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GOP Aide: Health Care Bill "Hanging by a Threat"; Pro-Trump PAC Threatens More Senators; Trump Celebrates "Victory of Watered-Down" Travel Ban. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 27, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:48] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate health care bill is hanging by a thread. That's the latest word on the status of the Senate's efforts to overhaul Obamacare. But House Speaker Paul Ryan says do not bet against Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. He says he will get it done.

Joining me now to discuss, Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois.

Congressman, it's great to have you here. Thanks for coming in.

REP. RODNEY DAVIS, (R), ILLINOIS: Thanks for having me on.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate it.

Senate leaders are trying to work through this. After the CBO analysis, you have four Republican Senators who are so concerned that they won't even vote to move to debate the Senate bill. Are you concerned this is about to fall apart?

DAVIS: This is the legislative process. This is similar to what happened in the House when we didn't call a vote the first time that we had planned to. We got together, worked the legislative process through the entirety and then we were able to pass the bill. The Senate is going to be able to do the same. We will see how long it takes.

BOLDUAN: How long that takes is a big question. Do you think the deadline here is a problem?

DAVIS: I think it could be, but that's what the Senators are going to have to do what we did in the House and work the legislative process.

BOLDUAN: Jackie Speier, a colleague of yours, a Democratic colleague, had her on earlier and she had this to say about the Senate bill, Congressman. Listen to this.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D), CALIFORNIA: This is a bill, without being hyperbolic, that will guarantee that people will die. What are you going to do, kick all of these people -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's not hyperbolic, Congresswoman?


BOLDUAN: How can you say people are guaranteed to die?

SPEIER: Because they will not be able to access health care. And if you can't access health care and you are in an emergency situation, you will not get that health care and you will likely die.


BOLDUAN: Your reaction to that?

DAVIS: You know, it's sad to hear. You know, we could go -- I stood here in this same hallway in a baseball practice uniform, asking all of us in Congress and the media to tone down the hateful vitriolic rhetoric. Jackie, of all people, understands what it's like to go through the same terror many of us did a few short weeks ago. I would hope, instead of using that, let's talk about our policy differences. We have 60 million people in this country right now who don't have health care insurance, or who have health care coverage they can't afford to use it. Let's address the problems.

[11:35:16] BOLDUAN: I think her point was -- I think her point was people are going to be pushed off Medicaid, for example, if they have serious health issues, they would not be able to get health care and that would guarantee they die.

DAVIS: Medicaid is an issue in the state of Illinois where we have the expansion program and have 44 percent of all those who are on the Medicaid expansion in Illinois that are ages 19-34, able-bodied adults. We have to work to get them off Medicaid and into an employer-based health care system. Get them a job. Those are the types of issues we have to face to strengthen the Medicaid system we have that helps those who need it the most, the aged and disabled.

But I would urge my colleagues, all of my Democratic colleagues, come to the table with your solutions. Don't just stand back and complain about a process, a process you may or may not like. Let's offer solutions. The solution of keeping the status quo where we have 20 percent of the population that are uninsured or can't afford to use the coverage they have, that's not success.

BOLDUAN: The problem for the Senate bill right is not Democrats. It's an intraparty fight. It's Republicans. One example, one objection from fellow Republicans in the Senate is this bill they are negotiating is just moving too fast.

Listen to Lisa Murkowski, Congressman.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R), ALASKA: This is big stuff. And, so, making sure that we get it right is something that I have said is an imperative. I don't think it's asking too much to say give us the time to fairly and critically analyze these numbers. These numbers that we are talking about, these are men and women. These are our families that are being impacted. Let's please get it right.


BOLDUAN: She wants more time. Is that an unreasonable request?

DAVIS: It's not an unreasonable request. I hope Senator Murkowski continues to let her feelings known with Leader McConnell and the rest of Senate leadership. We have time in the House to address many of our concerns. One of my major concerns was making sure we have multiple layers of protections for pre-existing condition coverage. My wife is an 18-year cancer survivor. I want to make sure anyone who goes through that, any family that goes through cancer or fights a disease, gets those layers of protection. That's what the extra time allowed us to do.

