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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI); Interview With Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL); Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 01, 2023 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Crisis averted: a surprise deal to stave off a government shut down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.
TAPPER: But after the House speaker makes a deal with Democrats, will Republican hard-liners try to oust him?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Bring it.
TAPPER: The Republican leading that charge, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, is here. And then Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez will join me.
Plus: upping the ante. Former President Trump ramps up his violent rhetoric.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.
TAPPER: But as more former aides warn he's unfit for office, does he have the GOP nomination all sewn up? Our political panel will discuss.
And trailblazer. An outpouring of affection for the late Senator Dianne Feinstein.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): She left on her own terms.
TAPPER: What you might not have known about her when her friend House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi joins me ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is open for at least 45 more days.
Today, our service men and women do not have to worry about missing any paychecks, TSA agents too. National parks remain open after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy caught almost everyone off guard Saturday with a plan to work with House Democrats to keep the U.S. government open without demanding any of the spending cuts hard-line House Republicans had been demanding just one day earlier, as Republicans are trying to collect themselves after stepping on rake after rake this week.
And Democrats are taking a victory lap after what was, by any objective measure, an embarrassing week for the House GOP. The end result buys McCarthy a little more time to settle a raging disagreement within his conference over spending and, more to the point, over his leadership.
But his gambit could also put his job on the line, as a handful of hard-liners consider whether to follow through on their threat to oust McCarthy from the speakership for working with Democrats to pass a clean spending bill.
TAPPER: And joining me now is the man leading that charge against Speaker McCarthy, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida.
Thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
So, you have been threatening to topple McCarthy, issue a motion to vacate the speakership, if he worked with Democrats to fund the government with a clean C.R., a clean government spending bill, which is exactly what he did on Friday and Saturday.
The House gavels back in tomorrow at noon. Are you going to make a motion to vacate?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Speaker McCarthy made an agreement with House conservatives in January. And, since then, he has been in brazen, repeated material breach of that agreement.
This agreement that he made with Democrats to really blow past a lot of the spending guardrails we had set up is a last straw. And then, overnight, I learned that Kevin McCarthy had a secret deal with Democrats on Ukraine.
So, as he was baiting Republicans to vote for a continuing resolution without Ukraine money, saying that we were going to jam the Senate on Ukraine, he then turns around and makes a secret deal.
Now, I know you and I probably have different views on U.S. involvement in Ukraine, but however you think about that question, it should be subject to open review analysis and not some backroom deal.
So, I do intend...
TAPPER: So, motion to vacate tomorrow?
GAETZ: I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week.
TAPPER: This week.
GAETZ: I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.
Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. He lied to Biden. He lied to House conservatives. He had appropriators marking to a different number altogether. And the reason we were backed up against the shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It's a feature.
Kevin McCarthy's goal was to make multiple contradictory promises, to delay everything, back us up against shutdown politics, and, at the end of the day, blow past the spending guardrails he had agreed to.
TAPPER: So, how many Republicans do you think will be with you in your motion to vacate?
Because, obviously, for people at home who don't know, you need 218 votes to get him out of the speakership. You don't have 218 Republican votes. You're going to need Democrats.
Let's start with the Republicans. How many Republicans do you have?
GAETZ: Well, enough so that, when you host this show next week, if Kevin McCarthy is still the speaker of the House, he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats. He will be working for the Democrats.
The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out. Now, they probably will.
I actually think that, when you believe in nothing, as Kevin McCarthy does, everything's negotiable. And I think he will cut a deal with the Democrats.
But let's be -- let's be honest here, though, because, if you succeed in vacating him, you also will have to make a deal with the Democrats. You also will have to get Democratic votes to kick him out.
GAETZ: Well, absolutely, I will make no deal with Democrats and concede no terms to them.
I actually think Democrats should vote against Speaker McCarthy for free. I don't think I should have to deal them anything.
TAPPER: Oh, so you're not going to cut any deals with them?
GAETZ: Absolutely not. And I don't think that any Republicans that share my view on Speaker McCarthy would cut deals with Democrats.
But here's the thing. I'm done owning Kevin McCarthy, right? We made a deal at the end of Jan -- 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 him. But then he will be their speaker, not mine.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about what's just happened this last week, the government shutdown, because, obviously, as you know, you have made a lot of enemies this last week.
A lot of people -- I'm talking about House Republicans. I'm not talking about Democrats or the media. I'm talking about House Republicans. They're pretty angry. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Unfortunately, a handful of people, and, in particular, a party of one, Matt Gaetz, have chosen to put his own agenda, his own personal agenda, above all else. He's not a conservative Republican. He's a charlatan.
REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): They killed the most conservative position we could take and then called themselves the real conservatives, which is, like, make that make sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, the conservative "Wall Street Journal" editorial board wrote an editorial about what you're doing called "A Government Shutdown For Dummies."
And among the criticisms, they said -- quote -- "The real goal of the malcontent seems to be to topple Mr. McCarthy for personal spite. It's also pointlessly stupid, with failure foreordained. Their constituents wanted conservative policies, but the Gaetz Republicans are playing personal games."
