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Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Debate: Will It Pass Congress?

Aired December 11, 2013 - 18:28   ET



ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, will the breakthrough budget deal make it through Congress?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We would have preferred something quite different.

ANNOUNCER: Nobody is getting exactly what they want. Will conservatives split the Republican Party?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They're using our members, and they're using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Van Jones. On the right, S.E. Cupp. In the CROSSFIRE, Representative Xavier Becerra, a Democrat; and Representative Raul Labrador, a Republican.

Selling the budget deal. Is it worth passing? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.


S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm S.E. Cupp on the right.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: And I'm Van Jones on the left.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, we've got two congressmen who are on the opposite sides of the new budget deal.

Let me say this at the very beginning. This bipartisan budget deal represents a huge vindication for President Obama. Apparently, we are now in a new era. Words like compromise and bipartisanship are no longer dirty words in this town, Washington, D.C.

Now, I'm not in love with this deal, but give the president his due. He refused to back down to the Tea Party Republicans. He let them overshoot the runway by shutting down our government. And now, just as he promised, he's broken the fever of governing from crisis to crisis. For that, everyone in America should be grateful to this president.

CUPP: So, I assume you're congratulatory phone call to Paul Ryan for reaching across the aisle is forthcoming?

JONES: We'll see about that.

CUPP: Congressmen, welcome. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, California Representative Xavier Becerra. He's a member of the House Democratic leadership. And Idaho Republican Representative Raul Labrador.

Congressman Becerra, I'll start with you. I was struck by just how much Democrats are willing to give up, apparently, in this deal. Here's just a few things. It ends some unemployment benefits. It keeps corporate tax loopholes. It raises pension contributions for federal workers. If you vote for this deal, aren't you essentially abandoning your principles and even your constituents?

REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: We're looking for solutions. I think Democrats have said all along that the American public doesn't care if it's a Democratic or Republican solution. We want to get things done.

And I -- going to Van's point, the president wants to get past this constant shutdown politics so we can get to the big issues. We have to start creating more jobs. We have to get the economic growing. We have to get immigration reform done.

And so the way you do that is by putting aside the bickering, and I hope the Republicans get past their civil war within their own party so we can get things done.

CUPP: Well, Democrats are arguing about this bill, too. Are you going to vote for it? Are you going to vote for this deal?

BECERRA: I've got to take a look at it, because you're absolutely right. There are some bad things in it, but...

CUPP: It's tomorrow. When are you going to take a look at it?

BECERRA: When it's issued. We've got to take a look. It hasn't been issued.

JONES: That's good. Speaking of civil wars, you are pretty clear. You said you were confused about whether to be no or a heck no, but you are quoted...


JONES: Very good.

LABRADOR: I was very civil about it.

JONES: There you go. But I'm surprised that you aren't jumping up and down being a strong yes for this. Look at this stuff you guys get.

You don't want there to be any tax hikes on billionaires. You won on that. You don't want to close a single loophole for corporations which aren't paying any taxes. You won on that. You don't want any investment in American infrastructure. You won on that. You want to cut pensions for federal workers. You won on that. What more do you want? Why aren't you happy about this bill?

LABRADOR: Van, I'm glad you're getting the Democratic talking points from the White House.

First, one of the reasons that -- we got this deal is because Obama has nothing to do with it. He was not at the negotiating table. So I'm not sure why you're praising Obama about this.

And I'm not sure where you're talking about the corporate loopholes. I actually want to get rid of the corporate loopholes.

JONES: This bill doesn't -- but this bill doesn't do that.

LABRADOR: It doesn't do that, because Democrats in Washington, D.C., are unwilling to do that to actually reduce taxes for the American people. I actually want to get rid of all the loopholes. I want to actually reduce taxes for the American people. I want to do all those things. That's one of the reasons I'm against this.

This doesn't do anything that actually brings down the deficit and the debt. What it does is it actually increases spending today, like Washington always does. They're increasing spending today with promises of reductions in spending ten years from now. This is what -- that's what congressmen do all the time.

JONES: That's not what Paul Ryan, your great leader -- Paul Revere...

CUPP: Say that again.

JONES: Paul Ryan, your great leader, the Paul Revere of conservative economics, you're now saying that he is a Benedict Arnold?

LABRADOR: No, I'm not at all.

JONES: He's saying that this actually is a -- it does bring down deficit...

