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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Will Government Shut Down?
Aired April 8, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Quite a night. Tonight, we're following it right along with you, breaking news.
Top Democratic and Republican lawmakers still grappling as we speak to reach an agreement, temporary or otherwise, to fund the government and head off a shutdown scheduled for midnight tonight, two hours from now. We will be live all throughout these two hours. Congress right now open for business, ready to vote, if necessary, on such a deal. President Obama prepared to sign it.
House Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner included, went into a closed-door session a few minutes ago. You saw him running by Dana Bash just a second ago. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expected to be on the floor as early as 10:30, but possibly a whole lot later if talks run long. He was supposed to be on at 8:00, then we were told 9:00, now they're saying 10:30 or later.
We have been on a roller coaster all night, talk of a deal to extend negotiations another three days, then another week. We have heard that such a stopgap deal was close, then that there was no deal. Right now, with a shutdown less than two hours away, we're waiting and the dealmakers are talking. They began the day, though, with finger pointing, not even agreeing on what they disagreed on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Most of the policy issues have been dealt with, and the big fight is over the spending.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The Republicans want to shut down our nation's government because they want to make it harder for women to get the health services they need. And, by the way, Title X does not include abortion. It's illegal to use federal funds for abortion services. So anyone who says this debate is over abortion isn't being truthful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Republican Senator Jon Kyl apparently believed it. He made it front and center earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), MINORITY WHIP: If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood. And that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's not true. According to Planned Parenthood, here's the breakdown of patient care they gave us, which they say is double-checked by outside auditors. It shows 35 percent each for contraception and STD screening, cancer screening 16 percent, other women's health services 10 percent, and abortion just 3 percent.
The senator later back away from hi claim, his office releasing a statement late today saying -- quote -- "He misspoke and was simply attempting to highlight that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions of taxpayer dollars, subsidized over 300,000 abortions on 2009 alone."
In the end, though, "Keeping Them Honest," a lot of people have really started noticing something else. Whatever the outcome, shutdown or not, lawmakers, they are still getting paid. They get their money even if 800,000 federal workers get furloughed and troops lose their pay and FHA home loans don't go out. Lawmakers still get their paychecks. And on average, they're doing OK.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the median wealth of a U.S. House member was $765,000 in 2009, for senators, a hefty $2.38 million. Congress men and women make $174,000 a year, by the way. The median household income in America is just over $50,000, which doesn't go far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A house bill. We have two cars. I mean, we have got two kids, two dogs, a cat, food, I mean, everything, phone bills, electric, everything.
CAMI STEWART, BUSINESS OWNER: We have a contract to close on the land the end of this month. And so if we don't get the funding, then we will lose our contract for our land.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All my money comes from the government, so if it stops, all of the security -- all of the funding, yes, I am concerned. I don't have any money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A reminder of what's at stake for an awful lot of people.
Joining us now on Capitol Hill with the latest is Dana Bash. Dan Lothian is at the White House. John King is working his sources. Also in Washington, senior political analyst David Gergen.
Dana, let's start off with you. What's the latest? Where do things stand?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Where things stand is, as we speak, down the hall from where I am, Republicans, pretty much the entire Republican Conference, is meeting and they're getting an update from the House speaker, John Boehner, on where talks stand and also fellow leaders.
Now, they insisted going in that there is no deal. However, just from body language and from talking to sources and trying to get a sense of really what's going on, it seems as though it would not be surprising, Anderson, if there were at least the framework or ideas of what could go into a tentative deal that will be presented or at least discussed with the rank and file here of the Republican Caucus.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the Democratic leader, we expect him potentially to come to the House floor at about -- excuse me -- the Senate floor in about a half-an-hour. Potentially, he would give us an update on the status of the negotiations. But big picture, sources in both parties are insisting that there is no deal on the long-term, meaning funding the government for the rest of this fiscal year and making sure that there is no government shutdown.
But the other question is, well, what about the short term? Because we're talking about two hours from now, that parts of the government will shut down. That is also something I'm told that is being discussed. Whether or not it is for one week, which is something that was a possibility, actually written up for three days, something that was written up, that is something that they're going to have to decide very soon, whether they can go ahead with that.
In large part, you talk to Republicans, they say that will maybe depend on how far they really think that they are in this long-term deal -- Anderson.
COOPER: There are a lot of moving parts to this. So on the Republican side, Boehner is meeting right now very close to where you are with how many other Republicans, roughly?
BASH: The entire -- all House Republicans were invited to this meeting.
COOPER: All House Republicans? OK.
BASH: All House Republicans were invited to this meeting, so that he could give his rank and file an update on where things stand, and presumably to get feedback on where the talks stand and to see if where they're headed is going to fly and will be able to pass.
COOPER: And in terms of what you have been hearing from your sources, no deal on the budget up until 2012, until the end of 2011, but possibly some sort of movement on some kind of stopgap measure for another week or so? Is that what I'm hearing?
BASH: What we're told is that they're all related, because there's been so much pushback from Democrats and Republicans alike to not do another stopgap measure unless they really have a sense that they're going to be able to get a deal to do it for the rest of the year that has sufficient cuts, spending cuts. That's especially coming from the Republican side.
So what we are going to see is likely to be all related, all sort of a package deal, hopefully in short order.
COOPER: OK. John King, what are you hearing from your sources? There's talk of that temporary measure that would keep the government operating for a few days or for perhaps longer. Do you think that's the likely outcome tonight?
