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At This Hour

U.S. House Speaker Stalemate; President Biden to Deliver Remarks on Border Security; Bills' Damar Hamlin Showing "Remarkable Improvement"; Massive Storm Turns Deadly in California; University of Idaho Murder Suspect Faces Charges in Idaho. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, Republican stalemate: the House remains truly paralyzed for a third day as Kevin McCarthy continues to be denied the Speaker's gavel.

Plus a monster storm is pummeling California and it has turned deadly. More rain and flooding and ferocious winds are battering the state.

And the man accused of killing four college students is set to appear in an Idaho courtroom today. That is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

There are two big stories that we're following AT THIS HOUR. First, the House will convene once again in an hour to try to elect the next Speaker of the House. Kevin McCarthy has lost six rounds of voting and is making more concessions to lawmakers to try and turn the tide for him.

In the meantime, the House is paralyzed, literally. Until there is a speaker, members can not be sworn in, committees cannot be formed or do any business. And now the incoming chairs of the key National Security Committees, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intel, they say this delay is putting the safety and security of the United States at risk.

As a Republican stalemate grips Congress, President Biden will be presenting quite the contrast again this hour, delivering a speech on border security. And he said that he plans to travel to the border next week. We're going to bring you his speech live as soon as it begins.

But let's start then on Capitol Hill. Lauren Fox is there for us once again.

So where do things stand right now?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I am standing outside of this building, where conservative holdouts had been meeting for the last several hours, Kate.

And a couple of them just came out. Bob Good of Virginia just told me I never had to ask again if he was going to be voting for Kevin McCarthy because he will never vote for Kevin McCarthy.

And we're keeping an eye on the members. Because the question is whether or not those key concessions that McCarthy made to them last night are making a difference.

And we're going to get a sneak peek of that around noon when they gavel back into the House of Representatives.

So the key question right now, does McCarthy pick up votes and, if he doesn't, does he start to lose additional support as even his allies see he may not have the votes ever to get the job? Kate.

BOLDUAN: Lauren, thank you so much. We'll get back to you when things are moving around. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now is Manu Raju and CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

So Manu, how do you describe where we are right now in terms of the extent to which McCarthy has gone to make more concessions, concede more power in these negotiations as he tries to keep this whole thing alive?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an incredibly difficult balancing act. It is unclear if he ever gets the Speakership. But he's made concession after concession to the right flank of his conference.

The people who are denying him the Speakership, essentially to give them more power and hold sway over the Speakership, including by allowing a single member to call for a vote to oust the sitting speaker, something that the members had wanted and causing concerns within the ranks that it could lead to a very unwieldy process.

Also giving them power on a very influential committee called the House Rules Committee which sets the parameters for floor debate, what bills could come to the floor, what amendments could be voted on. He's allowing a couple of them to be part of that. That is a significant concession.

But this moment is so critical for McCarthy. We're heading to the seventh ballot election on -- at noon here. And I just talked to one of the people who have stuck with him through six ballots, Ken Buck.

He issued a stark warning for McCarthy, saying if he's not able to win back any of the 20 members on this vote, he could lose some support including his.


RAJU: Will you be with him on the 7th ballot? REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well, what we need to find out is whether there is a deal. And if there is a deal and 10 of the 20 move, I think that people stay with him. If there is no deal and we have another vote of 20, I think people will going to start looking.

RAJU: Including you?

BUCK: Including me. There is a point in time where Kevin is going to lose credibility because he can't make this deal.


RAJU: And that is the big concern for McCarthy right now, which is why it is still not 100 percent the seventh ballot vote is happening at noon.


RAJU: There has been some talk about possibly adjourning the House again, maybe for a few hours, maybe longer than that to give them more time to negotiate. They would need a vote of the full House, a majority of the full House, 218 members to do that.

Democrats will not support that. McCarthy could lose no more than four members to get the 218 votes to adjourn. So all the difficult complications at a critical time for McCarthy, very uncertain how it plays out.

BOLDUAN: That is telling, what Ken Buck said. There are only so many rounds that they could go. We had earlier in the week some members saying, if this goes 50 votes or 100 rounds, they're still going to stick with Kevin McCarthy.

That you could see in Manu's reporting is changing now.

Jeff, a senior Republican aide put it in stark terms to "Politico's" Rachael Bade.

"He's essentially given away all the power of the speakership. He's making to where these Freedom Caucus guys can stop anything they want," also saying, "this majority is going to be miserable. It's just absurd what he's given away to these guys just to be speaker."

Is that overstating it from what you're hearing from folks?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In a word, no, it is not overstating it at all. The reality here of why this matters is, this should be the easiest vote that House Republicans take all year.

Instead, it is shaping up to be a very difficult vote and still ongoing, that we don't know the end. So as Manu was just saying there, the concessions go on and on. The Republicans I'm talking to on the Hill are talking most about these stand-alone appropriations bills. You know what that is; you covered Congress. Manu is on the Hill. I

usually cover Congress ever day. Appropriations bills are so key, it is the spending. It keeps the government running.

