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Government Shutdown Averted, Rep. Gaetz To Oust Speaker McCarthy; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Interviewed About Speaker McCarthy's Possible Ouster And The Averted Shutdown; Rep. Bob Good (R- VA) Is Interviewed About Speaker McCarthy's Possible Ouster; Biden Vows Ukraine Support; Kaiser Permanente Employees Prepare For Three- Day Strike; Taylor Swift Expected At Chiefs-Jets Game. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 01, 2023 - 17:00   ET




JASON CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER'S GRANDSON: She is in a joyous place, and he is worried about her or she's worried about him, but they're living out these days the way they've lived everything else, which is in this incredible partnership. And both with the security and this understanding that they have each other, which has been so fundamental to who they are and all that they've accomplished forever, and it remains that way today.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Beautiful. Well, Happy Birthday, Mr. President. And thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Frederika Whitfield. The CNN Newsroom continues with Jim Acosta right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening. Up on Capitol Hill, a shutdown is averted, but a showdown is looming. While there was a rare show of bipartisan cooperation, Republican dysfunction in the House is ramping up this week. MAGA hardliners, they are expected to try to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position. They're outraged over his deal with Democrats to keep the government funded.

And from Capitol Hill to the White House, we're following all the latest developments and fallout from yesterday's dramatic turn of events with CNN's Melanie Zanona. She's on set with me here in Washington. And Arlette Saenz is over at the White House. Arlette, let me go to you first. President Biden came out and spoke on this deal today, and he commented on the ugly politics of it all, I guess sensing that there is a large measure of disgust across the country on the part of the American people after all of this. What was his message?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHOTE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, President Biden said it's good news that a government shutdown was averted, but said it is time for Congress to get to work so they don't avoid or have a repeat of the same scenario when this next funding deadline in about 45 days approaches. Now, the White House had really maintained this hands-off approach when it came to negotiations.

But what you saw the White House tried to do is exert this external pressure on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and that is something that President Biden repeated again today when he called on McCarthy and House Republicans to adhere to those budget agreements that they had come to a deal on back in the spring as they averted that debt default.

But one thing that the president did do is talk about how the American public is tired of the brinksmanship that has been occurring up on Capitol Hill and that Congress needs to avert a quote, manufactured crisis another time.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm sick and tired of the brinksmanship. And so are the American people. There's no excuse for another crisis. Consequently, I strongly urge my Republican friends in Congress not to wait. Don't waste time as you did all summer. Pass a year-long budget agreement. Honor the deal we made a few months ago.


SAENZ: Now, in addition to getting and securing an additional funding agreement for a longer period of time, the president is also facing the challenge of securing more aid for Ukraine. That was something that was dropped from this bill that was passed yesterday amid some opposition amongst hardline Republicans. The president said that time is running short for this aid to be given to Ukraine, and you also heard from him trying to assure allies that the aid would be there even though there is not yet a path forward set out for providing further aid to Ukraine.

ACOSTA: Yeah, that's going to be a big battle ahead. All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you very much, over at the White House. And meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is now facing the wrath of his own party after working with Democrats to avert a showdown or shutdown I should say. Fellow Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz says he plans to seek McCarthy's removal from his speakership. CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona is here to explain.

Melanie, I mean, this -- it's uncertain how this is going to proceed, but it sounds like Matt Gaetz is going to make good on this threat. That this process is going to start and Republicans are going to house -- and the House are going to find themselves smack dab in the middle of another one of these bouts of infighting.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, right, in the middle of the GOP civil war.


ZANONA: Look, with Gates, he wants to win. He does not want to use this threat and have it failed because then it becomes a paper tiger. So, he has been trying to reach out to Democrats to see where they're going to fall on this issue. He's trying to get hardline conservatives behind him. It really comes down to how many Republicans are with him on this and what do Democrats do? Because they could potentially step in and throw him a lifeline.

Now, based on the conversations I've had with Democrats, most of them are not wanting to save Kevin McCarthy, all right, because they don't trust him, they don't like that he launched an impeachment inquiry, but there is a scenario where potentially some of the moderate Democrats step in and vote present or vote to table, which would essentially reject the effort. But Matt Gaetz was asked about where his votes were and what happens if Democrats are the ones to bail out McCarthy. I want to take a listen to what he said.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Here's the thing, I'm done owning Kevin McCarthy, right? We made a deal at the end of January or in January to allow him to assume the speakership, and I'm not owning him anymore because he doesn't tell the truth.


