Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Senate Taking First Key Vote on Stop-Gap Funding Bill; Justice Ginsburg Underwent Lung Surgery. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 21, 2018 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: So, Mr. president, there is no bright line of principal that set this request for border funding apart from similar requests that many Democrats have supported in the past. A lot of them supported this in the past. There's no sharp distinction between the proposal my friends across the aisle have decided to oppose today and proposals they've been happy to endorse in the past.

The only thing has really changed are the political wins way over on the far left. That's what changed. So let's not end this year the way we began at with another shutdown over the issue of illegal immigration.

Remember this back in January? All because the Democrats are unwilling to support common sense measures to address it. Let's advance this legislation, Mr. President. Let's pass it, let's finish our work for this year. Let's secure our country.

So, Mr. president, I ask the chair to lay before the Senate and the House a message to accompany H.R. 695 and ask for the yeas and nays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be. And Clark (ph) will call the roll.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Alexander, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Barrasso.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You heard the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he thinks the Democrats should vote for this. They're now bringing up the House-passed bill, excuse me yesterday. The Senate had passed the bill to keep the government open with no new border wall funding. The House picked it up, added $5 billion dollars in border wall funding, $8 billion dollars in disaster relief, hoping that would help get some additional votes as well.

Send it back to the Senate. Mitch McConnell knows the math isn't there. He needs 60 votes, correct, to get this to pass. It is now -- and so they're now having the yeas and nays. This is in part -- this is an exercise in futility, I guess.

ANNIE KARNI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Chuck Schumer just said it best. I think he called it a pointless exercise.

KING: Right. KARNI: And Mitch McConnell gave a nice speech coming out of the White House that the president will like, but the numbers don't add up. And I think Schumer's comment is accurate.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And this what right here, he actually need 50 just to take it up. But I mean, people are still flying back to D.C., there's an attendance problem here. But once if we get to that -- even when we get to that 60 vote threshold, I mean, that is definitely not going to happen. And then all the (INAUDIBLE) in the room will have to come to (INAUDIBLE).

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, McConnell basically just came out there and said build a wall. He gave them no new options. He came back from the White House and he essentially is digging in. And they are moving forward and they are not going to come up with anything else right now. And that's what -- that's their plan. That's what they came out at the White House.

And when they were at the White House, I asked several people in the White House, what is the point of them being here, what are they going to accomplish? And they said nothing. They said it's simply a meeting to show that they are working on something in the hours before that shutdown, but they didn't actually think anything new would come out of that. And they were dead right, nothing new came out of that and McConnell is essentially telling Democrats, hey we're digging in. Good luck.

KING: Again, if you're the president of the United States and something is important to you, you have every right --

COLLINS: Yes, to say -- ask for votes.

KING: -- to ask your leadership in Congress to have a vote.

COLLINS: Right.

KING: The question is why did he wait until we are now 11 and a half hours away --

COLLINS: Right.

KING: -- from a partial government shutdown, that's part of it. And then there's the other question, he could have had this money months ago in a deal Democrats were prepared to take at the time that would have then protected the DACA recipients --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KING: -- the Dreamers if you will, and the president walked away.

Now since then, for the same reason he walked away from the deal that passed the Senate the other day, an echo, a tumult, a tornado in conservative talk radio and Fox News and the like. So same reason he walked away then.

The difference now is, the majority leader is right to a degree. There is a more pressure on the left now because the Democrats are about to take over the House. The Democratic base just went through an election year that they feel very good about for good reason. They won 40 seats in the House.

So, the politics are less advantageous to the president now than they were when he walked away from the deal.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Right. And it's always for the president about what his base wants him to say, he tried to do and to put the blame back on the place where always the blame goes which is the dysfunctional Washington.

But here's another thing, I do think Democrats do have to be somewhat careful about how they position themselves on immigration as you can see and you saw this in the midterm elections as well. Chuck Schumer can come up and say there is no wall, but if you're a Democrat that you are sitting in a vulnerable district or a Republican-leaning district, this isn't a great answer for you on border security --

KING: Right.

WALTER: -- right? I'm just voting against who I'm voting against the -- anything that suggests that we care about border security.

