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House Voting Right Now on Spending Plan; House Approves Spending Plan; Amanda Knox Retrial Begins; No Survivors In Santa Monica Plane Crash; Dozens Injured In Chicago Train Crash

Aired September 30, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Our breaking news tonight, as the government shutdown gets closer, the civil war between the Republican Party gets bloodier. Hard line House Republicans once again pushing legislation, voting on it just moments from now that funds the government but delays implementation of health care reform. A bill the Senate won't pass and the president won't sign.

At the same time, moderate Republicans, many of whom also oppose the health care law, staging a party rebellion against tactics they see as bad policy and worse politics. But right now, those voices are not -- repeat -- not carrying the day. Others are, and late today President Obama singled them out.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But one faction of one party in one House of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election.

Keeping the people's government open is not a concession to me. Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you give to the other side. It's our basic responsibility.


BLITZER: The president drawing a line, conservative Republicans also drawing a line, saying that's what they were elected to do.

The shutdown, four hours away with hundreds of thousands of Americans facing furlough, others working without pay, still more losing some vital federal services.

A lot to talk about, let's go to Dana Bash first. She's got the breaking news from up here on Capitol Hill.

What is the latest, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm just a few feet from the House floor, Wolf, where we expect them to begin voting within the hour, maybe even about 15 minutes or so on the latest Republican plan which is to fund the government but with strings attached. Those strings in this case will be to delay the individual mandate for one year, and also to try to put lawmakers in a tough position and their staff, as well, by taking away the federal subsidy for their health care.

And basically saying that we should be like everybody else. We shouldn't get any special treatment. It's going to make -- maybe make some Republicans and even some Democrats, make it difficult for them to vote against, and that is the entire point here. After that vote, which we assume will pass, it's going to go back to the Senate, which is right down the hall behind me.

And we expect the Senate, which is led by Democrats, to reject this, just as they did the first two attempts to chip away at Obamacare by House Republicans on this whole bill to fund the government.

So one thing that you mentioned earlier was the fact that some moderate Republicans did try to stage a revolt, to say enough already. We don't even want to go down this road. We want to pass a bill that simply funds the government, and nothing else. And I have with me one of the people who tried to do that and actually did vote against a procedural measure to try to stop this train from moving.

Peter King of New York, thank you very much. Why were you -- why were you unsuccessful? I mean, you weren't just unsuccessful, you only needed 17 votes to stop it. And you had even a handful.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, there was probably 20 who would have -- you know, who would have or could have voted our way. There's two things involved. One was, the speaker did make personal appeals to them and there was no pressure, I was there when he talking to them. Basically a vote of confidence for him so he can follow this process through.

And another thing was that they were afraid, I believe -- they were concerned that this would be looked upon not as a vote to keep the government open, but somehow a vote to protect the health insurance for their staff members.

BASH: Now our Deidre Walsh saw you speaking with the speaker on the floor. Take us behind the scenes, take us into those conversations when the speaker of the House is talking to you and some of the other moderates who could have blown this whole plan up, and how he convinces you to stick with him.

KING: Well, he was more persuasive with the others than he was with me.

BASH: Right.

KING: No, listen, John is a good friend. John Boehner is a good friend. This is not personal at all. John basically made the appeal that these are very tough times, these are tough moments and he was asking if they would stick with him, said he had faith in them. That he understands the pressures that we had, he understood the frustration but let him play this out. And he pretty much assured us this was going to work out. He didn't say how or why, and that was the appeal. And John is one person, John Boehner is one person who can fall back on a-- you know, personal friendships and relationships he has.

BASH: Explain why you wanted to do this? You know, most of your Republican colleagues clearly signed onto this plan to give it at least one more shot, knowing that the clock is going to strike midnight in just a few hours. And that the government will shut down.

Why did you want to, you know, buck your party and try to stop this train?

KING: Yes, I didn't enjoy bucking the party. I wanted to end this process because it's going nowhere. It is a dead end. We said two weeks ago, the party leadership and other members said that we did not want to get into this whole defunding Obamacare or threatening to shut the government down.

We got into forced -- they got forced into it by the Ted Cruz wing of the party, people who are more loyal to Ted Cruz than they are what the Republican leadership wanted. People who often don't vote with the leadership, but they, you know, wanted loyalty on this for themselves. So -- and then I voted for the last several times to send this over to the Senate because I was assured that was a way to get the process going and ultimately the government will not shut down.

When I saw that the government was going to shut down in 10 hours, no matter what they had put up, I would have voted against --

BASH: Well, were you misled by your leadership who -- because you did vote to defund Obamacare even though you said you were against that, you voted against your own -- your own position.