LABRADOR: He's saying that the deficit is reduced ten years from now instead of today. So what we're doing is we're actually increasing spending today for the 2014 and 2015 years, with promises of spending reductions ten years from now. That's actually what the sequester was. The sequester was actually a reduction...

JONES: What does the word bipartisanship mean to you and the Tea Party?

LABRADOR: What it means to me is that we can come together to do things for the American people. This doesn't do anything for the American people. It actually just increases spending.

CUPP: Well, Congressman Becerra, let me bring it back to the Democrats. Talking about the civil war in the GOP, but as I mentioned, Democrats are not completely aligned with this bill, either.

In fact, there seems to be a fissure. Democracy for America, a progressive organization, sent out an e-mail today to members, telling Democrats not to vote for this. They were like "Democrats can't continue to pretend they represent our interests and then accept legislation that hurts working families."

With progressives like Elizabeth Warren, Phil DeBlasio and Van Jones over here trying to bring the party further leftward, aren't you worried that Democrats who vote for this are going to be communicating that they're really just lip service to those progressive values that they talk about?

BECERRA: No, not really. What Democrats are saying and what a lot of progressive Democrats are saying is that we've got to move on from these fights about cutting education, cutting back on health research and actually get to the task of creating jobs. That's why so many progressive Democrats -- I include myself -- are not happy with this deal.

At the same time, Democrats, as we proved when we reopened government, every -- every Democrat voted for a budget that was a Republican budget, while two thirds of Republicans voted against their own Republican budget and were willing to lead the government shutdown. We want to move forward, because we've got to get past this shutdown mentality.

CUPP: Are you willing to shut down the government over this?

LABRADOR: I didn't want to shut down the government before, and I don't want to shut down the government now.

JONES: But that's what he does.

LABRADOR: No. What I wanted to do is vote for a clean C.R. Remember what the Democrats said just two weeks ago. In fact, Van, we were in this show just about a month ago, talking about the Democrats were only asking for a clean C.R. That's all I was asking for. Let's do a clean C.R. The Budget Control Act is the law of the land today. That's all I wanted to vote for. The Democrats don't want to vote for that. In fact, they have the...


LABRADOR: But you're not willing to do it today.

BECERRA: I would be willing to vote for a clean C.R.

LABRADOR: Well, let's go do that.

BECERRA: The leadership right now is in the midst of putting in -- injecting things that weren't part of the budget negotiation before the bill hits the floor. That's why I want to read it before I vote on for it. Because I want to make sure no backroom deals are being done.

CUPP: Did we get you to agree on something?

LABRADOR: We would actually vote for a clean C.R. That's all I want to vote for. It sounds like Xavier would vote for that, as well, but we couldn't get enough people in Congress to vote for that. That's

JONES: Well, that seems to me to be a question of leadership. And speaking of leadership, your own leader, John Boehner, had some very interesting things to say about your grassroots allies in the Tea Party movement. Let's hear from him, and I want to get your response to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Speaker, most major conservative groups have put out statements blasting this deal. Are you worried...

BOEHNER: You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, those groups. Are you worried that they're...

BOEHNER: They're using our members, and they're using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous. Listen, if you're for more deficit reduction, you're for this agreement.


JONES: This is extraordinary to me. And I really want to get your feedback on this. This strikes me as a total sea change. Boehner before seemed to be terrified of the Tea Party, terrified of you, terrified of the grassroots base. And today, it's clear: He's not afraid of you anymore. Are you worried about that? Is this the end of the Tea Party's influence?

LABRADOR: I don't think Boehner's ever been afraid of me before, and I don't think he's afraid of me today. So I think that analysis is completely incorrect. The reason we have what you call a civil war in the Republican Party is because we actually have moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party. The reason the Democrats don't have as much of a war is because they're all liberals. So -- so that's...


LABRADOR: Let's just discuss that for a second.

JONES: Hold on one second. I really want to get you to respond to this, because I think people around this town were shocked to hear John Boehner with that level of passion saying the grassroots base that you are standing with all the time is ridiculous and they need to stand down. What's your response to John Boehner?

LABRADOR: My response is that my Heritage Action Score is 67 percent. I don't give my card to anybody to vote for me. In fact it's a shame, because in our conference, we have members of our conference that are constantly pulling out their cards and saying that they'll do whatever John Boehner tells them to do. I was really saddened to see John Boehner do this, and I've actually had a good relationship with him.

JONES: Why? Why were you saying?