In recent years, they have merged all of them. It is been a long time since there have been stand-alone appropriations bills. But imagine the scenario under which you can keep the government running, even if he becomes speaker. Whoever becomes speaker, all of these concessions, there is an argument for transparency, that there are needs for changes in terms of how things are done on the Hill.

But with such a narrow majority, the bigger question is, talking to senior Republicans, who have been through the minority and the majority, how can they govern going forward here?

If they could not get a vote on the speakership, so what does this do?

So the question is, if Kevin McCarthy does not show some sign of progress, I'm being told by many Republicans, former and current members, he'll have a problem with his credibility.

So any talk about this going into the weekend or next week or the weeks beyond, that might be possible in terms of getting another speaker. But it is hard to imagine that McCarthy is going to be able to hold on that long and hold people on both sides of this argument.

That is what he's now trying to do. He's dealing with trying to hold on some of the moderates as well, even as he's trying to attract some of the hardliners.

BOLDUAN: And Manu, this isn't just about the House not getting its act together. You have Michael McCaul, Mike Rogers and Mike Turner, the incoming heads of the key national security committees, putting out this statement just today, saying this in their statement.

"The Biden administration is going unchecked and there is no oversight of the White House State Department, Department of Defense or the intelligence community. We cannot let personal politics place the safety and security of the United States at risk."

In that statement, they say they want Kevin McCarthy to be speaker.

But how real is this risk and warning?

RAJU: Yes, I mean part of it is an effort to pressure the members to fall if line. Part of it is reality. This is not a functioning legislative branch of government because the first step in the new Congress, in the 118th Congress, must be to elect a speaker.

Until that, nothing can happen. They can't swear in the members, they can't organize the committees; the members that get these national security clearances, they can't get some of the key briefings as a result of the stalemate here.

And that is the concern. If something happens that requires Congress to act, one half of the Congress will not be able to act. So the pressure campaign, that is an effort to try to pressure some of the members.

But when I put that question to some of the folks who were opposing McCarthy, they sort of brush off those concerns. So it doesn't appear that it is really forcing anyone to move here, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Interesting.

It is great to see you guys. Thank you very much. We'll see what happens at the top of the hour and for a third day now.

So now let's turn to President Biden. His focus today is on border security. Soon we're going to hear from the president on how he plans to address the growing border crisis that is only expected to worsen when Title 42 expires. Priscilla Alvarez is tracking this and joining us now.

What are you expecting to hear from the president on this?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House is saying he's trying to reframe the debate.


ALVAREZ: Up until this point this issue has been a political liability. The president is going to call for comprehensive immigration reform. And administration officials have made clear that the immigration system of today is not going to work.

He's also going to underscore what they're doing to manage what is happening at the border. As you know, there has been an influx of migrants over recent weeks, especially in El Paso, Texas.

Now he's going to make a key announcement on this front and that is the establishment of a new humanitarian parole program, one that would target Cuba and Nicaragua and Haiti.

Last year in October the administration announced a similar program for Venezuela. They have credited that program for lowering the number of Venezuelans crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Essentially these nationalities have a legal path way to the United States. But the consequence is that, if they cross the border, they will be expelled under Title 42. That COVID era restriction. Now that is going to open up the White House to criticism from progressives, who say that, yes, this has to stay in effect because of a court order.

But that doesn't mean that it should be expanded in the interim. Now of course, Kate, all of this is coming before President Biden goes to the border on Sunday. The White House has confirmed he will be going to El Paso, Texas.

This is the epicenter over the last few weeks of the influx. And he'll be going to Mexico City, where migration is likely to be a big issue.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Good to see you. Let's see what the president says. We'll bring that to all our viewers live when it begins later this hour.

A powerful storm is slamming California again today. Heavy rain and hurricane force winds and it has turned deadly. That is next.





BOLDUAN: Just in to CNN, a big update on Damar Hamlin. His agent now said that he is awake and holding hands with his family. And the Buffalo Bills saying he's shown remarkable improvement since suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing on the field. Adrienne Broaddus is in Cincinnati for us.

This is a big change in the last 24 hours.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A big change, Kate, and a significant change. It is the news that people wanted to wake and hear.

I want to read part of the statement coming from the Buffalo Bills.

It said, "This is part of the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin," and reading, "while still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.

"We are grateful for the love and the support we have received."

I spoke with Damar's aunts earlier this week and his uncle. And all of them said, please keep those prayers coming. And it appears that the miracle this family was hoping for has delivered. Here, however, is what the NFL's Troy Vincent had to say. Listen.


TROY VINCENT, NFL EVP: You gave our brother Damar another day to live, another chance to fight.

But for the goodness and grace of God, Damar is still here and he's still fighting.


