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President Biden Urges Republicans to End Obstruction on Debt Ceiling; Texas School Shooting. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us on NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota.


We begin with the breaking news out of Arlington, Texas, where there's a manhunt right now for a suspect in a school shooting that happened this morning at Timberview High School. This shooting reportedly happened during a fight. And we're told that four people were injured. Three went to the hospital with injuries.

CAMEROTA: So police have identified 18-year-old Timothy Simpkins as the suspect. We're told he has fled the scene. Police say he still could be armed and dangerous and they are asking for the public's help in finding him.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Arlington, Texas.

So, Ed, tell us, have all the students been cleared? Has everything been evacuated from the school?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like investigators and police here at the scene at Timberview High School, which is part of the Mansfield Independent School District, but inside the city of Arlington, and that process is beginning to unfold.

You can see there in the distance behind these police vehicles and SWAT vehicles there is a fleet of yellow school buses here at the scene. And what we were told by officials here a short while ago is that, as investigators and first responders here have been going through the school, securing the scene, making sure no one else was involved in the shooting, and searching the school, that those students would then begin the process of being escorted out of the building.

They're going to be put on those school buses, taken to a nearby performing arts center. And that's where we are told that they can begin reuniting with family members. That's where they have asked parents and family to wait for these students to be cleared from the school. But, as you mentioned, the search for 18-year-old Timothy George

Simpkins, police have released his picture. They say that he was one of the people involved in a fight inside the high school just after 9:00 this morning, and that it was that fight that led to the shooting, where four people were wounded.

No one has died. But we don't have a clear indication of just how severe the injuries are to those four people who were wounded. Several of them were taken to the hospital. But all of that investigative process continues to unfold here this afternoon in Arlington, Texas.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ed, thank you.

Let's bring it now CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey.

Chief, it's been a while since we have covered one of these, fortunately. There was the stretch where the schools were closed because of COVID.


BLACKWELL: Yes, but now we're doing this again.

Remind us what this search looks like as they're searching for a potential school shooter.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, thank God, so far, there are no deaths associated with this particular case. But that doesn't mean that there's not an aggressive hunt right now for the individual responsible for the shooting.

I'm sure that right now they're continuing to gather information, but a search warrant for his residence, any place that they think he might be right now. His picture is out. So they're certainly looking for someone to be able to provide information. And because they came up with his identity so quickly, he's apparently pretty well-known.

So they probably have a lot of information as to where he might be right now. They're not going to make that public, because, obviously, bad guys watch TV too. So they're doing everything they can to try to get their hands on him at this point in time.

And I'm confident that they eventually will locate him, hopefully pretty soon.

CAMEROTA: Chief, I feel so much for these police officers who get these calls, these emergency calls, and have to run in formation into a school not knowing what they're going into, not knowing what kind of bloody scene they're going to encounter.

RAMSEY: Right.

CAMEROTA: The police got there really quickly, thank God.

But, I mean, just the idea that local police around the country always have to be on guard for school shootings like this. RAMSEY: Well, I have attended a lot of those trainings. And we

learned a lot from Columbine. You cannot wait. You have to form up and go in and hopefully neutralize the shooter as quickly as possible before they could do any more harm.

But it's very difficult for police officers. It's highly stressful. But one of the most stressful parts is in the training. If you find someone who's there that is wounded, you actually have to go past them and continue moving towards that sound of gunfire, because you have got to stop additional shootings from taking place.

And that runs contrary to what we're all about. And that is providing assistance and aid to those that are injured, but that's part of the training as well.

So, psychologically, it's hard on police from a variety of ways, because you have to secure the area enough to allow EMTs to be able to come in and treat and remove the victims that are injured or wounded. So, yes, it's just the reality of the world we're in right now. And police have to be prepared.


Well, thanks so much for that insight and expertise, Chief Charles Ramsey. We appreciate it.

RAMSEY: It's quite all right.


CAMEROTA: OK, with just 12 days to go before the nation defaults on its bills, there's some possible movement, we're told, in the debt ceiling standoff.


Joining us now is CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, also CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox.

And, Lauren, I want to start with you, where this movement is. The Senate is expected to vote in the next hour. We just found out that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is potentially floating a proposal to the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, about the debt limit. Give us some details.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, during the lunch earlier today, he told his colleagues in this Republican lunch that he was prepared to potentially offer two different options.