And so, if Democrats want to own Kevin McCarthy by bailing him out, I can't stop them, but then he'll be their speaker, not mine. But this isn't personal, Jake.


GAETZ: This is about spending. This is about the deal Kevin McCarthy made.


ZANONA: So, you can hear Gaetz in that moment right there, really setting it up. So, if he wins, obviously he gets what he wants, which is ousting McCarthy. And then if he fails, he's going to be now framing this as this is the Democratic speaker who needed Democrats to support him. So, he is setting himself up for the likelihood that this could ultimately fail on the floor.

ACOSTA: Yeah, I mean, but it sounds like we're in the hallways of a high school. I've done owning Kevin McCarthy, I mean, this is the kind of language that Matt Gaetz is using. Does he really think he's going to be able to pull enough people on his direction to oust McCarthy from his speakership? I mean, he has to know this is a numbers game as well.

ZANONA: He knows that. Speaker Kevin McCarthy knows that. And that is why his camp is pretty confident that he's going to be able to beat this just like he did back in January. Yes, it took 15 grueling rounds of votes to get there, but they did. And that's because no other person in the Republican conference can get to 18 at this point. There's no clear alternative. There's no one behind the scenes trying to whip votes. And that is the challenge for Gaetz and these hardliners.

And Kevin McCarthy was on earlier today and here's what he had to say about it.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, I'll survive. You know, this is personal with Matt. Matt voted against the most conservative ability to protect our border, secure our border. He's more interested in securing T.V. interviews than doing something. He wanted to push us into a shutdown, even threatening his own district with all the military people there who would not be paid, only because he wants to take this motion. So be it, bring it on, let's get over with it, and let's start governing. If he's upset because he tried to push us into a shutdown, and I made sure government didn't shut down, then let's have that fight.


ZANONA: Yet, you could really cut the tension between those two with the knife. I mean, no love lost between them. They've had this tense relationship for a long time and this is a fight that has been brewing for weeks if not months and both sides are ready for the showdown.

ACOSTA: All right. Melanie Zanona, thank you very much. And we know you have some other reporting on Ukraine and well get to that later on the program, but Melanie, thank you very much. Let's continue this discussion right now. Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Congresswoman, I have two people here on the set with me to start off the show. This is an embarrassment of riches. It's terrific.

Let me ask you this. I mean, if it -- jumping off of what Melanie was talking about a few moments ago, if it comes down to Democrats having to save Kevin McCarthy and keep him in his job as House Speaker, what's going to happen? Will you vote for that? Are Democrats going to vote for that?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Jim, if there's anything that is certain after Kevin McCarthy broke his word about the debt ceiling deal in the spring, after putting a bill on the floor that would have had 30 percent cuts that a million seniors would have gone without nutrition, 250,000 children, would have lost their child care, what -- you can definitely conclude is that the American people will be done owning the Republican Party and having Republicans lead the House of Representatives.

We have to make sure that we can govern and govern responsibly and giving the Republicans any power, which is the only thing that Kevin McCarthy and Republicans care about, that's very evident, that would be irresponsible on our part. So, I'm going to make a decision based on knowing that I have to be able to effectively represent my constituents and make sure we can take care of them and the Republicans could care less about that.

ACOSTA: And I guess I wonder if McCarthy was trying to send a message to Democrats on the other side of the aisle by embracing this compromise at the 11th hour yesterday, maybe sweeten the pot a little bit for Democrats to maybe butter things up a little bit, perhaps. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Let's be very clear.

ACOSTA: That's not going to work.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The reason that we didn't shut the government down is because Democrats are the responsible adults in the room. You know, we have always been there, all the way through this process, to make sure that we didn't crash our economy into a cliff by blowing the debt ceiling, that we made sure we didn't crash the economy by, you know, causing a government shutdown. We're not going to have irresponsible cuts. That wasn't a CR. It was, you know, a Republican giveaway to MAGA extremists.

And on top of that, Kevin McCarthy is pursuing an impeachment of President Biden with no evidence. Their own witnesses this week acknowledged that there's no impeachment warranted because there is no evidence. This is not a person who should be given the keys to making the major decisions that affect millions of people's lives.