KING: Right. Because that was to get the process moving, get it over into the Senate, to have the Senate act and get it back to us. And hopefully start the talk. So -- no, I don't think I was misled. I think the situation has been somewhat lost control of. That the Ted Cruz people are not going to back down and they basically are trying to hijack the party.

BASH: Final question, yes or no answer, will the government shut down in under four hour?

KING: I think it will. I think we're going to be here all night. Hopefully we can get it opened tomorrow morning. I think we're going to see several votes going on back and forth all night. There'd be the one in about 15 or 20 minutes, probably another one sometime after midnight. And maybe another one after that, but maybe when it's out of their system, they'll realize that we can't just sit here with the government shutdown.

It's a foolish errand, we never should have (INAUDIBLE) in the first place. I understand the position the speaker is in. I can never forgive Ted Cruz, what he's done, and the people who stood with him against their party. Let me emphasize again. The people who are asking for loyalty from the speakers and others are those who voted against him on every key vote in the last two years.

BASH: Peter King, thank you very much.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

The speaker of the House, John Boehner, is on the floor. He's speaking right now, let's listen in.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I would say to the president, this is not about me and it's not about Republicans here in Congress. It's about fairness for the American people.

Why don't we make sure that every American is treated just like we are? But no, under the law there is -- in some decision, there is this idea that we're going to get some exemption. No, we're not going to get an exemption. So the bill before us is very simple. It funds the government. And it says let's treat our constituents fairly.

No more mandate for the next year that you have to buy insurance that you can't afford. No more mandate that members of Congress get some so-called exemption. Those are the only two issues here. All the -- all the Senate has to do is say yes, and the government is funded tomorrow.

Let's listen to our constituents and let's treat them the way we would want to be treated. I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for the gentleman has expired.

BLITZER: Well, no breakthrough there. This is clearly setting the stage for at midnight, only a few hours from now, a government shutdown since the president has made it clear, the Democrats in the Senate have made it clear, they are not going to accept these two conditions that the speaker has just put forward.

We'll go back to the Senate, presumably come back to the House one more time. This could be, as Representative Peter King, we heard, could be going all night back and forth, sort of volley ball or ping pong, diplomacy.

Let's bring in another member of Speaker Boehner's conference right now, the GOP Congressman John Culberson of Texas is joining us.

Is that what we expect, Congressman, all night the House to take -- pass legislation that you know is not going to be accepted in the Senate? The Senate sends it back and the government will shut down after midnight or shortly thereafter? Is that what the American people can expect tonight?

REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Wolf, we don't know the Senate won't accept it. We're standing on principle. And as the speaker just said so well we expect all Americans to be treated equally. This language, which we -- is now the third version of this bill we've sent to the Senate simply says that congressmen are going to be treated the same as all other Americans. There are no exceptions for any of us, and that the individual mandate is going to be delayed for one year.

Remember, we started with completely and totally defund Obamacare. That was rejected. And then we offered a second compromise which was to delay it for a year. And they didn't even bring it up. I mean, Harry Reid did the gutless choice and tabled it without even a vote.

And so now we're offering a third alternative. Now in the Democratic process, it's fundamental, you have to talk, you have to compromise, the president will talk to the dictator in Tehran but not to House Republicans?

I represent 700,000 Texans who don't want any part of Obamacare and frankly voting to just stop the individual mandate for a year, you know, we want to get rid of all of it. So we're trying to compromise.

BLITZER: Right. You heard the president -- you heard the president, you heard Harry Reid, you heard the Democrats in the Senate saying they're not going to accept any delay in implementing what is called the individual mandate that will force individuals to go out there and purchase health insurance when --


BLITZER: When they can afford it. They're not going to budge on this.

So here's the question, Congressman, assuming they don't budge, let's just assume they don't budge, will you allow the government to shut down at midnight?

CULBERSON: We are standing on the most fundamental principle in America, the right to be left alone. Our absolute right to privacy is being in violated by Obamacare, the most massive expansion of the government in our history. This is of vital importance to my constituents and I. My job description as a representative, Wolf, and the only way when you're out-numbered in a fight is to stick together.

BLITZER: All right so --

CULBERSON: And I'm going to stand with the speaker and represent my district and vote -- do everything I can to -- delay, defund or stop Obamacare.

BLITZER: Well, what happens if it goes back and forth another time or another two times, it's 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning.


BLITZER: Hold on -- hold on a second. It's 5:00 in the morning.

CULBERSON: I'm here. BLITZER: And Peter King and the more moderate Republicans say enough is enough. And 20 or third of them -- 20 or 30 of them decide to join with the Democrats and at least keep the government funded for a few more weeks.

