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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Sen. Bob Corker; Ted Cruz Rallies Conservative Crowd; Interview with Reps. Scalise and Jackson Lee
Aired October 11, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, day 11 of the partial government shutdown and Senate Republicans get their turn to sit down face to face with President Obama over at the White House. Just ahead, I'll speak with one of them live. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, Republican Senator Ted Cruz's defiant effort to defund Obamacare applauded by supporters, slammed by some hecklers, at a major conservative gathering right here in Washington.
And the ripple effects. The ripple effects from the crisis starting to take a very serious toll as some of the last paychecks go out and money begins to dwindle.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
All right. So, it's day 11 of the government shutdown. More conversations seem to be taking place on both sides of the aisle. We just learned from the White House just a little while ago that President Obama spoke with the House speaker, John Boehner, today by phone. According to the speaker's spokesman, they agreed to, quote, "keep talking." This after Senate Republicans had their chance to meet with the president face-to-face, a meeting that drew mixed reaction among those who were there.
I'll speak with one of those senators, Bob Corker, in just a few minutes. But first, our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is up on Capitol Hill. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is over at the white house. Dana, let me start with you. What is the latest Republican, House Republican offer that's on the table right now?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is so far is what they sent over earlier today which is a lot like what we heard them talk about publicly even before the big and important White House meeting last night. The idea would be to have a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, six weeks long, then appoint conferees or negotiators to sit down and talk about broad budget issues and then to also sit down and begin discussions about reopening the government.
And that is something, of course, that the president we understand from inside the meeting last night made very clear that he didn't want to wait until last to do. He wanted to talk about everything simultaneously, particularly, reopening the government. And I can just tell you that down the hall behind me is the House speaker's office and there have been people coming in and out all day long, even members of the senate, Republican senators have come in there.
Senior members like John Cornyn and Saxby Chambliss who is somebody who is very close confidant of John Boehner. So, there's just a feel here, Wolf, is high energy, high intensity, very different feel even than just 24 hours ago. They're really scrambling to figure out if there is a sweet spot to find with the White House to reopen the government.
But I know Jim is going to get this in a second, listening to Jay Carney just a moment ago at the White House. He certainly was sort of backing off the idea of anything that had to do with the short-term debt ceiling. So, unclear if that is part of the discussion, maybe a longer term extension of the debt ceiling which I know everyone around here would probably breathe a sigh of relief on because we would just be back in this crisis mode in six weeks.
BLITZER: With this latest horrible poll numbers for Republicans, is it fair to say, is it safe to assume that Obamacare at least for now is off the table in order to raise the debt ceiling and to reopen the government?
BASH: As far as Republicans go, no. It is not safe to assume that at all. Having said that, talking to a couple of Republican senators who were in a meeting with the president just today, he made clear again in private what he had said in public, which is fine, I know there are issues with Obamacare. Nothing is perfect, especially something as big and as important as a health care law like this.
But we're not going to talk about changing it until after the debt ceiling is raised, until after the government is reopened. But it doesn't sound like Republicans are entirely giving up, at least not in big ways to change it like defunding it or delaying it, but at least, some issues around the edges, again, lots of talk about things like repealing that medical device tax which helps pay for Obamacare which a lot of democrats do not like.
Things like that, but unclear how that is going in these talks, because everybody, Republicans and Democrats who have been so vocal just 24 hours ago about their disdain for the process are now very quiet which is a good sign, because they think that they're making some progress.
BLITZER: Let's see if they are, and we should know fairly soon. Dana, stand by. Let's go to our -- excuse me -- our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, right now. Jim, you just came out of that briefing from Jay Carney. That briefing was supposed to start at one o'clock. It was delayed two o'clock.
It really didn't even get started until after 4:00 p.m. which immediately said to me they deliberately made a decision to wait until the stock markets closed because of what he was about to say. Tell our viewers what he said.
JIM ACOSTA CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's not a bad guess. I can't confirm to you that that's the reason why they delayed the briefing, but I can tell you that what that briefing entailed for reporters was not exactly great news for the financial markets. White House press secretary, Jay Carney, came out and yes, he did confirm that the president and House speaker, John Boehner, spoke by phone earlier this afternoon.
