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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Government Shutdown Continues; Shutdown Showdown Day Ten, House Republican Leaders to Speak this Hour; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Nick Mulvaney; GOP Leaders Speak Live from the Hill
Aired October 10, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Thursday, October 10th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
If Congress can't solve a problem or if Congress can't ignore a problem, Congress can usually find a way to postpone a problem, and so emerges what may be a temporary fix to the bigger of two really awful debacles that are facing the government right now, the need to borrow more money or face some impossible choices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW, U.S. SECRETARY OF TREASURY: I don't know how you could possibly choose between Social Security and veterans benefits, between Medicare and food assistance. These are obligations we've made. You know, we wouldn't have the money to necessarily pay our troops in full. We wouldn't have the money to pay our veterans the benefits in full.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, arguably a pretty important guy right now.
And he is warning the senate finance committee that default is default. There is no other name for it.
And that government computers aren't set up magically to pick and choose between which bills we should pay, which ones we shouldn't and how we should prioritize if that's the way we have to go in the event of a default.
With all that in mind, the House Republicans are now set to come up with an offer of four to six weeks and it is a four- to six-week reprieve in finding the solution to this debt ceiling problem. The debt reduction talks would be going on during that four to six weeks.
It's a little bit complicated, but here is the bigger problem -- or maybe the smaller problem, depending how you look at it.
The partial government shutdown that we're suffering through right now, that ain't going to change. That's going to continue, pending some other pixie-dust solution.
And we expect to hear any minute now from the speaker of the House as well as other Republicans as well.
In the meantime I've been trying to work-up getting Dana Bash, who has been digging up a lot of great background information today. I know she's been busy on Capitol Hill.
In fact, let me just read for you one thing Dana Bash was able to find. This is our Dana. This was something that was an advisory that went out to the House GOP.
At this morning's conference, the leaders will be rolling out a plan to provide for a temporary increase in the debt limit as we pursue other avenues for negotiation.
That is only the first part of it. Dana Bash joins me now live to talk about the rest of it.
Way to go, excellent scoop. So, it's true. They're going to make this overture. How many Republicans are on board with this, do you know, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, let me set the scene. I'm on the phone because we're in the basement of the capitol waiting for the speaker and the rest of the House leadership to come out of this meeting.
And so the headline is that it appears that the legislation that they presented to the House Republican caucus is for a six-week increase in the debt ceiling.
So, six-week increase in the debt ceiling and, you're right, it would not provide for the government to reopen, but a Republican leadership source just told me coming out of this meeting that their idea would be, as part of this temporary debt ceiling increase, to have negotiations right away on debt and deficit issues.
But the first part of their discussion would be how to reopen the government. So, that is the idea that Republicans have with this legislation.
I'm also told that it could be on the House floor as soon as tomorrow. You started to read the advisory I sent out. They're likely to formalize the legislation and send it to the process to get to the House floor as soon as today.
Now, we are waiting for the House speaker to come out. You asked a very good question, which is, how this is being received among House Republicans, because, you know, it's definitely a mixed bag.
Some conservatives are saying, you know, we're not loving this idea, because they have always hoped to use the debt ceiling as leverage to try -- to make sure -- not just hope that you're going to get conversations, but make sure you're going to get cuts in spending, some reforms of entitlement programs, things like that.
So, you know, this is likely going to be something that is going to pass, as we have been reporting now for a couple of days with bipartisan support, with Democratic support.
So we'll see what happens after the -- they come out and talk to us. And maybe even more importantly, Ashleigh, after House Republican leaders go to the White House to meet with the president later this afternoon.
BANFIELD: We're going to talk about that in a moment. But before I do, I still want to be really, really clear that this six-week deal is no strings attached. Right? Because otherwise --
BANFIELD: I would just assume with the tenor in Washington right now the Democrats would have nothing to do with it.
But have you heard from Democrats? Have you heard anything in terms of whether this sounds like we can actually talk?
BASH: Yeah. We reported last night that, according to a couple of Democratic lawmakers who were in a meeting with the president at the White House yesterday, that he said this is something that they're probably going to have to go for, because -- something along the lines of this is what we need to help the speaker climb out from the tree he has himself in, this is what we're going to have to do.
And the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, publicly after the meeting last night at the White House, suggested that this was something that Democrats could go for.
So, that's -- my understanding is that that's why Republicans are moving forward with this legislation because they feel comfortable that this is a solution based on the public comments, based reporting, I'm guessing some kind of back channel to the White House and to Democrats that something that can pass.
BANFIELD: And you just mentioned it, Dana, this big meeting that's coming up today with the House leadership, marching down to the invitation that they accepted to come to the White House to speak with the president about this.
