Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Counting Health Care Votes; Rising Red River; Pope Releases Statement on Irish Sex Abuse Scandal

Aired March 19, 2010 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Presidential double-header for Haiti. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush will travel there Monday to check on recovery efforts. They're making their trip on behalf of the Bush/Clinton Haiti Fund, a non-profit organization set up to raise money for quake relief. Bush and Clinton will meet with Haitian officials, quake victims and aid workers.

He caused a lot of people a lot of pain, but Bernie Madoff may have felt some serious pain of his own in prison. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that Madoff was beaten up by a fellow prison inmate back in December. The guy is described as a beefy drug offender who was reportedly pretty angry about money that he thought Madoff owed him. The paper says Madoff was treated for a broken nose, fractured ribs and cuts to his head and face. Prison officials are denying that report.

An American spilling terrorist secrets. David Headley pleaded guilty yesterday in taking part in two international terror plots. Prosecutors say they laid the groundwork for the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, India, and planned an attack in Denmark. Officials and Headley's lawyers say that he's giving U.S. authorities critical information about terrorist networks in exchange for that cooperation and guilty plea, Headley was spared the death penalty. Officials say he'll be sentenced after they're done talking with him.

Well, the clock is ticking down to a Sunday vote on health care and we're following how every House member stands on the plan that would affect all of you. Republicans are determined to kill the bill. They need 216 votes, but they've only got 206. Besides, the 178 GOP votes, 28 Democrats have come out against it, 35 members are undeclared.

Well, we should be hearing from some of those members who are on the fence throughout the day as well as those who have announced their intentions. Just a short time ago the Congressional Black Caucus held a news conference. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DONNA CHRISTENSEN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLAND: The peculiar indifference, and that's a quote, to the poor health of African- Americans in this country referred to by W.E.B. Dubois in the late 19th century and the persistent disparities recorded over and over again even in the second decade of the 21st century. Another quote, "an affront to our ideals and to the genius of American medicine as Surgeon General Heckler called it in 1985 are finally about to end."

We are truly at a turning point in our history as a people and as a nation, and I consider myself and all of us blessed to be serving at this time and to be part of this significant point in history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: All right. Dana Bash is actually outside the conference room there where Democrats are meeting behind closed doors.

Dana, bring us up-to-date.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Kyra, it's really hard to describe how intense the feeling here is. You're seeing Democrats going in and out of this meeting and the meeting is of all democrats and one of many, many that they've been having over the last several days with the goal of trying to convince those undeclared Democrats to come over to their side and to vote yes.

And we've talked to some going in and out who, you know, say they're still not sure. They are not sure for so many different reasons. Some are not sure for purely political reasons. They are Democrats from Republican-leaning districts that are getting absolutely hammered back home and told that they will lose their seat if they vote yes and others are unsure because of the true, true policy.

There are some like Steve Lynch of Massachusetts who is a progressive Democrat, and he says he doesn't think this goes far enough. So really -

(AUDIO GAP)

PHILLIPS: All right. We apologize for that. We lost contact with Dana Bash, but we are going to check back in with her at the bottom of the hour and take a closer look at those 35 undeclared members of Congress and talk more about that and the impact that those votes could have.

All right. Let's get over to the White House. Jill Dougherty is there. Jill, the president canceling his trip to Australia and Indonesia saying no, I'm staying here. I want to see this get to the finish line by Sunday.

JILL DOUGHERTY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, it's really critical to him. After all, it was one of the big things that he promised during the election campaign and if he can't deliver that would be a major problem.

So it's primary and he has to do this if he wants to deliver, and this is also a very complex subject. There are a lot of people, just average Americans who don't understand how all of this is going to work, and so what you want to do when you're honing your message is to reduce it to the least common denominator and the most convincing thing. Republicans have done that by saying it's being shoved down the throats of the American people. The president and we're going to hear this today in about an hour or so, an hour and a half in a speech in Virginia at George Mason University. He's going to say that this is the insurance industry versus the American people.

As one aide to the president put it this morning a victory, a choice between a victory for the insurance companies or a victory for the American people and we are also told that he's going to take aim at Washington, and what they say is the inability of Washington to do the right thing at many different times.

So that's the message you are going to hear today publicly. You are also going get that message, we are told, given directly to members of Congress who are the undeclared. It's going to be in person, perhaps, some coming over here, and it could also be some phone calls, but you can be sure that that is the message, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jill, thanks. We're following every step behind this health care vote. President Obama will speak about 90 minutes from now at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and we will bring that to you live about 11:35 Eastern time.