But, essentially, what the president is saying at this point is that he is not budging when it comes to this idea that he has, this negotiating position that he has, that there must be a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government and a clean debt ceiling limit increase. What Dana Bash was saying just a few moments ago, I think, is right, that the president is not willing to sign on to an increase in the nation's debt ceiling that is tied to budget negotiations.
Jay Carney said that that would be paying a ransom. He went back to that ransom talk, Wolf. A clear sign that this president is not really in a negotiating mood right now and Jay Carney was asked about this repeatedly during the briefing, is there a negotiation going on. I asked him this question as well and he really would not even use that word. He said that the White House is listening and talking and here's more of what Jay Carney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: You said the position hasn't changed on the shutdown, the position hasn't changed on the debt ceiling. How is that negotiating?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His position that it's unacceptable to demand a ransom from the American people in return for not defaulting, it's not going to change. It's not going to change now and it's not going to change in six weeks and it's not going to change at any point during his presidency.
ACOSTA: You're waiting for the white flag. You're waiting for total capitulation.
CARNEY: He wants a situation where we can discuss and debate our differences and reach an agreement that reflects a willingness by both sides to compromise. He believes that although we're not there yet, and there's not an agreement, that there are indications in these last 24 hours from Republicans that -- of a new willingness to explore that possibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And at one point, during that exchange, Wolf, Jay Carney said that this isn't about winning and losing, but clearly, the White House feels it has a major upper hand at this point because the president is essentially not budging all of that much and one thing that Jay Carney did say during that briefing that I thought was pretty illuminating, he said that the president is concerned about this idea of a six-week extension of the nation's debt ceiling, because it would put the country basically back on the edge of default if things have not changed by then in six weeks from now, which is essentially right around Thanksgiving, right around the start of the holiday shopping season.
And Jay Carney specifically said that the president does not want to go down that road of having a potential debt default right as the holiday shopping season is getting started. So, Wolf, this sounded pretty gloomy when you compare it to all the optimism that we were sort of feeling and hearing from administration officials and from some of the lawmakers up on Capitol Hill who were expressing perhaps guarded cautious optimism.
I would say at this point, it's a whole lot gloomier this evening. The White House is not really looking for that white puff of smoke out of the hill right now, Wolf. It's almost as if they're looking for that white flag of surrender, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, it's good thing they waited until after the markets closed on Wall Street to do this briefing after 4:00. I agree with you. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, for that.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, one of the Republican senators inside that meeting with the president today, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: Wolf, good to be with you.
BLITZER: So, what's your assessment following that nearly two-hour meeting with the president? Deal or no deal?
CORKER: Well, look, I mean, certainly, it wasn't the kind of forum for a deal to be had, but it was a good conversation. I have to say I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. I do think there is areas of commonality, and my sense is over the next few days or week, there will be something that's worked out. There is no reason that I can see that that wouldn't be the case.
BLITZER: Give us an example of what made you pleased. What did you hear from the president that you liked?
CORKER: Well, I think, again, most of our conversation was not about the tactics of how short term, how long term, those kind of things, but more about the bigger policy issues. I think, you know, the thing that's interesting, Wolf, is finally, after weeks and weeks, we're on the right subject, right? I mean, and that is fiscal issues.
That's typically what you talk about around a debt ceiling and a C.R. So, I think there was a little (INAUDIBLE) by the president as to, you know, the kinds of things he'd be open to looking at relative to, you know, the strength of our country fiscally. And I think that was heartening to people who, like me, candidly who've been involved in discussions around these issues for so long.
And my guess is, I had dinner with some of the House members last night that were part of the meeting yesterday. I just think there's too much commonality here to keep an agreement from happening. And look, I do think that in fairness, a C.R. and a debt ceiling ought to be worked out simultaneously. I don't think it makes a lot of sense to have them done separately and I think that's the general feeling on our side of the building, on the Senate Republican side.
BLITZER: So, what will it take, senator, for you to pass simultaneously a clean bill as it's called in the house that will end the government shutdown, and at the same time, extend the debt ceiling? What do you want from the president as part of that? I take it Obamacare is off the table, right?
CORKER: Well, I still think there are some elements that, you know, are being discussed that are not what I would call central issues to the health care bill. I do think those may be there. They're not things that again are central to its operating. There are things that candidly might make it a little better. So, I do think there'll be some conversations around that.