I -- I assume you'll vote against it as a matter of principle.


BLITZER: But do you see where this potentially could be going?

CULBERSON: Well, I can't worry about what others will do. I know for myself as a Texan, as someone who loves liberty, as a representative of my district, I will stand firm. I am not going to flinch or blink or back out because I was elected to stand -- to represent my constituents and protect our most important constitutional right, which is to be left alone. And I'm not -- I don't know what others are doing, Wolf, but I'm not blinking or flinching.

BLITZER: OK, Congressman Culberson of Texas. Thanks very much for joining us.

CULBERSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's turn to another point of view. Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland is joining us right now.

So what do you think, Congressman? Is there any give on the Democratic side as far as this individual mandate is concerned that would allow the government to stay open?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Absolutely not. Wolf, we have a situation where the Republican Party has allowed a small minority, the Tea Party Republicans, to basically hijack not only in whole hostage, not only the Republican Party, but the Congress and the country.

Keep in mind Wolf, this is a law, the Affordable Care Act is a law that has been passed, signed into law and then affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. And I was listening to my good friend Congressman Culberson as he talked about Texas.

In Texas, he -- one of the things he doesn't mention is one out of every four people there don't have insurance. And so what the Republicans are asking us to do is tell folks to be denied something that they have already been granted by the Congress. An opportunity to get insurance, to get well and stay well.

And they want to delay that for a year, while we extend the government, the CR, for a month or two. Come on, now, we're better than that. And so --

BLITZER: So what -- so what's going to happen, Congressman, assuming the --

CUMMINGS: I -- I think that --


BLITZER: Assuming the speaker -- hold on a second. Assuming the speaker holds firm and continues to insist on at least some modification of Obamacare and the Democrats and the Senate refuse. What's --

CUMMINGS: Wolf, we will --

BLITZER: There's going to be hundreds of thousands of people who are going to lose their job.

CUMMINGS: Unfortunately, unfortunately the government will shut down. And that's very unfortunate. But the fact is, is that I think that we're on very solid ground. We're doing the responsible thing. These folks could not -- our Republican colleagues could not get what they wanted through the legislative process, and now they're trying to do -- do it another way. And what they're trying to do is simply unfair to the American people, period.

BLITZER: Would it make sense, Congressman, even at this late moment, and you've got a few hours and then you've got all night, basically -- the government is not supposed to reopen until early tomorrow morning -- for the president of the United States to invite the speaker of the House, the Republican leader in the Senate, the Democratic leaders, come over to the White House, we're all adults. There is a lot at stake right now. Let's try, as difficult as it is, to work this out.

CUMMINGS: Well, you know, you got to keep in mind, Wolf, that I am ranking member of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. And I have seen over and over again how this president has done everything in his power to reach out to the Republican Party. And every time they basically slap his hand and say, my way or the highway.

Wolf, I don't care what kind of relationship it is, you and your wife or your son or daughter, if you've got one person saying, my way or the highway, it doesn't work. And so I think the president has done what he can do. Now it's up to the Republicans.

They -- and keep in mind, Wolf, if they simply put a clean bill on the floor, that is one without all of these riders, and just an up and down vote on the CR, it would pass in a minute. But they don't want that. They do not want that. They want to shut the government down. I am convinced.

And Wolf, I've got to tell you, it pains me to be able to say that. It hurts. But that's what I firmly believe. And it's very unfortunate.

BLITZER: If the government does shut down there will be a lot of pain across the country. And the question will --

CUMMINGS: And particularly -- and particularly in my own district, Wolf. Keep in mind --


BLITZER: You have a lot of federal -- you have a lot of federal workers.

CUMMINGS: That's right.

BLITZER: Who work in your district.

CUMMINGS: That's exactly right who work in suburban Washington.

All right, Congressman. Go ahead.


CUMMINGS: But we've got to stand up for this. Because let me tell you, if we let them get away with this, heaven knows what will happen the next time. Keep in mind that the --

BLITZER: Next time it could be -- it could be in a couple of weeks when you've got to raise the debt ceiling.

CUMMINGS: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: The economic ramifications of that are even more enormous, believe it or not, than what's about to happen as far as the government shutdown is concern.

CUMMINGS: And they all expect us to give in to their demands which I think are extremely unreasonable and extremely unfair.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see if cooler heads prevail because as I said the ramifications are enormous.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, as usual, thanks for coming in.

Bringing in the panel now, let's discuss what we just heard. Alice Stewart is joining us, she was a contender for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign and Rick Santorum's campaign during the 2012 elections. Also Republican strategist, former Newt Gingrich spokesman, Rich Galen, and Obama 2012 pollster, Cornell Belcher.

