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Health Care Redo; Sally Yates Testimony; White House Press Briefing. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired March 29, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR, everybody. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.
Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.
The White House briefing scheduled to begin momentarily. We will take you there live when Sean Spicer enters the room. The president also this hour in a meeting with a lot of his cabinet officials and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a listening session on the opioid crisis. Reporters are in the room right now. We'll have some tape of that event and we'll bring that to you too in just a few moments.
One likely question for Sean Spicer when he briefs today, after the Republican Obamacare debacle last week, where did this come from?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one. So I have no doubt that that's going to happen very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, a lot of other people in town do have doubts. We'll get to that in a moment.
Plus, that same reception for senators, rare and optimistic talk about recent actions in the war against ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing very well in Iraq. Our soldiers are fighting and fighting like never before. And the results are very, very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, yes, it's been awhile. Hillary Clinton returns to the public stage and says Democrats must do a better job organizing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to resist actions that go against our values as Americans, whether that's attacking immigrants and refugees, denying climate change, or passing bogus laws that make it harder for people to vote in elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Also making a rare public appearance today, First Lady Melania Trump at a State Department event honoring women from around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Together we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over, while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia- Malika Henderson, Dan Balz of "The Washington Post," Peter Baker of "The New York Times," and CNN's Sara Murray.
A quick programing note. Calm now on Capitol Hill. But just hours ago there was a dose of chaos. Authorities say an erratic driver slammed into a police cruiser sparking a chase in which some shots were fired. Luckily, no one was injured. A female driver now in handcuffs in custody. Police right now say this incident appears to be a criminal behavior, not terror related. It was an abrupt interruption, though, to what's going to be quite a busy day here in Washington. We'll bring you the latest if there's an update from that investigation.
Again, we're waiting for the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to enter the room. We'll bring you that.
The president, at this opioid listening event. We'll bring you that.
In the meantime, let's start a conversation about some of the big things. The reception last night with senators. The president invited all 100 members of the United States Senate down to the White House. Not all of them came, but he invited all 100. Obviously the health care debacle of last week fresh in his mind. You heard the president at the top of the show, "we're going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one. I have to doubt that will happen very quickly." Based on what?
PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, if it was so easy, of course they would have done it by now, right?
BAKER: And it wasn't easy. That was the whole problem.
But what's interesting is to talk about it as if there was a deal to be made with Democrats, because up until now the entire conversation has been a negotiation among Republicans. Should we go this far right? Should we go a little closer to the center? Democrats have been off the table both because they don't want to be part of it and because the president didn't really invite them to be. And the question is, should he abandon or split the Freedom Caucus, which has been the sore in his posterior now for the last couple of weeks and try to make a real deal with Democrats that won't really please a lot of people in his own base, or is this just talk to keep the - you know, keep up the appearance.
KING: Is it just talk I think is the key question.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And let's be clear - right, there is no, you know, imminent deal. There is no indication that all of a sudden everyone's saying Kumbaya over the weekend and through the policy proposals they wanted out the window and now they're suddenly on the brink of a deal. But I do think a lot of people met political reality over the weekend. A lot of members of Congress went home to their districts and had to face the fact that they were unable to get the one thing that they have consistently talked about for seven years done. Something that President Trump campaigned on every single day. I think that's why we are hearing a lot of talk about it. But, again, I don't - there's no indication that there's some kind of deal (INAUDIBLE).
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
KING: But is it - it's loose talk, it's casual talk from the president. That happens quite frequently with this administration.
KING: But at the moment, at the moment, when you have failed - you have failed at something, maybe they come back and put this together, maybe they'll move on, we don't know what toll it will take on the president, but is that the smart thing to be having this - oh, we'll get this done quickly. It's easy.
HENDERSON: No, but I think it's probably better than where he was before, right, on Friday. He was basically like, too bad, so sad. We didn't do this. We're going to move on to tax reform in -
KING: That was good. That was good.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes. I mean that's essentially what - that's essentially what he said. And everyone else was saying, no, we've got to figure something out with health care. And his whole notion was, it's the Democrats' fault and we'll just let it fail and then we'll come in and rescue this. So I think this is him getting on message. I think he's overselling it. But that is what Donald Trump does, he speaks in superlatives, he thinks everything is easy and he clearly hasn't learned his lesson that everybody learned, which is that it's complicated, health care.