All right. One more refresher on this compromised health care plan, just to bring you up-to-date. Insurance coverage would be extended to additional 32 million Americans. They would expand Medicare prescription drug coverage and increase tax credits. Insurance companies would not be able to deny coverage for pre- existing conditions and your out of pocket expenses would be limited.

Small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed could purchase coverage through health insurance exchanges and states would be able to choose whether to ban abortion coverage. The plan scales back and delays attacks on high-cost insurance plans. Now, Republicans say the Democratic plan won't do much to stop rising medical costs. They also say it would lead to higher premiums and taxes to middle class families and big Medicare cuts.

Stress and fear as the Red River rises, but it's not all that bad, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLAIN JOHNSON, HICKSON, NORTH DAKOTA: Not everybody can fish out of their window in the morning, so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: There you go.

And as the Roman Catholic Church deals with allegations of sexual crimes, young seminarians say a crime is a crime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH LARACY, SEMINARIAN: There are people that have committed these crimes, these sins. I mean, they would have this inclination whether or not they were married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A forgotten family living in a cold, dark home for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never been in a situation like this, no question. And I wouldn't want this on nobody. Sometimes you have to do what you've got to do if you don't receive the help that you were supposed to have been receiving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: A storm took away almost everything they had. It's been a long difficult fight to even get running water. So how did this family slip through the cracks?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well as that Red River rises, so do all the concerns. Right now in Fargo, North Dakota, across the river in Moorehead, Minnesota a lot of people are getting nervous. CNN all-platform journalist Chris Welch actually talked with one young man who is trying to remain pretty optimistic about the situation, though.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLAIN JOHNSON, HICKSON, NORTH DAKOTA: There's going to be so much ice on the water.

CHRIS WELCH, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST (voice-over): For 20- year-old Blaine Johnson, this is the way home.

JOHNSON: Our road's directly under us.

WELCH: Even though the crest forecast for this year isn't what it was for '09, the water is still getting higher and higher and it's happening fast.

JOHNSON: There's our wind mill.

WELCH (on camera): I'm about 15 miles south of Fargo in the rural town of Hickson, which is also around the rising Red River, as you can see, but here, what a lot of residents have had to do is actually park their cars blocks away from their homes and they then walk to the edge of the river where they have their boats parked and they have to hop in boats and paddle home because it's the only way they can get there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's probably five feet deep here, maybe.

WELCH (voice-over): Johnson let me tag along for one of their trips home and it's a journey they're starting to get used to.

(on camera): So you really are on an island.

JOHNSON: Yes, we've been on an island four times, I think, already and we've only lived here 10 years. So it's every other year, on average we go have to go through this.

WELCH: But you still find it worthwhile to live here?

JOHNSON: Well, I like it here. It's nice and quiet. You know, we're away from the city. Once you get set at home and you've lived there for so long it's really hard to leave.

WELCH (voice-over): Last year, Johnson said they only had a couple of inches of water in their basement, but not everyone in the neighborhood was that lucky.

He's the first to admit every flood brings with it a healthy dose of stress and fear, but he has no problem keeping a positive outlook.

JOHNSON: Not everybody can fish out of their window in the morning.

WELCH: Chris Welch, CNN, Hickson, North Dakota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: I guess that's a good way to look at it, Bonnie. Fishing out of your window. It's a lot warmer and a lot more comfortable.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's true. And really compared to this time last year, Kyra, it really is a lot better. Of course, many places are flooded, but remember last year, we had a blizzard following the threat for flooding. So all of those people, hundreds of thousands of them with sandbags in the worst elements. Now, the temperatures are cooling down and that is making a difference. It's not invariably cold, certainly not for Fargo, by any means, but it is helping the situation.

I want to show you the reason why. Here's a look at the river state, where we are now and where we are expecting it to work its way to in the next coming days. Now, looking at the past few days, we saw a rapid rise and a lot of that has to do with the temperatures that were in the 40s and 50s. So that snow just melted quickly.