One of those options was a short-term debt limit increase that would run through some time in November or December. The other option would be an expedited process to use the special budget tool that Democrats were considering using known as budget reconciliation.

Now, that is a process that is lengthy, cumbersome, could take a very long time to actually make work through this process, but McConnell willing to sit down with the majority leader, he tells his colleagues, to try to find a way forward to move that process more quickly.

Now, we have no idea at this point whether or not Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would agree to either of those options. Both of them, we are told, according to my colleague Manu Raju, who would come up with the requirement that Democrats would say explicitly how much they wanted to increase the debt ceiling by.

That has been a non starter for many moderate Democrats who are running for reelection in the midterms who do not want ads run against them saying ex-senator voted to increase the debt limit X-amount of money. That's a tough campaign ad. And it's part of the reason that Democrats and Republicans have been in this staring contest for the last several weeks.

So, again, no word on whether the majority leader would accept this offer. Perhaps we will get more guidance in just a little bit.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but, I mean, how is it a tougher campaign ad, that one that you just laid out, Lauren, then saying X-senator voted to default on the U.S. debt and thrust the economy into chaos?

BLACKWELL: For the first time in history.

CAMEROTA: For the first time in history.That one doesn't seem like it's a winning strategy either.

But, Kaitlan, the president just met with business leaders in an effort to try to, I guess, put pressure on Republicans. So what's he saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A very clear effort to try to put pressure on these Republicans, not only just meeting with these business leaders, who he's also hoping will put pressure on Republicans, but also trying to convey to people what this would look like if we do breach the debt limit in less than two weeks from today.

That would be on October 18 is when the Treasury secretary is warning that will happen. You can see the list of the top executives who met with the president earlier, and he spent several minutes in his opening remarks blaming Senate Republicans for so far blocking efforts to raise the debt limit, as this standoff has remained over how exactly they -- each side believes that they should proceed.

And the president was saying that this is reckless and irresponsible, in his view.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Defaulting on the debt, which Secretary Yellen said could happen at any day after October the 18th, as we run out of money, means that Social Security benefits will stop. Salaries to service members will stop. Benefits to veterans will stop, and much more.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: So the president there laying out what he believes is going to happen on October 18 if this is not remedied by then.

Of course, you heard what Lauren said about this idea of what McConnell, we believe, could propose to Schumer, but that still big question of whether or not Schumer will accept that is a factor in this.

And I think what speaks to the level of just how Democrats are trying to exhaust the options here of not going the route that right now Republicans want them to go is last night. President Biden said, yes, they would consider and he believes it's a high possibility of changing the Senate rules to the filibuster just this one time so they would be able to raise the debt limit with just those 51 votes.

That would be all Democrats and the vice president voting on that. And so that is going to be a big factor here of whether or not that actually moves the ball forward. But it does speak to the level of urgency that the White House is applying to all of this.

BLACKWELL: And, Lauren, let's talk about that.

The McConnell, potential McConnell offer notwithstanding, the plausibility of the options on the table for Democrats, walk us through them and the likelihood that -- of which they will potentially take.

FOX: Well, this was a topic of discussion yesterday, whether or not Democrats would be willing to make a one-time exception to that filibuster rule so they could increase the debt ceiling with just a simple majority.

But we talked to Joe Manchin earlier today about what he thought about that idea. Here's what he said.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have been very, very clear where I stand, where I stand on the filibuster. I don't have to repeat that. I think I have been very clear. Nothing changes.

The only thing I can say at this time to Leader Schumer and to Minority Leader McConnell is, please lead. Lead.



FOX: And Manchin making clear there that he doesn't think the filibuster should be changed even for the debt ceiling.

I also asked Kyrsten Sinema, another moderate from the state of Arizona. She did not respond to multiple questions that I have asked her today about whether she would be willing to move forward with this change. If you do not have Democratic unity, you cannot make this change,

which is one reason why this idea may be dying on the vine if the caucus isn't together.

CAMEROTA: OK, Lauren Fox, Kaitlan Collins, thank you for the very latest. Come back to us as anything develops.

And CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash joins us now, along with CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. Great to see both of you.

