INTERVIEW: Rep. Ami Bera Talks Antonin Scalia, Zika Virus, And Why Voters May Not Be Happy With Him
February 16, 2016 6:57 PM
By Sam Shane
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — CBS13’s Sam Shane spoke with Rep. Ami Bera on replacing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Zika virus, and how Bera’s own constituents see him.
SAM SHANE: Conservative justice Antonin Scalia passed away over the weekend. It has left a seat open on the U.S. Supreme Court. Joining us now is Rep. Ami Bera in the CBS13 studio.
Let’s talk a little bit about the U.S. Supreme Court. The president has come out and said, “I’m going to give a name to the U.S. Senate.” Republicans in the U.S. Senate have said they’re not taking this up. Do you suspect this will be the prevailing debate in Washington between now and Election Day.
REP. AMI BERA: First, let’s first honor justice Scalia for his service to our country. But then, the president has to do his Constitutional duty, which is putting forth a Supreme Court nominee. Once that happens, the Senate should do what they are mandated to do, which is take up that nominee. They could vote that person up or down. Let’s follow the Constitution.
SHANE: Whether or not that’s what they should do, and that’s your opinion, do you expect that they will do that?
BERA: Well, I hope they follow the constitution. Justice Scalia was a strict Constitutionalist. He’d probably be the first one to say the president should put up a nominee.
SHANE: How intense will this fight be in Washington?
BERA: You know, everything in Washington, D.C. is intense, and that’s why folks hate the politician and hate the dysfunction, so let’s just do what the Constitution tells us to do.
SHANE: I want to talk to you about the Zika virus, because you held hearings on that last week. How concerned are you about this? How concerned should our viewers be?
BERA: If you’re going to travel to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica or Central America certainly take precautions. The CDC right now is warning women who are pregnant to consider postponing their travel. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant or you are of childbearing age, take the right precautions. And if you’re down there, certainly do what you can do to prevent mosquito bites.
SHANE: You don’t want to alarm people here, but do you suspect there’s going to be a solution to the Zika virus in the next 18 to 24 months?
BERA: As Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the head of the NIH said when I asked him that in committee, he said he thought by the end of this year they’d have a vaccine and that they would actually be, by 2017, put that vaccine out there.
SHANE: I want to ask you about your own party, the Democrats, particularly locally. Why do you suppose they’re unhappy with you?
BERA: I said I’m going to represent my district. I always said I was going to look for ways to get Washington, D.C., working again, look for ways we could work across the aisle, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. My district has Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters, so I’m going to work with everyone.
SHANE: Your critics in the party will say, “Yeah, but you know what, you made some promises, you went to Washington, and you didn’t hold up your end of the bargain as far as we’re concerned.”
BERA: Well, the promise I made to my constituents was that I was going to try to work across the aisle, that I was going to be a problem solver. Again, the reason people are so frustrated with Washington, D.C., is they want to see Democrats and Republicans working together. That’s a promise I made and I’m going to keep it.
Sam ShaneFollowSam Shane graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in journalism. He's spent more than 20 years traveling across the country working for TV stations and covering major news events. He started in Duluth, Minn., and later in his career he…More from Sam ShaneComments