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AT THIS HOUR

States Being Allowed to Require Work for Medicaid; Trump Criticizes FISA Bill Before Vote; Republicans Leaving Congress Could Jeopardize Ryan's Speakership; House Passes Controversial Surveillance Bill; States Push Back on Exemption of Only Florida from Offshore Drilling; Paul Ryan Holds Press Conference. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 11, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] TAMI LUHBY, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: This is a significant change for Medicaid. For the first time in its 50-year history, states are going to be allowed to require people to work to get Medicaid. Now the administration is saying that work promotes independence and that it's very much in keeping with Medicaid's philosophy and mission, but, you know, others say that it could end up leaving a lot of people off the rolls. So what's going to happen now, is states can apply for waivers to require -- we're talking able- bodied, non-disabled, non-pregnant adults -- these folks will have to start going to work or doing community service, volunteer activities or other types of activities, even caregiving if they want to retain their benefits.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Critics -- you mentioned what some are saying this is going leave some folks off the rolls and if they're not off -- not on the rolls this could hinder the ability of poorer Americans affording Medical care. Tell us more about those concerns?

LUHBY: Well, Medicaid right now is a huge program. I don't think people realize how big it is. It actually covers more than 75 million Americans. Many of them are children, the elderly, people not subject to this. But there are also millions of adults now on Medicaid. And they needed to get health care, particularly substance abuse treatment, mental health care, things that are important in order for them to actually get independent and, you know, get jobs.

Critics are afraid that this new requirement is going to be too onerous on people who have conditions that may not be classified as disabled, but they may have asthma or arthritis or other issues that prevent them from working, and so they're going to be dropped off the rolls. But right now, there are millions of Medicaid recipients who do work, but consumer advocates are concerned that even these folks may have trouble meeting the requirements because there could be very strict documentation and verification standards that they have to meet, and it may be difficult for them to meet that so, therefore, they may end up getting kicked off the rolls even if they are working.

KEILAR: Tami Luhby, you always make so much sense of things. And we appreciate your expertise on this. Thank you.

LUHBY: Thank you. KEILAR: I just mentioned that we're awaiting House Speaker Paul Ryan.

He is expected to hold a news conference. Reporters filing into the room there on Capitol Hill. And we're going to bring this to you as soon as it gets under way.

His role as House speaker could be in jeopardy this fall as a growing number of Republicans are saying they're going to get out of Congress. That could mean that the GOP is going to have a hard time keeping control of the House.

Joining me now is Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for Politico, and CNN's senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

First off, as we wait for the speaker here, Eliana, what is happening with -- I do want to talk about the political future, but let's talk about the FISA bill that is currently on the floor -- it's a busy day on Capitol Hill -- what is happening there, as the president undercut his party, and then backpedaled, because as we understand now, we just got in that, apparently, President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke after the first tweet where the president knocked FISA this morning.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think you saw in the president's first tweet and then his follow-up tweet, this idea, since the campaign really, that the president is this communications genius -- in some ways he is -- but there's a sort of grand strategy behind his tweets to circumvent the media. His first tweet this morning slamming the FISA bill and FISA, in general, really gave the lie to that and showed how seemingly random and actually random these can be. And it was clear that he spoke with Paul Ryan. Presumably, Paul Ryan was trying frantically to reach the president and tell him he was undercutting Republican legislation on the Hill that they needed the president's support to pass. You saw the president backtrack after that. And it actually demonstrates how sometimes random and off-the-cuff these tweets are.

KEILAR: And that they can be damaging --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: They can have truly, truly damaging implications to our legislation on Capitol Hill. We've talked about the potential implications for foreign policy, but you saw the implication for Republican domestic policy.

KEILAR: To Eliana's point, maybe what it really shows us, Mark, is a little walk through the president's news consumption in the morning. He sees a story on finance draws an ill-informed connection with the dossier. It has nothing to do with that.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: and speaks with his heart and doesn't speak with his head. I think we take a step back and we think of President Trump as this ball of energy, right. Eliana is right when we talk about, you know, is he a master at communicating and messaging and what have you? In some ways he is, right, because he's able to hit the masses. In many ways, he's not, though, because he's not very strategic about it. If you were to look back at all of the obstacles and problems the president has had over the past year, now his first year in office, they've been all self-inflicted. This is another one.

