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National Urban League Discusses Debt Talks, Jobs at Conference; House Adjourns, Talks Continue on Debt Ceiling Debate Rhetoric Gets Heated; Bizarre Crime Scene within Alleged Polygamist Cult; Warren Jeffs Allowed to Represent Self at Trial; Sen. Paul Calls for Balanced Budget Amendment; Business Owners Sweating Over Debt Limit Fight; Father: Amy Stopped Drinking and That Killed Her

Aired July 30, 2011 - 17:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This is our breaking news story this hour on CNN.

There are signs of movement this hour in the debt ceiling debate, and not a minute too soon. We're following the action at the White House and the Capitol, where just today we have seen the House vote down a plan offered up by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Later, Republican leaders assure reporters there will be a deal and that the U.S. will not default. And then late this afternoon, Senator Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi heading to the White House to meet with President Obama. It is believed that they are there meeting right now, discussing what we can only call a crisis situation. There's a lot happening and we're covering every angle for you.

Our Kate Bolduan is standing by at the Capitol where the whole ways and the out of the way conference room are buzzing right now. And then you see her as well, Brianna Keilar is on duty at the White House. And as were we're going to start with you, Brianna. Good evening to you, what can you tell us about this meeting between the president and his top party leaders in Congress?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, as far as we know, the president is meeting right now with the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and with leader Pelosi from the House, or probably the leader of the minority in the House. And we don't have details on this yet, it's a closed press meeting that means we didn't even get our cameras inside or the pool cameras inside to kind of get a glimpse of this, but we know from a White House official that they are meeting here at the White House and we're hoping to get at least a notification when that all wraps up.

White House officials saying, this is to update the president on the situation revolving around these debt negotiations and what we're really seeing, and this is part of it is a flurry of negotiations going on and this all kind of follows some kabuki theater that we have seen playing out on the bill. Last night, we saw the House vote on the Boehner bill which passed and then we saw the Senate quickly taken up. The Boehner bill failed in the Senate and then today, we saw the House vote on the Senate bill, the Reid bill, Don, even before the Senate is going to take it up perhaps as early as early this morning and it failed in the House. So, right now we're seeing this flurry of negotiations, you've got this meeting going on here at the White House, Reid, Pelosi and the president. And you also, we heard just a short time ago, from Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority that he said, he's spoken to the president and the vice president here in a last couple of hours.


LEMON: That's what I want to ask you about, how significant is that, Brianna, that they have met or spoken with the president in the last couple of hours?

KEILAR: It's pretty significant because what we know that there's have been some open lines of communication and we -- and both the White House as well as on Capitol Hill have been pretty vague about this, it's pretty significant for Mitch McConnell to say, I spoke with the president, I spoke with the vice president, it's a sign that he's trying to say that things are moving, that there are discussions going on and we also heard this was also important, confidence coming from both Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner that progress is being made here.

LEMON: What about confidence from the White House, what are aides there saying, anything?

KEILAR: You know, the long standing word from the White House is that they are confident, Congress is going to act to increase the debt ceiling. I think after this meeting, perhaps we may get some reaction, perhaps not, it's really hard to tell, they play these things close to the vest, but we'll keep you updated if we know, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Brianna Keilar, stand by. We'll be coming back to you, I'm sure. And this just happened just moments ago on the Senate floor.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The pundits say that compromise is the mark of an enlightened person. We're trying to compromise, I just offered to pass the leaders bill. I have offered to work with them, I'm from the Tea Party, they say we won't compromise? I'm willing to raise the debt ceiling.


LEMON: All right, that was freshman Rand Paul, immediately after he failed to get unanimous consent to tack on a balanced budget amendment to the Reid bill. He says, he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling if his amendment, if that amendment was included. Paul is a Tea Party favorite as we know and he's rejected not just Harry Reid's plan in the Senate, but also Speaker Boehner's plan from the House. And there you see right there, he's joining us now from the Senate office building.

Thank you so much. I know that you're very busy. You guys have a lot going on. At this point though, and can we do this? Let's do this interview without talking points, OK, let's just talk to each other. Both Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at you. So I guess maybe the best question to start with is what will make you and the Tea Party happy at this point?

PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is, I mean in your lead in you say that I rejected both plans. I have actually accepted both plans as long as they have an amendment to them that says that we gradually balance the budget over seven to eight year period. I think that's a very reasonable position. It's supported by 75 percent of the American people and what...

LEMON: But how did you -- hang on, how did you vote on those plans?

PAUL: Well, on the Reid plan, we haven't voted on it yet, on the Cut, Cap and Balance, which has had the most votes of any bill that has been passed so far...

LEMON: On the Boehner plan, how did you vote?

PAUL: On the one that's gotten the most votes out of the House. We had 234 votes, and we had Republicans and Democrats. I voted for that plan. On the Boehner plan, I voted no because it did not balance the budget before we raised the debt ceiling. So many times up here, we haven't really abided by our own rules and I don't really trust the institution to abide by its rules.

LEMON: OK, well, let's talk about the American people, and I'm sure you have to know this, that the American people are, for the most part, except for the extremes, expect for the -- the people who are really far left and those who are really far right, most people in the middle want some sort of compromise and they feel that you guys should have gotten to that way before at this point.

PAUL: Yes. I agree and the compromise means both sides give in. For example, our side, the Tea Party and the conservatives don't think we should be adding more debt, we don't believe in spending financed by debt. But we've been willing to give in and give, the president wants over $2 trillion in debt to be added and he wants us to get to the election, so he has time to fundraise and to campaign. And we have been willing to give him that, but what we want in return is a seven- to-eight year plan to balance the budget. That's what our country needs. And I won't vote for a deal just because it's a deal. I want a solution for our country and I think our country is more important than any deal or scheme that might be hatched.

LEMON: OK. Listen. The Democrats have made many concessions when it comes to what's going on here, and even the Tea Party position it appears to most people remains rigid. The question is, have you made your point? And by continuing to go on with this, do you feel like you're overreaching and that you're going to lose the clout? And really, the respect that you've gotten, because when you've really made your point here and then most people will say, you have done a good job at it, but do you feel like you're overreaching right now?

PAUL: Well, I guess the thing is that we have $14 trillion in debt and the Boehner plan and the Reid plan and whatever the mixture of the two will become, we'll add about seven to $8 trillion over the next ten years. I think what's interesting here is that people talk about Moody's and S&P downgraded our...

LEMON: OK. Hang on, hang on. Can we just stick to that -- we're going to get to that, but hang on, let's stick to the -- hold on, please, be respectful here.

PAUL: Let me finish my thought.

LEMON: Can you answer the question and we'll talk about Moody's and all that.

PAUL: I'm trying to answer your question, you've interrupted my answer.

LEMON: Do you feel like -- if you answer the question, I'll give you plenty of time. Do you feel like you have made your point and now do you think people are going to think that you're overreaching and that maybe you're going to ruin the clout that you already have and the respect that you've gotten.

PAUL: Well, here's the problem is this, I'm not trying to make a point. I'm trying to do what's best for the country, and adding seven trillion to $8 trillion of debt over the next ten years, I don't think is good for the country.

LEMON: OK. Now, continue. You were talking about Moody's and our credit rating.

PAUL: My point is, is that it's not really just about August 2nd. Many of the rating agencies are now saying, even if we raise the debt ceiling which I think we will do, that we still may be downgraded, but we're being downgraded for our long-term behavior, not our short-term behavior. We're struggling in an economy, we have economy that's barely growing. Many people say that our debt is a burden on the economy and costing us about a million job as year. Those are the things that need to change, we need growth in the economy again, but we won't get that until we get a handle on our debt. So, I think we need some kind of rule that says simply, and I think it's very reasonable that we balance our budget very gradually over seven to eight years, I don't think that's too much to ask.

LEMON: If you have been criticized here as I said by both sides. And maybe the answer to this question is both sides have to blame. But if the U.S. does default, do you think who will be to blame here? Will it be the president? Will it be the Democrats? Will it be the Tea Party, Republicans? Who's going to be the blame here?

PAUL: I think all along, the president should have taken default of the table. In fact, we have legislations that will require him to pay the interest on the debt, require him to pay Social Security checks and require him to pay the soldiers salaries. So, we have never been for default where we are niggling on any checks. The president has put that on the table as a grand, elaborate game of chicken. We've always been oppose to that. We think he should reassure the markets and...

