Return to Transcripts main page


House Will Vote on Fiscal Cliff

Aired January 1, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ali, thanks. Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight with breaking news. That deal on the fiscal cliff which passed the Senate this morning with nearly unified support from both parties hit a snag in the House but may be moving again. Members of the Republican rank-and-file have voiced objection. Not only that, so is the Republican majority leader who said he won't support it without changes, but now things may be getting resolved.

Still, how a bill can go from an 89-8 sure thing on one side of this building to a heavy lift on the other side speaks loudly about how Washington works or doesn't work as the case may be. What House Republicans cannot stomach is the Senate version which restores middle class tax cuts and raises upper income taxes, puts off any action on serious spending cuts for at least two more months.

In other words it fails to do precisely what Democrats and Republicans promised to do when they set this whole dysfunctional fiscal cliff mess in motion nearly a year and a half ago.


REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: We need to return to fiscal responsibility.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: How it is that we're going to be able to do that? Getting our fiscal house in order.

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: The American people have spoken loudly. They want us to get our fiscal house in order.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Fiscal handcuffs on this Congress that are sorely needed.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Washington is beginning to get its fiscal house in order.


COOPER: Fiscal house in order. So that was then. That was nearly a year and a half ago. They've had nearly a year and a half to do that. Instead, the best they've been able to come up with is a Senate bill to restore the Bush tax cuts and make them permanent for individual income up to $400,000 and family income to $450,000. Now the bill extends unemployment insurance and does a number of other things. As for spending, it basically punts. So now the question is, can it actually pass?

Dana Bash is joining us, Jessica Yellin. They've been working their sources all day, working them hard, as they try to stay ahead of this fast-moving story. They join us now.

Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have news. And that is that the House Republicans have decided just to take up the clean Senate bill. They're not going to amend it. They're going to take up the bill that passed with huge -- a huge majority in the early morning this morning in the Senate.

All day long, as you just said, there have been -- it has been back and forth about whether or not they can do that, whether or not to put an amendment on that has spending cuts, which is what many House Republicans have been demanding, but the decision after a lot of interesting strategy and tactics by the House Republican leadership to try to calm their members down and get to this point, has led to where they are now, which is in about an hour, hour and a half, we are going to see a final vote on the Senate bill, which means this will be over and the fiscal cliff package to avert the fiscal cliff technically, will be done.

COOPER: At least this portion of it. We have still a lot of spending cuts and stuff to get to a couple of months from now.

BASH: Exactly.

COOPER: So it's really just the beginning of all this.

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: But Dana, just for those folks who have not -- I don't know. Maybe they've been, you know, recovering from last night or just not following the detail that you've been following and that Jessica have been following all day long, the House had the option of not going for just an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill and actually trying to amend the Senate bill and that that would have sent it back to the Senate effectively sending us over the fiscal cliff.

BASH: That's exactly right. The backstory of what's been going on all day long is there are a number of House Republicans who simply don't like the Senate bill because they think it effectively raises taxes and, more importantly, they don't think that there are enough spending cuts in it. And so they have been complaining very loudly. And they -- many of them will likely vote against the Senate bill in general, but what they were also trying to do is talk to the leadership about whether or not there is any way they can change it.

And from the perspective of the House speaker who is trying to walk a very fine line here, he spent the day being very careful, being very cautious, listening to his members, seeing what they wanted to do and not just saying from the get-go we're going to have a vote on this because this is the way to do it without the economy collapsing. Because he knows politically if he would have done that, he would have probably had a revolt.

So they had to go through these stages of discussions all day long to get to the point where they were all comfortable that Republicans, rank-and-file Republicans had their voices heard and that they understand now, after two meetings today, two large meetings with all the House Republicans, where the last one I'm told the House speaker said to them, look, guys, we can have this amendment, which was -- they put together in the afternoon, $300 billion in spending cuts, but you have to realize that there is a big risk and that risk is they would send it back to the Senate behind me and the Senate will take it up.

So to say, no way, we did our job with the majority of Republicans voting for it. So at the end of the day that won out. The risk was too big for -- and the reward simply wouldn't have been there politically even standing on principle.

COOPER: So, Jessica, what are you hearing over at the White House? I mean, is the president optimistic the bill is going to pass?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The White House has been cautiously optimistic all day, Anderson, even when it stalled because they figured in the end that just the sheer need for political survival would make the folks up on Capitol Hill at least willing to put it on the floor. And then they're very confident that they have the Democratic votes to get it passed.

I haven't been able to call since Dennis has broken this news and reported that it will actually be scheduled for a floor vote, but that's just a confirmation of what they've been feeling all day. They have the Democratic votes. Once it's scheduled for a floor vote, they think that this thing is going to pass. So this is essentially like very good news for them. Sorry.

COOPER: And, Dana, you're saying this is going to be -- come to a vote probably in an hour, hour and a half?