What do you say to these conservatives, these Republicans?
GAETZ: Well, I think what's really stupid is sitting atop a $33 trillion debt, facing $2.2 trillion annual deficits, while the world is de-dollarizing.
Just in August, you saw the BRICS system that is moving away from the dollar add six new countries, including Gulf monarchies, including even some of the G20 economies in our own hemisphere.
TAPPER: So, people at home, that's -- a BRIC is Brazil, Russia, India, China.
GAETZ: Yes. Yes.
And they are moving away from the dollar. You're seeing the African Union move away from the dollar. "U.S. News" just last month said that de-dollarization was the economic trend of our day.
And so some people try to make policy disagreements personal because their own policy failures are so personally embarrassing.
GAETZ: But this isn't personal, Jake.
GAETZ: This is about spending. This is about the deal Kevin McCarthy made.
If Kevin McCarthy didn't want to keep the deal to return to pre-COVID spending, if he didn't want to keep the deal to have single-subject spending bills, not vote for government spending all up or down at once, then he shouldn't have made that deal.
So, this is about keeping Kevin McCarthy to his word. It's not about any personal animus or...
TAPPER: So, let -- but let's talk about this, because Speaker McCarthy argues that he had a bill on Friday that would have put forward less spending than what actually has now become the law for the next 45 days.
That would have gone to the Senate. The Senate would have voted for their own bill. And then, in a conference committee, there would have been a negotiation. And what would have become the law of the land for the next 45 days would have been less spending than what actually is now the bill.
Take a listen to Speaker McCarthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: And, look, I welcome those 21 back in, and we would get a better and more conservative bill if they would simply vote with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Their argument is, your point about debt and deficit spending, which is not an inaccurate point, was actually harmed by the stunt, by the temper tantrum of the government shutdown.
GAETZ: Well, that argument presupposes that the Senate was going to take up or conference that bill that McCarthy wanted.
You already had Schumer speaking on the floor saying that they weren't even going to take that up.
TAPPER: Yes, but there would have been a conference committee, and there would have been a negotiation.
GAETZ: That's not true. First of all, that's never happened.
So, what you're saying is that something would have occurred that has never occurred, to negotiate a continuing resolution. I have never seen a conference committee in my seven years in Congress, and I don't think one has occurred since the mid-'90s, where a continuing resolution has ever been conferenced.
So, you're asking your viewers to believe something that has never once happened. What has happened when the House has passed a continuing resolution is, the Senate merely negotiates the feature of that continuing resolution by sending back what they want to send back, which is what they did. So, we were always ending up here.
Here's what I want to -- here's why I want to break the fever. Since the mid-'90s, this country has been governed by either continuing resolution or omnibus spending.
TAPPER: Yes, and you have voted for a continuing resolution in the past.
GAETZ: Well, I'm five years sober voting for continuing resolutions.
And I should note that, during those years, President Trump was growing the economy. But January marked a difference.
TAPPER: And the deficit.
GAETZ: Yes. And you know what?
TAPPER: Growing the deficits as well.
GAETZ: I regret...
TAPPER: Growing the deficits as well.
GAETZ: But we were growing the economy.
And, look -- look, you're talking about the national debt.
TAPPER: You were growing -- what did he add, $7 trillion, $8 trillion dollars to the national debt?
GAETZ: And, by the way, I voted against 10 continuing resolutions under Donald Trump. I did not stand with Donald Trump on all of his spending priorities.
I voted against it way more than I voted for it.
TAPPER: My point is, I don't know what this shutdown did to help the cause.
GAETZ: What shut -- what shutdown?
TAPPER: The shutdown that almost happened.
GAETZ: OK, so there wasn't a shutdown.
(CROSSTALK) GAETZ: ... do anything.
TAPPER: The threat of shutdown that you created.
GAETZ: We have to break the fever. We have to move to single-subject spending bills.
TAPPER: So you broke a fever?
GAETZ: No, we didn't, unfortunately.
That's why we have to now move to vacate, because we have to get a system where the House and Senate will negotiate over each of these agencies of government independently.
And I understand that, in divided government, that means that you have to take into account the views of Senate Democrats, the views of the White House. But what I want to...
TAPPER: You do?
GAETZ: Of course.
TAPPER: You understand that?
GAETZ: Of course.
TAPPER: Because you're on the floor of the House talking about what Kevin McCarthy needs to do is to allow line-item vetoes by people like you...
GAETZ: That's not true.
TAPPER: Line-item votes against the salaries of people who are investigating Donald Trump, the salaries of individuals who are offering sweetheart deals to Hunter Biden.
That, to me, is not the language of somebody who understands the balance of power and House and Senate and how it -- all legislation actually functions.
TAPPER: That, to me, is the language of somebody who is looking for clicks...
GAETZ: Well, Jake, let me explain to you...
TAPPER: .. and likes and FOX hits, not somebody who actually is trying to reduce the debt.