Alice, is there any reasonable way out? You know where they stand in the Senate, you know where the president stands. Can they pass something, at least keep the government running without any strings attached for a week or two while maybe cooler heads could then prevail?

ALICE STEWART, FORMER SPOKESWOMAN FOR SANTORUM 2012 CAMPAIGN: Well, there is a reasonable way out of this, is to pass what the Senate has tried before. Is to pass a measure that funds the government, but also executes what the will of the people is, and spare them from the devastating effects of Obamacare.


BLITZER: The Senate has --

STEWART: Now I agree with --

BLITZER: The Senate hasn't passed that. The House passed that. But the Senate, 40 times, has rejected that.

STEWART: Right, well, here is the thing. I agree with what Representative Cummings said. Obamacare, it has passed, it was signed by the president, and has been ratified by the Supreme Court. But since that time the president took it upon himself to delay the employer mandate, and under what rationale can he do that, for those who fall under the employer mandate, but not those who fall into the individual mandate? And also exempt those who are members of Congress and their employees?

So the people -- Republicans are simply trying to level the playing field, make it fair for everyone as Speaker Boehner said, and that's what the people want. The people want -- exactly what House Republicans were doing. They want to fund the government but they also want to delay --

BLITZER: All right.

STEWART: -- certain aspects of Obamacare because it's simply not ready for prime time.

BLITZER: They have started the vote, by the way, on the House floor right now, on this latest legislation that would delay the individual mandate, that Alice was just talking about, requiring people to go ahead and purchase health insurance through these exchanges or other ways. There you see the roll call beginning.

Cornell, go ahead and respond. Why not go ahead and accept this latest request from the House of Representatives in order to prevent a government shutdown? If the employer mandate has been delayed by the president a year, why not delay the individual mandate?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, it is not often I feel sorry for my Republican friends. But you know, they've got to carry this trash and try to spin it, is mind boggling.

Look, this is embarrassing, and every American should be embarrassed. You know, we're not acting like the leading democracy in the world. This is more like how a banana republic behaves.

Look, don't take it for me, take it from Senator McCain who said to Republicans a couple of days ago, elections have consequences. You know, president -- you know, President Obama won the election, this has been settled. This isn't about what the American people want.

BLITZER: All right.

BELCHER: The American people are fairly clearly.

BLITZER: Those are fair --

BELCHER: Seventy percent of the Americans don't want that.

BLITZER: Cornell, those are fair points. But if the president delayed the employer mandate for a year requiring employers to delay giving insurance, why not allow the individual mandate, which is on the House floor -- they're voting on that right now -- to be delayed, as well?

BELCHER: Wolf, this isn't about -- this isn't about sort of fairness. This is about them trying to kill the ACA. It's clear. They don't want the Obamacare to happen. So this isn't about fairness. It's not about fairness at all. This is absolutely -- it's sort of ridiculous what they're doing and trying to spin it as fairness.

Look, the American people spoke, Obama got reelected, and the Senate Democrats picked up seats and House Democrats picked up seats. This should be an issue that they're holding Americans hostages over.

BLITZER: All right, let's bring Rich Galen into this conversation.

Rich, you worked for the speaker, the former speaker, Newt Gingrich, now a host of "CROSSFIRE." How is this going to end?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think, if I were to bet now -- I saw you earlier this afternoon when you said you still had a sliver of optimism. And I nodded when you said that because I did, too. Although I can't see the countdown clock now, but I think we're probably losing optimistic edge.

I think this will go to shutdown, for some number of hours or days. I don't think it will be devastating, I don't think it'll be devastating economically, the world will continue to spin on its axis. You may not be able to go to Yosemite. And of course the president did what he was supposed to do this afternoon. He talked about how this is going to injure baby -- cute little kittens and baby cute little puppies.

But the fact is that the Republicans missed their chance, they've had an opportunity to do this since 2010 and 2011 when they took control of the Congress. And both sides, the Republican controlled House and the Democrat controlled Senate have failed in their duty to pass a single appropriations bill.

If all the appropriations bill had gone through in what's called regular order, we wouldn't be having this discussion because they wouldn't need a CR. Not a single bill has been passed by the United States Senate and only four in the House. So if you want to look for people to blame for getting us in this, the leadership in the House and Senate is not a bad place to start.

BELCHER: But wait a minute. Wolf, ask -- ask Rich how come they're not passing anything in the Senate? Is because they're filibustering everything. Ask him how come they're not passing anything out of the Senate? It's not because the Senate -- the Senate -- you know, Democrats aren't trying to pass a budget out of there. They're being filibustered.

GALEN: I don't know they even came to the floor.