As far as what it would take for me, look, I want to make sure, Wolf, that we're setting a precedent or setting the stage, if you will, to do something that's good for our country. I mean, after all that's occurred, I think those of us who, you know, fiscally care about our nation want to see an outcome here.
And I think that setting this up in such a way that you reopen government, you do some things along the way that are good in this initial step, and that you have the opportunity in another two or three months to do something that again, you get another bite at the apple from the standpoint of looking at mandatory spending, doing those things again that will put our country on a sounder path.
And again, I think the president, without getting into any specifics, you know, showed a little lag on what he'd be willing to look at. To me, that was a good thing. We still have to get the house, as you know, which has sometimes a different point of view from Senate Republicans. We've got to synch up these things.
And my guess is over the next two or three days, we're going to have the opportunity to do that. At some point soon, move ahead and begin focusing even more deeply on those things that matter most and that is strengthening our country fiscally.
BLITZER: This latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll shows, I will put it up on the screen, who's more to blame for the shutdown, 31 percent said the president, 53 percent, the Republicans in Congress. Both equally, 13 percent.
You predicted this weeks ago when you said it was a real blunder on the part of Senator Ted Cruz and others to demand defunding or delay even of Obamacare in exchange for allowing -- avoiding a government shutdown. So, you're not surprised by these numbers.
CORKER: No, I didn't say it exactly that way. The point I actually tried to focus on the strategy or the tactic and I did say that look, this defunding effort is a box canyon and, look, that's where we've ended up. You know, what we should have been focused on and we wouldn't be where we are today are the things we normally focus on at this time. And gain, that's spending and getting those kind of things under control. The fact that we've been on a three or four-week major rabbit trail that took us no place but into this box canyon certainly has hurt the country and it's hurt this process, but again, the good thing, Wolf, is we're finally on the right subject matter and everybody is talking about the same subject matter, which is tremendous progress when you think about it.
And I think again, just figuring out the format, how long the debt ceiling is, how long the C.R. is and what are some of the initial gains that can be had. Those will be worked out i think pretty soon.
BLITZER: The exact quote, I'll read it to you, we've got to go, just want to make sure that it was precise. "I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count the defunding box canyon as a tactic that will fail and weaken our position." I know you didn't go to Harvard or Princeton, but Senator Ted Cruz did go to Princeton and then Harvard law school. So, that was -- caused a little buzz at the time, as you well remember.
CORKER: Well, Wolf, I don't know. Maybe you went to Harvard --
BLITZER: I didn't.
CORKER: I'm just kidding you, but look, you know, I was obviously trying to make a point. I think it's a point, I don't want to be one of those "I told you sos," but we are where we are.
CORKER: It's been something that certainly has not been a good thing for our nation. That's what comes first. It certainly hasn't been good for Republicans, especially those that want to see good policies put in place. But again, we're back on the right page, Wolf. and that's progress and I think we'll do something good over the next several days.
BLITZER: Where did you go to college?
CORKER: What's that?
BLITZER: where did you go to college?
CORKER: I went to the great University of Tennessee. I went to public schools all my life.
BLITZER: All right. Well, I went to the University of Buffalo. So, you and I -- we learned how to count when we were in college, I suppose, at the same time. Thanks very much.
CORKER: Thank you, Wolf. Have a good day.
BLITZER: You, too. Thank you very much, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
When we come back, fireworks at a major conservative gathering right here in Washington. Republican Senator Ted Cruz rallies the crowd over his push to defund Obamacare in the face of a government shutdown.
Plus, a rising star in the GOP compares the president's health care law to slavery, says this is the worst legislation since slavery. You're going to hear exactly what he said.
BLITZER: Fireworks at a major conservative gathering here in Washington. Just a short while before visiting the White House, the Republican senator, Ted Cruz, of Texas, he rallied the crowd amidst his push to defund Obamacare, even in the face of a government shutdown. CNN's Erin McPike is there. She's working the story.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas senator, Ted Cruz, took center stage at the Values Voter Summit, angered over the direction the country is headed in.
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: And every man and woman in this room believes in your heart, in your gut, in your soul, that is utterly and completely unacceptable!
MCPIKE: Cruz rallied the faithful at a gathering of social conservatives here in Washington and continued his fight against Obamacare, a position many members of his own party are starting to abandon.
