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President Biden, House Speaker McCarthy Race To Sell Tentative Debt Deal To Members; Turkey's President Erdogan Wins Presidential Runoff; Interview With Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); New York City Mosque Houses Migrants As City Struggles To Find Shelter; "Septic Incomplete Abortion" Led To Near-Death Consequences. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 28, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.
And we begin this hour with President Biden playing salesman-in-chief. The White House has been briefing House and Senate Democrats on the tentative deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling. A source says that a midafternoon phone call between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not happened yet. The call was to finalize the remaining details.
Experts say a default would be disastrous for the U.S. and global economies and that threat is still looming ominously at this hour. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties sound like they're unhappy with this deal. So passage is not guaranteed yet. This is all unfolding as a June 5th deadline is drawing ever closer.
We're following all of these latest developments. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is over at the White House for us. Eva McKend is right here next to me here in Washington.
Let's begin at the White House. Priscilla, what are you learning about this phone call? Is it going to happen?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's ever expectation that it is going to happen, Jim. As you mentioned, President Biden had said it was going to happen at 3:00 p.m. It is now 6:00 and it hasn't happened yet, according to a source that I spoke with. But the delay seems to be that they're finalizing the legislative text. We've heard earlier from a GOP Hill negotiator that they wouldn't have that conversation between House Speaker McCarthy and President Biden until that text was finalized.
So that appears to be the delay here. But over the course of the day, White House officials have been talking to House Democrats and to Senate Democrats about what this deal includes because so far all we have is a framework and some of that framework is increasing the debt limit for two years, as well as expanding work requirements for certain adults that are receiving food stamps. So House Democrats and Senate Democrats are really waiting to see the details which will be revealed in this text. Now, of course, President Biden has made clear as of yesterday that
there was going to be compromise on both ends. In a statement, he said, quote, "The agreement represents a compromise which means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing. So that is the message that the White House has been sending. That there was going to be concessions on both ends, but President Biden when he arrived to the White House here earlier this afternoon still projected optimism, saying that the deal was in good shape and saying that he expected it was going to reach his desk.
And when asked if there was any sticking points he said none. Of course, there's still a long road ahead here and it's not just finalizing this agreement and this text, but then also making sure that Republicans and Democrats are on board. So there's still a lot of work ahead for the White House. But for now, there's every intent of this call happening between President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy and this moving forward -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Priscilla.
Let's check in with CNN's Eva McKend.
Eva, still a lot of skepticism up on Capitol Hill. A lot of the very conservative members of the Republican conference over in the House, they've been saying some things, having some choice words for all of this. And so Speaker McCarthy, he faces some key tests coming up, one on Tuesday of course, the expected big vote on Wednesday. And then there's what may be happening in the Senate as well. There's a lot of hurdles to get through.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is a key test for McCarthy indeed, Jim, because part of securing the speakership, he had to make this concession of putting the far-right members of his conference on the powerful House Rules Committee. And we know that that bill can't make it to the floor unless it gets through the rules committee. Two members of that committee already throwing cold water on this deal.
You've got Congressman Ralph Norman calling this insanity. You've got Congressman Chip Roy of Texas saying you can't make this crap up. So they are in the position of power to be able to oversee this process. That is a hurdle he has to overcome. But what we're seeing from both sides, the leadership teams, they're really trying to put positive framing on this. But it's going to come down to the rank-and-file members. They are going to be the decisions -- the decisionmakers here. But let's take a listen to Speaker McCarthy and Hakeem Jeffries today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is a good, strong bill that a majority of Republicans will vote for.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): The agreement that was reached in principle by President Biden does several important things. In addition to avoiding a devastating default that would hurt everyday Americans, it protects Social Security, it protects Medicare, it protects Medicaid, it protects veterans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So this if makes it through the House, which we know is a high bar and gets to the Senate, it's going to face some issues there. We've already heard from several Republican senators, Susan Collins, Roger Wicker, Lindsey Graham all voicing their concerns about defense spending in this deal. And of course I've been hearing from progressives all day who have real concerns about this change in the work requirement for benefits. Thinking that this was not even on the table.
Congresswoman Jayapal on our air earlier today saying that President Biden conceding on this was unfortunate.
ACOSTA: All right. Eva McKend -- yes, I talked to Congressman Maxwell Frost yesterday and he was saying that he felt like they were being held hostage in this process. So a lot of folks are going to have to get over some pretty hard feelings about this process to get to yes at the end of all this.