GAETZ: Well, I -- you might want to check FOX. I haven't been hitting there as much recently.
What I can tell you is that the way the legislative process works, as a 12-year lawmaker in the state and federal level, the House passes legislation, the Senate passes legislation, and then you work to iron out those differences.
I believe the best way to advance the interest of the American people is for the House to take the most conservative position and then engage that negotiation. Where that negotiation has failed all Americans of all stripes is when it centers around what ornament you're going to hang on a continuing resolution or an omnibus bill.
The responsible, sober, adult way to handle this is with individual spending bills open to amendment. And, by the way, if people don't want to vote for the amendments that reduce salaries or cut spending or engage in programmatic analysis, they can vote no. And then the voters can hold people accountable.
But the reason we set atop a $33 trillion debt is because a system has been designed...
GAETZ: ... in Washington, D.C., where no one is responsible for the spending.
TAPPER: But where are you...
GAETZ: I want to force the votes.
And here's what you're missing. McCarthy agreed to this. So, you may not like this deal. You may think that it's too many votes and too much governing. But McCarthy agreed to it in January. And his breaching that agreement is a problem.
TAPPER: Well, I don't have an opinion on it one way or the other.
And I actually agree with your position on the fact that we...
GAETZ: Welcome aboard.
TAPPER: ... we spend -- I have been here long before you were born, my friend.
But, like, we spend way too much money, and we don't take in -- a hundred percent, I agree.
GAETZ: Yes, we spend $7 trillion and take in 5.
TAPPER: But where are you -- where are you when it comes to Senate Democrats, who actually control the Senate, and the president?
And you could force the president's hand if you actually worked with Senate Democrats and got some sort of bill in front of him? That's how you force it?
Well, in the time I have been here, we have not been able to cleave Senate Democrats away from President Biden. So, that's not true.
TAPPER: How many Senate Democrats do you know? How many do you talk to?
GAETZ: Well, I have talked to several of them. I go over to the Senate as much as many House members. I have talked to Senator Manchin, talked to Senator Sinema.
She and I served together in the House. The -- we have had a number of folks go from the House to the Senate...
TAPPER: One last question, because the reason -- I know...
GAETZ: But, by the way -- but really important you get this point. I'm OK with bipartisan negotiation.
I just want it to be on single-subject spending bills, not on a global deal...
GAETZ: ... that funds the whole government or doesn't.
TAPPER: Right. And the appropriations bills are going through the process as...
GAETZ: At a snail's pace, until I held a political gun to McCarthy's head and forced the Congress to stay until midnight to take these votes and move these bills.
TAPPER: Oh, you should talk to the Appropriations Committee. There are four members of the Freedom Caucus on it.
GAETZ: Well, by the way, the Appropriations chairman left the meeting we were having to iron these things out to go to a lobbyist fund- raiser, lobbyist fund-raiser, Jake.
TAPPER: Last question -- last question for you, because the reason you talk about this being about the issue and not animus, because there are a lot of people, a lot of House Republicans who think that there is this personal animus between you and Speaker McCarthy.
And I just have to ask you, how much do you blame Speaker McCarthy for the fact that you are under investigation by the House Ethics Committee? How much is that part of what's going on here?
GAETZ: Not at all.
Jake, I am the most investigated man in the United States Congress. I have been cleared by the DOJ, the FEC by a 5-0 vote. And the people who spread criminal lies about me are sitting in federal prison right now. So, I'm fine being investigated by anyone and everyone.
TAPPER: But I have seen -- I have seen personal communications between you and other people in which you blame McCarthy for your ethics investigation. GAETZ: Well, when Kevin McCarthy went out publicly and said, this
isn't about me breaking my word, it's because Gaetz has ethics problems, certainly, that was him gaslighting the Ethics Committee.
But here's the thing, Jake. I'm not alone. People can say this is a party of one. I have tens of millions of Americans who stand with me on this. And I have a requisite number of House Republicans, a sufficient number, to ensure that we don't own Kevin McCarthy anymore.
By week's end, he will either not be speaker or he will be speaker serving at the pleasure of House Democrats.
TAPPER: To be continued. We will see what happens.
Congressman Matt Gaetz, thanks so much for being here.
GAETZ: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Will House Democrats help Kevin McCarthy keep his job?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be here ahead.
But, first, we're going to take a moment to remember one barrier- breaking lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who passed away this week, when we talk to another barrier-breaking member of Congress, her close friend House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, who will join us live next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R-ID): So, the gentlelady from California needs to become a little more familiar with firearms and their deadly characteristics.
FMR. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I am quite familiar with firearms. I became mayor as a product of assassination.
CRAIG: I'm aware of that.
FEINSTEIN: I found my assassinated colleague and put a finger through a bullet hole...
FEINSTEIN: ... trying to get -- I proposed gun control legislation in San Francisco. I went through a recall on the basis of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[09:20:00] TAPPER: The late Senator Dianne Feinstein putting fellow Senator Larry Craig in his place.
Yesterday, Feinstein made her final journey home to California on a military plane accompanied by her dear friend and fellow California lawmaker.