ACOSTA: And I mean this measure that was passed yesterday in the House and Senate signed by the president only keeps the government running for 45 days. Might we find ourselves in this place in 45 days?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I mean if nothing changes, then yes. We have 45 days to go right to the brink again. We can't end up there. We have a debt ceiling deal. It had top lines that the majority of Congress and President Biden agreed to.


That's where we need to start with, and that's the kind of work that we need to do over the next six weeks.

ACOSTA: And are you confident the Ukraine aid will be passed in some way, shape or form between now and the end of the year? I mean, that is something that the president has said he wants to see passed at some point, but in order to get this measure passed yesterday, it was stripped out. What's your sense of it?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The majority of the House and Senate support continuing aid to Ukraine. You can't let a dangerous tyrant like Putin crash through a sovereign nation, try to take it over. It jeopardizes our national security, the national security of our allies. And what Kevin McCarthy needs to do is make sure he puts a bill on the floor and lets all of the members vote, and that's how we'll send that bill to the president.

ACOSTA: And I want to ask you about some of that took place earlier this afternoon. Congressman Dean Phillips announced he's stepping down from House leadership. He says that there are some differences between himself and House leadership over his position that President Biden should have a Democratic challenger for the 2024 Democratic nomination. What is your sense of that? What do you make of that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I mean, I think Dean realized, and I'm a member of the House Democratic leadership as well, I think Dean realized that, you know, he prudently needed to step down from elected leadership, given that he is really out of step with the majority of the Democratic caucus, because we know that Joe Biden has made sure that we could pull ourselves out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were able to pass significant infrastructure legislation, reduce prescription drug costs, the accomplishments that he's had in bringing down inflation and continuing to move our economy forward and creating a record number of jobs. If we have a member of the elected leadership that doesn't align with that, then it made sense for him to step aside.

ACOSTA: Was Phillips asked to step aside? Was it suggested to him that he shouldn't be in the leadership?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In the readings that I've been in with Dean with the leadership, he was taking steps towards realizing on his own that this was something that it was incongruous for him to remain in elected Democratic leadership because, you know, he feels so strongly about this. But I have tremendous respect for him. He's a dear friend of mine. We fight side by side on so many issues, including the U.S.- Israel relationship and fighting against anti-Semitism. And he'll continue to do a great job representing his constituents, which is what he should continue to do.

ACOSTA: Sure. And last question. Your Democratic colleague, Jamaal Bowman, pulling the fire alarm. He has now said that this was a mistake. He's come out with a couple of different statements trying to explain what happened here. What do you make of this? Do you buy his excuse for what took place here? Does there need to be an investigation?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I mean, I take Congressman Bowman at his word that he was confused and was trying to get out the door. I'll tell you, the doors that are in Cannon (ph) are in a circular room in the Cannon Rotunda. That's where my office is too, and it can get a little confusing when you're trying to get out which direction you should go.

But the hypocrisy of the Republicans who are willing and voted against expelling George Santos, who is a criminal and a liar, but they want to -- they immediately leap to expulsion for someone who pulled a fire alarm, I think accidentally. I mean, please, this shows you that they are in such chaos and disarray and have no agenda, and they brought our economy and our country to the brink of government shutdown.

Of course, they're going to distract by suggesting we should expel someone who accidentally tripped the fire alarm in one of our office buildings. By the way, wasn't the building where our actual vote was taking place.

ACOSTA: Yeah, I mean, and the other thing is if there was a thought that he was trying to delay things, I don't understand why he would think that because --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's a different building.

ACOSTA: Well, and also, Democrats wanted to see this get passed, so. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right.

ACOSTA: Yeah. I mean, that's the thing I don't understand from his explanation and all of this. It just doesn't.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: He -- I will tell you, if you go in that -- anyone should take a walk into the Cannon Rotunda. There are three or four doors. It is confusing which one is the one. There's one door that you can go out. If you're in a hurry, I could see that his explanation is plausible. If they want to investigate it further, that's what they should do.

But for Republicans to leap to expulsion and they -- and actually vote which they did not to expel one of their own members who's a criminal and a liar and misrepresented everything about himself to his own constituents during the election, the hypocrisy is rich.

ACOSTA: Okay. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you very much. Appreciate it.


ACOSTA: And thanks for coming in in person.


ACOSTA: Come back anytime. All right. Still ahead, Kevin McCarthy's message to those trying to kick him out as House Speaker. He's saying, quote, bring it on. Do the Republicans who want to oust him have the votes? That's a key question that we'll have for a Republican member of Congress coming up next, You're live in the CNN Newsroom.