STEWART: No, they're not passing anything out of the Senate because Harry Reid has dug his feet in the ground and says he's not going to budge.

BELCHER: So McConnell -- so Mitch McConnell --


STEWART: And to your point about being a great democracy, part of being a great democracy is coming together and having conversations and bipartisan consensus, and why are we doing that five hours before a government shutdown? This should have been done weeks and months ago. And here we are five hours out, and now we're executing the great democracy that we are?

This is absurd and it starts with the top, it starts with President Obama, it starts with Harry Reid, it starts with those in leadership positions. They should have had this hashed out a long time ago because the American people, they don't want to shut down the government. And they do not want to continue with the Affordable Care Act, because they see that it's not ready to be implemented.

And if the president is going to issue waivers for certain people, he should do it for all until this is ready to be implemented.

BLITZER: All right.

STEWART: If at all.

BELCHER: Two things. So Mitch McConnell isn't blocking every piece of legislation with a filibuster that -- the Democrats tried to put up? And the other things is, if you've got 70 percent of the country saying that this is a bad idea for Republicans to do, and that's from CNN's polling, there is no constituency yet to have for it and sort of majority constituency that you have for the Republicans' position.

Now this gets really interesting when we move to these midterm elections when they actually have to face the wrath of the American people.

GALEN: Yes, we'll accept that, and this is your lane, Cornell, and I understand that. But these are national polls, and there's 25 or 30 hard core Tea Party members. They run it nationally. They're running in their own district. Culberson is a great example. A Houston district.


GALEN: I guarantee you, he's not going to be in any trouble at all for supporting this.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

GALEN: I'm not in favor -- I'm not agreeing with him, I'm just saying that's why they're doing it.

BELCHER: But that's --


BLITZER: Hold on. BELCHER: Twenty-five percent has control of the --

BLITZER: All right.

BELCHER: So 25 percent has control of the House.

BLITZER: Hold on, guys, because we got -- we got to wrap it up. A lot of these districts, you're right, they have been gerrymandered into such that somebody like Congressman Culberson and others, they're not going to pay a price if in fact there's a government shutdown.

GALEN: Yes, elections have consequences, right, Cornell?

BLITZER: Obviously that's true. All right, guys, Alice, thanks very much. Rich, Cornell, good discussion, appreciate it very much.

Once again, the House vote is under way right now. About nine minutes left in the vote. We'll break in with the results, that's coming up shortly. You could see the roll call there so far. But up next, what do the Americans think of this game of political chicken that's under way here on Capitol Hill right now?

A new polling won't surprise you but it might still take your breath away. Our own John King, is standing by to run the numbers. Gloria Borger and David Gergen, they're here as well. Lots of news happening tonight up on Capitol Hill in Washington.


BLITZER: Tonight's breaking news, House Republicans fending off a revolt inside their own party. Voting right now expected to pass legislation to keep the government running, but, it's a key but, but with a poison pill, delaying parts of Obamacare. About five minutes of change left in the roll call vote.

The Senate not about to pass similar legislation that looks like it will pass in the House. The midnight shutdown approaching, that's the deadline fast approaching, I should say. In the meantime, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the shutdown battle saying they're doing all of this for you.


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: We agree with the American people. Don't shut the government down.

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R), WASHINGTON: Listen to the American people.

REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (D), NORTH CAROLINA: The American people want compromise, they want it today.

REP, AMI BERA (D), CALIFORNIA: Let's start listening to one another. That's what the American public wants.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The only way it will change is if politicians in Washington start listening to the American people.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: The American people deserve better than this.

BOEHNER: It's time for the Senate to listen to the American people just like the House has listened to the American people.


BLITZER: All right, so if in fact, lawmakers are listening to the American people, chances are they're not hearing a lot of praise. Our brand-new CNN/ORC poll shows Congress' job approval rating, wait for this, 10 percent. Chances are influenza polls better than that.

But there is more, our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us now with the latest numbers. Ten percent, I believe in all the polling we've done lately at CNN, that is the lowest job approval for Congress we've ever polled.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's beyond pathetic, Wolf. Excuse the term. But since you mentioned that number, let me start here. Ten percent of the American people, 10 percent, approve of how Congress is handling its job. That is beyond pathetic. It shows the distrust, the bankruptcy of our politics right now.

And it's down, it's down half from just in September. So as this debate has played out, as we've gotten closer to the prospect of a government shutdown, the American people have lost what little faith they've already had. They've lost half of that heading into this.

And so -- but on the big picture, Wolf, and the big picture, you asked the big question. What do Americans nationally want heading into these final hours? Well, nearly seven in 10, that means a lot of Republicans, too, say it's a bad thing to shut down the federal government. Only 27 percent say it's a good thing.

