Voters speak. Delivering a message. What does it say? We're asking Iowa's re-elected Fourth District Congressman Steve King for his interpretation on this edition of Iowa Press.

Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation. I'm a dad. I am a mom. I'm a kid. I'm a kid at heart. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. The availability of high speed broadband service is essential to fulfilling the promise of a connected Iowa. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign showcases the importance of delivering broadband to all corners of Iowa. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa PBS Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa PBS.


For decades Iowa Press has brought you politicians and newsmakers from across Iowa and beyond. Now celebrating more than 40 years of broadcast excellence on statewide Iowa PBS, this is the Friday, November 11 edition of Iowa Press. Here is Dean Borg.

Borg: Tuesday's election results are raising as many questions as answered, maybe more. Voters defying polls, logic and in many ways precedent, charting a brand new political course for our ship of state. We've invited one of Tuesday's winners to help interpret the election results, Fourth District Congressman Steve King, often called the most outspokenly conservative of Iowa's congressional delegation, for his analysis today. Congressman King, congratulations on winning an eighth term. But I wonder about this, eighth term, aren't you a little bit concerned that you're easing into being one of the establishment?

King: Well, I don't know, I've got this buildup of legislation that has been waiting for Nancy Pelosi to lay down the gavel and for Barack Obama to ride off into the sunset. Now I'm just poised to have this whole series of big victories and I've got the groundwork laid for it. And those people in Washington wish I were part of the establishment. I don't think they think so.

Borg: I should say, Congressman, for our viewers, that we are taping this the day after the election, on Wednesday, so the remarks we make are in that vein, they're happening hours after we've known the results.

Borg: Across the Iowa Press table, Des Moines Register Political Columnist Kathie Obradovich and Radio Iowa's News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Congressman, during the Iowa State Fair you told us that you were predicting a wave election, you just at the time didn't know which way the wave would fall. What happened in the intervening months?

King: Well, actually I didn't know and I said that in multiple places. We are today, when you look at the map, as red as the map of America is, it looks like a wave. When you look at the electoral count, as we speak, it doesn't look like a wave, it looks like a very, very tight election and there were about six battleground states that were essentially jump balls. I spoke with the Trump campaign mid-to-late afternoon right on Election Day and they said, we don't know how this is going to go but we think that we're right on the bubble in each of those states. It happened that most of them broke in Trump's way. It wasn't really a wave by numbers or electoral votes, but it is a wave from the standpoint of the people that came to the polls that are new voters decided they've had enough of Washington running Washington for their own benefit, they want a country that is run by and for them. I think that is the wave and it was just enough.

Henderson: You have employed Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump's point person in the last few months of this campaign. What can you tell us about her contribution and how you think she steered Trump toward victory?

King: Oh, Kellyanne Conway has been my pollster for I think twelve years now. She is a close, personal friend and brilliant. When she comes into my office I tell my staff, just come in and sit down and listen, this is your opportunity to learn from a really smart person. And so when Kellyanne came into the Trump campaign you could see that she started to shift it around and she started to restrain and control some of the things that were going on that were undisciplined in the Trump campaign, you saw the discipline come in, you also saw the messaging come in. Kellyanne has written a book, What Do Women Want, and she knows the answer to that and she knows what men want and she knows about the demographics of America. I think the Trump campaign was finely tuned by Kellyanne Conway and she is a most essential component to his victory.

Obradovich: What was the most, what was the best advice she ever gave you in one of your races?

King: Well, I wonder about that because we've been essentially ahead. But one of the things she said during the Vilsack campaign, one where she was looking at the polling numbers in northwest Iowa, she said, that's where the war on women went to die because we were not losing among women and I think her advice was helpful on that.

Henderson: What role should she have in the Trump administration?

King: I would say to Kellyanne whatever she wants. She will know what she'll be good at. For me I would suggest first take a look at being the Press Secretary for President-elect Trump. She is a wonderful spokesperson, she's so quick, sharp as a whip and she also has a tremendous ability to just use language to deliver a message with such utility. So I would say that would be a good spot for her. But if she wants something on up the line from that, step back and hand it over, she'll do a great job.

Obradovich: Just a minute ago you mentioned sort of a split between a red wave of republican victories in Iowa and nationally, but also what we still have is a very divided country. That could pose I would say at least a challenge for governing and now that's your responsibility, your party's responsibility. So how do you bring the country together? And is there an opportunity for some sort of shared agenda here in the first, at least in the first couple of years of a Trump administration?