BASH: That's right. We're told probably in the 9:00 hour. They've already started the process, the technical process to get this bill to the House floor for a vote, and they think that that whole process will take about -- about an hour, some time in the 9:00 hour Eastern Time that they will -- that they will bring it for a vote.

And -- to Jessica's point about the fact that the White House is confident that they will have the votes, we should be -- point out that we were talking a lot about House Republicans but the reason why they're going to probably have the votes is because it's going to be carried with a lot of Democrats. A lot of Democrats who were, given a -- had a discussion today with the vice president who came here and explained why this deal, which he cut with the Senate Republican leader yesterday was the best that they could have.

And it was a pretty long meeting but it was one where we understand who's pretty successful in pulling over enough Democrat who were skittish from the left, from the other side, they didn't like this bill because it keeps tax cuts in place too much, and so they oppose it from the other side of the -- of the spectrum.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: But at this point it looks like it's going to be a combination of Democratic and Republican votes to pass it.

COOPER: And then, I mean, Jessica, this does, you know, veer far from what President Obama campaigned on to get re-elected. You know, he wanted higher taxes on everyone making more than $250,000. It looks like it's going to be for individuals $450,000.

YELLIN: The tax difference is a change, but let's remember that he put a $400,000 tax threshold on the table as part of his negotiations with Speaker Boehner. So while some progressives are upset about that difference, the thing that the vice president heard about the most when he went to meet with Democrats today was that Democrats are upset about how this sets them up for the next fight, and that is the battle over the debt ceiling.

And in two months time, the nation hits the debt limit again. This does not include a mechanism to avoid that fight. And there was a lot of concern about that. And the vice president had to take a lot of questions, about 45 minutes he took questions from about 20 different members and that, I'm told, was the top concern among Democrats.

The White House will just have to wage that battle when it comes some time in February. That's the same time the spending cuts that have been delayed also kick in again, Anderson. So this will be a titanic battle in Washington. We're going to be standing on the lawn and in Capitol Hill having this discussion all over again.

Instead of about tax increases, it's going to be about debt, deficit, and the debt ceiling all over again.

COOPER: Right.

YELLIN: Only that time the president says he is not going to have the fight. He's sort of -- implying he'll maybe let the nation default rather than -- so as he puts it, let him be held hostage.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, this is just the beginning. This is the next four years basically. And we're going to talk to Grover Norquist about this in a second.


COOPER: But I mean this is -- this is the way things are going to get decided now for the next four years.

YELLIN: Until --

COOPER: There's no grand bargains and stuff like that. YELLIN: That's the thinking. Look, it could be or it could be that we'll continue to have these skirmishes because there are these ideological differences until there is a bad -- until it's finally resolved because these two parties are struggling over philosophy and eventually it will be resolved, but until that time, yes, this is what we're looking at for a while.

COOPER: How does that get resolved, though?

YELLIN: Well, maybe the economy recovers and once the nation is more prosperous, we're clearly out of recession, maybe the anxiety about debt and deficit is lessened or perhaps we get the debt and deficit under control and that makes everybody a bit more optimistic.

We've now resolved the tax struggle to some extent. Personal income tax is resolved a little bit. And now -- so you tackle these one at a time. That might be the way or it might be that the economy picks up.

COOPER: Right. Go ahead.

BASH: Anderson, if I could just add to what Jessica is saying that it seems as though a big reason why Republicans in the House relented and they're allowing this up-or-down vote tonight on the Senate bill is because of these fights to come and because Republicans all along have felt that their biggest leverage was in the debt ceiling, that that is where they're really going to demand spending cuts and in the idea that the government will shut down because the government will run out of money around that same time and this sequester, these mandatory spending cuts, which also have been pushed off for another two months.

So all of those things Republicans feel that they have more leverage on. Having said that, this is, you know, we're talking about a fiscal cliff. That's certainly the terminology, but the effect of going over the cliff will be nothing compared to if we hit the debt ceiling. I mean, it's not even close to comparing to the effects on the economy.

COOPER: Right. All right. Dana, Jessica, we're going to continue to have more updates from you throughout the night. Thank you.

More now on a key player in all this drama, Grover Norquist, really holds no elected office, no official title for that matter. He's a lobbyist, the president of an outfit called Americans for Tax Reform. He has been a central figure in this and every tax debate Washington has had for the last 20 year. And for those two decades his position on tax has been pretty simple. Don't raise them, not ever.

This time, though, he says the Senate tax deal even though it raises rates on wealthy Americans is kind of sort of OK and that's got some people puzzled.

And Grover Norquist joins us now. So you said that voting for this deal which increases taxes on households earning more than $450,000 annually would not violate your pledge that lawmakers made to their constituents. Help our viewers understand that because lawmakers who signed that pledge they promised to oppose any effort to increase income taxes -- tax rates for individuals, for businesses.


COOPER: So how does the fiscal cliff deal not violate that pledge?

