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NEW DAY

Government Shutdown Continues; Senate Announces Possible Deal to Reopen Government and Raise Debt Ceiling; Interview with Senator Mark Pryor; Second Dry Ice Explosion at LAX; Al Libi in Court Today

Aired October 15, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We'll talk to some of the lawmakers in the trenches working the angles, putting this deal together. The big obstacle, obviously, the House, all eyes on a man named John Boehner. We'll tell you about it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And also ahead, we have this story. Jury selection beginning today for a doctor accused of murdering his wife of nearly 30 years. Prosecutors say he gave her a lethal cocktail of drugs so he could be with his mistress. But he says her death was an accident. At least one of his daughters will be a star witness, just not for his side, her father's side. We'll have more on that ahead.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Quite a story we're following. A family claims they were run out of their town after their daughter accused a high school football player of rape. The case was dropped but the teen girl was punished by her school, mom lost her job, and the family says they were harassed. Now their story is striking a national nerve. We'll speak live with the victim's mom.

CUOMO: But first let's head down to D.C. because the talk at least is 180 degrees from where we were just yesterday. The Senate majority leader is saying tremendous progress, a bright day on a deal to reopen the government, raise the debt ceiling, at least for the next few months. Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, you are proceeding with deliberate caution and rightly so. What's the situation down there for real?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's tempting to get optimistic, but previous experience tells us to be a little cautious at this point, Chris, you're right. But the White House does say President Obama is open to this compromise that's been worked out by Senate leaders in part because it raises the nation's debt ceiling for nearly four months. That would give Democrats and Republicans some breathing room to work their way out of this latest budget crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRY REID, (D-NV) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We know this has been a difficult time for everyone.

ACOSTA: Lo and behold, two experienced Capitol Hill brawlers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, may have found the path to budget peace in Washington.

REID: We are not there yet but tremendous progress. And everyone just needs to be patient.

ACOSTA: Both men shared the news on the Senate floor that they are close to a deal that would both reopen the government and raise the nation's debt ceiling before potential default in less than two days.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think it's safe to say we've made substantial progress, and we look forward to making more progress in the near future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a deal?

ACOSTA: But as Vice President Joe Biden indicated by staying mum on the subject, it's not over yet. Here's how the deal would work. The government funded through mid-January, the debt ceiling extended to early February. In a nod to GOP opposition to Obamacare, changes to that law are also under consideration, including new income verification requirements for health care subsidies. Those are tweaks to Obamacare the president may not support. But he's all but pressuring Republicans to take the Senate deal.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Republicans aren't willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns in order to do what's right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting.

ACOSTA: A new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll finds the public is furious with the GOP, with 74 percent saying they disapprove of how Republicans have handled budget negotiations, versus 53 percent who feel the same about the president. But some House Republicans are holding their ground, still demanding concessions.

REP. RAUL LABRADOR, (R) IDAHO: I'd like to do something that he gets something, I get something.

ACOSTA: Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer compared the GOP's tactics to acts of violence.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: When you start acting like you're committing domestic abuse, you've got a problem. I love you, dear, but, you know, I'm shutting down your entire government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: That kind of talk could turn-off for Senate Republicans who still have to sign off on this agreement. They meet later this morning to go over the framework of this compromise.

And keep in mind who comes up next. That is the House where conservative Republicans may not be in the mood for a deal at this point. And remember, a lot of those Tea Party-backed Republicans are suspicious of what a debt default could do to the country. They're not exactly sure that it would cause the kind of havoc the White House has been warning about, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jim, thanks so much. Let's talk more about this with chief national correspondent John King, joining us from D.C., of course, with what we need to know about the deal and what is left to overcome. John, a statement we often hear from John Boehner seems to be popping into my mind when he says nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. The details are what matter in trying to get this over the finish line. The contours of what we're seeing come out, what is in this for Democrats, what is in this for Republicans that then can like?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start first with Speaker Boehner. Remember, he has not committed to any backing of the Senate deal. Let's remember at 7:05 this morning, there's talk of a deal but there is no deal. But if the deal that was just outlined by Jim Acosta comes to fruition, let's start with the Democrats. What's in it for them? They get the government reopened pretty quickly and they get the debt ceiling extended for a period of several months.