BOLDUAN: We'll see if they get that extra time. That's an issue on the Senate side.

While I have you, Congressman, the president confirmed on Sunday that he did say behind closed doors that he considers the House bill, the House health care bill to be "mean." What is your reaction to that?

DAVIS: You know, it's frustrating because I sat in a room with the president numerous times after the first version was not called for a vote to address many of the concerns the administration had and many of my colleagues had. I have to give the administration credit. They opened their doors to our ideas and opened their doors to listening to changes. When you have the Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, not participating at all, trying to actually help legislate, then, of course, Republicans are going to have to work together to pass a bill with only Republican votes, which is what we had to do.

BOLDUAN: What Democrats had to do with Obamacare. We'll see if Republicans will be able to do it in the Senate side right now. Right now, they are having issues.

Congressman, it's great to have you. I appreciate your time.

DAVIS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a pro-Trump super PAC is now threatening to target Republican Senators who say they are a "no" on the Senate health care bill. Is this how to get them to "yes," by threatening them with ads in their districts in their home states when they might be in tough re-election battles? We'll discuss.


[11:43:21] BOLDUAN: Today, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, will be gauging and a little begging for support for the health care bill at the Republican Senators weekly lunch that will be happening and beginning very shortly. A pro-Trump super PAC, in the meantime, is trying to garner support

for the bill bit in a different way, maybe less friendly. It is targeting a Republican Senator Dean Heller, who said he is a "no" on the bill. The group is threatening to target him further, him and target other Republican Senators with ads, putting money in their home states, against them, if they remain "no" on this bill. The ads on television have not happened, yet. We will see.

But could this group's effort potentially backfire, harden the already opposition that these Senators are offering to this bill?

Let's discuss. The panel today, Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic." Tara Palmeri is a CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "Politico." Alice Stewart is here, a CNN political commentator and Republican strategist and the former communications director for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. And John Selib, who is the former chief of staff to Democratic Senator Max Baucus.

All right, friends, let us begin.

Ron, what is your best guess -- I'm putting you on the spot right now. What is your best guess on what the sentiment is going to be when Senators come out of their weekly lunch today?



You know, look, they are caught between a rock and a very hard place. On one hand, they promised for seven years to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, they are left with a bill, more than any single bill I have covered in Washington, going back to the early 1980s, imposes some of its heaviest cost on a party's own voters. That is the core reason why this is so difficult. In the end, the biggest losers in this bill are older and lower middle-income adults. In many states that were critical for Donald Trump's victories, they were predominantly white. If you are talking West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, all those places, the big losers in the Medicaid changes and private exchanges are the core of their coalition. The Kaiser Family Foundation has an incredible Web site where you can go county by county to see the premiums. Look at West Virginia or southeast Ohio or Macomb and St. Claire Counties outside of Detroit. The blue-collar counties, key Trump victories, all would all see enormous increases, even before we get to the reductions in Medicaid. I think that's what makes it so very, very tough.

[11:46:07] BOLDUAN: Alice, let's talk about Nevada. The super PAC is threatening Dean Heller or other Republicans, if you don't get on board, we are going to put money against you. Does this help Heller get to a "yes?"

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. It may end up helping him and hurting McConnell and Trump. He is not going to be persuaded by ads on the television. He is beholden to the people of Nevada. He is beholden to his constituents. This is a state that was for -- voted for Hillary and they benefit from the Medicaid part of Obamacare. The governor, Sandoval, is supportive of Obamacare, the Medicaid they receive in that state. He is not for the measure that is on the table. So, he would be a fool if he were to flip his vote based on this ad that may or may not hit the air. Them, doing this, is not putting pressure on him. He is, all of them, campaigned and won on repealing and replacing Obamacare, but also doing it right, meaning lower premiums and greater access to care and better health care.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the process. You have been in the weeds when Max Baucus pushed through Obamacare and passed it so many years ago. Hanging by a thread. It's about to fall apart. These are things you remember hearing when you were negotiating? Yes?

JOHN SELIB, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO DEMOCRATIC SEANTOR MAX BAUCUS Absolutely. It was a long and tortured process but we never had a CBO score that looked like what landed yesterday. When we got our CBO score, we saw tons of people gaining coverage. We saw people's premiums going down. We saw huge deficit reduction.

