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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Team Ultimatum: No More Negotiations, Time to Vote; Interview with Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 23, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening from Washington. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight, on the seventh anniversary of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the bill President Trump supports to replace it is in serious trouble. And we've just learned that a White House ultimatum has been issued.
It came at the meeting behind the doors you see there and a deadline set inside that room is where House Republicans have been trying to reconcile two opposing factions within their party. One, the Freedom Caucus, the one that wants less comprehensive coverage in the bill. And other Republican moderates asking for more. Will they emerge from these doors with a deal ready to vote on by tomorrow as the White House now wishes, or will tomorrow end like today with no vote and no agreement?
Now, bear in mind, most of the lawmakers in that room right now tonight ran on a promise of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. So did President Trump. So whether you care it Trumpcare, Ryancare, or GOPcare, a lot of political futures are on the line and so are the lives and well-being of tens of millions of Americans, people who vote.
And if that weren't sobering enough, there's tonight's breaking news from the Congressional Budget Office. They just finished comparing the original bill with the revised version as it now stands. And they found it leaves just as many Americans without coverage as the original left and delivers less than half the bill's savings, a bitter pill for some to swallow.
CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is outside those doors right now in the Capitol right now to start us off.
So, Republicans, they are meeting behind closed doors. What is -- it's -- I mean, this is essentially being called a make-or-break meeting. What are your sources telling you about where the vote stands now, about what's happening?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear if they have the votes, but they're going to move ahead and roll the dice and hope that that pressures enough people on the fence or naysayers to vote yes. This is what I'm told, that the budget director, the president's budget director, a former member of the Freedom Caucus, the conservative caucus that forms the people who are holding out, Mick Mulvaney, told Republicans behind the doors behind me. He said that the president wants a vote tomorrow. And is moving on after this vote, regardless of what happens. This is a source in the room telling me this.
The source said that if it doesn't get done tomorrow, the president said he is moving on, and they will be, quote, "stuck with Obamacare."
So, that is an ultimatum that the White House is giving to their fellow Republicans in the House, trying to push this along.
In addition to that, Steve Bannon, the president's chief counselor, told me on the way out, he and the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, were also in this meeting. Bannon told me on the way out, the same thing, that the president wants a vote tomorrow. There will be a vote tomorrow, and that he's confident that will be successful at the end of the day.
In addition to that, I should tell you that Chris Collins, who's a member of the House who has been a longtime ally of the president, he just came out of this meeting, which has not yet wrapped up, saying that the plan is to have a procedural vote tomorrow morning, and then tomorrow afternoon, the actual vote. He talked about this being one and done, again, echoing the notion that the White House is trying to put forward, that this has to be done and they have to get the votes and they're going to basically put it on the table and put it on the floor to hope that it happens.
Now, in the meantime, Anderson, with regard to that Freedom Caucus, those holdouts, the head of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Mark Meadows just came out of the meeting saying he understands that the president wants to vote, but he's not there yet. He has not gotten to yes yet.
And I actually asked him. I said, OK, what does that mean? Do you think you can get to yes by tomorrow? Because the president and his allies are here on the Hill saying negotiations are over. And his answer was, well, negotiations are not over until the vote happens.
So, you know, we'll see if there are any last-minute changes, but it doesn't seem like it's going to happen. The White House and the House Republican leadership felt that they have given enough, a major concession from their point of view, that they will do -- try to do the repeal of the essential benefits in Obamacare on the front end, which is what the conservatives were asking for. And that the idea of other concessions that they're asking for, they're just going to have to wait, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Dana, stay right there, if you will. As we said, the ultimatum has been issued by the White House. Essentially, we're done dealing and it's time to vote.
Let's go to the White House now and CNN's Sara Murray.
So, the White House exuding a great deal of confidence that this health bill would pass earlier today, before things took a turn?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Anderson. Look, I think they were really hoping for a vote today. I think that the president has done a lot of attempts at persuading members, both moderates, as well as conservatives, but listen to what Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary said earlier. He said it would be passed.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not seeing people fall off. We're seeing people come onboard. That's a great trajectory to have. And so, I like where we're headed. It's going to pass. So, that's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, obviously, the vote did not go their way this evening. They had to postpone it. They said it was partly for scheduling here at the White House.
[20:05:00] But the reality is, they just did not have the numbers they needed to get this through the House. They are trying to regroup. They have made it very clear, this White House wants to see a vote on this tomorrow.
They feel like the president has done a lot of personal outreach. They said that last night, he was up into 11:00 p.m., making calls to individual members, trying to sway them into backing this.
And so, it's clear that he's kind of putting his reputation as a dealmaker on the line here, Anderson.
COOPER: Sara Murray, thanks very much. We're going to be checking in with you throughout the next two hours.
Let's bring in our panel. CNN "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor John King, CNN senior political commentator and "Axe Files" podcast host David Axelrod, he knows what this is like in the Obama White House. Also, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, Trump supporter, "American Spectator" senior contributor, Jeffrey Lord, former Obama communications director Jen Psaki, former U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, former Democratic governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm.
Anyone else? Anyone?
COOPER: We've also got Dana Bash monitoring developments from the Capitol. We can check back in with Sara Murray. We've got two hours.
So, John, I mean, postponing the vote is obviously not the same as losing the vote. This isn't where the White House or House leadership wanted to be, but they could still get there.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": This has happened before in Washington under Democratic and Republican presidents that votes have been postponed. So, take a deep breath. There's no question it's crunch time for the president. There's no question it's crunch time for Speaker Paul Ryan. But let's see what happens tomorrow.
