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THE SITUATION ROOM

No Budget Deal; Sinkhole Swallows Man; Horsemeat to Be Processed in US?; Keystone Pipeline Report Examined; Independent Lab Tests Alcohol Content in Budweiser; Sinkhole News Conference

Aired March 1, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: all politics, no progress, $85 billion in forced budget cuts kicking in tonight.

A key report on a massive and controversial oil pipeline in the United States. A sinkhole swallows a man sleeping in bed. We're standing by for a live news conference on what happened. And why horsemeat could soon be produced here in the United States. We're also investigating allegations of watered-down beer, putting Bud to the test.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, along with Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of this is necessary. It's happening because a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Obama speaking after an 11th-hour meeting with congressional leaders about those $85 billion in forced budget cuts that take effect tonight. Lots of politics, no progress. The drastic spending reductions that were designed to be unthinkable are now about to become reality.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us now.

Jessica, what's going on? What are you hearing over there?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president still has not signed that order that will trigger the spending cuts, but that will happen within the next six hours. Administration officials acknowledge there was no negotiating over any kind of a deal at this morning's meeting with congressional leaders. The two sides are just too far apart.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): Congressional leaders summoned to the White House for a last-minute meeting left less than an hour later with no deal. Soon after, the president came to the Briefing Room to give his side of the story. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of this is necessary. It's happening because a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.

YELLIN: At issue, Mr. Obama wants to raise some money by closing tax loopholes. Republicans want no new taxes. Instead, replace these unpopular cuts with more targeted cuts. Both sides are dug in. Mr. Obama insists he's done everything he can to reach a deal.

OBAMA: What more do you think I should do? OK. I just want to clarify. You know, because if people have a suggestion, I'm happy to -- this is a room full of smart folks.

YELLIN: Some in his own party have suggested the president could use the power of his office to pressure both sides to move past their lines in the sand.

(on camera): Couldn't you just have them down here and refuse to let them leave the room until you have a deal?

OBAMA: I am not a dictator. I can't have Secret Service block the doorway, right?

I understand. And I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that's been floating around Washington, that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right.

YELLIN: The president also tried to paint a picture of the spending cuts' impact.

OBAMA: Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work at the Pentagon, all will suffer significant pay cuts and furloughs.

YELLIN: The administration has come under fire for those warnings, including from New York's billionaire mayor.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: There's a lot of posturing, I'm going to lay off my employees unless you do something.

(on camera): What do you say to the people like Mayor Bloomberg, who think that the effects of spending cuts are being overstated by the administration?

OBAMA: The notion that my school for my children on an Army base might be disrupted because Congress didn't act, that's an impact. Now, Mayor Bloomberg and others may not feel that impact. I suspect they won't. But that family will.

YELLIN (voice-over): Zing. Still a careful balancing act for the president who is trying to keep public sentiment on his side over what could become a fiscal crisis.

OBAMA: This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said. It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now, Wolf, don't expect the president to spend the next few weeks crisscrossing the nation talking about these spending cuts or coming to the Briefing Room every day to wag his finger at Congress. This will not be that kind of showdown with Congress.

Instead, expect the president to move on and start talking about some of his other domestic priorities, including, for example, immigration reform. They don't want to lose sight of their broader agenda.

BLITZER: He's still got to sign that document implementing all this. He hasn't done it yet. But we assume it will be done within, what, the next few hours?

YELLIN: He has less than six hours. It should happen any minute now. I'm just checking to make sure we haven't gotten an e-mail. Not yet. But before 11:59 tonight and I suspect well before then, which will trigger another part of his government to send a notice to Congress and then the cuts begin.

BLITZER: Let us know when you get word that that document is signed, Jessica. Thanks very, very much.

All sides have basically thrown up their hands, given up. Members of Congress have gone home, leaving us to look ahead to the next crisis, Kate. It's not pretty.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: One crisis after another, Groundhog Day yet again.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, has been following all of this on Capitol Hill.

Dana, what are you hearing here? Where are we headed next?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You talked about this crisis. The president said again today, which is something he's said many, many times, which is he wants to stop careening from one crisis to another.