King: I don't know about a shared agenda. We do operate on a shared agenda in Congress on a regular basis but we never make the news. Most of the votes that we put up are non-controversial votes that are going on. So we have that pattern of a shared agenda. But there are big things that need to be decided here. And the American people have delivered a mandate to Donald Trump and to his agenda and I think Congress, wisely, should look at this agenda and decide let's move it as quickly as we can and the first 100 days are the window for that, that has been true traditionally, but it is also practically speaking because the people that are on the other side of this argument are mobilizing now to try to drag that agenda down. So it will probably be some power politics but it goes with the victor and the victor is Donald Trump and it's his agenda so I think that's what will happen. It doesn't mean we don't like each other, however.

Obradovich: So you talk about a power agenda, but there are some things that he mentioned even in his victory speech that could in fact be part of a bipartisan agenda including infrastructure reform or infrastructure projects. But he has mentioned things in the first 100 days that have to do with repealing Obamacare, those kinds of things. Is that the direction that you think that he's going to head or should head?

King: When I say you have to just use the leverage of the mandate I am thinking of Obamacare and I'm thinking of immigration policy as well. And when I think of the infrastructure component I don't see conflict there, no, we want to rebuild America. I think there's a willingness to do that. But the most important piece of this is that we have been saddled with Obamacare for six years and the American people said in 2010 we want it repealed, they sent 87 freshmen republicans to the House to get that done and we fell short of getting that done. Now they sent a President who has made that pledge. So I think we need to put the repeal of Obamacare on President Trump's desk and I would have it waiting there for him to swear into office January 20th. And I would like to separate the repeal of Obamacare from the replacement of Obamacare so it's a clear dividing line, perhaps a delayed enactment so it's not an abrupt trip the rug out from underneath people’s policies, but give us an opportunity then to go into a transition of the replacement policy, but separate bills so that the legacy is left.

Henderson: So what do you replace it with?

King: Well, to start with, Steve King's bill, you're not surprised to hear this, Steve King's bill to provide 100% full deductibility for everyone's health insurance premiums and today we have 20.9 million Americans who are compelled to pay for Obamacare with after-tax dollars while their tax dollars are subsidizing somebody else's premium. That's number one. The second one is to sell insurance across state lines so that we can bring the competition from 50 states together and let that competition keep our prices down. Those would be two big things with replacement of Obamacare.

Borg: You mentioned that starting in Congress, initiating, having its genesis in Congress. Couldn't President Trump, elect now, but when he is President, do that without an act of Congress?

King: On Obamacare?

Borg: Yes.

King: No.

Borg: By executive order?

King: Not by executive order. He could only do those things by executive order that Barack Obama has done by executive order to put into a fairly compact analysis. But the Obamacare was two bills, one was a reconciliation bill and the other one was a standard piece of legislation. And it was passed, and I've said this many times without rebuttal, it was passed by hook, by crook and by legislative shenanigan and that's some of the words of the democrats as well. And so we have to then gin up the support, within the House I think it will be relatively easy. My repeal of Obamacare, which I wrote in the middle of the night March 23, 2010, it was the first repeal bill and it has passed the House multiple times. We can do that. But the Senate I believe has to separate the bill. The reconciliation component can go on 51 votes and the balance of the repeal, which would have no real substance left in it, has to go on the filibuster numbers.

Borg: I want to go back before we get too far away from the campaign itself and to see how you're going to treat members of the family now. There were republicans who publicly rejected Trump as a candidate. There were others who passively deferred endorsing him or supporting him. How are members of the Republican Party family going to be treated, those who are in that category?

King: You know, Dean, I think that's an open question yet. And I'm speaking only as we talk just hours from a conference call that we had with our republican house leadership including Speaker Ryan. The voices have already been enjoined today about unity. And as I understood Paul Ryan's public speech today that he had spoken with Donald Trump the night after the votes were counted, election night, and then again the following morning and he had spoken with Vice President-elect Mike Pence the following morning. Those are reconciliation conversations that are taking place. I don't know how far that goes because we have potential leadership races to sort out and they want to call that leadership race on November 15th, which is really quick, just exactly a week after the election. And I'm for delaying it until say December 9th or so, so we have an opportunity to digest these transformations. This is huge.