What's interesting is the White House going into this meeting and saying, this is it. If you pass this or you're stuck with Obamacare. Well, that -- A, that's spin. But B, they need to spin it that way right now.
The House leadership has repeatedly said to the president, at some point, you have to say, we're done. Thank you for your help. Thank you for negotiating. And thank you for bringing some people over. But if the door is still open to talk, we are never going to get this done.
But because what they've had a problem this week is with conservative members. They've said here, we'll give you this. They'd say, great. So, you're a yes? Nope. We'll give you this. Nope!
They keep arguing they're moving the goalposts. So, they needed the White House to say, we're going to have this vote. Now, we will see if they succeed. It is a defining test for the president, who up until today, for all the praise, people -- these conservatives who Donald Trump carried their district with 60 percent, 65 percent, sometimes 70 percent, they gave him a standing ovation at this meeting today, they say, it's great to be involved, but keep leaving these meetings saying, he was great, but they don't give him their votes.
So, that's not saying the president has failed. We don't know that until they get the vote. But the president has been trying to get this to the finish line. There's no evidence yet they're there. We shall see now.
COOPER: Gloria, does the CBO weighing in, does that affect thing one way or another? Because a lot of Republicans point to the CBO and say, look, they were wrong about numbers on Obamacare. What does it matter?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But the new numbers are not going to help because you've discovered that it costs more and it covers less, period. So, it's not going to help the White House make their case.
I -- look, I think at this point, the White House has had it. And I spoke with a senior White House adviser this afternoon, who said to me, we're having the vote tomorrow, full stop. That's it.
It's clear the president is really frustrated. These are not the kinds of negotiations he's used to. He's used to going in a room, cutting a deal, shake hands and other people working out the details. This is not the way it works with members.
And I think the CBO numbers are, you know, not really great. And, you know, and I think that, you know, the deficit reduction is about half of what it was originally estimated at. And I think they've just reached a point at the White House where they understand they're playing whack-a-mole here and they don't want to play it anymore.
COOPER: David, I mean, your perspective having lived through this in the Obama White House?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, sometimes, you have to force the issue. Part of negotiations is being willing to get up and walk away from the table and force people to confront what is in front of them.
And the other thing is, as John mentioned, you know, people will negotiate you to death. You know, I know Kmart is in the news lately. Sometimes you've got to turn the blue light off and say, OK, we're done now. There are no specials here. You've got to make a decision.
So I think they're doing the smart thing in trying to force the issue. The thing is, if you walk away from the table and say, this is it, then you have to be willing to live with it.
Now, I will say this. When they say, no more negotiation, Rick Santorum knows this. He spent a lot of time in Congress. The negotiation is open until the final gavel falls on the vote. And I suspect there's going to be an awful lot of horse trading and discussion. And not just on the bill itself, but around other issues between now and the time of the final vote to try to wrestle those votes to the ground.
COOPER: I don't think Kmart is the brand that Donald Trump has ever aspired to be.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's really important point because I've talked to several members of Congress, who have gone from no to yes, not because of anything in the bill. Now, that doesn't mean they are health care related --
COOPER: So, what made them go from no to yes?
SANTORUM: Because they can't put it in the bill because of reconciliation, because of the Byrd Rule in the Senate. But they have a promise. Well, you know, we'll take care to have -- in this bill or the next bill or some other bill on the CR, something that has to pass, we'll put it in make it work in there.
[20:10:00] So, that's what David's point is a good one. You don't have to actually change the bill to get a vote up until the last minute, because you can promise to put it in a bill that's going to pass --
COOPER: But let me just ask you, from your own experience, how -- this kind of deal-making that's done at this stage, is it kind of one to one with each member saying, OK, you know, what do you need, what are you looking for? We're going to do this for you. It's not just talking to whole freedom caucus --
SANTORUM: Well, there is a freedom caucus. But they were looking at the broader context of the bill. That's over now.
I mean, Trump has said -- I mean, that's over. That's not happening --
BORGER: And they're not happy still.
SANTORUM: And they still --
AXELROD: Although they've done pretty well. Moderates, I think, would be pretty unhappy.
SANTORUM: I think they've dramatically improved this bill. I think they've done a great job in doing what the House should have done in the first place, which is the House should have put a conservative bill forward, because you know when it's going over to the Senate and it's going to move back to the middle. And moderates know that. That's why I think a lot of moderates will, you know, hold their nose and cross their knees and vote for this thing.
COOPER: But, you know, I talked to one member of the Freedom Caucus the last couple of days who was a no vote as of yesterday who said, you know, we voted on a replacement in 2015, it passed. Everybody voted for it. The president, why not just put that forward?
SANTORUM: Well, the reason is, is because, you can't just undo the system and not put anything else in place. I mean, Obamacare fundamentally transformed the health care system. And you can't just pull it out and say, oh, everybody is, you know, everybody gets back to normal --
AXELROD: No, the reason, Rick, is when they cast that vote, they knew it didn't mean anything, because the president was going to veto it. Now, it actually means something. And really, what the president is saying to these freedom caucus members is, I'm calling the question and you have to decide whether you want to be the ones who stood in the way of repealing and replacing.
And as Rick said, is saying to the moderates, yes, we have to do some things you don't like, but the Senate is not going to allow that. Their whole goal here is to keep this thing moving.
KING: And you also have an unconventional president who promised during the campaign some things that would not be in the repeal and replace bill if Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Chris Christie or any of the other Republicans had won the election.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And this is the first step in the process. I mean, the fact that they're already irritated tells you a lot, because it has to go to the Senate, where Senator Santorum said, it will become more moderate and there will be things that will be pulled out that are currently satisfying the Freedom Caucus, and then it will come back to the House. So, this is a really long process.