LEMON: OK. Mr. Paul, I'm going to ask you again, just a simple answer to my question, if we indeed default, who's going to be to blame, do you feel?

PAUL: I don't think we should default, but if we do, I would say it's the president's fault for not reassuring the markets but he will pay the interests. And actually, privately, he is reassuring the markets, but publicly he's still playing this game of chicken. But we have plenty of tax revenue to pay the interests on our debt, there's no reason to default.

LEMON: I appreciate you taking the time, and I just want simple answers because, listen, you should know that the public is really frustrated right now, and they don't know what's going on, they don't understand why we haven't come to some sort of consensus, you guys haven't come to some sort of consensus, and they want some answers. You understand it. Are you feeling that in Washington right now?

PAUL: You know, we have been continuing to offer compromises. About 30 minutes ago, if was on the floor and I offered to vote for the re- bill.

LEMON: Hang on, hang on, one second again.

PAUL: You're in the middle of my answer.

LEMON: I know, but I'm asking you to answer the question -- I don't want talking points, with all due respect, I'm asking you, do you feel the public sentiment in Washington?

PAUL: This isn't a talking point, I'm trying to tell you what we did 30 minutes ago in the Senate.

LEMON: I'm not asking you what you did, sir. With all due respect, I'm asking you if you feel how the public feels in Washington. You don't have to tell me what you did, but are you feeling? Do you understand how people feel about this?

PAUL: We feel that they want compromise and I'm trying to tell you that we're still trying to compromise and many in the media are trying to depict us as not. But the only way, I can prove to you that we're trying to compromise is by telling you, we have offered up on the floor another chance to compromise, I said I'll vote for the re-bill, I'll vote for the entire $2 trillion that the president wants, so he can avoid talking about this during his campaigning. But the thing is, that isn't an offer to compromise and it is me hearing the American people that they do want to compromise.

LEMON: OK. So you are hearing the American people, you feel, yes?

PAUL: I think I have answered the question. I think we're having maybe some trouble understanding each other. But yes, I have answered the question. I do understand the Americans want us to find a compromise and I have offered to compromise. I have offered to vote for the democrat plan if they'll agree to balance the budget gradually over a seven to eight year period.

LEMON: OK. All right. Thank you, Rand Paul. We appreciate it. Guys, get back to work, because the American people, we want something done, the people who sent you there. Thank you very much. I appreciate you coming in.

PAUL: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to let you know, coming up here at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, here on CNN, democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is going to join me live. So, make sure you tune in to hear what he has to say as well. CNN is dedicated to providing you with the up to the minute coverage on this debt crisis and tomorrow night, we're bringing you a special report beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern, Wolf Blitzer and I will break down all of the hurdles and options as we near the deadline for reaching a deal to avoid default. Get it done, countdown to debt crisis, tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN, make sure you tune in.

Meantime, as we're trying to convey here. Anger over Washington's indecision and infighting over the debt crisis. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm saying to Washington, let's get it together, let's realize the impact that it's having on the American people, get out of your vacuum, get off your butt.


LEMON: And that's from a businessman who needs a resolution right now or his customers may disappear. Meantime, while the country tries to figure out how to pay its bills, minorities in America face the same problem and a new report shows it's only getting worse. We're talking with the head of the national urban league to find out what can be done to help.

And you don't see this every single day. It is a jet plane that is split in half, the amazing stories of survival, straight ahead here on CNN.



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Congress, would you guys please remember the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's not do unto others before they do unto you. Please go back to Sunday school.


LEMON: Here on our broadcast here on CNN, you're going to hear from the American people, we are going to hear from you, and we promise you that. If the debt ceiling isn't raise, the U.S. risks severely damaging its credit rating. That could stop the very fragile economic recovery the country is experiencing. And as our Sandra Endo reports, the mere idea of that has many business owners on edge.


RON WHEELER, GEN. MGR. SALES, BUERGE CHRYSLER AND JEEP: Buerge Motors have been in business since 1915, and we've certainly seen a lot of ups and downs in the automotive industry, but nothing, nothing, anywhere near what we're seeing today.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sagging economy, higher gas prices, a tighter supply of parts and paints from tsunami stricken Japan. Now a stalemate in Washington over raising the debt ceiling. That could lead to higher interest rates and fewer car loans.