BROADDUS: And that fight continues as doctors at this Cincinnati hospital behind me care for him. He is still in the intensive care unit in critical condition. But this is an encouraging sign of progress.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely and incredibly good news and I'm sure it still means a very long road ahead as well but take whatever good news you could get, as so many people have been waiting and pushing and pulling for him. Thank you, Adrienne Broaddus. We'll bring you more updates as we get them. I appreciate it.

Let's turn to this. A massive storm has been bringing with it hurricane force winds and rain and it has turned deadly in California. Parts of the state are seeing flash floods and landslides with a second round of severe weather in less than a week.

Nearly 180,000 people are without power and people along the coast are under evacuation orders. Stephanie Elam is in Daly City.

What have you been seeing there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to see just how strong the hurricane force winds have been, take a look behind me at this Valero gas station here in Daly City. The ocean is the other direction and the wind was coming right off of there and just knocked this gas station top over.

You could see some of the pumps are damaged here and you just got some of the paper hanging out. We checked in to see how bad the winds got here. And it was over 60 miles per hour. We saw gusts. And then also like over 50 miles per hour for about 10 hours overnight. So really stiff winds.

And this has been a lot of the problem here, is the winds, is the amount of rain in such a short time that we saw flooding and mudslides and rockslides as well. There is also power outages. We know of trees falling and also causing damage.

A family who was in a moving car in the middle of San Francisco when a tree fell on them, they were able to get out safely. However, on other parts of the area, there was a toddler killed when a redwood tree fell on top of the family home. They were able to get out but that toddler did lose their life.

This shows you how deadly this is. And this is another band of the storm, it's making its way in. Southern California really feeling the effects now of this storm. And in the Sierras, we've seen feet of snow from previous storms and now another one to three feet of snow.

And the one question we keep getting asked is, does this mean the drought is over in California?

The exceptional drought levels have been alleviated across the state. However, we still have a lot of drought in over 97 percent of the state. So while this is a lot of rain and it is a good thing.


ELAM: We're not out of the drought yet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is definitely a double-edged sword on this one. Thank you.

(WEATHER REPORT) BOLDUAN: Joining me now is Tyller Williamson, mayor of Monterey, one

of the coastal cities dealing with this rough weather.

Thank you for coming in.

What was last night like and what are you seeing this morning?

MAYOR TYLLER WILLIAMSON, MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA: Well, there is a lot of wind and, of course, there is rain. And the problem is that there is already a lot of saturation because we've received a lot of rain already from prior systems.

So we're seeing downed trees and it is causing a lot of incidents around the city and throughout the region. So we just encourage folks to try to stay home as much as possible.

BOLDUAN: We've seen warnings about road closures and also I know you're dealing with some power outages.

What is the update there?

WILLIAMSON: Yes, so as of 10:00 last night, PG&E has identified around 6,500 homes in Monterey County without power. So it is challenging for them to get to all of the locations, to restore the power, because we're still dealing with the storm.

And so it might be some time before people get their power back online. And this could be due to the flooding, the high winds and this could be causing mudslides and debris flows. So we just have people just be a little bit patient as our public safety officials respond to these emergencies.

BOLDUAN: Which is always hard to do especially when you get a much- needed kind of break in between the bands and in between the storms, which could be hard for people to do.

You also just went through another big storm over New Year's. California's director of emergency services says this may be the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years.

And California has been through quite a lot.

What is this quick succession of weather mean for your city and your state?

WILLIAMSON: It is great because we need the rain. But when it comes down so much all at one time, the water has nowhere to go. The ground is already saturated. And so it causes these really unsafe environments that people think are safe but could cause them to get into harm's way and put a greater impact on our public safety officials.

We're seeing loss of life, not at a grand scale but it could happen. So we urge people to use caution, don't be on the roads if you don't need to, because you're also getting in the way of our public safety officials responding to the emergencies that are needed.

BOLDUAN: And it is from one extreme to next. You have the historic drought, which is such a huge issue in California. And Stephanie Elam was saying there still is a serious issue. And you were just sworn in last month and one of your campaign platforms was the water crisis.

How does this huge rain now play into that?

WILLIAMSON: Yes. I mean, we're seeing the effects of climate change and it goes to extremes. We don't know what to predict. We're seeing in the state of the California, it manifests through droughts.

So it is great when we are able to get a significant amount of water. But we need to be able to find ways of capturing that water at higher rates so we could recycle that water. And so I think that is the challenge that we have within the state of California.

But if we could get the snow packs, that allows that water supply to be longer lasting into the calendar year. But this is great. We need the water. I just want to ensure that people are safe.

BOLDUAN: In the meantime, of course. Mayor, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it.

So the man that is accused of killing four college students is expected in court very soon.


BOLDUAN: A big question today is, will the judge release more information about what led to his arrest?

That is next.




BOLDUAN: So this could be a very significant day in the investigation into the deaths of four Idaho college students. The man accused in their murder is expected to be in court for the first time in Idaho 12:30 Eastern time.

He was just extradited from Pennsylvania last night. Gary Tuchman is in Idaho for us tracking all of this.