Now we are seeing the crest occur likely on Sunday at 38 feet and that's below the record stage of 40 feet, but it is going to see a gradual decline in the coming days as temperatures start to at least moderate a bit. It is not going to be a dramatic change in the weather and that's not to say we aren't going to see a dramatic change in the weather. We are looking at the same storm system that's bringing the colder air to the northern plains and bring very heavy snow to Colorado today and also snow for Oklahoma and some dramatic extremes in the weather as well. You'll have to see what is happening here as we wrap up the winter season. We're so close to spring, but you wouldn't know it in Denver or in Omaha, Nebraska where the snow is falling and it will continue to fall. A lot of these advisories are for up to a foot of snow, for example, in Denver and less than to Oklahoma but we won't see that much snow, certainly not this time of the year in Oklahoma and the last day of winter moving into spring which begins tomorrow.

So watch the change in the weather because it is dramatic and extreme in Denver. Today's snow in the 30s and by the time we get to Sunday, you'll probably be wearing a light jacket. 53 degrees and sunshine in the forecast. A good reason, Kyra, of course, because spring begins tomorrow.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Suicides at an Ivy League school. A number so alarming that it is being called a public health crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't have the urge to do something then you just get lost and you get lonely, and I can see why people would want to jump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Cornell students now being told to be strong and ask for help if they need it.

And teens lighting up by the thousands every day. A government crackdown straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Russia attending meetings aimed at kick-starting those stalled Middle East peace talks. Middle East envoy Tony Blair tells CNN that Israel is refusing to back down on its decision to build homes in largely Arab east Jerusalem. Also attending are representatives from Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Spring break starts tomorrow. At Cornell University, it's supposed to be an anxious time in a good way, but not this year. Guards are actually keeping an eye on the bridges. Suicide prevention hotline stickers are all over the place and the school president is telling students to ask for help after a wave of student suicides. At least six suspected this school year. Is it the Ivy League stress? The harsh winter? No one can say for sure why exactly it's happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILLIAN LYLES, CORNELL FRESHMAN: The stress of classes and what not, it can get you to that point and Cornell it's - it's so big and you really have to push yourself to get out there and get to know people. You just get lost and you get lonely, and I can see why people would want to jump.

THOMAS BRUCE, V.P. OF COMMUNICATIONS: We have been knocking since Friday, been knocking on every residential door, reaching out to individuals, to our students individually and in groups/.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Cornell's mental health director calls it a public health crisis. The school's now talking about a mandatory mental health event for new student orientation.

And Oprah won't be there. A judge in Philadelphia is holding a final pre-trial conference in the defamation accusations against her. A former head mistress of Oprah Winfrey's School for Girls in South Africa is suing Winfrey and her production company. That trial begins March 29th.

The government is beefing up its arsenal and its war against teen smoking. The FDA says that every day nearly 4,000 children in the U.S. try their first cigarette and a thousand of them become daily smokers. The FDA is responding by strengthening their regulations against selling and marketing tobacco products to kids and increasing fines for violators.

The rules ban tobacco companies from handing out free samples of cigarettes. They also can't use their name to sponsor athletic or cultural events. The regulations go into effect this June.

For some members of the U.S. House, well, a vote on that health care reform bill will be the most important one of their lives. We're going to show you who's still on the fence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A scandal that's shaken the Catholic Church in one of its historic strong holds. Does the vow of celibacy have something to do with it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH LARACY, SEMINARIAN: The people that have committed these crimes, these sins, I mean, they would have this inclination whether or not they were married.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: We're going to Rome to find out what tomorrow's priests think about today's scandal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The letters written and ready and tomorrow we find out what's in it. Pope Benedict XVI will release his official statement on the sex abuse scandal that's shaken the faith in Ireland. One report found the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Catholic Church authorities there covered up child abuse by priests from 1975 to 2004. Does the vow of celibacy have something to do with the scandal? CNN's Diana Magnay is in Rome with more on the fallout from Ireland.

Hi, Diana.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

We know the Pope now has signed that letter but we won't be able to read it until tomorrow when it will be distributed, but one big question here in Europe as that scandal has unfolded is what is it that drives some priests to abuse small children? Does celibacy have something to do with it? So we went and talked to some seminarians, trainee priests here in Rome, to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAGNAY (voice-over): These men are the Catholic Church's future, young seminarians in Rome, studying for a lifetime, devoted to god.

JUNHEE LEE, SEMINARIAN: I love my friends. I love their life. I respect their decision in life, but I want to introduce my life to their life. The relationship - the pure relationship that I have with god is far more greater than any relationship that you will ever find with another being.

MAGNAY: Celibacy doesn't bother them and they certainly don't think it's to blame for pedophile priests.