The other thing is most of these Democrats, what they have run on, they didn't run on impeachment, they didn't run on obstruction, they run on healthcare. And they run on spending their time on fixing the things that are broken in Washington.

So the message of -- that Schumer put out there about you're not getting your wall, this is a temper tantrum.

[12:35:01] I don't think that's particularly helpful if you are a Democrat. First of all, he's going to run for president. You better have a better message on this or if you're a member up in 2020. I don't think this message is particularly compelling.

KING: An excellent point. That this is a crisis that the president is making, but there's a lot of blame to go around about the broader dysfunction in Washington and people become certain about what is the way forward after this election --

WALTER: They want answers that matters to them day by day.

KING: And they certainly don't want this. They have to get their kids to the doctor, and their kids to school, and deal with their own decision, run their lives, and balance their own budget so they would like to keep the government open.

We're going to take a quick break. You're watching the United States Senate right now. The first vote to bring to the floor, the House- passed bill that does give the president new border wall funding. The votes aren't there to pass it in the Senate but this is one necessary step. And we'll find out if there's a compromise to avoid a partial government shutdown.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:40:30] KING: Welcome back.

Dramatic breaking news there, you're watching the floor of the United States Senate. They are now voting on to take up, take up the first procedural vote, a House-passed measure to keep the government up and running. It includes border wall funding for the president. It is guaranteed to fail ultimately in the Senate. But that's a step we're going to take first, and we'll see if there's a compromise or if we have a partial government shutdown at midnight, tonight.

As we watch the vote via play out, back now to another big breaking news story. A medical scare for the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Let's bring CNN's Joan Biskupic. Joan. We know that Justice Ginsberg, she just had broken ribs, now we learned about these nodules in her lungs. We know she's been quite public about the fact. A, she loves her job, and b, she's not a big fan of this president and she wants to hang on through the end of the Trump era.

Are there any indications that broken ribs, followed by this surgery will dissuade her from that?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so, John. We don't know the full extent of it. As you said, we've just found out that when she was in the hospital for the cracked ribs that occurred in early November 7th, that's when they discovered the problem, the nodules in her left lung. They then discovered that they were malignant and they were removed today in the operation.

The court's statement said that no other treatment is necessary and that it looks like she had no other malignancy in her. That's very important. She gets cancer checks all the time because of -- beginning in 1999 when her colorectal cancer was discovered, she's been quite vigilant about this.

But, it sounds like, if no other treatment is required and she's resting comfortably as they say, she's in the hospital, that maybe things are going to be OK. You know, she is 85-years-old, she's incredibly resilient. I remember back in 1999 when I covered the story of her first cancer scare. You know, people were saying, gosh, how is she going to survive? She survived that.

Then in 2009, she survived pancreatic cancer which of course it's so serious. But that was discovered very early again because she was getting check.

The cracked ribs, John, the incident on November 7th, it was at least the third time that I knew about that she had fallen and cracked her ribs. So she keeps coming back. And we'll know more obviously if we find out that she has to go -- undergo more treatment, we'll know more in early January when on January 4th would be the first time she'd be returning to the court for the private conference. And then the following Monday, she would be expected to be on the bench.

Right now, the signals are that she will keep on going, John.

KING: We'll keep our eye on that. And we certainly wish her the best. Joan, thank you very much.

David Gergen is still with us. Well David, A, she's resilient, b, she's tough, c, she's also in recent years become kind of an icon. The documentaries about notorious RBG. So she's -- most Supreme Court justices are relatively anonymous, not so much here.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, especially interesting about young women. They adore her, they really look up to her, you know. And Sandra Day O'Connor had this kind of popularity at a point in earlier time as you all know. But -- and all of us do join and hoping the best for her.

I think it is notable John that they discovered this more than a month ago and then waited until now to operate on her. That must mean they didn't feel an urgency about it, that they thought they could control it. But that's good news.

KING: It is good news. It's just a little bit of context David. Again, I was talking to you earlier but in a different subject (INAUDIBLE) toward a shutdown --

GERGEN: Sure.

KING: -- the resignation of the defense secretary. But something like this -- this is the nation's highest court, President Trump just installed his second justice. What does a scare like this do to the conversations in Washington?

