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Eleven Days Until Possible Government Shutdown; GOP in Disarray over Threat of Shutdown; Kerry: U.N. Report Proves Assad Guilty; Facebook Chief Lobbies Washington

Aired September 19, 2013 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Federal government offices and programs closed, museums and parks shuttered, hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed without pay -- that's the hard reality of a government shutdown. And it's now potentially only 11 days away.

House Republicans are poised to pass a bill tomorrow that funds the government while defunding ObamaCare. But with no chance of passing the Senate or getting a presidential signature, it sets the stage for a shutdown that could wind up costing the nation billions and billions of dollars.

CNN's Athena Jones begins our coverage from the White House -- Athena, this has certainly sparked some sharp infighting among Republicans.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. It has. And this fighting within the Republican Party is now raising more questions today about whether these lawmakers are ever going to get together on a deal that would keep the government running.

JONES (voice-over): The battle lines over a government shutdown have been drawn, with House Republicans planning a vote to block ObamaCare as part of a bill to keep the government running past September 30th.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's going to raise costs. It's destroying American jobs. And it must go.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can't get 100 percent of what it wants.

JONES: But it's not just the White House and Republicans at war, it's the GOP at war with itself. After the House speaker announced the plan Wednesday, Senate Republicans, including Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who has vowed to fight the health care law, said they don't have the votes to pass the House bill.

While factually correct, those words sparked outrage among House Republicans. Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy Tweeting that Cruz and others "refuse to fight, wave white flag and surrender," pushing Cruz to promise Thursday to block any Senate bill that removes the provision defunding ObamaCare.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund ObamaCare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A filibuster?

CRUZ: Yes. And anything else.

JONES: Meanwhile, Republican strategist Karl Rove is warning the GOP's strategy will only hurt the party. And Democrats are warning the Republican disarray is bad for the economy.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It would be good political theater to watch them self-destruct -- and that's what they're doing -- if there were not so much at stake.

JONES: It's not just a fully functioning government at risk here. House Republicans have said they'll link raising the nation's debt limit to stopping ObamaCare.

The president has said he won't negotiate.

BOEHNER;. While the president is happy to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, he won't engage with the Congress.

JONES: So far, the White House's strategy has been to continue to point the finger at Republican lawmakers.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's unconscionable to imagine that there are those in the Congress, and now, apparently because he couldn't persuade them otherwise, the speaker of the House has joined them, who believes that it is the right thing to do to threaten another recession over their ideological desire to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JONES: Now time is not on Congress' or the White House's side right now. With that September 30th deadline to avoid a shutdown in mind, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president does plan to speak with Congressional leaders in the coming days to try to work out a deal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Athena, thank you.

Sean Duffy, by the way, the congressman you heard in Athena's report, he'll be joining me later this hour, together with Peter King. They disagree on some strategy, some tactics in this whole debate.

Meanwhile, opponents of ObamaCare are targeting young people with some rather controversial ads. The creators themselves call the ads "creepy" and they're designed to try to persuade people not to sign up for the health insurance programs under the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

CNN's Renee Marsh reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dueling videos on both sides of the health care debate. And on the opposing side, the videos are pushing the envelope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM GENERATION OPPORTUNITY VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's have a look.

MARSH: Just days before Americans begin to enroll for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act, self-described libertarian group, Generation Opportunity, released two Web videos, hoping to convince people not to enroll.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Lucas Baiano helps conservative politicians use viral videos to get their message out. He says the ads targeting 18 to 29 year olds, could change enough minds to make a difference.

LUCAS BAIANO, POLITICAL ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: In the YouTube society that we live in, it's important to continuously produce content that's going to be innovative in some technique. And this is one aspect that does that, where it's disturbing and new and fresh. Because if you just stay below the bar and put something out that's very standard, it won't fly and it won't resonate.

MARSH: One ad tracking agency says ads opposing the Affordable Health Care Act outnumber those for it by five to one.

