March 19, 2023

VIDEO/TRANSCRIPT: Van Hollen Discusses Russia, China, Federal Government Response to Bank Failures on Fox News Sunday

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Fox News Sunday with Mike Emanuel, where he discussed the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin; Putin’s upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping; the federal government’s response to Silicon Valley Bank; and more. A full transcript of the Senator’s exchange is available below and video of the interview is available here.

MIKE EMANUEL, HOST, FOX NEWS: Now, let’s bring in Democratic Senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen. He serves on both the Banking and Foreign Relations Committees. Senator, welcome back to FOX News Sunday. 

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD.): It’s great to be with you, Mike.

EMANUEL: So, let’s start foreign policy first. The International Criminal Court has charged Vladimir Putin with war crimes and atrocities. No surprise there. He may not end up in a Hague courtroom because the Russians don’t recognize the authority of the ICC. But if he’s, in effect, trapped in Russia, is that a good thing?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it’s a good thing that he’s a pariah. We know that Putin and Russia have been committing war crimes in Ukraine. Here, they abducted Ukrainian children and forcibly put them in Russia. So, this is a signal that the rest of the international community, the ICC recognizes that war crimes have been committed. And so, yes, it will further isolate Putin except, of course, from people like President Xi, who is traveling to Moscow. 

EMANUEL: What are your concerns as we see the Chinese president heading to Moscow this week? 

VAN HOLLEN: Well, this is a little bit about “birds of a feather flock together.” You have two authoritarian leaders. As you discussed with John Kirby, China is very nervous about the fact that NATO has been united, that we’re united with our Asian democratic partners and have a front against authoritarianism. And Xi is, of course, watching very carefully what happens in Ukraine, which is why it’s essential we continue to support the Ukrainian people. And this is just another example of why you can’t say you’re tough on China if you’re weak on Russia and the fight in Ukraine.

EMANUEL: Okay. Let’s put on your Banking hat as a member of the – a key member of the Senate Banking Committee. Silicon Valley Bank – before this collapse, banks had asked Congress to loosen up the rules a bit, now here we are. Should Congress revisit those changes now to prevent more bank failures to come? 

VAN HOLLEN: So, I do think it was mistake for Congress to roll back the strictest scrutiny that had previously applied to banks like Silicon Valley Bank. That was done during the Trump Administration. But as to exactly what happened here, we need to do post-mortem. I serve on the Senate Banking and Housing Committee. We’re going to be holding hearings to both get to the bottom of exactly what happened here and just as importantly, try to figure out what steps need to be taken going forward. The good news here was that the President made clear and the Biden Administration made clear: no bailout. No bailout for the investors, no bailout for the bondholders, but we did want to protect depositors to make sure you didn’t see contagion spread throughout the banking industry. Now, I believe that we should also work to claw back the profits made by the CEO and others through their stock sales on the eve of this collapse because we need to make sure that they are contributing to the effort to make sure depositors are whole.

EMANUEL: To that point about executives making money in this deal, the President’s called for legislation to go after executives who may have mismanaged things. Is that something your committee will take up?

VAN HOLLEN: I certainly hope so. We already have that provision in place for the biggest banks, but we need to make sure that executives like these at Silicon Valley Bank are also under that rule – because to see them, you know, sell a lot of stock, make a big profit on the eve of the collapse of their own bank, which is causing all this ripple effect throughout some of the other banks – we need to make sure they are held accountable as we shore up the banking system which I think we’re doing. I think you can see that the fast response has made a big difference.

EMANUEL: Are we going to back all banks if there are further crises?

VAN HOLLEN: We’re not going to bail out any banks. There will be a question going forward as to how we deal with deposits over $250,000 as being covered here. But what the mechanism would be, if we do that at all, is something very much up to debate.

EMANUEL: Your colleague, Senator Elizabeth Warren, says Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell should recuse himself from an internal review of recent bank failures, saying his actions directly contributed to them. Here’s how the New York Times Editorial Board put it this week: “The Federal Reserve’s role as the lead agency in responding to this crisis has obscured its failures as the agency that was responsible for supervising the bank in the first place.” What would you say is their culpability? And do you trust them to be transparent about what they learned?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, we need – and when I say we, the Congress – needs to get the most recent exams that were done of Silicon Valley Bank. CAMEL is the acronym; it’s an acronym that stands for, you know, a supervisory review. We need to get those results. We’ve not seen them yet. The Federal Reserve had embarked on an effort to further regulate banks. They got some pushback, I will say, from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Banking Committee. But I think they need to push forward on that. And in terms of the investigation, I do think the FBI and Justice Department need to be involved, and they will be involved. I don’t think we should leave this entirely to the Federal Reserve system.

EMANUEL: Okay, let’s talk energy. This week, the Biden Administration approved a new drilling project in Alaska – one of the biggest new projects in years. You haven’t commented on that publicly. But as far back as 2008, you pushed to not allow new oil drilling leases anywhere. Do you support the Administration’s decision to greenlight Willow?

VAN HOLLEN: So, in this case, my understanding of what the Biden Administration has said is they had a legal obligation, a contractual obligation, to go forward with ConocoPhillips. And I’m not second-guessing their lawyers’ judgment. That said, I do believe we need to focus on deployment of clean energy. We need to accelerate the clean energy deployment. That’s why we passed a major initiative to do exactly that as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Look, as of today, you know, we are producing record amounts of gas in the United States. We’re on track this year to produce record amounts of oil. But we have a climate crisis, and I do believe that we need to be doing much more as we’re beginning to do, in deploying homegrown, clean energy – whether it’s solar, whether it’s wind, whether it’s other sources of clean energy – which not only will help on the climate front, but also produce lots of good-paying jobs right here in the United States.

EMANUEL: What would you say to those who say this is President Biden pivoting to the center all about reelection?

VAN HOLLEN: I don’t think so, because I think the President has been very clear on this. And again, if you have a legal obligation to do something as the federal government, you have to follow through. Now, there will be lawsuits filed to test that proposition, but I think the assessment of the Biden Administration lawyers was the litigation would cost the American taxpayer millions and that ConocoPhillips would still be able to proceed at the end of the day. So, my view is, we should be focusing though, on the clean energy deployment. And it does make it harder for the United States to say to the Brazilian government, right, don’t cut down all those trees, don’t engage in deforestation of the Amazon forest for timber when we’re going forward. So, I do think this puts more burden on the Biden Administration to supercharge our clean energy deployment.

EMANUEL: Senator Chris Van Hollen from the great state of Maryland, thanks so much for your time.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. Thanks, Mike.