And most of all, Democrats think they get a public relations problem for the Republicans, especially the House Republicans, because they believe there are very few concessions, major concessions anyway, to the Republicans in here.

Which brings you to the question, what's in it for Republicans? And that is the more complicated question. If you're Speaker Boehner, the Republicans on the Senate side, what's in it for you is if you can reopen the government, extend the debt ceiling, and put this story behind you, you hope you can start to make up for some of the political damage.

But Kate, already conservative groups this morning, including RedState.com sending out alerts saying reject this deal. They say the Republicans are getting nothing, that any changes to Obamacare would be very modest. About the only thing Republicans could claim they are getting is a commitment to go into serious budget talks about spending levels, about entitlement reform, with the pressure of the debt ceiling only being extend a couple months, you'd get those talks. But in terms of remember where we started, shutting down the government to defund or delay Obamacare? Republicans wouldn't get that in this deal, and so many of those conservative groups are sending a message to Speaker Boehner saying reject it.

BOLDUAN: With that in mind, you look at the time line as well, what options does Speaker Boehner have?

KING: That is probably the greatest pressure point in Washington right now. What they are hoping, and again I'm going to be a tad skeptical, the Senate says it's close to a deal. Senate Republican will meet this morning, Senate Democrats will meet this morning. Let's see if by lunchtime or so we actually have a deal instead of talk of a deal. Let's assume the Senate has a deal, takes a couple days to pass the Senate. Then we are right up against or even past that debt ceiling deadline. If there's a deal on paper, everyone thinks the markets will give it a few days. Then the question is does Speaker Boehner bring it to the floor?

The operating theory in Washington is that he would have no choice. Even if he knew 20 or 30 or 40 of the House Republicans would actually vote yes he would have no choice because of the political and economic pressure. That is the current thinking in Washington. But Kate, the thinking in Washington about what should happen, that has often been wrong in recent days.

BOLDUAN: What should happen and what does happen do not seem to be the same thing these days. All the focus on House speaker John Boehner this morning, as usual, in this fight. John King, great to see you.

KING: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's get an inside look now. We have Democratic senator from Arkansas Mark Pryor. He's been involved in the bipartisan talks, joining us now from Capitol Hill. Thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY, senator.

SEN. MARK PRYOR, (D) ARKANSAS: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's great to be with you.

CUOMO: Let's focus the question this way. How confident are you that you have a deal in the Senate that will pass muster with John Boehner in the House?

PRYOR: Well, let's take that one step at a time. I'm pretty confident that at some point today, hopefully this morning, the leadership and the White House will announce that there is an agreement in the Senate and hopefully there will be enough votes in the House to pass that.

I'll be honest with you. A lot of what you see in the House, you see some Republicans, not all, I don't want to say this about the entire Republican Party, some Republicans, quite honestly, they're acting childish about a lot of this. They almost want to shut down. They want to see us break the debt ceiling, things like that, very irresponsible. I don't think that's where most of the Republicans are, but they're allowing that smaller group to drive the train. And that's one of the real problems we have in Washington.

So I think we'll get an agreement today in the Senate. I'm not saying we can pass it today because there's logistics about drafting and getting it to the floor and the procedural things we'll have to do. But my guess is, this is just guess, but my guess is we'll pass something in the Senate tomorrow. Get it over to the House as quickly as possible. Hopefully they'll pass it shortly thereafter.

CUOMO: The reason I asked it the way I did, just passing something is not enough at this stage, is it, senator? Don't you have to think about the practicalities of the next step, otherwise, what is this worth?