That friend joins us now, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us. I want to focus this interview on your fellow San Francisco Democrat Senator Feinstein.
But I do have to ask you. House Democrats are going to seek your advice regarding this news made moments ago on the show about this pending motion to vacate Kevin McCarthy's speakership. How will you vote? And what advice would you give your fellow Democrats on whether they can trust Kevin McCarthy if he makes Democrats an offer so he can stay in power?
PELOSI: My advice to my fellow Democrats is simple. Follow the leader.
Hakeem Jeffries has done a great job. Yesterday, we had a victory in the continuing resolution. It was a victory for Democrats, a defeat for the MAGAs.
And I would say this one thing, listening to your conversation, if that's a conversation, your back-and-forth there. It's such a fraud when they start, the basis of this is about spending. These are people who gave a tax cut to the richest people in America, to the cost of $2 trillion to our national debt when what's-his-name was president of the United States, $2 trillion to the national debt.
And that was to give 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent. They're on the prowl for Medicare, Medicaid. They -- in their bill, they would cut a huge amount, almost a third of the administration of Social Security to help meet the needs of beneficiaries who have questions and the rest.
So, they are -- and huge cuts in nutrition for WIC, Women, Infant and Children. It's not about the budget. It's about a values debate. And you're wasting your time on that guy, because he has no sway in the House of Representatives, except to get on TV and to raise money on the Internet.
But, anyway, forgetting that...
TAPPER: So, let's -- yes.
PELOSI: ... I'm talking about a serious legislator here.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that. Let's...
PELOSI: So, my advice, follow the leader.
TAPPER: Let's talk -- OK, let's talk about her, because, yesterday, you accompanied Senator Dianne Feinstein on her final journey home to San Francisco aboard the military plane.
TAPPER: It must have been a difficult journey.
What was going through your mind during the flight?
PELOSI: Well, I was with her daughter.
And, see, with Dianne, it's obviously official, it's political, and it's very personal. This is a woman who she left on her own terms. You saw how she answered Larry Craig. But she did that any number of times when colleagues or others tried to minimize her standing on an issue.
She and I were not always on the same place on the spectrum of politics, but we all cared about our country. And she, again, reached across the aisle all the time, would negotiate with anyone for our great state of California, brought home the bacon, respected our natural resources, the forests, the deserts, the ocean, the lakes, and the beautiful diversity of our people.
She was an icon. She almost gives -- is more than an icon, because that's become almost a cliche. She was -- came into office under such -- to the mayorship, under such awful circumstances. And she unified the city. She gave comfort. And then, right then, we go into HIV/AIDS.
So, whether it's LGBTQ, women's rights, whatever it is, she has been a thoughtful, constructive, effective, productive leader and a national -- of national status.
But still, for me, I can't hardly talk about her without -- because she was my neighbor, my friend. My family loved her personally, politically, in every way. We used to always say, if Dianne and I ran against each other, my daughter Nancy would probably vote for Dianne. That was the love that existed.
But love is a good word for her, because she loved people. She loved California. She loved America. And to bring her home in the grand way that we did -- thank you, President Biden -- draped in the flag -- she was such a patriot -- be welcomed by men and women in uniform as she came off the plane.
Her daughter, Katherine, and granddaughter, Eileen, and son-in-law were there to welcome her personally. But, officially, the city welcomed her. And, of course, everyone personally did as well.
TAPPER: We heard so many wonderful stories, personal stories.
Senator Gillibrand has this very moving story about how Senator Feinstein was just a very personal mentor to her, taking her under her wing when she arrived in the Senate, and then creating this very giant memo about how to be a senator that she really took time to make.
Is there any personal story that you think back on when you think of her and your relationship with her?
PELOSI: Oh, so many, so many. But, as I say, in that case, it's personal neighbors and as then political and official.
But I do think one story, it's not about me. It's more about my daughter Christine. And that is, Christine was chair of the Women's Caucus of the California Democratic Party, which is my political home. And there are probably 2,000 -- well, 1,500 women in the Women's Caucus.
And Dianne came when she was passing legislation, she was writing legislation to protect young amateurs. The young athletes, the gymnasts and all came to her. She listened to them. She respected them. She wrote legislation.
And why I bring up the Women's Caucus is, she went to the Women's Caucus to talk about creating this, writing this bill, listening to these young girls who had been sexually abused, harassed and the rest. And she told them that this was about safety of these girls, it was about the freedom of these girls to be who they wanted to be, and it was about the choice of them to, again, be masters, mistresses of their fate, in terms of their reproductive freedom.
But the point was, it was a master class because she showed them freedom, safety, choice. It's all connected. It's all connected. It was a master class. Now, the Women's Caucus of the California party is not the most moderate group.
PELOSI: It's more my...
PELOSI: ... my, shall we say, place on the spectrum.
And they still quote Dianne. And Christine was very proud of that, because she taught. She respected views. She taught. She always felt a responsibility to mentor. This is a national figure, a stateswoman...