LABRADOR: Because I think what he's doing -- he's talking about leaks that went out to the press for the last week. We knew what this deal was going to be -- was going to -- what was going to contain in this deal for the last week.

What the outside groups were talking about was actually what the leaks from -- from leadership aides were giving to the press. And I can't believe that he would go to the press and then discuss that these groups have absolutely no ability to talk about what the leaks -- that his own leadership staff was telling out there.

CUPP: Well, I have a theory why this deal came together. Next I'll ask both of you whether it has more to do with the latest poll numbers or the calendar. Hint: Christmas is coming.


CUPP: Welcome back. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Democratic Representative Xavier Becerra and Republican Representative Raul Labrador.

Tonight party leaders are scrambling to line up support for tomorrow's vote on the budget deal. You heard me. There's a deal on Capitol Hill. It's almost as rare a sighting as a sasquatch. Maybe the folks in Washington were getting sick of that "do nothing" moniker, or maybe they just want to go home for the holidays.

Either way it's a chance for Democrats and Republicans to enjoy some merriment together.

And there's more reason to celebrate, for Republicans. Today new poll numbers show Republicans are ahead of Democrats, in terms of who people would like to see control Congress next year. And get this. For the first time since 1995, Republicans now enjoy a double-digit lead in their handling of the economy. Merry Christmas, GOP.

Congressman Labrador, Republicans are Republicans. Those are some very good poll numbers. Is now really the time to be arguing for a shutdown when we have this embarrassment of riches in Obama care to go on?

LABRADOR: No one is arguing for a shutdown, and I think that's what people need to understand. What we want to do is just comply with the law. The BCA says that we should be spending $967 billion this year in discretionary spending. And it sounds like Xavier agrees with me. I just want to continue with the BCA numbers.

BECERRA: Continuing resolution. I didn't say the 967 numbers I agree with.

LABRADOR: So I just want to continue what the law of the land says.

CUPP: But if enough people don't vote for this, then we'll have another government shutdown now. I mean, isn't that the consequence? LABRADOR: No, I don't think so. I think what we should do is have every Republican vote for the current number that the law already has in place...

CUPP: Yes.

LABRADOR: ... and let the Democrats decide what they're going to do in the Senate. We could continue, but it sounds like there's enough votes. I think it's...

CUPP: Democrats, yes.

BECERRA: I've got to jump in. Paul Ryan is the chairman of the budget committee, Republican Paul Ryan, vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, worked out a deal.

Raul is saying, "Let's not vote for that deal. Let's vote for a number that doesn't exist in terms of a bill. Let the Democrats give Paul Ryan the votes that he needs to pass his deal."

That's the reason why we've had such dysfunction and the inability to get things done, is because we saw a shutdown, because Republicans wouldn't support their own Republican leadership. But Democrats have had to do the heavy lifting for Republicans on every one of these big votes that the majority party, Republicans...

JONES: Here's where the -- I agree with you on that, but here's where I think Democrats are upset. And I want to challenge you on something.

You are right. Democrats are going to have to come to the table. We're going to have to put the votes on. And yet where is the help for the 1.3 million people who are active job seekers who are being thrown under the bus right now in this deal?

BECERRA: Absolutely.

JONES: You know, Democrats -- I've been hearing from liberals across the country who are outraged about this deal; 1.3 active job seekers going to be thrown under the bus. Why didn't -- why did the leadership cave? Why didn't we stick up for ourselves and get something for them out of this deal?

BECERRA: And the House Democrats have not caved. We have continued to insist that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own should not go into a very cold Christmas simply because the House Republicans...


JONES: But it's not in the deal.

BECERRA: Well, we're in the minority. If we're in the majority we have it, and we're going to continue to fight. And that's why...

JONES: I'm not going to let you get away with it. BECERRA: But, Van, before I sign off on any deal, before I give a yes or no vote, I want to make sure I find out what's going on. If there's shenanigans going on and if the Republican majority in the House are going to try to start to add things to the deal that wasn't part of the deal, a lot of us are probably going to vote no.

JONES: I'm going to ask you one more time. Now, listen, you have the leverage. You say you're in the minority, it's true, but you'll probably be the majority of people voting for this deal. You see the Republicans don't want it.


JONES: Why not use those leverage to help those workers, those people who are looking for work right now before Christmas?

BECERRA: That's what I hope Democrats exactly will do, and that is say, if it's up to Democrats in the House --


BECERRA: -- for the majority for Republicans.