MCKEND: Ultimately so we don't default.
ACOSTA: So we don't default. Exactly. Eva McKend, all right, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Turning to what's taking place in Turkey right now. Celebrations are under way as supporters of incumbent President Erdogan mark his election to yet another term in office which will extend his tenure in power into a third decade. President Biden offered his congratulations, writing in part, "I look forward to continue to work together on -- as NATO allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges."
And CNN's Nada Bashir joins us now.
Nada Bashir, what's the mood like in Istanbul tonight? I remember when I think we were speaking with you not too long ago, there was jubilation, but also a lot of passion on all sides because this thing wasn't settled yet. But it sounds like it's done.
NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. We have now that confirmation from the supreme election council here in Turkey that President Erdogan will take on another term as president. We just stepped inside to the AK Party headquarters, President Erdogan's Istanbul headquarters here.
But outside of the building, the celebrations are still ongoing. Thousands gathered outside the headquarters upon that declaration, taking part in what really was a mass celebration with music, cheers, flags being waved, fireworks being set off. This was a real moment of jubilation and triumph for President Erdogan's most ardent supporters gathered here in Istanbul. And he actually gave an address to those supporters in Istanbul. That was televised to those gathering outside the AK headquarters.
But then he also traveled on to Ankara where he delivered his victory speech to those gathering outside the presidential complex. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): We are not the only winners. The winner is Turkey. The winner is all parts of our society. Our democracy is the winner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: Now, of course, while this is a huge victory for President Erdogan, this is also a significant blow to Turkey's opposition. We spoke to supporters of the opposition alliance earlier this morning heading to the polling stations. Many of them told us that they felt this was an opportunity for change in Turkey after more than two decades of President Erdogan's rule and this is the first time that we've seen the opposition this unified.
Six very different political parties gathering together in a coalition behind one single candidate and there was a sense of hope and optimism among these opposition supporters that this could be the moment for change. But clearly that is not the case. President Erdogan taking on another term. And he faces some significant challenges from the struggling economy in the country to the response to the devastating February earthquake in the country's southeastern area.
And of course for those who supported the opposition, there's still that deep set fear that the country could continue to see an erosion of its fundamental Democratic principles -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Nada, to that point because it was so close and this was a close call for Erdogan in all of this, is there any sense at all that he's going to adjust his style, temperament, approach to governance in light of the fact that there was all of this stiff opposition?
BASHIR: Well, look, over the last few weeks and months, President Erdogan has faced fierce backlash. And the opposition clearly has won the support of many. This is a significant feat for the opposition and it is a signal to President Erdogan and to his government that clearly there is a real demand for change.
That was certainly the message from the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu who spoke earlier today upon that confirmation that President Erdogan had been declared as the next president once again. He did say that this was a signal that the will of the people is for change. That things are changing.
And I have to say, when we spoke to voters heading to the polling stations, they did tell us that, you know, while they did anticipate that President Erdogan may win another term given the fact that he had already secured 49.5 percent of the vote in the first round, just shy of that majority needed to get an overall victory, they did say this isn't the end. [18:10:15]
They hope that this is a starting point for the opposition. This has laid the groundwork for the opposition to continue to build up strength. And of course as President Erdogan continues to come under pressure, that could certainly change over the next five years -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Nada Bashir, thank you very much for that. We appreciate it.
And joining me now with more insight, James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much as always. We appreciate it. The U.S. and the Biden administration were watching these results very closely at the end. There you saw President Biden congratulating Erdogan. And as we're just talking about this with Nada Bashir, this was close for Erdogan. I mean, he did win. Any sense that you have that he might adjust his style or approach given that this was a close call for him?
JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY: Well, first, thanks for having me on. You're right about a close call. Compared to 2018, Erdogan lost about 6 percent to 7 percent of his support. Nonetheless, he won handedly by 4 percentage points over Kemal Kilicdaroglu. I don't think he's going to change his style very much with the possible exception of his financial policies which are driving the country ever more into debt and inflation. That may produce a change on foreign policy, I don't think he feels he has to do very much different.
ACOSTA: And Erdogan's opponent said today that he would continue to fight until there is real democracy in Turkey. He also said this was the most unfair election period in Turkey's history. From an international observer standpoint, is there anything to that? What is your sense of how the election was handled there?
