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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis on how Republicans view Biden’s agenda

New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis just began her first term in the House and on Monday was named an assistant Republican whip. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss how Republicans are viewing the new president and his agenda.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now for how Republicans in Congress are viewing the new president and his agenda.

    For that, I'm joined by Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York. She just began her first term in the House, and yesterday was named an assistant Republican whip.

    Representative Malliotakis, thank you so much for joining us.

    You're joining us from your home city, Staten Island, New York. What did you — I assume you did watch and listen to the inaugural ceremony today. Tell us what you thought of what you saw and what you heard.

  • Rep. Nicole Malliotakis:

    Yes, unfortunately, I couldn't make it back in time to Washington to complete the required health screening to attend in person. But I did watch from my home.

    And, look, I was very open-minded. I'm going into this with an open mind. I want to work with everyone and anyone who will put America first and help us overcome this pandemic, get our economy back on track, and restore the American jobs that we lost over the last several months.

    I certainly believe that, when Joe Biden says he wants to bring this country together, that he means it. The issue becomes that there is a lot of division. And the division, I believe, is caused because there's just different paths that individuals want to take this country.

    And I think that we have to find a way to find that common ground and work together. I'm certainly willing to do that where we can find that common ground. But I'm also mindful that I represent the district of Staten Island, Southern Brooklyn. I'm always going to do what's in the best interest of my constituents.

    And if I see this administration doing something that harms them or our nation, I'm going to push back.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We heard President Biden today say, in so many words, it's possible to disagree with each other without getting into essentially a political war.

    Do you think it's possible to disagree in a more civil way than what we have seen in the recent years?

  • Nicole Malliotakis:

    I really hope so

    And I think it's incumbent upon all of us to try to bring the temperature down a bit and try to debate individuals on issues. You know, we shouldn't be — the political discourse we have seen over the last several years by members of Congress, by individuals in the political arena has been damaging.

    And I think social media has a lot to do with it, quite frankly, because everyone feels that they can just go on social media, on Twitter or on Facebook, and give every thought that's in their head.

    I think we have got to go back to the basics of governing, which means that we need to debate on the House floor on the merits of the issues, and not attack individuals personally.

    I think where Joe Biden has an opportunity to work with the Republican members of Congress is by looking for ways to find that center, that middle ground that puts America first, not to allow the socialist Squad, individuals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have an extreme agenda for our nation, who fundamentally want to change our nation towards socialism, to take control.

    And with the margin being so close between majority and minority in the House of Representatives, he does have that opportunity to work with Republicans and when — to forward an agenda when it comes to infrastructure and transportation and making those necessary improvements, to getting our economy back on track, to bringing a lot of our production home from places like China, and making sure that we are actually working diligently to distribute this vaccine as quickly as possible and push states like ours and New York to reopen its economy and get people back to work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm sure you know that Representative Ocasio-Cortez would not — would say they do not consider themselves socialists. But we can debate that another time.

  • Nicole Malliotakis:

    Well, they self-proclaim socialists, though. They have self-proclaimed and said they're socialists.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I do want to ask you about — you did vote to object to the electoral vote counts from the states of Arizona and Pennsylvania in the House.

    Do you consider Joe Biden legitimately elected as president?

  • Nicole Malliotakis:

    Joe Biden had more electoral votes than just Arizona and Pennsylvania. And with the certification that took place that day, and with the swearing-in today, he is the legitimate president, and we must do the best to find common grounds to work together.

    I do believe, though, that there are certain irregularities that existed in our election system. We need to make sure that we solidify the integrity of this system. As you know, since the last couple weeks alone, there have been arrests in Texas and Louisiana for election fraud.

    And there are millions, tens of millions of Americans who are concerned about the integrity of the system.

    And so I'm a proud co-sponsor of a new bill, the Save Democracy Act, that will look to further solidify the integrity of our system, make sure that we do have voter I.D. laws, making sure that we don't allow for automatic voter registration with a foreign document, as is going to happen in the state of New York unless the person opts out when applying for a driver's license, and making sure that we prohibit certain harvesting tactics.

    And other safeguards that we're supporting are in that measure as well. But I think that, look, we only wanted to shed light. In my view, my vote was to shed light to some of the irregularities, some of the questions that were never actually heard in court due to time constraints.

    And I think that the American people just owe that — they — we owe it to them to prove that our election system is safeguarded and any of these concerns are addressed.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, I don't — my reading of it is that people don't object to further investigation, but that, so far, there's been no evidence of any significant amount of fraud.

    But, finally, I do want to ask you about President Biden's proposal, additional $1,400 in pandemic relief, direct payments to people, other measures to try to give an immediate boost to the economy.

    Are you in favor of that?

  • Nicole Malliotakis:

    Well, I will certainly look at the bill that he presents.

    I'm mindful that we're moving forward a $30 trillion debt in this country, and so we have to make sure that any legislation is tailored specifically to the people who are unemployed due to this crisis, and also to businesses that have been mandated to be closed because of governors like Governor Cuomo.

    So, I think that's something that we need to work together on. And I will certainly be reviewing legislation that comes before me to make sure that it best meets the needs of those I represent.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Nicole Malliotakis, newly elected from the state of New York, congratulations on your election, and thank you so much for joining us.

  • Nicole Malliotakis:

    Thank you.

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