NORQUIST: It's technically not a violation of the pledge. But I understand why a lot of Republicans had said, look, even though what's happening is the tax cuts disappear and we're restoring them for most people, so we're not raising taxes, we're actually cutting taxes --

COOPER: Because -- you're saying because the Bush tax cuts have expired yesterday.



COOPER: Just because -- so basically they expired yesterday, so technically these are still tax cuts?

NORQUIST: Correct. Now that -- I understand, and I understand if you're a congressman or senator you've got to go out and convince not me that you've technically not violated the pledge, you have to convince your constituents.

The promise that congressmen and senators make is to their voters, to their state. Not to me, not to Americans for Tax Reform, not to anybody else. To their voters. And they need to be able to say with a straight face they fought to protect those tax cuts for everyone and all the Republicans in the House have done that more than once. And that they're fighting to oppose any and all tax increases, period.

I think you can -- you can look your voters in the face and say, we voted to protect them for everybody. The Democrats won the Senate, wouldn't pass that bill. The president's in the White House. He'd veto that bill. Here's the best we can do right now and we continue to fight for everybody going forward.

COOPER: Is compromise really that dirty a word, though? I mean, doesn't -- for this country to move forward, for things to actually work, is this a good system? Is this a good -- to constantly have these -- you know, these brinkmanship, these battles that go late into the night? You know, then, this is just the beginning of it, this is not even the end of it. I mean -- you know, critics say your pledge limits the flexibility that member of Congress might -- Congress might otherwise have to make compromises.

NORQUIST: Well, OK, define compromise, OK? Richard Nixon and Ted Kennedy could compromise very easily. Richard Nixon wanted the government to get bigger and Ted Kennedy wanted it to get much bigger. And they compromised every year somewhere between bigger and much bigger, and each one said, see? I did the best I could.

Today, however, we have two parties that are no longer regional parties, north versus south, but actually committed to principles. The Democrats have an expansive view of the role of government. They want higher taxes in order to spend more money. The Republicans want lower taxes and spending less money.

If somebody wants to go east and somebody wants to go west, what would a compromise be? You -- I'm in favor of compromising in the direction of liberty. We had a compromise in 2011. Republicans wanted to cut spending $6 trillion, the Ryan plan, and we agreed to $2.5 trillion in spending cuts. That was a compromise. We wanted more spending, we got less because Obama wouldn't support more spending reduction.

So you can have compromise in the direction of liberty, but raising taxes and spending more money, which is what Obama wants to do is moving away from liberty, that's not compromising for the American people. That's losing.

COOPER: But, I mean, you're painting it in -- I mean in extraordinarily stark terms.

NORQUIST: Well, that's the two parties are extraordinarily want to go in two different ways. If you want bigger government versus smaller government, what would a compromise look like?

COOPER: Do you see any room in the Pentagon budget for cuts?

NORQUIST: Oh, yes, absolutely. Look, serious conservatives need to make it very clear that they -- that taxpayers, Republicans, conservatives are looking at the entire budget and saying where can we be more efficient and more effective? We have a rather large Pentagon budget, larger than most of the other counties in the world that have armies, navies and air forces all added together.

COOPER: Right, combined.

NORQUIST: And we should have a strong military. We've got to keep the Canadians on their side of the border. We ought to make sure nobody can throw a punch at us successfully, but to argue that we can't reform some of the pension questions and some of the contracting decisions that are made -- and the good news is the Republican caucus, the conservative caucus among Republicans, the Republican Study Committee leader Jim Jordan made the comment that while he was concerned about how the sequester might affect defense, he was more concerned that those cuts might not take place. That was part of the strong America is not to have this massive spending that we've been having.

COOPER: I'll have you on for another discussion on your concerns about the Canadian invasion maybe for another broadcast.

NORQUIST: We've got to keep an eye on them.


COOPER: I'm glad you raised the issue. We haven't focused enough on it.


NORQUIST: A-ha, you see?

COOPER: Yes. Grover Norquist -- Grover, thank you.

Well, let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

Coming up next, more on the vote coming up on the fiscal cliff bill and what Americans think of the mess in Washington. Charles Blow is here so is Ross Douthat, and our chief business correspondent Ali Velshi.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, the breaking news tonight, the fiscal cliff bill which sailed through the Senate, got stuck in the House, is now heading for a vote possibly in the 9:00 hour. Way too much drama for many Americans. While at some point this all starts to feel like a board game where a bunch of money is being pushed around by characters you don't know, there are very real consequences, one that you could see as early as tomorrow morning when the stock market opens.

Joining us now is chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi. Also from the left to the right respectively, "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow, and also Ross Douthat.

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Ross, let's start with you. House Republicans, they balked at this deal. Some of them had. Because it lacks spending cuts. But you say it's hard to see how Republicans can get much of a better deal now. How so?