But as the clock ticks and critical deadlines for implementation of the law fast approaches, ads encouraging people to enroll are showing up on the airwaves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM GENERATION OPPORTUNITY VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Health care -- the policy issue that's created a war between two sides in Washington, has become a political cash cow for advertisers. One ad tracking agency estimates by 2015, more than $1 billion will have been spent on ads, most of them making the case it's a bad deal.

BOEHNER: It is a train wreck. It has to go.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MARSH: All right. Well, as we know, the law is already in place. But some say that the impact of these ads can be that they change the way people actually feel about the law.

But when you look at our own CNN polling, you don't see a drastic change in how people feel about the health care law. But we can tell you that more people are unsure about it now than they were three years ago -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you're right, those ads a bit creepy, I must say, indeed.

All right, Renee, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper into all of this right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief national correspondent, John King -- Gloria, I'm going to play a clip. This is John McCain. He spoke awhile ago to Jake Tapper.

Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: In the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund ObamaCare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, so, Gloria, how much dissent is there within the GOP on this really sensitive issue?

GLORIA BORGER, HOST: Look, I think there's a lot of dissent. I mean there was an op-ed piece in today's "Wall Street Journal" by Karl Rove, essentially saying that what Republicans in the House are embarked on is kind of a fool's errand, because they know it's not going to go anywhere in the Senate. And the worry is, among Republicans, that you're going to lose those all-important Independent voters. Yes, a lot of those Independents don't much like ObamaCare, but they don't like the idea of shutting the government down. And that eventually, over time, this is only going to hurt Republicans, and could really hurt them badly in the long run. So lots of Republicans are saying just don't do this.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And hurt them, Wolf...

BLITZER: Can the speaker, John...

KING: -- going into an election cycle.

BLITZER: But can the...

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: -- I was going to say, John, can the speaker rein in his own party?

KING: At the moment, no, obviously, which is why he's decided to abandon his original approach and let them have this vote and send it over to the Senate. Then the question will be, after the Senate, which we expect, sorry, House, we're not going to go along with this.

Then what does the speaker do in round two? That is where this debate will get really fascinating, because the government shutdown -- the prospect of a government shutdown will be closer. And the speaker then is going to have to navigate. And this is what gets so frustrating, because, Wolf, we know Speaker Boehner now is saying this has to happen. A week ago, he had a very different strategy.

BORGER: Right.

KING: Karl Rove says this, John McCain says this.

But here's the problem. For the grassroots new members of Congress, especially the Tea Party people, they think that Karl Rove and John McCain are part of the problem, as much as Barack Obama is. So they don't listen to the traditional establishment voices in the party, if you will.

Those voices are telling them here we are on the verge of a midterm election cycle in which we will probably gain seats in both the House and the Senate. We actually have a slight chance of taking the Senate majority. We could, after the next election, be in a position to further advance our policy goals, and you might ruin those chances by bringing us to the brink or even the possibility of a government shutdown.

But most of the members pushing this, Wolf, are from very safe House districts that the president lost in landslides. They don't have the same calculation...

BORGER: Right.

KING: -- because when they go home, when they go home, their worry is not what's going to happen if they do this, some of them worry if they don't do it, they'll get a primary challenge.

BORGER: But, you know, Wolf, I was talking to a House Republican today who doesn't believe they should have this big fight. And his point to me was, you know what, at a certain point, these members, these new members, are going to learn the hard way that the American public doesn't like the idea of shutting the government down. That, in the end, they understand that there are lots of important services that are provided by the government and that they don't want to see them come to a full stop, or even be threatened.

But his point to me was, they're just going to have to learn it. Lots of members were here for the shutdowns in the '90s.

KING: Right.

BORGER: These people weren't. And so, you know, maybe there's just no talking them out of this.

BLITZER: You know, John, the Democrats watching this internal Republican debate from the sidelines, what's their strategy right now? KING: Well, you know the old rule in politics, when the other party is in a circular firing squad, don't interrupt. And that's what most Democrats say. And it's true. There's no question the Democrats have the political advantage here, in the short-term, on this shutdown fight.

