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Biden, McCarthy Reach Tentative Deal On U.S. Debt Limit; Drones Hit Kyiv Amid Speculation About Counteroffensive; Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan Faces Challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu In Second Round Of Voting. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 28, 2023 - 01:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate the company. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM. A catastrophic default averted as of now. The White House and Republicans have an agreement in principle on the debt ceiling, but it's hardly a done deal.

And Ukraine's top general issues a pointed message for his soldiers, Russia and the world.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: After weeks of negotiations, U.S. officials have finally reached a tentative deal to try to avoid that looming debt crisis. The White House and Republicans say they have agreed in principle to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and kept government spending. The deal meant to avert the first U.S. defaulting history, which of course would have had disastrous consequences worldwide. Here's how the U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy characterize the breakthrough.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): After weeks of negotiations, we have come to an agreement in principle. We still have a lot of work to do. But I believe this is an agreement in principle that's worthy of the American people.

It has historic reductions in spending, consequential reforms that will lift people out of poverty into the workforce, rein in government overreach. There are no new taxes, no new government programs. There's a lot more within the bill. We still have more work to do tonight to finish all the writing of it.


HOLMES: President Joe Biden praised the deal but acknowledged that it won't please everyone. He said this, "The agreement represents a compromise which means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing."

He went on to say, this agreement is good news for the American people because it prevents what could have been a catastrophic default and would have led to an economic recession. Retirement accounts devastated and millions of jobs lost."

As we said, there is a long way to go and there are potential for road bumps and dissent along the way. But McCarthy says the House is expected to vote on the agreement this Wednesday. CNN's Manu Raju now with more on what the legislation will likely include and why there could be opposition from both sides.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After a furious round of negotiations, and staring at the prospects of the first ever debt default in American history, the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy reached a deal late Saturday with President Biden to raise the national debt limit and do that for two years' time. And also, to include a range of other spending cuts and other policy concessions that Republicans have demanded, including paring back some social safety net programs that had been central to their efforts here.

But the White House conceded on that at those accounts, they ultimately shook hands, reached an agreement in principle. And now the real challenge begins because there is pushback. Some conservatives do not believe this bill went far enough. They believe that is a retreat of sorts from the Republican position, demanding even deeper spending cuts. This proposal would cut spending for -- go back to 2023 levels of federal spending.

Republicans wanted to go back, some of the conservatives wanted to go back to 2022 levels. But the White House had conceded substantially on that approach. They did not want any cuts whatsoever as part of this agreement. On the Democratic side, many did not want any sort of work requirements on social safety net programs like food stamps. Also, they had furiously opposed any spending cuts, and so expect some opposition from Democrats.

So Kevin McCarthy speaking to reporters, in the immediate aftermath of this deal, said that a vote would occur on Wednesday, then the bill text would be released on Sunday. That gives them some 72 hours essentially to begin to lock down the votes. A question is going to be, how many Republicans will defect? We do expect several dozen Republicans. At least 35 at the moment, warning they will vote against it. That number is expected to grow.

But how many more will vote against his plan? And Kevin McCarthy keep a majority of his conference behind it. That is the hope and the expectation at the moment from Republican leaders. But that does not mean that's enough to pass the House. They will need to get support from Democrats and the number of House Democrats who are concerned about this bill will have to be convinced to vote for it.

We do know that the House Democrats are going to get briefed by White House officials on Sunday. They'll be part of the White House effort to try to get their members in line.


Can they get that coalition together? Get it through the House on -- by Wednesday. And then they have to worry about the United States Senate, which can take time to get any legislation through several days, sometimes up to a week, depending on how members respond to this bill. So still some major questions despite the significant agreement that was reached late after these frantic negotiations, still uncertain whether they can get there and avoid nation's first ever debt default by June 5th, the deadline for Congress to get the bill through both chambers and get it signed into law by.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

HOLMES: Now, even before a deal was reached, lawmakers had expressed concerns about what the agreement would include and how it was negotiated. Here's how two members from opposite sides of the aisle responded to the issue.


REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I think the debt ceiling is a -- it's just a creative thing to hold us into responsible end of check. But the reality is, Jim, neither party is responsible. We've got to get back to some fiscal sanity in this country. It's just that much. We cannot keep spending at these levels. Both parties need to start holding the line. We went back to pre-ending, we would have a surplus right now if we -- if we -- if we were at that level of spending.

REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): These are really difficult times right now, especially when people are using a default to push a political agenda forward. And so, people at home know the budget process is separate from this. They're combining it because they understand that they can't get through these type of cuts through the actual normal process that Congress usually takes. And so they've combined these two things. And they're saying, hey, it's my way or the highway. And that's not right. And that's not the way we're supposed to govern.


HOLMES: Let's discuss this now with Michael Genovese. He's a political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Good to see you, my friend. Both sides are going to spin. But what's your read on what little we know so far?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: You hit the nail on the head. What little we know, we're getting bits and pieces that are starting to dribble out. And we don't know the full details. And therein lies the rub. That's where we're going to have the problem because both sides want to make it look like they win. Neither side wants to look like they'd caved in.

And yet both sides have had to make some concessions. And so, the real problem is going to be when the details of the bill get exposed to the left on the Democratic Party and the right on the Republican Party. And that's where a lot of hostility we're going to -- we'll find a lot of pushback.

HOLMES: And of course, the calendar is tight. I mean, even if things went smoothly and of course, they might not. I mean, they've got to have these 72 hours to consider it. They got to drop the legislation, hopefully a House vote, I think Wednesday. And then what is a torturous process often in the Senate? I mean, it could be post June 5 territory by the time it's done.

GENOVESE: That's right. And the early euphoria that you probably felt earlier in the evening, it was a bit premature. There are a lot of hurdles that remain. And, you know, I don't want to burst anyone's bubble. But there's a long road ahead of us. Not just in the House which will be difficult because Kevin McCarthy has to show that he can -- he can deliver. He can sell the product.

And that's not a foregone conclusion. And the same was true in the Democrat right side. And so, even when it does pass the House, I think it will, the Senate is going to also be a problem because any one member can hold the entire institution hostage by filibustering. And that could take days longer. And so, it could very well be that we get past that June 5th deadline.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. I mean, there are elements of course of the GOP who are fiercely hardline. You know, I want to blow things up. How at risk is McCarthy if they're angry, given the deal he cut to get the speakership changing the rules, so it only takes one member to force a vote for the speakership. How much pressure Is he under from his hard right?

GENOVESE: This is his first big test. Can he limit defections from his own party? Can he quell the revolt on the right? And he gets in -- can he get the numbers he needs? And you mentioned that he -- it only takes one member of the House to call for a vote to have a new vote for who the speaker shall be. And so, Kevin McCarthy is always walking on eggshells or one foot on a banana peel.

And this is going to be the true test of both Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans in their ability to govern.

HOLMES: You know, going forward, I think there's a deal with White House concessions in areas they value. Does it just sort of encourage this thing going forward? Even if it's not until 2025 which it looks like it won't be? I mean, does this show economic hostage taking works where, you know, a party can threaten to send the country off a cliff, you know, affect the global financial system and get what it wants or at least a lot of what it wants?


GENOVESE: This kind of brinksmanship is dangerous. It's dangerous in American politics, but it also sends a terrible message to the globe to the rest of the world. It's not the way a stable superpower ought to behave. And if our word can't be our bond, and if people start to doubt us, wonder if we're reliable partner, wonder if we're capable of delivering on our promises. Are we steady enough to be global leaders? What this last couple of weeks has shown us is that our democracy does not inspire confidence. And that's a terrible message because if the new normal in American politics is that chaos and confusion are baked into the process, then China is going to be very happy. And American leadership is going to be in jeopardy.

HOLMES: Yes. There are already countries out there that would like the Chinese yuan to replace the dollar and this gives some ammunition to those. Michael, I really appreciate it. Good to see you, Michael Genovese. Thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: Speculation grows in Ukraine about its expected counter offensive but as when and where remain up in the air. Guns are still doing the talking on the ground. That's coming up.


HOLMES: Explosion are rattling areas on both sides of the front line in Ukraine as speculation grows about its expected counter offensive.


Officials say Kyiv came under drone attack on Sunday morning. They say more than 20 drones were shot down but debris that fell from the sky damage this building and caused fire. One person died, another was wounded. Ukraine also reported multiple blasts in the occupied cities of Mariupol and Berdiansk on Saturday, while Russian missiles and artillery hit Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.