WHEELER: Our phase is off, so we have to make sure that we catch up.

ENDO: Los Angeles auto sales Ron Wheeler is closely following the political fight, knowing an impasse would seriously affect his bottom line.

(on camera) What would you say to lawmakers in Washington who are duking it out, really standing their ground, not coming together on a deal, what would you say to them?

WHEELER: I'm saying to Washington, let's get it together. Let's realize the impact that is having on the American people, get out of your vacuum, get off your butt, make a decision, make a tough decisions, make a hard decision, because it's affecting everything that we do, the American people at the ground level.

ENDO: And you describe this fight as what type of feud?

WHEELER: As a civil war. As a financial civil war. It's a battle over who gets what, you know, for their team. And supposedly, we're supposed to all be one team. We have a lot of sacrificial lambs out here.

ENDO (voice-over): Like car shoppers who have to make hard decisions if rates do go up.

TIM MCNULTY, CAR BUYER: We'll probably at the lower expectations a little bit or maybe even delayed what we're going to be doing until things settle down again after the implosion in Washington.

TONY MILLS, CAR BUYER: People that aren't able to work together and it's punishing the whole country and I think it's really frightening, you know, what might happen in the next couple of weeks if they're not able to work things out.

ENDO (on camera): Whether or not lawmakers come together on a deal in time, the political wrangling is already leaving a strong impression in voters' minds, especially if the public ends up paying the price. Sandra Endo, CNN, Los Angeles.


LEMON: All right, thank you, Sandra. We have some info that's just in to CNN. We told you about the meeting with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid at the White House with the president, we're hearing that it's just ended. Our correspondent of course are working on getting information about what took place, if they came to some sort of consensus, some sort of compromise of course. Most people want, really most people just want to get it done. We're going to continue to follow that and you're going to hear your voices tonight on our broadcast, we'll hear from the American people and not just from the politicians in Washington and the pundits.

Surprising comments from the family of singer Amy Winehouse to tell you about. Did her efforts to go sober actually kill her? And kids used to be taught to help others, now apparently it's all about fame. Our human behavior expert Dr. Wendy Walsh on what's really going on with kids these days. She is up next.


LEMON: That's Amy Winehouse. Sad to say, the late Amy Winehouse in her Back to Black video. Since her death last Saturday, more of the singers albums have sold than during the first six months of this year. And her loved ones are now saying that they know what silence this soulful voice. The Sun Newspaper quotes family sources who say, quitting alcohol was a shock to Winehouse's body causing a fatal seizure. But investigators have not established what killed the 27- year-old entertainer.

So, we go now to our human behavior expert, our expert here, Dr. Wendy Walsh. Wendy, thanks for joining us.

Toxicology results are not in, but can going cold turkey, this is the first time I have heard that, and I'm sure it can possibly happen. But can going cold turkey kill a person?

WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: Absolutely. Especially with alcohol, depending on the level of consumption and your body weight and how long it's been going on. Remember, alcohol is a depressant. So, you suddenly take that depressant away, everything out becomes hyper, your blood pressure can go up, you're heart rate can increase, you can have seizures. I use the example of, you know, it's easy to get addicted to Chap Stick, right? As soon as you stop Chap Stick, your lips hurt so much and peel so much. Because you're not able to make the moisture anymore. However, this woman has been in rehab a number of times and detoxed in other ways. So, we're still not clear whether she suddenly went some kind of cold turkey on her own because appears that she has experienced withdraw symptoms before in a facilities. So, we'll wait to hear.

LEMON: Yes, most people don't think about it, you know, alcohol, they think about harder drugs. Because, you know, you have to go through a process, but you have to do it as well with alcohol.

Let's move on now and talk about this. A new study of TV shows popular with 9 to 11-year-olds, found the programs prioritize fame above all values. Should we be worried by what the study found, Wendy?

WALSH: We should absolutely be worried, Don. But we have to think this is also the kind of proliferation of the global media and instant media, whether we're I-reporters or you-tubing, where all of a sudden being known is more important to kids and the study showed than community service, or altruism or helping each other out, which were different values just 10, 12 years ago. So with all the reality TV, all the YouTube stars in these kids' life, being famous seems to be content for all these sitcoms, I see it in Disney shows, you know, I Carly, where they have their own show, internet show. So, yes.