On the defining question of this debate, which has been -- become about the president's health care plan, 60 percent say it's more important for Congress to avoid a government shutdown, one-third of Americans say block part of the health care law. So again, on the big question nationally, 60 percent say no, no, don't shut down the government as part of the big health care fight.

But to the point you were making earlier, Wolf, I just want to come in on this point here. Remember, that's national. We don't say all politics are national, we say all politics are local. And look at this, among Tea Party supporters, 56 percent say it's a good thing to shut down the government. That is that 25, 30, maybe 35 of the most conservative House members, Ted Cruz, and a handful of his colleagues in the Senate may go home to places where they think they are safe, especially those House members.

And they think nearly six in 10 of the people back home, if not more than that in some districts, aren't afraid to shut down the government if it means standing up to President Obama. If you oppose the Tea Party you oppose the government shutdown, but this number right here, Wolf, is driving that fraction of the House Republican caucus that right now is driving the train.

BLITZER: All right, John, stay with us. I want to bring in our political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen, right now.

Gloria, I know the president made some phone calls tonight, spoke with the House Speaker John Boehner.


BLITZER: The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. What are you hearing? Is there any glimmer of hope that maybe they could at least punt and delay this government shutdown?

BORGER: The leaders are not exactly over at the White House right now, Wolf, trying to work this out. And according to a senior Republican I spoke with just about an hour ago, he said to me that Boehner told his troops, quote, "We're not going to be left holding the hot potato here." So it's clear this -- you know, this isn't going to be over any time in an hour or so. What you're going to see happen in the House is they're going to pass this bill with their amendments.

They believe they're on terra firma on this amendment, that gives -- that says that House members can't have special privileges when it comes to healthcare, that they'd have to buy into the president's plan. They believe that's good for them politically back home, and they're going to shove it right back to the Senate so I don't see this getting resolved before the midnight deadline.

BLITZER: Well, I don't see it getting resolved before midnight either.

David, what about overnight, really the bite might not really take place until around 8 or 9 or 10:00 tomorrow morning. They could work all night going back and forth between the House and Senate, and try to work out something, a week, two weeks delay, some sort of resolution that would at least prevent the immediate furlough of nearly 800,000 federal workers.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That is absolutely right. There is a small sliver of hope that this won't be too damaging. I thought that Peter King interview you had a while ago that Dana had was revealing. He said we just need 17 votes to come over the other way. A lot of our people are holding back.

What he was suggesting that overnight, the Republicans may weary of this, and people may break away and start to move towards a clean bill coming out that the Senate would accept. We'll have to see that over the next 12 hours or so. There may be enough votes if you join up with Nancy Pelosi's votes, you could get it done.

But this is going to leave bitter, bitter rifts within the Republican Party and I think frankly it is doing a lot of damage to the party, doing a lot of damage to the American politics. The idea that a group of congressmen who represent less than 10 percent of the House of Representative could drive this train, I think it strikes makes most Americans as nuts.

BORGER: And I think they're also stepping on the Republican message, I mean, the Republican message is we don't like Obamacare, fine. Why not have the argument as you head into the enrolment tomorrow, on the day of enrolment why not have the argument about these three or four things are what is wrong with the president's health care plan, and this is what we're going to fix? Right now, it is an argument about shutting down the government.

BLITZER: You know, let me bring John King back in. John, if in fact the speaker was reluctant to get himself in this predicament right now, why is he in this predicament, John Boehner? He is, after all, the speaker of the House.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is the speaker of the House, Wolf, but since 2010, since 2012, the rise of a group of new members of Congress, many of them who unlike most of their colleagues never served in state legislature, never served in state or political office, they're car dealers. They are doctors. They are insurance salesmen. They never served in politics and they came here saying they were going to vote no.

First on the bank bailouts, that is what started this, and now on just about anything President Obama said. So let's look at the numbers. If you look at Speaker Boehner coming into this, his approval rating, favorable rating among the American people, just one third say favorable, nearly a half say favorable.

But I want to break this down within his own party. He is the leader of the Republicans in the House. He is the most powerful Republican in Washington. But look at this, among Republicans he has only a 54 percent approval rating. What is this about? The conservative hard core part of the Tea Party base that thinks he is too open to compromise and too willing to do business with President Obama.

It has undermined his standing. Not surprising in our polarized politics, Democrats don't like John Boehner, but this shows his weakness as a national leader in his party in the House because of this new wing of the party, that Peter King tonight called now the Ted Cruz wing of the party but it predates Ted Cruz.