But the reality is that this budget process that's in effect is something that Congress put in place and the president signed into law. So we are going to have another crisis very soon, Washington drama, another one, is right around the corner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The House speaker walked out of an unproductive White House meeting about spending cuts going into effect now and instead focused on the next looming crisis, the end of this month, March 27, when funding for the government runs out.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm hopeful that we won't have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we're dealing with the sequester at the same time. The House will act next week and I hope the Senate will follow suit. BASH: John Boehner and House Republicans plan to pass a bill next week to keep the government funded through September 30, the end of the fiscal year, and along with that, deal with some of the pain from forced cuts going into effect now, just for the military, by giving the Pentagon some leeway in its new budget.

REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), TEXAS: It is going to help update the categories, which will reduce some of the damage.

BASH: But that does not necessarily mean crisis averted. Why? Congressional Democrats are skeptical about helping the military and not other Americans hit by spending cuts, like children in Head Start programs.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: We need to have programs in there that meet compelling human need, housing, education, health care. And we also need to look at transportation.

BASH: Senator Barbara Mikulski, who heads the committee in charge of spending, at work while most of her Senate colleagues are home for the weekend, expressed frustration that Congress is gone.

MIKULSKI: I'm here. I'm ready to go. I'm waiting for the photo-op back at the White House to come here to give me instructions.

BASH: Speaking of Congress skipping town, the president took note of the empty Capitol while trying to put real live faces on spending cuts.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now that Congress has left, somebody's going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage. They're going to have less pay, the janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut. And they have to figure out how to manage that.

BASH: But we checked on that. And it turns out the president was not exactly right. The Senate sergeant at arms told CNN neither Capitol Police nor janitors will see salaries slashed, only limited overtime. The only announced effect so far at the Capitol is some entrances will close, a small inconvenience to lawmakers and their aides.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: When it comes to the prospects for a government shutdown, the president was pretty optimistic that that is not going to happen. Wolf and Kate, I was told here in Congress, at least by Senate Democrats, that they took it as a sign that they're going to have to try to find a way to bridge their differences over these budget priorities, which are no small thing with House Republicans.

BOLDUAN: Yes, because, Dana, the president and Speaker Boehner, they did seem to agree within on one point today, that neither of them wanted to see the government shut down. That goes without saying. But this is another situation, right, where the devil is in the details on how they get past that.

BASH: Absolutely, absolutely.

The differences do seem more bridgeable than what we're seeing with these forced spending cuts, which is a real philosophical divide between tax increases and spending cuts. It's more about priorities and about what you want to spend money on and how you want to do that.

But, still, there are philosophical differences. You get the sense, as I said, though, that there's more of a desire to fix it because it's one thing to see $85 billion in spending cuts that will go over the year. It's another thing to see most of the entire federal government shut down. It's very different.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: That's not going to happen this time. Both sides have determined the government will stay open. Won't be pretty, but there's not going to be a government shutdown. The Republicans certainly remember what happened in the mid-'90s, when there was a government shutdown. Newt Gingrich was speaker. Didn't exactly work out.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Exactly. And Democrats are also a little skeptical. It's historically a political jump ball whether or not it will hurt one party or the other.

BOLDUAN: All right, Dana, another crisis we will be watching. Dana Bash, thanks so much.

We're also tracking, though, what could become a major winter storm dumping snow all the way from the West Coast to the East, possibly bringing blizzard conditions.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

BLITZER: Horsemeat, guess what, made in the United States -- why one slaughterhouse may soon get a green light.

And we're standing by for a news conference on that sinkhole that swallowed a man in Florida sleeping in his bed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's a massive oil pipeline that would cut the U.S. in two from north to south, carrying 830,000 barrels a day from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and create 5,000 construction jobs.

But there are some major environmental concerns about what's called the Keystone pipeline. And the State Department has been studying those concerns for a year. Now its report is out saying -- and I'm quoting now -- "The analyses of potential impacts associated with construction and normal operation of the proposed project suggests that there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route."

Let's get some more now from CNN contributor Van Jones, a former special adviser on these kinds of issues to President Obama.

Van, thanks very much for coming in.

The report suggests, at least the summary from the State Department, that the pipeline won't be harmful. It sets the stage for potentially the president to approve this. What's your reaction?

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is a shockwave going through the environmental community right now, the scientific community right now.