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's just -- I mean, look, Republicans lost the last election. They don't control the White House, they don't control the Senate. The Bush tax cuts were going to expire no matter what. The president had campaigned pretty much consistently, repetitively and so on, on an upper class tax hike of some kind, so you were always going to have a situation where you had $700 billion, $800 billion in tax increases no matter what.

So given that reality the fact that Republicans in the Senate were able to negotiate the income threshold upward towards to $400,000 rather than $250,000 is pretty much as good a deal as Republicans are likely to get. And frankly it's not a good deal in any cosmic sense for Republicans but given the correlation of forces facing them, it's not a bad deal to walk away with especially since it's kind of a bad sign for the Democrats going forward that they felt the need to move the threshold from the $250,000 that the president had campaigned on upward to $400,000.

It's a sign that Democrats are still quite uncomfortable voting for tax increases with or without Republican support.

COOPER: Charles, what about that? I mean, President Obama clearly was campaigning on a tax increase for those making above $250,000. We heard that over and over again. As Ross has said, some liberals are really up in arms, concerned about what this means that shows that the president can be pushed around?

CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think to categorize that as any sort of cave or like massive sort of cave is a little bit off. You know, there are a lot of Democrats who were not necessarily comfortable with the $250 threshold. A lot of Democrats, particularly those who live in urban areas where people actually make a decent amount of money, they weren't necessarily stuck on the 250 as much as the president may have said that he was.

And so when he was able -- when he was willing to move that -- you know, the goal post from $250 to $400, and Democrats were able to fall in line behind that, I think that that is just a kind of political reality both on the left and on the right. So I think that that is actually kind of where people generally wanted to be anyway, a little bit higher than $250. But I do believe that what we're seeing is a collapse of the Republican Party's ability to be the party that we always thought that they were.

That they would always fall into line. That they would -- they wanted to win more than they wanted to hold their own personal position. So they would always fall into line. But that's what we're seeing the Democrats do now. Republicans cannot seem to pull it together enough to do anything. And that mean that we are now constantly in this -- the public is in this constant state of paralysis -- I mean, of panic because the Republicans are in a constant state of paralysis.

They cannot agree to anything even if it helps them. And that is, I think, where we are as a country.

COOPER: I want to bring in Ali, but Ross, just quickly on that point, does this say something about the Republican Party?

DOUTHAT: Well, sure, but it doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. That the Republican Party is a defeated party, it's a bit of a mess and the House Republicans don't really know -- I mean I think Charles is right, House Republicans didn't really have a good strategy in these negotiations. So I think John Boehner was doing the best he could with a restive caucus and ended up sort of punting it to the Senate and letting them come up with a deal. And then he spent today sort of letting his members vent and now it's probably going to pass. So I think -- I think Charles is right. But I think he's underestimating in certain ways how worried Democrats should be about the way this deal turned out. Because what he said about how lots of Democrats especially in wealthy urban areas and so on wanted a higher threshold, that's true, but what does it say for the Democrats if people in their own party can't -- you know, can't bring themselves to raise taxes.

BLOW: No, but -- Ross, Ross --


DOUTHAT: Here's my question. No, no, no, wait, Charles.

BLOW: I love the way you're --

COOPER: Let Ross finish.

DOUTHAT: How are you going to -- how are you going to pay in the long run over the next 25 years for Medicare, Social Security, the health care bill, and so on if you can't bring yourself to raise taxes on rich people in New York making $399,000 a year? How does the Democratic Party pull this off?

COOPER: All right. Charles, I want you to respond then I got to bring -- I want to bring Ali.

DOUTHAT: I'm sorry.

BLOW: First, I love when Ross talks like that, it's fantastic when he chastises the Republican Party. But I think, you know, moving that threshold I don't think is the whole thing. I do believe that we have to be open to the idea of cutting entitlements because I believe that the entitlements that need to be cut are things that the Republican base is more tied to than a Democratic base is because the bigger things are Social Security, Medicare. Elderly people invariably vote Democratic -- I mean, vote Republicans and the other --

DOUTHAT: It's not invariably.

BLOW: Yes, invariably. Every presidential election, they -- the Republicans win the elderly vote. And it -- the other big outstanding thing is defense spending. And so we cut the things that really contribute to the debt. Those are all really Republican interests.

COOPER: Ali --

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is a way better conversation than bringing me in. But anyway.

COOPER: Just -- put this in perspective for us.


COOPER: Because, I mean, first of all, this is -- this is not the end.


COOPER: I mean this thing ends tonight, gets voted on in an hour or so.

VELSHI: No. This is the New Year's fiscal cliff. We're going to have a Valentine's fiscal cliff which is the debt ceiling, then we have a St. Patrick's fiscal cliff which is the sequester, a stupid name for a stupid thing that's now been kicked off by two months. And then we actually do have to do a budget. So there are three more opportunities. Nobody gave up anything in this thing. And in fact, Ross is eloquent, but the fact is there wasn't much of a give-up on this -- on this moving the numbers up to $400,000 because the Democrats didn't put anything on the table.