Obradovich: We're going to ask the same question, all together now. Do you support him as Speaker? We haven't had a lot of sleep.

King: You're on key though. So, I have to leave that as an open question. I enjoy, I believe, a good relationship with Paul Ryan and we have been able to work some pretty good legislative agreements, in particular trade promotion authority is passed into law today because of Paul Ryan and Steve King working together and my amendments going onto TPA. But I want to see how he handles the Trump administration and I'd like to hear how he'll go forward on this.

Henderson: So is that a probationary period you're seeking?

King: You might describe it that way but I'm too diplomatic to do that.

Obradovich: Or is there somebody else you have your eye on?

King: Not really. I haven't seen another name emerge. I just know that there is a level of skepticism within our conference and I think it's prudent of us to evaluate and I'd like to hear personally from Paul Ryan what is your relationship now with Donald Trump? How do you plan on working going forward with him? What are some of these policies that you'd be willing to work with? As Paul Ryan who is not enthusiastic about immigration enforcement, is he going to be enthusiastic about bringing a Trump immigration agenda through the floor of the House of Representatives? That's some of the things that I need to get answers from him on before I can make a decision. But from a personal standpoint he is a terrific guy and I have a very, very good working relationship with him and I hope it continues.

Obradovich: We talked for a second about the first 100 days and one of the things that Donald Trump has indicated he'll be doing very soon after taking office is repealing a lot of the executive orders that President Obama put into place. Give us some idea of what you think the effect will be on some of those repeals of executive orders. And are there executive orders then that you think President Trump should put in place instead on some of those issues? Or should he just leave it all to Congress?

King: I think that President Obama has issued so many executive orders, and they aren't always executive orders, sometimes they're executives edicts, he changed Obamacare by a third tier notice on a U.S. Treasury website. He has spoken words into law. There's a long list of things that Barack Obama has done to stretch into the Article I, the legislative authority of Congress. But some of the executive orders that need to be repealed or rescinded on hopefully day one by Donald Trump would be the immigration executive orders, the executive amnesty. And I have brought defunding amendments to all of them successfully in the House of Representatives, it just didn't get through the Senate. And so I'd like to see that happen on day one. DACA and DAPA, those two, now it may be that he would just end it and let is phase down, I don't know, but the President has operated in an unconstitutional fashion on those executive edicts and if it's my call I would reverse them day one because they are unconstitutional.

Obradovich: Are there other executive orders that you would like to see a President Trump go ahead and take? Or do you think there are certain things he should just wait for Congress?

King: I would want to discourage an effort to do by the pen that which has been done to the American people by Obama's pen. I'm going to be pushing very hard to bring this thing back to the balance in the branches of government and restore the Article I authority that Congress has. And Paul Ryan appointed me to chair the task force to do that. I take that job seriously and I intend to continue the effort to claw that constitutional authority, the legislative authority, back to the United States Congress and that means discourage an overuse of executive order pen and that overexuberance of the executive branch in its entirety.

Borg: Even though it's a republican president?

King: Yes. I do mean that too, Dean, I really do.

Henderson: In talking with people at Trump rallies and listening to the cry of build the wall from the crowd when Mr. Trump was on stage, there is an expectation there. You went on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and had sort of a diorama of a wall that you envisioned. How quickly do you think he can build the wall? And what happens if that fails?

King: I would say that you can probably expect to see construction begin in the 2017 season and I'd have to go back now and look and see just what form of legislation we might need and what form of funding we might need. But I think I've talked about this on this program in the past that we are spending $6.7 million a mile to guard our southern border, to get about 25% enforcement effectiveness and we're building interstate highways through Iowa, let's say four lane Highway 20 through Iowa, for a cost of $4 million a mile. So there's plenty of money to work with there and I think we just need to reapportion some of that money but we'll have to also appropriate some in order that we get a good jump start on the wall. He wants to make it beautiful and I say let me build it, I'll make it work, I'll make it big, you worry about beautiful, we can have a good wall.

Borg: Who is going to fund it?

King: Well, he has said the Mexicans will pay for it. And then I think I saw a story that said they can pay us back for it. I don't know how that's going to go. I'm going to let him worry about that particular component. That's not a promise that I have particularly adhered to, but I do believe that he has a mandate to build that wall.

