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Congress Has 19 Days To Avert Government Shutdown; Trump Threatens To Indict Future Political Opponents; Today: Nation Observes 22nd Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks; NM Declares Public Health Emergency Over Gun Violence; Gun Rights Organization Sue NM Gov. Over Gun Violence Order. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: The House is back in session this week after a six-week recess and lawmakers are staring down a looming government shutdown. The date to watch is September 30th, fewer than three weeks from now.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is following the latest on Capitol Hill. The clock is ticking. We can hear it all the way from Capitol Hill down the street to where we are. And Speaker McCarthy once again is facing a big test, isn't he?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, a big test indeed. And perhaps his biggest test since he secured that speaker's gavel back in January. And now on the topic of spending, Kevin McCarthy wants to move a short-term bill to keep the government's lights on until around November. He does not want to include Ukraine money. He will include disaster aid, but he's trying to appease conservatives who are opposed to any more money to Ukraine.

But Dana, it's becoming clear that that is not going to be enough to get members of his right on board with a short-term spending bill. They want a number of demands that McCarthy is either unlikely or unable to give them from defunding the DOJ, to impeach Biden, to tightening border security and hardliners are also warning McCarthy against working with Democrats to fund the government.

Chip Roy is one of those members who's really digging in for a fight. Let's take a listen to what he told reporters a little bit ago.


REP. CHIP ROY (R), TEXAS: I can't just sit here and rubber stamp the status quo. Leadership knows that. It's game time and we got to get something done for the people who sent us here. Senate Republicans need to understand that we have an obligation to do what we campaign on. Well, we're heading into a shutdown in October if you guys don't stand up and fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZANONA: Now, looming over it all, our threats to McCarthy's speakership, those became louder over the weekend from Congressman Matt Gaetz. But McCarthy's allies say that he has navigated tricky political headwinds before but they still acknowledge it is going to be a difficult month of governing for Speaker Kevin McCarthy ahead, Dana.

BASH: That is an understatement. Mel, thank you so much for that reporting.

And joining me now is Ohio Republican Congressman David Joyce, who chairs the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. Thank you so much for joining me.

I want to start by what Chip Roy just said in Melanie's report there. He is one of several of your Republican colleagues who seem OK with the notion of a shutdown. You heard him there saying they can't rubber stamp the status quo. He told political -- yes, there might be blowback on a shutdown, but I don't give a damn, what's your response?

REP. DAVID JOYCE (R), OHIO: Thanks for having me on, Dana, and especially on a day like today, where we remember those people who were murdered by terrorists and the brave first responders who follow them, and did the best they could.

Look, I hear that all the time, you know, and I got to remember that, if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Roy was the chief of staff for Ted Cruz when they urged us into that shutdown in '13. And you know, that one so well. So I think you're in '13, '18, '19, we've had these shutdowns, you haven't accomplished a hell of a lot.

And when people tell me that they want to just shut the country down, all right, I'll walk with you a little bit. But tell me what the end result is. Tell me how you're going to change the outcome here. When the Senate is controlled by Democrat and the President is a Democrat. I mean, it was as crazy as saying that you were going to defund Obamacare, and the Senate was going to pass it and President Obama is going to sign it.

But, you know, the other thing is, being on Homeland Security, a lot of things that they're asking for, there in our funding bill. And the idea you're going to defund the Homeland Security completely, because you want to change what's taking place at the border, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense here.

BASH: How are you going to convince them -- saying now? These are your fellow Republicans.

JOYCE: Well, take my bill just for a second. Sure. Take my bill, if you will, Homeland Security. All the things that they're asking for in HR2 we're funding in our bill. You go through it line by line. I mean, the last time we had a conference, even Majority Leader Scalise spoke up and said, hey, if you guys would actually read Joyce's bill, it's a great bill. It accomplishes all the things that you're asking for.

But, you know, that doesn't get you on TV every day. And that kind of rhetoric is good for, you know, winding up the crowds in your hometown. But as far as making our government function and making it work for the American people, it doesn't make any sense.

I believe what we need to do is continue down the road of passing our 12 appropriation spending bills and then being able to get in conference with the Senate. And ours are going to be much lower when the Senate numbers are, but at least be able to get into that negotiation with a good faith starting point.

BASH: Do you think you're going to have time to pass all 12 spending bills in the next three weeks?