JEFFREY: As people say about not only elections in Turkey but in other countries as well, free but not necessarily fair in that President Erdogan used all of the tools of government including intimidating or exploiting the media, using his control over the judiciary to make life difficult for the opposition. But in the end, Turkish voters are sophisticated. And the reality is, I think a real minority, and I was just there in Turkey, a real minority wanted change. But at least a small majority wanted to stay with Erdogan after 20 years.
ACOSTA: And Erdogan said apparently last week that Turkey has a special and growing relationship with Vladimir Putin. What's going on there?
JEFFREY: Well, he does have a growing relationship with Vladimir Putin. Turkey for many, many years has been in NATO but also has a trading energy and to a certain extent security relationship with Putin because Russian forces are to its south in Syria, they're to its north in the caucuses and of course across the Black Sea. Turkey balances those relations very carefully.
Nonetheless as we've seen in the Ukraine conflict but also in Syria and Libya, Erdogan is very effective in standing up including militarily to Putin when he needs to.
ACOSTA: And apparently Turkey's support will be critical when it comes to admitting Sweden into NATO. How do you see that playing out? Any concerns there about Sweden making it through?
JEFFREY: I'm always concerned on any issue involving the Kurdish terrorist organization, PKK, and the intensity with which not just Erdogan but all Turks feel about it. And that's the issue that's holding up Turkey's giving the green light to Sweden. Turkey obviously just did that to Finland because Finland isn't the same kind of problem.
Sweden has done a lot to clean up its act with the PKK, but whether it's enough, that's hard to say. I know that the U.S. will be putting a lot of pressure on Ankara. It was good that the president made this announcement and I think that the administration does believe that with a little bit more pushing, we can get Sweden into NATO.
ACOSTA: And what is your sense of what Erdogan's leadership for so many years in Turkey means to the rest of the world? The way he's been able to hang on to power, hold on to power for so many years, he's been a political force for decades now. I suppose it's too much to say that Turkey is drifting away from democracy. But there has been a real concern about this sort of creeping authoritarianism not only in Turkey but other parts of the world, and other parts of the west. Is that something that you've put your finger on as being a concern?
JEFFREY: It is a concern. Democracy needs to have a balance of power, checks and balances to be healthy.
It's not a healthy democracy in Turkey. But I would hesitate to say it's not a democracy. But the interesting thing is rapidity with which leaders from all over the Middle East and all over Europe, including President Macron, who in the past has had very bad relations with Erdogan, rushed to congratulate him.
What Erdogan has done over the last 20 years is to make Turkey one of the most important players in Eurasia. That won't change and it's one reason why people voted for him.
ACOSTA: All right. Ambassador James Jeffrey, thanks very much.
We should note to our viewers, we are going to have some comments from President Biden coming up we believe at around 6:25. That is expected in the next 10 or 15 minutes. We expect to see President Biden commenting on the debt ceiling deal. We're going to bring you those comments as they come in live right here on CNN so stay with us for that.
In the meantime, are the votes there to get President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy's tentative debt ceiling deal over the finish line? I'll also talk with Democratic Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That's coming up next so stay with us. And also a little bit later on, the NBA without LeBron. The Lakers star says he will consider retirement in the off-season. We'll talk to a hoops expert on that. That's coming up as well. Stay with us.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: In just a few moments President Biden will speak on the tentative debt ceiling deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The White House has been briefing Senate and House Democrats throughout the day about all of this, and joining me now to talk about it is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
Congresswoman, great to see you. Thanks as always for being with us. I guess what do you think -- I understand you were just on a call with the president or the White House about this debt ceiling deal. What are they telling you and what did some of your members say? I'm having to guess here, I'm going to read between the lines, that perhaps there might have been some -- I guess some folks expressing disappointment on that call. What did you hear?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Well, no, there wasn't actual disappointment expressed on the call. In fact, you know, we are going to be briefed in more detail over the next two days. We'll have very specific granular briefings and that's really what it boils down to is that we want to make sure and the White House wants to make sure that, you know, when the text is completely written and we have those granular details that we'll all be up to speed and in a position to be able to support this.
But, I mean, I'll be very clear with you that it was -- it was clear to me that from the description, I was briefed earlier in the day by the White House and then on the call this now, what the president negotiated was thankfully avoiding the Republicans crashing our economy into the side of a cliff, and that was first and foremost, what was absolutely essential because they were playing a dangerous game of hostage taking in this whole process with our economy.