Excuse me, Dana, I'm very confused. Why have we just gone through this two weeks of a charade, where Senator Mitch McConnell said he wasn't going to do anything, no how, no way to help the Democrats, and now he's making an offer to Chuck Schumer? I mean, that's great, I mean, in terms of progress, but what happened?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard what Lauren was reporting there in -- that I will call the catch, the catch in what they're talking about.

And I should say that as you were discussing the latest reporting with our colleagues, I'm seeing e-mails coming through from other colleagues up on Capitol Hill, Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Jessica Dean, as Republicans come out of this meeting, insisting that they're -- they don't have a firm game plan right now.

But your point is that they're at least floating options to get out of this. And the catch, as I was referring to before, is trying to get the Democrats to sign on to a number, this is how much we are going to add in spending.

That is all part of and kind of is very telling as to what McConnell's strategy is in the first place, which is, it is about running in 2022. It is about regaining the Senate in 2022.

And they clearly believe that, despite the fact that there was un -- not unprecedented spending, but a lot of spending on Donald Trump's watch, and it was passed with the help of Republicans in Congress right now, at this point, they feel like that is one of their best bets, to go back to their voters to say this is why you should put us back in the majority.

So if they have $1 figure they can use, as Lauren said, in ads to run especially against vulnerable Democrats, that is really kind of a tell as to what this is all about, what this whole process, this whole strategy is all about. It's really unclear whether or not, if that is the catch, the Democrats would agree to that.

BLACKWELL: And, John, we should not cast Mitch McConnell here as some great savior of the faith and -- full faith and credit of the United States, right?


BLACKWELL: This was something that Democrats under President Trump cooperated. Although the 2017 tax cut was not funded, they supported a raising the debt ceiling.

CAMEROTA: And it went up by $8.3 trillion, may I just add, under President Trump.


AVLON: Yes, that's right. And Democrats worked with the Trump administration to suspend the debt ceiling for the rest of the Trump term, because they didn't want to have chaos surrounding an upcoming election. That's called party over -- country over party.

Look, here's the deal. First of all, this is a totally self-inflicted crisis. The debt ceiling has been raised 43 times since 1980, 31 times under Republicans, 12 times under Democrats. The only reason we're having this crisis and tricycling up to the cliff is because Republicans are threatening to filibuster it, and also saying they're not going to help, which means Democrats aren't going to be able to get those 10 votes.

So now that we're getting closer, and markets are getting spooked, Republicans are realizing they have been playing a dangerous game. So they offer an olive branch. But this is totally self-inflicted. And the answer is to do away with the debt ceiling once and for all one way or the other.

CAMEROTA: And just to be clear, Dana, just to put a finer point on it, this -- these are the credit card bills for money that has already been spent, most of it under President Trump.

BASH: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: He ran up the credit card by $8.3 trillion. And Mitch McConnell's message up until now, until this minute, very minute, was, I guess we just don't pay our credit card bills.

I mean, that's the message that he was telegraphing to regular Americans?


BASH: We can't say that enough. We cannot emphasize and give the reality check, to borrow a phrase, John Avlon, of what is going on here, which is that the debt limit is all about what has already been spent, which is why I mentioned and you are saying multiple times, rightly so, that, what did you say, $8 trillion under President Trump?

CAMEROTA: Eight-point-three, but who's counting?

BASH: Eight-point-three voted for almost largely and almost entirely by Republicans. Democrats helped too, but it was on the Republican president's watch.

McConnell just put out a statement, again, emphasizing the fact that this is the Democrats' issue, this is Democrats' problem, that they have total control of Congress and the White House, of Washington, which is true. It is on their watch. [14:15:01]

But what isn't true is that this is about future spending. And so that is part of the strategy that I talked about before. It's trying to -- this is the technical term -- mush those two concepts together and confuse people, which is not that hard to do, because this is hard to wrap your mind around, big, big numbers, and Washington parlor games that people usually tune off, understandably so.

But this is not about future spending. This is about what was already spent.

AVLON: Right.

This is not about fiscal responsibility. This is the opposite of that. This isn't a parlor game. It's Russian roulette with the full faith and credit of the United States. So it is the opposite of being fiscally responsible, not matter how much they think they can spin it heading into a midterm.

BLACKWELL: John, Senator Manchin, before we got the news of this potential deal, said that, I'm not moving on the filibuster. We have not heard from Senator Sinema, although she has opposed the Senate -- the filibuster reform on other topics.