JOSEPH LARACY, SEMINARIAN: The people that have committed these crimes, these sins. I mean, they would have this inclination whether or not they were married.

MAGNAY: Gianni Gennari started training for the priesthood when he was 16 years old, more than 50 years ago.

GIANNI GENNARI, THEOLOGIAN (through translator): We weren't allowed to touch each other or call each other by our first names. Our spiritual director would say us to be careful of special friendships, but when I asked him what he meant he said it's probably best you don't know.

MAGNAY: At 44, Gennari fell in love and left the priesthood to get married. He thinks there is a macho culture within the church which damages young, impressionable minds.

GENNARI (through translator): Within the church for centuries there was a negative vision of women and of sexuality, which leads to a very disturbed preacher of sexuality in general.

MAGNAY: The Pope on Monday urged young people not to be afraid of following god's call to the priesthood as the scandal of pedophile priests in his church gathers pace.

(on camera): What are you taught in your seminaries about what to do if you notice in the future that someone is abusing children. What do they teach you to do in that circumstance? SEBASTIAN BUENING, SEMINARIAN: React to my provincial - said to us there are rules for this.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Rules which despite the teachings of the Catholic Church, some priests appear to have failed to follow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MAGNAY: Of course, Kyra, that's one of the big problems here, not just the problem of pedophile priests, but of priests who don't report on them and that is why in many instances that we're seeing in Ireland and also across Europe these cases of abuse have been allowed to go unchecked for decades, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: So is there a feeling that this letter will make any difference at all, Diana?

MAGNAY: Well, this Pope, despite criticism of him right now, Kyra, for not having come up and addressed the situation, this pope has actually done a fair amount to try and combat sexual abuse especially if you look back at what he did in relation to the U.S. Catholic Church after the sex scandal broke there from around the turn of the millennium, and what he did was he implemented a zero-tolerance policy, a one strike and "you're out" policy for abusers, and some very, very, very strict reporting guidelines that have transparency.

And really in the intervening years, the church in the United States has managed to regain the trust of the congregation area and we're actually seeing increasing numbers of priests following the call to the priesthood which is something that Pope Benedict is really trying to encourage here as well, so he has had results in the United States and in Australia where he went to meet victims of sexual abuse. So I think that is probably what this letter will follow, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Diana, thanks so much. So what do you think? If more women were involved in the clergy, if they were in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, could the sex abuse scandal have been avoided? We're going to talk about that right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: All right. So what do you think? If more women were involved in the clergy, specifically in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church could the sex abuse scandal within the church have been avoided?

Janet Smith is a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary in Michigan. Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Ladies, great to have you with me.

SERENE JONES, PRES., UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Good morning.

JANET SMITH, PROFESSOR, SACRED HEART SEMINARY: Good to be here.

JONES: Good morning. PHILLIPS: Serene, let's start with you, I was actually reading what you both had to say yesterday, and I thought OK, this is going to be a great discussion, because I know a lot of women would like to see women more involved in higher up and have positions of authority in the Catholic Church, much so -- much more prominent than it is now.

Serene, why would you or tell me why you think if more women did have more powerful positions within the Catholic Church that this could have possibly been avoided or at least handled differently?

JONES: Well, let me say this to begin with. In -- under no conditions would want one to say that women are perfect and therefore we could have somehow avoided --

PHILLIPS: Oh, Serene, yes, we are. Women are perfect. Come on.

JONES: -- any scandal or abuse.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Women are perfect. Come on.

JONES: We -- well, I know you probably are. I have a few flaws.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: No, far from it, but on a serious note. Of course, none of us are perfect.

JONES: But it's a very clear, statistically, that the dramatic difference between men and women when it comes to sexual abuse of children, it's astounding. And if we had women in leadership we could be sure just on the ground we would not be dealing with these same levels of abuse.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Now when it comes to reporting --

PHILLIPS: OK.

JONES: -- we don't know, but we would like to think that women in leadership would give us a very different model of what it means. If my Roman Catholic students who are women were running the Vatican right now this would not be happening.

PHILLIPS: Interesting. So do you think that women are more likely to report abuse, sexual abuse, than men. And if so why?

JONES: We don't have studies about whether or not women report more. Those studies have yet to have been done, but we do know that in clergy context people are often more likely to talk to women who are ministers about it, and women who are ministers are -- it seems, as likely as men to report.

Now this is primarily been done in protestant context because we have no specific information about how women as priests would report because we have no women priests.