[11:35:03] KEILAR: It's a really good point.

As we await the speaker, on Capitol Hill, it seems like each day brings new names of Republicans who have decided, I'm not going to give this another go, even Republicans who have been in Congress for so many terms. This is the political reality he'll be likely confronted with today at the press conference and he will be confronted with all year.

PRESTON: No question. There's an incredible amount of pressure put on Paul Ryan right now because of historical trends right now, where it looks like Republicans are going to lose a large number of House seats. And also, because they're running up against President Trump in the sense he's not always there for them. He isn't always standing by them. I think, historically, I do think we should point this out right now, if you look, in the past six midterm elections, if the president's approval rating is above 60 percent, they will gain seats. If the president's approval rating is below 50 percent, the president's party loses seats. At this point, right now, President Trump's approval rating is high 30s right now. That is very problematic.

KEILAR: What do you think, considering even Paul Ryan is rumored to be considering a departure from Congress?

JOHNSON: My view has always been that Paul Ryan is far more likely to leave Congress and retire if Republicans lose the House. So I don't think Paul Ryan really has much interest in being minority leader. He took the job because he felt the real responsibility to lead his party in the absence really of any other leader. But this spate of retirements I think is said to be the biggest factor in the midterm elections in terms of whether Democrats are able to recapture the House and any other factor, aside from the president's popularity rating. Incumbents enjoy such advantages in elections. Look at 2016, in terms of money raised and name recognition, but in terms of money raised, focusing on that one fact, incumbents in 2016, House candidates, raised about $1.6 million to what challengers raised, $231,000. That's just a huge advantage that's tremendously difficult to overcome.

KEILAR: Why are they deciding they're going to get out if they have this advantage?

PRESTON: A couple things. One, let's look at Darrell Issa, the most recent member of Congress, from California, who decided to get out. He barely won re-election the last time around. He won by 1600 votes. He's in a very Democratic district. It was going to be difficult. It's a district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, even as President Trump went on to win the presidency. There's a big "X" factor now, and it's been in play, I think, if you go back about six, seven, eight years right now, but it's certainly in play in a big way now, that's outside groups. There is an incredible amount of energy right now on the left to raise money to try to back up challengers and help Democrats who are in office now. Republicans have the same thing but --

KEILAR: Is he essentially saying I can't win? Is that what you take that to mean? Or sort of a --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: I take that --

KEILAR: -- I don't want to go through what's going to be grueling? I'm not really a fan of what's going on in Washington? How do we read this?

PRESTON: I think it's a little of both. In Darrell Issa's case, although he would disagree, he realized he had an uphill battle and was probably going to lose?

KEILAR: OK, because he called himself landslide in the last one as a joke. It was pretty narrow, as Mark said.

JOHNSON: I think it's a mix of both. I think it's Republicans who don't want to work in Washington in a party increasingly defined by President Trump, and Republicans, who would have a hard time winning primaries in a party increasingly defined by President Trump. If you look at the Senate, you have Jeff Flake, who essentially conceded he wouldn't have won a tough primary challenge, but also Bob Corker, who could have pretty easily won his primary but seemed pretty exhausted by the prospect of continuing to work in a party whose, you know, essentially whose leader is Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Because if you're saying that the incumbent has all of these advantages, which you so lovely were able to spell out for us, they're walking away from those advantages, leaving a Republican who will not have those advantages coming in. That's part of the calculus. There has to be a driving factor for them to go ahead and say, no, I'm not doing this?

JOHNSON: I think there are a fair number of them -- Bob Corker is a good example -- who simply are walking away, enjoying the advantages of incumbency, because they don't want to participate or be a part of the party of Trump. And I think that's tragic in certain ways because it means that the Republican Party, in terms of its lawmakers, is losing important voices. These people, if there's going to be, you know, an anti-Trump or an alternate perspective, needs those people speaking up. And to the extent those people retire, and they've been speaking out against the president, the Republican Party will lose that.