So nobody's lost. This is a compromise. It is the puniest, smallest, most insignificant compromise you can have to -- prevent us from going over the fiscal cliff, which is very, very necessary. I hope it gets done in the next hour or so. But we will have three more of these conversations and many more late nights if we will go to the 11th hour again.

COOPER: And consequences if the House does not pass the Senate --

VELSHI: Well, we have a lot of problems if the House doesn't pass the Senate version tonight. We will see markets open up first thing tomorrow morning. They'll be punishing. You remember September 30th, 2008 when the TARP bill went before the House, it was defeated, and Dow lost 777 points.

That's not this. It's not going to be that serious. A lot of it, it's already been priced in. But the markets will be enforcers. The public will come out. This is just absolutely irresponsible. They've had 518 days to know that this day was coming. And now for people to be sitting around, you know, fascinated that we don't have a grand bargain, it's just -- it's a parallel universe -- Anderson.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Ali, thank you. Charles Blow, thank you very much. Good to have you on the program. Ross Douthat, as well, always good to have you on.

We're going to go back to Dana Bash in just a bit. She's working her very good sources, had some new information before the vote. Before that though, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as you know, is spending another night in the hospital as doctors treat a blood clot in her head. We're trying to find out what we can about her condition. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who of course is a neurosurgeon, is going to join us ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. Tonight doctors are keeping careful eye on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who remains hospitalized for a blood clot near her brain. She was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday, just as she was preparing to return to work after suffering a concussion in mid-December. It was during a follow-up exam for that concussion that her doctors discover the blood clot. This is not the first time she's been treated for a clot like this.

In 1988 while first lady, she developed a blood clot in her leg. This time it is a vein in her head. Her doctors are confident she'll make a full recovery. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is a neurosurgeon, joins me now. So a blood clot in the head sounds very serious.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, the big distinction is this clot inside a blood vessel or it is not? That's the first question that doctors are going to ask. If it's outside the blood vessel meaning the bled vessel has ruptured and you're accumulating blood outside the vessel, that's a bigger problem.

On this model, let's say you have a blood clot on top of the brain and putting pressure on the brain, that would obviously be a problem and something maybe that would require surgery. Most importantly you don't want to give blood thinner.

That would make that problem worse and burn a bridge in terms of possibly performing surgery should she need it. In her case, she actually has a blood clot inside one of the blood vessels that's in a vein that drains blood away from the brain.

You can see this blue area in here, those are veins. These veins take blood away from the brain. In her case is on the left side, but on this model, right about here, a clot is in this area. Think about this, you have blood going to the brain.

That same blood has to leave. If it's not leaving, the pressure builds up in the brain and that's what doctors are concerned about. It could lead to a stroke or other problems.

COOPER: I misspoke. I said '88 I believe it was '98 when she had the blood clot before. So how is this treated? I think they are giving her blood thinners now.

GUPTA: They gave her blood thinners and they hope that it eventually by thinning the blood that clot will start to dissolve and it will open up and allow the blood to drain. That can take some time. The issue you bring up about the blood clot in '98, it gives doctors the idea that she will be this person that is more likely to form clots.

COOPER: Why are some people more likely?

GUPTA: You know, we're constantly in a state of clotting and not clotting our body. You're doing it right now. I'm doing it right now, some people tip the balance a little bit more towards clotting.

COOPER: Clotting is --

GUPTA: Clotting just forming blood clots within the blood. So the blood is constantly circulating, which you can little clots. COOPER: Like a grouping of hardened blood or something?

GUPTA: If you cut yourself, you notice a clot that forms around the cut. Same kind of thing except that it's happening inside the blood vessel. She may be somebody who is more likely to clot. As a result of that and now this particular problem, she may need to be on the blood thinners for an even longer --

COOPER: If that doesn't work?

GUPTA: That's a very interesting question, Anderson. They do want to open up this particular blood vessel. What you may need to do if the blood thinners aren't working, put a little catheter, literally thread it up in the brain, an extraordinary procedure. You go in an area from the leg.

COOPER: From the leg through to the head.

GUPTA: You're threading it all the way up.

COOPER: Why do you have to go so far?

GUPTA: One of these blood vessels that you can access pretty easily. You have to find a place to get into the body easily and safely. You can thread it up and put some medication right on the clot.

COOPER: That's crazy that they can do that. That's amazing.

GUPTA: If that doesn't work, sometimes they'll literally take this corkscrew type device, put it into the clot and then pull the clot out of the body, a pretty extraordinary thing. Thankfully you don't have to do it very often. This problem we're describing in general is a pretty rare thing.

COOPER: Is that a risky thing, though?

GUPTA: It is risky. A challenging procedure and it's risky because this vein that I'm describing, it's a thin-walled structure.

COOPER: How much room are we talking about? How thin are these?