ACOSTA: And you have said that when it comes to the paying the nation's bills, quote, "Nothing is negotiable," end quote. But as you know -- and maybe it didn't come up on the call but some of your fellow Democrats are voicing concerns with this agreement about this agreement. Do you think that the president gave too much away? Should he have not been engaged in this process with House Republicans in all of this if it was in your view and in the view of others hostage taking?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I want to be very clear that the president put out his budget and it wasn't for another month after that that the Republicans default on America bill came out. And so, you know, until we had both budgets essentially, the Republican blueprint which wanted to slash veterans' funding, slash funding for children and seniors, versus the president's budget, once we had those two documents, we were able to move forward.
But this agreement, let me tell you, when I heard my colleagues who are airing their views on this deal say that there were no Democratic wins, that is simply not true. There was a bill, the veterans -- the Military Construction and Veterans Affair Appropriations bill that was supposed to be marked up this week, I'm the ranking member of that committee as you know, and that markup was canceled because the Republicans were about to slash veterans' funding for medical care.
They were about to end the promise we made to our veterans exposed to toxic substances and eliminate that toxic exposure fund that was a guarantee to cover their health care. And so they canceled it because they didn't have the votes or they were afraid to actually put their votes out there. Now this deal not only preserves that number that the president has in his budget this year, but makes sure that we have $20.4 billion in that guaranteed health fund for veterans for next year. That's critical and that's a big win for the Democrats.
ACOSTA: What about these new work requirements for some Americans on food stamps? Were you disappointed that that made it into the deal?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I certainly would have preferred that we not add work requirements. But let me tell you where the wins were there as well. We are -- while there are going to be phased in 50 to 52 years old and 52 to 54 years old over the next two years only, we also got an expansion of who actually gets access to food stamp benefits. Homeless, veterans, and aged-out foster youth will all get access to those benefits now and theirs is not time limited. So that's a permanent expansion for food stamps for those groups. And a limited -- a limited work requirement period until 2030.
So, look, at the end of the day, I'll take expanding benefits for people who really need those food stamps to ensure that they can have the quality of life and put food on their table that they need. And if we have to deal with a few years of work requirements of people between 50 and 54, I think that's -- that's a more reasonable price to pay, even if I would have preferred that we not add work requirements on people who are struggling to begin with.
ACOSTA: And I should note to our viewers, we may be going to the president any moment now. So, Congresswoman, I know you've done this a long time. So you know how much I would hate to break away from you and go to the president but that could happen. As I ask this next question, maybe you can stick around after he's done and get some comments on that.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Totally get it.
ACOSTA: But let me ask you this, as somebody who was over at the Democratic National Committee yourself, were you glad to see the debt ceiling fight pushed off -- the next debt ceiling fight pushed off until after the next presidential election? How critical was that part of this do you think and is that going over -- is that helping to maybe smooth things over with some of your fellow Democrats, that that part is in there?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Absolutely. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, actually said that it was a good thing for Republicans to be playing with the debt ceiling, that it would bode well for them in an election. When I was chair, I would never have said something like that and certainly as a responsible member of Congress, who's a patriot, I would never say that we should risk not paying our nation's bills and crashing our economy and jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States.
So putting that off into 2025 was a critical part of this deal. That shows you the kind of negotiator that Joe Biden is and ensuring that we're not going to put our economy in jeopardy during the rest of his term. We'll put that off until after the election. By the way, there's also a really important provision with the administrative application of pay-go to student loans. While I would have -- you know, that's a little bit concerning.
One thing that was really good about that part of the negotiation is that it limits the ability -- it actually prevents the ability from people suing to stop that student loan program. And that's an important accomplishment because we need to make sure we have the kind of certainty we need for that student loan program and dealing with terminable lawsuits was a key negotiating point that I think was really important for the literally millions of students who are counting on that student loan assistance.
ACOSTA: And just again a note to our viewers --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: So my Republican friends should spare me --
ACOSTA: Well, no, I was just going to say --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I was just going to say, Jim, that --
ACOSTA: Go ahead and finish up, yes, because we may be going to the president here in just a moment. What were you saying here?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No problem. You know, I know the Republicans are trying to spin to their members that we had no wins. Not only did we have wins and I certainly count it as a win that we are not going to crash our economy and pay our nation's bills, but there were several important wins that we stopped the Republicans from doing, rolling back budget cuts to FY-22 levels, making sure we keep the guaranteed funding for our nation's veterans exposed to toxic substances, ensuring that we can stave off losses --
ACOSTA: Congresswoman, as I thought -- as I thought, I'm going to have to go to the president. I'm so sorry about that. Here's the president.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sorry to keep you waiting, but we've got good news. We've got -- I just spoke with Speaker McCarthy and we've reached a bipartisan budget agreement that we're ready to move to the full Congress. And I think it's a really important step forward -- excuse me. And it takes a thread of catastrophic default off the table, protects our hard-earned and historic economic recovery. And the agreement also represents a compromise which means no one got everything they want. But that's the responsibility of governing and this is a deal that's
good news for, I believe you'll see, the American people. The agreement prevents the worst possible crisis, a default for the first time in our nation's history. An economic recession, retirement accounts devastated, millions of jobs lost. It also protects key priorities and accomplishments and values that congressional Democrats and I have fought long for -- long and hard for.