LEMON: Yes. And with all these reality shows and you see the wealthy girls just on the shows, on theirselves on shopping all the time and they're famous, I think that sort of adds to it as well, right?

WALSH: It's frightening.


WALSH: Frightening.

LEMON: Let's move on now and talk about this. In Arkansas, a valedictorian is suing her school district Wendy, because a superintendent named another girl as co-valedictorian. Her name is Kim Wimberley. Seen here at a graduation says, a district didn't want her to be the sole valedictorian because she's black and a mother even though, she had the highest GPA. She's black and the mother said, the highest GPA and she's saying, they didn't want her to be the valedictorian. The district says, the co-valedictorian had a half credit more and the difference in GPA is like 300 of a point. OK. So, what's your take on this, is it who has the highest point? Does she have a point here?

WALSH: Well, again. We're looking at lots of magic math by the school district here. But they did announce her as the sole valedictorian and when it became known that she was an African- American and a teen mom, I mean, I think they should have exalted her to saint status at that point. But instead, they kind of wanted her to share the pedestal. So, but the important thing about her suit is that it doesn't just say, she was discriminated against. She talks about a culture as the school. Because the thing about racism is, you know, there are individual overt acts of racism that are tragic, but there's also this sort of more subtle culture of racism. This school is 46 percent African-American but black kids were not encouraged according to her suit to take the A.P. classes.

LEMON: All right. Dr. Wendy, thank you. We have to run now. I appreciate it though. The wealth gap between whites and minorities has tripled over the past few years. Thanks for the recession. And it could get even worse if the debt crisis in Washington is not resolved.

Marc Morial, the head of the National Urban League joins us next.

Also ahead, a hefty speeding ticket for a man raising his pregnant wife to the hospital and this is one of the stories that we're going to discuss with our legal expert, Holly Hughes coming up.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You should know that what you're doing in Washington is affecting everyone on the streets. So many people I talked to everyday including myself, you know, we're really wrestling with the economy.


LEMON: It's a nice broadcast sir about your voices here on CNN. in the middle of the showdown over raising the debt ceiling, a sobering new picture has emerged of wealth in America and it is not pretty. The economic gap between whites and minorities has grown even larger, the median wealth for white households in America is now nearly 20 times more than that of blacks and Hispanics. Just four years earlier, the gap was only a third that amount.

National Urban League president Marc Morial joins me now from Boston where the urban league is holding its annual convention. Thank you for joining us, sir. As we talk about...


LEMON: Thank you, listen, we're going to get to the nuts and bolts of this particular study. But let's talk about, can't we talk about this debt crisis in Washington and who would be affected by it? Who is affected by it? And what possibly be affected by a default?

MORIAL: Well, what's very clear is that the Boehner plan having taken a look at what the House passed that would impose extreme budget cuts on programs that help people on education, job training.

LEMON: Mr. Morial, I have to ask you this. And I did it with Senator Rand Paul, just the answers to the question, who is it going to be? Is it minorities? Who would be affected most by a default? And -- to be corrected there.

MORIAL: I think the whole nation would be affected by default. I think that poor people, working people and communities of column would be devastated by extreme budget cuts. If that with the price of getting a dent ceiling increase to the Congress. It's very important that while a default is indeed a risk, extreme budget cuts like the type that are being discussed, like the type in the Boehner plan, are not in the best interest of the nation. I think it would affect the nation's economy in a dramatic, negative way.

LEMON: The debt crisis is a topic there at your national convention?

MORIAL: The debt crisis, combined with jobs. I think the thinking here of our conferees and the National Urban League is that Congress should be focused on is on jobs and the need for there to be a national jobs plan.

There's a great deal of concern that an extreme group of people is holding the nation hostage. Some members of the House of Representatives demanding extreme budget cuts in exchange for their vote on something that's been routine for some 70 years, and that is to increase the debt ceiling for spending that's already taking place.

LEMON: And, Mr. Morial, what are people saying about the debt crisis there at the national convention?

MORIAL: I think they're saying that the crisis is a manufactured crisis, meaning that the debt ceiling increase could have passed long ago, and that tying it to extreme spending cuts, extreme program cuts of the type that would hurt people is just something that is a political issue, separate and apart really from the routine matter of increasing the debt ceiling, which the Congress has done many, many times over the years.