JOYCE: Oh, you know me better than that, Dana. I'm a realist. I think we can get some done. You know, I think we can get if we're going to start off with Defense and Homeland and SVAPS (ph) and some others --


JOYCE: -- to start off and we're going to get to the end of the month and we're probably going to need some type of short-term continuing resolution in order to get of the rest of them. But at least we'll show American people in good faith that given the opportunity, this are -- this is the product and this is how we want to lead the country.


BASH: At the center of all of this, of course, Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He's struggling to manage your caucus, your conference, which is quite divided. You have not only members saying that they want to cut spending and they're OK with a shutdown if that's the case. There are also those who say we're not going to vote for the spending bill unless there is an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

Given all of that, that's on his plate and more, do you think that Kevin McCarthy sees a path to a deal to negotiate from within and among Republicans?

JOYCE: Look, Speaker McCarthy's done a tremendous job since day one. Speaker McCarthy stays focused on the issues. The people wanted to have regular order. Regular order is when you do single items at a time. So the idea that now all of a sudden people want to lump all this into some magic potion that's going to change the way things move in the House isn't right either.

We said we were going to let committees do their work and committee right now in Oversight and Judiciary doing the work on the impeachment inquiry. And when they come down and want to make a case for why they think it should move forward, that would be the time to do it. Not lumping it wholesale into something where we need to get the spending done.

BASH: You hear Matt Gaetz escalating his threats against McCarthy. He tweeted that he would actually work with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell to rid the House of ineffective leadership. Is that an empty threat or a real one? JOYCE: Well, I understand Representative Gaetz has some issue with the speaker because he thinks somehow that might help him with his ethics matter. I'm on ethics, I'm not going to get into it but I could tell you one thing in my two terms now of being on there.

Speaker McCarthy has never spoke to me once about any case, and he certainly is going to continue to treat every member the same. And Gaetz doesn't like his treatment. Well, he's a gang of one.

BASH: I want to ask you about former President Donald Trump, who is well on his way, it looks like, to being your party's presidential nominee. We have a lot of time, but he certainly is well ahead in the polls. I want you to hear something he said on Friday about exacting revenge for the indictments he's facing.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But remember, it's a Democrat charging his opponent. Nobody's ever seen anything like it. That means that if I win and somebody wants to run against me, I call my attorney general. I say, listen, indict him. Well, he hasn't done anything wrong that we know. I don't know, indict him on income tax evasion. You'll figure it out.


BASH: What's your reaction to that?

JOYCE: Well, look, as we all know, President Trump says a lot of things that aren't based in reality. And as a former prosecutor, I have complete faith in the system and that these cases have gone before grand juries, and the grand juries have assessed them and produced indictments based upon the facts, the evidence, and the law that exists in the state or the federal jurisdiction in which these cases were brought forward.

And I think those cases should run their course. In the meantime, I think that we have a lot of great candidates out there. It's still early in the season, and I think we have time for the American people to be able to cast their votes accordingly.

BASH: Congressman, we are, as you mentioned at the beginning of this interview, speaking on the anniversary of 9/11. I wanted to highlight a moment from that day lawmakers from both parties gathered on the steps of the Capitol. I was there. It was quite something. Let's listen to a snippet of it.




BASH: What goes through your mind, sir, looking back at that moment, with all the division and polarization we're facing today? JOYCE: I wish we could be like that every single day. Unfortunately, tragedies in America bring everybody together. But, you know, I've always been of the belief that while we might run with a red jersey or a blue jersey on, when you get there, it's time to shed those and put on red, white, and blue jerseys and do what's right for our country.

And I'd like to think a lot of the people on both sides agree in the same way. It's unfortunate, but a few noisy ones that want to go their own way continue to grab the media. But I think, given the opportunity in Speaker McCarthy leading us --

BASH: Yes.

JOYCE: -- that we'll be able to get to a point where we'll help to bring some of that back.

BASH: Well, we are grateful that you have the megaphone today in the media, so to speak, to follow your illusion there and appreciate you coming on today.

JOYCE: Thank you very much for having me.

BASH: More on Inside Politics after a quick break.



BASH: On this 22nd anniversary of September 11, we remember the lives lost and reflect on the 20-year war that followed, a conflict that ended with one of the most defining moments of the Biden presidency, the deadly and highly criticized withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Frank Foer is back with us. He is the author of the new book, The Latest -- excuse me, "The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future". He's also a staff writer for The Atlantic.

This book is excellent.



BASH: I highly recommend it, well, for lots of reasons. One of which is that it is the anniversary of 9/11, also it's such a compelling section of your book talking about what happened, the departure in Afghanistan. One of the things you talk about is a moment in the situation room when the military went back in to help Americans go out and there was an attack at the Abbey Gate.