AVLON: She may have a foot doctor appointment.

BLACKWELL: Maybe, or there's a fund-raiser back in Arizona.

AVLON: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: But for Manchin to say that changing the filibuster would jeopardize the democracy, but not changing it potentially to save the full faith and credit of the country, reconcile that.


AVLON: What Manchin may be saying is, look, we should be able to solve this in regular order.


AVLON: The point of McConnell's making -- saying Democrats have full control of Washington doesn't apply if you filibuster the debt ceiling.


AVLON: McConnell may be saying, look, this is something we should be able to agree on. This isn't that difficult.

Now, what we really should do is just stop the gamesmanship around the debt and either raise it to an extreme level or get rid of it altogether, which is more complicated, because the fact that our -- we are so polarized now that the debt ceiling is being ransomed as a political hostage, where the whole country gets hurt, that's a different danger.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's a really interesting point, insight, Dana, because, otherwise, it's just -- Senator Manchin's devotion to the filibuster is really a marvel.

But if he's saying that he just wants regular order, that makes sense. They're supposed to vote on this today. Is this going to happen? Is it going to be postponed? What happens this afternoon?

BASH: That's a great question.

I think a lot of it depends on what happens out of this Republican meeting, how the conversations between the two leaders, the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell, go. I have seen many a kind of cycle like this, where they have -- they get down to the wire, and they're going to have a vote, which, frankly, at this point would have been a show vote, because we knew how it would end, and maybe put that aside or that might -- each side might think it's in their best interest to have a vote, although, to what John was saying, this isn't just your run-of-the-mill politics.

This has to do with the faith and credit of the United States, the perception of the United States when it comes to economic markets, not just here in America, but around the world.

And I should tell you that, as we're talking, I'm getting pinged from Republicans insisting that they that they are willing to stand back and let the Democrats do this on their own through what we have now heard, a term we have heard a lot about, reconciliation. But, again, we don't know what all of the catches are that Republicans would require in order to let that happen.

This is very much a moving story, and we will see how it plays out. It could change by the time you guys are off the air five more times.

BLACKWELL: All right, do we have -- do we have -- OK.

All right, John Avlon, Dana Bash, thank you both.

CAMEROTA: And thank you.

And Dana's ability to multitask while talking to us is really impressive.

AVLON: Yes, it's always impressive.

BASH: I know it's always impressive.

BLACKWELL: Always checking those texts and tweets. Thanks, Dana. Thanks, John.

All right, be sure to turn to Dan's CNN podcast. "Total Recall: California's Political Circus" is available where you get your podcasts.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is pushing back against the whistle- blower who says he put profits over public safety. The billionaire is defending his company's work and motive. We will discuss where this goes next.

CAMEROTA: And the Biden administration is hoping a new dramatic ad campaign from COVID survivors will convince unvaccinated people to change their minds.



KEVIN KOLBYE, ARLINGTON, TEXAS, ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF: All right, good afternoon. I appreciate you guys staying out here in this heat and this weather.

BLACKWELL: All right, we're joining a news conference here in Arlington, Texas, after the shooting at a school there. Let's listen.

KOLBYE: At this point in time, I want to tell you that one of the victims was a student. He went into surgery. He is ICU. He is out of surgery at this point time. That's great news. We need to make sure that we keep him in thoughts and prayers and the families.

We have an adult male who is not in surgery, but is in good condition. And then we have a female that was also maybe grazed by a bullet or injured in some way. I don't have all the facts. That person is expected to be released, hopefully, today.

So two will remain in the hospital, which continue to make hopefully a speedy recovery. Again, we need to make sure that we pray for them and also pray for their families.

The good news is, our suspect is in custody. Timothy Simpkins is in custody. He is currently in the police station at OTT Cribbs in Arlington, Texas. And detectives are talking to him at this point in time. He will be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three counts.

I also want to say good news is that all our students have now been evacuated from the school. We had about 1, 700 students here at Timberview High School. And we're glad that they're safe. We're trying to reunite them with their families and ensure that we have victim services.

We know that this is a tragedy, a traumatic incident for these high school kids. So, we have a tremendous amount of FBI, Arlington Police Department victim services that will hopefully talk with them and help them through this tragic incident.