Look at that number because I want to show you the president. One thing that frustrates Republicans including speaker Boehner is that they are throwing the president a lifeline right now. Look at the president's own approval rating, Wolf, only 44 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing. A majority disapprove.

Heading into 2014, heading into the mid-term election, Republicans think these numbers should work in their favor. If they shut down the government, they're afraid the president is going to use the bully pulpit and flip them.

BLITZER: All right, John King, we got to leave it right there. Thank you, John King, Gloria Borger, David Gergen, but we are going to have continuing coverage into the early hours of the morning. They are not going away. The voting is wrapping up on the latest House spending bill right now shutdown apparently drawing closer and closer.

Up next, we'll take a close look at how the shutdown could have an immediate impact on the U.S. overall economy ahead. It is not good.

Plus, my interview with Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, the Tea Party favorite who is a key player in pushing to cut funding to Obamacare.


BLITZER: All right, we're following the breaking news here up on Capitol Hill. You're looking at live pictures. The House of Representatives, as expected, they're on the verge right now of passing a new spending plan to head off a government shutdown. But it is a huge but, this latest version would still delay at least parts of Obamacare. The president and the Democrats in the senate say that will not happen.

Dana Bash is joining us right now. We had a little GOP rebellion under way, at least a while ago, what happened, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I should tell you, actually, as you're asking me that question, if you look at the screen, it shows that there are 217 yays, and that is the magic number for House Republicans, and now it is 218. So it looks like if nothing dramatically changes between now and the end of this vote then it will have passed.

It looks like it is approved unofficially in the House. And when I say this, as we have been saying all night, just under score it, it is a bill to fund the government through the middle of December, but also to -- delay the individual mandate in Obamacare, and also make clear that nobody in the federal government, including people in Congress, members and their staff, nobody gets federal subsidies to help to pay for their health care.

So that is going on -- what happens now, wolf, is it goes back over to the Senate. Our understanding is that they're going to take this up and we expect them to reject it within the hour, so we'll watch for that to happen. But it looks like they have the votes in the House right now.

BLITZER: If you look at that roll call right now, it is interesting, Dana, there were 12 Republicans who were voting with the Democrats, right now, and this is important, but nine Democrats you can see over there are voting with the Republicans, 12 -- 13 now, Republicans voting with the Democrats, nine Democrats voting with the Republicans.

So it is a little bit more bipartisan than earlier votes, but it clearly is something that is going to pass in the House right now. It will go to the Senate. The Senate will reject it. Send back a clean, so-called clean continuing resolution that will fund the government but won't touch Obamacare. Then once again it will be up to the House tonight. No one is leaving, Dana, so don't leave.

I know you're not leaving, I'm not leaving, we'll be here for a while. All right, we'll see what happens next as this pingpong goes back and forth between the House and Senate.

Let's go to the impact on this right now, Wall Street remains nervous that the government will shut down the skittish economy, today, the Dow drove down the average by nearly 30 points. The S&P also fell. So if the government closes up shop, more than 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed, what is the economic impact? Will it be felt far and wide? I guess a lot depends on this shutdown, if there is one lasts.

Let's bring in our CNN business anchor, Christine Romans. Let's talk a little bit about the impact. I assume, Christine, if it is just a few hours, maybe only a couple of days, the impact will be modest. But if it goes on, it could be huge.

BURNETT: You're absolutely right, Wolf and this is no way to run a country. This is no way to run a business. If this were a company, you would sell the stock and fire the board to start all over, right. But you can't do that here. What Wall Street will be watching very, very closely on how long this lasts and how much the damage is.

We know maybe a $1 billion a day are the estimates coming in here overall. It will start slow and probably cascade from there. You could have upwards of $55 billion, in economic impact in just one month, think of that, Wolf, you compare it with national disasters, not manmade Washington disasters. So a lot depends on what happens next in couple of days here.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly does. I remember back in the 90s, there were two government shutdowns, very brief, five days, six days, one at the end of '95, '96, Bill Clinton was president. Newt Gingrich was speaker. The economic catastrophe was relatively modest in those days. But the economy, I think was a lot stronger at that time than it is right now.

ROMANS: We're in a fragile place and there's no question about it. We're some place here on the spectrum of short-term stupidity and long-term destruction for how Washington is handling the books. Look, you're just coming out of a recession, a slow recovery, slowest recovery since the great depression, and many families are living paycheck to paycheck. You add that to business, all the consumers, all that really, really matters to the psychology of market places, it is a dangerous economy here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And as painful as the government shutdown potentially could be right now, it pales in comparison to the pain that would develop if they fail to raise the debt ceiling by October 17th. That is when the Treasury Department says they can't pay America's bills unless they raise the debt ceiling.