And if Trump and his team are already irritated and already have had enough, it's not going to his desk after it passes tomorrow. Tomorrow is the easiest part of this process.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: When you read Donald Trump, and by that, I mean, literally read his books, walking away from the table is up one of the things that he emphasizes that you have got to be able to get up and say, "That's it, I'm out of here." And that's, I think that's the message he's delivering today.
COOPER: Governor, and we've got to take a break.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think the most important thing that happened today was that Quinnipiac poll that came out in addition to obviously all of the machinations. But the fact that Republicans say that they disapprove of this poll -- or that overall, it's 57 percent disapprove. Republicans also say that it is important for -- to have affordable health care for all, by a substantial margin, 69 percent.
So, I think you've got to look at what's happening in these districts with these members. If you break up the 24 million people who will be uninsured by district, roughly, it's about 55,000 per district. Those are faces and people who will be affected. All of whom could show up at a town hall or on ads.
SANTORUM: Well, two things. Number one, that's what CBO says. If we pass laws that comported with CBO, our economy would look like the Soviet Union.
GRANHOLM: Oh, here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey!
SANTORUM: So, I throw the CBO out.
Very important, I've just gotten several texts from folks who I sort of put little pings into, who were at that conference. They say it's the most emotional conference they've been at. They said the mood is different from anything they've experienced. There is a gelling, a feeling of camaraderie there. The stakes are high and they're feeling it and a good conference.
COOPER: Just a second, we're going to talk to a congressman who as of earlier today was still a no vote. A lot more ahead, as we wait from word from Republicans on the fate of the bill that could for better or worse seal their own political fate.
A break first.
[20:17:31] COOPER: Our breaking news from Capitol Hill, an ultimatum from the White House to House GOP lawmakers. The president is done negotiating over the health care bill. He wants a vote tomorrow. It happened at a meeting of GOP House members still underway this moment.
Joining us now is New Jersey Republican Congressman Leonard Lance who was in the meeting.
Congressman, thanks very much.
First of all, how did the meeting go and are you still a "no" vote?
REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I am a "no" vote and I'm concerned this legislation does not lower premiums and I was also concerned about the CBO score that came out late this afternoon.
But, Anderson, I also think that the Democrats should come to the table, because the exchanges are not in good shape, and as you know, there is one insurer and one third of the counties in this county, largely in rural America. So, I hope that Democrats could join us to reform what I think is a program that needs significant reform
COOPER: Do you think this still will be brought to a vote tomorrow?
LANCE: Yes, it's my understanding that there will be a vote tomorrow, Anderson.
COOPER: The Republican leadership in the White House have been swinging back and forth, trying to satisfy members of the Freedom Caucus, while at the same time, signing on to more moderate members like you. They've been unable to find a middle ground. Do you think it even exists?
LANCE: I think all of us think that there should be legislation encouraging policies across state lines, tort reform, health savings accounts. That so-called phase 3, I would like to see that be phase 1, Anderson.
COOPER: Do you believe? I talked to some members that if this does pass, that there won't be a phase 2 or a phase 3. That this was supposedly just one of three prongs, but some people I've talked to believe if this is passed, Congressman, they'll move on to other things and they won't even get to be those other prongs.
LANCE: I think that would be extremely unfortunate, and that does not really complete the task. And I think the task needs to be completed. Now, of course, a phase 3 would require support from Democratic colleagues, because of the filibuster rule in the Senate.
But I think Democrats should be willing to come to the table. And I urge them to do so.
COOPER: Congressman, I want to bring in Gloria Borger and John King, because I know they have some questions, as well.
BORGER: Congressman, all Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare. So, if you vote no and this doesn't pass, where are you going to go back to your constituents and say? Because you're giving the president a major loss should the vote go your way.
LANCE: I think that I ran on not only repealing, but replacing, and I defined that in my campaigns.
[20:20:03] And I think too often in this town, Gloria, we say, who's up, who's down, who's winning, who's losing? I think we should come together and I think that that can occur, but that will require Democratic cooperation.
BORGER: But that's not what you said when you ran, I bet. I bet you said, as Republicans, we're going to repeal it. We're going to replace it. And if that doesn't happen, don't your voters have every right to say to you, you know, you didn't keep your promise?
LANCE: I don't think that this replaces the system. This is only the first phase, and I'm concerned, as Anderson said, with getting to phase 3, which I think should be phase 1.
KING: Congressman, John King. I applaud your interest in bringing Democrats to the table. But you also know the reality that's not going to that. There wasn't much interest for the Democrats cooperating with Republicans on this anyway. And doing it through reconciliation essentially tells the Democrats we're going to try to get this through with 51 votes in the United States Senate.
So, two questions. The first one is, is this bill today, the bill you discussed tonight, is it better than a bill of a week ago? Meaning from your perspective? Meaning has the president helped or hurt from the perspective of Congressman Leonard Lance?
And number two, what happens tomorrow if the vote is playing out on the floor, they're rolling the dice, they're one or two short, and they hold the vote open. Can the speaker or majority leader come to you and say, look, you understand the Senate will move it back more your way, push it forward, or is your "no" in cement?
LANCE: I am a "no" and my leadership knows that. And I think that we have to move forward recognizing that I want to get to substantive reform as quickly as possible, John.
KING: So, you're saying the bill the speaker of the house is going to bring to the floor tomorrow and the president's team tonight says he supports, no more negotiation, is not substantive health care reform?