Also, I want you to know that we have increased security with additional police officers at all of our schools in Arlington. Now, all the schools have been locked out, not locked in, locked out, meaning nobody can get into the schools in Arlington and the Mansfield Independent School District.

We are going to immediately release that and make sure that the parents can come in and they can be released. Lockout means that they are free to move within the school itself. So -- but nobody can enter those schools.

This is going to be a long-term continuing investigation and processing the crime scene. So I will tell you again I'm very proud to be part of this community, the Grand Prairie Police Department, Arlington Police Department, Mansfield Police Department, Mansfield Independent School District and our federal partners.

So it's going to be a long-term criminal investigation, in which the Arlington Police Department will be the lead on the criminal side. The FBI is helping us here and will process the crime scene.

We have ATF. And we do have a weapon that was recovered. It was recovered in the streets in Grand Prairie. Grand Prairie Police Department, recovered that. And it's going to be turned over to ATF to run ballistics. More to come on that.


I also just want to talk a little bit about social media. We have been having a lot of social media comments about threats to our schools from young kids. I want the message to be out there that this is not something to continue. We will investigate you.

The federal government will also -- our partners will be able to investigate you if you're not living in our city, and we will bring you to successful prosecution. So I'm just pleading with the community out there to try to stop any type of threats that are coming through social media.

And I'm going to turn it over to Chief Scesney.


Chief Scesney with Grand Prairie police.

Just a couple of comments I'd like to add and to underscore. Our teams have finished searching the school. We didn't find any additional threats. The suspect is in custody.

I really want to underscore a point that Chief Kolbye just made. A lot of our law enforcement resources were being diverted with inaccurate social media threats. I have got a call to action for parents. Take a look at your kids' social media. If they're putting out threats on their schools, they're going to be arrested and they're going to be prosecuted.

It's very important that you get involved with your kids' social media. During the entire onset of this event, our teams were being divided away from leads of our suspect location with inaccurate information at schools all over North Texas. So it would be very helpful to us for our parents to take a look at their social media accounts of their kids. Last thing I will say is the collaborative effort with the Arlington

Police Department, the Grand Prairie Police Department, the Marshals, North Texas Fugitive Task Force, and others, Arlington -- or Mansfield, Mansfield ISD, worked very well together to get the suspect into custody very quickly.

I can tell you there is no danger to the public. The public is safe, and the suspect is in custody. As it relates to the weapon mentioned by Chief Kolbye, our officers have transported a weapon they located in the street. We cannot confirm yet that it is the weapon.

We believe it may be the weapon. It is being transported to our partners at the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms team to do some analysis to determine if it's the right weapon. Chief Kolbye's team and Chief Jones with Arlington police is going to run lead on any investigative efforts.

Grand Prairie Police Department will be here to support them however we can.

With that...


SCESNEY: It was a handgun, .45-caliber weapon, that was located.

Thank you.


Chief Aaron from the city of Mansfield.

Again, I want to echo that I hope what you see here is the response that you're going to get from Texas agencies. We're going to respond appropriately whenever the call comes out. And we're going to respond in unified response.

What that means is that you just saw that the Mansfield Police Department's here standing alongside of the Mansfield ISD with Grand Prairie and Arlington. All of our federal partners are here. We brought this to a very quick resolve and without incident.

I think it should be noted that...

CAMEROTA: OK, you have been listening there to law enforcement updating us.

And there are three big headlines. The manhunt is over. They have the 18-year-old suspect now in custody from that school shooting, the Arlington police chief said, and there are three injuries after this school shooting. One of them sounds very serious. One, it sounds like young man is still in ICU. He just came out of surgery. The other injuries are less serious.

And then, social media, the most timely issue that we have been talking about for the past at least 48 hours, they say they're getting threats of school shootings via social media and they have talked about how they're going to prosecute.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and not just that school, but also other schools. They say that this suspect, Timothy Simpkins, will face three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

They have also increased security at the schools across Arlington, Texas, there. And they, of course, say that that will be a crime scene and they have a lot of work to do to continue their investigation.

So we know, again, three people in the hospital, one out of ICU, an adult male in good condition, a female expected to be released. That fourth person did not go to a hospital who was injured this morning.

We will take a quick break, continue to follow the breaking news, and we will be right back.