JONES: Hope is not a strategy. You can't eat hope.


LABRADOR: -- n our votes, we have only so many votes. We still have to rely on some Republicans to join with 200 Democrats to get something done, but I guarantee you Democrats will push. If we're going to vote for this thing, and make it pass, be the people who help -- make passed it, then we should be able to help Americans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

CUPP: Let me pile on to just a minute. The other thing that should worry Democrats is that under this deal, new federal employees are going to be paying about five times more than current workers into their pensions. I'm no fan of the unions, but this has got to worry you.

BECERRA: It does. Absolutely. These are things that Republicans insisted on that I as a Democrat and other Democrats did not want to see in this budget deal. That's why this is not a deal that makes anyone feel very happy.

The difficulty is this -- do we want to see another Republican shutdown of the government or do they want to move forward? And I think a lot of us would rather have solutions than not, but to the degree that the Republican majority is going to try to sneak in things through the back door that don't include what was part of this budget deal, then I think Democrats are going to say, then you should be helping Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

(CROSSTALK) REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO: You know, I'm not sure what Xavier is talking about. Even, you know, I'm opposed to this deal. But I haven't heard of anybody trying to sneak in anything to the deal.

BECERRA: Let me tell you what's being discussed.

JONES: Let's just take -- I want to take a step back, big picture now. I'm watching this Republican Party. I think we're trying to understand how it functions, how it operates.

It seems I don't like Paul Ryan's policies, but he is trying to show some leadership. And he seems like he's getting bug-zapped now by a lot of grassroots conservatives, and some people in Congress who are calling him almost a traitor. I saw the same thing happened --

LABRADOR: I don't see that happening at all.

JONES: Well, I --


LABRADOR: I haven't heard anybody in Congress call him a traitor. I think Paul Ryan is dealing with the reality that we didn't have the votes to pass a continuing resolution at the 967 levels. He's doing the best he can. So, I don't see anybody in Congress --

JONES: So, you don't think it hurts him. So, you don't think it hurts him now. You've got the grassroots base out there. You've got Heritage out there who's saying it's a terrible thing? Erick Erickson says it's a terrible thing. I see a pattern.

CUPP: Marco Rubio.

JONES: Marco Rubio jumped out and says he's against it. And I see a pattern now. Marco Rubio himself when he tried to lead on immigration, I saw him get bug zapped. Now, here, you've got --

BECERRA: I like that term. Bug zapped.

JONES: You're getting bug zapped. Now, you got --


JONES: And now, you got Paul Ryan in danger: Is this leadership? Is this cannibalization for your leader?

LABRADOR: It's not at all. It's the fact that you have some people with really good ideas going out there and trying to present the ideas to the American public. I don't see anything wrong. In fact, you talked about the poll numbers.

When the American people see us leading, see us actually fighting for something that we believe in, like we did during the shutdown, the Democrats continue to saying that we were against funding the government. We were actually for funding the government. We were against Obama care. JONES: You thought the shutdown was good for you guys?

LABRADOR: Well, you see the poll numbers right now are actually good for us.

JONES: Well, right now, the Tea Party is less popular than ever and it seems to me you guys are afraid to --


JONES: Will you do it again?

LABRADOR: No, absolutely not. Nobody wants a shutdown. But what the American people saw was a group of people that's willing to stand for something, and have a direct contrast between the Democrats and the Republicans. They're for Obamacare.

You know you love Obamacare. You know that you love everything about it. The American people are actually receiving less benefits, they're receiving less health savings and all those things.


LABRADOR: So, you know it's true, Xavier.

BECERRA: No, that's not true.

LABRADOR: That's why --


BECERRA: You can say it, but that doesn't make it true.

LABRADOR: But it's happening. When people are receiving the letters, and they're finding out that they're receiving less health coverage --

BECERRA: They're receiving the letters because they can convert to a new policy.

LABRADOR: That's not true.

BECERRA: There are close to 3 million Americans --


LABRADOR: Xavier, I'm paying $500 more per month --


BECERRA: -- losing health insurance, 3 million Americans have now gained health insurance.

LABRADOR: That's not true.

BECERRA: That's poppycock. That's like bug zapped.


LABRADOR: The American people are realizing that under Democratic policies they performed worst. The economy performed worst.