PELOSI: ... someone -- so -- and I could tell many personal stories, but they don't have as much application to other people.
I will tell one more. When we were moving for the Democratic Convention in San Francisco, I was chair of the California Democratic Party. We were trying to get the convention in San Francisco. So we went to see her. Willie Brown, Walter Shorenstein, and I went to see Dianne to say, what about this?
And she said: "Well, will it cost money?"
And we said: "Well, we have to raise money."
And she said: "Well, my first concern or that people at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco."
This is where many lower-income people, not all of -- but lower-income people who need medical care and all go in San -- hundreds of them go in San -- so she was always about people and meeting their -- needs with her responsibility.
I could go on and on about some of those, that people might not think of her as, my first responsibility is to the poorest of the poor and under my responsibility and my city. Again, another time, we will have some more stories about her.
Everybody's talking about the great legislation. She was a great legislator. The gun violence -- she saved lives. She saved people's lives. That was -- it was passed. Imagine. She was in Congress one year.
PELOSI: She came '93. In '94, she passed the assault weapon ban. And then it was reinstated, and then it went away. But while it was there, it saved lives. How many people can make that claim?
Madam Speaker, thank you so much. And condolences to you and to Senator Dianne Feinstein's loved ones and friends.
Thank you so much.
PELOSI: And let me just say that some of the senators -- some of the senators said that maybe her departure and the sadness that went with us focused people more on, let's get the job done to keep government open for the people.
TAPPER: Well, may her memory be a blessing.
Thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it.
PELOSI: May she rest in peace.
TAPPER: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Could Democrats help Kevin McCarthy again?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, joins me live next.
TAPPER: So, welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Democrats started Saturday expecting the federal government to shut down, but, by the end of the day, it was still open, and they had made no concessions to the Republican majority to keep it that way.
Joining us now, New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez.
So, first of all, you just heard Congressman Matt Gaetz say he's going to move to oust McCarthy as speaker this week. If a motion to vacate the chair comes to the floor, how would you vote?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, my vote beginning this term for speaker of the House was for Hakeem Jeffries.
And I do not intend on voting for a Republican speaker of the House, but I believe that it's up to the Republican Conference to determine their own leadership and deal with their own problems. But it's not up to Democrats to save Republicans, from themselves, especially.
TAPPER: So, do you think that there will be any Democrats that might vote to save McCarthy?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, I certainly don't think that we would expect to see that, unless there's a real conversation between the Republican and Democratic Caucuses and Republican and Democratic leadership about what that would mean.
But I don't think we give up votes for free.
TAPPER: And do you -- but would you vote to vacate? Would you vote to get rid of McCarthy as speaker?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Would I cast that vote? Absolutely. Absolutely.
I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak speaker. He clearly has lost control of his caucus. He has brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink, waiting until the final hour to keep the government open, and, even then, only issuing a 45-day extension.
So, we're going to be right back in this place in November. And I think that our main priority has to be the American people and what's going to keep our governance in a cohesive and strong place. But, unless Kevin McCarthy asks for a vote, again, I don't think we give something away for free.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, I have heard your fellow Squad member Congresswoman Ilhan Omar say Democrats should only support McCarthy in exchange for a 50/50 power-sharing agreement.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I mean, I think, when it comes to power-sharing, we will discuss that as a caucus and what we would finally accept or not.
But, again, it's going to -- it comes at a price. You don't just vote for a Republican speaker for nothing. That's not what we were elected here to do. We were elected here to make sure that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage, to make sure that we cap the prices of prescription drugs, and to make sure that we work for working-class Americans.
TAPPER: What's your take on what just happened on the threat of a government shutdown and just the whole experience?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think the Republican Party right now is completely out of step with the American people.
And what we saw today and what we saw this week leading up to this final-hour compromise, not even a compromise, but really capitulation by the Republican Party, we saw them go through every single possible iteration of cutting -- cutting benefits.
They tried to cut across the board 30 percent of the budgets of critical agencies, like the Social Security Administration. They voted -- some of the most moderate members -- quote, unquote -- "moderate members" of the Republican Party casted votes for things like 80 percent cuts under the Department of Education to low-income schools.
This is not a moderate party, period. There are not moderates in the Republican Party. There are just different degrees of fealty to Donald Trump. But it starts with a lot of fealty, and then it goes to extreme fealty.
And so we saw them go through every single iteration, walk through -- into every single wall, kind of run around the House like a Roomba, and until they found a door that House Democrats opened. They finally realized that we should not shut down the government in order to deny trans service members the ability to get health care, in order to deny female service members the ability to get an abortion.
And they filed an extension for 45 days, until we're back in here.
TAPPER: So, let me just ask you about the larger issue.
I'm not going to disagree with your description of them walking into walls, but the issue of federal spending, because as a -- just as a factual matter, the U.S. government spends more money than we take in. Now, whether you think we should cut spending, or whether you think we should take in more through higher taxes, it just -- the books are not balanced, right?