LANCE: I don't think it goes far enough and I'm very concerned about the provision that may have been added today regarding essential health benefits. I favor that provision and I think there has been movement in that area that I do not favor.
COOPER: So, Congressman, just so we're clear and this would be the last question, to John's earlier question, in terms of the changes to this bill that you have seen, in many cases, to appease some in the Freedom Caucus, you think it's actually hurt the bill more from your vantage point?
LANCE: It is not my view. I respect the views of my colleagues, including those in the Freedom Caucus. I'm a member of what is known as the Tuesday Group, and my views are based upon the views of my constituents.
COOPER: Congressman Lance, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
There's a lot more --
LANCE: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: -- a lot more to discuss ahead. Coming up, what we are learning about the how the White House ultimatum actually came about as we wait for tonight's meeting to break up and the latest details.
[20:26:39] COOPER: We could just be minutes away from hearing from House Republican members and leaders as tonight's health care meeting wraps up. In the meantime, we just got new details of how the White House ultimatum came down.
CNN's Dana Bash has that. First, let's go back to her.
So, what have you heard, Dana?
BASH: Well, I want to report to you something that Phil Mattingly was told by a source with direct knowledge of this strategy. What he was told was that this came from the White House. That the White House said that the plan that they thought, to go forward is to try to grind them down -- them, of course, being the conservatives who have been intransigent on this. That they wouldn't get to yes, but sort of wouldn't also commit to no. And that this was something that came out of private conversations with White House aides, as well as aides here and the president.
And this is very interesting. I should also note that Gloria Borger was hearing this notion from the White House earlier this afternoon, but it's interesting in that, I would say, an hour and a half ago, I was talking to top Republicans here on Capitol Hill who were reluctant to do this, acknowledging that this is what the White House wanted to do. They wanted to effectively give the ultimatum they gave tonight. But that they were reluctant because the Republican leaders had been down this road so many times before, before President Trump and his aides go t to the White House.
Obviously, a very different circumstance when President Obama is there and the stakes aren't as high. And that really was why they were convinced by the White House to say yes, to go ahead with this ultimatum, because the stakes are high. They couldn't be any higher.
And that was clearly how Mick Mulvaney, the president's budget director, former member of the Freedom Caucus, framed it behind closed doors, as I reported earlier today. That if they don't go ahead with this, it is going to be Obamacare and that is going to be the law of the land and it's going to be on them, because they're going to move on -- Anderson.
COOPER: Dana, just for viewers who are just joining us -- can you explain where you are and what's behind you, and, you know, who all those folks are and what everyone's waiting for?
BASH: Absolutely. So, I am effectively in the basement of the Capitol. This is where the House Republicans are meeting. And the meeting is still going on, which is why we're still here. It's going on back behind me, behind closed doors.
The House Speaker is there, of course, with other members of the leadership and the Republican rank and file. And at the beginning of this meeting, that's when the OMB director made his statement. That's when the speaker also gave their strategy.
And the White House top team was here, as well. Steve Bannon was here, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Now, what's going on is a Q&A session. This is kind of typical, in that they want to let the members have their voices heard. And what's interesting, I heard Rick Santorum talk about what he's hearing from inside the meeting, and I'm actually hearing the same thing, which is that -- we're hearing the applause from outside the room, but that there are standing ovations going on over and over inside.
And so far, so far, nobody has stood up at the mikes and said that they are opposed to the strategy. And even opposed to the bill, even though there are people who are sitting down who like to talk in these meetings and say they are opposed to things, they have not done so yet.
COOPER: And, Dana, if they feel at the end of this meeting, I guess regardless they plan to bring it to a vote tomorrow, how would that actually play out? I mean, they bring it to the floor at what point in the morning and then people talk about it? How would the day play, do you know?
[20:30:10] DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, tonight they're going to have a procedural vote that would allow them to bring this up quickly, quickly meaning tomorrow. Then they're going to have another procedural vote in the morning. They say they plan to do it about 10:00 a.m. and then the big vote, the vote to actually pass this, is scheduled, at this point, to happen some time in the afternoon.
And, as I mentioned earlier, one of the president's top and early a allies here on Capitol Hill, Chris Collins, came and talked to reporters a short while ago saying, that's it's going to be one and done. That there is going to be one major vote that includes some of the changes that the House Freedom Caucus demanded and got. The key change at this point is, those essential benefits that are under Obamacare that were supposed to be under this initial strategy of repealed in the third phase of this Republican strategy, that they're going to move it up to put it in this bill that they're going to try to pass tomorrow. Anderson?
COOPER: And are you expecting when people come out of this meeting that -- I mean, they're going to be, talking to reporters, are they going to be making a statement?
BASH: We don't know. I'm trying to find out if the leadership is going to make a statement. Members have been tripling out, talking to us here and there, as they've been exiting, but we don't know if there's actually going to be a formal statement. It might not happen, because there going to probably run up to get this procedural vote going as it get late tonight.
COOPER: I mean, there are so many folks there. Looks like you got a block, but anyway -- say something. Dana, thanks, we're going to continue --
BASH: We'll try.
COOPER: -- talking -- yeah. Continue check with you. A bit more now on the state of the thinking of the White House going into this. The messaging was simple. Failure is not an option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How confident are you that the bill will pass? And if it doesn't pass, is there a plan "B"?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARYY: No, there is no plan B. I mean this -- there's plan A and plan A. We're going to get this done. I'm not looking -- as I mentioned we don't have -- we're not looking at a plan B. We have plan A. It's going to pass and we're going to go for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that there is no -- there's only plan A.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, is there an acknowledgement that perhaps there does need to be a plan B if the vote doesn't happen tonight?