PHILLIPS: What do you think, Janet? I mean we had a female pope, I mean, would this be handled differently?

JANET SMITH, PROFESSOR, SACRED HEART MAJOR SEMINARY: Right. No, I -- it may be, but it seems to me we have places where we could do some pretty good studies. We have the whole public school system in which there's a very high incidents, much higher than the Catholic Church sexual abuse. And it's dominated by women.

And we could do studies to see if the women in those institutions have been better at reporting abuse and dealing with abuse than males have been. I think any heterosexual -- healthy heterosexual male is as every bit as appalled by sexual abuse as any female.

Though I agree with Serene, it may be that women are more -- better listeners and people are more willing to come to them. And it would be good if women were available. It doesn't mean they have to be a priest to perform that function.

But again they're available in the public school system for listening and from what I've been reading it doesn't seem like the public school systems have a very good record at all for reporting and dealing with sex abuse.

JONES: Although in the public --

PHILLIPS: Go ahead, Serene.

JONES: In the public school system I have to say that it's still dominated by male teachers abusing female students. It is not the women in the public school system who are doing the abusing. And I think that dramatically changes the dynamics.

PHILLIPS: Go ahead, Janet.

SMITH: In the Catholic Church -- in Catholic Church, as we're just earlier reading about the Boy Scouts that are having a terrible -- it's being revealed that they've been having a terrible problem for many decades ago. But for several decades have problem with sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts. And --

PHILLIPS: That's right. Some --

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: There is a lawsuit in Oregon right now.

SMITH: Yes -- right.

PHILLIPS: Apparently a file was being kept that these Boy Scouts were being sexually abused for years and it was kept in a special file and now it's been revealed.

SMITH: Right. And these are males.

JONES: It's a pervasive social problem.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: The challenge with the Roman Catholic Church, though, is why is there an attempt to cover this up? Why is there not just from the get-go a sense that we are going to get to the root of this under all -- in all circumstances.

And we are going to pursue it and that there is nothing in the world that justifies not only the abuse, but ever, ever putting the care of someone who has abused ahead of the people who have been abused.

PHILLIPS: Well, let me ask Janet --

JONES: It's been more in the suffering.

PHILLIPS: Janet, you know, what do you think? Has the Catholic Church for years been a place that has attracted homosexual men, men that sexually abuse boys, other men? Or is this something that happens once they get to the priesthood? What's your take?

SMITH: No. I think for several decades that was the case. There was a -- many more homosexuals that are -- were in the priesthood, than even in the population, and I think that's also true you found with the Boy Scouts, that the sexual abuse was done with males to males, and men who want to have sex with males will gravitate to places where they can find young men.

And we now have -- the Catholic Church probably has the best policies in place of any institution right now in the United States to avoid -- to help with reporting and certainly seminaries for screening.

So I think -- well, certainly the Catholic Church of the United States has really learned. And again, I challenge anybody to show me another institution that has put in place the protective measures that the church has in the last decade.

I agree it's abysmal what happened. It's abhorrent, it's heartbreaking for the children that were abused, their families. But I think again the Catholic Church has learned and that needs to be acknowledged.

PHILLIPS: Serene, your final thought on that and final thought, too, on women? Could this possibly kind of be the moment where we could see women put into more powerful positions in the church, maybe in light of all this?

JONES: I would hope this would be a moment for dramatically re- thinking that, for re-thinking the theological institutional justifications for keeping women out of the position of religious leadership that is most central to the church and its proclamation.

And I think we also need to re-examine very seriously the Roman Catholic's commitment to priestly celibacy. That puts priests in a bubble of an unreal world view that doesn't allow there to be honest discussion about human sexuality, and it doesn't allow normal, psychological development around understandings of sexuality.

It is an enormous problem. It's related to women, it's also related to celibacy. And it's time for the church to wake up and step out of that bubble and engage these issues directly.

PHILLIPS: Ladies, fantastic discussions. Serene Jones, Janet Smith, I respect and appreciate you both. Thank you so much.

JONES: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

They've got about 48 hours to take a stand. Which House members are still on the fence about health care and why? We'll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: All right. The clock is ticking, and we are 72 hours away -- a little less -- from a showdown vote on health care. Here's where we stand right now. Two hundred and 16 votes needed to kill the plan. As of right now, 206 House members plan to vote no. Those no votes include all 178 Republicans along with 28 Democrats. Thirty- five members still undeclared right now.

