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Inside Politics

Congress Has a Week Left to Pass Spending Bills, Avoid Shutdown; Biden, Xi Set to Meet Wednesday as U.S. Looks to Halt Downward Spiral in China Relations; Antisemitic Incidents Spike as Israel-Hamas War Rages; FED Investigating Suspicious Letters Sent to Election Offices. Aired 12:30-1pm ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Once again, Congress is preparing for a potential government shutdown. Lawmakers have one week before current funding expires, and the two chambers are headed for yet another federal funding fight. CNN's Lauren Fox is live on a very quiet Friday on Capitol Hill.

Congress has gone home for a long weekend. It is a holiday, but if there's a deadline coming up, I feel like every time this happens, I ask you this question. Where are they?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, it almost feels like they want to get down to crunch time because that kind of pressure may be the only way for them to get united. Now, Dana, we are getting our eyes all on Mike Johnson, the newly minted House Speaker, and what he's specifically going to do when it comes to the House Republican plan to fund the government. Because we simply do not know the answer to that very basic question right now one week out.

We expect that we could see legislative text tomorrow. That is because if lawmakers want to vote on Tuesday, then they need to put that text out publicly so that their members can review it for the 72-hour rule. That is a rule within the Republican conference.

But right now there are really two options that Johnson has. One of them is to do this two-step approach where some government agencies run out of money on one date, other government agencies run out of money at a later date. That is something that a lot of even Senate Republicans have said really doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is something that hardliners are pressuring Johnson to get behind.

Meanwhile, veteran appropriators have been arguing behind the scenes to the newly minted Speaker that the best path forward is to do a short-term spending bill that is as clean as possible, maybe attach something like Israel aid to it or a debt commission, send it over to the Senate and make the argument that you had some small victory, but saved that broader spending fight until January. Dana? BASH: I mean, talk about a prescription. Like, we're already going

into chaos and a prescription for chaos in a very, very sprawling federal government, trying to keep the trains running with that kind of idea. Hard to imagine that that's a workable solution. But I guess that's where we are. Lauren, thank you so much for that great reporting.

And amid a cascading conflict in the Middle East and the grinding war in Ukraine, President Biden is looking to prevent another global crisis from exploding on his watch.

For only the second time in three years, the President is set to meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping. That will happen on Wednesday. CNN's Arlette Saenz is live at the White House with details. Arlette, it's a pretty big deal?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is, Dana. And President Biden will be facing a key test as he sits down with President Xi Jinping of China next week on Wednesday in the San Francisco area. The President is looking to prevent an already fraught relationship from deteriorating even further.

Now, this meeting, as the month comes after months of negotiations and talks behind the scenes between people here at the White House and across the administration with their counterparts in China. And it's not expected that there's going to be any type of immediate or major thaw in U.S.-China relations right after this meeting.


But officials say that the fact that they are having this sit-down meeting face-to -face, that that is a positive step in the direction of this relationship. What officials are hoping is that they will be able to leave this meeting, being able to lay out the groundwork for a possible framework for how they could maintain this competitive relationship with China with part of the goal being trying to clear up any misperceptions or avoid any surprises.

Now, officials have said that the President is ready to raise a host of issues, one of those being the President wants to re-establish the military-to-military communications between the U.S. and China, which have currently been upended.

The President also is expected to discuss the conflicts in Israel and Russia at a time when the U.S. has really hoped China could take a more constructive role in those efforts. And they've also said that the President is ready to challenge President Xi Jinping on issues where they disagree, including human rights issues, as well as Taiwan and China's military aggression in the South China Sea.

Of course, this meeting is also playing out against the backdrop of tumultuous times across around the world with the conflict in Israel, as well as Ukraine. But the President is hoping that this meeting will help them inch forward to a bit more stability in the relations between the U.S. and China. BASH: Arlette, thank you so much for that. Appreciate it. And as the

Israel-Hamas war continues, anti-Semitism is happening in a very, very intense way. A tsunami is the way experts describe it. It's happening around the world and here in the U.S.

Next, we're going to speak with an Ohio congressman who recently canceled one of his town halls because he was getting threats, threats made against the Jewish community. We'll be right back.



BASH: Never again was the message last night in Germany, as it is every year on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass when Nazis murdered and terrorized Jews, destroyed their homes, shops, and synagogues.

But 85 years later, as the Israel-Hamas war rages, anti-Semitic acts are exploding around the world, including here in the U.S. Just one example, a congresswoman from Texas whose district office was vandalized over her support for Israel.

Republican Monica De La Cruz posted photos of her district office in Texas spray-painted with anti-Israel graffiti this week, and she said that the incident is under investigation by local law enforcement.

Congressman Greg Landsman of Ohio had to cancel a town hall last week over security concerns, and he joins me now. Thank you so much for being here. I just want to get you to react to the moment we're in. As I mentioned, that you had to cancel your town hall. You saw what happened to your colleague in Texas at her -- at her office, and there's so much more.

REP. GREG LANDSMAN, (D) OHIO: Yeah, I mean we're going to reschedule our town hall because it's so important for people to get together and talk and ask questions and be part of a conversation with their, you know, member of Congress but also with folks in the community. And, you know, these town halls have been so incredibly helpful as a new member of Congress to build trust and make sure we're getting, you know, good feedback and building good relationships.

The challenge, is the rhetoric is so dangerous and local law enforcement, you know, just called it you know the day before and said hey we -- our recommendation is for you to cancel, otherwise people could get hurt. And we saw, you know, a 70-year-old man beaten at a protest with a bullhorn, you know, a Jewish guy. So it's -- and -- and -- and we're seeing folks across the country in the world dealing with an enormous amount of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and it gets dangerous and it's violent. And it's so important for us to appreciate that we are in this together.