Borg: You've given us a timetable on the wall. What about deportation starting?

King: Well, it's a matter of phasing in the enforcement of the law. And I have long said this that we don't want to see, we don't want to see some kind of a roundup team out there that is giving people a measure of fear on the streets of America, that this is a process of when law enforcement encounters people that are unlawfully present in America it is not inhumane to put them back in the condition they were in before they broke the law. So I think it's an incremental process and we have to end sanctuary cities. I think that happens in the first half of next year. And in doing so then the sanctuary cities will become part of the local law enforcement that works with and cooperates with our immigration officers and this is an incremental, not a dramatic thing, but an incremental process of restoring the respect for the rule of law and placing people back in the condition they were in before they broke the law and I think that's humane.

Obradovich: You said it was up to Donald Trump to decide how he's going to pay for the wall, but it is up to Congress to decide whether you're going to give him the money or not, or if he is going to have to go someplace else and get it. He also mentioned, again, in his victory speech a major infrastructure program. He wants to have the best airports in the world, etcetera. Is that something that you think is going to be a shared goal with Congress? And, again, how do you pay for that?

King: Well, we've had some difficulty in Congress in getting a transportation bill passed, for example. And I always want to see the long-term funding in place and I believe that our road use tax is a user's fee and so we'll have to see how he proposes that funding. I don't actually see our airports in as bad a condition as I think he does but I don't go through LaGuardia very much. And so I think that's maybe his piece of it --

Obradovich: I think he's comparing them to the United Arab Emirates and some of those airports that are really nice.

King: Well that's true too. But we're all for good, strong infrastructure and if there is a return on that investment it's easier to sell the idea on how you pay for it. I'm for user fees though.

Borg: Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, when we're taping this, the day after the election came out in support of an infrastructure bill. It's nice to have her on the team?

King: Well, we'll see. I haven't looked at the details of an infrastructure bill that Nancy Pelosi supports but it would be nice to come together on some of these big issues and if there is one I'm encouraged by you bringing this up. The infrastructure initiative is something that is non-partisan, that's good for all Americans and, by the way, it answers some of the premises that Trump has made, especially for the Rust Belt people, good jobs, rebuilding America and there's merit to that. So I think we should take a good look at it. But I want to have a sound financial backing underneath it and we haven't seen that yet. We'll have to work that out.

Obradovich: Does user fees include tolls? Would you be willing to see a toll on US 20?

King: A toll?

Obradovich: Yeah, maybe make it a toll road?

King: I'm not a big fan of toll roads. I think it's part of our freedom to get out on the road and drive. We pay our fees when we buy our gas and that should be what keeps our roads up. Here's what I'll be pressing on though, and this formula is something that I have looked at for a long time, the road use fund dollar, when you break it down, there are roughly two out of -- let's see how to do this -- about two-thirds of every dollar in the road use fund goes to something other than roads and bridges. It's not quite 3% for trails. We cut that down just a little bit. About 28% for environmental and archaeological compliance according to the transportation committee staff. There's 17% for mass transit. There's another component in there along the way, trails, I said trails. But in any case, you add that all up it's about 68% of the road use tax dollar doesn't go to roads and bridges. Oh I know what it would be -- wage scale that's another 20%. So when you put that together what you end up with is I would want to put more of those dollars that are in that gas tax dollar into roads and bridges and less into those other bells and whistles that they're not intended for.

Henderson: You and other members of the Iowa congressional delegation have told me that the Transpacific Partnership will not come up for a vote during the lame duck session at the conclusion of this year. When President Trump renegotiates NAFTA and CAFTA and the other trade deals that are out there that he has been critical of, what is the impact on Iowa agriculture and exports?

King: Even indecision has an impact negatively on Iowa agriculture and manufacturing. But what it looks like today is that the odds of the Transpacific Partnership coming up are less today than they were two days or three days or a week ago. And so I think that I predicted that one correctly. I want people to know though that I have been for free trade all along, I have supported every free trade agreement that has come before Congress. I've gone to most of those countries to promote it and I've twisted arms and whipped votes on the House of Representatives and conducted meetings to promote that support for trade. And then my involvement in TPA and getting that passed has laid this foundation. But where we are then coming into next year, it will be difficult to renegotiate those treaties that are out there now and that's a difficult task for Donald Trump.

Henderson: But he made that promise and a lot of people voted because they felt as if their jobs had been shipped overseas and that's why he got their support.