GUPTA: The blood vessel itself is really tiny, but the wall is like a piece of cheese. You don't want to cut it or open it up in some way because that would cause more bleeding.

COOPER: So when you're threading, how do you not poke through the wall?

GUPTA: You're literally threading it and watching this monitor simultaneously and basically guiding it by watching the monitor.

COOPER: That's incredible.

GUPTA: People train for years to do that kind of thing.

COOPER: Amazing. We obviously wish you the best. Sanjay, thank you very much. Amazing.

Let's take a look at some of the other stories we're following. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a New Year's Eve celebration turning to tragedy in the Ivory Coast. A stampede following a fireworks show killed at least 60 people, many women and children. The country's president is calling for three days of mourning and a speedy investigation.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un talking about ending confrontation with South Korea. In his first New Year's address, he spoke about the importance of reuniting the two countries and criticized the hostile policies of what he called anti-reunification forces in the south.

A flight struck another plane after landing at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. The plane carrying 162 passengers was taxiing when its wing hit the tail of an empty plane parked overnight. Spirit Airlines says no one was hurt.

Anderson, look at this, a wild scene caught on tape in New Zealand. A fisherman reeling in a small shark when his catch suddenly becomes bait for an even larger shark. It attacked, chomping down and triggering a tug of war with the fisherman. I would have said, you can have it.

COOPER: Amazing stuff. Isha, thanks.

Up next, my New Year's Eve partner for six years and running, the sweet and demure Kathy Griffin. Sweet and demure? Hardly. I laughed, I cried, curled up in a fetal position and wish I was home. Highlights next.


COOPER: Well, it is New Year's Day, and for me that typically means stepping over confetti and all sorts of stuff in the streets of New York and trying to feel OK about the 2-1/2 hour that I spent with Kathy Griffin in Times Square the previous night.

Kathy will be here once again to drag me from safe place in just a moment. But let's take a look at why I spent the night quietly rocking in a corner when I got home last night.


COOPER: Welcome, everyone, another year. And here we are again, Times Square, New York, and of course I'm here with Kathy Griffin.

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, our first guest, Rihanna.

COOPER: No. Rihanna is not one of our guests.

GRIFFIN: Rihanna is here tonight. You ready? Wherever we go -- COOPER: Whatever we do?

GRIFFIN: We're going to get through it --

COOPER: Together.

GRIFFIN: Islands in the stream that is what we are --

COOPER: No one in between. How can we be wrong?

GRIFFIN: Sail away with me to another world where we would lie on each other --

COOPER: That's not working for me. Let's move on. Someone on Twitter was saying there's going to be a drink game every time I giggle nervously.

GRIFFIN: I'm trying to get ratings, honey. Get yourself. Guess what I have? First of all, you know what I can't handle about you? When you act like something crazy didn't happen.

COOPER: Yes! Thank you.

GRIFFIN: You did it.

COOPER: Bring it on.

GRIFFIN: I'm bringing it. Ryan!

COOPER: You're on TV.

GRIFFIN: Hello. That was Ryan Seacrest and Psy behind us.

COOPER: Every year we usually put a sign on the camera just to remind Kathy no nudity. We'll be right back. So we're actually going to check in with Honey Boo Boo. Welcome. How's it going, you guys?


HONEY BOO BOO: Happy New Year!

COOPER: You cannot throw money into the crowd, seriously. At the stroke of midnight, this is an amazing place unlike any other place in the world that I've ever been. All right, Can I stop?

GRIFFIN: Don't let go. Don't let go, please. I need you.

COOPER: Please stop. So listen, I had fun.

GRIFFIN: I adore you. You know I do.

COOPER: The best of the New Year.


COOPER: Kathy Griffin joins me now live. I know after the broadcast --

GRIFFIN: Wow. Can we just talk about my lead-in tonight? Hillary's blood clot, fiscal cliff, Ali Velshi is actually seizing out in the hallway right now. I hope Sanjay is giving him some oxygen. What is going on here?

COOPER: Yes, I know. It's been a long night. We'll be live at 10:00.

GRIFFIN: OK, good. I'm here to solve the fiscal cliff. Let me ask you this because you're a newsman or you used to be. The fiscal cliff affects my Maserati how? Like do I trade it in for a ghost door phantom?

COOPER: You have (inaudible), don't you?

GRIFFIN: Do I keep the ghost or go for the phantom or what do you think is the best thing?

COOPER: You have a team of accountants.

GRIFFIN: This does affect only people who make $20 million a year, right?

COOPER: For those who make 400,000 to 450,000 and above. Your taxes will go up.

GRIFFIN: I'll give them right to Grover Norquist. That guy needs more money.

COOPER: I know after the show you usually talk to your mom and she gives a frank assessment of how things went.

GRIFFIN: There's a political term. What are you saying about the cliff, high, low, thumbs up, thumbs down, whatever.