But here's the challenge for the president, Wolf. And there's not really much he can do about this. Every day that passes is a day in his second term that is frittering away without getting big things done. Even when he's bogged down in the Syria debate. Now he's bogged down in the government shutdown debate. Then he'll be bogged down in the debt ceiling debate.

What about immigration reform?

What about the long lost dream of dealing with the structural problems in Medicare and Social Security or the structural problems of tax reform?

Forget about it.

BORGER: Right.

KING: So the president, short-term, wins here, without a doubt. He has the political high ground.

But when you think big picture, second term, every day lost is a day wasted. And once you get to the midterm election, people are going to start talking lame duck.

So the president's winning here, but he's also losing.

BORGER: Yes. And one more thing to think about, to add to John's long list there, is the question of what this does to the economy.

KING: Right.

BORGER: Because this is a president who has been talking about how the economy is getting better, but we're not where we need to be. And this is going to be a large part of his legacy. And if suddenly the government shuts down, we don't pay our bills, that's going to have an economic impact...

BLITZER: Yes.

BORGER: -- that could be felt in the long-term.

KING: That's right.

BLITZER: And even if they get over this immediate hurdle, they've got a debt ceiling hurdle in mid-October.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: So lots going on. All right, Gloria, thank you.

John, thanks to you, as well.

Up next, John Kerry forcefully countering Russian claims about who was behind that deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Plus, a young tech billionaire has Washington's ears.

But what exactly are Mark Zuckerberg's politics?

We're taking a closer look at his lobbying that's ongoing in Washington right now and his influence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Very strong remarks today from the secretary of state, John Kerry, about Syria. He says the United Nations report clearly shows that the Bashar al-Assad regime was behind last month's deadly chemical weapons attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We really don't have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts approaching the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. This fight about Syria's chemical weapons is not a game. Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime which has used chemical weapons before.

The regime which had the rockets and the weapons or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don't control to fire rockets they don't have containing sarin that they don't possess to kill their own people and that without even being noticed, they just dissembled it all, packed up and got out of the center of Damascus controlled by Assad. Please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Let's get some more from our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, traveled with the secretary almost all of last week. So, what is the secretary trying to achieve here with these latest comments, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he really wants to avoid is next week at the U.N. general assembly to become a debate about the evidence of who was behind this attack rather than a debate about a resolution backing up this deal that he's negotiated with great difficulty with the Russians.

And i think you saw in those clips there an exasperated Secretary Kerry and some of the former prosecutor coming out, ticking off each of these Russian arguments and knocking them down, really angry here. And as he said many times, this is not about playing games.

BLITZER: Absolutely not. He's got difficult negotiations, though, coming up with the Russians if, in fact, there is going to be a Security Council resolution that has some sort of enforcement mechanism.

SCIUTTO: That's the big question. The Russians have said they're against any forced-backed this use of military action. So, if the U.S. is going to go ahead with that, they're not going to have Security Council backing. And you also have on Saturday the first deadline which is when the Syrians are supposed to come with a full accounting of all their chemical weapons.

And in the meantime, the Pentagon sources telling us today that there's evidence of the Syrians moving around these weapons, and frankly, I've spoken to defense officials and they don't know if the Syrians are moving these around for a better accounting or moving them around to hide them. That's problematic as we get to this point in the deal.

BLITZER: It's going to be a critical week in New York next week at the U.N. general assembly. I'll be reporting from New York most of next week as well. All right. Jim, thanks very much.

Other news in Washington happening right now. An unlikely visitor on Capitol Hill today, the Facebook chief, Mark Zuckerberg, has been meeting with a number of Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, and it has some asking whether he could soon become more of a familiar face in the nation's capital.

