Leon Panetta: Washington 'dysfunction' threatens our democracy

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday warned that dysfunction in Washington threatens American democracy.

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“Our democracy is not going to work unless both sides are willing to deal with each other,” Panetta told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo Friday during an exclusive interview. “That's the basis of our democracy."

“Our democracy is based on governing. And governing is based on finding consensus. That's how we've survived for over 200 years. That's what our forefathers did. That's what leadership in this country has done for over 200 years,” he added.

During his tenure as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, Panetta worked toward bringing both political parties in Congress together. Now, he says a major issue lawmakers should be acting on is the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).

“That would actually be a bit of good news for the economy if we could finally get some trade agreement approved by the Congress,” he said. “But right now my concern is, because of this dysfunction in Washington, neither side is willing to sit down and negotiate and govern.  And unless that happens, I think I think our democracy is going to be in trouble.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH LEON PANETTA

Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence told Bartiromo that the agreement would pass if it was brought to the House floor.

“It so much comes down to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who I believe has been dealing with our administration in good faith on this issue,” said Pence.

House Democrats are seeking tougher enforcement mechanisms related to the USMCA’s rules for labor and the environment.

FOX Business’ Ann Schmidt contributed to this report.

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