LEMON: OK, let's talk about the main reason we have you here and that is this study that we're talking about. The media wealth for white households in America is now nearly 20 times more than that of blacks and Hispanics. And just four years earlier the gap was only a third of that amount.

There is a graphic that we put on up on the screen.

Why did the recession, Mr. Morial, hit minorities so hard, especially African-Americans?

MORIAL: I think because minorities came to the recession with less assets, less savings, less investments and with less of a cushion. So if all of your wealth is in your home and you lose the equity in your home and your home, it's going to devastate you dramatically. I think for many white Americans -- it must be said that this has affected people across the board, but people of color more dramatically -- it has to be said that if you came to the recession with new welt, with just the first generation of having a higher income, maybe the first generation of being a homeowner, then in fact the recession has really placed you back.

A companion report that we have released here in Boston documents that this may have cost the black middle class 30 years of gains.


MORIAL: This is a tragedy for this nation. And I might add, while the Pugh Report talks about African-Americans, the gap between Americans with wealth and the rest of the nation has increased substantially --

LEMON: As well.

MORIAL: -- regardless of race over the last 30 years.

LEMON: Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. Thank you so much. We appreciate you coming on.

MORIAL: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: And we hope you have a great convention in Boston.

MORIAL: Thank you. LEMON: We have much, much more on this debt ceiling crisis gripping the nation for you as lawmakers race the clock before a potentially catastrophic default.

And some might call it a miracle here. A plane breaks in two after a crash landing, but its passengers and crew live to tell about it. Can you believe it?


LEMON: All right, live pictures now of the capitol. And we are going to stay on this story until there is some resolution. You're going to hear your voices today on our broadcast here on CNN. The House of Representatives has adjourned for the day. But behind the scenes talks to raise the debt ceiling are still going full throttle. And there has been some heated rhetoric along the way.

Here's House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, talking about Republican House Speaker John Boehner.



REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The speaker chose, when he didn't have the votes, instead of to reach out in a bipartisan way to see how we could work together, he chose to go to the dark side. Let's bring --


PELOSI: Let me repeat -- and I repeat, he chose to go to the dark side.



LEMON: All right, let's get right to our congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan.

So, Kate, man, you have been doing a great job with this, I have to tell you. Those are tough comments by Nancy Pelosi. But there seems to be some movement this evening between Republicans and the White House. So what can you tell us?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, you see Nancy Pelosi on the floor right there, and I think that's kind of a good example of we have been seeing on both the House and the Senate floor all day today, a lot of fiery speeches, a lot of throwing it back and forth from Democrat to Republican.

And also what we know has happened in terms of legislation, they kind of put a couple of other options to rest, if you will. They have finally proven that House Speaker John Boehner's bill to raise the federal debt ceiling was rejected by the Senate, so it can't pass there. And today, the House showed the same for Senator Harry Reid's bill, showing that it cannot pass in the House, as they rejected that today.

But you noted that we could be seeing some movement because the action is not going to be, at this moment, not going to be on the House or Senate floor. The real action is going to be behind the scenes, in back-channel negotiations between the key leaders if they're going to reach a compromise. And we heard just a short time ago, from the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, he's going to be key to any compromise that's going to be struck, him indicating that there could be some movement here, at least, he says, that at least the key negotiators are starting to talk again. Listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Now in the category of getting serious, I have spoken to both the president and the vice president within the last hour. We are now fully engaged, the speaker and I, with the one person in America, out of 3307 billion people, who can sign a bill into law. I'm confident that we're going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interests of the American people.


BOLDUAN: I've also learned from my colleague, Jennifer Walsh (ph), she's been told that the president called Speaker Boehner last night following that vote.

Now, I'll tell you, this is kind of why this matter. I'm sure people are asking, OK, Kate, they're talking, I'm sure they have already been talking, but that's kind of the point. They have been talking more at each other and past each other than they have to each other.


BOLDUAN: So if this is an indication that they're really starting to talk, we could see this as movement. Because these people are the key negotiators that are going to have to sit down and find some way to thread the needle, as they keep saying, to find a compromise --

LEMON: Kate, before we --

BOLDUAN: -- that is going to pass the House and the Senate.