[12:05:16] KING: It is complicated.
Dan, if you look at the new CBS poll out this morning, though, Republican voters largely - I don't know if pass is the right word, but they're not attaching the blame to the president. Republican voters were asked why the health care bill failed. Forty-one percent say because it's not popular. Thirty percent say because the Democrats didn't compromise. Sixteen percent saying because Republicans - meaning congressional Republicans - didn't compromise. Only 4 percent say because the president didn't compromise. So Republican voters apparently are, at least for now, giving the president a bit of a pass. But, again, for him to be so publicly optimistic just seems out of step.
DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, although it's quite in character with President Trump. So, I mean, I think when he gets up and begins to ad lib, everything's great, everything's wonderful, everything's going to be easy, we're going to win so much that you're going to be tired of winning, et cetera, et cetera. But, you know, as everybody says, there's no concrete evidence that there's a - that there's a makeable deal that anybody's really got in mind right now.
BALZ: I mean I talked to Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee yesterday and said, you know, would you guys work with the president, and he said, I'd be happy to cooperate with the president on a public option. Well, you can see how far that's going to go.
HENDERSON: Right. Yes.
KING: Yes, you will - the Democrats will be happy to cooperate with the president if he comes about 95 percent their way.
BALZ: Right. Right.
KING: Which he's not going to do. And they see no reason right now because they see his overall approval rating at 40 percent or lower and they see no reason to reach out right now because they think he's sinking a bit. That's one question that will come up with Sean Spicer. You see the Briefing Room in the corner of your screen there. Where did the president's optimism come from? Was that just casual talk?
Another question is going to be try to resolving this question of whether the administration tried to block Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, a holdover from the Obama administration. She was supposed to go up and speak to the House Intelligence Committee in a public hearing and then that was cancelled. Now, Sean Spicer yesterday said, nope, nope, we did not - well, let's actually listen to Sean Spicer yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The White House did not respond and took no action that prevented Miss Yates from testifying. That's the story. That's what the documents show.
I hope she testifies. I look forward to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: That's what he said yesterday. Now, what others are saying is that, you know, if you read this - and, Dan, your paper broke this story yesterday, this is a letter from the Department of Justice. She reached out - she's a former Justice Department official now. She reached out today, they've asked me to testify at this hearing. And what they're saying is, "the president owns those privileges. Therefore, to the extent Ms. Yates needs consent to disclose the details of those communications to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, she needs to consult with the White House." Essentially she was going to testify about conversations she had from the Justice Department with the White House about the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, about other aspects perhaps of the Russia investigation. And she asked for some legal guidance.
Oh, Mr. Spicer at the podium. To the White House.
[12:07:55] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Hey, good morning, everyone -- it's technically afternoon, I guess.
I -- sorry to move and screw up the schedule a little, but we've got a couple of events this afternoon. So I've got to get through this, get some questions, and then got to move on. But we've got two more on- camera briefings the rest of the week.
So, this morning the president just wrapped up, or is continuing to -- I know some of the pool just left, but the president is currently hosting an opioid and drug abuse listening session with senior administration officials, governors, experts in the psychology of drug addiction, recovery awareness advocates and others who've been affected by the opioid crisis.
Drug abuse has crippled communities across this nation. In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans, that's 144 people a day, died from a drug overdose, with 63 percent involving an opioid, according to the CDC. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country.
As the president discussed with the group this morning, we won't be able to address this academic -- excuse me -- epidemic with a single solution. First, we must get struggling Americans the help that they need. Too many families have seen first-hand the destruction that drug abuse can bring. And we must also focus prevention on law and enforcement.
Cheap heroin is flooding into our communities as drug cartels expand into the country, setting off a chain reaction of addiction that spreads from person to person and from family to family. President Trump has already taken executive action to strengthen law enforcement and dismantle criminal cartels.
He and his team will continue to discuss how best to root out this threat to American communities with drug enforcement experts as we continue this fight. Stopping this epidemic is not -- is an issue that every American regardless of your political background can and must get behind. We must work together from the leaders of the most local -- from most local and community recovery and support programs, all the way to the White House, to solve this problem.