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": I do think it's likely, Anderson, although I'm going to add caveats to Dana's caveats, because a lot of sources here have competing interests. The White House very much wants a deal. When you talk to people here, they tend to be more optimistic.
And so here is what I'm told is the likely scenario tonight, likely scenario, this from two sources, one a Democrat, one a Republican, that they will have some short-term stopgap measure that Speaker Boehner is trying to sell right now and he will only be able to sell it if he can convince the caucus, we are told, and Speaker Boehner himself has said -- this is the main point -- that they have a general agreement on the big six-month budget plan.
And I am told they have negotiated what they believe to be a framework. However, no deal is done until the speaker can sell it to his caucus. No deal is done until Leader Reid can sell it to the Democrats in the Senate. But I am told tonight that the negotiators believe they're in a good place to get a short-term deal followed by an agreement on a framework for the six-month deal that would take a few more days to negotiate.
And I'm also told tonight that they have told the president of the United States to be prepared to speak. The sequencing as we now know it would be Leader Reid first. But if they get a deal, that could all change.
COOPER: John, who is having a tougher time selling it to their respective sides? Would it be Harry Reid or John Boehner? I suspect John Boehner.
KING: I suspect the same, but until we actually know the details of what they have negotiated, assuming these sources are correct, that now they're in a place where they think they have at least the outlines of a deal, short-term for now, the framework of the longer- term deal, you have see the details in a compromise like this.
And Washington works on a clock, Anderson. It's sad, probably people watching at home, why do you wait until the last minute? In a compromise, everybody gives at the end. So we will have to see the details.
COOPER: Dan Lothian, the president has canceled his plans for this weekend. What are you hearing from the White House? Would he be open to a short-term solution? DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. Certainly, the president would be open to a short-term solution. He said that a few days ago.
Aides here at the White House have also said that. But what they also pointed out is that they would be open to this as long as there was progress to an agreement or there was an agreement. The president wasn't open to just like another one-week, one week at a time C.R., but he really wanted something that would be a stopgap in order to finalize the details of an ultimate deal.
What I can tell you here within the hour, I have been reaching out to sources here at the White House, and there is still a sense of optimism that a deal will get done, that they're just working out the details of an agreement.
But I'll tell you, the ramifications of this deal or not getting a deal are huge for this White House. First of all, administration officials have been pointing out how hundreds of thousands of people would be out of work, how this could impact the fragile economy, but also think of the political ramifications of a government shutdown. Americans certainly looking at Washington, not happy with Republicans and Democrats and certainly this White House very aware of this, especially when you look forward to the 2012 elections.
COOPER: And, David Gergen, you have seen a lot of battles in D.C. What do you make of what's happened just over the last several hours?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, shame can be a great motivator in life.
COOPER: Shame. And I think that the Congress and the White House are being shamed into a deal. They realize that there's been I think a very negative reaction around the country to the very idea that we have come to the brink. This is a national embarrassment.
And I think there's a growing recognition in this city. And I was in an international conference this afternoon with people from Europe and Asians and Americans. And the foreigners were all sort of just -- they couldn't understand. A great nation, why can't you sort of run your government in a better way and especially over such a small amount of money?
I think they're going to reach some kind of agreement tonight and we will move forward. If they fail, it's going to be for a matter of a day or two. They cannot -- in situations like this, time and again what I have seen is that shame can -- when people around the country say, come on, guys, get your act together, they usually do.
COOPER: Dana, we have heard conflicting accounts all day today about really what the differences are. Is it really just about money as Republicans are saying, about fiscal responsibility and the budget, or is it social issues, is it funding for Planned Parenthood? What's true?
BASH: Boy, I wish I could really answer that and know that I was giving you the right answer.
I think probably the right answer is both are true, Anderson. Both are true. Democrats have insisted all day long, as you pointed out at the top of the program, that it is not about spending anymore, that spending is zone and that the last sticking point was a social issue about women's health policy and funding for women's health and that's it. And Republicans who I have talked to, even some social conservatives, lawmakers I have talked to, they said, you know what, that's not it. And we're not going to fight for that, and that really the issue at this point is spending.
Now, politically, it is in each side's interest to talk that way. Politically it's in Republicans' interest to say we're fighting to cut every last dollar in spending that we can, because that's what we were elected to do last November, and politically it's certainly good for Democrats to say that Republicans are trying to shut down the government over something that's unrelated.
But I think at there point we might be past that, Anderson. It's hard to tell. We're just to get a sense of what's going on behind closed doors. They are working right now, but it looks like they are extremely close, extremely close to trying to kind of balance both of those things out and come to a framework.
COOPER: John King, if social issues weren't involved, and it was just about money, and I remember President Obama two nights ago saying that they were actually very close in terms of the money, I mean, a difference in money can be -- you can come to an agreement, you can compromise on that. Social issues are harder to compromise, and therefore the fact that it's gone on this long, you know, there are some who say, well, look, that leads us to believe it's more social issues. What are you hearing?
KING: Well, again, it depends on your perspective.
A Democrat who supports abortion rights, who supports Planned Parenthood would say this is a social issue. A Republican conservative would say at a time the federal government is running up record debt, it has to make priorities about what it spends money on, and like cutting off funding for NPR, those conservatives say NPR has said publicly itself it would make up the money in other grants. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit. The federal government can't be doing this right now.