Dana, stand by if you will for a moment, and keep your eye out for Speaker Boehner and the rest of the GOP leaders as we wait for that live news conference to begin in just a moment.
Over to the White House now where CNN's Brianna Keilar is standing by.
So, Brianna, I was astounded when I heard that that the invitation went out from the president to all 233 Republican members of the House to come on down for a nice conversation at the White House. We'll all have a nice chat today.
It turned out 233 of them are not going to come on down to the White House. Only 20 of them are going to come on down.
What exactly are we expecting out of that meeting?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, we don't know.
I think it probably would have been significantly more interesting if the entire Republican conference had come to the White House, Ashleigh, because then you would have had President Obama making his case to all of them, including those tea-party backed Republicans that he has blamed for all of this mess.
But I think we'll probably expect that he will tell them -- I suspect more of what we heard him say, that he's willing to discuss, for instance, ObamaCare, but making improvements to it .
It's hard to kind of figure out where Republicans would want to make improvements because the only improvement, quote, unquote, that they've proposed is to get rid of ObamaCare. President Obama has made clear he is not on board for that.
But certainly the White House says they want to discuss deficit spending, budgetary issues like tax reform and entitlement reform.
But as you know, Ashleigh, because we've gone back and forth on this, the White House would like to see more revenue, raising taxes. Republicans don't want that. They want to talk about spending cuts.
Both sides feel like they've caved on this, and so they may talk about this in general terms, but I think there's going to be a lot -- you know, they're very far apart when it comes to finding a solution in perhaps the next six weeks that this short-term thing could buy for them.
BANFIELD: That's the same issue we've been dealing with from each careening moment to the next, and it's become very boring to have to re-report that every day.
What's not boring, though, Brianna Keilar, is this incredible rhetoric that keeps going back and forth between these two parties. I want to give you two examples.
I'm going to attribute this quote directly to President Obama via a Democratic lawmaker. Referring to the short-term increase that we're just discussing now, he said, "If that's what Boehner needs to climb out of the tree he's stuck in, then that's something we should look at."
Again, that is President Obama, as quoted by a Democratic lawmaker.
It didn't take long for the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, to come back swinging with, what does short term buy us? That buys us Thanksgiving in Washington.
Doesn't it also buy us not blowing through the debt ceiling, Brianna? I mean, it is a -- at least -- at the very least, it's the very least that these people could do. And I think the markets have responded already.
KEILAR: That's right. And the way the White House sees it, Ashleigh, is, do they want a short-term deal? Not really. They'd like a long-term deal. They'd like what the Senate is proposing, which is, increase the debt ceiling beyond the election next year.
But they're resigned to the fact that they're not going to get that. And so knowing that, a short-term deal is preferable, obviously, to a default.
But, you know, it's true. It puts us right into the holidays. And the White House has been talking a lot to the business community, especially lately, and they're hearing all of this concern about, where does that put us?
That's when people are buying holiday presents, right? So you're looking at uncertainty around that and certainly retailers are worried that it's going to impact what people are consuming and that it's going to hurt the economy.
And that's also a very real concern here, but they seem to be resigned to the fact that this may be the best they can get, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: All right, stand by, if you will, for a moment, Brianna, because we're still waiting. We've got our live cameras up on Capitol Hill at this time.
There's been a closed-door meeting since 10:00 with the House GOP conference and the House leadership. And we're expecting John Boehner, the speaker, to be joined by Eric Cantor, the majority leader, as well as Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip and the conference chair, Cathy Rodgers.
Any moment, they'll come out. We've been watching this dog-and-pony show every day, it seems, at this point.
Just take a look at the podium if you will as well because it seems that every time there's a news conference, there's a new hash tag. This one is "time4solutions." I think last time it was -- it think it was "let's have a conversation," or something like that.
So there's this marketing effort, each side, Democrats and Republicans, coming out daily, sometimes multi-daily, to give their marketing or their bumper sticker argument for the day. Who knows whether this is going to be a different day?
Dana Bash, if you can still hear me, the question I have for you about this potential temporary break in the impasse is, what exactly do we know about the six weeks?
Will there be some sort of condition attached to the six weeks? I know the condition wouldn't be attached to the debt ceiling deal, but the condition to the six weeks, meaning if we don't get this, it's over. We're going to careen right up exactly the way we are today in six week.
BASH: That's exactly right. I'm sorry. I just need to give you a little bit of a play-by-play because we're watching now, and it's just taping this new hash tag onto the podium. And I'm not sure if you can see that from your perspective --
BANFIELD: We can. We can.