And the national debt is $33 trillion. Matt Gaetz said that. That was correct. The U.S. spent $475 billion last year just on interest payments on the debt, $475 billion. That's more money than went to food stamps. That is obviously money that could be better spent than on interest payments.
I'm sorry. It's more money than went to food stamps, and temporary assistance for needy families, and federal disability benefits, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Children's Health Insurance Program combined, all of that combined.
So it's a colossal waste of money. And it would be better if we got our fiscal ship, fiscal house in order. Don't you agree with that? And isn't there a progressive case to be made about trying to balance the budget? OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely.
And I vociferously disagree with any assertion that progressivism is somehow incompatible with fiscal responsibility. Progressivism believes in making investments that actually have returns. It means investing in education, so that people are actually able to participate in an economy that will pay higher wages, which also in turn yields to higher revenues.
It also means taxing the rich. We have billionaires out here that are also, in turn, lobbying in order to increase the amount of income inequality in this country. And when you have the degree of people who are not paying taxes, and the excess of wealth that we're seeing, of course, we're going to end up in a place of deficit and debt.
Additionally, when you see what Republicans did earlier this year, by taking and playing games with our national debt ceiling and debt limit, you're also playing games with the credit rating of the United States of America, which could also yield much different terms in terms of repayment interest, et cetera, increasing the layouts in payments that you just described.
I just -- the reason I ask is because I don't hear Democrats or progressives talk about the need to reduce the deficit, reduce the debt as often as a vote -- me, as a voter, as an independent voter, as much as I would like.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It's an interesting point. And I think that we can draw those dots, for sure.
But, really, when we talk about taxing the rich, we're talking about getting our house in order and our fiscal and our financial house in order as well, because there's a lot of people out there who are not paying the bill. And, instead of paying that bill, what they're doing is that they're taking folks like Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas on private jets in order to help facilitate additional rulings that only aggregate to their wealth.
So we absolutely have an oligarchy problem in this country, and that's where you're really going to find the line item to balance the books, so that kids can go to school and so that we can make sure that we make progress on things like guaranteed health care in the United States of America.
TAPPER: There was an interesting moment over the weekend when your New York colleague Congressman Jamaal Bowman -- he's under investigation for this now after Capitol Police say he pulled a fire alarm in one of the House's office buildings.
Democrats were trying to delay a vote, a final vote on the bill. There he is pulling the fire alarm. He says it was an accident, and he thought pulling the alarm would open a door, based on the fact that the doors to his right there were locked and there was a sign that he said he was -- I think someone said it was confusing.
I will be honest. That doesn't really make sense to me, his explanation. Have you talked to him? What's going on there?
I mean, listen, I think if you actually do see some of the photos of the signs, I think there's something to be said about, the government's about to shut down. There's a vote clock that's going down. The exits that are normally open in that building were suddenly closed. He...
TAPPER: So, you pull the fire alarm?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, I'm not -- I'm -- what I am here to say is that House administration, U.S. Capitol Police, and Jamaal Bowman are in active, and he's fully participating in saying there was a misunderstanding.
But what I do think is important to raise is the fact that Republicans, representatives like Nicole Malliotakis and others, immediately moved to file motions to censure, motions to expel before there has even been conversations that are finished to even see if there was a misunderstanding here.
But what they did do -- while they did that, what they did not do was to commit to the same when George Santos was actually found guilty after a thorough investigation of 13 federal charges. He's indicted on everything from wire fraud to actual lying of House investigators.
And they have been buddying up and giggling with him on the House floor. And they are protecting someone who has lied to the American people, lied to the United States House of Representatives, lied to congressional investigators. But they're filing a motion of -- to expel a member who, in a moment of panic, was trying to escape a vestibule?
Give me a break. And so the idea that there is somehow any kind of equivalence to someone who is actively trying to clear up a situation that he himself admits he's embarrassed. He released a statement last night. He apologized.
And they are protecting someone who has not only committed wire fraud, not only defrauded veterans, not only lied to congressional investigators, but is openly gloating about it, is absolutely humiliating to the Republican Caucus. And I think that they should really check their own values.
TAPPER: There's another Republican who's been indicted also that they have been defending.
TAPPER: But we don't -- but we don't have the time to go into all of those charges, 91 of them.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: That's right.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thanks so much for joining us.
Really appreciate it. It's good to see you.
Coming up next: House Republicans' terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, we're going to talk about it with my panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAETZ: I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week.
TAPPER: This week.
GAETZ: I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.
Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
My panel joins me now.
So, you all just heard Congressman Gaetz say he's going to move to oust McCarthy this week. And you also heard Congresswoman Ocasio- Cortez say she's on board with the motion to vacate. She's not going to vote for a Republican for speaker. But she will vote to vacate.
And Pelosi, the speaker emerita, says follow what Hakeem Jeffries says to do.
What is Jeffries going to say to do, vote to vacate and then run away, don't vote for any Republicans for speaker?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't know what the leader is going to do. I'd love to hear from the congresswoman also on this.
I called around about this last week. I don't detect any stomach, any appetite among Democrats to try to save this particular speaker. So we will see what happens when this...