BASH: Yeah.

LANDSMAN: Particularly Jews and Muslims here and in the Middle East. BASH: You were one of 22 House Democrats to vote to censure

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for her comments about Israel. Why did you decide to do that? And have you had conversations with your colleagues who voted no?

LANDSMAN: Yeah, so I've talked to a lot of my colleagues, and including Rashida Tlaib. She and I have, you know, to be honest, wept together. You know, many times the last couple of weeks because she's an enormous amount of pain. She's Palestinian. Her grandmother lives in the West Bank. And I have an enormous amount of empathy for what she's going through. And she has an enormous amount of empathy, I believe, for what we're going through, too. And I wish the country could see more of that. I think it would be helpful for people to see more of that.

BASH: It would.

LANDSMAN: The -- the "river to the sea" piece was obviously a bridge too far for many of us because of how dangerous and violent it is. It means the annihilation of the State of Israel and the expulsion or murder of Jews living in Israel.


Now, you know, there's about 15 million Jews, 16 million Jews. They live in two countries, right? We, you know, 80% of us live either in the United States or Israel. So you're talking about an existential threat. There's nothing more terrifying than streets of people chanting "river to the sea."

BASH: Yeah.

LANDSMAN: And then for her to sort of normalize it by saying, hey, no, it's -- it's -- it's something else, is even more terrifying that this -- this is how it spirals out of control.

Now, the, you know, there are a group of Republicans on the far, far right who introduced a bill to expel Palestinians and --

BASH: Well, I want to ask you about that. It's --


BASH: Forgive me for interrupting you, but this was Ryan Zinke, Republican Congressman. Ten Republicans signed on to this, to expel certain people with Palestinian passports from the U.S. I know you have a sort of a countermeasure, why is that so important to you?

LANDSMAN: It's the same reason why I pushed back or felt like we needed to push back on "the river to the sea" language, which is to say, hey, that's not OK. Let's -- let's turn the temperature down so that more folks don't get hurt.

The same is true for this, you know, talking about expelling a group of people from the United States is un-American. It's very dangerous. It's not -- hopefully what this Congress is about. And so I want this Congress on record saying that that's not who we are. And so hopefully we will get a vote this week. And hopefully it'll be a bipartisan vote condemning what they've done here, because it's so dangerous. We don't expel people from the United States. That's not who we are. It's also as a Jew, it's so offensive. The idea that we would expel anyone from anywhere.

BASH: Yeah, well, well said. Thank you so much for coming on. It's really great to talk to you.

LANDSMAN: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: And this Sunday I investigate anti-Semitism in America on the whole story with Anderson Cooper. According to the FBI, nearly 60% of religious hate crimes were against members of the Jewish community. That's barely 2% of the population. And that was before October 7th.

Since then, threats and violence against Jews, especially on college campuses, are boiling over. I talked to one student who was assaulted.


BASH: The violence erupted when a pro-Palestinian demonstrator in the back of a pickup truck started to lighten Israeli flag on fire.

DYLAN MANN, STUDENT, TULANE UNIVERSITY: A student on the Jewish side, he ran and he tried to get back the flag to save it from being burned. There were two kids in the back of the truck. One was holding the Israeli flag and one was holding a Palestinian flag on a very large pole.

Once the Jewish student was able to achieve the flag back, he started getting bashed over the head repeatedly with that pole. And when I saw that, that's when I ran in, I was trying to just get him out of the situation.

BASH: Then Dylan was beaten and attacked by two older men. He says we're not college aged.

MANN: I was completely blindsided by a man with a megaphone who hit me very viciously over the nose, which broke my nose. I went into complete shock. I went deaf for a couple seconds. I seemed like I went blind maybe for a second.


BASH: You hear more from Dylan and many other voices. And my special report, "The Whole Story," with Anderson Cooper. It's on that show. And I try to explain not just what is happening to American Jews, but why. There's this Sunday at 9 p.m. only on CNN.

Ahead, the FBI is investigating suspicious letters possibly laced with fentanyl sent to election offices in six states. What's behind that and why? We'll talk about it, next.


BASH: Election officials across the country are on high alert today as the FBI investigates suspicious letters sent to multiple election offices. California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Georgia were all targeted and were told some letters may have been laced with fentanyl which could be lethal.

CNN's Nick Valencia is covering the story. Nick, what are you learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is really chilling stuff, Dana. And all of them seemingly connected, according to investigators, are treating all of these letters more than 12 of them sent to at least six states as if they are all connected. And hopefully, with the evidence that they have so far, they'll be able to narrow in on a suspect.

One of the elections offices that was targeted right here in Georgia, Fulton County. Fulton County has been in the news a lot lately. Of course, it is one of the sites where the former president was indicted. And it's drawn to the ire of the former president, as well as been a target of election deniers and far-right conspiracy theorists.

Of course, all of this is happening amid a backdrop of political tension, a harassment towards election officials nationwide, not just here in Georgia. And it was yesterday at a press conference that the Fulton County Commissioner, Rob Pitts, said, in his personal opinion, this may be a forerunner to what we should all be prepared for in 2024.

We could only hope, Dana, that he is wrong. Dana?


BASH: I absolutely hope that. Thank you so much, Nick. And join me on State of the Union this Sunday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is going to be joining me along with Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

I hope to see you Sunday at 9 a.m. Eastern, right on -- right here on CNN. Thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after a break.