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Inside Politics

Senate Reaches Deal On $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill; Capitol Police Chief: Dangerous As Ever To Be An Elected Official; Secretary Of State Blinken Gives Final Address Of The Year. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 22, 2022 - 12:30   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A deal has been reached. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just announcing negotiators have come to an agreement on a $1.7 trillion bill to fund the government setting up a vote on the massive spending package later today. CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean joins us now from Capitol Hill with the latest. Right down to the wire here, Jessica.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they like to take it right up to the deadline, Pamela, which is tomorrow for government funding. But here is the good news. The Senate has reached this agreement and they are moving very quickly through this process. The old saying goes up here, they can move as quickly as they want to, when they want to. And right now they want to get out of town. They want to get this done. So the state of play right now is they have eight votes left in the Senate that includes final passage of this massive spending bill.

They had really been trying to work out this agreement. They hit a big snag last night that really almost brought everything to a screeching halt. It was over a Trump era immigration policy known as Title 42. Senator Mike Lee wanting to put an amendment in there, extending that policy, that was going to be a tough vote for some centrist Democrats and could have potentially passed and then sunk it in the House.

So instead, Senators Sinema and John Tester joined together and presented a Democratic alternative to that. Both of those amendments failed, and now the Senate is working its way through this to get to final passage. Once it comes out of the Senate, Pamela, it's going to go over to the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying they hope they can get to it as early as tonight. They could stretch into tomorrow. But the bottom line is we're getting ever closer to getting this passed and avoiding any government shutdown. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. That is the good news. The bottom line. Thanks so much, Jessica Dean. Our panel is back with us today. So it looks like things are moving forward here and that it will likely get on the President's desk by Friday before the government funding runs out. Look, Republicans didn't make this necessarily easy, right? And they have their reasons. Mitch McConnell in particular, faced pushback. He's the minority leader. Here's what he had to say.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: If Senate Republicans control this chamber, we would have handled the appropriations process entirely differently from top to bottom. But given the reality of where we stand today, senators have two options this week, just two. We will either give our armed forces the resources and the certainty that they need, or we will deny it to them.


BROWN: So what do you make of what McConnell said?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Well, he faced pushback from within his own party. I mean, that's the key point here. First from Senators who want to see spending go down, but also defense spending, some of these libertarian leaning senators, but also within the House of Representatives. You see this rift starting to emerge between McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is, as we know, is trying to become speaker. You can expect that this will continue.


House Republicans believe that in the last election they were given power in the House of Representatives to stand against not only Joe Biden's agenda, but bipartisan legislation like the CHIPS bill, like the guns legislation that was made between, you know, Republican in the Senate and as well as Democrats. They believe at this point their job is to stop those sorts of things from going forward in the future.

BROWN: And tell us more about what's in, what's out, because Republicans did get several of their priorities in there.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, defense is the big one for Republicans and it is why a lot of Republicans behind the scenes, even though, yes, they want to reduce domestic spending, believe that this bill is really a good bill for the country. Now, the other things that they got, things like the Electoral Count Act. That is a huge accomplishment, a huge bipartisan accomplishment, because what it does is it really enshrines in law how it is supposed to go when you count the votes in Congress, it makes it clear that the Vice President's role is just a ceremonial one. It really enshrines that in the law.

And so that is a major accomplishment for Republicans and Democrats. There's also just a lot of other funding for Ukraine, nearly $45 billion for Ukraine through the end of September next year. So a lot of things in there, not to mention a lot of projects for back home, earmarks are back and that always helps get things across the finish line.

BROWN: Of course. What jumps out at you, Alex?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Lauren's point that Republicans actually got a lot out of this negotiation, right? It highlights the difference between a lot of Senate Republicans and a lot of House Republicans. I think we're going to be seeing a whole lot more of that again and again. It is striking to me, Pam, we hear this argument from Republicans in Congress periodically that, God, we can't put up with all this domestic spending.