PRESTON: I think it's worth saying, too, that the pitchfork factor, the idea that money is extremely important -- and believe me, I will push the "X" factor being the outside groups trying to fund -- trying to persuade voters to go a certain way. But in the same respect, we're seeing this groundswell of grassroots support on both sides right now that is overcoming money. And I think a lot of incumbents are looking at themselves and saying, people don't like Washington, Donald Trump continues to rail against Washington. When he rails against Washington, he's railing against me.

[11:40:18] KEILAR: We have some breaking news. I need to be repeated again in my ear because -- oh, here we go. This is what's happened. The bill passed. They passed a controversial surveillance bill that reauthorized FISA Section 702. You saw the vote gaveled to a close and being announced there in the House. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The question is will the House suspend the rules and pass the bill? Members record their vote by electronic device. This is a five-minute vote.

KEILAR: And the business continues there on the House floor.

I'm going to bring in Manu Raju for the latest on this.

Manu, tell us about how this all shook out?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a mad scramble today, after the president tweeted this morning raising concerns about a bill that his administration supports. Republican leaders behind the scenes started to make sure they had enough votes, that their caucus would not rebel in any way after that vote.

The speaker himself spoke to President Trump after that first tweet in which he criticized the bill. And Ryan, who supports the underlying bill that just passed the House, seems to have convinced the president to send out an additional tweet saying that they should vote for this bill. As a result, one reason why the bill passed, rather comfortably, was because of the second tweet.

I caught up with the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, right before the vote, and he said -- I asked if he's concerned about the first tweet, did it create any problems, and he said there were two tweets and that was helpful to resolve some of the concerns from the right.

This came after an effort, a pretty significant lobbying effort by the administration officials to make sure that there were -- that there was a separate amendment by civil Libertarians did not get added on, an amendment that would provide additional safeguards on this warrantless surveillance program. They believe it would essentially end the effort to surveil as part of this FISA legislation, so they successfully killed that amendment and they passed this bill rather comfortably through the House.

John Kelly, the chief of staff, Brianna, was here in the House, on the floor, talking to members, making sure it got through. And our colleague, Kristen Wilson, caught up with the chief of staff, asked him if this was -- created any problems for the -- if the tweets created any problems. He said it's not a problem, but a "juggling act." His words, a, quote, "juggling act" in dealing with these tweets, but it's not a problem.

Clearly, a lot to juggle for the Republican leaders after that first tweet. They got this bill through but not after some drama this morning --Brianna? KEILAR: It will look like, at first glance, Manu, you were

broadcasting from a calculus classroom. I should tell our viewers, those are reporters waiting for House Speaker Paul Ryan. This is the room where you go every week in the capitol visitor center to await his press conference.

Tell us about what we may expect to hear from the House speaker today?

RAJU: Undoubtedly, he will be asked about how he was able to convince the president to send out that second tweet and his reaction to the first tweet this morning, any problems that it created with this vote.

In addition, the questions about government funding. The January 19 deadline coming around the corner. And immigration, too, how are they going to deal with the issue of those people who came into the legal country illegally at a young age, the DACA program, that -- and whether or not they will include any immigration proposals in that bill to keep the government open. They, of course, reached -- has been a rather difficult negotiating process to get agreement on both sides.

Where does Ryan stand on that right now. As well as a number of tweets sent out by the president this week questioning the Russia investigation. Of course, we know there's a Russia investigation in the House that has had its own issues as well. Undoubtedly, he will be fielding questions on a range of issues today. And we'll see what he has to say -- Brianna?

[11:44:18] KEILAR: He is normally pretty punctual. He must have been letting the vote finish on the House floor.

We're going to check back in with you, Manu, in a little bit as we await House Speaker Paul Ryan there for his weekly press conference.

Live pictures coming to you. This should get started any moment. And we will bring it to you on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: These are live pictures coming to us from Capitol Hill where we are awaiting House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is going to be giving his weekly news conference in just a moment. We will bring it to you as soon as he gets started.

In the meantime, another issue that is occupying the minds of a lot of people on Capitol Hill, coastal states and members who represent them. They are pushing back hard against the Trump administration after its decision to exempt Florida, and only Florida, from expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. Governors from both parties are demanding that they, too, be exempt. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says Florida a pass because its Republican governor is straight forward and trustworthy, and its coastlines are unique.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Brian Mast, of Florida.

Congressman, thank you for joining us. REP. BRIAN MAST, (R), FLORIDA: Happy to join you.