CRUZ: But I want to make the most of this moment. We have an opportunity here to pay down our national debt and jump-start our economy. This president, he won't agree to everything that we need to do.
MCPIKE: Like Paul Ryan who was on video, and Ted Cruz, Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are potential hopefuls for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. But Rubio and Paul avoided talking about Obamacare and the shutdown today.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: There's a worldwide war on Christianity.
MCPIKE: It's taking a toll on the GOP. A new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC survey shows even Republican voters, those who don't identify with the Tea Party at least, think Congressional Republicans are putting politics ahead of the good of the country. Afterwards, Cruz did attend a meeting at the White House where he later said there was a lot of talk.
CRUZ: If I'm never seen again, please send a search and rescue team.
MCPIKE: And while there is a growing divide within the GOP, Cruz was riding high with support here.
TOM ZAWISTOWSKI, TEA PARTY MEMBER: We're supporting Ted Cruz because we think he's standing for the principles that we believe in. SHELLY HUEY, REPUBLICAN: I think they should stand their ground and what this is doing is really truly revealing who the true Republicans are versus the rhinos which is Republican in name only. It's becoming very apparent. I'm kind of glad that it's continuing.
MCPIKE: As for the leadership trying to cut a deal like John Boehner --
ZAWISTOWSKI: We congratulate him for standing strong, but now he's got to stand strong.
HUEY: I think John Boehner has a good tan.
MCPIKE (on-camera): Now, Cruz, of course, was the star of the show, but he also had his fair share of detractors and he was heckled throughout the first half of his speech. Wolf, we also want to bring to your attention Ben Carson. He is a surgeon and one of the leading critics in this country of Obamacare.
As you may know, he is a contributor on Fox News. Here's what he had to say about Obamacare. It was one of maybe the most memorable moments of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON, RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: And I have to tell you, you know, Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way it is slavery in a way, because --
CARSON: it is making all of us subservient to the government and it was never about health care. It was about control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCPIKE: So, now even though a number of Republican lawmakers want to move beyond health care as far as the government shutdown is concerned, it's not enough for this crowd, Wolf.
BLITZER: No. What a statement from Ben Carson. Thanks very much. We're going to continue this conversation.
Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the anchor of CNNs "State of the Union." These numbers for the Republicans are especially bad right now. More numbers from the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Do you have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party? Thirty-nine percent said yes, Republican Party, 24 percent, the Tea Party, 21 percent. How bad is this right now for Republicans?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's bad, terrible for the Republican Party, but there is also in this poll a broad disgust with the American political system and Peter Hart (ph), the pollster, one of the pollsters who did this poll, wrote sort of an analysis of it. What was interesting to me was he said you know, there are very few times when you measure public opinion and it crystallizes in a moment and it remains.
And he has the sense that this shutdown has been a real crystallizing moment for people and their attitudes toward the Republican Party. I mean, we'll have to see if he's right. But he said what was stunning about this is how quickly it moved and how it has remained anti- Republican. The people at the convention we just saw are one group in the Republican Party.
But I think they're so separate from the rest of the Republican Party that you may be looking at the dissolution of the Republican Party as we know it, because they disagree so vehemently not only on the strategy of Obamacare, but they're really different parties right now.
BLITZER: Can the Republicans repair this rift between the Tea Party wing and the more moderate Republicans?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, because let's remember sort of to a person, the Republicans on the hill said we want to get rid of Obamacare. The question is how do we go about doing that. So, I think, you know, fundamentally, there's some large agreement under which they can go. I'm reminded of Howard Dean saying we cannot be the Republican Party light, the Democrats, when he was running.
He said these guys are all Democratic, but we've got to be progressive. To me, it's a party out of power that is struggling for its heart and soul. It can still get it together. And by the way, it's a long time until the next election. We've got some interesting elections coming up. But, you know, a year is a long time in politics.
And I still continue to believe that the success of the president's health care plan next year as people join in and start to get health care insurance, and how that works, will be an overarching issue. If it works really well, I think that's great, it will be great for Democrats. If not, another issue for Republicans.
BLITZER: To be determined. See how it works. All right. Candy, I know you got Senator Rand Paul Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. on "State of the Union." We'll be watching. Gloria, thanks to you as well.