TAPPER: Yes, let's go to another Democratic congresswoman, Scholten. (LAUGHTER)
TAPPER: What are you -- how would you vote, and what do you think is going to happen?
REP. HILLARY SCHOLTEN (D-MI): You know, I will take it all under consideration, for sure.
TAPPER: Come on.
SCHOLTEN: No, listen, I mean, there are some serious trust issues here.
TAPPER: With McCarthy?
SCHOLTEN: With McCarthy, of course.
SCHOLTEN: He made a promise back in May about how we were going to fund this government. And he took us to the 11th hour, jeopardizing American jobs, women, infants and children via the WIC program, and finally came to his senses.
But how can we trust these guarantees going forward? We're going to need some concrete guidelines in place if he's going to want Democrats to come to the table and help save his speakership.
TAPPER: So, the math -- former Congresswoman Mia Love, the math is pretty simple.
He can't afford to lose, what, five? He can't afford to lose five Republicans, and then he doesn't have 218 votes to be speaker.
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
TAPPER: And there are 212 Democrats. Is that right? And if they all stand together, I mean, then there's just no speaker? How does the math -- how does it work?
LOVE: The speakership goes to the majority, the party that...
TAPPER: Yes, you need 218, but...
TAPPER: So, we just don't have a speaker? Is that what's going to happen?
LOVE: No, there's -- they could vote for a speaker. But I think, at this point, your choice is either McCarthy or Hakeem Jeffries.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Binary.
LOVE: It's just -- yes, it's one or the other.
TAPPER: But, at some point, if Speaker McCarthy doesn't have 218 votes...
URBAN: Listen, we sat -- I sat on the set in New York and went through...
URBAN: ... 15 votes, right?
URBAN: I mean, McCarthy's not going anywhere, right?
I -- to the congresswoman's point, I think -- look, I think Speaker McCarthy had a tough spot, right? He did what's right for the American people, came out best here. He paraphrases Churchill's famous saying. Americans always do the right thing after they try everything else, right, everything else has failed, right?
And so good for him for doing that and for having the courage to stand up and not shutting down the government. I mean, we were running a clock there. Everyone here was sure that it was going to be closing this weekend.
LOVE: That's right.
URBAN: And McCarthy was -- had enough courage and fortitude to go forward and do that and get a vote.
LOVE: Knowing that his job was on the line.
URBAN: Knowing that his job was on the line and that Matt Gaetz would show up today and say exactly what he said.
And, look, Jake, when you asked him if it was fueled by personal animus, I mean, I was -- I could sense it through the screen.
LOVE: There's something between those two.
URBAN: There's some personal animus.
TAPPER: Well, he acknowledged that he blames McCarthy for his Ethics Committee investigation.
URBAN: But it's -- yes, exactly. And there it is, right there, boom, right? Look, I -- nobody can disagree with Matt Gaetz on, should we pass
bending bills individually? Sure. Should we have a budget? Sure. Like, maybe...
LOVE: Get away from C.R.s? Yes.
My political mentor, friend Haley Barbour once said politics is a team sport, right? I'm not quite sure Matt Gaetz gets that. Or maybe he's never played on a team.
SCHOLTEN: And I would say too, there are two choices, right?
And there are enough moderate Republicans as well who could come forward and vote for Leader Jeffries as well. I mean, that...
TAPPER: On what planet? That's not..
SCHOLTEN: I mean, listen, I'm just saying, that's out there.
But we need to have some concessions in place. I think that there are plenty of moderate Democrats who saw Speaker McCarthy come to his senses and do the right thing that we had been asking him to do for months. And if we can have some kind of guarantees in place that that's the type of leadership that will be seen going forward, I think there are some of us who are open to considering that.
But we're not just going to come...
TAPPER: Open to considering what? McCarthy...
SCHOLTEN: To saving his speakership.
But, at the same time, we're not just going to come out and say...
URBAN: See, I like that. I like that.
SCHOLTEN: Listen, I'm open to it, because, if people...
TAPPER: But what guarantees are you looking for?
SCHOLTEN: Well, that he's not going to go back on his word, like he has before.
I mean, we have some real trust issues. TAPPER: But how on earth does somebody whose word can't be trusted
reassure you that he will no longer do that?
SCHOLTEN: Solidified vis-a-vis rules.
SCHOLTEN: I mean, I think there are some negotiations to be had, but we're not just going to take his word for it again.
But we need...
TAPPER: What if Republicans came to you and said, like, not obviously the speaker's leadership team, but what if some other rogue Republicans came and said, well, you guys like Tom Cole or Tom Emmer better, Cole from Oklahoma, Emmer from Minnesota -- you trust him better. You like them better.
TAPPER: And, like, there's 150 of us. If we can get 150 of you, what about that?
SCHOLTEN: I will say the chaos that I have seen over the last month has left a moderate Democrat like me saying, let's consider all options.
We have 45 days to fund this government...
SCHOLTEN: ... and get the work done for the American people.