Investing in America's agenda that's creating good jobs and communities throughout the country. It protects Social Security, Medicare and veterans and so much more. The speaker and I made clear from the start that the only way forward was a bipartisan agreement. That agreement now goes to the United States House and to the Senate. I strongly urge both chambers to pass that agreement.
Let's keep moving forward on meeting our obligations and building the strongest economy in the history of the world. I'll take a few questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, you said at the beginning that the debt ceiling was not negotiable. Isn't that what you've just done here? And isn't that what --
BIDEN: You guys, look, we're not negotiating the debt ceiling. Here's the deal. They passed -- they said they're going to -- they passed the debt ceiling and they said they'll only do it on the condition that it have all these cuts in it.
I said I'm not going to do that. You pass the debt ceiling period. I'll negotiate with you on the cuts, what you say, what's going to happen, what the budget is going to look like. That's what we are negotiating in order to get to them deciding that they're going to go along with a new debt ceiling, meaning that it's not attached. Something totally different attached than what was attached before.
If you want to try to make it look like I made some compromise in the debt ceiling, I didn't. I made a compromise on the budget.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's what they wanted is you make compromise on the budget and that's what you've done even though you haven't gone as far as they wanted. Isn't that right?
BIDEN: Sure. Yes. Well --
BIDEN: Can you think of an alternative?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what do you say to members of your own party who say you've made too many concessions in this deal?
BIDEN: They'll find I didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, on your allies and adversaries to America, would you be willing to say about what you think this process said to those adversaries and allies? You have a deal now. But what does the process say? What does the struggle say --
BIDEN: Well, it says we've been through this more than once. And it's the nature of the way we handle the deficit and handle whether we're going to each year going to pay our debts. And it's happened more than once. It will probably happen again. But it's not going to happen at least for another two years here, and I don't think beyond -- I think beyond that, it won't either.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you think it's time for the U.S. to get rid of the debt limit, that this is -- you know, for the reason you just laid out?
BIDEN: No, I think it would cause more controversy getting rid of the debt limit, although I do, I am exploring the idea that we would -- at a later date, year or two from now, decide whether or not the 14th Amendment, how that actually would impact on whether or not you need to do the debt limit every year. But that's another day. Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you believe Speaker McCarthy has the votes and did he negotiate in good faith?
BIDEN: I think he negotiated in good faith. He kept his word. He said what he would do and he did what he said he'd do, and I have no idea whether he has the votes. I expect he does. I don't think he would have made the agreement.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have a comment on the elections in Turkey? Have you spoken with President Erdogan?
BIDEN: I have not spoken with him yet.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you wish to --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some of your Democratic colleagues are saying that this policy will lead some people to go hungry. What is your response to that?
BIDEN: It's a ridiculous assertion.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you wish you've started these negotiations sooner?
BIDEN: No, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, is financial aid for Ukraine secured in your new budget?
ACOSTA: OK, there you have President Biden speaking to reporters just a few moments ago. He was saying essentially there that he believes that the House Speaker McCarthy was negotiating in good faith during this process. At one point, I think he was sparring with Peter Baker of the "New York Times" a bit there and said, well, what's the alternative when it comes to negotiating or not negotiating over the debt ceiling.
And let me go to you, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Since I interrupted you, although I did warn you in advance that that might happen. Your response to what the president had --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Jim, no problem.
ACOSTA: Exactly. Your response to what the president had to say there because he was reminded of the fact that he did say he didn't want to negotiate over the debt ceiling and then he had to negotiate over the debt ceiling. That's when he said, well, what's the alternative there? It sounds as though the president -- the White House, Democrats, really just didn't have a choice here. You had to negotiate over the debt ceiling.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you know, I was pleased that right from the beginning of the discussions, they took whether or not we were going to raise the debt ceiling and crash our economy off the table. Both sides agreed we're not going to do that. And then, I mean, Jim, you know, as a longtime member of the appropriations committee, I can tell you this is the time of year that we are negotiating the appropriations top lines anyway.