Members leaning toward a yes vote include Gabrielle Gifford of Arizona, Timothy Walz, and James Oberstar, both of Minnesota, and Vic Schneider of Arkansas. Michael McMahon of New York is leaning toward a no vote.

Dana Bash standing by on Capitol Hill.

And before we talk about those undeclared votes, tell us what's going on right now in the conference room, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they took a break inside the Democratic caucus but what they've been doing this morning and will continue to do probably for most of the day is go over the actual bill.

Go over specifically that package of changes that was released yesterday so that these members can really understand what's in it. So that's what's been going on behind closed doors in terms of the substance.

And in terms of the whip count, well, the whip himself, the majority whip, Jim Clyburn, he came out to talk to us just a few moments ago and he said he felt pretty confident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), MAJORITY WHIP: There are a lot of members who have real concerns about the deficit and now see this as the biggest deficit reduction bill that they'll ever get an opportunity to vote on. So all of that is great news, and I think it started the -- what we call this time of year? Big mode (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Little March Madness there for you, Kyra, but you know you talked about the deficit, that is absolutely something that we are hearing from so many of these undeclared Democrats as we walk these halls and talk to them. And that is that the numbers that were released yesterday, specifically that $138 billion number, that is what the CBO, at least preliminarily said, the deficit would be reduced by in the first 10 years.

That was really critical for a lot of these Democrats from Republican-leaning districts because they are fiscal conservatives and that is a huge issue for them.

PHILLIPS: And, Dana, these members, these 35 members, who are still on the fence, big concern is how expensive this is. Also the abortion language. Anything else to add to that?

BASH: Waste fraud and abuse. There are concerns about those special deals to make sure that some of them were really taken out -- not all of them were -- but we are starting to see some of those breaks and in just a few moments, Kyra, we are going to hear from John Boccieri.

I did a profile with him earlier this week. He is a -- one of these who is classic, classic Democrat who is -- basically had been a problem for the leadership. He voted no last time. He is a freshman. He is from one of those Republican-leaning districts.

We have strong indications that when he makes his announcement in just a few moments he is going to be -- he's going to make the Democratic leadership very, very happy. We're going to wait and see what he says, but that is definitely the indication that we're getting.

Just a few moments ago I was speaking to some other Democrats in the same boat that he is. I spoke to Mary Jo Kilroy also from Ohio, Deana Titus from Nevada. They both were telling me that they are under so much pressure.

One said she's had $1 million in ads running against her right now. There you go, there's Deana Titus right there. She says $1 million in ads running against her right now to try to convince her to vote no.

That's the kind of thing that's going on. So much pressure especially when people like Deana Titus, people like John Boccieri and others, they know. They could very well lose their seat for voting yes for this health care bill.

PHILLIPS: All right. John Boccieri, like you said, should be stepping up to the mikes any minute. Let us know, Dana, and we will definitely take that live.

Also President Obama one more public pitch for health care. We're going to have live coverage of his remarks from Fairfax, Virginia. Coming up in the next hour.

The president is so adamant about seeing his health care battle through to the very end that he's actually postponed his trip to Australia and Indonesia, not once, but twice.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's the presidential visit that wasn't. OK. We're here a little bit early, but here in Jakarta, it was supposed the homecoming to beat all homecomings.

Barack Obama spent four years of his childhood here. This is the Besuki School where he went to the third and fourth grade. He was simply known as Barry Soetoro back then, but eventually Indonesia would claimed the U.S. president as one of their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel a little sad.

MALVEAUX: A little sad, why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's a gentleman.

MALVEAUX: He's a gentleman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MALVEAUX (voice-over: Signs welcomed Mr. Obama's arrival. Schoolchildren have been preparing special songs in a state dinner at the presidential palace is now on ice. President Obama called Indonesia's leader to deliver the bad news and promised he'd visit in June.

Mr. Obama choosing to stay in the U.S. to make a final push for health care reform, his top domestic priority.

In the White House Rose Garden his press secretary Robert Gibbs shocked the U.S. press corps with the last minute switcheroo.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president greatly regrets the delay.

MALVEAUX: At least they were still in Washington. We, however, got the news after landing in Singapore. After an 18-hour flight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne, what did you learn about this trip? The postponement, obviously a very significant development. The president was supposed to be going to Indonesia and Australia.

MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, I have to say, I must admit I thought it was an early April Fool's joke when we landed here in Singapore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The Robert Gibbs of Indonesia, their press secretary, Dino Patti Djalal put his own spin on it.