ROMANS: I think for many people in America, they think this is all one big blur of budget drama from "The Sequester" to the shutdown, to the debt ceiling on October 17th. They're all separate but related and that day is so important. That is the full faith and credit of the United States government. We have never gone back on our word for paying our bills and that is what is so critical here. Wall Street wants to see that this short-term shutdown doesn't spiral into weeks and weeks.

BLITZER: Christine Romans, thanks very much. Let's hope none of that materializes.

Up next, Senator Ted Cruz, the face and the voice of the drive to repeal Obamacare, he is not blinking tonight, even as midnight approaches. What he told me just a little while ago.


BLITZER: Tonight, breaking news, a government shutdown now a little over three hours away and only moments ago, the House approving another spending plan that would still delay Obamacare. The Senate expected within the hour to reject that, throw it back to the House of Representatives.

Senator Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, has certainly become the face and voice of the push to de-fund Obama care or else. His 21-hour talkathon was cheered by his Tea Party supporters, but didn't go over well with many in his own party.

But just an hour ago, Congressman Peter King of New York told Dana Bash that he can never forgive Ted Cruz for what he's done, a direct quote. I spoke with Senator Cruz earlier today and asked him about President Obama's warning that he will not negotiate with Republicans who are holding the nation, the president said, hostage to their demands.


BLITZER: He is not negotiating with a gun pointed to his head, he said.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Let's be very clear as I point out. My view, as you know, I think Obamacare should be repealed in its entirety.

BLITZER: But you don't have the votes.

CRUZ: So in the spirit of compromise, when this thing started, we started with a compromise position, in the House of Representatives, which is it should be de-funded.

BLITZER: It failed in the Senate.

CRUZ: It went to the Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid said no, absolutely not, no discussion, we vote it down. We then went back to the House and the House compromised again. They then came back with a year delay. Now that was a compromise from defunding and they funded the federal government --

BLITZER: And it failed again in the Senate.

CRUZ: But let's be clear, it didn't fail.

BLITZER: But you didn't have the votes. The Democrats all lined up, the Republicans were against.

CRUZ: Wolf, my point, the Democrats are not negotiating and not compromising on everything.

BLITZER: So what do you do at this late moment with only a few hours left and a lot of people out there are going to suffer if the government shuts down?

CRUZ: Look, I'll tell you unfortunately, I think Harry Reid wants to force a government shutdown, the House acted at 12:30 on Sunday. I think the Senate should have been called back in session on Sunday. Harry Reid decided to leave everyone home on their vacation on Sunday instead of calling us into work. I think Harry Reid affirmatively wants a government shutdown. I think that is unfortunate. There are millions of Americans who are hurting under Obamacare, who are losing their jobs --

BLITZER: Why not have that fight later and in the meantime, not make these other Americans suffer?

CRUZ: Because this thing is not working. I mean, Wolf, why is it that the unions are asking to be let up. Why is it that millions of Americans are losing their health care? I think the problem is Washington is not listening to the American people. But let me be clear, I want to commend the House because the House of Representatives is listening to the American people. And Harry Reid and President Obama's position, we won't even talk.


BLITZER: Senator Ted Cruz just a little while ago.

Just ahead, our live coverage of tonight's breaking news up here on Capitol Hill continues, a government shutdown growing closer and closer by the minute.


BLITZER: Almost three hours now until a government shutdown, we'll have much more on that, and breaking news, first let's check with Isha Sesay. She has 360 News and Business Bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Amanda Knox sitting out her third trial on the charges connected with her roommate in Italy. She was acquitted and then convicted. She spent four years in jail in Italy.

The CEO of a building company and his son are believed to have died in the plane crash at Santa Monica Airport Sunday night. The twin engine Cessna ran off the runway, crashed into a hap hangar, and burst into flames. No word yet on a cause.

Near Chicago, an empty commuter train gets loose and slammed into another train during the morning commute, 48 people were hurt. Authorities are trying to determine if a wreck was due to mechanical problems or something more sinister. And Wolf, if you're having trouble seeing the end of "breaking bad," there are more on iTunes, the highest bid, someone is offering nearly $17,000 for it. That is a serious fan.

BLITZER: Yes, might be a very good fan, maybe it is a good investment down the road, maybe they can get more money for it. Thanks very much, Isha. We'll take a quick break, much more news after this.


BLITZER: About 9:00 here on the east coast, only about three hours to go before a government shutdown, John Boehner tweeted this photo moments ago showing the speaker on the phone earlier this evening with President Obama. It is not clear if they will speak again tonight as the countdown clock ticks away. That does it for this edition of 360. I'll be back 10 p.m. Eastern, an hour from now with the looming shutdown. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts right now.