The White House took a big first step this morning in our battle to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis by meeting with these individuals, which included New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- who has been a leader on this issue -- Attorney General Sessions, Education Secretary DeVos, Veterans Administration Secretary Shulkin, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly and others were in attendance. A full list of participants has been provided.
I will say -- I know the pool was just in there -- it is -- some of the stories from some of the individuals who have been involved in this with a family member are unbelievably compelling. Their desire to see and to work with the administration to get this problem addressed is -- is one that is plaguing communities and I know the president places it at the highest -- highest priority.
There was a mention by the drug -- the acting administrator of the DEA that -- that they have a program, where twice a year they gather unwanted drugs. Last year they gathered over a million pounds of unwanted drugs. There's 5,000 sites in which -- in -- people across America can drop off stuff in their medicine cabinet that is no longer used, to get it out of their house.
The next drop -- dropoff will be on April 29th, and I think the DEA will be putting out more information.
But when you see some of the action that was taking place in this report, it is truly a call to arms for a crisis that is plaguing our country.
This afternoon the president will drop by the Women's Empowerment Panel that the White House is hosting, lead by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, senator -- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma, who will all speak about the unique challenges that women and young girls face today. Vice President Pence and the first lady will also be in attendance.
The president is proud that his administration is full of so many female leaders from -- who will be on stage this afternoon, to those incredibly -- so that -- their incredible work doesn't always makes headlines, but it's certainly felt across the federal government and across our nation.
Women's History Month is coming to an end, but the Trump administration is committed to empowering women in the workplace. The work that we started this month will not end at the end of this month, but will continue.
The president made women's empowerment a priority throughout the campaign, speaking out on affordable childcare and paid family leave, investing in women's health, and the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and business owners. In February, he and Prime Minister Trudeau, from Canada, launched the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs. This month the first lady hosted an event for International Women's Day in the East Wing. CMA -- CMS Administrator Verma hosted a panel on women in health care. His daughter Ivanka held a roundtable with women business owners with SPA Administrator McMahon, as well as other (sic) roundtable with Latino business owners.
And just earlier today, the first lady joined the undersecretary of state for political affairs, Tom Shannon, to present the 2017 Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award at the State Department.
The president believes, as the first lady said this morning, quote, "wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them. However, wherever women are empowered, towns, villages, schools and economies are empowered and together we are all made stronger."
The Trump administration will continue to work to ensure that the American economy is a place where women can work and thrive.
Later this evening, the vice president will participate in the swearing-in of David Friedman as the next ambassador to Israel. The president's glad that Ambassador Friedman will be officially on board as we strive for a lasting peace in the Middle East. He is -- Mr. Friedman's strong relationships in Israel will be a tremendous asset to the president in furthering that mission.
Finally, I want to speak about Judge Gorsuch and the blatantly political obstruction of his nomination in -- to the Supreme Court by Senate Democrats. Yesterday the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said that next Friday, the Senate will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. We welcome this news.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have begun justifying their opposition to Judge Gorsuch by claiming a 60-vote standard for his confirmation. That standard doesn't exist and these claims continue to be false.
A party-line filibuster by the Senate minority is not a fair up- or- down vote. You don't have to look further than the voices of many of the same Democrats to see why.
In 2013, Senator Tom Udall said, and I quote in full, "Some of us may disagree with Justice Scaliza (sic) on judicial philosophy, but he was a qualified nominee. He received an up-or-down vote and he was unanimously confirmed. Likewise," he said, "Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was considered a liberal, the former ACLU general counsel. Many on the other side may have disagreed with her views but there was no filibuster. She was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3," end quote. He added, quote, "A minority in the Senate should not be able to block qualified nominees," end quote.
We could not agree more with Senator Udall.
SPICER: Unfortunately, he has now adopted a new party line of obstruction in blocking a fair up-or-down vote on the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch.
It's both sad and unfortunate. And we encourage all senators from both parties to fairly evaluate the judge's eminent qualifications and grant him an up-or-down vote.
With that, be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Why thank you, Sean.
SPICER: How are you today?
QUESTION: I'm fine. And how are you?
QUESTION: Well, Sean, going back to some issues that are in the news, Nunes is not gonna recuse himself. In the midst of all of this back- and-forth, what does the White House say about that?
SPICER: Well, April...