COOPER: That's (inaudible) but --

GRIFFIN: Nice reference. And I love when you make fun of my "Brady Bunch" references. Anyway, it was a thumbs down for Maggie. My 92-year-old alcoholic mother and there was box wine involved. She did not care for my performance. She felt I was too vulgar and disgusting.

COOPER: I heard that.

GRIFFIN: That's been going around. However, Suzanne Somers wants me to be more vulgar. My mom has no money and Suzanne Somers has a billion dollars.

COOPER: Suzanne Somers late of the thigh master.

GRIFFIN: Could buy and sell you ten times over.

COOPER: My mom called after the broadcast.

GRIFFIN: Is she still talking to me?


GRIFFIN: Goodness.

COOPER: The strangest relationship. The weirdest moment for me, and I know there were a bunch, there were a couple. But the weirdest moment was Psy, the South Korean singer.

GRIFFIN: I spent all day with him today. We were boa shopping.

COOPER: He was on Ryan Seacrest's program.

GRIFFIN: Just don't say that. Don't say that name. That's a trigger for me and I could break something. Talk about a fiscal cliff. I'm going to throw Ryan Seacrest over that cliff.

COOPER: So Psy -- what?

GRIFFIN: First of all, the Psy PR team are geniuses. One minute he was singing --

COOPER: Then the next --

GRIFFIN: The song.

COOPER: He sang the song "Gangnam Style."

GRIFFIN: And what's his second hit?

COOPER: I don't know.

GRIFFIN: Then he was --

COOPER: Then he wanders on with MC Hammer who you and I don't recognize at all because I didn't know they had teamed up. Take a look at what happened.


GRIFFIN: Hi, how are you?

COOPER: Hi, how's it going? Nice to see you. Hi, hello.

GRIFFIN: Hi. Turn around. Say hi to the camera.

COOPER: I almost wore this. I was this close to wearing this.

GRIFFIN: This is not awkward at all. This is great. Hi, you guys did a fantastic performance. Anderson didn't mean those things. Isn't it great to be here?

COOPER: Happy New Year.


COOPER: We wish you the best.

GRIFFIN: I met you before. Nice to see you again. Keep doing your "Gangnam Style" or any style you choose. There's money coming out your butt at this point. You're printing money wherever you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means a lot coming from you.


COOPER: So that was my favorite moment.

GRIFFIN: You keep trying to break this down. I know you obsessed about it all night. You didn't go to bed until 5:00.

COOPER: Why was Psy here? He was pushed on by some PR team.

GRIFFIN: Thank you, Psy is here. Unexpected true raw moment.

COOPER: I don't think he knew where he was. I don't think he knew who we were. He didn't realize he was on CNN. He was just standing there. Kathy had been badmouthing Psy during his performance saying he's anti-American.

GRIFFIN: I heard he hates America.

COOPER: There was an incident in the past. Then you say to him -- so you first of all --

GRIFFIN: I wanted to throw you under the bus.

COOPER: You say I'm the one badmouthing him, which is not true.

GRIFFIN: That's like the fiscal cliff, a debate.

COOPER: He didn't have a mic on him, obviously. So when you say to him you're basically printing money out of your butt. He pauses and says, thank you, coming from you that means a lot.

GRIFFIN: Which is really true because coming from a lot of people it wouldn't have real meaning, but I put weight to an expression "you must be printing money out of your butt." it's a compliment. He has a hit song then of course a second song.

COOPER: He doesn't have a second song.

GRIFFIN: He doesn't need one. He's printing money -- I'm going to let you finish. Would you like to apologize for some things you did last night? I think you went too far.

COOPER: No. Time to wrap it up, isn't it?

GRIFFIN: Isn't it your big apology to America and Norway? And you will watch my special Thursday, January 3rd on Bravo, Kathy Griffin Kennedy Center Honors.

COOPER: How did they let you name it Kennedy Center Honors? GRIFFIN: This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I didn't get honored.

COOPER: The Kennedy Center isn't honoring you. Yet it is not even spelled Kennedy Center.

GRIFFIN: I lose to the Emmys to them every year.

COOPER: Like the Kennedy Center on err. I look forward to seeing you on the Kennedy.

GRIFFIN: Honors, which I practically won.

COOPER: Kathy, thank you.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, a dramatic rescue attempt on an icy lake. A man falls in, then some of the people trying to help him fall in as well. The whole thing captured on video. I will be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. We want to make sure the world does not forget about someone who for more than a year has repeatedly risked his life by talking to us from inside Syria. His name is Zaidoun Al Zawabi. He hasn't been seen since December 15th after he was taken away by secret police.

His family had told us that. They believe that Zaidoun and his brother are being held at the notorious Building 215, a facility in Damascus known for torture and abuse. The Facebook page demands their release in the hopes that someone in the regime will actually listen.