That was actually not a major part of the last campaign, right, that we need to pare down these major recurring domestic expenditures or major defense expenditures. Republicans ran the last campaign on inflation and on crime and against certain elements of new spending pioneered by the Biden administration, right, stuff that was not in this bill. If we are going to have a conservative party in this country that makes a long term developed case to the American people that they just need to give up certain kinds of federal programs, certain kinds of federal projects that they currently expect and like, that is not a project that is really going on right now. It's a long term challenge for the party.

CHAMBERS: But they did see, I was going to say this as a testing ground. They got a lot of what they wanted out of it. And now Republicans feel Kevin McCarthy, he can go to the White House. Look at the confessions he was able to extract from President Biden on this one. What more can we get? They think that this was a success.

FOX: It's an end of an era, this bill, because it was negotiated between Richard Shelby as well as Patrick Leahy, they are both retiring. And so it's going to get harder to pass bills in the future on appropriations, not just because of McCarthy, perhaps, but because of the fact that there's a lot of institutional knowledge that is going to be walking out the door.


BROWN: That's an important point. I was going to ask about that. So glad you made it. Thank you all so much. Stick around because ahead, we have a CNN exclusive. I sat down with Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who spoke candidly about the increase and threats to members of Congress and the security changes at the Capitol in the wake of January 6th.


BROWN: Now to a CNN exclusive, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger is speaking out for the first time since Paul Pelosi was attacked. In the wake of that day, Chief Manger is painting a grim picture of the climate politicians are now facing.


BROWN: How would you describe the threat landscape right now against lawmakers?

CHIEF THOMAS MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: It's probably as bad as perhaps it's ever been. And certainly since I've been here, I've seen the threat landscape get more and more serious in terms of the numbers of threats against members and the types of threats, even just the things that members are dealing with when they're here, when they're at their home districts, some of the threats that they get. So it -- just the level of hate speech, the level of violence in our country directed toward political officials, government officials, it's really at a point where I think that it's as dangerous as it's ever been to be an elected official.


BROWN: Dangerous as it has ever been. That's pretty alarming, Alex.

BURNS: It sure is. It's all the more alarming because it's not terribly surprising, right, that we've heard it from members, we've heard it from candidates. That the way their families feel under siege, the threats that come in to their young staff, just abuse pouring in over the phone lines when they're featured on certain television programs or targeted on social media.

Members of the 1/6 Committee who needed to have cop car stations at the end of their driveway because of the death threats pouring in and, of course, the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband. It's incredibly dark. And Pam, you know, the thing that I think I find most sort of disquieting about the whole thing is there's no real end in sight, right, that Chief Manger can talk about what the options are for beefing up security at the Capitol or responding more assertively to individual threats against individual members. But we're looking at a bigger cultural problem here that is obviously not within the power of the Capitol Police to solve.

BROWN: Right. And sometimes members within Congress are making the problem worse.


FOX: Yes, exactly. I mean, this is really the responsibility sometimes of lawmakers to be careful about what they're saying, right? Because people are listening to them, people are looking up to them, people take cues about people that they're targeting. I think that is the scariest part of this, is that if you tell the public misinformation, then the public receives that information, starts to believe it, and it becomes really hard sometimes to undo that. I mean, I think January 6th is really the pinnacle example of that. People were fed lies about the election being stolen, and it fueled people to want to do something about it. People who went into the building that day believed that the election was stolen.

BROWN: And there are still so many Americans who believe that. I actually asked Chief Manger about January 6th and whether he has the resources to prevent another insurrection. Here's what he said.


MANGER: Right after January 6th, there were a fair number of after- action reports and inspector general reports that listed all of the things that went wrong, listed all of the failures that people determined occurred. And so it was really a checklist that we could use to as we started trying to prioritize how were going to improve things. It was a checklist that we could use to just sort of knock it off the things that we needed to do to ensure that January 6th never happened again.


