EUGENE, Ore. -- Congressman Peter DeFazio (D) is on holiday recess and he stopped by the KEZI 9 News studio Monday to talk about a wide range of topics.
BOEING CEO FIRING
Boeing's Board of Directors announced Monday that it asked CEO Dennis Muilenburg to step down as head of the company. Muilenburg has been at the center of the company's 737 Max saga since March. DeFazio is chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and he concluded Muilenburg needed to step down from the company after what he called an unimpressive hearing in Washington, D.C.
"I said, 'You know, Mr. Muilenburg, you're not a farm boy from Iowa anymore,'" DeFazio said. "'You're incredibly wealthy, you're CEO of the largest airplane exporter in the world, you got a $15 million bonus after the first plane went in, and I haven't seen consequences here, and I haven't seen the change that needs to be made in this organization."
Boeing is the United States' largest manufacturing exporter and the grounding of the company's most popular airliner had a significant impact on the American economy. DeFazio said the ones who have felt the pain of this scandal the most is not the CEO but the thousands of workers who build the 737 Max.
Boeing named Dave Calhoun as the new CEO starting in January. He has been on the company's board since 2009, but DeFazio is wary about him.
"I'm going to have a lot of questions for him because I'm not sure that's the right move and he's going to bring the change that's needed," DeFazio said.
Overall, DeFazio is hoping this new change in leadership will change the company's morals back to prioritizing the quality of their product instead of focusing on profit.
"We need to get back to the old Boeing who built the best safest airplanes in the world, not a company being driven by the predatory Wall Street banks and others who are jacking their stock price around."
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump last week, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is delaying sending the articles to the senate for a trial. DeFazio fully supports Pelosi's decision to hold the articles to have a fair trial.
He said the way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R)has been interacting with the White House shows unprecedented collusion between the executive branch and the senate.
"You're an elected official who took an oath to uphold the Constitution," DeFazio said. "I want to see him say we will have a process that will uphold the constitution of the United States of America and we will sit as a deliberative jury."
He also said he wants his Republican constituents in Oregon's 4th District to trust him on the decision on voting yes for impeachment.
"I would like to think people support the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States of America. If we don't do that, we'll be the next Yugoslavia and we'll be falling apart."
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) last week. Giving President Trump a victory in a campaign promise of renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, DeFazio was one out of 41 representatives who voted against the new free trade treaty.
"I have voted against every free trade agreement because they are not balanced," DeFazio said. "I voted against Clinton's NAFTA because they adopted phony labor and environmental side agreements to pass it."
DeFazio also doesn't believe free trade deals will create jobs for Americans. Under NAFTA he said the country lost thousands of jobs.
"Clinton said we will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in America," DeFazio said. "That was a lie."
Instead, manufacturers moved their factories to Mexico where there are little environmental and labor regulations. He said about 95 percent of the USMCA is similar to NAFTA; the only item that makes it better is that there are labor regulations. However, he thinks it will be ineffective without an international third party, like the International Labour Organization to enforce it.
DeFazio said there is also no new environmental regulations under the USMCA, something he said should be a priority with climate change.
"Why wouldn't we hold back on the agreement?" DeFazio said. "Why give him this agreement without protections for the enviroment, without dealing with minimally with climate change?"
OUTLOOK ON 2020
DeFazio has a busy agenda for his Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2020. The committee is currently a new transportation and infrastructure bill to bring the country's roads, rails, and bridges into the 21st Century.
"It will deal with de-fossilizing the transportation industry, the largest contributor to climate change," DeFazio said. "It will deal with new materials that are less carbon intensive, even carbon negative in some cases. It will build new resilience anticipating severe climate events."
DeFazio said his committee will continue to investigate Boeing and he is planning on calling the new CEO to testify next year.
DeFazio said this past year has been a whirlwind, but worth every moment.
"I'm the first Oregonian in more than three decades to chair a major committee in the house of reprsentatives; it's a great honor, and it's an incredible amount of work," DeFazio said.