When we come back, is Obamacare off the table in the push to end the government shutdown? Two key members of Congress, they are standing by live. We're going to have a serious debate when we come back.
BLITZER: Government shutdown started as an effort by some House Republicans to try to defund Obamacare, but 11 days into the crisis, hardly anyone is talking about the Affordable Care Act right now. They have other issues on the agenda. Let's get some more now with two members of congress. Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He's chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
Is Obamacare really for all practical purposes, congressman, off the table right now in order to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling?
REP. STEVE SCALISE, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE: No, Wolf. Everything is on the table. We're trying to put a lot of things on the table to get the government open, to make sure that the debt ceiling's extended and to get our economy moving again. And of course, Obamacare is one of those things that's holding our economy back. Obviously, there's a lot of big issues we want to address to get the economy moving again so that American families that were struggling before the shutdown are able to actually --
BLITZER: When the dust settles and there's no reference at all to Obamacare, will you vote to reopen the government and to raise the debt ceiling? If there's no mention of Obamacare in the legislation whatsoever?
SCALISE: Obviously, I want to see what a deal is.
BLITZER: Let's say there's no reference to it at all. What happens?
SCALISE: I don't deal in hypotheticals but we're pushing to get the problems of Obamacare addressed. What about just fairness? The fact that President Obama himself exempted members of Congress from this law, if it's so good, shouldn't it apply to everybody? Don't just exempt businesses. Don't just exempt members of Congress. Exempt everybody if the law's not working.
BLITZER: What do -- Congresswoman, what do you say to that?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: You know, this is my neighbor. Louisiana. And I'm from the state of Texas. So let me give you two truths. Millions of people are being helped by Obamacare as we speak. Frankly, Obamacare is not the worst thing since slavery. It is helping millions, it's helping those with pre-existing disease, and it is not an issue that should be tied to reopen the government --
BLITZER: When you hear Dr. Ben Carson, a distinguished physician at Johns Hopkins University, well known surgeon, when he says that this is the worst legislation since slavery in the United States, what do you think?
JACKSON LEE: Well, Dr. Carson is a friend of mine. I have a great deal of respect for him. But obviously he has missed the historical legacy here in this country although we've overcome it, we interred the Japanese, we discriminated against the Chinese. There were Jim Crowe laws. It saddens me. Because millions of people are being saved, lives saved, people coming out of hospice now being able to have, if you will, preventative care.
But let me just say this. I introduced legislation yesterday that said that never again will we tie a legislative debate or disagreement to the debt ceiling or the continuing of the government. And this is for the House of Representatives.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) have done that many times in the past as you well know.
JACKSON LEE: But we have not -- we have not had it in the context, in the context of a law that has been passed and affirmed and continued to have the government shut down without saying that we will continue this debate later on.
BLITZER: All right. Let me let Congressman Scalise --
JACKSON LEE: And this is not the time. There are too many people hurting.
BLITZER: I want you to weigh in on that. But do you agree with Dr. Ben Carson that Obamacare is the worst law in America since slavery?
SCALISE: I didn't hear his comments. You know, and I don't think he said it's worse than slavery.
BLITZER: No, he didn't say it was worse.
SCALISE: I think anybody would suggest --
BLITZER: It is worse since slavery.
SCALISE: What I will say, Wolf, is that millions of families are losing the good health care that they had before Obamacare and that was a promise, remember, if you like what you have, you can keep it. That promise has been broken. It will lower costs, that promise has been broken.
Families in Louisiana are paying over 50 percent more from health care -- for health care in the premiums that are coming out under Obamacare. You're seeing doctors leave the practice of medicine. You're seeing the IRS under Obamacare --
BLITZER: What about the millions of people who never had health insurance who will now be eligible to get health insurance because of previous illnesses, pre-existing conditions or whatever? Isn't that a good thing?
SCALISE: Well, actually the high risk pool under Obamacare that promised all those people with pre-existing conditions that they'd be able to go in and get that health care, the president shut that off in February. He literally shut those people out starting in February. So you can't go into that high risk pool right now.
This thing is so broken, Wolf. The president is not acknowledging it's not working. He has issues over 1200 waivers. He's given a waiver to members of Congress, of all people.
BLITZER: You want to respond?
SCALISE: He shouldn't do that.