So they would argue it's not so much about abortion and not so much about social policies, but about can the government afford this right now. And someone out there who supports Planned Parenthood right now is rolling their eyes. That is the debate we're in right now.
But you have to look at this way. Had the Democrats passed a budget last year, Anderson, the Republicans would not have this opportunity right now. They would only have this opportunity in the next budget. And so the conservatives who were just elected, this is their first big test in Washington and they say, and they believe this is what they were sent to do, at every opportunity, stand up, roll back the reach of government, roll back federal spending and for those who are very conservative on the social issues, try to take after organizations like funding for Planned Parenthood.
They say that's what they were sent here to do. And people at home can say, why in this short-term budget, but they come here with a lot of energy out of the last election and they believe that this is their mission. Whether the American people agree with them or not we will learn about that in the next election if -- and I don't suspect this short-term deal will be the big issue in the next election, but this short-term deal is a test of the relationships between the president, the new Republican speaker, and the Democratic majority leader going, Anderson, into much bigger and more consequential issues about the debt ceiling and then the next budget. That will be huge.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break.
Dana Bash, I love watching you look around, because you are like on a spring-load ready to jump if Boehner comes out there. You are watching, so you have got it covered for us. We're going to check in with you.
We will get the signal from Dana as soon as something is breaking there on Capitol Hill, where she is, really very close to where House Speaker Boehner is meeting all the Republicans.
Everyone, stick around. I want to bring in the rest of our political panel coming up next, Democrat Paul Begala, Republican Susan Molinari, New York Congressman Weiner Anthony Weiner. Also, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will be joining us.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be trying to tweet tonight, although, man, it's going to be a busy two hours.
First, let's also check in with Isha Sesay.
Isha, what are you following?
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, NATO is refusing to apologize for that airstrike that killed opposition fighters and now the opposition has come up with a plan to try to avoid friendly-fire. It involves, get this, pink paint. We will explain when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: But we're not going to roll over and sell out the American people like has been time and time again here in Washington.
When we say we're serious about cutting spending, we're damn serious about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the breaking news. Less than two hours until a government shutdown. No deal yet that would stop it. The reports we're close to a short-term agreement or the framework for something more permanent, House Republicans meeting right now with House Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expected to take the Senate floor at some point, could be in the next 15 minutes or later.
President Obama canceling travel plans for this weekend. Congress ready to act on a deal. A lot of moving parts right now.
Joining us right now is New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Thanks very much for being with us.
Do you think there's going to be some of a deal, a short-term deal tonight?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Well, I'm not sure if there's going to be a short-term deal.
The argument for trying to get this done now is you don't want to give it three or four days for it to fall apart. But everything I'm hearing is that there's something afoot and I know that some of my Republican friends say that Mr. Boehner is talking to them now.
And it sure seems like there's going to be something. The problem is we don't have any of the details. It is a presumption we have always had that these social riders would have to get dropped and moved to another time. Even many in the Republican Caucus were saying that.
So hopefully that's what happened. But the question now becomes how much is being cut and is it still being cut from this narrow very part of the budget of non-defense discretionary? Those details I can't help you with yet.
COOPER: How much of this is really about what you say are social issues? Because Republicans are saying, look, that's not just true, that that's basically just Democratic spin today, and it has been very effective, but that it's really about money.
WEINER: Well, maybe it is, but all I can tell you is what happened when we considered the budget cutting bill in the House of Representatives -- 90 percent of the amendments were social add-ones. And those were the things that were -- if we didn't have those things, there wouldn't be a problem, because every time there was a number that came up, frankly, the Democrats and the White House met that number.
I can guarantee you that those things were on the table or else frankly Speaker Boehner would have said long ago we really don't care that much about these. We just want between cuts. But putting that aside, I have got to tell what this clearly is, though. This is a setup of the fights to come. It is very clear watching this debate that we have a pro-choice country and an anti- choice legislature and they're flexing their muscles. They might not get this victory in this short term, but they're going to keep coming back and fighting for it in the next budget.
COOPER: And looking at it in that way as the setup for this huge looming battle that will happen basically as soon as this thing is over, what pressure do you see John Boehner as being under?
WEINER: Well, he clearly has this internal fight going on within his caucus with kind of the institutional mainstream Republicans, who have certain ideological views, but that are being buffeted by this Tea Party force.
I think it's a relatively small number of Americans, but it's a very loud voice here in Washington, who want to go back and relitigate a lot of things we have kind of declared peace on over the years. For years, we have had something called the Hyde Amendment, which said no federal dollars can go for abortions. That doesn't seem to be good enough for this group. They want to go and make sure that frankly organizations that do all kinds of good things, like Planned Parenthood, are defunded.
Things like the Environmental Protection Agency not having governance over the environment anymore. These fights that may seem crazy to mainstream America are going to be taking the front burner here in Washington, because that's what these Tea Party guys seem to want.
COOPER: It's easy obviously as a Democrats to point fingers at the Republicans. Are you willing to take any of the blame yourself in terms of your party for not having passed a budget before this, the last year? There have been sort-term budgets, one after the other, and now we're in this mess. This thing could have been done last year.
WEINER: You know, to hear Republicans complain about that reminds me of the story of the kid who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.
The Republicans voted no on every single measure we tried to put forward. They stopped things in the Senate time after time. If I had a dime for every time we passed something in the House that died in the Senate, I would be a rich man.