BROWN: So clearly, changes have been made. They went through that checklist, but they only have so many resources. And that has always been a theme coming from Capitol Police. There is money in the omnibus for them. But, you know, he talked about how, look, in some cases, they've had to outsource and put 40 to 50 outside unarmed guards at secondary points of the Capitol to check credentials of people already in so that they can move the officers elsewhere to secure it.

CHAMBERS: I was struck by how thinly stretched they've been since January 6th. And for those of us who go in and out of the Capitol, I actually had no idea prior to your interview that those folks who were manning the doors now were not security guards at this point. And he also mentioned, I think this is really important, that they had to put so much attention on that January 6th checklist, on protecting members there, that that's partly how they got into a situation where they weren't paying as much attention to guarding their homes, guarding them when they're traveling. And that obviously came into play with the situation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

BROWN: Exactly. I think in many ways, you know, you could say it was a wakeup call because they had been so focused on protecting the perimeter that you have a situation where, according to a letter from a House committee and Chief Manger confirmed that they hadn't done an assessment on Speaker Pelosi's residence since she became speaker a second time. That really says a lot about how essentially bogged down they were.

Now, I do want to mention we don't know in 2018 what they offered in terms of security options, what they should do, whether those options were approved. There's still a lot we don't know, but it is telling.

BURNS: It certainly is. I mean the fact that we even have to have this conversation about, you know, how stretched thin the Capitol Police force is, that if we increase the size of that force by five or six times, like, sure, the Capitol would be safer, the members would be safer day to day. But then what kind of Congress would we have? What kind of ability would members have to interact with the public or with the media, right? I don't think anybody sitting at this table and almost anybody serving on the Hill wants to go back to the days of the Capitol being armed camp as it was in the days after January 6th. But, you know, there's not some kind of a bigger change in the way our culture interacts with our politics, that may just be where we end up headed.

BROWN: Right, exactly. And, you know, I asked him about what Kevin McCarthy has said, that, look, this is about management, not adding more people. He's indicated he wants the magnetometer to be taken down, that would put up. And Chief Manger basically said, look, they put it up, they can take it down. A lot of people have advice on how to do my job. He is in no easy position. FOX: Well, exactly. When you think about the fact that these members are yes, at the Capitol, you know, maybe Monday through Thursday or Monday through Friday, but then they go home and protecting someone in their district is a whole another challenge that is I do not envy him for having to try to figure out.

BROWN: And you couldn't get into specifics, but it's clear they're looking very hard on how to beef up security for members when they're in Washington, but also their residences and family members in their residences when they're not there, so really interesting analysis, thank you all.


On the heels of a massive year, secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers his closing message heading into 2023.


BROWN: As the Secretary of State enters his third year in office, Russia threatens, China looms, and Afghanistan remains a challenge. Secretary Antony Blinken just wrapped up a news conference, and CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us. So, tell us what we learned.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Pamela, the Secretary of State really wanted to hone in on the Biden administration, working to strengthen alliances over the last year to combat a number of challenges around the world. Of course, COVID, climate change, and specifically the Ukraine war, he said the Biden administration has rallied the world to support Ukraine. Just listen to what he said on that.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are with Ukraine for as long as it takes. That's the message President Biden delivered personal to President Zelenskyy when he hosted him at the White House. It's a commitment backed up by robust and enthusiastic bipartisan support in Congress, which was on full display last night.



ATWOOD: Now, I asked the Secretary of State, however, if he believes that the United States and Ukraine can get on the same page when it comes to an end state for this war, because he has said that the Biden is focused on helping Ukraine get to a point where it regains its territory since February 24th, those February 24th lines. And we heard from President Zelenskyy yesterday that the focus really is sovereignty for all of Ukrainian territory.

The secretary said that, generally speaking, the U.S. and Ukraine have the same goals. He really didn't get into specifics around that end state, but he said that the United States, its partners and allies in the G7 and Ukraine are having those discussions. Pam? BROWN: All right, Kylie Atwood, thanks so much. And thank you for joining Inside Politics. Ana Cabrera picks up after this break.