SPICER: No, plan A. The president's plan is to pass the bill tonight, get it on to the Senate and sign a bill once it goes through conference. That the president's plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any sort of plan if the bill does not pass tonight?
SPICER: No. It's going to pass. So that's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No plan B. Back with the panel. You know, Phil Mattingly was reporting that the idea is to kind of grind folks down. What does that mean?
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Can I give some advice --
SANTORUM: -- To trump people who are talking to the media. Don't use words like "grind members down."
SANTORUM: -- that we want to see.
SANTORUM: To challenge our members to, you know, remember what they're here for. But grind, not -- just put that out of --
COOPER: But what does that actually -- I mean, I know what grinding looks like, but what does it actually means in terms of just trying to convince folks in the final -- is it calling them up?
SANTORUM: It's doing what they're doing right there. I'm just hearing this from everybody that I've talked to in there. And that is, just rally people. Remind people of the election. Remind people of the promise you made. Remind that this is an important thing for our country. And it is that kind of attitude that we're seeing here. It's not grinding that's going on right now.
The procedural vote that they're taking. This will be an interesting vote. It will pass, because members vote for procedural votes. But you'll get a sense of the folks who are the real malcontents. I mean, the folks who are really mad, that this is -- they'll vote. In many cases, they will vote on the other side of the procedural votes.
So, you'll get a sense of what sort of a core, angry Republicans are, at this procedural vote. And if it's not many, very good sign.
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: I think -- I'm sure Jen remembers this from seven years ago and the interplay between the House and the Senate the bouncing of bills back and forth. And ultimately, the House was -- accepted a bill that they were unhappy with, didn't feel it was generous enough, didn't include a public option, for example, because they concluded that it was the last boat and people needed to jump on.
JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: If you're going to get something done on a major initiative like this, there are always going to be people who are unhappy. The question is, can you bring enough of them over? And frankly, self-preservation plays a role in this, too, political self-preservation.
COOPER: -- tweet now from the Twitter account of the White House, the POTUS account, just looking at it as everybody else. "Disastrous Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer options. It will only continue to get worse. We must repeal and replace. #passthebill" GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He's trying to exert some pressure with his millions of Twitter followers. And it might help. You know, you never know. At this point, though, I think the decision was made, whether it came from Trump or his aides or both of them. And I got wind of that, as Dana was saying earlier today. Because they knew that if they let this hang out there, you know what happens to legislation. The guys are going to go home. They're going to go home for break. They're going to go to their town hall meetings and they're going to be out of your control. And you want to get a vote as soon as possible, strike while the iron is hot, whatever cliche you want. And the more they let it hang out there, the worse it was going to be for them, because everybody has a problem with something.
[20:35:24] COOPER: John, is it surprising to hear the White House say, there is no plan B or is that just negotiation, I mean --
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I hate to say this, but in a sense, just pay no attention to the man at that podium, to a degree. I hate to say that early in a new administration, but there's a credibility problem in the White House briefing room and I don't think that's the way -- the idea, if you want to say, the president has met with these people over a couple of weeks now, we've had several sets of conversations, of course we'll continue to talk to members, but we believe we all campaign on this together --
KING: -- that's different.
COOPER: I got to go to Dana Bash. Dana, what's going on?
BASH: The members of Congress are leaving. We're going to try to get them to stop. So far, we haven't been successful. Congressman, we're live, would you like to stop and talk to us about what's going on? Congressman, can you stop and give us an idea of what's going on? So far, no luck. We're still trying.
COOPER: We've got all night. We can watch this forever.
BASH: I know. Congressman? More are coming. Talk amongst yourselves, Anderson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe she can --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Dana, but I'm so happy they're doing that.
LORD: -- that's very telling, though. Watching --
LORD: -- get in the way of whomever in a television camera.
COOPER: Right. LORD: When you see them all walking past Dana, there's a reason for that.
SANTORUM: No, they're acting like a pack. I mean, that's the cohesion that you just saw. I mean, I guarantee you the leaders --
COOPER: Dana, let's go to Dana.
BASH: Thank you. Congressman Dent, can you tell us if you feel that if you -- well, first of all, do you think that this is going to pass tomorrow?
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PA-15 DISTRICT: I don't know.
BASH: Are you a "yes" vote?
DENT: I declared my opposition to the bill.
BASH: OK. And it is because of the changes that have been made to please the conservatives?
DENT: Well, I was "no" before that, but that didn't help.
BASH: What's your sense of -- I mean, you know the Caucus. You've been here for a long time. You've heard Mick Mulvaney, your former colleague, now the OMB director, basically give an ultimatum. Do you think that's going to work?
DENT: That there's not more negotiations?
DENT: It's a fact of life. The negotiations seem to be closed and they're going to call the role and that will be that.
BASH: And do you have any -- could you give a guess as to whether you think it's going to pass?
DENT: Oh, I haven't done a whip count, so I really can't, honestly, tell you if it's going to pass or not.
BASH: Are you concerned going back to your district and saying, I voted no against something that will repeal Obamacare, even though Republicans have been promising for years to do it?
DENT: I say we have to get it right, not get it done fast. And I thought the bill misses the mark and that's why I take opposition, I take it.
BASH: You feel comfortable that's going to fly with your constituents?
DENT: I hope so. OK?
BASH: I hope they do. OK, thank you. Anderson back to you.
COOPER: Jeffrey Lord?
LORD: I suspect the two Pennsylvanians had exactly the same thoughts.