Yes, there are a lot of things I wish we did differently over the last two years, principally being keep a 60-seat majority in the Senate, which didn't work out. But, yes, that's true. I would have liked to do a lot of things differently. But make no mistake about it. For the Republicans to say, sure, we voted no on every single measure for the last two years and now wonder why nothing got done, nothing got done because they obstructed it.
But it was a successful strategy politically, but now they have to govern and they're seeing how hard it is.
COOPER: It is fair that you guys continue to get paid and 800,000 federal workers wouldn't?
COOPER: And yet I saw one of your colleagues, Loretta Sanchez I think it was, yesterday -- saying -- I'm sorry? -- Linda Sanchez -- I'm sorry -- saying how she couldn't afford to give up her $170,000- some-odd salary because of all the responsibilities she had in her life. There's a lot of soldiers, there's a lot of folks all around the country who heard that and said, you know what, yes, I can't afford it either, but I don't have that choice.
WEINER: I'm not going to judge what my colleagues do. I know that for whatever portion there is a shutdown, I'm going to return my salary for that period of time to the taxpayer.
But in answer to your question, no, I don't think it's fair that anyone, any federal worker should lose out. I also don't think it's fair that if there's a shutdown the Rockaway Little League that plays at Fort Tilden in a national park won't have their little league opening day tomorrow because of this.
I think there's a lot of people who are being inconvenienced and I think a lot of damage will come to the economy. That's why I hope in the next hour-and-a-half we have a deal and none of that comes to pass.
COOPER: Congressman Anthony Weiner, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
WEINER: Thank you.
COOPER: One quick note. We have just learned that the Senate has extended its session deeper into the night. Majority Leader Reid had been expected to speak about 10:30, but we just learned that's been extended.
I want to dig deeper now on the policy riders, the social issues that the congressman just spoke out.
For that, let's turn to Tom Foreman -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
You know, this whole question of riders has been up all day long today. I just want to make sure it's clear to everyone what we're talking about here. A rider is a condition on the deal. This is the same as if I were to rent you an apartment and say, but you can't have any pets. The provision that said no pets would be a rider on essentially a business deal.
But these are a lot more serious than something like that. Some of the major ones, and again, as all our guests have pointed out, Anderson, we don't really know all the details of everything, but we know that these have been in play since the Republican voted on them.
Defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that's National Public Radio, PBS, $400 million away from that. Defunding Planned Parenthood, the one that's been so hot today, $317 million there. Reduce funding to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, reduce or eliminate funding to implement health care reform, all of those have been out there, some of the major riders that we have been talking about as big, explosive ones.
But there are other ones, too, other riders, like blocking new restrictions on strip mining near streams, blocking new restrictions for nonprofit colleges, defunding a program to track toy-related injuries, moving money from one program to another. And this is the tricky part about all this, Anderson, which is worth bearing in mind.
You're absolutely right. Some people will look at one of these and say that's frivolous, there's nothing to it and that's all about trying to manipulate policy. Somebody else will say, no, it's about trying to contain costs and if you think it's frivolous, there's nothing to it, all the more reason to get rid of it. So the simple truth is, Anderson, you will hear it a million times here in Washington, D.C., money is policy here. So for anyone to simply say, oh, that's just a policy maneuver around money, people don't feel one way or the other usually about an interstate highway, most people. But, nonetheless, it has to be funded.
So the truth is, these issues are things that people look at and say maybe they don't have to be funded on one side and another side say they desperately do need to be. But that's what riders are all about. And that we believe has been part of the sticking point -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.
I want to go to Dana Bash. She just spoke to House Speaker Boehner, I believe -- Dana.
BASH: I haven't spoken to him yet, but I can tell you that he is still in this room talking to all House Republicans.
And I'm talking to two sources who are in the room who are telling me that the House speaker is telling them that they don't have a deal, but they're very close. He's outlining the parameters of the deal. And the deal we're talking about is something that would actually fund the government for the rest of the year. Because of that, he's asking his caucus, he's asking fellow Republicans for authority to go ahead a the short-term stopgap measure to keep the government running after the deadline, which we're coming close to at midnight tonight.
So what I'm told, just to underscore this, is that the speaker is outlining the parameters of a deal, a long-term deal that would keep the government running through the rest of the year. But in the meantime, because it's not completely done, he's saying that he wants the House to vote on something that will keep the government running after midnight tonight. Unclear how long that would be. There were some talks about it being three days, maybe five days. That I think still has to be worked out. We will try to get more information on that.
But that's the headline for now.
COOPER: All right, Dana, working her sources, Dana, thanks.
No deal, but close, and possibly some sort of stopgap measure. Length of it unknown.
Joining us now from Capitol Hill, Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Senator, you just heard what Dana Bash is reporting, that on the House side that they're talking about, that John Boehner is talking about to his colleagues. Is that something that is acceptable to you, some sort of stopgap measure?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Absolutely.
I think we are now down to the wire. And it is unthinkable that we would get to midnight and shut down government. We don't need to do that. There are so many consequences to it. And as many know, I have been trying to assure that the military pay wouldn't be delayed.
And I had a freestanding bill, and I'm waiting until midnight to make sure that we either have an agreement for a short-term continuing resolution, so our military do not have to worry about paying their mortgages, or I'm going to ask for unanimous consent to get our bill up.
We have 80 co-sponsors. I know it's going to pass, and we're not going to let our military down. But hopefully we won't let anyone down.