LEMON: Before we let you go back to work there to try to figure out what's going on there, we're hearing about some late-night working session with Senators. What are you hearing?

BOLDUAN: This -- there could be -- it could lead up to a 1 a.m. vote, so late tonight, into tomorrow morning, we'll see if we'll still be here. But this is kind of the process that would need to happen, as Senator Harry Reid, he's moving the legislative ball forward on his bill in the Senate. So the first test vote, if you will, without getting into the legislative words that are always so confusing, the first test vote could be early this morning around 1:00 a.m. So we're trying to see it that's actually going to happen. But it seems he's kind of moving that train down the track, if you will, because he says that might be the only thing left. So we'll see.

LEMON: You need a score card to keep up with this case.


LEMON: And, gain, great job.


LEMON: We'll see you soon, of course.


LEMON: It's hard to believe when you look at these pictures -- look at that -- but the passengers, the 163 of them and crew aboard this Caribbean Airlines plane, are safe and most of them are OK. That's according to Guyana's government. Official say the Boeing 737 was unable to stop after it landed on the runway. It careened into a grassy patch. Several passengers were taken to the hospital for broken bones.

Polygamist sect leader, Warren Jeffs, earning the right to represent himself in his sexual assault trial. Is he doing it to turn his court case into a sermon? Our legal expert weighs in straight ahead.

But first, out of a job, broke, and bills piled high in this recession, many Americans find themselves facing just that. But when people in one Wisconsin community are hit with hard times, they have got a unique safety net. And he is this week's "CNN Hero." His name is Sal Dimiceli, the Dear Abby of the down and out.



LEMON: This week here on CNN, in our "Human Factor" series, we look at ordinary people who are accomplishing extraordinary things despite the set backs life may throw their way. This week, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to Doug Henry, a motor cross racer who has had to learn a new way to live his dreams.


LEMON: And last November, the day before Thanksgiving, the Henry family's home burned down. But despite his set backs, Doug chooses to focus on the blessings. His wife is in remission and his kids are OK. Best of luck to them.

Straight ahead here on CNN, a crime story that is almost too bizarre to believe. One man in control of a house full of women and children, an alleged polygamous cult, two people murdered, including a child. Attorney Holly Hughes joins me to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: All right. We're looking live now at the capitol where there is a contentious debate going on in that city at least over the debt crisis and whether or not we should raise the debt limit, and also deficit talks as well. It's coming down to the wire. And that's why, tonight, we'll have a very special edition, a live edition of "The Situation Room." It is just moments away.

Joining me now is the host of that show, CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

What can we expect? A lot of meetings going down, Wolf. It's getting close.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": -- it looks like they are finally getting some positive developments, based on what we heard. and you were here -- obviously, Don, the minority leader in the Senate, Mr. McConnell, the speaker, John Boehner, were upbeat, surprisingly upbeat when they met with reporters about an hour, hour and a half or so ago. And behind-the-scenes, there are discussions under way. The president once again is directly involved as is the vice president. Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker, the minority leader in the House, going over with Harry Reid to the White House. They are on phone. They are talking. Things are moving in the right direction. And let's hope that this crisis, that would be a huge crisis, can be averted.

We'll have extensive coverage of all the breaking new coming up in the next hour. Among my guests, two key Senators, both very involved in all of this, both very smart. They've got a lot of experience. Mark Warner, one of the so-called gang of six, the Democratic Senator from Virginia. Also Rob Portman, the new Senator from Ohio. He served in the Bush administration. They're very well plugged in. We'll speak with them live. We'll get their sense of what's going on.

Gloria Borgia is here, our chief political analyst is here. All of our reporters. We're not leaving this story because, as you know and as I know, what happens today, tomorrow, Monday, it's going to be critical. It's going to be critical for the entire country, dare I say, Don, even for the world.

LEMON: Yes. You took the words out of my mouth.

Wolf, we'll be watching.

And, Wolf, of course, the best when it comes to political reporting.

Coming up at the top of the hour, a special live edition of "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer.

Meantime, it is a tragic story involving tales of an accused cult leader with multiple wives, and a little boy that died in their home. We'll take you inside this bizarre case.

Polygamist sect leader, Warren Jeffs, on trial and now acting as his own attorney. You won believe what he's been saying about the jury, coming up.