JONES: You guys have been -- you've been very clear about your opposition to Obamacare. I've -- seriously, I'm trying to understand, I think those of who believe in bipartisanship and are trying to figure out how to work with you guys, every time we see somebody stand up and try to reach across it seem to me they run into real trouble with your grassroots base.

At what point do you as a leader in the Tea Party have turn to your base and say, hold on a second, sometimes we have to compromise?

LABRADOR: I do it all the time. That's why I only have a 67 percent rating with Heritage Action.


JONES: You seem proud of that.

LABRADOR: I am, because what we have is people in Washington who think that we do is I wake up in the morning and I look at what Heritage is telling me to do.

I don't do that. I actually think for myself. I look at every single vote individually. I have worked with Xavier on some legislation. I work with Democrats all the time.

I'm doing legislation all the time with people on different issues. But what it means is that --

JONES: If he is so reasonable, why you do you have a hard time working with him?

BECERRA: Well, they won't vote for their own bills. That bill that reopened that government was the Republican budget number. Yet, it was 200 Democrats who had to support this. Of the 230 or so Republicans, only about 80 voted for this. We had to carry their bill so we could reopen government.

LABRADOR: But, again, that's not true.


BECERRA: Absolutely.

The exact numbers, 144 Republicans voted against their own budget bill. Only 87 voted for it, 198 Democrats had to join with them.

LABRADOR: Because they had a clean debt ceiling without doing absolutely anything.

BECERRA: We had to carry your load for you.

JONES: It was -- and I've got to carry this load to the commercial break. I want you guys to stay right here.

Listen, next, we're going to have a final question for both of our guests.

We also want you at home to weigh in on today's "Fireback" question. Who do you think made out better in the budget deal? You can tweet Democrats or Republicans using #crossfire. We're going to give you those results when we get back after the break.


JONES: We are back with Representatives Xavier Becerra and Raul Labrador.

So, now, it's time for the final question.

And I'm going to let you go first.

CUPP: OK. Congressman Becerra, in voting for this, under the assumption that Democrats largely vote for this budget deal, are you worried that progressives have maybe lost their way or lost leadership?

BECERRA: First, that's a big assumption. Secondly --

CUPP: Wait, you think there's a possibility this bill does not get passed?

BECERRA: Well, Republicans should step to the plate. Paul Ryan negotiated this deal. This is a Paul Ryan deal. It's not a House Democratic deal.

But as it has been always the case, Democrats have had to supply the votes to get things done. I suspect Democrats will once again try to make sure that we can move the country forward. And so, we're going to take a close look. But as I said before, if there are then ever shenanigans played here, if there's some backroom deals cut that weren't part of the budget deal.

CUPP: What do you mean? You keep saying that. What --

BECERRA: We're hearing that there are some things that are being included in this deal that will be put into the bill that goes to the floor that have nothing to do with the negotiations that were finalized.

CUPP: And we haven't heard about yet.

JONES: Breaking some news here.

BECERRA: There's -- you probably heard some of these things. That's what always happens at the last moment when you get these backroom deals. And so, a lot of us are very concerned. It's already a difficult deal, if it's going to be one that's cluttered with political stuff.

JONES: We'll keep an eye on that.

But on your side, you are now --

BECERRA: Van, if I could just say, it has to include unemployment insurance. Help those working, trying to find their jobs who are not employed looking for their jobs.

JONES: We just made some news from Democratic leadership.

On your side, you've been accused often, Republicans are being the "party of no" against President Obama. Now, you're the party of strong no even against Paul Ryan. Are you comfortable with that? Are you happy with that being the party of no and now against Paul Ryan?

LABRADOR: You know, what I can tell is that you the only people that are benefiting from this deal are the special interest groups that are going to get more spending in Washington, D.C.

If you look at the last year, the economy has actually improved because we have said no to a lot of the ideas of the Democratic Party.

JONES: And said no to Paul Ryan.

LABRADOR: We actually have less unemployment. We have a faster growing economy, and it is all because Washington, D.C. has Republicans willing to stand up for the American people instead of special interests.

JONES: Against Paul Ryan, OK.

CUPP: OK, thanks to Representatives Xavier Becerra and Raul Labrador.

Go to Facebook or Twitter to weigh in on our "Fireback" question, who do you think made out better in the budget deal? Right now, 59 percent say Democrats, 41 percent say Republicans. Interesting.

JONES: The debate will continue online at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

From the left, I'm Van Jones.

CUPP: From the right, I'm S.E. Cupp.

Join us tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.