JACKSON LEE: I absolutely do. First of all, the conservative wing, the extreme right, are misrepresenting. Frankly what is open now to the American people is to go into the exchange. Their existing insurance may go up but they are able to go into the exchange. There are people willing to testify to premiums of $100, $130, young men, young women who would not have had insurance before are getting insurance but particularly the people with pre-existing disease. On the high risk, they are now able to go into the regular exchange.
Here's my point. If you have a disagreement about legislation approved by the United States Supreme Court, signed by the president and two branches of the Congress, two Houses of the Congress, have the debate during the regular order. But right now, we've got employees who will get 40 percent checks today. We have people who are not able to pay mortgages, their child care.
We have people saying they want to be on -- that will have to be on, not want to be on, food stamps. What we're arguing for is the markets are going to take a devastating hit, one, if we don't open the government and then we raise the debt ceiling for only a few weeks, if we tie other things to it.
BLITZER: All right.
JACKSON LEE: What the president said is that when you open the government, a clean bill on the floor, when you raise the debt ceiling, yes, we'll open it up to a lot of things.
SCALISE: The --
JACKSON LEE: Let me -- let me just tell you. I may --
BLITZER: All right. Hold on. Finish the thought.
JACKSON LEE: I may disagree with entitlement discussion or chained CPI, but I will tell you that the president has said all of us will have everything on the table. That's the right thing.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
SCALISE: First of all, for the president to say, unless I get everything I want in a government funding bill, I won't even sit at a table and negotiate. That's not how our democracy works.
Look, we have divided government, Wolf. You have Republicans running the House, you've got Democrats running the Senate and the White House. And that's the way America has set it up. That's the way our country is. There is division but what they also expect is that their leaders sit in a room and negotiate those differences. For weeks we've been saying, let's get in a room and actually start talking about our differences.
BLITZER: But that's what -- they're doing that now, right?
SCALISE: The president for weeks said he won't negotiate. He still hasn't agreed to negotiate, by the way. We sat with him yesterday and we said we'll raise the debt ceiling in exchange for the start of negotiations over our differences. And so far he hasn't agreed even to that.
BLITZER: He wants you to reopen the government, end the government shutdown and then continue the negotiation.
SCALISE: But under his terms. Under 100 percent of his terms.
JACKSON LEE: Not his terms.
SCALISE: Clearly we have big disagreements over the funding of government. By the way, we passed 18 bills in the last two weeks to fund either all or parts of government.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead.
SCALISE: Including agencies like Veterans Affairs. Shouldn't we at least agree, pay our veterans benefits while we're negotiating over these other differences.
JACKSON LEE: Those are political votes that are going nowhere. And frankly --
SCALISE: They shouldn't be going anywhere. They should be going to the president and get signed.
JACKSON LEE: Those are political votes -- we have never run the government in that way. Every vote that we've had --
SCALISE: Of course the government has been run in that way in the past.
JACKSON LEE: Every vote that we've had, they've left out large elements of veterans services. That's why the veterans centers are closed.
But let me just say this. In the meeting we had with the president -- in the meeting we had with the president when Democrats, when all of us were able to come, the president made it very clear. He made it very clear that he might make some Democrats unhappy as he moves forward but what he said is, I don't want to hold the American people in a hostage position. Open the government, give us an opportunity to turn the markets in the right direction by raising the debt ceiling.
SCALISE: But that's not what a negotiation --
JACKSON LEE: And everything --
SCALISE: He's got to be willing to sit in a room and actually have those negotiations.
JACKSON LEE: And he will open the negotiation process. He said it to the Republicans yesterday. Paul Ryan understood it. He said there was a meeting where we're discussing open the government.
BLITZER: All right.
JACKSON LEE: Don't hold us hostage and not opening the government.
BLITZER: The president is not calling it negotiations but for all practical purposes, what's going on right now are negotiations.
SCALISE: We haven't really gotten agreement from the president to negotiate. His response was, I haven't said yes and I haven't said no. This isn't a time to vote present. This is a time to actually lead --
BLITZER: Very quickly, will there be a deal in the next couple of days?
SCALISE: We can absolutely get a deal done if both sides actually sit in the room and negotiate the real differences we have to get our economy moving.
BLITZER: Will there be a deal?