He risked his life more than a dozen times by calling us for interviews, always using his real name, in fact insisting on using his real name despite the brutality of Bashar Al Assad's regime. Here is one of the many times that he explained why he was so committed to speaking out. This is from back in March.


ZAIDOUN, SYRIAN ACTIVIST: If the government says good morning, I believe it is evening. This is exactly what I told Mr. Amman. If the government says good evening, I believe it is morning. They lie even if you ask them their names.

COOPER: We are seeing the bombing in Homs, we've seen attacks elsewhere. And we've heard of the deadly death toll for a year, for more than a year. Has the regime won? Has the regime effectively crushed the bulk of the opposition?

ZAIDOUN: No way. There is no way they win. There is here 23 million Syrian people who will win. There is no way we surrender. There is no way we give up. Finish. Kill as many as you want. We are here. We will stay forever. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Our thoughts are with Zaidoun and his family. I spoke at length with his cousin. We'll bring you that interview tomorrow on 360.

I want to check in some of the other stories we're following. Isha is back with another "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, police in California making an arrest in a deadly shooting at a New Year's Eve fireworks show in Sacramento. Police say a 22-year-old man opened fire following an argument. Two people died at the scene including one man who reportedly tried to break up that fight. Several others were wounded.

The family of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting survivor now putting plans to sue the state of Connecticut on hold. Their lawyer withdrawing papers after receiving hundreds of Facebook comments. The potential lawsuit alleged the state failed to protect the children.

A new club in Colorado catering to marijuana smokers opened their doors just in time to ring in the New Year. It's the state's first since passing an amendment legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Anderson, a wild scene in California caught on tape as a sledding trip nearly turned to tragedy. Several people rushing to the rescue of a man who slid into the water of an icy lake. The first person on the scene also fell in the water when the ice gave way under his feet.

He scrambled to save himself, but inadvertently pulls in another rescuer. The scene turned to chaos as large pieces of ice break apart. A crowd on the shore threw ropes and inflatable rings into the water and they managed to safely pull everyone to safety. The whole rescue taking about nine minutes, no word of any serious injuries.

COOPER: Thank goodness, it wasn't worse. Yes. Isha, appreciate that.

The House is getting ready to vote the put the fiscal cliff to rest, at least for the time being. Debate, as you can see, is under way. We'll get a quick update next.


COOPER: Sometime within the hour, if all goes according to plan, the House will vote on the tax bill that the senate overwhelmingly approved this morning. It hit a snag this afternoon, faced Republican rebellion. Now may pass if it passes with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.

Dana Bash is following late developments. She joins us from Capitol Hill. Dana, what's going on?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on right now is that we are seeing the beginning of the end. We're seeing the House in right now. They're starting what is a procedural debate to get to this final vote, which probably will be in the next hour, give or take a little bit.

It really depends on whether or not these House members want to have a little bit more time to debate on the floor or whether or not they are pretty much like everybody here, exhausted, and they want to take the vote, they know the end and they want to go home. That's what we're watching at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: It seems like they have enough votes to pass this, yes?

BASH: It does appear that way. And the reason is because it's going to likely be a healthy combination of Democratic and Republican votes. We really don't see a lot of bipartisan votes these days around here. We saw it big time last night in the Senate where this passed overwhelmingly, 89 votes.

It is likely to be that kind of a -- not that high of a threshold, but that kind of a Democratic/Republican hand in hand vote. We'll see Democrats peel off from the left, people who don't like this because they think that the tax cuts are extended on too many people that make too much money.

And we're going to see people peeling off on the right who think that the taxes are increased too much for the wealthy and there aren't enough spending cuts, but we do expect them to get the majority needed to pass this.

COOPER: I think it's important to focus on what this does and does not do. We talked about the tax increases for people making more than $400,000 and businesses, but in terms of spending cuts and sequestration, all of that doesn't get dealt with tonight.

That's two months from now. Dana, can you hear me? OK, clearly we lost Dana. This is just really the beginning -- the beginning of this debate. We're going to hear even when this passes tonight, assuming it passes tonight, there's still spending cuts to be dealt with debt to be dealt with.

Let's listen in on the House floor some of the debate going on right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Towards economic growth and the kind of prosperity that we want and that the American people deserve and it will create a greater degree of certainty. We all know that uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity and so making permanent --

COOPER: Dana is joining us again. Dana, this is just -- I mean, it ends tonight but just one element of it, spending cuts and the like, that's being dealt with months from now?

BASH: That's exactly right. A lot of important things are going to be -- kicking the can on these things. In a few months, we'll see these mandatory spending cuts being dealt with.

That is going to happen in two months and then of course, the debt ceiling. The nation is going to bumped up against the debt ceiling and that is going to have to be dealt with and like we talked about earlier that really is a big reason why Republicans think that they're going to move on in this. That's where they think that they have their big leverage.

COOPER: We're going to be back an hour from now. Another edition, a live edition of "360" at the top of the 10:00 hour. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now. Our coverage continues.