... the White House, as I -- I think I mentioned this yesterday. I mean, he's conducting an investigation. He is the elected or appoint -- I can't remember how they do HPSCI over there -- but appointed and confirmed or however they -- but -- but by his colleagues in the House and the speaker. He is the chairman. He's conducting an investigation. And it is up to the House of Representatives and the speaker and the members of the House Republican conference to determine.
But I -- I mean, there is nothing that I see that -- that is problematic in him conducting an investigation that we asked both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
QUESTION: What are the conversations the president is having with Paul Ryan about this? (Inaudible), to include Dems and Republicans, are talking about what looks like impropriety in the intel chief's handling of it so far. Particularly as there's not a hearing right now. SPICER: Well, I -- I would take issue with the -- I -- I think you're right that there -- there may appear to be certain things. But I don't think there's any actual proof or -- or sustaining allegation about anything that's done.
Again -- I mentioned this yesterday -- if you look at what Chairman Nunes has done, he has met with people who are cleared to discuss classified information regarding a review that he is conducting. That's how it's supposed to work.
And again, I -- I understand that when things are leaked out in the media, that somehow that is a standard that's acceptable. But when two people who are cleared to discuss classified information, or three or however many, discuss classified information, somehow that's wrong because it's not being leaked.
He is conducting a review, which we have supported -- on both sides of the chambers. And I think that they should do this.
But I think to start to prejudge where this thing is going -- we have been in support of it, as you know. And I think that let's let that process bear -- bear itself out and see what happens.
I will tell you that I've seen reports in the media that the NSA has documents that they are supposedly trying to get to the House Intelligence Committee that have been requested. I -- we -- we think that's a great thing if that's in fact what's happening.
But, again, I think part of this all gets back to that there is a process.
And I get that sometimes it's frustrating to us. I believe that we want this over as much, I think, some of you. But we recognize that there's a process that has to take place.
And that process is taking place. The chairman and the House Intelligence, and I know that Senator Burr and Senator Warner are talking about the process that they're going to go on the Senate side.
Some of these things take a little bit of time. And to the extent that they are gathering the appropriate documents and looking at those things, then that's -- that's part of the process and the review that is being undertaken. And -- and we're fine with that.
QUESTION: OK, different topic: tax reform and infrastructure. Reports are saying you're going to do it together.
And ACA, Obamacare going into Trumpcare at that time, tax reform and infrastructure was said to be some of the reasons why it did not come up in the budget with eliminating the debt. Do you have cost estimates as it relates to tax reform and infrastructure as of yet?
SPICER: No, because I think you need to have plans laid out first. And I think part of this is that we're in the beginning phases of both of those, to -- so -- to -- to have a score on either one of them, or a cost, when we don't have those formalized yet -- and I think we're in the beginning phases of -- of having those discussions with both the stakeholders, the members of Congress on both sides. And obviously internally the formulation of those plans is continuing.
So, until that happens, I don't see us having a formal cost or a score.
QUESTION: Do you trust CBO now?
SPICER: It's not a question of trust.
Remember, I -- I just -- I want to be clear about what I said before. I think when it comes to cost estimates and budget issues -- which is what CBO is charged to do. They are the Congressional Budget Office. And while I think sometimes they're a little off on that, that is what they're charged with doing. And I think there's a score.
Where I think -- it's not a question of trust. It's a question of accuracy.
And I think that the issue that we previously brought up was when they had scored people and coverage, which isn't necessarily their wheelhouse, they have been way off.
And again, I don't think it's a question of us trusting or not. It's literally a question of saying they believed that 26 million people would be on Obamacare. 10.4 million were and falling.
SPICER: I think that's -- that's not a question of whether we trust them or not.
It's a question of that -- those are the facts. And those facts bear out that they were off by more than 50 percent when it came to counting people.
And I just want to be clear that it's not a question of whether we trust them. I would ask whether that's really what they're supposed to be doing.
QUESTION: Sean, just a couple of things that we talked about on Monday. Monday, you said to us from the podium you would look into how Chairman Nunes was cleared here, and with whom he met. Can you give us -- we tried to ask you that yesterday as you walked out. Do you have any information to live up to the commitment you made here on Monday to provide more details about how that happened and a process you've just told us yet again is above-board and totally appropriate?
SPICER: I don't have anything for you on that at this time. But again, I don't...
