U.S. Representatives Cleaver And Yoder On Ferguson, Iran Deal And Planned Parenthood

Aug 11, 2015

Congress may be in summer vacation, but there's no shortage of big issues on the table awaiting their return.

U.S. Representatives Kevin Yoder and Emanuel Cleaver, who represent Kansas and Missouri, respectively, in Washington, joined Steve Kraske on Up To Date to discuss the latest from the Capitol.

Between the Iran nuclear deal, the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, and the tension in Ferguson, Missouri, on the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, the congressmen find some common ground — both are sponsoring a police body camera bill — and agree to disagree on other important decisions to come.

Here are some highlights from the conversation:

On tension surrounding the anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting, and race relations in Ferguson and Kansas City

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver: 

“I’m a little frustrated because frankly there is nothing that has transpired over the last year that would justify some pretentious demonstrator coming out with a gun and firing at police. So I’m disturbed about that. You can’t think and shoot at the same time. I don't think that's doing the movement any good.”

The Democrat also commented on the report from the Department of Justice in March that found that Ferguson's police department and municipal court were unconstitutionally targeting low-income and minority residents with tickets and fines for minor offenses.

“It’s taxation by citation. Two years ago a city of 20,000 people received 31,000 citations. That's at least one citation per person plus 10,000 for visitors. The city is still surviving only on traffic tickets, there's virtually no industry there ... Any time you have a lot of stops by police you are going to end up having a conflict. And these are unnecessary stops — we’re going to end up with another Michael Brown situation because nothing has changed in terms of the way in which the city is financing itself.

I think the police department needs to be eliminated or folded into the St. Louis County Police Department because Ferguson obviously does not have the capacity to run its own police department."

Rep. Kevin Yoder:

"We’ve certainly watched what's happening in Ferguson, and we’re certainly aware of it on the Kansas side of the line. We haven't had such incidents like that that would be of nearly the same proportion.

The Republican added, "But I think we always need to be aware that these things can happen anywhere, a bad relationship between the police and community can happen anywhere, racism can happen anywhere."

On the proposed Iran Nuclear Deal, which Congress is expected to vote on in the next few weeks

Rep. Kevin Yoder:

"I think this deal will ultimately lead to Iran getting a nuclear weapon … I think it has too many concessions to Iran, Iran really wins in the deal and the United States doesn't get much in return. Iran gets amnesty for one of its leaders who has been responsible for killing a lot of Americans yet we don't let four American hostages out of Iran. Iran gets an end to the arms embargo that's going to allow them to buy arms from China and Russia … They also get a release of over $100 billion in frozen assets …

There’s a better deal here that we can get. I’m not one to question motives or be cynical, but I do wonder if the administration is more interested in getting any deal before the president’s term is over than the best deal."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver:

"There are a lot of things that are not in this deal that many of us would like to have in this deal. I agree with Kevin that there are a lot of things that I would like to add. The problem is that the negotiations that were being held dealt exclusively about nuclear weapons so it didn’t all these other issues."

Although Cleaver says he is still undecided on how he will vote, the Congressman expressed frustration about issues surrounding the negotiations.

"This issue has already become so messy. For the first time in the history of the United States … 47 senators sent a letter to Iranian leaders and said, ‘Disregard your negotiations with President Obama, because no matter what happens, our next president or Congress is going to overturn it.’ So they in fact empowered the Iranians. The deal has been damaged and shrouded in all of these other issues that I think are doing enormous damage."

On the allegations that Planned Parenthood has engaged in the selling of fetal matter, and the push to de-fund the organization

Rep. Kevin Yoder:

"I think whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, the idea in this country that we would create a market for the sale of fetal organs is abhorrent to all Americans. There is an investigation going on in Congress.

I believe certainly that any money that didn't go to Planned Parenthood should go to other women’s organizations, hospitals safety-net clinics. This is not about in any way restricting those dollars and maybe we need to be spending more money in those areas. I have a bill that would ban the sale of fetal organs that has several dozen co-sponsors.

Intelligent minds disagree on pro-choice or pro-life and were going to continue to have this debate in this country, but can’t we all just come together and say, the sale of fetal organs is wrong in this country?"

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver:

Cleaver told Kraske that he is not convinced by the video that Planned Parenthood is actually engaging in the sale of fetal organs.

"If that’s found to be a fact, they they out to be de-funded and a lot of other things ought to happen. We need to have a full complete and unbiased investigation to see if they are in fact discussing the sale of fetal parts. I think this could be politicized."