Plus, a nation on strike. A look at the impact of what would be the largest ever health care strike in the U.S. That's coming up as well. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Could Kevin McCarthy's days as Speaker of the House be numbered? Joining us now to talk about this is Republican Congressman Bob Good of Virginia. He's a member of the House Freedom Caucus, who also serves on the House Budget Committee. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us. Let's get right to it. What are your thoughts? Are you going to support Matt Gaetz's effort to remove McCarthy as Speaker? Could that play out this week?

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Well, I will just say that what we saw happen yesterday was a repeat of past failures by Republican leadership. And frankly, that's what January was about. What I most spoke about back in January during the speaker contest is that we couldn't do what we've done the last 10, 15 years when Republicans had the majority, which was to pass major spending bills with the predominant majority of Democrat votes. And that's what happened yesterday. And I urged my Republican colleagues, all 220 of my colleagues, along

with the speaker, that we cannot fear a government shutdown to the degree that we will do anything to avoid a government shutdown. And frankly, that's what yesterday was. Yesterday was a capitulation where we did an unconditional 45-day continuing resolution.


Keeping in place all of the Biden, Pelosi and Schumer policies that are literally destroying the country, bankrupting the country with $200 billion monthly deficit. And so, it was a failure yesterday. It was a failure of leadership. We should be buckling down and passing our spending bills and not kicking the can down the road. We should not have relieved the pressure unnecessarily.

And the only reason we passed the four spending bills that we did, and I'll remind you, Jim, the Senate has passed no spending bills. The House has done four, but Speaker McCarthy committed we would do all 15 and that we would also vote on a balanced budget this year and we've done neither one of those.

ACOSTA: So, do you want him out?

GOOD: Well, I was concerned about him as speaker. As you know, I was well on record on that during January because of the failures of the past. This is a repeat of those failures. And what I'm focused on at the moment is trying to put pressure on to actually pass our bills. I'm glad we're coming back this week. Let's see if we have the commitment to cut back to pre-COVID level spending out of the House as he committed in January, as we voted to do that as a House majority in April.

That's simply trying to cut a $100 billion on an annual basis when we're running a $2 trillion deficit and implement our Republican conservative policies that were reversed to harm the Democrats are doing to the country.

ACOSTA: I guess, but I guess -- so I guess you just haven't made up your mind yet or what? It's not -- you've been a critic of Kevin McCarthy for some time now. Why not say you're linking arms with Matt Gaetz and you're ready to oust him as speaker?

GOOD: Well, this isn't about personalities or individuals. This is about doing what's right by the country. And what's right by the country is to cut our spending, reverse the policies that are destroying the country under the Biden, Pelosi and Schumer policies from last year's omnibus. And what my fear is, Jim, that we're going to have another CR at the end of this 45 days, go into an omnibus, betray the trust the American people placed in us a year ago and let them down once again.

So that's what I'm focused on. I won't get into the hypotheticals about what might happen, what someone -- what another member may or may not do, but I will say this was a failure of Republican leadership and the American people cannot afford that. We can't be passing these spending bills trying to get Democrat votes. We ought to be negotiating with strength to the Senate by trying to

stare them down and force them to cut spending instead of just capitulating because we're afraid of the discomfort temporarily of a government shutdown when the American people have to live with for years to come, the harm that we do if we don't cut our spending and we keep these policies in place.

ACOSTA: Is there somebody else you might be interested in as speaker?

GOOD: Well, we will cross that bridge if we get to it and -- but right now what I'm trying to do is influence my colleagues to do the right thing for the American people and we'll see what happens from there.

ACOSTA: And so, you don't think the Speaker deserves any credit for keeping the government open? You wanted to shut down?

GOOD: I do not. Absolutely not.

ACOSTA: You wanted to shut down.

GOOD: No, I didn't want to shut down. What I wanted was for us to do our job and pass all 15 of our bills out of the House. We could have done it in June. We could have done it in July. We could have done it in August. And the reason we didn't do it is the Speaker did not lead. He did not cast a vision and lead the conference to send a strong bill, a series of bills, I should say, to the Senate that cut our spending, reversed the harmful policies, and then you go into conference committee and you negotiate between the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans.