It all happened just hours after Ukraine's top general posted a new video, which appears to drop a strong hint about the expected offensive. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: certainly a pretty remarkable video that was put forward by Ukraine's top general, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. It seems to show Ukrainian soldiers getting ready for battle and saying it's time to take back what is ours. Now, in the video, you also see is them showing a lot of Western supplied military equipment. It ranges from U.S.-supplied Howitzers to HIMARS multiple rocket launching system, but also German-supplied Leopard 2 main battle tanks which many believe are going to be a key element once the Ukrainians start a counteroffensive that has been looming for a while.

Now it's unclear whether or not this could be an indication that that counteroffensive could be on the rise and could be inching closer. But one of the things that we are seeing that there do seem to be an increased number of long-distance strikes, possibly by the Ukrainians on the rear echelon of the Russians. Now, those are focusing essentially on two places. One of them is Berdiansk on the Azov Sea and the other is Mariupol which of course is also a major port town on the Azov Sea as well.

In fact, there are reports of three explosions at least in Mariupol on Saturday. Mariupol is one of the main staging grounds for the Russian military for their operations in Ukraine. So that certainly could be a big blow to the Russians if the Ukrainians are indeed hitting that area. The Russians, for their part are saying that they have intercepted some Ukrainian drones and some Ukrainian missiles as well.

They were also talking about intercepting to Storm Shadow missiles, which of course were supplied by the United Kingdom. It's unclear whether or not that is true, but it certainly does seem as though right now, the Russians in that part of Ukraine seem to be under a considerable amount of pressure.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN Kyiv.

HOLMES: Ukraine's intelligence agency says it has gained valuable information from a recent cross-border raid into Russia. Two Russian military groups opposed to the Kremlin claimed responsibility for the incursion into the Belgorod region earlier this week. But now, Russia says the same region took artillery fire on Saturday which struck two large enterprises. At least one of them caught on fire. A local governor says one person was killed, several injured in the attack.

Investigators from the International Criminal Court have arrived at the site of a Russian rocket strike and to Dnipro. Ukraine says a medical facility was obliterated in Friday's deadly attack which France is calling a war crime. Here's Sam Kiley.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here on the scene at the latest of the Russian airstrikes here in Dnipro, we've now got investigators from the International Criminal Court escorted by Ukrainian police. This is because among other governments, the French have said that what was done here was a war crime. Now this is the latest in the attacks against civilian areas here in Dnipro.

And if you look at the scale of the devastation, this was a outpatient mental health clinic. It was hit at 10:30 in the morning, yesterday morning. At a time mercifully local authorities say when the numbers of people were actually relatively low because they were between shifts of medical staff. Nonetheless, two people confirmed dead. They have also found the remains of a possible third victim. They're being analyzed in the wreckage here.

One person was killed at least 100 meters up the road by the flying shrapnel that flew out from this very significant missile strike. Local authorities don't know what was fired. But they do in their view know, in their view believed that this was an act of terror in the words of President Zelenskyy. Clearly the international investigators are trying to establish the details of that. But because it was hit against a medical facility in a residential area, it is likely that war crimes investigators will use this and other examples like it in a very specific argument to establish the broader context of the commission of war crimes here by Russia.

Sam Kiley, CNN in Dnipro.


HOLMES: Well, the polls are now officially open in Turkey's presidential runoff election. Let's see some live pictures here of people voting right now in Istanbul. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu after failing to get the 50 percent plus one votes needed to win outright in the first round two weeks ago. Turnout was strong in that vote, nearly 90 percent of those who were eligible did cast a ballot.

Now voters will decide Erdogan's fate in Turkey's first presidential runoff. And Turkey is facing a number of challenges intensified by the recent earthquake which killed tens of thousands of people. The winner of the runoff vote will impact Turkey's role in NATO and its relationship with the European Union. Also, Turkey's migration policy and its role in the Ukraine conflict.

Now for our international viewers, to be sure to watch our special live coverage of the 2023 Turkey elections hosted by Becky Anderson. That's here on CNN International, Sunday at 8:00 in the evening in Ankara, 9:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi.

Well, Sudan's ceasefire expected to expire on Monday. At least one side said it is ready to discuss extending it. Sudan's paramilitary rapid support forces says it is closely monitoring the ceasefire and will assess the Sudanese Armed Forces' commitment to it. The two warring sides negotiated a seven-day ceasefire in Saudi Arabia just over a week ago. It was meant to enable aid groups to deliver humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped or displaced by the fighting.