JACKSON LEE: There should be a deal around a clean bill to open the government, to raise the debt ceiling. I'd like it to be longer than these six to eight weeks. Possibly a year or time. I like what the Senate Republicans seem to be open to that kind of compromise. And frankly, let me say this. You can't put 18, 25 little bills on the floor and leave the rest of the government operating on half a tank of gas.
We have to have an allegiance to more than our individual interests to the American people and if we do that, we will have a deal. I believe that.
BLITZER: Sheila Jackson Lee, Steve Scalise, it's a good debate.
SCALISE: That's not a negotiation.
BLITZER: We will see what happens. The stakes are enormous. Shake -- shake hands.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you.
BLITZER: I like to see that. All right. Thanks very much. Up next, time stands still in one corner of the capitol, thanks to the government shutdown.
And the Vatican misspells one word, you'd think it would get right. Stand by.
BLITZER: The government shutdown has time standing still in one quarter of the U.S. capitol. An historic timepiece known as the Ohio clock stopped working Wednesday more than a week after the workers in charge of winding it were furloughed.
More news right ahead.
BLITZER: Take a quick look at some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
The Secretary of State John Kerry, he caught a lot of us by surprise today by visiting Afghanistan. He's trying to reach a deal with President Hamid Karzai in a long-stalled plan to keep some, some U.S. forces in the country. After all U.S. and NATO troops are supposed to leave in 14 months.
The two-star general in charge of the U.S. Air Force's nuclear missiles has been fired. The move follows an investigation into reports of misbehavior by Major General Michael Kerry but the Air Force isn't giving any details. This is the second time in a week an officer in charge of the nation's nuclear arsenal has been relieved of command.
Bizarre charges against two New York rabbis. The FBI says they charged orthodox women thousands of dollars to orchestrate the kidnapping and torture of husbands who refuse to grant their wives a divorce under Jewish law. One rabbi allegedly told an undercover agent he hired men who used plastic bags to cover the husbands' heads and electric cattle prods to assault them. The rabbis have pleaded not guilty.
An embarrassing blunder by the Vatican. It misspelled the name of Jesus on a new coin commemorating the papacy of Pope Francis. It spelled the name with an L in the Latin phrase that encircles the coin. About 6,000 were minted. All but a handful have been reportedly retrieved and those few are now a very rare collector's item.
Just ahead, so who's really feeling the pain of the government shutdown? And who's next in line as the effects expand and expand at a very disturbing rate.
BLITZER: More than 200 survivors have been pulled from the sea near Sicily where a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized. Officials say at least four bodies have been recovered. The search continues for more survivors.
There's more news straight ahead.
BLITZER: All right. Brace yourself. The effects of the shutdown are expanding. Food aid, veterans programs, federal courts and much more could soon halt.
CNN's Tom Foreman is here. He's working the story for us.
Tom, seems to be going from bad to so much worse.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is. When the shutdown began, the effects were isolated. You may have felt the impact back here on day one if you lived in any one of these cities out here that have fairly large concentrations of federal centers, considering that 400,000 federal workers were furloughed, or if you planned to vacation out in a federal park, the national park, you might have had some other direct dealings with the federal government, that sort of thing. Then you would have felt it.
Eleven days later, though, if we move up to this point, the map is really beginning to change. The consequences are growing. Many federal workers including those not furloughed may well receive their last paycheck soon. And in many cases it will be less than their normal pay.
Federal courts all over are still open but they are rapidly rationing their dwindling funds. Big companies with big government contracts such as Lockheed Martin are putting some of their own workers on furlough now.
Boeing which needs federal authorization to deliver new jets to passengers out there can't get it with inspectors out, so they're warning of delays.
A salmonella outbreak that's affected around 300 people in more than a dozen states forced the Centers for Disease Control to bring back some furloughed workers to the office and food inspections by other agencies have been trimmed back. And so have hospital and nursing home inspections.
The living allowances for AmeriCorps volunteers have been cup. This is just a sample, Wolf, of how these effects are expanding.
BLITZER: Expanding indeed. In some states, though, they are coming up with some creative ways to try to keep some of these programs afloat, despite the shutdown, aren't they?
FOREMAN: Yes, they are. For example, in North Carolina, they're saving some money to restart the WIC program there. This program for nutrition to women, infants and children. They were out of money. They found a way to bring some back into that. Private donors have offered $10 million to help Head Start. That program already closed for 19,000 kids. Utah is giving money to the national parks so that eight of them can be reopened in that state. Some other states are trying this, too.