SPICER: I have asked some preliminary questions. I have not gotten answers yet. And I think there's a -- but, so no, I don't have anything further on that. But again, I would argue, Major, it's interesting, and I brought this up the other day, that there seems to be this fascination with the process.
It's how did he get here; what door did he enter, as opposed to what's the substance of what we're finding. When I get -- not from you, and I'm not trying to be -- but so many times, I get these calls that we have an unnamed intel source that says the following substance occurred; do you admit it; do you deny it; whatever. And we have this argument over substance. In this case, the fascination is with what door did he come in; who did he meet with; how did he get waved in, as opposed to what I think it should be, and ironically it's not, when it's the other -- the shoe is on the other food is: What's the substance?
Just yesterday, just to be clear, we started this day with the Washington Post falsely posting a story saying the White House blocked Sally Yates. Right? By the end of the day, it's "officials" blocked Sally Yates. They were wrong. And they jumped to a conclusion based on whatever unnamed sources.
And I think that what we're trying to do is argue that there should be a process. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and others are going through a review. We support that review. And so, as much as I understand that everyone wants to jump to how did everyone get in, what did they do, they're undergoing an investigation.
QUESTION: I have a substantive question about that.
QUESTION: But I'm just asking you about something you told us that...
SPICER: No, I said I would look into it.
QUESTION: ... look into it...
SPICER: I will. I will look into it, and whether or not...
QUESTION: ... live up to that obligation...
SPICER: No, I will -- the obligation is I said I would look into it. And I will continue to do that.
QUESTION: So, you said yesterday about Sally Yates "show what you know." One of the reasons that there's this question about Chairman Nunes is he hasn't told his own committee members what he knows, how he learned about it, and what the substantive importance of that is. So we are also curious about that.
And among the things that might be -- or might shed light on that is how he got here and who he met with and what he learned.
QUESTION: We're trying to figure that out as well.
SPICER: Understand. And I think those are questions for him. And I think -- I also think...
SPICER: ... but I think, Major, that there's a slippery slope that we're talking about here, because if we start looking into certain things, then the accusation the next day is going to be, you know, "you looked into this; can you look into that; why did you ask this person, and not" -- I mean, a couple of weeks ago when we -- there were stories about whether or not we called certain people and we did.
So we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't on this stuff. Because on the one hand, you want certain answers. On the other hand, you want to talk about us being involved. And I think we've tried to keep -- we asked for an investigation. And at the same time, we've tried to make sure that we -- we allow that review to go on; that both the House and the Senate Intelligence.
So, we can't cherry-pick every time that you decide that a piece of information is relevant to what you want. I think that we know that they are undertaking a review -- hold on.
QUESTION: ... going on, and the members of the very committee themselves say they don't know what is being discussed.
SPICER: Fair enough, and that's -- right.
QUESTION: How is the process going forward? How is that a workable process?
SPICER: OK. But what I'm saying is -- the answer to that question is that's a question for Chairman Nunes. I don't have any authority over how the House Intelligence Committee conducts itself. That's a question...
QUESTION: ... you have authority about whether he gets into this building and can review secured information on this site...
SPICER: But how he conducts himself with his members, when and where he shares things, et cetera, are issues for him and the committee and the House of Representatives, not for us. That's it, plain and simple.
QUESTION: Sean, we know that members of the House Freedom Caucus, the Tuesday Group, Republican Study Group, are up on the Hill trying to see if they can come to some sort of an agreement to find a way forward on health care. How real does the White House think this possibility of resurrecting health care is?
SPICER: Well, I think -- the president, from the early days of his campaign, talked about repealing and replacing. It's a commitment that he made. I think he'd like to get it done. But he also understands, and I don't want to be -- I want to be completely consistent with two things. One is, he understands that in order to get to 216, we have to make sure that it does what he says it was going to do; that is achieves those goals of lowering costs and creating more options.
And so we're not going to create a deal for the sake of creating a deal that ends up being no in the best interests of the American people. You've got to know when to walk away from a deal that is going to end up bad. And he wants to have a good deal.
SPICER: And so the deal that he's looking for -- he's willing to have members come and talk to him and engage with -- on this whole area and figure out what it would take, what their ideas are to are to get there to grow that vote.