Let's bring in our own Brian Todd. He's been watching and trying to figure out what's going on. What are you seeing there, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he's certainly been very familiar this week with a lot of high-powered meetings. Mark Zuckerberg he now has vested interest in Washington and there's a lot of talk about him being a real player in this town, even if you can't always recognize him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): In his suit and tie, he could blend right in in the capitol with all the baby-faced Congressional aides, but this 29-year-old billionaire has enough political juice to grab his own meetings with John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. Meet high- powered lobbyist Mark Zuckerberg.

JAMES BENNET, THE ATLANTIC: People are extremely eager to meet this guy and hear from him.

TODD: James Bennet of "The Atlantic" magazine held a forum this week with Zuckerberg. At that event, the Facebook founder took a shot at President Obama for the president's previous comment that the government's electronic surveillance program doesn't spy on Americans.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER: Oh, we only spy on non- Americans. Gee, thanks. You know, we're trying to provide an international service and not get crushed like in those places either.

TODD: Facebook is suing the federal government over that surveillance program on behalf of its billion users worldwide.

KEVIN BANKSTON, CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY & TECHNOLOGY: Right now, Facebook and other internet companies like Google and Microsoft are pressing on a number of fronts to force the government to let them speak about what's going on.

TODD: This trip to Washington has Zuckerberg stumping for immigration reform. He wants Facebook to be able to recruit more skilled tech employees from abroad.

(on-camera) But his appearance here and the media scrum surrounding it are drawing attention to the Zuckerberg cult of personality and speculation over whether he'll become more of a political player.

(voice-over) Millions identify Zuckerberg with the movie "The Social Network," depicting his dizzying rise, but his political leanings are unclear. When asked his political orientation --

ZUCKERBERG: It's hard to affiliate as being either Democrat or Republican. I'm pro-knowledge economy.

(LAUGHTER)

TODD: Zuckerberg's raised big money for Republican star, Chris Christie and given several thousand dollars to Democratic Newark mayor, Cory Booker. Facebook's Political Action Committee spent $267,000 on candidates in the last election cycle with a slight edge to Republicans among that total.

BENNET: He sees policy through the lens of do I think this is going to contribute to what I think is the most important thing, which is increasing connectedness and openness and free flow of information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on-camera): James Bennet says Zuckerberg's advantage in this town is that he's pushing ideas that are both his personal convictions and also good for Facebook -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, how much money has Facebook spent lobbying in Washington?

TODD: Well, according to the political news website, "Politico," Facebook spent more than $3.5 million just in the first half of this year on lobbying, hiring some very high profile lobbying firms. So, that's kind of a reflection of how Mark Zuckerberg and his company want to take more of a role in this town and want to be players. They've got real interest here.

BLITZER: So, I suspect we'll be seeing much more of him in the nation's capital. All right. Brian, thank you very much.

When we come back, the threat of a government shutdown looming with some in the GOP threatening to defund Obamacare. Could it end up, though, backfiring on the Republican Party? I'll ask two leading House Republicans. Serious discussion coming up.

Plus, one homeless man's good deed blossoms into an extraordinary $90,000 reward. We have details. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the other top stories we're monitoring right now in the "Situation Room."

A Texas court is overturning the conviction against the man once considered one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill. The former House majority leader, Tom Delay, was convicted on money laundering charges back in 2010 for attempting to influence state elections by trying to channel hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate donations to GOP candidates. Delay was sentenced to three years in prison but had been free on bail pending appeal.

But now, this court has overturned his conviction. He has been found not guilty. We're going to invite Tom Delay to join us to discuss how he goes about working to fix his own reputation in the aftermath of what has happened over the past few years.

Meanwhile, other news, the country's largest bank will pay more than $900 million in fines to U.S. and U.K. regulators to settle charges related to a huge trading debacle known as London whale. With the penalty, JPMorgan Chase is acknowledging it violated banking rules by not properly overseeing its trading operations.

London whale is the nickname for the man whose team was thought to be responsible for the failed bet that generated about $6 billion in losses.