There are still a few more steps along the way here. There's going to be a 45-day period for people to respond to this. But this is a shocker. First of all, it shoves the president in the direction of approving a pipeline. If this thing is approved, you're talking about tar sand -- not oil, tar sand coming from Canada across the United States. We already had a tar sand spill in Michigan four years ago. They have spent almost $1 billion trying to clean that mess up.

They can't clean it up. Tar sand is the most corrosive, nasty fuel on the Earth. You are going to have a pipeline coming down to that. Worse than that, though, this causes the president's environmental base to go nuts. He just gave this beautiful speech about climate and how we're not going to let the Earth get cooked. And the first thing that comes out of the State Department is we're going full speed ahead on tar sands. This is a big deal.

BOLDUAN: Explain real quick tar sands and why that's such a concern.

JONES: This is not normal oil.

First of all, tar sands is about 20 percent dirtier when it comes to climate change and climate impacts. But it's worse than that. It's very corrosive. They have spills all the time in Canada. You might ask the question, why don't they just pipe it out of Canada, as opposed to piping it through the U.S.?

Nobody in Canada wants this stuff because they have seen spill after spill after spill. It's corrosive, it leaks. When it hits the water, you don't know how to clean it up. It's not like normal oil. This is the dirtiest, most dangerous fuel. There's a myth that's been perpetuated that the State Department has bought into saying Canada's going to develop it anyway. We may as well go ahead and do it ourselves.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Clearly, you have not been a fan of this project really from the beginning. You have been very outspoken about it.

But if the president comes out in support of the pipeline and he says it should move forward and you see these reports that say there would be no significant impact on the environment, would that convince you? Would you support the president?

JONES: Well, I wouldn't, but I will tell you why. The only thing that the proponents of this pipeline agree on and the opponents agree on is that the pipeline is a big deal.

It would dramatically accelerate tar sands development. That's the only thing we both agree on. This report says, it actually won't accelerate things at all. That's not true. I think what you have got now, you're going to have a 45-day period. You're going to see tremendous opposition from the environmental community. The State Department has a chance to correct this over 45 days. Then they have got to make another determination whether or not this is in the national security of the U.S.

I think, there again, there's a myth that says this oil's going to come to the United States, give us a lot more oil here. That's a myth. It's going through the United States to China. We won't get a drop of it. We risk our water, risk our farmland, and get no oil. Bad deal for America.

BLITZER: A lot of people think it's a very good deal for America, Van, including the speaker of the House of Representatives, among others. He just issued a statement.

This is John Boehner. "Today's report again makes clear there is no reason for this critical pipeline to be blocked one more day. After four years of needless delays, it is time for President Obama to stand up for middle-class jobs and energy security and approve the Keystone pipeline."

Thousands and thousands of well-paid construction jobs. It would help the United States become more energy independent, if you will, less dependent on oil from the Middle East, shall we say, other places. A lot of people think your concerns are way, way overblown.

JONES: There are two myths here. And I think it's important.

At first, they said there's going to be 100,000 to 500,000 jobs. There's a lot of jobs to say no to. This report now says something like 3,900, 3,900 temporary jobs. That's interesting.

Then they say this is going to help America with our energy independence. But it turns out the pipeline takes it through America, not to America, and then sends it to China.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It doesn't necessarily have to go to China. It could stay right here in the United States. There's no mandate that it has to go to China. They can sell it to distributors in the United States.

JONES: Then why bring it all the way down to the Gulf Coast?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Because they could also sell it overseas, and it could be a huge net profit for the United States in terms of creating jobs by increasing exports, in this particular case of oil.

JONES: This is a foreign corporation. This is not an American company. This is a Canadian foreign company that's going to actually take land from American farmers and then send the dirtiest form of energy through America overseas.

But here's the deal. This is now going to be game-on for the president. The president is going to have to make a decision now. On the one hand, there are arguments that are proving to be inflated about job creation. There's not 100,000 jobs, not 200,000. His State Department says less than 5,000 temporary jobs.

But more importantly, what happens if you have got the Obama pipeline? Now it's the Obama pipeline. And it leaks? His legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history. He's got to make a tough choice. Tough choice for the president.

BOLDUAN: But, Van, that is a lot of ifs. You're saying if this happens and if this happens.