COOPER: And I know, on the House side, there's a similar bill that they're working on.
But both sides this week have been using the troop pay issue to score political points against each other. We have known about the possibility of a shutdown for quite some time now, known for weeks that troops could go without paychecks. I know everyone hoped for a deal already, but why wasn't this bill ready to go earlier?
HUTCHISON: Well, listen, I think that we needed to make sure that everything was covered, if we could. I think we needed to not shut down government.
But, as you know, there have been so many different issues that have held us back from what we're really trying to do, which is get through the end of this fiscal year, which is September 30, and then start really doing the hearings and the in-depth work on the budget for 2012, which starts this October 1.
That's what we should be spending our time on. And we should be trying to start worrying about the debt limit and how we can cut real money to not hit that debt limit again.
COOPER: Is there any lesson in what's happened just in the last couple of days running up to this that we need to learn in order for this next looming battle? Because this next battle over the 2012 budget is going to be massive compared to what this battle for the next six months.
HUTCHISON: You're absolutely right.
Look, really the debt ceiling is going to be Armageddon. I mean, that is the one where we have got to see reforms before the debt ceiling is raised. Or we would be in danger of having to face this again in another year or two, which we cannot do. We cannot sustain a $14 trillion debt.
And so you're right. The next is a much bigger issue, and that this one has taken so long and has been so protracted is not a good sign.
COOPER: You know, there are a lot of people around the country who -- you know, they're angered that -- that folks on Capitol Hill are still going to get paid, even if federal workers and soldiers and sailors and airmen don't get paid. Do you think anybody on Capitol Hill comes out of this, these last couple of days, looking good?
COOPER: In the White House, I should point out, as well. Anybody in Washington comes out looking good?
HUTCHINSON: Well, right, it's Washington, and the fact that we can't do something for the next six months -- we're in the middle of a fiscal year. Now, obviously, Anderson, we have a new Congress, and there are a lot of new members of Congress who have never been through this budget process. So of course, they're in the learning mode, and that probably has made a difference in the ability to make quick decisions. And that's somewhat understandable.
But it is essential that we start working together. No, this is not a monarchy, and it's not a dictatorship. And no one is going to get exactly what they want 100 percent, but we have to come to a consensus so that we can address the big issues. And the looming $14 trillion debt is the biggest issue we're going to face, probably, in our entire careers.
COOPER: Senator Hutchinson, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, the latest on literally the 11th-hour negotiations. We'll check in with our panel, David Gergen, Paul Begala, and Susan Molinari, when we come back.
COOPER: Now let's go back to Capitol Hill. Dana Bash, what are you hearing now?
BASH: Well, we reported just a few minutes ago that the speaker is telling his conference, telling his fellow Republicans that there is a framework of a final deal.
Well, I just got an e-mail from a source very close to the negotiators, the leadership aides who have been actually crafting this, every single word, every single comma, and this source says that they just shook hands, and they have a deal, that there is a deal, a deal to fund the government for the rest of the year.
This is what they've been working on, and I'm told again that this -- that they actually have shook hands and that there is a deal.
So that is why the House speaker is telling his fellow Republicans that he needs them to agree to tonight pass something that is short-term, just to keep the government running after the midnight deadline, so that they can finalize this deal that they just shook hands on, put pen to paper, put it in legislative language, and pass it.
COOPER: How long would that take to put pen to paper, to put it in legislative language?
BASH: It depends. It could take a couple of days, and that's -- to be honest with you, Anderson, that's why we don't know exactly how long this short-term stop-gap measure would be, because they're trying to figure out how long they need it to be in order to final -- to actually pass the longer term.
But again, tonight we're going to see something that is going to go to the House and Senate floor that is going to keep the government running. That's what we were told now from sources in both parties, and in terms of the long-term, we are told that there is a deal.
COOPER: And any -- we don't know anything of the parameters of what the deal are -- or what the deal is?
BASH: We don't know specifics, but we do know -- big picture. But we do know that the overall spending level, spending cuts, I should say, that they have been talking about are between 38 and $39 billion.
You remember, the House Republicans initially passed something with $61 billion in cuts. Democrats wanted nothing at that level. And so they've come to an agreement at somewhere between 38 and $39 billion.
As we've been talking about over the past few nights, part of the rub was what exactly they were going to cut. They obviously have an agreement on that. We're not sure what that is.
And the other thing that's going to be interesting to look for is -- you've been talking about is some of the riders, the social issues, particularly women's health and abortion. We were told earlier, I was told, John King was told that that is likely to -- to be settled and maybe even go away. But we're going to see if they came up with some other creative language, if you will, that could please both sides on that.
COOPER: We're watching real-time reporting by Dana Bash. Dana, I'm going to -- I'm going to let you look at your BlackBerry a little more.
I'm sorry. I'm getting someone in my ear. What was that?
John King, what are you hearing?
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Charlie (ph), just to fill in what Dana just said, she said one of the unanswered questions is how long does this stop-gap measure go? I am told it runs through Thursday. It would keep the government running through Thursday of next week. And that would give them -- you count it out. They want to work the weekend, Saturday, Sunday, and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So six days, essentially, to put pen to paper, dot the "I's," cross the "T's," everybody triple checks the language on this broader agreement.
The broader agreement would fund the government for six months. That would be through the rest of the current fiscal year, and that six-month Bill, Anderson, would come after what this tonight would be the seventh Band-Aid budget, if you will. So they will pass one more Band-Aid tonight, through Thursday of next week.