PRYOR: I was part of this bipartisan group in the Senate that helped work through a lot of these issues. And by the way, I think that's one of my roles in the Senate to try to come together, and Susan Collins was nice enough to include me. She and I worked on a number of bipartisan things before. We have a bipartisan group of 12 and eventually 13 senators to work through these issues.

And I think the framework that we came up with in our group is the framework that, you know, the president and the two leaders are now looking at. But, nonetheless, I think that that's a workable framework and I think that it does have bipartisan support. It should have bipartisan support in the House.

And one of the goals we really set out within our group, look, we don't want 60 votes. We want to get 70, 75, 80 votes on this if we possibly can because we think that really puts pressure on the House to get this passed.

CUOMO: Why should people be happy if this deal happens when essentially it's kicking the can down the road, isn't it?

PRYOR: Let me tell you this. We should not be in this situation. Again, we have a small group of Republicans that are kind of driving the train, especially on the House side. It's very unfortunate but nonetheless that's what's going on. So we shouldn't even be here in the first place. We should have resolved this months ago.

And one of the things that's frustrating for me is, and I know it's frustrating for many Americans and many Arkansans, is that they want us up here to govern. They want us to work together, to try to be problem-solvers, to put aside our partisan differences and get in here and do what's right, do what's best for the country. Unfortunately partisanship often times takes over up here.

We should be happy about this deal because we do reopen the government. We do get an extension of the debt ceiling. And also there's a process here in place to have more serious discussions and negotiations about our fiscal situation for the country. So there's good in this.

And one of the things I'm disappointed with here in Washington is I hear a lot of lawmakers and, of course, some media, but even lawmakers say what do the Democrats get out of this? What do the Republicans get out of this? That's the problem in Washington is they're always looking at the political angle. What do we get? What do they get? How do we win? How do they lose? That's the wrong analysis.

The right analysis is what's the best thing for the country? How can we provide stability, how can we do things like, you know, send signals to the market that it's OK to invest, it's OK to hire, it's OK to take risks, because America is the place to be? And, you know, that's what we want to try to do. But unfortunately again, a fairly small group of Republicans are, you know, making that next to impossible to achieve here in Washington.

CUOMO: But to be fair, Harry Reid was saying all along, the head of your party in the Senate, we're not going to talk about this, we're not going to talk about Obamacare. That's not on the table. That's not exactly compromise either. You look at the polls.

PRYOR: Beaten with a bigger stick --

CUOMO: I'm sorry, can you hear me now?

PRYOR: My ear piece is going out. I know you asked about Harry Reid saying Obamacare wasn't on the table. I guess from my standpoint, the House and Senate passed the Affordable Care Act years ago. It went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The states are implementing it right now. I don't know at this point why it should be on the table, why it should be considered a point of compromise. It's the law of the land. And I think most people around the country understand that and most people say, look, it is the law of the land. Move on. Let's try to take a law -- that law is far from perfect, no doubt about it. But let's try to take that law and make it better. It's going to provide health care, hopefully affordable health care, to millions of Americans that don't have it today.

CUOMO: Right.

PRYOR: It's on the books. Let's let it work. That's one of the things that's been frustrating for Democrats in this whole process is, again, this smaller group of Republicans, this core group, they will not let it go. You know, if we were in court, the judge would say asked and answered, move on. We've gone through that. We've talked about that. We've hashed that out, taken it as far as we can go. Now move on to the next question.

CUOMO: The first thing the judge says is you should try to settle this. Imagine if the Democrats and Harry Reid said let's sit down at the table and compromise on some of this earlier than where we are now. I guess that's the question, if you can hear it, senator.

PRYOR: I don't know. If you look at -- if you want to talk about say the budget in the compromise, whether we should have compromised, whether we should have discussed, I'm always -- my view is I'm always willing to talk, always willing to discuss, always willing to negotiate. But at the same time it depends on what we're talking about.