But I do have a question about the president and his policies. You heard the president during his inauguration and he made a very big deal and a very strong statement about climate change during his speech. If he backs this pipeline, do you think this undermines his argument?

JONES: That speech brought tears to my eyes, a lot of people's eyes, people around the world.

If after he gave that speech after his inauguration, the first thing he does is approve a pipeline bringing tar sands through America that frankly they leak all the time in Canada, there's no reason they're not going to leak here, the first thing that pipeline runs over is the credibility of the president on his climate policy.

What is the go-forward strategy on climate now? You have got -- you may have a situation. It's hard to tell. Has the administration made a decision they're going to give the right rhetoric to the environmentalists but the desired results to big oil, big polluters?

If so, this president is trying to straddle something that may prove a very, very difficult thing for him in 2014.

BLITZER: Because the alternative, what a lot of experts say is the Canadians, as you know, you don't believe this, but they are going to build that pipeline to the Pacific, sell the oil to China and other customers out there. The U.S. gets nothing out of it, gets no energy independence, gets no jobs, gets no money in the process. You're willing to take that chance?

JONES: Here's the thing.

If they could do that now, they would do it. Here's what's not being reported on. The people in Canada are up in arms. They have stopped development to the east. They have stopped development to the west. The tar sands either stay in the ground or they come through America. Otherwise, they wouldn't be spending more than $1 billion to bring it through and millions of dollars lobbying. This is key for tar sands development. And the climate scientists have said -- and this is not Van Jones -- this is climate scientists -- they say if we develop these tar sands, there's so much carbon pollution there, it will be game over for the climate. It's like lighting the fuse on a carbon bomb. It's very important that we take this serious...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: One final question, Van.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Do you know how many oil pipelines that are already throughout the United States right now, how many thousands of miles of oil pipelines there are? This would just be an additional oil pipeline.

JONES: Carrying tar sand, the most corrosive, acidic form.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Aren't there a lot of oil pipelines carrying exactly the same kind of oil already in existence all over the United States?

JONES: No, in fact, there's not.

And the one that we had in Michigan in Kalamazoo leaked and we spent almost $1 billion in four years and we still haven't cleaned it up. That's a fact.

BLITZER: All right, you might be, Van -- and I know you support the president. You worked for the president. But in the coming weeks, maybe months, you might be deeply disappointed if he goes forward. That's what I hear you saying.

JONES: This is why you have presidents, so you don't have bureaucrats doing dumb stuff. Presidents should step up and lead. The Obama tar sands pipeline should not be the legacy of the president who gave that speech.

BLITZER: Van Jones, got strong views on this subject. Let's see what happens. I suspect the president may make a different decision than Van Jones has in mind. That's just my suspicion. But we shall see.

Thanks, Van.

JONES: We will see. Thank you, Wolf.

BOLDUAN: I'll tell you, statement after statement was popping into my e-mail inbox as soon as that draft report came out that Don Lothian was talking about. Republicans very excited and saying, this is no longer a political football and it shouldn't be, if it has. They say it's a no-brainer. It should go ahead. Clearly passions on either side.

BLITZER: Yes, obviously.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

Still ahead, a sinkhole underneath this house we're showing you right here swallowed a man sleeping in his bed. We're standing by for a news conference from rescuers. That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Concern over horsemeat-tainted food is exploding right now in Europe. But right now here in the United States, animal rights activists are outraged over word that U.S. officials may give the green light to horsemeat processing at home.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): horsemeat-tainted food, it caused an uproar in Europe. It's not supposed to be sold for human consumption in the U.S., but thanks to Congress and the federal Department of Agriculture, horsemeat could soon be produced here for export. And the Humane Society says it could end up once again on the menu in America.

KEITH DANE, HUMANE SOCIETY: There are certainly people who want us to eat horsemeat and are trying to shove that down our throats, literally. But as has happened in Europe, if horsemeat makes its way into the food chain, masquerading as beef, how will we know until after the fact?

JOHNS: The Humane Society provided us with video of horses said to be on the way to the slaughterhouse in Mexico and Canada. It's arguing in legal documents that horses are not raised as food in the U.S. and that they're giving a lot of drugs that might be bad for humans to ingest.