We failed to do that. We went home back to our districts in an August recess with only having passed one bill. We forced the Speaker, quite frankly, to pass three more bills when we got back last week, but we should have passed all of them. But what I will tell you, Jim, is we shouldn't have kicked (ph) the can down the road to avoid the discomfort of a shutdown to harm the American people by perpetuating the policies and the spending that's crushing them.

That's why we have record inflation. That's why we've got grocery prices and housing prices and utility prices and gas prices because of the policies in place. We can't let them down by failing.

ACOSTA: Well, let me ask you this. You know, you and your Republican colleagues and quite frankly many of your colleagues in the Freedom Caucus took the nation to the brink of a government shutdown and in the end, you didn't get what you wanted. What did you accomplish?

GOOD: Well, I reject that the Freedom Caucus or my conservative colleagues did that. The Speaker did that because he failed to lead the conference in passing our bills. He agreed in order to become Speaker.

ACOSTA: So, I guess what -- it sounds like you're making the case -- it sounds like you're making a case for his removal.

GOOD: -- and he failed to do that. That's why we didn't pass our bills.

ACOSTA: But I guess my point is, you seem to be making the case for his removal as speaker, but you're not going to the, I guess, to the position at this point that he should be removed as speaker.

GOOD: Speaker McCarthy fought through 15 votes to become Speaker. I would like him to bring that same intensity to fight to cut our spending. I've seen Speaker McCarthy angry twice since I've been in Congress in two and a half years, and both times he was dropping F bombs and talking tough in conference meetings because his speakership was threatened.


I'd like to see that tough talk and that anger and that intensity, that willingness to fight directed at Democrats in the Senate, directed at the White House, directed at the border invasion, directed at the spending that's destroying the country, directed at the harm that's being done to our military, directed at the weaponized government against its citizens, the tyranny that's going on. That's where I'd like to see the intensity to fight.

ACOSTA: But let me ask you this. Well, it sounds like the Speaker just doesn't line up with your positions on all of those things because he was willing to cut a deal with the Democrats to avoid a shutdown. So, it sounds like he's not your guy. I guess I just don't understand why not just come out and say it.

GOOD: I'll repeat again. That kind of performance is why I voted against him 14 times during the speaker battle. And this is a failure that directs back or validates the concern that we had back in January.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you this. You said that Americans should stand against what you called Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Are you concerned that leaving out aid for Ukraine in this funding bill is a win for Putin? Were you disappointed in that?

GOOD: Jim, everything that we do as a House must be looked through the lens of a $200 billion monthly deficit and $33 trillion in national debt that's bankrupt in the country. Should we be borrowing to send more after we've sent $113 billion to Ukraine? Should we be borrowing from our kids and our grandkids to do that? What is the direct national security interest for the United States?

ACOSTA: So, you're okay with cutting ---

GOOD: Where's the accountability for the front that's already consent? And where's the plan and the strategy for the limit of the U.S.'s involvement? What's the exit strategy? What's the long-term solution?

ACOSTA: Let me ask you this. I know -- let me ask you this"

GOOD: (Inaudible) over NATO and Europe and start (ph) the war.

ACOSTA: But do I have that incorrect that -- so you're saying you're okay with funding for Ukraine being cut out and for that to cease, to stop? Is that correct?

GOOD: I have not voted for more money to go to Ukraine. That's correct.

ACOSTA: You have not. And what do you think Putin will do if the funding for Ukraine comes to a screeching halt? Will that embolden him?

GOOD: To your point -- to your point when you started the question on this subject, you know, I condemn the ruthless, brutal attack. I certainly hope that Ukraine does prevail. But I do believe that Russia has been exposed as not the tiger that we thought they were, but perhaps more of a paper tiger in the sense that they've been decimated, they've been exposed, they've been weakened. I think Putin has been weakened.

ACOSTA: But wouldn't you be bailing him out? Wouldn't you be bailing Putin out if you were to stop - wouldn't it be bailing Putin out if you were to stop sending money to Ukraine though?

GOOD: Well, I don't think this is

ACOSTA: -- around the ropes, why cutoff the money?

GOOD: -- I don't think it's a United States war. Jim, we have weakened our own military. We've diminished our own effectiveness, our own readiness. We've got a president and a military leadership that thinks the greatest threat to the country is the climate war. They've literally told that to the troops.