KEILAR: You were very clear in your condemnation of this blanket decision to allow offshore drilling along the coast, including Florida. That decision was reversed, but just for your state, as we noted. Do you think the federal government should do the same for other coastal states like you, and Floridians, want to make sure that there is no drilling?

[11:50:56] MAST: I think if those other states want to see that sort of moratorium off their coasts, like we in Florida will see, they need to make sure they have that same bipartisan, unanimous voice effort we had in Florida. I have been talking to Secretary Zinke about this for months. I've been working across the aisle with people for the entire year on extending this moratorium. So we've been at it for a long time. This isn't something that just came up.

KEILAR: A lot of them have been at it for a long time, too. States with Republican governors and Democratic support. They have been to go it as well. To that point, one governor, the governor of Oregon, who is a Democrat, said this is really just about a political move to satisfy Governor Scott.

Let's listen to what Kate Brown said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BROWN, (D), OREGON GOVERNOR: What are can I think otherwise? Is it about the governor wanting to run for the U.S. Senate? Or is it about President Trump wanting to protect Mar-a-Lago? I don't know the answer to that because Secretary Zinke hasn't returned our calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: She is making calls, other states, whether it's bipartisan representation, are making calls. They put in the effort you say was so key in your state. How is she wrong that this is anything other than a political move?

MAST: I think you can say it's political for anybody to go out there and try to make the conversation that it is political. They are playing politics, in and of themselves, and having the conversation. The one thing you can see very, very clearly about Governor Scott is he has taking a stand on what he believes for offshore drilling off the coast of Florida. You would be right to ask him where he would extend that same courtesy to other states. That's a fair question. He has been clear in that he will stand for the borders of Florida, the state of Florida in not having drilling off our coast. That is something that should not be taken lightly and should be applauded.

KEILAR: You think she is making a political fight out of this, and it shouldn't be considered political, even though you can look at Rick Scott, say this is someone who has been very friendly to President Trump. Even some of the other states where Republican governors, yes, they're in the GOP but they haven't been as friendly to President Trump, and are not getting the same treatment. You don't think she is being fair.

MAST: I'm just saying that it's absolutely political to have that debate, when they are going out there and saying this is all political, the reason the governor came out and said this. He made a stand. He made a very strong stand that he is going to carry with him for the rest of his time that he gets to be a part of doing legislation or being the governor or anything else he is doing that is affecting the state of Florida. He made that stand. I believe he is going to stand by it.

That's a positive thing. Of course, it's politics. It's political for someone to go out there and argue he only did this for one reason or another. Let's be honest, anything and everything we say within these walls or within the statehouses of Florida, the governor's office of Florida, or anywhere else, everybody always looks at it as political. That's the reality of the world we live in.

KEILAR: What makes Florida unique to, say, Georgia or South Carolina or Massachusetts or Oregon?

MAST: The way that we go out there and fight. The way that we've gone out there and had that fight. And when the battle was laid before us, the way we stepped up in that fight. That's the difference. When other states had that battle laid before them, they should try to replicate the way we did this, in a bipartisan manner throughout the state of Florida and, hopefully, they will be successful in their fight as well.

KEILAR: You are saying they are not fighting the way Florida has and that's why they haven't been able to be successful the way Florida has?

MAST: I can't point to every individual state and what their governors have gone out there and said. I pay attention to the state of Florida. But I can tell you that the way every representative in Florida stepped up, like I said, in that bipartisan fashion, not when this came up just now. I've had conversations with Secretary Zinke about this for months and I talked about it to him in person right after we had our hurricanes down there. I was at a place called Flamingo with him, at the southern tip of Florida. We very specifically talked about this issue. Senator Rubio spoke to him about the issue. We have been beating the drum on this for a long, long time. I don't know how the other governors have done it, but I can tell you how we have done it, and it's been endless.

KEILAR: I want to talk about immigration and this effort to deal with border security and to deal with DREAMers, young people, hundreds of thousands of them brought to the U.S., who know no home other than the U.S., but they are no documented. Do you think it would be smarter to have -- oh, I'm sorry, Congressman Mast --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: -- we are going to pivot now and listen to the House speaker.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: -- twenty days since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act became the law of the land. Already this new law is helping to improve the lives of middle-income families many across the country. You saw the announcement from Walmart just this morning. More than a million Americans are due to receive their bonuses because of tax reform. Already, workers are seeing real increases in base wages, increases in 401K contributions and maternity and paternity leave. Power companies in a number of states are planning to lower electricity bills.