General Frank McKenzie said, "There weren't any reports of U.S. casualties, but that was just the foggy aftermath of an explosion, when intelligence is at its most imprecise. Everyone wanted to believe that the U.S. had escaped unscathed, but everyone had too much experience to believe that. McKenzie kept muting and then returning with updates as he confirmed the room's suspicions of American deaths.

Biden hung his head and quietly absorbed the reports. As the nature of the catastrophe became clearer, he urged his generals to exact retribution. You have all the authority you need".

FOER: Foreign policy is something that's usually conducted in a very abstract way in the situation room. But for 30 days in August, as they were withdrawing and as things started to turn chaotic, it became this very emotional thing.

The President became very deeply involved in the weeds. He had maps of Kabul spread in front of him, trying to find evacuation routes to the airport for fleeing refugees. There were cases he became specifically entangled with, and there were buses that were trying to get from a hotel to the airport, and he would ask about them all the time.

And then there was that moment that you just described when everything went sideways, when everybody knew there was this huge risk that we were taking by organizing this evacuation effort, where we were leaving our troops exposed. And then the worst happened.

BASH: And since then, you can see the line of Biden's approval. It dropped.

FOER: Yes.

BASH: And it never recovered. You see it there.

FOER: Right. So the first six months of the president's administration was this performance of rolling out the vaccine, passing the rescue plan, passing the infrastructure bill through the Senate. And he was riding so high.

He was on the brink of getting Build Back Better, this massive expansion of the social safety net through. And then Afghanistan happens, and it's just his approval rating has never recovered, and he wasn't able to get the full version of his Build Back Better bill through.

BASH: Back on Afghanistan, it was fascinating to read new details of what Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, was doing behind the scenes, trying to get women out of Afghanistan, you called it the -- she called it the kill list.

FOER: Right.

BASH: Somebody from the state department faxed her this list of women, and then she was making calls, maybe annoying some people, but ultimately successful.

FOER: Yes, no. So she did something kind of extraordinary in the run up to the crisis. She saw that the administration wasn't organizing a full born humanitarian evacuation of the women on the kill list that she was waving about.

And so her NGOs affiliated with Hillary Clinton started to procure safe houses in Kabul, work with military contractors to try to extract women. And then in the middle of the crisis itself, she was calling foreign governments to arrange flights for the women and then places for them to go after the fact.

BASH: Extraordinary. And they called them the white scarves. I encourage everybody to read this book. It reads like it's some kind of movie script and it was reality. And it is reality. Terrific.

Thank you so much for joining me, Frank.

FOER: Thank you.

BASH: And coming up, did New Mexico's Democratic governor go too far with a new emergency order on guns? Perhaps, surprisingly, some prominent gun control advocates are saying she did.



BASH: A controversial decision by New Mexico's governor is making for some strange Second Amendment bed fellows. Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham declared gun violence a public health emergency after a burst of deadly shootings and she imposed new restrictions on carrying guns in public.

Now activists on both sides of the gun issue are pushing back. On Twitter, gun control activists David Hogg and California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu both denounced the governor's action, which Republican Senator Ted Cruz retweeted, calling it unconstitutional. Gun rights advocates are now suing.

CNN's Nick Watt is following all this. The tale of two Teds that is -- describes how strange this is, the reaction.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean a controversial action by the governor and then this strange reaction where we see two state Republican representatives calling for the governor's impeachment and Ted Lieu and David Hogg joining them in saying that what the governor has done is unconstitutional.

Now she says that this action was spurred by the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball game in Albuquerque midweek last week. Plus, the deaths of two other kids in gun-related incidents and a couple of mass shootings early in the summer in New Mexico.

The governor says know there is something very wrong when people of her state are scared to be in crowds, scared to go to school, scared to leave a baseball game. So that is why she has enacted this fairly extraordinary measure, basically banning concealed and all carrying permits basically in Albuquerque and the surrounding county because she said there are too many gun crimes and there are too many E.R. visits as a result of gun injuries.

[12:55:17] The pushback is not just political, it is legal. A number of lawsuits have been filed. One of them filed by the National Association for Gun Rights, says, listen, the state's going to have to prove that what they are trying to do is in keeping with the traditions of gun regulation in this country. And they say that is impossible for the state to meet this burden because there is no such historical tradition. Dana?

BASH: Very interesting that the governor is trying to do this. At the very least, restarting this conversation, keeping it very much in the spotlight.

Nick, thank you so much. Good to see you.

And thank you for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.