(on camera): For years, Congress banned the USDA from inspecting horsemeat. But it lifted the ban in 2012. In 2012, a slaughterhouse in New Mexico stopped slaughtering cows to prepare to process horsemeat, but found itself tied up in bureaucratic red tape. So it used USDA to start inspections.

And why didn't the agency do anything?

(voice-over): The lawsuit says USDA officials repeatedly made statements saying this issue is -- quote -- "political" and relied upon that as the reason they failed to act on getting requests to get inspections going.

But now the Agriculture Department is apparently changing its tune, saying it's got to get inspectors up to speed and in place. But otherwise, the department will have no choice but to go forward with inspections, which is why we urge Congress to reinstate the ban.

Of course, as a conversation topic, horse meat as food generates a lot of strong opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're killing enough animals that we can feed the nations other than killing the horses. So I think it should be banned. We don't need more meat. I think we're eating enough meat. We don't have to kill more.

AMI GARMON, CONSUMER: I live in Europe. We eat horse meat a lot. I have to admit, the first time that somebody gave me a sandwich -- I'm a dancer and I was on tour. And somebody said, "Here, have a sandwich." And I said, "Oh, my God, this is really, really delicious." Then they told me it was horse meat. I promptly got rid of it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: The owner of the plant in New Mexico told me on the phone that he's lost a lot of money waiting for the Agriculture Department to act. He measures his losses in the millions. But if USDA approves his application, he says he could be up and running in about two months.

BLITZER: Joe Johns, thanks very much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Joe.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: There's about to be a news conference down in Florida on this sinkhole that literally swallowed a man as he was sleeping overnight. John Zarrella is standing by. We're getting -- standing by for this news conference -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it's just now getting under way. And we're getting some opening remarks here. We also expect to hear from Doug Duvall, who was the deputy, the sheriff's deputy who was the first on the scene here. You can hear it now.

MIKE MERRILL, COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY: For that reason, we're being very deliberate. And I understand that being deliberate is very painful to the folks who've experienced a loss today. They would like us to go in quickly. They would like us to locate Mr. Bush. But as I told the family earlier, the only thing that would be worse than what they're feeling now for their loss would be to experience additional human loss. And I cannot in good conscience have additional people on this site when I'm being told that it's seriously unstable.

So that's the dilemma. That dilemma is a very painful dilemma for everyone. We're very frustrated. But we're pursuing it as quickly as we can, as safely as we can.

Now, in a minute I'm going to introduce our fire chief, Ron Rogers. He can give you more details. And then we also have representatives of the county's independent engineers who have been studying the site. Again, I will say, we're doing everything we possibly can. Now, I know that you are all very interested in what's happening here. You have a job to do, I understand that. I would simply ask you to respect the feelings and the privacy of the families and the neighbors who are going through a terrible time. I spent some time with them before I came over here, and they're very distraught. While you're getting your story and doing your job, please respect their privacy, respect the painful time that they're going through.

At this point, I will turn over the presentation to our fire chief, Ron Rogers. And he can answer some of your more detailed questions. Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MERRILL: Last name is Merrill, M-E -- double R -- I -- double L. Mike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)First name?

MERRILL: Mike. Michael. And again, I'm county administrator for Hillsborough County, and it's Mike Merrill, M-E -- double R -- I -- double L. Thank you.

RON ROGERS, FIRE CHIEF, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY: Good evening, everyone. Again, I'm Ron Rogers. I'm the fire chief for Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue.

The information that we have, in addition to what Mr. Merrill shared with you, as he said, we're still trying to define the scope of this cavern that's under the ground here. We're trying to determine what, if anything, we can do to try and get into the structure or determine whether we can even enter the structure or do anything with it.

At this point, as the engineers will share with you in a few moments, this is a very complex situation. It's a very complex collapse. It's continuing to evolve, meaning the ground is continuing to collapse. And they just -- they can't give us any answers right now on when we can get in there and if we can get in there.

I do want to share with you, we have the deputy here tonight that was the one that went in and rescued the brother who was attempting to rescue Mr. Bush.

And I do want to bring up Deputy Duvall.

DOUGLAS DUVALL, DEPUTY, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: My name's Douglas Duvall with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. I was the first one on the scene as far as the first responders go.