They think the second greatest priority is fighting racism in the military. They bungled Afghanistan. They've depleted our military readiness and effectiveness. We're told that we can't win a war with China right now. Why would we send more precious resources, weapons and so forth over to Ukraine for our own military --

ACOSTA: But let me ask you this. If you give the green light to Putin by cutting aid to Ukraine and Putin is able to take Ukraine, doesn't he face the temptation and perhaps will act on that temptation of going into a NATO country, going to Poland, something like that? Won't that cost more money in the long run and potentially commit men and women of the United States military to that?

GOOD: -- it's difficult to, you know, predict exactly what will happen. But I don't, again, I'll repeat again. I don't see what the direct national security interest is the United States. I don't see why we should be the ones that are funding this war as opposed to NATO at large and Europe. I don't -- we don't have any plan or strategy. We voted in the House to require at least, this was a couple of months ago, a plan or a strategy for any more funds to go to Ukraine.

And that was voted down. Just give them more money. Let's don't have a kind of a plan or strategy for that or any accountability for how the funds have already been used over there.

ACOSTA: All right, Congressman Bob Good, thank you very much for your time. We never really got an answer on McCarthy. One last chance. Should he stay or should he go?

GOOD: Well, I'm focused on us doing our job for the American people and if that takes place, we will see what happens.

ACOSTA: All right Congressman, thanks very much. Appreciate it. We'll be right back.

GOOD: Thank you.



ACOSTA: President Biden is calling on Republicans to keep their word on future aid to Ukraine after it was dropped from the short-term spending bill that narrowly avoided a government shutdown. Speaking from the White House earlier today, the president vowed support to Ukraine will continue.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to assure our American allies and the American people and the people of Ukraine that you can count on our support. We will not walk away. The vast majority of both parties, I'll say it again, Democrats and Republicans, Senate and House, support helping Ukraine. Stop playing games. Get this done.


ACOSTA: CNN's Fred Pleitgen is near the front lines in eastern Ukraine. I want to warn you, some of the images in his report may be graphic. Fred?


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jim Bullock (ph). The Ukrainians rely heavily on U.S. security assistance to maintain their position on the battlefield, of course, also to try and move forward as well. We see that in pretty much every facet.

It starts with rifles and also larger guns, goes all the way through artillery, especially ammunition as well. But then, of course, all the way also to surface-to-air missile systems. So, there really isn't any other country that could take the U.S.'s place.

And the other thing is that it could also have a chilling effect if the U.S. decides not to continue security assistance for Ukraine. A lot of other countries giving Ukraine a lot of security assistance, giving Ukraine weapons because the U.S. is doing the same thing.


At the same time, the Ukrainians are saying, look, they understand that all this is expensive for many countries, but they say they are the ones who are paying in blood. We were with one soldier from the Ukrainians who lost a leg stepping on the landmine but is now back on the battlefield.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): It was a race against time after Danilo stepped on a landmine while on a mission behind enemy lines.

DANILO, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): The mine blew me up and my brothers carried me for seven and a half kilometers. They gave me first aid and carried me.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): They saved his life, but his injuries were catastrophic.

DANILO (through translator): One leg was gone, it was blown away, and the other one was hanging, all broken.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But that isn't holding Danilo back. He's hiding his face for safety reasons, but his story is remarkable. After the incident, he recovered, traveled all the way to Mexico to get an artificial limb, learned to walk again, and is now back on the battlefield.

DANILO (Through translator): I can't just sit at home and just watch what's happening. In a country under attack, every man has to stand up from the couch and defend his home. I have to do it, and I'm good at it.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): He's contributing to Ukraine's massive counteroffensive in the south where Kiev says its forces have been making increasing progress. Danilo right on the front lines.

DANILO (through translator): I'm in charge of mortar, grenade launcher, and anti-tank squads. The platoon commander and I choose the right positions, targets and plan the operations.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Russian minefields and artillery are still causing a lot of casualties on the Ukrainian side. And while Kiev won't disclose exact numbers, they acknowledge the going is tough.

Combat medics gave us this video showing the trauma they deal with every day. Medic Vlad tells me sometimes they simply can't save their comrades limbs or even their lives because the wounds are too severe.

VLAD, COMBAT MEDIC, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES (Through translator): We had around 10 cases where the limb was traumatically amputated, and there was no chance to save it. Compared to the number of people in the brigade, it is not much, but it is a terrible sacrifice.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): A fact of life that changed Danilo's life but he has adapted, learning to move and fight effectively even though his artificial limb limits his mobility.