But here's the thing, Wolf, all of these are temporary measures. They cannot go on forever. And if this goes on for 20 days or more, like the last big shutdown, we're likely to see cuts then in things like the food stamp program, welfare assistance for poor families out there, heating assistance for people as they go into the cold weather, and even there could be a stoppage of the disability and pension benefits for almost four million veterans, and on and on it goes.
Maybe you're among the people who did not see any effects among family and friends when this started, but as each day goes by, the odds of you seeing some kind of effect gets bigger and bigger -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's an awful situation. All right, Tom Foreman, thanks very much.
And the U.S. capitol, Washington, D.C., get this, also on the verge of going broke. Right now because of the shutdown.
BLITZER: The international watchdog group overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but you may be surprised to find out the United States still has not destroyed its own chemical weapons stockpiles.
Here's CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was all right here. The U.S.' worst of the worst. Mustard gas, sarin, nerve agents in bulk, in missiles, and deadly concoctions. More than 13,000 tons of America's most dangerous chemical weapons.
The government chose this barren desert near Salt Lake City as a storage facility during the height of World War II. The Deseret Chemical Weapons Depot was the perfect place, not just because of its isolation but because Japanese war planes couldn't touch it.
RICHARD TRUJILLO, WEAPONS DEPOT MANAGER: That's one of the big reasons why they did that, was it -- they were able -- the Japanese were able to hit the West Coast, they wouldn't be able to fly from there to here without refueling.
GRIFFIN: Richard Trujillo wasn't even born yet when the poisons began arriving. It grew to an enormous stockpile that the U.S. didn't start destroying until 1996.
TRUJILLO: It never was used. And it just slowly began to deteriorate. And that was one of the big reasons for one to get rid of it.
GRIFFIN: Trujillo would grow up right here on base and spend a career working and living alongside more than 40 percent of the nation's chemical weapons stockpile. TRUJILLO: Yes, it's all been destroyed.
GRIFFIN (on camera): How hard was that to plan, build and carry out?
TRUJILLO: You know, that whole task is nothing short of being miraculous in my mind.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The last of the depot's munitions were destroyed just last year, a process that took more than 16 years.
TRUJILLO: One of the amazing things about it was they destroyed all of that and there was no casualties. No. You know, it was all done safely.
GRIFFIN: The Department of Defense told us to date 90 percent of the U.S. stockpile has been successfully and safely destroyed, which means 10 percent of the U.S. chemical weapons remain. In other words, we are still dealing with our own chemical weapons while the world now tries to deal with Syria's. A topic the U.S. Department of Defense told CNN it did not want to discuss.
In a statement to CNN, the department says, "It has been clear that it is inaccurate to draw parallels between the U.S. chemical demilitarization program and the international cooperation that will be required to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria."
(On camera): While that may be true in a strictly technical sense, getting rid of American chemical weapons on American soil took decades of planning, construction, and coordination between federal, state and local officials, and a very willing military. It also took billions and billions of dollars and it's still not complete.
So how likely is it anything similar to what happened here in Utah could take place in Syria in a war zone under the guidance of a dictator who may not be as eager to get rid of his chemical weapons.
(Voice-over): Wade Mathews is Tooele County's emergency manager. . WADE MATHEWS, TOOELE COUNTY, UTAH, EMERGENCY MANAGER: We had a government that insisted that it'd be done safely and that the community was protected, maximum protection, I think, was the phrase that was used. Maximum protection for the community when this was being destroyed. And so again, the funding was there. I don't know that those things are in place in Syria.
GRIFFIN: The final stockpile of U.S. chemical weapons will be destroyed at two plants. Mustard agent known as a blister chemical here in Pueblo, Colorado, the deadly VX and sarin gases and more mustard at the Bluegrass Plant in Kentucky, but it will take another 10 years, not until 2023, to rid the United States of these ugly and indiscriminate weapons of war.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Tooele County, Utah.
BLITZER: Happening now, a SITUATION ROOM special report. Government shutdown day 11.
New contact between President Obama and the House Speaker John Boehner with a GOP compromise offer on the table.
We're keeping you up to the minute on a potential deal and whether it's enough to defuse this crisis.