So you look at something like the budget. My Republican colleagues say we want more cuts. Well, wait a minute. You know, we did a big set of cuts, about $3.6 trillion worth in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Those phase out over ten years. We have the sequester. That's where that comes from. There's been a lot of cuts now. I think we ought to go to tax reform. Let's look at tax reform. That's something that I think every American understands that our tax system is so fouled up that it needs to be reformed. So let's put that on the table next. Let's -- even entitlement reform, let's talk about that.

So there are lots of things we can talk about. But unfortunately what this group of Republicans wants to do is go back and re-litigate, re- litigate some things that we've already done. I think the country is ready to move forward.

CUOMO: That's absolutely true. And it's good to see at least a group emerging in the Senate of left, right, and now reasonable with you 12. Thank you very much, senator for joining us.

PRYOR: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: And it was very good that your IFB cut out every time I was coming after you.

(LAUGHTER)

PRYOR: I could barely hear you. Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll have you on again. Thank you very much.

PRYOR: OK, let's do it again soon.

CUOMO: A lot of other news this morning. It did seem convenient, didn't it? Let's get over to Michaela for the headlines.

PEREIRA: I might try that trick with you.

CUOMO: What?

PEREIRA: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

We're actually going to start with some breaking news here at 15 minutes after the hour. This morning, at least 49 people are dead and many, many more injured after a massive 7.1 earthquake struck the central Philippines. That quake was centered nearly 400 miles southeast of Manila. It happened while the country was celebrating a religious holiday. Officials say there was no widespread threat of a tsunami, something we'll keep watching.

A report from 'The Washington Post" says that the NSA is collecting millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. Citing top intelligence officials and documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowedn, the collection program allows the agency to scan data for users with possible connections to known intelligence targets. The agency responded to the report insisting it is not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans.

A family searching for answers this morning after their 6-year-old boy drowns aboard a Carnival Cruiseship. The Florida boy and his family were on the last leg of a four-day cruise in the Caribbean. Crew members tried in vain to revive the boy, who had been swimming with his older brother - 10-year-old brother. A spokesperson for the company says Carnival Cruiseships do not have lifeguards.

Welcome to the future. Check it out. A rocket takes off. Here's the cool trick. It can reverse direction midair and land vertically. So far it's reached a height of just over 2,400 feet. A long way to go before reaching outer space but that is the plan, deliver cargo, come back to Earth, do it again. One more kind of cool note, a drone recorded the entire video. Cut out the middleman. We didn't even need to be involved.

CUOMO: Very, very cool. PEREIRA: Isn't that cool?

BOLDUAN: I love it. Love rockets. Thank you so much.

Let's get straight over to Indra Petersons now with another check of the weather. You're looking at impressive storms there, Indra.

INDRA PETERSON, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's amazing how dangerous weather can look so beautiful. This is again is Kansas yesterday, as a huge system kind of cruised through the area. This is wall cloud. They didn't have tornadoes but look at that unbelievable sight as that wall cloud started to lower. The same system did bring about quarter size hail, even 70 mile per hour winds. So beautiful to look at. You can see it on the radar, the damage reports as it made its way across.

Today we're still watching that same system move across the country, although it has weakened. So that's a piece of good news. Still it will bring rain, pretty much from Minnesota down through Texas, generally light for most of you except for down through Texas where once again we had all that flooding over the weekend.

Now we're adding tropical moisture to it. Tropical depression octave, all that moisture is fueling in through Texas. It is combining with the cold front making its way across the country. It's a slow-moving cold front. You put those factors together and you're talking about high amounts of rain, even another 3-5 inches where places are already flooded. That's not going to be good news. Especially considering there's another system behind that this week.

One of the things that is good about it, well they have drought conditions for a huge chunk of the state, but unfortunately when you have drought conditions, the land can't really handle all that water in a short period of time, so that's the flooding concern there.

The rest of you, the story with the cold front will be the cold pocket of air making its way across the country. You start to notice 40s and 50s as your highs, especially in through tomorrow as that cold air goes to the east.

Yes. That's exactly how I feel about it.