That help is coming. The United Nations World Food Programme says it has started providing food to suffering civilians in the capital Khartoum. Much of the fighting there has been in urban neighborhoods. The WFP says a half million civilians are stuck in the capital and need food aid right now.

Governments sandals authority figures are frequently subjects of comedy and satire around the world. In many Western countries that often comes with the job that in China. Authorities are showing that comedy that goes against the party line is no joke. Will Ripley with the story.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTENATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a flashy, open, live audience and opening monologue, this Chinese comedy show almost looks like late night T.V. in the U.S. until you turn up the volume.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping's speech, the country is the people.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The jokes are communist party propaganda, punctuated by silly sound effects. Parroted back with studio audience that almost resembles after-school detention. A faith far worse than detention awaits comedians who may be tempted to push party rules as China exercises very tight control over comedy shows.

Li Haoshi known by a stage name House, was doing a skit about stray dog chasing a squirrel earlier this month. He said they reminded him of eight words, a popular party slogan for the People's Liberation Army.

LI HAOSHI, STAND-UP COMEDIAN (text): Fine style of work, capable of winning battles.

RIPLEY (voice-over): That joke and those eight words landed House in the doghouse. A 2021 law bans insults on the Chinese military. House is now under police investigation in Beijing, suspended indefinitely. Plus, a massive $2 million fine on his former employer. A fledgling industry now in danger. All that, after the comedian posted a public apology, promising to deeply reflect and reeducate himself.

House joins a growing list of comedians canceled in China for jokes that run afoul of the authorities. Some even made outside of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text): What will happen if this gets published on the internet. They say then you won't be able to return home.

RIPLEY (voice-over): In February, comedian Chi Zi joked about not being able to go home after he told jokes critical of the Chinese Communist Party on his Canadian tour. His name erased from most Chinese social media.

The rules more relaxed for comedians in Hong Kong. In the Chinese territory, you won't go to jail for jokes like this, at least not yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text): People asked me what's the deal with China and Taiwan. I said it's actually really simple, like China and Taiwan would be like a -- say I would ask a girl, like this girl, and then she rejected me, she said no, and then I still went around telling everyone she's my girlfriend.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Standup comedians say self-censorship is already silencing sensitive jokes.

GARRON CHIU, STAND-UP COMEDIAN IN HONG KONG: We say like, you know, the first comedian to go to jail for telling a political joke is going to be a hero, and none of us want to be that hero.


It is tougher because comedy for some is a form of rebellion, and there is now a less way to rebel.

TAMBY CHAN, STAND-UP COMEDIAN IN HONG KONG: We're still playing to a different audience except it's not the people in the room. It's people who run this place.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Across the Pacific, the contrast is clear.

ROY WOOD, JR., COMEDIAN: Meanwhile in America, we have an 80-year-old man begging us for four more years of work. Begging. Begging.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Chinese may not be allowed to mock their own leaders, but just like an America, mocking the U.S. president is fair game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never mind. Don't worry about --


RIPLEY: There certainly are a lot of Biden jokes on Chinese social media, much of its state-sponsored relations between China and the U.S. have hit a half a century low. And what analysts say when a country is losing influence, particularly important influence with the West, what do they do? Well, they tighten their grip on power at home. And that's what people say is happening.

This entertainment crackdown where performers reportedly according the New York Times, have to submit scripts at setlist ahead of time and have this patriotic alignment with the Communist Party vision. This is basically a small group of people, most of them male, most of them over 60 who are basically deciding for themselves what it means to be Chinese. Everybody else if they don't conform, they're canceled.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. Inside Africa is next. For our international viewers, for viewers here in the United States and Canada, I'll be back with more news after a break.



HOLMES: Just days before the U.S. government was expected to run out of cash and set off a global economic calamity, President Joe Biden and Republican House leaders say that in principle, they have a deal. But now, both sides are racing to secure votes in the Republican- controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate to approve the agreement. A source telling CNN, the President and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finalize the deal during a phone call just a few hours ago.

Negotiators are said to be working on the final tax right now, which would go to a vote in the House of Representatives next week, probably Wednesday. It reportedly includes raising the government's borrowing authority for two years, but also reportedly freezes increases in most non-defense spending for the same period. Mr. Biden calling the agreement a compromise, McCarthy's calling it a deal worthy of the American people.