DINO PATTI DJALAL, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN: We're not taking this personally.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Despite the disappointment some Indonesians are looking on the bright side of a June visit. After the health care reform debate is over, President Obama will be a little focused on U.S.-Indonesian relations and perhaps the first lady and daughters Sasha and Malia will able to join them in Indonesia during their summer break.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Jakarta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Dreaded foreclosure signs once again popping up in neighborhoods across the U.S. We'll tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: We've been getting some upbeat signs of the economy lately. Job losses slowing down, manufacturing is picking up, but the housing market -- well, still a different story.

New studies said that foreclosures are actually rising.

Stephanie Elam with the details of that.

Now I thought things were getting better. What the heck happened, Steph?

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know, Kyra. It's definitely like one step back for every two steps we take forward in this economy.

And the housing market, when we've -- take a look at the overall. Yes, it did improve, but now Barclays Capital says banks had nearly 650,000 foreclosed homes to sell in January and that's up 5 percent from December.

Barclays expects the supply of foreclosures to keep rising at least until -- into next month. So the problem is that home sales have been falling for the past few months and even though there are a lot of loan modification plans out there, for so many people they just don't qualify -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, so what's it going to take to bring down the number of foreclosures?

ELAM: Yes, that's the big question. And really, there's one source that would really help all of this out. And that's the job market. If you don't have an income you're probably going to have a problem paying your mortgage. So people really need to find jobs. So we need the labor market to turn around.

The good news is that corporate earnings are bouncing back and if that continues companies will be able to hire workers. But in the meantime some analysts expect foreclosures to hit another record high this year and former Fed chief Alan Greenspan -- he's actually defending his role in the housing crisis today.

He blames those low long-term interest rates which the Fed does not control. Although Greenspan does admit that the Central Bank never, ever expected the recession to be this bad. So just a little grain of salt from yesteryear looking forward now.

On Wall Street, it's a quiet into a very quiet week. And the Dow has risen for the past eight sessions. We were up -- we'll look at that. We had a little of bit of a reversal. The Dow off 25 points, just about 10,75. NASDAQ off about half a percent right now, Kyra, so, you know, we may end on a less happy, less rosy, less green note today.

PHILLIPS: Well, I guess, we had enough green yesterday on St. Paddy's Day or was that the day before?

(CROSSTALK)

ELAM: I think it was the day before.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

ELAM: Yes. It's all that green beer, huh, going on down there in Atlanta.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Exactly. Right. We're still trying to phase it all out. Have a great weekend, Steph.

ELAM: You too, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, as the floodwaters rise so do the concerns. People on the Red River Valley right now waiting for the worse to be over. We're going to see how things are going on right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, it's watch and wait time for people living in the Red River Valley. The river is supposed to crest on Sunday. Bridges in the northern part are being closed and more than a million sandbags have been filled to hold back the rising waters in Fargo, North Dakota and across the river in Morehead, Minnesota. Colder weather is expected to slow that flooding.

Bonnie Schneider, what do you think? Go ahead, Bonnie, take it -- do you hear me OK?

SCHNEIDER: I heard the director and not you. But now I hear you again.

PHILLIPS: Sorry about that. No, we were just talking about, you know, it's getting ready to crest there in North Dakota. What do you think? Sunday?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, Sunday. That's when we're looking at the crest and it looks like we are going to see it right below the record stage at 38 feet. Now that's good news because if it were to top that record stage we would see more flooding for both Morehead and Fargo.

But we're also watching for the water to kind of level off and worked its way, receding over the next few days after we get to that crest, that's good news.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right. My gosh. That is an extreme.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Bonnie.

A forgotten family living in a cold, dark home for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had never been in a situation like this. No question. I wouldn't want this on nobody. Sometimes you have to do what you've got to do if you don't receive the help that you're supposed to have been receiving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: That storm took away almost everything they've had. It's been a long, difficult fight to even get running water. So how did the family slipped through the cracks?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Live to the Hill, John Boccieri. How will he vote? The showdown has begun on the health care plan. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. JOHN BOCCIERI (D), OHIO: -- the president's speech. Her story took me back to a place that I haven't been in a long time. I remember standing at the foot of my mother's bed as she told me that she had breast cancer. As a young boy, I didn't know what that meant.

Thank God she had health care insurance.