Essentially we did that, you know, more at the beginning of the process through these negotiations and that's what we talked about on our conference call just now. We probably would not have wanted to get as much in the weeds in terms of the framework at this point in the game. But we had a lot at stake and it's really critical. We have Republicans who were willing to crash our economy into a side of a cliff, who were willing to not pay our bills.
By the way, on a deficit that they ran up themselves, they have a $1.3 trillion unpaid bill of tax cuts that they wouldn't touch mostly that went to millionaires and wealthy people. And that was off limits in those discussions which is outrageous. I mean, when you have tax cuts, you're pulling revenue out of the economy and that counts just as much as spending. And the Republicans under Donald Trump didn't pay for any of that.
So they took that off the table. We were operating in a situation where we had to protect veterans funding which they were willing to cut. We had to make sure that we were going to have the kind of funding needs that were not draconian from the cuts that they proposed. We ended up at FY-23 levels. The Republicans are trying to spin it as FY-22 but I know the details and I know the granularity of it. At the end of the day when we go through the appropriations process, we'll be at FY-23 levels. And by the way we're protecting and ensuring that we don't go through this again next year.
ACOSTA: Quick follow-up on what the president had to say, Congresswoman. Right there at the very end, he indicated that maybe not before the 2024 election, maybe it's after the 2024 election, it sounds like he's going to be revisiting the idea of the 14th Amendment and whether or not the president can essentially raise the debt ceiling himself or herself by virtue of the 14th Amendment.
Did you pick up on that when he said that? And what are your thoughts? Is it time for the United States to have a system where you don't have to go through the Congress to raise the debt ceiling? It sounds like the president said that would be too disruptive right now. But it sounds like he is receptive to that idea perhaps down the road. What did you make of that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I personally have always thought we should take off the table whether or not we pay our bills, that our debts in our nation have occurred. There's no family in America that has the ability to not pay their bills. They can't just decide not to do that and neither can we. And that shouldn't be subject to the political whims or the hostage-taking ability of one side or the other.
In this case the Republicans are always the ones that are repeatedly willing to do that and hold a gun to the head of the nation's economy. I do think we should take that off the table, although I heard the president say that it wouldn't be responsible and I thought he meant it wouldn't be responsible to eliminate the debt ceiling. So I'm not really clear -- I was quite clear what he was saying but I know he wasn't wanting to go through the 14th Amendment with the potential for judicial challenges now and perhaps he would revisit that down the road. But at the end of the day we have to pay our bills. We shouldn't be going through this.
ACOSTA: Right. Yes, we can't have a default. That would be catastrophic.
And Eva McKend, since you're right here in the studio with me, your thoughts on what the president had to say. What stood out to you? He said that he believes the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is negotiating in good faith. That may not sit well with a lot of McCarthy's very conservative Republican colleagues who wish that McCarthy had gotten more out of this.
MCKEND: But this is always who President Biden has been. He has always a creature of the Senate. He's always been this pragmatic lawmaker, moderate, willing to work with Republicans. You know, when I saw him come out, I thought this makes it all the more hard for Republicans to argue that he is beholden to the left. Clearly he is not, if he is willing to make these compromises.
But it was a reversal to be clear, Jim. He said all along I have argued that the only way forward is a bipartisan agreement. He has not said that all along. That is incorrect. He initially said that this was nonnegotiable. Well, he negotiated. And he -- yes, he long said that there should be no compromise when it comes to the debt ceiling, that this is obligatory, that this is the responsibility of Congress.
So ultimately he did have to compromise, but I don't know how much of a political liability it is for him because it robs Republicans of a talking point that he is totally dictated by progressives in the left flank.
ACOSTA: Yes, Priscilla Alvarez, I mean, the president did get into a little bit with Peter Baker there, I think that was Peter Baker, over this -- you know, this notion that at the start of all of this, he essentially said he wasn't going to negotiate over this and then he did.
ALVAREZ: Well, and he was also asked whether he should have started negotiations earlier knowing that this was probably in the direction that it was headed. But the White House stood firm from the very beginning when those warnings started coming in early this year that they weren't going to negotiate and yet here we are talking about an agreement.