What started as a Boston homeless man's good deed is blossoming into an amazing reward. Glenn James (ph) gained national fame after finding a backpack stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash and travelers checks and turning it into the police. An Alabama man heard the story, decided to start an online fund which has now skyrocketed to more than $90,000.

James says he's overwhelmed and just wanted to do the right thing. He did do the right thing.

Up next, Republican infighting and finger pointing as the country moves closer to a government shutdown. We have two Republican congressmen here to discuss how far the party should go to try to kill Obamacare.

But first, let's take a look at what's on this weekend's next list.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This week on "The Next List," putting ideas to work. Jim Newton is a life-long do it yourselfer who is passionate about making. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humans were made to make things. That's why we have thumbs. We've gotten away from making so much. There's that instinctive drive for people to create.

GUPTA (voice-over): It's one of the reasons he started tech shop. It's an innovation workshop where members can have access to the tools they need to bring their ideas to life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see them say wow, I really can do this. This is stunning. They're stunned.

GUPTA: And Graham Hill (ph), he's a designer, an entrepreneur who believes people would be a lot happier with less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love things and I love having great things, but I don't want too many. I don't want to be overwhelmed.

GUPTA: Hill built his dream micro apartment by crowdsourcing the design on the internet. He got some amazing ideas. But the best part of living with less, more freedom.

I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Join me this Saturday, 2:30 eastern on "The Next List."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Republican versus Republican, two congressmen sound off on a strategy for killing Obamacare, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown as some in the GOP threaten to defund Obamacare. Could that strategy end up backfiring on the Republican Party? I'll ask two leading House Republicans, that's coming up.

Plus, we have new details about the gunman in Monday's horrific Navy Yard massacre. My interview with the chief of police here in Washington, Cathy Lanier, just ahead. That's coming up in our next hour.

And an extraordinary find may soon end up solving two decades-old mysteries.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Bitter internal debate exploding right now into public view as Republican House members stand poised to pass a doomed bill that funds the government while defunding Obamacare. The result could be a government shutdown, only 11 days from now.

There's deep division within the GOP over how far the party should go.

And joining us now, Republican Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Republican Representative Peter King of New York. Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Let's have a serious discussion right now. I know you two disagree on many aspects of the funding of the federal government.

Congressman King, you think it's kamikaze, you think it's General Custer crazy for the Republicans to be linking the defunding of Obamacare to continued spending of the federal government after October 1st. Tell us why.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: As part of an overall strategy, it makes no sense at all. I understand why the speaker wants to couple them in tomorrow's bill so we can at least get it over to the Senate but as an overall strategy it makes no sense because we know that it's not going to make it out of the Senate. We know that even if it did, the president would veto it.

And to me, this is not the proper venue for that. It makes no sense at all. We know we're going to lose and again whether it's Custer, whether it's kamikaze or whatever it's Calipoli or whatever, we are going to lose this and we have so many winning issues against the president.

I think it's a wing within our party led by people like Ted Cruz who have been really -- as far as I'm concerned, carrying out a fraud with the people by somehow implying or even saying that this strategy is going to win.

They know it's not going to win. And now it's over to them in the Senate after tomorrow. We'll see what they do. Either they put up or shut up.

BLITZER: What about that, Congressman Duffy? You think Congressman King is right?

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: Well, first off, I do think we should include the defunding of Obamacare in our funding package. And the reason is, you've had conservatives in the Senate who have been talking loud and drawing a crowd asking for a fight on Obamacare.

And as your viewers know, Wolf, we've had this fight in the House for the last two and a half years. We voted 40 times to delay or stall or defund Obamacare. But because of Harry Reid and the Senate, Senate conservatives haven't had this fight. So they have been asking for it.

I think it's only fair that we in the House give them a package that defunds Obamacare and let them -- let them debate it over there, let them fight it over there. If they want to filibuster, have at it. We give them the opportunity.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman King, go ahead and respond.