BOLDUAN: But add this into it. Paul Ryan today saying do not bet against Mitch McConnell. You know who else said that? Max Baucus, your former boss. He is --

SELIB: He's a smart guy.

BOLDUAN: He is. He said, I think Senator McConnell is going to get the votes, there's no doubt about it in my mind. That's what he said.

SELIB: I have so much respect for Max Baucus, and I learned so much from him. I agree with his sentiment. Leader McConnell knows what he is doing.

BOLDUAN: He knows how.

SELIB: Look, he's very good at shoving his members into votes that they don't want to take. That's what a talented leader does in the Senate.

BOLDUAN: Democrat or Republican, let's be honest.

SELIB: Absolutely. But, you know, this is a really hard sell, Kate. This is an abysmal piece of legislation. As Alice talked about, look at a Senator like Dean Heller. How does he go home and say he is for a bill that is going to gut Nevada's Medicaid program and take on his governor?


BOLDUAN: Does it come down to the role the president plays?

Tara, come on this one, because the president is making calls. Reporting is Rand Paul is heading over to the White House to meet with the president. The vice president is hosting Republicans for a dinner tonight. Is more White House, more presidential involvement what could shape this thing loose? What do you think?

TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it helps to get high- level interactions and pressure from the president. But I think he is overstating his hand and the kind of power that he really has. With this pro-Trump super PAC that is going on the attack against Heller and other Senate Republicans, you have to remember the person who is leading that super PAC used to be the deputy chief of staff to the chief of staff in the White House, Reince Priebus. This is someone who is very connected to the administration. This is a clear sign that Trump is not playing -- he's not playing loose with this. He wants a win. And if you don't vote with him, you are crossing him. He's bringing a whole new level of tribalism to Washington where, even many Republicans are saying this is a stunning level of political retaliation. So when you see Trump getting involved, you are seeing a lot more aggression and some really hard selling that people in Washington aren't used to.

[11:50:07] BOLDUAN: Alice, give me an answer. You have four Senators who don't even want to vote to move this thing forward to debate, this process, but an important thing. Something's got to give. The math doesn't work right now. Is it policy or process? Which one?

STEWART: People don't care about the process, but the policy. The administration would be better off with the carrot approach that Mike pence will do with these people. He knows many of these people, Heller, Ted Cruz --


BOLDUAN: It's not like $200 billion to work with in in terms of deficit reduction.

STEWART: They want to get to "yes."


STEWART: They want to get to "yes." It's a matter of how they get there.

BOLDUAN: Stand by. See how the faces look when they leave the Senate lunch today.

Great to see you all. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: After the Supreme Court handed down a partial victory to the White House and the president's travel ban, parts of the ban could go into effect as early as Thursday. The Supreme Court has also agreed, a reminder, to hear oral arguments on the overall ban in the case against it this fall in October.

Laura Jarrett is joining me now, CNN justice reporter, on much more of this.

Parts of the ban could go into effect Thursday. How does this work? What are you hearing?

[11:55:06] LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Kate, there are many questions coming out of yesterday's decision, but the most pressing is this: Who exactly from those six predominantly Muslim countries will be allowed into the country? The court says you have to have credible claims of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. But advocates I spoke with yesterday say this creates a bit of a murky picture, especially for refugees who might not have family here in the U.S. or an established relationship with a resettlement organization. So there are just many, many unanswered questions right now. And I think it's safe to expect further litigation on all of this.

BOLDUAN: Where do the first questions go, though? Laura, first questions to State Department and Homeland Security come Thursday? Or do you think -- where do people go first?

JARRETT: The first will happen when you show up at the airport and can or cannot board your plane. But if there are disputes, be sure they'll go back to the district court where all of these odors originated from. Those are the judges that will decide in the first instance.

BOLDUAN: Laura, great to see you. Thank you so much for the update. We'll be looking for that Thursday.

Much more after a quick break.


[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

A busy hour ahead, including this stern White House warning to the Syrian regime: If you use chemical weapons again, prepare to pay a heavy price.

First note, a critical meeting this hour --