Now, what he was trying to do is parse through some nuance there and say that this was a negotiation based on budgets and not necessarily the debt ceiling. But what's clear is that the -- at least for now with this agreement, the consequence of a default may be off the table. Of course they still have to get this through Congress. And that is still a long road ahead and a very short amount of time. Remember there's that June 5th date.
But President Biden essentially saying that going through, I should say, the catastrophic consequences that have been looming over this White House should there be a default and saying that this agreement takes the threat off the table. He also conceded that not everyone got what they want. And we've been talking throughout the day, through the outline of this framework, which included those work requirements on social safety net programs that House Democrats were worried about.
They did get the debt ceiling to go two years, not having to revisit this in 2024 during a presidential election. So there was wins and losses. Now it comes down to how they sell that to House Democrats and Senate Democrats. They've been on the phone with them all day and President Biden himself said that he was on the phone with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. That was a call we were waiting on. It has happened.
So now it's all about the road ahead. But that doesn't mean that the White House involvement is over. They're very much still working the phones and still trying to share all of the details of this with Democratic leadership and with Democrats to make sure that they can coalesce their support and get this to the finish line. Because, again, Jim, as you and I have talked about, this is still only the beginning. An important breakthrough, but still a lot of steps to get through when it comes to Congress.
ACOSTA: And Congresswoman, last question to you, you've been through a lot of these battles over the years. Is this going to get done?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know, I think over the next two days it will become more clear. I would like to see -- look, it's Kevin McCarthy's responsibility to put up the majority of these votes. It's been made very clear to him that there had to be certain elements in the deal to be able to get enough Democratic votes to balance things out. But he's going to have to win over his extremists. This is a deal that looks pretty balanced to me. I have more questions about it.
What they've been telegraphing about what's in the deal is not accurate. It's very clear that it's 23 levels, we fund toxic exposure health care for veterans, we take care of our homeless, our veterans and our aged-out foster youth in SNAP benefits and we make sure that we can fund the budget needs and take the debt ceiling hostage taking off the table. That's a lot of reasonable stuff, you know, from our perspective.
What the Republicans are selling to their folks it doesn't sound like what the deal looks like to me. So we'll see how many votes they can put up and after we get the details, we'll see how many of ours are able to join them.
ACOSTA: All right. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Priscilla Alvarez, Eva McKend, thanks to all of you on this busy Sunday evening. We appreciate it very much. And we'll be right back.
ACOSTA: New York City officials are announcing plans to reopen a former prison as a shelter for migrants. The 10,000 square foot facility in Harlem housed low-security inmates until it closed in 2020. The jail is the latest idea as the city struggles to shelter some 44,000 asylum seekers. Officials are also asking New York houses of worship to open their doors.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has more on one mosque stepping in to help migrants.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just below a bustling Brooklyn interstate, this brick building offers shelter in the face of New York City's ongoing migrant crisis.
SONIYA ALI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER: We have 17 migrants that are staying with us. And so basically each bed is their living space.
SANDOVAL: Soniya Ali helps run the Muslim community center which she says for the last nine months or so have collectively offered respite to 75 asylum seekers of all faiths as New York City struggles to keep up with the demands of housing nearly 45,000 homeless migrants. This organization does what it can to help shoulder that weight, all while hoping to live up to the guiding principle that's painted outside.
ALI: As a Muslim, it's an obligation upon us to help house, you know, migrants and people who are travelers. And basically we decided to, you know, take that step.
SANDOVAL: Ali was 5 when her family immigrated to the U.S. from Kashmir.
ALI: I can definitely understand what they're feeling when they talk about, you know, their families and their children that they left behind or their, you know, wives or whomever it is that they've left behind. I understand that because I do have family members that are back home, that are not here, and you do feel that sense of longing. So I understand that part of their journey and their situation.
SANDOVAL: Ali says her community center is among the faith-based organizations that have applied to team up with the city of New York starting this summer. A local government official familiar with the city's planning tell CNN the city will soon announce the program that seeks to open up to 50 faith-based shelters starting in July, each offering about 19 beds. The goal, the official says, is to count on at least 950 additional beds for asylum seekers by the fall.
However, the institutions will have to meet building codes to house large groups, the official says. For Ali, that means installing fire sprinklers.
ALI: This is something that might take a little bit longer than we expected. The -- from what I was told or what I'm aware of is that there are two slots, June and September. We were hoping for June, but it doesn't look like it. So we're probably going to be approved in September.