KING: Yes, I don't really disagree with Sean. I mean, I'm against the overall strategy but I understand why the speaker is coupling them tomorrow because it's the only way we can get a bill out of the House and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike Lee have been saying if we just send it over to the Senate, they are going to resolve the whole thing, they're going to win this fight.

Well, we're giving it to them. We know they're not going to win it and it's going to come back to us in the House without defunding in it, but let them explain to the American people and to the Republican Party why they were saying all summer that this was a winning strategy.

So I understand why John Boehner is doing what he's doing tomorrow. He really has no choice. But again, it's going to come back to us sometime next week and then we have a decision to make. And I'm saying, we cannot let the government shut down.

(CROSSTALK)

DUFFY: You know -- and, Wolf, if I may --

BLITZER: Congressman Duffy -- hold on -- hold on. I want you to respond but I want you to respond to Karl Rove, the Republican's so- called political architect who wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" this today. He says, "The strategy that a lot of Republicans in the House want is also crazy. Any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively. The defunding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic and Republicans should reject it."

You want to accept that advice or reject that advice from Karl Rove?

DUFFY: As an end strategy, Karl may have some very good points but where we're at right now is we've had these conservatives in the Senate who have been throwing bombs at Peter King and I in the House asking for a defunding of Obamacare funding package. So what we're doing now is giving them the fight.

Wolf, if the Senate sends us a package back that fully funds Obamacare because Senate conservatives have failed in their mission to hold the Senate, then we're going to have a conversation about how we move forward. I'm not one who believes to shut the government down --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: How will you vote if that -- if that happens, Congressman Duffy? If that happens, if they send back full funding of the federal government but no reduction in spending for Obamacare, how will you vote on that so-called continuing resolution to keep the government afloat?

DUFFY: No, Wolf, I think they'll send back a package that is fully funded beyond sequester levels and will fully fund Obamacare. What we'll do in the House is there's a number of options that we have. We will volley the ball back to the Senate with some Obamacare reform and spending reform, and they'll have to decide how they -- how they vote when we respond after this back and forth.

BLITZER: So you're willing to go to the brink, is that right, Congressman Duffy, and including, if necessary, shutting down the federal government in order to prevent funding for Obamacare?

DUFFY: Wolf, America does not like Obamacare. We conservatives in the House and the Senate don't like it either. But that doesn't mean we have to shut the government down. But it does mean we have to engage in this conversation and fight over it. And if we don't have this fight, we can't make any progress.

Listen, we don't want to shut the government down. But we want to have the debate.

BLITZER: So it's just -- it's just a debating point, is that what you're saying? You're not really going to shut the government down, if the Senate, which is Democratic-controlled, does not stop funding Obamacare, you will allow the government to remain in business. Is that what I'm hearing?

DUFFY: So, Wolf, for all I know, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are going to sing kumbaya together. They're going to find an agreement as they have a filibuster over in the Senate. They might negotiate this thing out and send us a package in the House that works for us.

I don't know what they're going to do. And listen, I think Peter King and I can't figure out how the Senate behaves as House members nor can America.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Peter King. Respond to what we just heard.

KING: Actually, I basically agree with Sean. You know, we're on the same page. Neither of us -- neither one of us wants the government to close. We're going to do all we can to keep it open. And I would just say, if anything good comes from all of this, when Ted Cruz and Rand Paul or Mike Lee fail in the Senate next week, maybe finally we Republicans will have ended their influence.

We as House Republicans should stop letting Ted Cruz set our agenda for us. He should stay in the Senate, he should be keep quiet. They can deliver on this, fine. If he can't, then he should keep quiet from now on and we shouldn't listen to him.

(CROSSTALK)

DUFFY: And to that point, Wolf --

BLITZER: If you lose on this -- if you lose on -- if you lose on this point, let's say you keep the government running but there's no -- there's no coupling it to Obamacare, a lot of Republicans say they want to raise it once again when you need to raise the debt ceiling in mid-October.

Listen to what the president said this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, respond to the president, Sean.