And as Dana reported, they have the framework of an agreement, then, to fund the government through the end of September.
We need to get the exact numbers, somewhere in the ballpark $39 billion in additional spending cuts. The details will matter. That's where you'll see the political fight over what was given up by the Democrats and Republicans. But if you're watching at home tonight, planning on going to a national park tomorrow, it appears -- we'll watch the votes. They have to happen in the next hour and 20 minutes or so.
But they have an agreement to fund the government through Thursday, and they have the framework of a deal to then fund it through the end of September.
COOPER: This is obviously huge breaking news. John, in terms, you said over the next hour and a half. What plays out over the next hour and a half? Do we know how this plays out?
KING: Well, the temporary spending measure is actually pretty simple, and I hate to say this, as David Gergen called it earlier tonight, I think an embarrassment, because they have a lot of practice.
Six times they've passed a temporary spending level. It essentially keeps the government running. Because they have the framework of the six-month deal, as they've talked about these temporary measures in recent days, it has been, you know, "Well, only if you cut more billions from the spending. Only if you also include funding for the troops." Because they have agreed on the big picture, just keep the government running, that's pretty simple and easy to put in writing.
And then they say they have the framework on the big picture. We'll have to watch them next week and watch them when they put it in writing. Sometimes the negotiations fray, but they wouldn't be doing this tonight if they didn't think they had a pretty firm agreement on that bigger, more important six-month framework.
COOPER: Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gergen. Also with us, political contributor and Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, and former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari. She's currently president of Susan Molinari Strategies.
Paul Begala, what do you make of it? A framework of a deal is done.
BEGALA: Well, knock me over with a feather. I thought we were heading for a government shutdown, almost for certain.
I do think -- I trust Dana's reporting. I'm sure she's right. What it means, though, is oddly, just a few minutes ago, David Gergen was saying everybody looks bad here.
If, in fact, this holds, then the three leaders of the three branches in this come out looking pretty good. The president of the United States always looks good when he can rise above the partisan fray or kind of resolve a partisan legal difference.
Leader Reid holding a very diverse, very difficult group of Senate Democrats together. And probably the most difficult piece of this, John Boehner able to get cuts, even above what he had gone into the negotiating asked for. He went into negotiations wanting $32 billion in cuts. Dana is reporting it's going to be 38 to 39. That's about 125 percent what he was seeking. That's pretty good.
COOPER: I'm also told Dana has more reporting. Dana, what are you hearing now?
BASH: Well, Anderson, I just reported that they were -- that they shook hands in the room where they were negotiating this deal. Word has gotten to the House speaker, who is still in with his rank and file Republicans, and he just announced, I'm told by a source in the room, just announced that there is a deal to the Republicans. So that's what we're told.
We're also told that on the short term spending measure, the deal to keep the government running, that they're going to actually vote on tonight, you heard John report that that is going to be through Thursday. We're also hearing from our Ted Barrett, our congressional producer, that it will keep the government running through Thursday. But it will also have $2 billion in spending cuts along with it.
COOPER: OK. Again, we're going to continue to go back to Dana and John King and all our folks, all our reporters, our sources that they're working, getting information on their BlackBerries and from other -- other places.
Let's go back to -- to Paul and Susan and David Gergen. Susan, do you agree with what -- what Paul said, that all three kind of come out looking good?
SUSAN MOLINARI: Absolutely. I think when government shuts down, everybody looks bad. When government stays open, everybody looks a lot better. I also agree with Paul that I think Speaker Boehner has really changed the discussion in this town.
And, you know, to look at any one of these fiars (ph) that allows us to say that they have cut spending from last year's baseline is a huge difference from the discussion we used to have in terms of what we thought was cutting spending 15 years ago when I was in Congress and during the last government shutdown. Speaker Boehner has really made some pretty impressive changes, in terms of the way we discuss passing fiars (ph) and cutting budgets.
COOPER: David -- David, maybe -- maybe all three come out looking OK, but doesn't it kind of leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth? I mean, just last night we were talking about a lack of leadership from the White House. We were talking about, you know, lack of leadership for Democrats not getting a budget passed last year. And, you know, obviously, there's been a lot of talk about Republicans, the role of putting in all these riders. Does anyone come out looking good?
GERGEN: Well, I hate to disagree with two such fine people, but I don't think there's going to be wild applause in the country for this. I do think there's going to be a relief, especially among military families. They're going to see those paychecks continue to come, as they should. They deserve that; richly deserve that. There will be so many others who will be relieved that this has been averted, you know.
But honestly, I think it's going to be a one hand clapping kind of situation. To come to the brink as we did, and just an hour and a half away, over such a small amount of money, you know, I do not think is a model for good government. I just don't think it's a model for leadership.
I do agree with Susan that I think John Boehner, among Republican ranks, and the Republicans there, in fact the Tea Party among the conservatives, will be seen -- listen, you did get a substantial cut. At the end, the Republicans were asking for $60, and they got basically 40, that with a group of people in Washington who control 1/3 of government to get 2/3 of what they were looking for is pretty darn good.
I also think Paul would be right in arguing but in the process they got hurt over this Planned Parenthood and this sort of ideological harshness that went into that, or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that went into that. And so there are -- there are some political critics here.
But overall, I think we're a great nation to come to this, to go through this kind of brinkmanship. It's hardly inspiring about what we need to be doing in the future, which is so much tougher than what we've done now, hardly inspiring.