SANTORUM: I can tell you a lot of folks in the half hour are not going to be happy with Charlie Dent tonight.
SANTORUM: And because Charlie Dent knows full well that that bill is moving back towards him when it comes to Senate and to not to give the president or his party the opportunity to move the bill forward, as imperfectly as this bill is, is not something that a lot of --
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: I know his district a lot better than what you're saying.
SANTORUM: As a matter of fact, I know his district very well.
GRANHOLM: But he is in it, right now. And I'm sure he has looked in the eyes of people who are about to lose their health care, and this is not all fun and games for people who are watching tonight. Millions of people are going to potentially lose their health care.
I don't know how the Freedom Caucus, but Callus Caucus can live with that. I mean 54 percent of Republicans overall, for example, like Medicaid. Why -- to me, this whole thing is an opportunity for us to say, OK, OK.
Let me just finish. OK, too complicated, too many things happening. Let's go the simple way. Let us just have Medicare for all. Everybody likes Medicare. I'm willing to pay for it.
KING: What just happened is very telling. A, in the Charlie Dent interview there, B, your interview with Congressman Lance earlier. It tells you that the moderates are still know. So, if this is to pass, it is to pass on the conservatives coming around and the conservatives who had forced most of the concessions, still don't have exactly what they want. They'll have to get this --
COOPER: Back to Dana. Dana?
REP. JEFF FORTENBERRY (R), NE-1ST DISTRICT: It was a very strong meeting. It was a meeting in which a lot of people were deeply emotional. People expressed deep concern about the current trajectory of what's happening to health care in this country and want us to come together and pull together, so we actually lower costs and improve health care outcomes and protect vulnerable persons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there going to be an up or down vote on the floor tomorrow? FORTENBERRY: That's what it appears tomorrow.
BASH: Congressman, you have not said how you're going to vote?
FORTENBERRY: I had marked undecided because we had wanted to see some changes, to help -- potentially help the lower income aging population in our country better and we've seen that.
[20:40:07] We also got some additional changes to Medicaid, particularly to help the disabled. And there were some other considerations that we've been able to work through. I think all of the difficulties this week have actually resulted in a better bill.
BASH: It sounds like you're going to be a yes?
FORTENBERRY: That's -- the inclination is good, my inclination is strong. I have always had the habit of going through the entire deliberative process before it --
BASH: What's your sense after being in that meeting with your conference, of how you think it's really going to go down tomorrow?
FORTENBERRY: Well, there are some people who have principled reasons to be against this. Some people have expressed that clearly. It was a family meeting. It was emotional, it was strong, it was intense.
BASH: Emotional in what way?
FORTENBERRY: Because people are trying to remain united together and be respectful, but also urge for a passage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- let Obamacare stand?
FORTENBERRY: If the current construct of health care stands, we will see collapsing insurance markets and escalating premiums. That's why even though this might not be perfect in everyone's mind, the ability and the reason to act now is urgent. OK?
BASH: Thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
SANTORUM: That's Congressman Jeff Fortenberry from Nebraska. And Jeff is a conservative, but he is also a very, very, very, very Orthodox Catholic and has, you know, the church really leaning on him pretty hard on, you know, caring for the poor. And that's something that he's been a champion on. And so, not surprised that he's conservative on economics, but very concerned about the poor. You just saw him saying --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: We understand Speaker Ryan, by the way, is going to be speaking in about two minutes. So we're all just going to bring that to you.
BORGER: And in listening to him, you can hear the choice that was being put to the members. It's either this bill or you're responsible for keeping Obamacare --
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But what's been happening, though, over the last couple of days. Changes have been made that have made the bill significantly worse. And a lot of people don't know what that means yet. There are a lot of Democratic groups, a lot of groups that, you know, count for the disabled, for women, that are going to be out there explaining it.
BORGER: That's why they want to have a vote.
PSAKI: So that's exactly why.
AXELROD: Here's the political reality of this. And, I know -- we both know something about how difficult the health care issue is. These members are facing death by fire or death by hanging. If they don't vote for the president and the speaker on this bill, and they don't keep their promise on repeal and replace, whatever repeal and replace is, they're subject to challenge in their primaries. But to those members that are in swing districts and there are a few --
COOPER: Speaker Ryan. Let's listen in. Sorry.
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and failing families and tomorrow we're proceeding.
BASH: Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes?
COOPER: That was Dana asking, do you have the votes.
SANTORUM: We often talk about, we say, elections matter. They do matter. House members voted for Paul Ryan. When they voted for Paul Ryan, House members, conservative Freedom Caucus voters, many of them voted for Paul Ryan. They knew exactly what they are going to get. I mean, Paul Ryan is a Jack Kemp, Bill Bennett Republican. And that he's not a Rand Paul end of the spectrum Republican. And that means you're going to get a bill that's --
BORGER: Or a Rick Santorum Republican.
SANTORUM: Or a Rick Santorum Republican. He's going to be a little bit more toward the middle. And that's what he did. He put a bill together that was not a bill that Dick Army, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay would have put together, which would have been way out here. Knowing the House and Senate was going to pull you back. He put a bill that he wanted that was closer to the middle. And that's what caused all the --
COOPER: A bill that really reflects what Pres. Trump was pitching during the campaign?
SANTORUM: No, I can't say that it -- look, this, as I was saying earlier, this has the bones of almost every single Republican plan. It just has a little bit more moderate flesh to it.
AXELROD: The point I was making before, though, is that -- the reality of this bill is going to be felt. And it's going to have political consequences. The fact is, tens of millions of people are going to lose their health insurance, premiums will go up and not down. And here's the reality of health reform of any kind.