CALLER: We see something buried in a plastic bag and it has a horrible smell and we don't assume -- we don't think it's an animal or nothing. It seems like it could possibly be another human.


LEMON: Oh, my gosh, that is the chilling 911 call that helped uncover two horrific crimes. It happened in North Carolina where police say a Durham man, Peter Lucas Moses, led what amounted to a religious cult, dominating the lives of four women and nine children, all living in the same home. Prosecutors say Moses killed one of the children and one of the women was also killed inside the house. It is a bizarre case with a lot of twists and turns.

Holly Hughes is here to guide us through it.

Holly, this is a terrible case. What do police say happened here?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: This is a horrific case. We've got insider information, Don, because what happened, one of the women who actually escaped this cult is talking. She was an eyewitness to these murders. 4-year-old little Jaden Higginbotham, and that's the name we want to remember. Not the defendant's name, we all know the defendant's name. Let's talk about the victim, Jaden. He's 4 years old. He's playing with other children. He swats one of the other on the behind while he's playing. Someone tells this cult leader and he says to the mother, I think he's gay. I told you to get rid of him.

LEMON: That's what I was going to say that --


LEMON: -- the 4-year-old is gay, what's that all about?

HUGHES: Because he swatted another child while playing, Don. I mean, adult men swat each other in the locker room. You know what he does? He says to the mother, give me your gun. She hands over a gun. He takes the 4-year-old little boy into the garage, puts on the Lord's Prayer on the loud speakers, and shoots this baby in the head to the strains of the Lord's Prayer being played in Hebrew. That's murder number one. Now --

LEMON: I can't believe that. The other one was another victim, her name was Antoinetta Yvonne McCoy (ph).


LEMON: She reportedly ran from the house, Holly, on the day that she died, only to be dragged back inside. Did neighbors or anybody try to help here? HUGHES: No, and this is what is really tragic, Don. She escaped. She goes to the neighbor's door. She's banging on the door and she says, please let me use your cell phone. I need to call for help. I need to get away, they are trying to kill me. She does nothing. She watches two women from that house drag her Antoinetta back across the yard into that home. They beat her at the direction of the cult leader. They try and strangle her to death with an extension cord. When that doesn't work, he gives the gun to Jaden's mother, the same woman who watched him murder her little boy, and says, you shoot her in the head. And she does. And that neighbor says to police, I thought she was a mental patient, so I never called or did anything. Tragic.

LEMON: This story is unbelievable.

HUGHES: Horrible.

LEMON: Horrible.

HUGHES: Yes, yes.

LEMON: I want to get this in, because there's been some antics in the Warren Jeffs' trial. You may remember, he's the polygamist sect leader. He's on trial in Texas. And this week, the judge granted his request to represent himself. He's facing some serious charges here, two counts of sexual assault on a child. So why is he being allowed to represent himself? Not only that, they said he could talk or they wanted him to do opening statements and he just put his head down.

HUGHES: He remains silent. Wouldn't do his opening statement. But then when the prosecutor tried to question, he interrupted her and he wanted to give speeches. People have a legal right to represent themselves and the judge told him, I think you have the best team ever assembled, the best legal team here in Texas, you've got them, Mr. Jeffs. I advise you not to do this.

It comes down to this, Don. If they want to represent themselves the judge has to allow it. Then you see what's going on here, it becomes a circus like atmosphere. He doesn't know the rule of evidence or court procedure and he keeps interrupting the prosecutor and trying to make speeches to the jury. When giving an opportunity to speak in opening, he wouldn't do it.

LEMON: Yes. I only have about 10 seconds, but he wanted it postponed so he could go to law school or get some legal training, right?


HUGHES: That's exactly right. He asked for that and the judge quickly shut that down, yes.

LEMON: We had to know that would not happen. Thank you.

HUGHES: Correct.

LEMON: The stories you brought us about the little boy and woman, unbelievable.

Thank you, Holly Hughes.

HUGHES: We'll follow it, Don.

LEMON: We'll see you later on.

I'm Don Lemon at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Thank you so much for joining me. I'll see you back here in one hour from now.

In the meantime, there is a special live edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" with our very own Wolf Blitzer. He's following the debt crisis in Washington.

Wolf, take it away.