Think about what a relief that will be with the cold winters we had. You ought to come to Wisconsin sometime this year. Your power bill gets pretty high. Many factories, they're announcing plans to hire more workers and expand their operations. All of this happened in just 20 days. Think about this. This is all before families have even started to see the benefits of lower tax rates, better withholding and a higher standard deduction. Remember, the typical family of four, making $73,000, will get a $2,059 tax cut this year. So this is just getting started. And we look forward to more good news for more middle-income families and for our entire economy.

[11:55:28] I'd like to turn to a serious issue. As you know, we are working to secure the funding that is needed to rebuild our military. What does that mean? Why do we spend so much time on rebuilding our military? Why do we spend so much time talking about this? There are countless facts and figures I could quote about the weakening of our military capabilities.

Let me just say a few things. Less than half of the Navy's planes can fly. Less than 10 percent of our Army's combat brigade teams are ready to fight. Our Air Force is the smallest that it has ever been. Chairman Mac Thornberry puts it best when he says, "We have too few planes that can fly, too few ships that can sail, and too few soldiers who can deploy." But this is not just costing us military might.

This is not just hampering our mission. This is actually costing us American lives. Last year, this nation lost 17 sailors about the "USS John McCain" and the "USS Fitzgerald." Readiness shortfalls were serious factors in these fatal accidents, which happened on aging ships with expired training certifications. Every day that goes by without adequate funding is another day we are pushing our military past the breaking point. It is a shameful situation. And we have a duty to address it and do right by the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us, here and abroad, and that is exactly what we are going to do.

Questions?

Jeff?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: Happy New Year. Yes, I guess this is my first one

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- in the military. It's a two- part question. Does it look like we will have a spending bill by next Friday?

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Well, if there's going to be -- we are making good progress on caps negotiations. We're working with our counterparts on getting a cap agreement. But the appropriators will need time to write to be on the right and the appropriations once the cap agreement is met. But that's what Mac is talking about, which is you need to get an agreement so we can give the appropriators time to write their bill. We're making good progress on cap negotiation. When we have more to report, I will let you now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: Go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I usually don't do that, but go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

He just used it up.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You talk about the need to fund the military. If you are going do another C.R. next week, isn't that having it both ways? Because nothing affects the military more adversely than --

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: -- about that, but we had to have a cap agreement in order to fund the military in order to have -- give the appropriators the numbers they needed to write their bill.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Part one.

(LAUGHTER)

If the special counsel requests an interview with the president, should

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You always said that -- part two, you have always said that administration officials should cooperate with the special counsel. Do you believe --

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I'm going to let the White House answer those questions. That pertains to them, not this branch.

Manu? RAJU: You spoke to the president after his morning tweet. Is it your understanding that the president does not understand what the FISA bill is and the fact that his own administration was supporting it?

RYAN: We speak on an almost daily basis. It is well-known he has concerns about the domestic FISA law. That's not what we're going today. Today was 702, which is a different part of that law. Section VII. That's Title VII, not Title I. And Title VII, which we're doing today, is foreign terrorists, foreign soil. He knows that. And he put out something that clarified that. His administration's position has been clear from day one, which is 702 is really important. It's got to be renewed.

RAJU: Did he not understand what bill you were voting on today?

RYAN: He just has concerns about other parts of FISA. I think everybody knows that, too.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you respond to the letter from more than 100 CEOs saying that if you guys don't come up with a DACA deal by January 19th there will be a crisis in the workforce. And does any immigration bill that passes the House need support from (INAUDUBLE)

RYAN: Say that again? Need?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Immigration bill in the House needs support from the majority of Republicans.

RYAN: We will have that. We will be able to put together a DACA compromise that has the majority support from our party. You have to remember -- and I know I sound like a broken record. A, we want to fix DACA. We do want to fix DACA. B, we want to fix it while addressing the root cause so that we don't have a DACA problem again.