The basics of it, which you guys already all know, when I arrived, the family was outside. I entered the house. We really didn't know what was going on from our dispatch call. All we had was a 911 call that had the basic layout that somebody was trapped under a house.

When I went into the house, the family was outside. Everybody was upset. I entered -- I went into the hallway and when I turned into the bedroom, the only thing that I saw was a hole. And the hole took the entire bedroom.

I looked down, and I saw Mr. Bush, Jeremy Bush, in the hole. And he was on the sides trying to get out. The deepest part of the hole, as I was looking, you could see the bed frame, the dresser, everything was sinking. I reached down around forearm level, kind of like you're sticking your hand into the floor, got Mr. Bush by his hand, and pulled him out. I looked and saw no one else in the hole. We turned and we left.

I was met by Hillsborough County Fire. One of their engines arrived, and a crew member got off, came inside. We went back, and he assessed it was a sinkhole. And they closed the house off because of the safety of it. The sinkhole was still collapsing, and it wasn't safe for anybody else to go in.

ROGERS: We'll do questions in a moment.

We'll take questions in a moment. I next want to bring up Bill Bracken, one of our structural specialists with our urban search and rescue team. And he's going to give you some information on what they have found so far.

BILL BRACKEN, STRUCTURAL SPECIALIST, URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM: Good morning. I'm sorry. Good evening. My name is Bill Bracken. And I'm with Bracken Engineering, and I'm here on behalf of Hillsborough County's urban search and rescue team. I was one of the responders last evening. And I can basically brief you on last night and what we have done through the day today.

Last evening, when we got to the site, there was a hole in the ground, and the entire bedroom floor was missing. It had fallen into the hole. There was nothing visible. Everything had been pulled down into the sand.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, that hole went from about 15 feet deep to about 25 feet deep. The hole did not change in diameter. It still remains at about 20 to 30 feet in diameter.

What has happened over the course of the day is it is continuing to deepen. And anything that falls in there, as items continue to fall in from the house, get pulled down in.

The objective today was to determine what was safe, how far we could approach it. How close we could get to approach it. So as to determine what we could do to begin to extricate.

What we discovered through the course of the testing that went on all day today, both through ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and then a cone penetrometer, was that there is a very large, very fluid mass underneath this hour, making the entire house and the entire lot dangerous and unsafe; unsafe for any type of equipment or any type of vibration. That's going to severely limit what we're doing.

So at this point, we are still trying to determine the extent and the nature of what's down there so that we can best determine how to approach it and how to extricate.

As far as describing what we have found and what is down there, I'm going to leave that to Mr. Madrid, who we brought in as a recognized sinkhole -- specialist in the field of sinkholes.

LARRY MADRID, PRESIDENT, MADRID ENGINEERING GROUP: Thank you, Bill. My name is Larry Madrid. I'm president of Madrid Engineering Group. And we've investigated several thousand subsidence situations with houses and other buildings in Florida. So I'm familiar with this situation.

But this is actually unprecedented. The investigation in so far to determine what is happening down below the ground, we have determined that it is a sinkhole that has caused this. We've determined that there was an initial collapse, followed very shortly by another collapse. And we have noticed movement in the ground since then. As Bill said, the hole, it has gotten deeper.

We've investigated around the building, because we can't get into the building right now, due to the potential for a sudden collapse. The reason there is a potential for sudden collapse is because we know that the side slopes of the hole is still very steep. And the soil is extremely soft, based on the soundings that we've done in the front and the back of the house.

This tells us that, eventually, the sinkhole will continue to grow as the sides begin to slough -- material will slough into the hole, and the sides will begin to be a flatter slope. The soil cannot hold the slope that it has right now. So we do expect the sinkhole to continue to grow.

The investigation will continue to find the limits and delineate the extents of the soft zone.

We do know that, at both the front and the back of the house, there's approximately 25 feet of surficial sand that is in a soft condition or loose condition. Below that, from about 25 to 55 feet, perhaps as much as 60 feet, we're finding a clay, silty sand that is in a very, very soft condition.

We've also measured the water pressure. And there's indications that there is movement continued, based on the water pressure.

Finally, limestone was encountered below a depth of 57 feet in the two borings.