GERGEN: Well, you know, all the Democrats are obviously are rooting for her. I think -- I don't know, you know, Republicans have mixed views, I'll say one thing (INAUDIBLE). You know, they are the opposition party, they'd like that -- have that one more seat. They'd love to be able to fill her seat during Donald Trump's first term to secure the future of the court.

But people have to be very, very careful what they say in public, obviously.

KING: Amen, amen. And the most important thing right now is Democrat or Republican, whoever appointed the justice --

GERGEN: Yes, exactly.

KING: -- who is hospitalized and we wish her the very best.

And for more on that, the questions, I'm not -- know we're capable of answering, our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now on the phone.

[12:45:05] So Sanjay, cracked ribs, they find these nodules. They wait a bit as David Gergen says, and he interpreted that as good news that they weren't in a panic to get them out. What's your perspective here?

All right, David Gergen stay with me as well, we lost Sanjay Gupta. They will see if he can dial back in. And we had a technical question right there. And I can come into the room here as well.

I mean, when you just -- when you -- when we were talking about the budget the continuing resolution.

GERGEN: Yes.

KING: -- the shutdown, and they bring me this note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It's one of those things that just send you back in your chair because she's 85-years-old. And because she's, a, just a member of the Supreme Court, but b, she has become sort of this iconic figure.

KIM: Yes. And it's just -- she's become such a figure among women and particular among Democrats and that's why every time there's a news about, you know, her health or her condition, you do sense a lot of fear from Democrats that this is -- I mean, you know, we all wish for her recovery, but I mean, that has been discussed as a potential third vacancy under President Trump. And the Supreme Court was a very important issue for voters in the 2016 campaign. And again, this is something that Democrats -- Democratic Senators are watching very closely and very worriedly.

KING: It's a great point. And as I said earlier, it's a little delicate, sometimes you get into the politics when you're rooting for Justice Ginsburg. Whatever your politics, do recover and do well but it's just the fact of life in today's Washington.

We're going to sneak in a quick break. It's a very busy -- I'm sorry, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we've recovered our Sanjay Gupta. We lost him on the telephone right there. Sorry about that, it's that kind of a day here. Friday before Christmas, a breaking news day all around.

Sanjay, help me with your perspective here in the sense that you have the court's oldest justice cracked her ribs, it's in for treatment, they find these nodules and they wait a while before having this surgery --

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right.

KING: -- to remove them. Do you take that as a good sign that they weren't in a panic?

GUPTA (via telephone): Yes. I think that's really important sign. The fall as you remember, John, November 7th, that was over a month away, and a month in a couple weeks away since they probably discovered this. She had routine scans done at that time, (INAUDIBLE) work for the type of injury that she had and they found these nodules. They were not causing symptoms, another important factor.

You know, she wasn't having symptoms. (INAUDIBLE) for these nodules shortness of breath or something else that made them worry about this. So, they waited, it was discovered incidentally, and they were not causing symptoms. It sounds like they are, you know, they're relatively small but the pathology, when they actually look at these nodules under the microscope, they found that there was evidence of malignant cells there.

KING: And so knowing her history, she is 85-years-old, but she's as tough as they come, and she's proven that in the past. Is there any additional care or additional concern besides a simple age, who's someone 85-years-old, having this surgery as opposed to somebody 55- years-old?

GUPTA (via telephone): Well, its -- one thing we don't know is exactly how they performed this operation. Whether they did it in a more minimally invasively way or not? That's going to really speak to her recovery from this. But in terms of the nodules themselves, what they said is that no further treatment is planned.

Now it could be that they just -- you know, you basically measure the risks (INAUDIBLE) you say does it makes sense to do further therapy? Chemotherapy, radiation, and whatever it might be. And they say no, which I think is another favorable sign. They don't think that that's either worth the risk or necessary to do that.

So really it's about recovery. She is tough. She was back in the gym the day after she broke her ribs. If they did a more minimally invasive procedure here, her recovery, you know, could be surprisingly quick again. And we're going to have to wait and see on that.

KING: That's where we put our hopes certainly. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate you calling in with your perspective on this important day.

Again, a big breaking news day here on Washington, we wish Justice Ginsburg the best as she recovers from the surgery. There's also a vote on the floor of the United States Senate ongoing right now.