The President also stress that because it is a compromise in his words, not everyone gets what they want. CNN White House Reporter Priscilla Alvarez with the story.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House and House Republicans have reached an agreement in principle on the debt ceiling. This, the outcome of 24 hours of tireless talks between Hill negotiators and White House negotiators as they came up against that June 5th deadline when the U.S. would run out of funds and in an attempt to avert a debt default. Now over the course of the day, a White House official said there was general optimism about the trajectory of these talks. I'm echoing what President Biden had said on Friday on his way to Camp David that a deal was "very close." But a pivotal moment came early Saturday or Saturday afternoon, when President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy connected over the phone.

And that, we are told, is when they were able to reach an agreement on -- in principle. Now, of course, over the next several hours, both sides will be working on the text of this agreement and the devil will be in the details. That is where Republicans as well as Democrats will learn more about what exactly this agreement looks like. And they're up against a very tight deadline. Not only was it -- important for both sides to reach an agreement, but then too, it is what this legislative text will say showing that to members of Congress.

And then later a vote on the House floor and then it has to go through the Senate. So, a long road ahead for what amounts to a very short amount of time. But at least on Saturday, an important development as President Biden, the White House reached that agreement with House Republicans. Allowing them to move forward and try to avert a debt default on June 5th.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, the White House,

HOLMES: The tentative deal was reached over the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, just days before the Treasury Department said the U.S. risk defaulting on what it owes. A default which has never happened in U.S. history would have a global economic impact. Earlier in the week, Fitch Ratings placed U.S. sovereign credit on ratings watch negative ahead of a potential downgrade in the event of a default.

Catherine Rampell is a CNN Economics and Political commentator. She's also a Washington Post opinion columnist. What a long day. There's still not much detail even though the spin has already begun. But how much relief will there be in the markets? Not just the U.S. but the global economy as well.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there will be quite a bit of relief in the markets that at least the outlines of a deal seem to be in place. Now, we're not out of the woods yet. Whatever this deal is, and we don't know the details, of course, has to be turned into legislation. And then it has to make it through both houses of Congress and that may indeed be a hurdle going forward because a number of Republican lawmakers have indicated that they might try to obstruct it.

And Democrats as well might be unhappy with the final bill. But if in fact, progress has been made, yes, this should be a huge relief to anyone who was concerned that the United States might soon be unable to pay its bills.

HOLMES: Yes. And almost certainly it wasn't planned, but it's probably a good thing. It's on a long holiday weekend. The markets aren't open until Tuesday. Do you think though, even with a deal and as you say, we don't know exactly what it is. But regardless that all of this would have caused more erosion of international trust in the U.S. with, you know, a debt ceiling system that leads to this sort of uncertainty, going close to the edge again.


Does it just make the U.S. look less of a safe bet? What's the damage?

RAMPELL: I think nothing good came of this, frankly. Nothing good for our long-term fiscal picture, despite what Republican lawmakers who have been holding the debt limit hostage argue. And nothing good for our international relationships. Look, if we avoid default, that will unequivocally be a good thing. But in the meantime, there's been a lot of dysfunction that has been clear for the global economy our friends and foes to witness.

That, in fact, other countries, some of our adversaries have already taken advantage of by saying, look, you know, you can't trust those -- that so-called democracy in the United States, they can't get their act together to even pay their bills. So yes, would be a very good thing, if we, in fact, don't cause a global financial crisis. But we did not exactly cover ourselves in glory here in the United States by coming as close as we have. And again, it's still not totally resolved.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. For those who might want to turn away from the U.S. dollar, it's just ammunition. I guess, when it comes to what we do know that spending it appears will be capped at 2023 levels through 2024. Holding spending flat isn't a cap really. Is that a win for the President? And also, the fact that debt ceiling won't come up again, it appears until after the 2024 election.

I mean, I'm trying to imagine the ransom demands in an election year. Are both of those things wins for the President?

RAMPELL: Well, I think the devil is in the details on the actual spending levels. So, if in fact, spending levels are kept flat, not adjusting for inflation and Republicans are fighting to increase defense spending, then that would imply that there have to be cuts somewhere else to offset that increased defense spending. But I don't exactly know what the accounting is yet. Maybe they -- again, we have very few details.

Maybe they mean spending is flat for all the non-defense stuff. But in any event, yes, there could very well be some cuts to some programs that come out of this, depending on the actual details of the agreement. I think it is definitely a good thing that we are extending the -- or suspending it sounds like the debt limit for the next couple of years. My view is we should get rid of it altogether.