I look at this now as a grown man with a young family, and I wonder what my life would have been like if my mom didn't have health care insurance. How would we have paid for it? Would I have been able to go to college? Would my family, my middle-class family, been able to support her treatment?

Well, she's living today. She's with us, but I think what would have happened, and what could happen to those 39,000 people in my congressional district, who don't have health care insurance or the 9800 people in my congressional district that are living with pre- existing conditions.

They're one medical emergency, one bankruptcy, one diagnosis away from complete and utter economic chaos.

I remember when I was serving overseas when Tommy Thompson flew to Iraq with one of many billion dollar checks in hand to make sure that Iraqis -- every man, woman and child -- had access to health insurance.

Within this job I can save one life, one family, one person, one Natoma, this job is worth it. There's too many politicians who are worried about their future instead of the future of the families who are standing behind me and the families like Natoma's.

A lot of people are telling me this decision could cost me my job. There's been a lot of lies and fear-mongering. This town is wrought with that these days, but leadership on both sides are worried about who's going to take the House? Who's going to keep the House?

Who's worried about Natoma keeping her house? She told me in a conversation that she's worried about losing her home to foreclosure because she has no health care insurance.

Natoma is my constituent just as these families are here today. Mom survived breast cancer, but I remember her always saying to me, don't tell me what you believe in. Show me what you've done, and I'll tell you what you believe in.

After we do this process, we vote on this bill and we let the American people know that we're trying to make a difference in their lives. But there's just one person today I want to make proud.

I want my mom to know I'm standing up today, and I'm doing what I believe in.

Natoma, I wish you could be here with me today, but don't let the statistics and the lies tell the story. The people who are standing behind me today are going to tell their story.

Let me tell you about Esther Hawkins from Wooster. Her son, this little handsome young boy here he has autism. Esther fights every day to find coverage for him.

I want to tell you about, Laura Nicadimo, from Jackson, Ohio and Stark County. She has a sister who had diabetes all her life. Her diabetes became a death sentence for her.

Jack Hillier from Wooster. He suffered a heart attack and has been suffering ever since to find health care coverage.

These are the stories, these are the faces behind this debate. These are the faces of Ohio. These are the faces of my district and this is the decision that we have got to make today.

I want you to hear from them. I want you to listen to their stories and listen to what is happening in Ohio. Esther?

ESTHER HAWKINS, SON HAS AUTISM: My 10-year-old son Jay was born with autism. Because of this he was and is consistently denied coverage by insurance companies because of his pre-existing condition. It pains me to see my 10-year-old child not be able to receive health care coverage because the insurance companies feel he's too much of a liability.

BOCCIERI: This is Laura Nicadimo from Jackson township in Stark County.

LAURA NICADIMO, SISTER HAS DIABETES: My sister Rebecca had type 2 diabetes. She had the money and was willing to purchase health care and but was constantly denied coverage by health care insurers for this pre-existing condition.

Because of this lack of coverage she could not afford a good doctor and proper diagnosis of multiple sicknesses. This ultimately led to her death on November 20, 2008.

If Rebecca wasn't denied coverage for her diabetes she would ever seek proper treatment and may have able to join us today.

JACK HILLIER, SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK: Hi, my name is Jack Hillier. I suffered a heart attack in 2002. When I arrived at the hospital they told me that I had a lapse in coverage and insurance was not going to cover my treatment.

Since this heart attack I was denied coverage from insurance companies due to my pre-existing condition of diabetes and the heart condition. This forced me to pay out-of-pocket expenses, causing me to lose my home, my transportation, and all of my assets.

BOCCIERI: These families are the face of the 16th congressional district. They're the face of Ohio and the face of America. In a nation as wealthy as ours where we can spend $1 trillion on war, certainly we can find the resources to reform a system that is causing people to suffer so greatly.

This is a -- this is a difficult time for our nation. Many people are frustrated, they're angry at what is happening here and they're angry at the displays and the arguments that they see in Washington, D.C.

I also remember that the world has changed, not by critics, but by leaders. And today I hope and I pray that we can get this job done for the American people.

Thank you for coming today and we'll answer some questions if you have any.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, I mean you're going to vote for the bill?

(LAUGHTER)

BOCCIERI: Yes. I will be voting yes for the bill.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

BOCCIERI: Yes. I've got a deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years and $138 billion in the first 10 years. And I've got coverage for these young -- with these families here in my congressional district.

One second.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

BOCCIERI: Yes, I was very --