And I remember a call I got from a very wise member of the Senate, who supported health reform enthusiastically. And this member said, just remember once this bill passes, you own everything that happens in the health care system. And every Republican knows that, because they taken advantage of it for the last seven years. Now they are going to be subject to it. So, again, death by fire or death by hanging? I don't think there's a real good answer for Republicans.
KING: Remember, we're in the middle chapter, so actually in an early chapter. This if they get this through the House tomorrow, that is just one step. And it's clear tonight coming out of this meeting, that they don't have the moderates.
[20:45:07] And so, but -- to your point about Charlie Dent, he's hoping he can vote for the second version or the third version. He's hoping the Charlie Dents and (inaudible), they want to say to their moderate districts, I voted no on this because I think it was too harsh.
They're hoping the Senate sends the House back a better bill and then they can campaign next year on voting yes. The question is, will conservatives, if they get this through the House tomorrow, which it appears they have momentum to head in that direction, so the conservative members who force the concessions are now going to be counted on to get this over the finish.
KING: Once they do, the question is, if the Senate sends back a very different bill, will they vote for it on final pass or will we have another revolt?
AXELROD: And remember what's different between now and seven years ago is that Republicans don't have the margins in the Senate that Democrats had seven years ago. So, it's even harder for them to find some consensus --
LORD: But you believe that Charlie Dent, you know, part of politics, a big part of it, is the person-to-person contact, reading the body language and listening to the voice. The Charlie Dent we just saw there is not a happy camper and it seems to me he thinks things are not going in his direction and he's not happy about it. BORGER: What's also different from seven years ago is that you're taking things away from people. You know, when you were passing Obamacare, you were giving them essential health benefits, you were giving them mental health coverage, drug addiction coverage, maternity coverage. And people have gotten used to that.
And so, to your point about the, you know, people are going to learn what's in this, that now you are taking away. And in my experience, covering politics, there are no conservatives when it comes to your own family's health care plan. Everybody wants as much coverage as they can possibly get, for their families. So even if you're a conservative and even if you're ideologically conservative, and you know this because you've run for election, that people aren't conservative when it m comes to insuring their children or mental health --
AXELROD: And think about, you know, addiction at this --
AXELROD: -- time in our history, and where the greatest opioid crisis is. Think about the mental health benefit and where those services are most needed. If I'm a Republican, I am concerned about, not about losing, but about winning.
SANTORUM: I couldn't disagree with you more. Look, Republicans feel much more confident in the market and people's ability to buy the insurance they want as it opposed to the insurance the government is making them buy and making them pay a lot of money for it. That's the big difference. You say, people want this and want that, someone's paying for it and Americans are figuring out it's them.
AXELROD: -- because of those subsidies --
SANTORUM: Well, who pays for the subsidies?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all do.
AXELROD: We know who paid for it under this bill, which were people who are doing very well.
So, there's trillion dollars of tax cuts coming for people who make over 200,000 a year. So we're giving tax breaks to very wealthy people to take some of these benefits away from working people who needed the help. And I don't think that's a very good political equation.
I appreciate the orthodoxy of the markets, but health care is not like a car or any other commodity. Health care is life and death. And, you know, we've made a decision in this country, we're not going to let people die. So now the emergency rooms and all these areas are going to be flooded with people.
SANTORUM: Hold on. Emergency room visits are up under Obamacare, not down. Giving people insurance is not the same as giving people health care. I know this is often interchanged among Democrats. They say, we're giving you health care. No, health insurance is not health care. In fact, there have been many studies done that people under Medicaid actually have poorer health outcomes than people without health insurance. So there's also --
SANTORUM: No, that's true! There are studies that show that. The bottom line is, that we have a health care plan in place right now that is busting the budget, it is over budget, that is not hitting their targets on access, that's in a death spiral in state after state.
GRANHOLM: -- you are spewing Republican talking points.
Look at the Kaiser family foundation, which is the objective indicator of how this law is fair. Premiums are much less expensive. The cost of the re-admissions to hospitals have gone way down. You're smirking, but --
SANTORUM: That has nothing to do with Obamacare, readmissions.
GRANHOLM: Well, yes, since Obamacare was adopted, you have seen all of these positive trends, including the cost of health care coming down. So there has been a --
SANTORUM: -- then why is it so unpopular? If all these --
AXELROD: If that is the index, --
AXELROD: -- then Republicans have a big problem, because this bill that is on the floor now is even less popular than the president's approval rating.
SANTORUM: Nobody knows what's in this bill. I mean, all they know is what --
SANTORUM: -- a lot of money and it's going to -- uninsured a lot of people. None of which I believe.
BORGER: What if people don't --
COOPER: Do the people who are voting for it know what's in the bill?
[20:50:00] SANTORUM: Yeah, I mean that's been the hard part. They actually do know what's in this bill and they're negotiating -- actually pretty diligent --
COOPER: Because that was the argument under Obamacare that people who vote --
COOPER: -- without even knowing.
SANTORUM: I think there's a pretty good knowledge of what's in this --
PSAKI: And if you take individual things like Medicaid work requirements is my favorite example. I read more about it today, which is something I'm sure, I'm sure that you're a fan of.
PSAKI: And if you look at the details of that, 62 percent of people who are women who are not working on -- sorry, on Medicaid 62 percent of the people who are -- who would benefit from it who are women, wouldn't be able to get Medicaid because they wouldn't be able -- because they're not working right now. I just messed that up.