BOLDUAN: A lot of people will be saying that. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: On the other side of the break, another dry ice explosion at Los Angeles International Airport, as even more devices are found, this time in secure areas. Big questions, how did they get there? Who put them there? We'll tell you what authorities know so far.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead in a couple of hours, a captured terror suspect will be in a New York City courtroom. We'll be there live with the details of what to expect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Breaking overnight, for the second straight night dry ice explosions created quite a scare at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities say an ice bomb detonated Monday in a restricted area at LAX; two other devices were also found. CNN's Rene Marsh is tracking the strange developments in this story. She's live in Washington this morning. Good morning, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Strange, indeed, Kate. You know it happened again. Who's behind the second dry ice bomb set off at Los Angeles International Airport? That's the question investigators are working to answer this morning.

Last night, the explosion happened at the Bradley Terminal, it triggered a massive response. The bomb squad and police were on scene. You see the images there. No injuries have been reported. Now, police say the restricted area where last night's dry ice bomb went off was not accessible to the gate area in the terminal.

Police also tell CNN it's still early in the investigation, but they do not believe at this point that there's any link to terrorism. But here's what's so peculiar about this situation. This is the second dry ice explosion set off at the very same airport in the same amount of days. Just the day before, Sunday night, dry ice in a plastic bottle exploded in an employee restroom, causing a brief shutdown of terminal two. No injuries in that incident either, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Officials don't believe at this moment since it's early in their investigation, if they don't believe it was terror-related, what is their investigation focusing on?

MARSH: Was it a prank, was it not a prank? These are all possibilities investigators are looking into. The fact remains that both incidents happened in restricted areas, not areas generally open to the public. So far, no word of any arrests or who might be behind those explosions, but the FBI is investigating.

BOLDUAN: Which means this could change quickly. We'll be watching it closely with you. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: One of the most wanted men in the world is here in the U.S. alleged al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al Libi was captured in a daring raid in Libya ten days ago you'll remember. Now he is in New York, set to appear today in federal court. CNN's Deborah Feyerick outside the court this morning. Good morning, Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Anas al Libi was questioned over the last couple of days by interrogators who are very used to dealing with high-value detainees. He's accused of being one of Osama bin Laden's senior aides, a man who allegedly took surveillance photos of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, helping in the attack which destroyed a building, killed 200 people, including American personnel.

He was indicted about a dozen years ago. His family says he's been living in Libya, he was leading a normal life, trying to get a job with the Libyan oil industry. He's expected to appear in a New York court to face a judge or a judge magistrate to hear the charges against him. The four al Qaeda operatives who were found guilty 1998, they'v been in a supermax facility where they've been serving time. You've got to keep in mind the importance of all of this is at the time all of this happened this was one of the first coordinated attacks by al Qaeda against the United States of America. Those men were found guilty just months before al Qaeda hit again on U.S. soil on 9/11.

We can tell you about al Libi. He was questioned. He had to be brought ashore because of the medical condition that had to be treated. Doctors on board the vessel believed he could get better treatment here. He is stabilized. He is here at the Manhattan correctional center, where he will be kept until he's brought into the courtroom.

CUOMO: All right, Deb, thank you very much for the reporting. Obviously very anxious to see how many roads lead to this man.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Senate leaders are moving closer, I guess that's how we should describe it, to an agreement to re-open the government and avoid default. Will it pass muster in the House? We'll be talking to one influential House Republican about this and the road ahead. You don't want to miss that.

CUOMO: Plus, a wild story. A Utah doctor accused of murdering his wife. We'll tell you why officials say it may have been mid-life crisis madness. Star prosecution witness, his daughter. Nancy Grace is here with his take.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, the 15th of October. Let's take a look at your headlines at this hour.

Deal to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling into early next year is on the table. It was crafted by Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans will take a closer look at it during a closed door meeting that begins in 3 1/2 hours. House Republicans will by huddling up this morning to plan their next move.

Skepticism as nuclear talks between Iran and the five - the U.S. and five other world power underway right now in Geneva.