DUFFY: Listen, Wolf, you know well that in 2006, Barack Obama made a speech talking about how we were mortgaging our children's future by raising the debt limit. We owe $17 trillion in debt. We're going to raise the debt limit as long as we reform the way that we spend. And reform our entitlement program.

And the president is going to have to negotiate with us just like he wants to negotiate with Syria and Russia to figure out a solution on how we resolve this debt problem. We're willing to raise it. But -- listen, we can't continue down this path of borrowing and spending.

And if he'll -- if he'll work with us, we can find common ground and not have any brinksmanship but he has to negotiate -- he has to come to the table.

BLITZER: But -- does he have to come to the table on Obamacare or other issues?

DUFFY: Listen, he -- I hope he comes to the table on all of them. This is divided government. And I think there's enough issues on both sides where everyone can be a winner. And if everyone gets something that they want, we can walk away and I think America wins.

But if you just draw a line in the sand, if you draw your red line and don't talk to the other side like the president is doing right now, listen, you can't find resolution and that's when you see brinksmanship and that's when you see these threats of government shut-downs or debt limits not being raised. We don't want to see that. I think it's -- that's too catastrophic.

BLITZER: Let me give Peter King the last word. Give some advice to your fellow Republicans in the House and Senate right now.

KING: I would say keep in mind we cannot let the government shut down. And if we make it through this continuing resolution crisis, it will be because of John Boehner's leadership and the president has an absolute obligation to sit down with John after this and resolve the debt ceiling issue.

For him to say he won't negotiate is the height of arrogance. If he can sit down with Vladimir Putin, he can sit down with John Boehner.

BLITZER: Peter King, Sean Duffy, gentlemen, thanks very much.

DUFFY: Thanks, Wolf.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, this is coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBBIE MCMANAMAN, MISSING MAN'S GRANDDAUGHTER: No trace, no, you know, clue at all. I mean, his bank account was there. His house was locked up. Utilities were on. You know, he just walked away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Double cold cases. Suddenly heating up with a grim discovery on -- in an Oklahoma lake.

Also, when we come back, CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." Check them out.

In Virginia, a cargo rocket lifts off on its way to the International Space Station. In India, artisan basket weavers craft their wares. In Taiwan, a giant yellow duck draws a crowd. And in France, look at this, workers pick grapes at the start of the wine harvest.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world. We'll be right back with Jeanne Moos.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He's a seasoned escape artist, but this time his crime was caught on tape.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not whimper. For this canine Houdini, whose name is Bandit, is about to pull off the great escape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My god.

MOOS: Bandit suffers from separation anxiety. His YouTube description says he destroys the carpet, chews wires, cuts himself trying to get out of his crate. His owner dog-proofed the kitchen so he could leave Bandit there, but somehow, Bandit kept managing to escape so his owner set up a laptop camera to find out how.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some dogs are not meant to be caged.

MOOS: Bandit was intent on scaling the plywood covering the open space between the kitchen and the next room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless his heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's pretty genius.

MOOS: Bandit went over the top like a Marine on an obstacle course.

(On camera): Are you impressed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really am.

MOOS (voice-over): Some were less impressed with the owner. "Would making this video been worth it had your dog hung itself? Almost happened." But no one we talked to thought he'd done anything wrong.

(On camera): Talk about an escape artist. The dog's owner escaped us. We couldn't get hold of him.

(Voice-over): Bandit now joins the ranks of canine escape artists like Kiwi the Yorkie whose owner set her feat to the theme from "Mission Impossible." Waldo's owners chose the theme from "Superman" as he used his cage to get to the fence and after a long stretch, made his move. Waldo finally gathered the nerve to jump.

And there's Junior the Chihuahua who stuck his neck out and shook his fence. Then moved the fence out of the way, springing his Chihuahua accomplice. Junior's courage won the top price in the total of 110,000 bucks from "America's Funniest Home Videos." Even if he did end up butt up.

We don't know how Bandit landed.