BASH: -- but it's, you know, pretty classic as to how quickly they are, as you said, they change the placard from -- it was hash tag, "let's talk," to hash tag -- I can't see it. I'm behind it
I think it's "time for solutions."
BANFIELD: It's time for solutions, Dana. It's time for solutions today.
BASH: That's the twitter, hash tag world that we're all in right now.
But in any event, to ask -- to answer you question, the -- my understanding initially was that Republicans were going to sort of demand specific parameters to discussions that would start immediately.
Then it was this reported this proposal that they were going to push last night, I was told last night by a senior Republican source that they weren't going to give those specific parameters, primarily because, you know, there's so many different points of view within the Republican caucus, never mind between Republicans and Democrats, that it wasn't going to be that productive.
The decision was, inside the Republican leadership to give those specific parameters.
So if it's going to be -- it sounds like it's going to be kind of open-ended. And the club that they still have -- and when I say they, I mean Republicans, is, A, that it's only six weeks and they're going to, you know, really try to force negotiations, and, B, the government is still going to be shut down.
So, that's how they're going to try to get these negotiations up and running very fast is that, as I said, my understanding is that Republicans are hoping that that will be the first discussion point in the talks.
BANFIELD: Dana, as we watch the duct taping that's just wrapped up and the plan for the leaders to come out, I want to squeeze in a quick break, but in the meantime, I want you to think about the question the shutdown.
You just mentioned it. None of this deal affects the current shutdown, so where do we go from here with regard to that on a day-to-day basis?
Quick break, back and we're watching this live podium to hear what the Republican leadership has to say in a moment.
BANFIELD: We've been waiting for the House leadership, the Republican leadership to come out for a news conference to basically make public when they just said in private.
We are getting reporting from Deidre Walsh, though that at least the GOP Republican named Tim Griffin, of Arkansas, has reported to us that the speaker has presented the House Republicans with a plan for a six- week clean bill to raise the debt limit. So, again, clean means no strings attached. That's something that the president wanted. If we were going to get through some kind of six-week period, only to end up in the same situation we are in now. Apparently that's what the speaker has presented to his membership.
Dana Bash is standing by. She in that room you're looking at now as we are waiting for the leadership to come out, and talk about the hashtag, #time4solutions.
So, the question I asked going to break, Dana, was that that's great, Dana. We're talking about the debt ceiling, and perhaps avoiding this terrible impasse that was going to careen into us next week. But it doesn't help us with the government shutdown. There's no mention of it, it's not tied into it. We're still in the same boat with the government shutdown, correct?
BASH: That's exactly right, and that is, we are hearing, as you and I have been talking on the air, and I've been waiting for the speaker and other Republican leaders to come out, Deidre Walsh has been running around, as she normally does, talking to rank and file members.
She just told me that she talked to several, man, actually, and they made clear that's part of the reason why this plan is getting mixed reviews inside of the Republican caucus, big time mixed reviews. Part of the reason is because they're not happy that there's no plan to reopen the government.
But the other reason they're not happy is because of what you and I discussed before the break, that there aren't - that the Republican leaders decided to not mandate specific parameters for discussions as part of this agreement to raise the debt ceiling even temporarily for six weeks. They just decide that would not be productive. That is not something that is making conservatives happy at all.
BANFIELD: All right, Dana -- sorry, go ahead.
BASH: It's entirely possible and even probable when you see this on the floor of the House, again we said maybe tomorrow, that this is going to pass the Democratic and Republican votes, which is something that the speaker has been resisting doing with regard to opening the government. Our count shows the votes are there and he resisted doing that.
I just wanted to let you know I'm looking around the corner and it looks like the entourage may be coming, so it could just be seconds away.
BANFIELD: Oh, well if they're just - if they're just a few minutes away, I was about to swing away really quickly for an interview with some of the lawmakers who are standing by on The Hill, but I don't want to interrupt Speaker Boehner and what the other leadership members have to say.
In the interim, perhaps it's the most prudent thing to say how many Democrats have been canvassed about what they think of this? Many of them have said no debt ceiling deal that doesn't go past the midterms next year. Is there serious in intransigence among the membership in the Democrats?
BASH: Yeah, there are a lot of Democrats who think this is a terrible idea for that reason, because just like you've been saying it's kicking the can six weeks, we'll be right back where we were unless there's a magic solution in six weeks. Having said that, there are certainly enough Democrats who think that, that also don't want to see the country default. So they'll likely hold their nose and vote for it. That's what we're hearing.