DANILO (through translator): We don't have a choice. We can't lose this war. This counteroffensive can't fail. We don't have this right. We are defending our home. It is victory or death for us.


PLEITGEN: So, as you can see there, Jim, it's victory or death for us, he says. That's one of the things that we keep hearing from soldiers here on the ground who understand the political situation in the U.S. But they say with or without American help, they are going to have to keep fighting this war. Jim?


ACOSTA: All right. Our Fred Pleitgen in Eastern Ukraine for us. Thank you very much. Days from now, thousands of health care workers could walk off the job. What do those workers want? We'll discuss that next when the "CNN Newsroom" continues.



ACOSTA: The largest health care strike in U.S. history could begin this week. A coalition of eight unions representing 75,000 employees of Kaiser Permanente say they didn't reach a deal with the company before a deadline last night. If a strike happens, they join what has been a busy few months of labor strikes that has been called the Hot Labor Summer.

From the ongoing actor strike to the unprecedented and expanding autoworker strike, CNN's Camila Bernal joins us now. Camila, this could be a pretty big impact coming from this strike.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, because we're talking about 75,000 workers, and a thing that I'm hearing over and over again from a number of union members is that they really want to address the shortage of workers. They say they're doing the jobs of multiple people, they're tired both mentally and physically after the pandemic, and they say they need more people working alongside them in order to help patients.

It's sort of a domino effect because if you don't have enough people at the hospitals, it's really the patients who are suffering because you may have to wait a lot longer just if you're waiting for a regular appointment or whether you're waiting for something like an x-ray.

But I also heard, look, you may have to be waiting longer to get an appointment like a mammogram, and that's where the problems really get serious because you may be missing a cancer or catching it too late.

And so, it could be extremely serious, more than just having to wait a little longer at the hospital, and a lot of these workers say something needs to be done. Here is one of those union members.


MIRIAM DE LA PAZ, WARD CLERK, UNION MEMBER: It's not okay to have to do the job of two or three people at a time. So now you can imagine how hard it is and the toll that it takes on us, health care workers, especially with our lives, our families. It's not easy having to deal with that kind of stress at work and then still having to bring it home to our families.


BERNAL: So, in addition to the shortage of workers, here are some of the things that they're asking for across the board raises. They're asking for job protections against outstanding -- outsourcing, excuse me. They want better medical benefits for retirees and they want longer notice for workers returning to the office.

And the thing is that this is a coalition of eight different unions. So, it affects people all over the country, both on the West Coast, including the state of California where I am right now, but also on the East Coast. We are talking D.C. and Virginia. So, really everyone impacted here and Kaiser saying that they're working on it but prepared in case there is a strike, Jim.

ACOSTA: And Camila, we also mentioned the actor strike in California. Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would allow striking workers -- that would have allowed striking workers to collect unemployment checks while they're on the picket lines.


Can you tell us more about that?

BERNAL: Yeah, it may seem surprising because, of course, this is a state that supports a lot of these workers and even Gavin Newsom saying that he respects and really is there for the workers that decide to go on strike. But why he said he vetoed this bill? He says he doesn't want to add to the debt that California already has specifically the federal unemployment benefits debt, and that debt right now in the state of California is about $20 billion. So, he doesn't want to get into further debt, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Camila Bernal, thank you very much for that report. We appreciate it.

Still ahead, when football and entertainment collide, we're also talking about Taylor Swift, of course, attending another football game this afternoon and this evening. Why my next guest says all the hype could end badly. We'll talk about that next. You're live in "CNN Newsroom."



ACOSTA: The hottest ticket in sports right now might just be any NFL game involving the Kansas City Chiefs. That's because pop superstar Taylor Swift might be there as the Chiefs are taking on the Jets tonight in New York. It's possible we'll see Taylor Swift also in the stands. Contributing writer for "The Atlantic," Devin Gordon, joins us now. He has written a piece entitled "NFL Meet Taylor Swift." And you say that this collision of sports and entertainment might not end so well. Devin, why are you trying to ruin everything?



ACOSTA: That's what I thought, yeah. You're just jealous.

GORDON: Yeah. No, this is all a long con to give my Jets some fighting chance tonight. Now, look, what interests me about this is just as soon as I heard that these two were either together in quotes or together in reality, I just kept thinking about the questions that teammates would be asked.