A quick break. When we comeback, does the Senate have the votes for step one which is to take up the House-passed bill to keep the government open. We expect it to fail, but we're working through a process today.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:53:46] KING: Live pictures of the United States Senate, they are voting step one to bring to the floor of the Senate, the House-passed continuing resolution. Welcome to Washington, that's what we call it. That would keep the government open.

A partial government shutdown now, 11 hours away, about 420,000 federal employees affected. We believe the Senate will not pass this measure. It includes $5 billion dollars in new border wall funding. The president demanded and the House went back and did that yesterday.

As we wait for the final impact of this vote, let's come back into the room for a second. There are number of things at play here. Number one, will we have a partial government shutdown at midnight tonight?

Number two, this is our first lesson if you will in post midterm Washington. How does President Trump -- every president gets spanked in the first midterm election and then has to decide what do I change. Do I change anything? How do I play going forward?

What are we learning about this president who -- we don't know how this is going to end, he tweeted today, it could be a long shutdown, could go on into January. The Democrats take power in the House then. Are we learning anything that we can say this will carry over or are we just having episodic Trump?

WALTER: You know, what's fascinating, the NBC-Wall Street Journal the other week came out with a poll question that they've been asking for sometime about whether you think that the president after this midterm election is going to take the message and change the way that he goes about his policies and his presidency.

[12:55:06] Or whether there was no message sent by this midterm election.

In previous wave elections in 2006, Republicans said, yes, the president got the message. Things are going to change. 2010, Democrats said, yes, the president got the message. Things are going to change. We want to guess what Republicans -- Republicans voters thought in 2018, there was no message, 48 percent. They were -- their midterms weren't a message.

Their midterms are -- where about whatever you wanted them to be. What the president wanted them to be focus and of course is the fact that we picked up two Senate seats which is absolutely true. But I don't think there is an understanding, the calculation of what it means to not be in control of the House yet. And quite frankly, that is not going to be apparent until January 3rd.

KING: Unless to take that and twist it just a bit. They lost 40 House seats, largely in Americans suburbs. They did pick up Senate seats. Seats they should have won years ago that the Democrats won. But they won Indiana --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KING: -- and they won Missouri, and they won North Dakota. Those are pretty red states.

Is the president's message, OK, I'm going all red. I'm going all red then. I'm going to even go more red.

KARNI: Yes. Well, I mean, the president's message first of all, he had a party on election night. He had that very tasty press conference the next day. He's met world leaders who know how to talk to him now. I think Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said congratulations Mr. President on your tremendous midterm victories.

So he's not hearing it. I mean, he's not hearing that it was a lost. And also the (INAUDIBLE) results came in and made the blow. It's sort of like it was a delayed realization that there had been a blue wave. That wasn't apparent exactly on election night. I think that also delayed any message really sinking in with the president.

KING: And you see more on television now Stephen Miller, who's the hardliner on immigration and other issues. As the new chief of staff coming in, Mick Mulvaney says, I'm not going to try to control the president, let the president be the president.

So to your point, don't expect change. Expect more actually.

COLLINS: To a degree but we are -- Washington is seeing something that has not seen in the last two years with the event of this week. Not just are we hurdling toward this shutdown with no end in sight, with even White House aides confuses about what the tactic here or a lack of strategy.

But also you've got the defense secretary resigning in protest over a decision that the president made that he disagreed with so much. He felt the need to step down even though he said that the president won't have to fire him because he wasn't going leave because he felt that he was that much of a patriot.

That is something that has roiled Senate Republicans. They do not know what to say. No one has praises this decision on the U.S. withdrawing from Syria so abruptly. That's what the president supporters keep saying, he said he's going to do this all along.

It's the way he's doing it that has upset these Republicans and Democrats alike, and even his own National Security team. So that paired with this shutdown is really breaking a new point that White House aides do not know what to do.

KING: And it's a great point. I'm sorry, we're running out of time. But it's a great point. There's so many bouncing balls, sometimes it's hard to think and put them all together. That is the challenge as we go through this.

Thanks for joining us on the INSIDE POLITICS today. We're out of time. The Senate vote continuing. Our coverage picks up with Brianna Keilar after very quick break.

Have a great day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)