HOLMES: Yes, yes.

RAMPELL: Since it causes nothing but headaches and heartburn. But at the very least, it's a good thing that this is not coming up again next year because next year, obviously, it's an election year in the United States. And as irrational as everyone has behaved in the negotiations this year, you can just imagine how many more theatrics you would get if everybody's watching the poll numbers, if people -- if politicians are paying more attention to how their posturing around the debt limit plays for the election, as opposed to the global economy and whatever other policy goals that you're trying to aim for.

So, a very good thing that this is not going to be a political football next year.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Yes. You can just imagine. Does a deal with White House concessions in areas they value, just encourage this sort of thing going forward, even if it's not until 2025? I mean, does this show, you know, that economic hostage taking works where one party can threaten to send the country off an economic click and rock the global financial system and get what it wants or at least a lot of what it wants? I mean, what does that show?

RAMPELL: That was certainly the lesson from 2011. So, viewers may recall that there was another debt limit showdown in 2011, where the United States came very close to default. Ultimately, last minute came to a deal. Biden, then vice president now president, was in charge of some of the negotiations at that time. And one of the lessons that they learned from that episode was that if you pay a ransom, you encourage more hostage taking.

And in fact, a couple of years later, in 2013, there was another attempt to hold the debt limit hostage. It didn't get quite as bad that year as it had the previous couple of years. But I think that's part -- that whole experience is part of the reason why now President Biden had been adamant. We're not going to negotiate over this. There is -- should be no question about whether United States will pay its bills.

In fact, it's in the Constitution, that the public -- the validity of public debt should not be questioned. We're not going to negotiate over that. Obviously, ultimately, he did. And I do wonder to what extent this is going to encourage more brinksmanship if not next year, in 2025 or thereafter.

HOLMES: Yes. Catherine, so good to have you on this and thanks for staying up. Appreciate it. Catherine Rampell.

RAMPELL: Thank you.


HOLMES: Still to come on the program. Air travel in the U.S. sees a significant surge going into a major holiday weekend. We'll have the details after the break.


HOLMES: Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest level since the pandemic this week as millions of Americans take to the skies for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Transportation Security Administration says it screened more than 2.7 million travelers at airports across the country Friday. The highest checkpoint volume since November 2019. The agency says it expects to screen more than 10 million people during the holiday weekend.

And millions of Americans are hitting the roads as we hear from Mike Valerio. Lower prices at the pump mean near record levels of traffic this weekend.

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not only are we above the busiest freeway here in Los Angeles, this is also the busiest interstate across the United States. And as we zoom in you can see this is the traffic that is headed towards the beach, towards the Pacific Ocean. And as we look at this busiest section of freeway. The Automobile Association of America anticipates that we will just about reach but not cross over a record a number of Americans traveling for Memorial Day weekend on the road.


So, this is the number right here. Just over 37 million Americans but it does not exceed the number of Americans who traveled Memorial Day 2019 before the pandemic. Analysts tell us that could be because of inflation and still relatively high-gas prices. But AAA did give some advice for people who are about to begin their automotive journeys. Listen to what they told us.


DOUG SHUPE, AAA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Definitely inspect that vehicle before you take that long road trip. Check your tire tread and inflation. Make sure your battery has a good charge. Make sure your fluid levels are topped off. During this Memorial Day weekend, AAA anticipates coming to the roadside rescue of more than 460,000 stranded drivers.


VALERIO: And in terms of the cost of fuel, the cost of gasoline, those prices aren't coming down from where we were last year. We had prices that were about $4.60 a year ago. The national average for around this Memorial Day weekend is $3.58. So, prices are relatively high in terms of historical terms, but they are coming down. Prices coming down especially here in California, the states of Alaska, New Jersey, New York and Florida.

We did speak to analysts from GasBuddy and they tell us that it is less and less likely by the day that the national average for gasoline across the United States will cross over $4.00 a gallon. So that is certainly good news for anybody. Any American who was planning their great road trip for the summer of 2023.

Mike Valerio, CNN, Los Angeles.