Andy Reid, anybody who has seen Andy Reid in their lives, the idea of him getting asked about Taylor Swift just delighted me. And so, I wanted to think that through and think through its logical conclusion, and the conclusion I reached is that these two are doomed.

ACOSTA: Yeah. Well, as a superstitious football fan, I feel like you might be jinxing your Jets tonight, but I'm just going to put that to the side for a moment, Devin. But you wrote in "The Atlantic" today the Chiefs are going to struggle.

GORDON: They're jinxed already.


That's a good point. You wrote in "The Atlantic," the Chiefs are going to struggle at times this season, and when they do, illogical or not, fans will blame the new variable -- in this case, the pop star. It's a tale as old as Yoko Ono. That is -- that's a little rough, isn't it?

GORDON: I hope we don't get to Yoko Ono levels. I'm just -- I'm just saying don't underestimate the irrationality of sports fans when their team starts losing. This gets ugly and they will either through superstition or actual theory conclude that two people who barely know each other and what may or may not be happening between them on social media is enough to derail a football season. But then again, kind of happened to Tom Brady, so maybe it's possible.

ACOSTA: It is possible and -- I mean, you're right, all of a sudden, Travis Kelce is very visible. I will say that. And we were just showing these pictures a few moments ago when they were going through the locker room or the Chief's facility. I'm not sure what it was. But, you know, they're walking together and Kelce is wearing a very interesting jacket. I'm not -- or suit. I'm not sure --


ACOSTA: -- what was going on there.


But it does.


ACOSTA: I mean, it has created a media circus. It has done that. You're right about that.

GORDON: Yeah, yeah, and it continue. It's hard to tell if the -- if the media circus is the whole point for them. I mean, she's an entertainer. He's a 33-year-old tight end who has already won two Super Bowls. He might sort of be looking for a post retirement universe. He has already hosted "Saturday Night Live." So maybe this is just, you know, two people having fun in public to boost their credentials and boost their names or maybe they're about to fall in love.

ACOSTA: I was going to say, haven't you seen that picture? And maybe it was on somebody's Instagram of them riding off into the sunset in the back, in his convertible, driving off in his convertible. Come on, it must be love.


GORDON: It must be. That's exactly how love starts on podcasts and on social media. This is where it begins in the modern age.

ACOSTA: Yeah. But I -- you know, I just wonder. You know, the NFL seems to be surprised by this pretty big response to all of this, and I guess --


ACOSTA: -- there are rumors and whatnot that she's going to be at the Jets game later tonight. I kind of wonder how long this is going to continue, you know, week after week.

GORDON: Yeah, that's one of the things -- yeah, that's one of the things that I'm sort of playing through in the piece, is if she -- if she's going to show up and we're getting all this hype about her showing up. Well, we're very early in the season. Are we going to keep doing this? Are we going to do this through week 17? And if they make the playoffs, is she going to be at the playoffs?

You know, she's a busy woman. She's got a tour. So, at some point, she's got to go back to that. So is this -- this kind of media inquisitiveness, this kind of storyline will just keep on going and going and going. And it's, you know, kind of fun and goofy now. But by late November, man, it's going to be -- just everybody is going to hate it, including Taylor and Travis, probably.

ACOSTA: We'll heck back in with you if they make it all the way to the Super Bowl. I hope you'll still be in one piece and feeling okay about things. But I'm not sure the Jets will be there, that's for sure. And any fan mail from Taylor Swift --

GORDON: You don't think?


ACOSTA: And any Taylor Swift fans who are upset with this segment, I'm sending them your way. So, please, email Devon Gordon at "The Atlantic."

GORDON: My daughter, who's 13, just wants me to get through this without saying anything mean about her.


I think I'll conclude on that.


ACOSTA: You did okay. You did okay, dad. All right, Devon Gordon, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

GORDON: Appreciate it. Thanks.

ACOSTA: It's tough being a Jets fan. It's tough. And being a Commander's fan also.

Still ahead, former President Trump speaking in Iowa as Republicans in Congress avoided government shutdown despite Trump's advice to force a closing of the federal government. We're live on the campaign trail in Iowa in the next hour. Stay with us for that. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


ACOSTA: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening.


President Biden delivering a message to Republicans up on Capitol Hill. The brinkmanship has to end.