SANDOVAL: The plan to use some of New York City's houses of worship comes as the city and state are forced to get creative to expand shelter space.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: There are some schools that have empty dorms. There are some schools that are not reopening. There are former correctional facilities, which are not ideal but, that is space if we can change the environment.
SANDOVAL: As some new and unusual options emerge, faith-based community centers are already offering sanctuary.
ALI: Spiritually it has been humbling to hear the stories and to be able to know that we're making a difference in these -- in these individuals' lives.
SANDOVAL: So in addition to that Muslim community center that you just saw, the expectation is some New York City churches, synagogues perhaps, will also join this effort. And now back to what you mentioned at the top, Jim, this former correctional facility that was used initially to house newly arrived Jewish migrants in 1914 and the World War II soldiers in 1942 have been empty since 2019.
And a state official, Jim, being very clear in saying there are no cells in the facility. However, they are currently transforming the space to make it more welcoming to any asylum seekers. As we heard from the deputy mayor saying just last week, Jim, this migrant crisis that New York City faces, she said, there's no end in sight.
ACOSTA: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks very much for that report. We appreciate it.
We'll be right back.
ACOSTA: For a young Georgia couple, getting pregnant was a dream come true, and then it became dangerous. After an early ultrasound showed no heartbeat, Melissa Novak needed abortion pills to help her miscarry, but she was prescribed only one of the two abortion pills that are meant to be taken together. Her life was then on the line.
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has the full story.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Novak and Stewart Day met in Florida on New Year's Eve 15 years ago.
MELISSA NOVAK, HAD MISCARRIAGE: We kissed on New Year's and then we haven't been separate since.
COHEN: They married, moved to Atlanta, and earlier this year, they were thrilled when Melissa got pregnant. They had an ultrasound at eight weeks.
NOVAK: We were really excited to, you know, go and see the heartbeat.
COHEN (on-camera): But when you showed up for the ultrasound, was there a heartbeat?
NOVAK: No. There was not.
COHEN (voice-over): Melissa was having an early miscarriage, which is very common. But what happened next was not, and Melissa nearly died.
To help a woman miscarry safely, it's standard practice for obstetricians to offer these two drugs together, mifepristone and misoprostol. The FDA says the combination is approved to end a pregnancy. Melissa's miscarriage was at the end of March just when a judge at this federal courthouse in Texas was considering whether to block access to mifepristone nationwide.
Melissa's doctor mentioned that lawsuit and prescribed her only misoprostol. While that drug has shown to be effective in managing miscarriages, it's less effective when used on its own. Nine days after Melissa took misoprostol, she developed a fever.
NOVAK: My fever was really -- came on hard and strong. And then suddenly I had incredible back pain. I was having trouble standing.
COHEN: Her medical records show she had a septic incomplete abortion.
STEWART DAY, WIFE HAD A MISCARRIAGE: When she's laying in the hospital shaking with, you know, 100 some odd degree fever, like there's nothing I can do about it, so that feeling of helplessness, especially when it's somebody that you love so much, we didn't know if she was going to live or die.
COHEN: The mifepristone lawsuit is still winding its way through the legal system towards the Supreme Court. Depending upon how judges rule, Americans could lose access to the drug nationwide. In a statement to CNN, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, an antiabortion obstetrician seeking to take mifepristone off the market, wrote that medical management of miscarriage with misoprostol has been standard of care for decades but did not provide evidence for that. In fact, misoprostol is not approved on its own for miscarriages and many physicians are worried about what the courts might do.
DR. ERIKA WERNER, CHAIR OF OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY, TUFTS MEDICAL CENTER: Any of us that care for women who have miscarriages are really concerned. More women are going to have unnecessary surgeries, more women are going to have complications, and we're just not going to be providing the best care across the country.
COHEN: After four days in the hospital and emergency surgery, Melissa recovered, and she and Stewart are ready to try for another baby. They said they're telling their story because they're worried about what might happen to others in a similar situation.
In a special session at their annual meeting this week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged the confusion about mifepristone and advised their members that it's still available in all 50 states. But if the plaintiffs succeed, it won't be.
DAY: The fact that non-medical professionals are able to dictate medical care to like my wife or anyone is absurd.
COHEN (on-camera): Under Georgia law, Melissa could have been offered mifepristone, but obstetricians in various states tell us that under the current legal climate, it's a little bit like the fog of war. Day to day it can be unclear about what they're allowed to do to take care of their patients. And if they get it wrong, they could go to prison.
ACOSTA: Our thanks to Elizabeth Cohen for that very important report. And we'll be right back.