If they can do that and get to an area where we will have a majority of the House, we can move it to the Senate, then we're going to engage in that. But we've seen members of both sides of the aisle engage with the White House on ways that are potentially -- ways to get there. And so, it's a conversation and we're not trying to jam that down anyone's throat right now. It's an ongoing discussion.
QUESTION: Does the White House share the frustration of many Republicans on Capitol Hill and the sentiments that the House Freedom Caucus, quote, "botched this?"
SPICER: I think the president's comments on this speak for themselves.
QUESTION: I just have one more...
QUESTION: ... and on the same thing. The president, members of the White House, have suggested that maybe we could get some Democrats on board health care reform. The fact that no Democrat, not one Democrat supported the last attempt and given the desires of the Freedom Caucus versus what the Democrats will be looking for, is it reasonable to think that even one Democrat would come on board this?
SPICER: No. I mean, I think it is not unreasonable to...
QUESTION: No, I said is it reasonable?
SPICER: I think it depends on what they're -- what they -- how they want to get there. I mean, again, there's a balancing act. It's not about just picking up one, it's picking up enough to get to 216 and it's what does that take without compromising the principles that you want to achieve. So, is it possible? Sure, that there's a handful or so or maybe more Democrats that are will to engage, but it's worth the conversation. But again... (CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: (inaudible) isn't this kind of a Boehner (ph) tactic to say "OK, if you're not going to work with us..." (CROSSTALK)
SPICER: No, it's...
QUESTION: "... Freedom Caucus, we're going to go to the Democrats"?
SPICER: No. It's a -- it's a tactic to get to any -- it's a math tactic. It's -- it's how do you get to 216 in this case and it's engaged with whoever will get you to that number.
Now, as I mentioned yesterday, I mean, over the course of 17 months, Obamacare, you know, failed and started multiple times. Went off on multiple different tracks, including single payer, until it finally came back and ultimately, upon Scott Brown's election, they jammed it through and did it so quick to make sure that the secretary of Human Services -- but I get it.
And so we're 20 days, 21 days into this process, 22 probably today. So, we'll see, but I think the idea that the president has put out there is that if people want to float ideas and suggestions on how we can grow this vote and get to a majority, he'll entertain them.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have sort of a lightning round about opioids. Is a commission being created? Is Chris Christie the head of that commission? He was sort of talking about it, but I haven't seen anything on it. And what sort of timeline will that commission have in terms of presenting findings? What's the goal of this (inaudible)?
SPICER: Well, there's -- I mean, I think it's easier to start with the goal. I think if you see the roundtable, and I know the pool will have a readout of this afterwards, the goal is to figure out -- I think Governor Christie's been a leader of this in New Jersey. It's a -- it's an issue that plagues countless communities more and more.
And -- and so, you know, whether it's New Hampshire or other places in the Midwest, it's sitting there and figuring out best practices and how can we get it down and how can we provide the treatment. I mean, I think the DEA administrator was noting in the discussion that they -- we've gotten really good at law enforcement, right? But the question is how do we -- how do we focus on the treatment? How do we focus on the prevention? How do we look at things that happened in the past to deter drug addiction from starting in the first place and deter young people in particular from starting with drugs? To (ph) now, how do we help families cope with this?
There's a lot of it and I -- so I think today is the first step of bringing some of these stakeholders together. You know -- but like I just mentioned on the other thing, I appreciate that everyone want the answers, but I think that there's a reason that you're looking at this as a -- as two things, a whole of government and a whole of person, right? It's looking at how do we look at people to help them get the recovery, stay clean, not start in the first place, help them get into treatment centers, help them get a job afterwards.
I mean, there's a lot of whole of person, but then there's a whole of government. As I mentioned, I mean, you're looking at around that table today, you've got families and parents and individuals who have been personally affected in one way, shape or form. You've got Governor Christie has dealt with it at a state level. You've got Pam Bondi, who's looked at it from a state level. You've got Secretary Kelly, who's looking at it from Homeland Security. DEA, who's looking at it partially from a law enforcement. Then you've also got, you know, Secretary DeVos, who's looking at it from education and prevention.
And it's -- it is a big, big issue that is plaguing our country, plaguing our communities and plaguing our families. And so I wish I could give you an answer and say this is how we're going to solve the problem, but I think the first step is -- is understanding the problem, the magnitude of it and looking at how we approach it holistically.