BANFIELD: Dana Bash, if you could stand by for just one moment, there is one Democrat we have standing by. I'll bring him on board to answer a quick question, if I can. He is standing beside a Republican as well, and, gentlemen, I'm going to introduce you but with the caveat that the moment the speaker begins speaking, I may have to interrupt your mikes and get right to that live news conference.
Democrat Adam Schiff from California is joined by Nick Mulvaney, the Republican from South Carolina. Let me start with you, Adam Schiff if I can. I just asked what the Democratic members feel about this potential six-week deal. It's not what you wanted. I don't think anybody is going to get what they wanted. Do you appreciate it? Can you be on board with it? How many members, colleagues of yours, do you think would be?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: That's a good question. This is a concern I raised with the president yesterday at our meeting, that a short-term deal may just land us back where we are right now two months from now and go through this same crisis all over again. That economic cloud that hangs over this country with will we default, will we won't default, will be with us for another two months. If it's perceived there's concessions during that two months, then the next time the debt ceiling comes up, the expectation will have been created that there will be more concessions to pay our bills.
So a lot of concerns I have and I think a lot of concerns fellow Democrats have, if push comes to shove and it's either default or take a short-term deal, it's hard to choose default, but this is a very poor course if this is the ultimate resolution. It may just land us right back where we are two months from now, and I don't --
BANFIELD: Congressman Schiff, is that a no?
SCHIFF: -- and I don't think the country wants to go through this again.
It's not a no. This is a moving target. I want to see what comes out of it. A lot of moving pieces, including whether the government stays shut down, but at all costs I want to avoid a default but I also don't want to see this game continue where a small group can extort the House, and shut it down, burn it town and threaten our economy if it doesn't get what it wants.
BANFIELD: Okay. I want to try to leave out all the invectives, etc., like extortion and terrorism and all the rest if I can from this interview -
SCHIFF: That's how we feel about it.
BANFIELD: And Congressman Mulvaney - I understand that, but you know what it doesn't help in the conversation when you all start going with the polemics.
So, let me ask Congressman Muvaney, I know that you were just in - at least I'm told you were just in the meeting, you're with the House Financial Services Committee as well. Answer the same question for me, if you could, of what I just asked Adam Schiff, and that was are you on board? How many of your colleagues in the Republicans House could be on board with this no strings attached temporary solution?
REP. NICK MULVANEY, (R ) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I think the reporting that you're getting is not entirely accurate. I'm looking forward to hearing what the speaker has to say, but I ran out of the meeting, in the middle of the meeting to be here.
But what I heard is that it is not a pure clean old-fashioned debt ceiling increase. It is going to be very limited. There will be no extraordinary measures that the Treasury can use to extend or delay the onset of the debt ceiling. It's going to be a different sort of debt ceiling increase.
But what I think you're hearing the Republican say is the president was really (ph) said that he would sit down with us if we raised the debt ceiling and passed CR to open the government. He's not going to get all of that. We're going to give him half of what he wants, which is a short-term increase of the debt ceiling and see if he takes us up on our invitations to sit down and chat.
We'll also be offering, as part of this deal, another invitation to leadership of both the Senate Democrats and the White House to sit down in formal negotiations over this.
So, while it's being reported as a clean debt ceiling, my guess is it's not a garden variety debt ceiling increase and it's going to be simply a way to invite the discussion to continue.
BANFIELD: I don't mean to tax you, and I respect the fact that you said you had to leave the meeting to come out and do this live interview, but can you be more specific when you say not clean? Perhaps some sort of provisions? What kind of provisions, at least, were alluded to, suggested at?
MULVANEY: It's not really conditions. I guess it's kind of a new animal that we're dealing with. Ordinarily when we raise the debt ceiling, we either do it by a period of time or an amount of money. That would be a traditional clean debt ceiling. If you do that, it still allows the Treasury to use its extraordinary measures to move the deadline forward or backwards. I think what you're going to see is more of a restricted debt ceiling increase so it is a hard six weeks or hard amount of money. It sounds like it's a subtle difference, and it probably is, but I don't think it's fair to say it's a traditional clean debt ceiling increase. I'm just trying to be --
BANFIELD: Okay. I understand that. I appreciate it. A general reaction from your colleagues in that meeting, was it lukewarm? Were people on board?
MULVANEY: Yeah, you know, honestly I think the reaction is sort of wait and see. What we've not mentioned yes is that a group of Republicans have been invited down to the White House this afternoon. We're not sending everybody. We're not sending our upper leadership. We're sending a group of committee chairmen and our lower, mid-level leadership to talk to the president, which I think is a great idea. I think what comes out of that conversation with this potential offer on the table will tell you a lot about where the Republicans are.