We're going to continue to investigate so that we can find the edge of this and allow equipment to be placed on the safe edge for additional investigations. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. So there you see what's going on. John Zarrella is on the scene for us.

John, unprecedented sinkhole. You've covered a lot of these over the years. This is huge, and it seems to be growing. And that's why they're so reluctant to get anywhere inside that house right now. ZARRELLA: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf. And I think that a couple of the key things that they said during the press conference was that it is very unstable, that they don't know when or if they will be able to get into that house, that the cavern continues to grow. It's continuing to expand. It is getting deeper and deeper, you know, started out at 15, 20 feet. Now it's 25 feet deep.

And they brought all of this equipment in, Wolf, to try and measure the surrounding area. And as you heard him say, this engineer, that there is soft sand, that the edges of the sinkhole are very, very steep, and that the soft sand cannot contain the steepness, which means that ultimately it will continue to expand out until it reaches the edges of that soft sand. And that's what they're trying to determine, how far out will it go to where it is finally stable?

But, you know, the news coming out here tonight that it is still a very unstable situation, and that is why they are not sending anyone else in there. They're not going to try and go in there, because they do not want to risk losing anyone else's life.

BOLDUAN: And clearly -- and clearly this man, Jeff Bush, is feared dead at this point, as they have said. But, John, for our viewers, remind us...

ZARRELLA: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: ... why this area is at risk of sinkholes.

ZARRELLA: Sure.

BOLDUAN: This is -- this is something that does happen in this area, this suburban area of Tampa.

ZARRELLA: Well, not just there, all over Florida, Kate. Florida sits on several thousand feet of limestone. It can be very porous in places. We have aquifers under the ground here that supply much of the groundwater. And when you get groundwater that is running through some of the porous limestone, what happens is over time, it can get eaten away and eaten away, and then you end up with a cavern. And then you end up with a collapse.

It's strictly geology. It's what Florida is sitting on. The bedrock that Florida's on is limestone. And this is what can happen.

BOLDUAN: All right. John Zarrella following it for us. Bring us any updates as they come, John. Thanks so much.

BLITZER: You go to sleep at night, you're sleeping -- all of a sudden...

BOLDUAN: And they're -- his brother and other people, including a 2- year-old were in the house at the time. Everyone was in danger. And clearly, this one man, Jeff Bush, 37 years old, is feared dead.

And we should tell you that the brother of this victim, Jeff Bush, we talked about his family's -- the brother of this man talked about his family and the nightmare and the emotion in a very emotional interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. And that will be coming up. You can see the full interview on "AC 360," 8 p.m. this -- this evening.

What a horrific day for that family.

BLITZER: All right. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, a very, very different story. Watered-down Budweiser. A lawsuit says it contains less alcohol than advertised. We're going to put the beer to the test ourselves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following allegations that the maker of Budweiser is watering down its beer, as a cluster of lawsuits accusing Anheuser- Busch of overstating the amount of alcohol, violating consumer protection laws.

Guess what? Brian Todd, you have been investigating. You've got some exclusive results. Tell our viewers what you found.

BOLDUAN: What is it?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Kate, these results, these lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch have generated so much controversy that we decided to do our own independent testing of alcohol levels in Anheuser-Busch products. We did that. These are the results. And the question now is, do they move the needle in this legal action?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): An independent lab in San Diego, White Labs, tested four Anheuser-Busch beers for us.

For Budweiser, the label says it's 5 percent alcohol by volume. The actual alcohol level in the bottle tested by White Labs, 4.94 percent.

For Bud Light, the label says 4.2 percent. The alcohol level in our test, 4.14 percent.

Bud Light Lime, on the label, 4.2 percent. Our test came back at 4.13 percent alcohol by volume.

And for Bud Ice, the label says it's 5.5 percent alcohol. Our tests showed 5.35 percent.

This report is only representative of one can of each brew that was tested. It cannot be used to generalize all lots and batches of this beer.

The key question: Do those levels meet U.S. government standards for accuracy on the labels? It appears they do. An official at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which tests beers, tells us the actual alcohol levels have to come within three-tenths of one percent of what's on the label. And all those results are within that span. (on camera): Our samples ran through what's called an Anton Paar alcolyzer, a sophisticated device used by brewers and testing labs to measure alcohol by volume in each sample. It is said to be accurate to within one or two hundredths of a percent.

