"Exclusive Interview: Sen. Van Hollen Reveals Shocking Truths on "Face the Nation""

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, that aired on Nov. 19, 2023.

"Exclusive Interview: Sen. Van Hollen Reveals Shocking Truths on "Face the Nation""
19 Nov 2023, 08:35 PM
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The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, that aired on Nov. 19, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're now joined by Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. It's good to have you here in person.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: It's good to be with you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot to talk to you about today. But I want to quickly just ask you, since Congress just went home for the better part of two weeks, they haven't reauthorized a lot of things. And they haven't passed the supplemental for Israel for Ukraine, Taiwan, is that going to get done before the end of the year?

SEN. VAN HOLLEN: We have to get it done by the end of the year. We have to pass the supplemental request, which includes, as you say, desperately needed military assistance for Ukraine, support for Israel, humanitarian assistance, as well as support for our partners in the Indo Pacific region. One of the issues, as I'm sure, you know, that's being discussed is trying to get something done with respect to border security, and immigration reform and there are ongoing bipartisan discussions as we speak.

Good Faith Negotiations Underway for Border Security

There are currently ongoing negotiations regarding border security during the recess. It remains to be seen if a resolution will be reached before the end of 2023. Senator Van Hollen acknowledges the difficulty of the issue but emphasizes the urgency of the situation in Ukraine. He believes it would be irresponsible to allow Putin to continue his assault on Ukraine while tying assistance to a separate issue like immigration reform.

Senator Van Hollen Presses Biden Administration on Israel Funding

In a recent letter, Senator Van Hollen expressed support for increased funding for Israel. However, he also raised concerns about the achievability of military goals and the protection of civilians. The Senator is seeking clarification from the White House on these matters.

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Senator Van Hollen expressed his concerns about the lack of a public response from the Biden administration regarding important questions. Despite having outreach at the highest levels and being offered a meeting with the President's top national security and foreign policy team, they are still awaiting an answer to their letter. The questions raised in the letter are deemed crucial for obtaining answers.

Margaret Brennan questioned if this situation is affecting the President's relationship with fellow Democrats.

Senator Van Hollen stated that he is unsure if it is hurting the President with fellow Democrats. However, he believes it is crucial for the President to speak out more clearly on this issue. He mentioned the unanimous support from senators for Israel's objective of neutralizing Hamas, following the October 7th attacks. He also highlighted the importance of how Israel conducts its operation, as mentioned by Secretary Blinken. Concerns were raised when a few weeks ago, a White House National Security spokesperson stated that the United States had no red lines, implying that anything goes. Senator Van Hollen emphasized that this stance is not consistent with American interests and values, which is why they are seeking answers to their questions.

Margaret Brennan pointed out that this policy is not consistent with how the United States provides military aid to other countries.

SEN. VAN HOLLEN: That's right. Our priority is to ensure that our funds are used in a way that aligns with our interests and values. The current situation in Gaza is a desperate humanitarian crisis, and more needs to be done. Secretary Blinken himself has acknowledged that the Netanyahu government can take additional measures to reduce civilian casualties, especially among children. This is why we are raising questions and seeking assurances from the President that our interests and values will be protected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, we will be right back with more Face the Nation. Stay tuned!


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation. We have more questions for Senator Chris Van Hollen. Senator, I want to discuss something you have been expressing concerns about since July. In a letter to the White House, you raised concerns about the over $3 billion in security assistance to Israel. You argued that taxpayer money should not be used to protect settlers who are attacking and burning Palestinian villages without consequences. Last night, the President publicly announced his intention to crack down on this issue. What are your thoughts on the plan to restrict visas?

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Senator Van Hollen expresses his support for President's plan to restrict visas for individuals with a history of violence against innocent people. He considers this as an important initial step. The issue of extreme settler violence against Palestinians has persisted for a long time. Since the start of the Gaza war, there has been a significant increase of 500% in extremist settler violence. Palestinians have been subjected to killings, destruction of their homes, forced displacement from villages, and destruction of olive orchards during the peak income-generating season. This is a major problem, especially considering the presence of extreme members like Smotrich and Ben-Gvir in the Netanyahu coalition. It is worth noting that Ben-Gvir belongs to a party that was previously on the US terrorist watch list. Therefore, it is crucial for the United States to take a strong stance on this matter, and Senator Van Hollen appreciates the President's actions.

Margaret Brennan highlights the fact that the aforementioned individuals were already part of the government prior to October 7th. Senator Van Hollen also addresses the controversial nature of his statement that being pro-Israel does not necessitate being anti-Palestinian, and vice versa.

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Senator Van Hollen expressed his belief that it is possible to support both Israel and Palestine. He emphasized the importance of recognizing Palestinian rights and aspirations for self-determination and a homeland. The President's vision aligns with a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine coexist as neighbors with equal dignity and full rights for Palestinians.

Senator Van Hollen also highlighted the negative consequences of pushing Palestinians off their lands, such as strengthening Hamas, weakening the Palestinian Authority, and hindering the possibility of a two-state solution. He expressed disappointment in Prime Minister Netanyahu's rejection of President Biden's call for a two-state solution.

Senator Van Hollen believes that President Biden will need to present a clear vision to overcome the current challenges and lead the way towards a brighter future.

Thank you, Senator, for your time today.