LOVE: I have to say something about Matt Gaetz.
It's just, for him, I just watched somebody say, oh, yes, all the speaker's fault, it's all Kevin McCarthy's fault. We wouldn't have this problem if there was another speaker, taking absolutely no responsibility.
I want to see his version, because, as a member of Congress, you can actually start. Where is his version of the budget? Paul Ryan wrote his version of the budget when he wasn't the speaker. Where is -- what is he adding?
URBAN: And you asked him. He had a very conservative vote on Friday, right, his dream, should have been his dream, and they didn't pass, because he said, oh, the Democrats in the Senate would never take it up. They'd never pass it, right?
LOVE: They'd never pass it.
URBAN: And then, a few minutes later, he said, well, we can't negotiate with the Democrats. (CROSSTALK)
URBAN: We have to lead from here in the House.
So he's talking out of both sides of his mouth.
SIMMONS: Jake, here's the problem.
The problem with all of this is, we're talking about the process. We're talking about these personalities who are having a fight. I have no idea what it is the Republican Party wants to do in the United States of America that's going to solve problems for people.
Say what you will about the Contract for America. It had a program. I remember -- I'm old enough to remember when Republicans had conservative ideas to solve problems. Like, cap and trade was a Republican idea to deal with the environment. The health care marketplace that Governor Romney had was a Republican idea to deal with health care.
SIMMONS: What is the conservative, market-oriented solution to the 23 percent of Americans who are in the sandwich generation who are trying to do what their parents...
SIMMONS: ... and trying to deal with their kids who have learning loss from COVID?
TAPPER: So, let...
SIMMONS: I don't know what the Republican plan is.
TAPPER: Well, let us hear from one of the leaders of the Republican Party right now, Donald Trump, who leads all the polls to be the presidential nominee.
He was in California at the Republican Party Convention in California. And here's some of what he had to say to the delegates there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.
If somebody's beating you by 10, 15 or 20 points like we're doing with crooked Joe Biden, let's indict the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
Who will stand up to crazy Nancy Pelosi, who ruined San Francisco.
TRUMP: How's her husband doing, by the way?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, just to -- the note on Paul Pelosi, who was brutally attacked by an intruder in his home with a hammer, and continues to suffer from those injuries, I thought about asking her about what Donald Trump said.
But then I honestly just didn't have the heart to do it, because, like, he's still suffering from that. And, like, it's still painful for that. This is her -- her husband of many decades. She loves him. And it's painful for her to -- and he's making light of it.
SCHOLTEN: This is the exact type of extremism, cruelty that is eroding the foundations of our democracy and that Americans are rejecting, that I am rejecting, that we ran against in 2022, wholesalely rejected for the first time in West Michigan history.
And Americans are rejecting it across the board, and they're going to reject it again.
URBAN: What people want to hear, Jake, and to answer Jamal, close the border, right? We have got to secure our border. We have got to figure out what we're going to do with immigration. We have got an immigration crisis in America, right?
You talked to AOC about this. We have got to figure out how we -- what we do with our spending, right?
URBAN: We -- she says, oh, the rich aren't paying their taxes.
Listen, the top 1 percent of wage earners in America make 24 percent of income, pay about 50 percent of taxes. The bottom 50 percent pay about 2 percent of taxes. But we...
TAPPER: I think she's talking about the top point 0.01 percent.
URBAN: OK, but my point, there are...
URBAN: Listen, there is a marketplace of ideas. And the American people deserve better.
They deserve a debate on these ideas.
SIMMONS: Which ideas -- which...
LOVE: And you asked what the Republican strategy -- I'm still waiting for the strategy that takes gas down from $5 at the pump. TAPPER: Yes.
LOVE: That brings inflation down, because I'm sorry.
URBAN: That closes the border, that closes the border.
SIMMONS: Well, there was a strategy. There was a strategy.
LOVE: People are still suffering from high inflation.
SIMMONS: The president of the United States released some Strategic Oil Reserves.
Listen, we have had incomes go up. We have seen wage -- wages go up for Americans. Inflation is going down. We're growing the economy from the middle class out, as the president says, from the bottom up.
The Republicans do not have a plan to help the middle of America solve its problems.
SCHOLTEN: We saw this week that there is a vast majority of this Congress that is willing to come together on these issues.
There are moderate Democrats who are clamoring to do something about border security, about immigration. I ran ads saying, Democrats, stop the spending. We have to lower costs for everyday Americans.
TAPPER: All right.
URBAN: I'm glad you asked about Jamaal Bowman, because that's -- I mean...
TAPPER: That was weird.
URBAN: Like, he's a high school principal, like you said. He knows what a fire alarm looks like.
TAPPER: Thanks, one and all, for being here.
We are excited to welcome the newest member of our State of the Union family, Chloe Juliette McNamara, the beautiful daughter of our editorial producer, Cassie, and her husband, Jim.
Congratulations to you both and to big sister, Grace.
TAPPER: Chloe is just adorable. We cannot wait to meet her.
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next. [10:00:00]