But what I'm trying to say is, there are a lot of people who rely on this, who don't even know what's in this bill. It also requires that women who just had a child, if they are on Medicaid they are required to go back to work within 60 days. That is two months. As we start talking about the specifics in this bill before it goes to the Senate, people will hate these pieces of it and it's going to be real to people.
SANTORUM: I can see it. But I suspect the work requirements are very similar to the work requirements in the welfare bill. And Democrats voted for work requirements for those very same group of people that had -- my recollection was 60 days and you had to go back where Democrats 70, they got 70 -- Bill Clinton signed that bill. So you tell me where the Democrats have gone from saying, you know, we actually required. People are going to take public benefits and your able body that you should actually have to go to work --
PSAKI: But that's assuming that all of these --
SANTORUM: Now you're saying --
SANTORUM: -- I'm not saying lazy, but welfare reform has been the most successful thing. Why? Because we put time on its own and we put a work requirement, we put a block grand (ph) place back in 1997 and hasn't been raised since and not a state complains. Why? Because we have created innovation and we have created an opportunity for people to have a system that gets people back to work as opposed to having them rely --
PSAKI: But you're talking about this in a very undying way that isn't related to individuals and humans gains who are experiencing --
SANTORUM: I hired 10 people of the welfare roles. So don't tell me --
PSAKI: Well that's great.
SANTORUM: -- that I don't know that. I understood the system. It is different, but the able body -- I'm not for time limits on Medicaid because a lot of the most expensive people on Medicaid are seniors as you don't want a time limit seniors, but a work requirement for able bodied under senior age --
KING: -- how about time limit on a T.V. segment?
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Much more ahead as we continue to monitor late health care developments. First, let's take a break. We'll be right back.
[20:56:00] COOPER: All right. So just a quick recap, House Republicans have just wrapped up a meeting aimed at hammering differences over a bill to replace Obamacare. Just moments ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan said over the microphones and said, well, very little but here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: We have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it's failing families, and tomorrow we're proceeding.
BASH: Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No answer on whether or not they have the votes, Speaker Ryan just moments ago. As we've been reporting the meeting featured an ultimatum from the White House something that Jeffrey Lord referred to as familiar and negotiating tactic for a well-known deal maker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm going to make the great deals.
I am going to make great deals for our country.
I've built an extraordinary business on relationships and deals that benefit all parties involved always.
I make deals. I negotiate.
Everybody wants me to negotiate. That's what I'm known as, a negotiator.
I'm so anxious to negotiate.
Nobody can out negotiate these deals.
I will a make a great deal and lots of great deals for the American people.
We don't make great deals anymore but we will once I become president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel. How much -- I mean, clearly Pres. Trump has been all in on this. He has been, you know, up on Capitol Hill, he's been -- putting the full weight of his office behind it. How much is riding on this for him?
KING: I mean, a lot. I mean, I don't want to say everything. It's 62 days into the presidency. Some people do make the case everyday, but the fact that they issued an ultimatum today, that you pass this so we move on tax reform.
Now, I get it. As a negotiating tactic, Jeffrey is right, and at some point you have to stop the door is closed. We're not talking anymore because you'll never get a vote otherwise. But, tt is a signature issue in his campaign.
So, if you're saying, you know, fail, I will fail on my 63rd day in office I'm willing to have a failure and I'm just going to move on. I'm not going to try to come back and recover from that. So it's a negotiating tactic.
But, it's a test of many things. It's a test of him as a negotiator and again, he did may help them get to this point and then the speaker and his own people said now have to stop because -- other wise they're going to keep moving the goalpost. We're going get this done. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
Again, I want to say, tomorrow if they get it through the House is a victory for Pres. Trump and a victory for Pres. Ryan. It is not a final victory.
KING: There is a long way --
LORD: If he wins tomorrow, the headline will be Trump wins.
AXELROD: If he doesn't win, I don't think he or his twitter account will call it his failure.
KING: -- make no mistake about it, they forced the concessions in the last 10 days when we get to tax reform, when we get to trade. Pick your issue. Are they are going to feel emboldened, no question.
BORGER: If he loses tomorrow, we just looked at the tape. I'm the great negotiator. I can make the deals. It's a real problem for him. It's his signature issue. It's his signature. I'm a deal maker and you're shaking your head.
SANTORUM: It's not --
BORGER: But walk -- those people walking out there tonight sounded like they didn't want to say anything because they didn't want to go on the record too early and it sounds to me like they made an awful lot of progress. And the question that I have going forward is, say you remember the Freedom Caucus and you've gone out there and you've pushed this and you've pushed this and then you cave. Do you take credit? Do you take credit for pushing the president to the point where you've made it a better bill, or do you look like you've caved after you've said --
LORD: And the answer to that, Gloria -- the answer to that is Ronald Reagan's famous I'll take 80 percent and then come back.
BORGER: That's right.
KING: But it depends. It depends. I don't want to hog tie it but I just want to inject this one thing. President Obama wanted Obamacare. It was a huge victory the Democrats. It was a giant celebration and they got pummeled in next four elections.
So a victory, a victory today is not always a victory tomorrow. And so Pres. Trump may get a victory tomorrow with this vote. He may get a bill at the end. We'll see what happens in 2018.
COOPER: I just -- everyone stay right here. If you're just joining us, we've just passed the top of the hour. We just seen House Republicans emerged from their meeting, aimed at finding consensus on legislation for a place in the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, which celebrated the 7th anniversary today. Much are -- it wasn't actually a celebration but (inaudible) members are split on it. They spent the evening trying to hash out differences then came the president is done bargaining, it's time to vote.
A lot we're still learning at this hour. Fist, let's go to Phil Mattingly at the Capitol. Phil what's the latest?