COOPER: Paul, don't -- this sort of stop-gap spending measure needs to be passed by unanimous concept, doesn't it?
BEGALA: It does. And Harry Reid, who's, I think, developed a good relationship with Mitch McConnell in the Senate -- they fight, but things like this, I think you'll see McConnell agreeing to unanimous consent so they can take up, as John King talked about, a few days of continuing resolution...
COOPER: But couldn't one lawmaker now just decide in the next hour and 15 minutes that they don't want to vote with everybody else?
BEGALA: Yes, sir. Absolutely.
COOPER: So one lawmaker could actually stop this thing?
BEGALA: On the Senate side, yes, where, of course, there's no rules in the United States Senate. Anybody can stop anything. I think they understand that the stakes are awfully high.
But you know, here's the problem. Let me get to what Dave was talking about. We are a great nation. We're also a divided nation. "The Wall Street Journal" poll that came out this week, 68 percent of Democrats said, "We want a compromise. We don't want a shutdown." And 76 percent of independents said, "We want a compromise. We want -- we don't want a shutdown." But only 38 percent of Republicans did.
Republicans won the election the last time, not on a message of compromise and reconciliation but on conflict. And they wanted to shut it down. And if Speaker Boehner can deliver his caucus, many of whom got elected not to compromise, if he can get them to vote for a compromise, I think that would be pretty remarkable. Because out in America, Republicans, they don't want a compromise. They want to shut it down.
COOPER: Susan, what does this say about the budget battle to come? I mean...
MOLINARI: Well, look, there's no doubt that the 2012 budget battle is the important budget discussion. It is the time when we talk seriously for the first time in any one of our lifetime memories about entitlement reform and how to move forward, and to make sure that -- that we, you know, enjoy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that allows our kids to sustain a deficit-free future.
It's going to be an important discussion. And so that's why I think it behooves the Republicans and the Democrats to get this out of the way, because that is the most important discussion that's going to shape the direction of our future.
And quite frankly, what was the last election about? These are very important issues. These are very difficult issues. And so when these resolutions come at the 11th hour, it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody, as long as they are resolved.
COOPER: Right. We expect to hear from -- from Harry Reid, perhaps from John Boehner and perhaps even from the president. A lot is going to happen just in the next -- all the way up until midnight. We're going to be live all the way through. We're going to continue to check in with our panel.
Also, a reminder that we are, as I said, waiting for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. We're hearing now it's going to happen later rather than sooner. Senate hours were extended just moments ago. We'll bring it all to you live as it happens. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We continue to follow the breaking news, waiting for live comments from House Speaker John Boehner, also Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, possibly President Obama. We're not sure if he is going to be making comments tonight. A lot ahead in this next hour and ten minutes.
Before we move forward, though, I just kind of want to look back at how we got here. A lot of Republicans have been pointing fingers at the Democrats, saying, look, had the Democrats passed a budget last year, when they had majorities in the House and the Senate and obviously had control of the White House, we would not be in this mess as it was -- as it is now. Let's take a look back at the budget timeline with Tom Foreman -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Undeniably, Anderson, something that will dampen the enthusiasm about any deal is simply the long, strange trip to get here.
Look at this. This budget was proposed on February 1, 2010. That's when the president put the 2011 budget on the table. By July, the House had passed two appropriation bills out of a dozen. That's all that happened. Senate did nothing.
October 1, that's when this budget should have gone into effect to start that year. Instead, that was the beginning of the extensions. By November 2, we had the midterm elections, which might very well have been one of the driving factors behind those extensions. Then by December 3, second extension.
And one after another, we had extensions: second extension, third extension, fourth extension, fifth extension, sixth extension. And now here we are at April 8, Anderson, and finally the sixth extension is ending, and that's going to happen in about one hour and ten minutes, and we'll see if they can get it all done before then.
COOPER: A seventh Band-Aid budget, as John king mentioned a short time ago.
Let's bring back John King and Dana Bash and Dan Lothian and David Gergen. So Dana, just let's bring us up to date here now for those who are just joining. A lot of fast-moving parts to this. There is a deal?
BASH: That's the headline: there is a deal. I reported a short while ago that I first got word from a source close to the negotiations, that they were in the room. They shook hands and said that they have a deal. And that that word immediately, because John Boehner's top aide was in the room, that word immediately got to John Boehner, who is still meeting with his fellow Republican lawmakers, and he made that announcement just a short while after that. That's going on, actually, right near where I am.
So the headline is that there is a deal to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. In addition to that, Anderson, they're also going to pass something tonight -- running out of time -- within the next hour or so, that will fund the government for just a couple of days, just to allow the negotiators and the aides to actually put pen to paper and write out this long-term deal so that they can pass that likely next week.
COOPER: And John King, you're hearing, what, five to seven days length, the extension?
KING: It will go through Thursday. So essentially, if you count the weekend -- and I doubt they'll work the weekend. They're pretty tired. If they have a framework agreement, most of them are going to go home and take a couple days off.
But essentially they have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to put it on paper and then to vote. And so look, they would not take this step -- remember how adamant the speaker was that he was not going to agree to another short-term deal unless he was very, very certain that they had the framework for the six-month agreement.
So we appear to be, we'll watch the votes over the next hour. You made an important point, although I'm told by some good sources that no Republican senator, no Democratic senator has indicated they would try to block this, but let's watch a messy democracy in action. But they have a deal to keep the government funded, Anderson.