(On camera): Bandit's escape paid off big-time because after his owner saw what the dog went through to get out, he gave Bandit full run of the house.

(Voice-over): Another dog owner had this advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exercise and Xanax.

MOOS: No climbing the walls does count as exercise.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead at the top of the hour, Secretary of State John Kerry's brand new harsh rebuke against the Syrian government, just days before a key deadline in the deal to try to give up its chemical weapons.

Fareed Zakaria standing by.

And two cars possibly submerged for decades with six bodies inside. We have details on the double cold case that authorities could be about to solve.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Bodies found in sunken cars that may have been missing for decades. Just ahead, the fluke discovery that could solve two old mysteries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCMANAMAN: It's been so long. It's been 44 years. You know, it's -- there's a lot of things in between there that we can't answer because we don't know. We -- has blocked through the years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: An extraordinary discovery may end up solving a double cold case mystery. The remains of six bodies found in two cars believed to have been submerged in an Oklahoma lake for decades.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The discovery of two sunken cars here in Foss Lake in western Oklahoma has stunned people around here. And they're wondering if this is really the answer to not one mystery but two.

(Voice-over): These cars have spent more than 40 years submerged at the bottom of Foss Lake in western Oklahoma. Investigators can peel apart the metal and hardware with their bare hands as they look for clues. Two corroded rifles, a muddied wallet and purse. And the remains of six people, three in each car.

It's one fluke discovery that might have solved two long- forgotten mysteries. In 1970, three teenagers in a 1969 Camaro disappeared. The mystery of what happened to Jimmy Williams, Michael Rios and Leah Johnson made headlines in the local newspapers. And the year before in April of 1969 John Alba Porter and two friends were driving around in a 1950s Chevy and never seen again.

More than 40 years later, two cars matching those same descriptions were found sitting right next to each other in this lake.

MCMANAMAN: It's been so long, it's been 44 years. You know. It's -- there's a lot of things in between there that we can't answer because we don't know. It's like, through the years, what happened, what happened? Just a mystery. We don't know.

LAVANDERA: Debbie McManaman was 13 years old when her Grandpa Porter vanished.

MCMANAMAN: He was here one day and the next day he's gone the next. I mean, no trace, no, you know, clue at all. I mean, his bank account was there. His house was locked up. Utilities were on. You know. He just walked away. LAVANDERA: Alvie Porter, as he was known, performed in Wild, Wild West shows riding bulls around Oklahoma. Porter's oldest son Ervie Porter is now 85 and suffering from dementia. After investigators stopped looking for his father, he acted as his own detective, hunting down every clue he could.

(On camera): And you spent a lot of time looking for him?

ERVIE PORTER, MISSING MAN'S SON: You bet you. Still looking for him. But this is going to help me a whole lot.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Last week, Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers were testing new underwater sonar equipment when they discovered the two cars. It wasn't until the cars were pulled out of the water that the bones were found inside. Divers went back in the water and found even more remains.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner will use DNA to identify the bodies. It could take days, maybe even years to positively do that.

Alexia White's mother was John Porter's sister. She hopes her mother can finally find the answers that have eluded their family for more than four decades.

ALEXIA WHITE, MISSING MAN'S NIECE: It has been difficult not knowing what did happen to her father. She never had that closure or the peace of mind or comfort, always that uncertainty and why did it happen, what did happen, why can't we find what happened? And I'm hoping that this will bring closure.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Investigators say they have not ruled out foul play yet. But they suspect that these six victims accidentally drowned, that the cars rolled back into the water and the victims were trapped inside.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Foss Lake, Oklahoma.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Happening now, Iran's new president opening the door to an historic meeting with his new pen-pal, the president of the United States. Will it happen? Is it a faux or a ploy?

Plus, a puzzling new discovery about the Navy Yard gunman. The D.C. Police chief standing by, he joins us with an update on the investigation.

And explosive new comments by Pope Francis about gays and lesbians, and the role of women in the church.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.