(voice-over): The lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch says the alcohol content is "significantly lower" than what's displayed on the labels. The plaintiff's attorneys say they believe a typical bottle of Bud has 4.7 percent alcohol. As for our tests, showing it's higher...

JOSH BOXER, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFFS: The most accurate data, as we've discussed, is going to come from Anheuser-Busch, because they do their testing six times per second. And they use different technology, in fact, than the laboratory you used.

TODD: Technology, they say, that's more sophisticated than what we used.

For beer drinkers, what do the test results mean? At the Bier Baron Tavern in D.C., I spoke with "Washington Post" beer columnist Greg Kitsock.

(on camera): When it's supposed to be 4.2 percent on the label for, say, a Bud Light Lime, is it a big difference to a drinker if it comes in at, say, 4.13 percent, which this does?

GREG KITSOCK, BEER COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, my answer would be that it may be a big difference to some drinkers, but it shouldn't be. That is such a small amount of alcohol. I mean, what is it, enough to get a fly drunk? I don't think you could really detect the difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Anheuser-Busch responded to CNN's lab tests by saying, quote, "The sample test results you provided are well within the variability of the all-natural brewing process and all in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws." The company again said to us today these lawsuits are groundless, and the claims are false.

BLITZER: I read "The Washington Post." I never knew they had a beer columnist.

TODD: A beer columnist. I learned that today.

BOLDUAN: If I don't show up, you know where I'm headed.

BLITZER: Beer columnist.

BOLDUAN: Beer columnist.

BLITZER: Senior beer columnist.

BOLDUAN: You can only -- only aspire.

BLITZER: Thank you. BOLDUAN: Good stuff, Brian. Great job.

BLITZER: The governor of Michigan announces plans for an emergency takeover of Detroit. We'll take a look at that. Some of the day's other top stories.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The governor of Michigan makes a major move concerning the future of the city of Detroit. Kate's got that and today's other top stories.

BOLDUAN: Yes. This is a big story, and you know I love Detroit, Wolf.

Detroit is just about broke, though, so today Michigan's governor, Rick Snyder, took drastic action. He announced that he will appoint an emergency manager to run the city government. That manager will have the power to cut spending and throw out city contracts, if necessary.

And it was a picture-perfect liftoff, but there was some trouble today for the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule. The unmanned spacecraft is preparing to fly to the International Space Station. SpaceX said three of the four thruster pods on the capsule, which are needed to get it to the space station, were not working for a time. But the problem has been fixed, but it will delay docking with the station by about one day.

And the F-35 is back in the air. The Pentagon has cleared the fighter jet to take to the skies once again. The F-35s were grounded just last week after engineers discovered a crack in an engine component during a routine inspection. The jets were inspected, but no other cracks were found.

At $400 billion, the F-35 fleet is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons system it's ever had. A lot of controversy surrounding that plane.

Coming up, we'll show you an awesome play you have to see to believe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: So every now and then, there are sports plays that are unlike anything you have ever seen before. This had a lot of people talking on the newsroom. Check out this play made by a North Carolina state baseball player.

It looks like the batter has an easy double, but outfielder Brett Williams dives full speed. Wait for it. Whoa! And actually flips in the air as he makes that spectacular -- so scary -- catch. Clearly, a one-of-a-kind kind of a catch.

Wolf, do you think you can pull that off?

BLITZER: No. That is a great, great catch. That's a top play. BOLDUAN: It looks not real.

BLITZER: "Sportscenter." That's a top play.

BOLDUAN: That's a top play on "Sportscenter."

BLITZER: Guess how many steps I did today?

BOLDUAN: This is Wolf's new thing. We're trying to stay healthy.

BLITZER: I'm going to tell you right now: 13,000.

BOLDUAN: He's got a thing to count his steps.

BLITZER: Thirteen thousand.

BOLDUAN: I've got 14,000 steps today.

BLITZER: All right. That's it for us. Thanks very much for joining us. You can follow us on Twitter: @WolfBlitzer, @KateBolduan.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," she starts, guess when?

BOLDUAN: Right now.