BANFIELD: I appreciate your time, Congressman Mulvaney and Congressman Schiff, especially since you walked out of that meeting, Congressman Mulvaney.
I'm going to get us live to the news conference if I can. Just to get you a quick setup, they just emerged from a meeting that was supposed to have begun at 10:00 am, close door meeting with the House GOP conference.
Who you're going to be seeing the Speaker John Boehner, who's off to the left-hand side of your screen, as you can see. You're also likely to be hearing from the Majority Leade, Eric Cantor. The Majority Whip Kevin Mccarthy and the Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is standing out front. Obviously as they file, I see them peeking in the background is Paul Ryan as well. Let's listen,
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, R-WASH., CHAIR, HOUSE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE: Good morning, everyone. We are ten days into the government shutdown and just today the president has invited the House Republicans to have a -- have a discussion about the way forward.
We're hopeful -- we're hopeful that this is the beginning of a meaningful dialogue with the president about the important issues that face this country. We are hopeful that these will be good faith negotiations over the long-term debt drivers of -- or the drivers of our debt over our security that we need for this country as well as the pressing need to open up this government again.
That's why we're going to offer legislation that will -- that will offer a temporary increase in the debt ceiling to allow us some time to continue this conversation, because it is time for solutions.
The Democrats' unwillingness to have this conversation has actually resulted in a delay and a -- and an ongoing government shutdown and it's hurting the American people. It's gone on too long. We hope that the president will choose negotiation over crisis, leadership over inaction and dialogue over silence. It's time to solve our problems.
REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know, the president is fond of saying that no one gets everything they want in a -- (inaudible) negotiation and, frankly, I agree with that. Nobody gets everything they want. But over the course of the last 10 days, we've been trying to have conversations with our Democrat colleagues. They don't want to talk. The president doesn't want to talk.
We tried to offer bills to reopen parts of the government only to have them rejected by our counterparts over in the United States Senate.
So what we want to do is to offer the president today the ability to move, a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, in agreement to go to conference on the budget, for his willingness to sit down and discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government and to start to deal with America's pressing problems.
Listen, it's time for leadership. It's time for these negotiations and this conversation to begin. And I would hope that the president will look at this as an opportunity and a good faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what he has demanded, in order to have these conversations begin.
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA., HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The American people expect both sides to sit down and work out their differences when you're operating in divided government. So I'm pleased today that we've had an invitation from the White House to actually begin to do that. And, you know, we have seen now for 10 days a government shutdown. It's not what we asked for. It is what was the result of the two parties not being able to sit down and talk.
And there is very little time left; we cannot waste any more time. And what we have discussed as a conference is a temporary extension of the debt ceiling in exchange for a real commitment by this president and the Senate majority leader to sit down and talk about the pressing problems that are facing all the American people.
And that includes a broad array of issues. We look forward to that happening, and if you look throughout history, presidents who have governed in a divided government have all sat down and talked with the other side. It's about time this is happening.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF., HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: I'm very hopeful for today. This is something that Republicans have been waiting quite some time for. We never wanted to shut down. That's why our very last bill said let's go to conference. So that door's always been open. And we're thankful that the president is willing to talk today.
We're coming there with an idea of working together. We're coming there to find common ground, to find common ground that will deal with these economic drivers that harm the economy, the drivers that continue to add debt.
So when we make an offer today for a temporary extension, we're looking for a structure that puts us on a path to get a budget, to take care of the debt and move this economy in a stronger position and have all America win, a little common sense for the rest of the country.
BOEHNER: And I'll take a couple of questions.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) taking this plan on the debt ceiling, what do you need in order to reopen the full government?
BOEHNER: That's a conversation we're going to have with the president today. And I don't want to put anything on the table. I don't want to take anything off the table. That's why we want to have this conversation.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that will prevent us from being in the exact same (inaudible)?
BOEHNER: Well, clearly, you could end up back in the same place and we don't want to be there. You know, listen, I think the president wants to deal with America's pressing problems just as much as we do. But to -- in order to deal with these pressing problems, we've got to sit down and have a conversation that leads to a negotiation that begins to solve these problems for the future and for, frankly, our kids and our grandkids.
QUESTION: Speaker, will you open -- will you reopen the government if the president doesn't agree to anything (inaudible)?
BOEHNER: If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.
(END LIVE FEED)
BANFIELD: There you have it. This is sort of classic Speaker Boehner, couple of questions, some very terse and very clear reactions and then that's it. Typically when the president or Harry Reid gives their news conference, little bit lengthier. Certainly the president's news conferences are lengthier, or have seemed to be in the last two weeks.