King: Oh I think he will do that, Kay, I think he will negotiate it. It's going to be difficult to negotiate existing treaties like NAFTA. But I think he will renegotiate and to renegotiate TPP. I think he means that. But I've said to people, keep making the argument on the broad trade agreement of TPP, keep making the argument on TTIP also. But you may have to accept the idea that we're going to be living in a world of bilateral trade agreements and that's not so bad for the United States because we have more resources than anyone else has, we have more ability to negotiate trade than anybody else has, so if we're negotiating with, we can negotiate with 20 countries at a time effectively, most of those countries can deal with one or two at a time. So we can negotiate good bilateral trade agreements in the absence of the broader agreement, which I favor.

Borg: President Obama has been asked to intervene in the Bakken Oil Pipeline. Did Tuesday night's election change anything in the possible intervention of the executive branch in that?

King: Well, I have to think so and, Dean, it hadn't crossed my mind since the election. I'm a little embarrassed I didn't count that in my head as another one of the components of victory. But I expect this, I expect if the economic interests remain as they have we will see the pipeline built. But I'm talking about the long pipeline, you mentioned Bakken.

Henderson: Keystone.

King: So the intervention then is having to do with eminent domain. I don't know that that intervention is at this point something that is required by a President of the United States. I think we can work that through. That's what I would say about Bakken.

Obradovich: Do you expect the investigations into Hillary Clinton's Clinton Foundation and the unspooling of continual emails to continue to occupy any of Congress' time?

King: That comes right directly to me sitting on the judiciary committee. And I've been fairly deeply involved in that. I've been examining what we can anticipate and I had laid out several scenarios. But this one now with Trump as President-elect we can anticipate that he will appoint an Attorney General who will have fidelity to the rule of law and I'll say to the enforcement of the law. I'm hopeful that takes place, I expect it will be the case. They will then have the charge of looking into this. If the FBI and the Department of Justice does a good and effective, thorough job of investigating now three-quarters of a million emails and all the evidence that has emerged since Comey had closed down this investigation the first time, I'm hopeful that that responsibility to do that investigation can stay within the Justice Department and Congress hopefully will not have to take it up. If it had been Hillary that had been elected I think Congress would have been compelled to take up the investigation of the investigation itself and of the investigators. So I'm relieved that it's unlikely that we'll have to do that now.

Henderson: Comey gets to stay for ten years, why wouldn't you investigate him?

King: Well, it doesn't mean that Congress doesn't have oversight. We have oversight over it anyway. And when I look at the information that came out of there, just things that I know, for example, I don't want to sit here today and beat up on Hillary Clinton, it's not in my heart to do that. The inconsistencies, the inaccuracies, the evidence that I have reviewed tells me that it is worthy of far more investigation that James Comey has committed and let's see of the new Justice Department will follow through.

Henderson: Real quick question, are you going to stay in Congress or will you feel compelled to heed the call to join a Trump administration in some capacity?

King: That's another thing that I just don't know. I have worked a lifetime to be in a position to have maximum impact in a time like this and we'll have to see what opportunities might be offered up or not. And that's not something I have a lot of control over. But my life in the last 20 years has been to serve. And so this is a time to really roll up our sleeves and go to work and serve and I look at it as a real, real opportunity for Iowans and for Americans.

Borg: If you're that anxious to get going, we have to close the program. Roll up your sleeves, Congressman.

King: I'll be ready to go to work, Dean.

Borg: Thanks for being here today. Next week on Iowa Press, further reviewing the election outcome and what's ahead. Iowa PBS is partnering with the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement for a special recording of Iowa Press. That is before a live audience on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines. Kay and Kathie will be part of that panel as well as two former Iowa Congressmen, Republican Jim Leach and Democrat Dave Nagle, along with Drake University Political Science Professor Dennis Goldford. Now, if you're unable to be there in person Thursday night, you'll see that discussion on Iowa Press Friday night at 7:30. I'm Dean Borg. For Kathie and Kay, and the Congressman, thanks for joining us today.


Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation. I'm a dad. I am a mom. I'm a kid. I'm a kid at heart. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. The availability of high speed broadband service is essential to fulfilling the promise of a connected Iowa. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign showcases the importance of delivering broadband to all corners of Iowa. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa PBS Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa PBS.

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