HOLMES: Now, in a stunning development, Republican lawmakers in the Texas House have voted overwhelmingly to impeach one of their own. The state's Republican attorney general. The vote against Ken Paxton was 121 to 23. As Rosa Flores reports for us now, it comes after a legislative investigation accused him of years of corruption. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives and under the Texas Constitution. That means that he's immediately suspended and that the governor of Texas has the power to appoint a replacement. But let me start by taking you inside the Texas House for this historic vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of All members voted. There have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present not voting, three absent. The resolution is adopted.


FLORES: This is a case of Republicans policing Republicans in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, Republicans lead the House and the chairman of the committee that investigated Ken Paxton is also a Republican and he issued this statement after the vote saying in part, "Throughout the course of the investigation, we discovered numerous activities that constitute unethical and potentially criminal conduct. These violations of the public trust are alarming and show a systemic pattern of behavior that every member of our committee felt needed to be addressed in a public forum."

Now, this vote is already historic because Ken Paxton is the first attorney general in the state of Texas to ever be impeached. Now, there was another bombshell during the hours-long debate leading up to this historic vote. And that was when several members said in open forum that members of the House had received calls from Ken Paxton threatening them that if they voted yes, there would be political consequences.

There was concern about their so much so that one of the House members took to Twitter saying in part, "I will be submitting a journal statement to amend charge documents to include abuse of power, intimidation of House members and Senate jury tampering in light of Charlie Geren statements that A.G. Paxton called and threatened House and Senate members."

Now I asked Paxton's office about this and I did not hear back. But Ken Paxton did take to Twitter in response to his impeachment, saying in part, "I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is an -- is illegal, unethical and profoundly unjust. I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just."

So what happens in the Texas House, what we know is that the Lieutenant Governor serves as judge, the 31 senators serve as jurors and that a two-third's vote of those senators who are present is required to convict.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Houston.

HOLMES: And we'll be right back.



HOLMES: The mayor of New York City has asked a judge to suspend portions of the city's so-called right to shelter law, which requires officials to house homeless people. Eric Adams says the city is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants being bused to the state from the southern border. CNN's Polo Sandoval with details.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amid the ongoing migrant crisis, New York City officials are continuing their search for new spaces to offer housing for the asylum seekers that continue to arrive in New York City. But they're also taking an unprecedented legal step asking for court to grant them some relief. Suspending a portion of its long- standing Right to Shelter law. It's been in place for decades.

And at its core, it basically requires New York City to offer homeless individuals shelter space. So, what we recently saw here is New York City petitioning for relief of some of those provisions citing an unprecedented demand for housing. City officials arguing that when this law came to be, that it did not contemplate a scenario that it's currently happening in which hundreds of asylum seekers without a home are arriving in New York City.

So, as you're about to hear from the chief counsel to the mayor's office, this move is not according to them. Not to shut the door in the face of migrants and other homeless individuals, but instead to provide some flexibility long term.


BRENDAN MCGUIRE, CHIEF COUNSELOR TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR ERIC ADAMS: It's to have that flexibility. Do we -- do we want to necessarily exercise that in every case in every way, whatever it may be? Not necessarily. So, it's an effort to be responsible here to secure some flexibility now.


SANDOVAL: It's after this petition was filed. We have heard from some critics who are worried that if the city is able to successfully secure an order from the court providing some relief from various provisions of this Right to Shelter law that it could allow the city an opportunity to skirt around its responsibilities to provide resources like housing to homeless individuals. But the city maintains that they are afraid that the system will basically buckle under its own weight as we continue to see new arrivals.


As one deputy mayor put it recently, they don't see an end in sight to the migrant crisis here in New York.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

HOLMES: And finally, it was a big night in Cannes for French film director Justine Triet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Palme d'Or 2023 goes to Justine Triet.

HOLMES: Triet is the third woman to get the Palme d'Or. She won for Anatomy of a Fall. She directed the tense courtroom drama about a writer accused of murdering her husband. Triet used her acceptance speech to slam the Macron government over how it raised the retirement age in France.


JUSTINE TRIET, DIRECTOR, ANATOMY OF A FALL (through translator): This year, the country was gripped by a historic extremely powerful and unanimous protest against the pension reform. This protest has been denied and repressed in a shocking way. And this pattern of dominating power of unabashed power is bursting out across several spheres.


HOLMES: Triet joins New Zealand's Jane Campion and France's Julia Ducournau as the only women to win the Palme d'Or. This year at Cannes they were actually a record seven women competing for the top prize.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Don't go anywhere. My colleague Laila Harrak continues our coverage after a break.