Um, but there are lots of families in that situation, and you you hear a lot of that on the campaign trail when you were, when we're out there in the last cycle. You heard about the quality of life for military families. And so, this is an at an attempt to address that.

MALE_1: And over in the Senate, the version of this bill is put forward by your Democratic colleague, your Senator Tim Kaine?

MALE_2: Yes.

MALE_1: From your own State of the Commonwealth. So, talk to us about the communication. How does the House and Senate work effectively to reach the same goals wi- with such similar legislation in both chambers?

MALE_2: Well. That's that's the key, right? We wanna start off with similar legislation, uh, and see, and he's got a bipartisan, I mean, he's got a Republican sponsor, I've got a Republican co-sponsor. And so, we hope to move it, ah, through both chambers simultaneously so there won't be a whole lot of confusion when we get to conference, and we can hopefully get it to the president's desk expeditiously.

MALE_1: Ah, final question. Anniversary of Bloody Sunday you were there in Selma, Alabama with many many members of Congress. Why was it so important to have so many, uh, members from the House of Representatives there in this historic anniversary, right alongside Mr. Lewis?

MALE_2: Well, one, because it was right alongside John Lewis, and he was such major player in the civil rights movement and to serve with him in the Congress is such an honor. But also for many of us who were too young to remember Bloody Sunday. I was born in 1961, for instance. And so, I stand on the shoulders of all those giants. For those of us who are in my situation to be able to go there and learn, to have John Lewis narrate what happened on on those days, to actually go to where the bombings took place, that was really truly heart wrenching. You know, I, my eyes were watery the whole time. And so, it was just a moving experience and a learning experience, and I hope it was an experience brought those of us who were on that trip to, a little bit closer so that we could move forward together to better our country.

MALE_1: It's a great perspective. It's always great to have you on the show, Sir.

MALE_2: Thank you for having me.

MALE_1: Congressman Donald McEachin, Virginia's fourth wrapping up.