By this time next week, they should have voted and passed the deal to keep the government funded through September.
And then the point you were making earlier in the conversation with Susan and Paul and David is critical. Then we move on to a much bigger, this seemed like a big deal this week and shutting down the government is a big deal. What comes next is much bigger and much more consequential, a fight over the debt ceiling, then a fight over next year's budget, which if you read the Republican budget, says fundamentally change Medicare, fundamentally change Medicaid, and try to strip the funding from the Obama health-care plan. The big leagues is about to happen.
COOPER: Dana -- John, let's go to Dana. Dana...
BASH: You want me to get out of the way?
COOPER: Let's watch.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All right. Good evening, everyone. I'm pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open. And I expect that the House will vote yet tonight -- tonight on a short-term continuing resolution into next week to allow for time for this agreement to be put together in legislative form and brought to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote.
And so I would expect the final vote on this to occur mid next week. But I do believe that we'll have a -- what we'll call a bridge continuing resolution passed tonight to ensure that government is open.
As you all know, this has been a lot of discussion, and a long fight. But we fought to keep government spending down, because it really will in fact help create a better job for job creators in our country. Thank.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Speaker, how big is -- how much...
COOPER: And there you hear it from House Speaker John Boehner.
John King, no real surprises in what he said. What do you make of it?
KING: The only surprise is that he's celebrating here, Anderson. He just cut a deal in which he's cutting spending, which is a big deal in Washington. Susan Molinari did write about that. They're cutting from last year's baseline budget.
And he is proving as speaker that he can work in this divided government with a Democratic president, and yet he didn't stay to take any questions, because it's a celebration. But this one, the speaker got some bruises here. This was tough.
And in the end, he's to be congratulated for cutting a deal and proving his mettle in this first big test as the speaker of the House of Representatives, but I don't think he wanted to stand there and be asked what was it like in there, how tough was it, who's mad at you? He wants to celebrate tonight. He'll deal with the rest of it tomorrow.
COOPER: And we're waiting to hear both from -- from Senator Harry Reid, and also possibly President Obama.
David -- David Gergen, how do you think -- and is that reportable? I'm sorry. OK. I'm told that President Obama will be speaking within the next ten minutes, speaking at the White House. Dan Lothian is standing by there.
Dan, we got a ten-minute warning on the president's speech?
LOTHIAN: I'm just -- I'm just hearing now from a senior administration official that the president will be coming out shortly.
Obviously, this is a big relief for the White House, Anderson. You know, there's been a lot of frustration that both sides have been so close for many days. And in fact, Jay Carney, White House spokesman, said a number of times that this was not very complicated. That both sides were so close, and they were frustrated that they could not get a deal done earlier than tonight. Well, certainly there is some relief on that end.
But listen, as Americans are watching this, this really has been the warm-up act. As you've been talking about with your panel, the real fight lies ahead. Americans should buckle their seat belts, because they still have to deal with the 2012 budget. Also, with the debt ceiling battle. So this really is just the beginning of what we have seen. A contentious battle will be much more difficult ahead.
COOPER: Dan, thank you very much.
David Gergen, what do you anticipate the president to say tonight?
GERGEN: The president...
COOPER: He did stay sort of above the fray over the last 24, 48 hours.
GERGEN: Yes. As -- the president if very -- is typically very gracious in a moment like this, and he'll congratulate both houses for their progress. He'll say this is good for the country. I doubt he'll say much about the battles ahead.
The White House will want to have him take as much credit for this as he can, within sort of the bounds of sort of, like, whether it rings true or not.
And I do think the president salvaged something by getting into this at the end and for bringing people together. I think he helped to salvage his piece of it.
But I don't think, again, like the others, you know, when the country looks at the totality of this and seeing that, you know, this could have been done a long time ago with more -- possibly with more aggressive leadership on his part, I don't think he's going to emerge in the way the White House thinks. I don't think this is going to be a moment of some triumph for him. I don't think so. I think this is just what Americans expect to see happen in government. And they would have been really angry to not have it.
COOPER: John King, does -- does the president change how he is leading on this going into this next budget battle? Because I mean, we've been talking about the last couple of days, you know, of how he sort of -- his style tends to be kind of tossing it over to Capitol Hill and then coming into it at a later time. Does that change?
KING: It is such a fascinating question, Anderson. And we don't really know the answer. We do know that the Obama White House under chief of staff Bill Daley has been a different White House than the Obama White House under chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago.
COOPER: How so?
KING: In that Rahm Emanuel was on the Hill all the time. Rahm Emanuel wanted to be in the middle of all those negotiations. He had all these friends in the House Democratic Caucus. They were much more involved in the minute to minute -- Rahm was on the phone all the time, calling into meetings.
Bill Daley is involved. He's watching it. But he has sort of the CEO approach. I'm going to watch you, keep an eye on you, check in to make sure you're OK, but not as hands on.
Yet -- yet Bill Daley has much better relations with the Republicans than Rahm Emanuel. Much better relationships with the Republicans.
The president's style is to be a bit detached and weigh in at the end, as David said, when it was necessary. We're going to learn about all of these leaders here. What type of -- did they just bruise out this deal? And did they leave it with resentment or did they bruise out this deal and leave it with the president of the United States and the Republican speaker of the House. This is the most important relationship.
But also the speaker's relationship with Leader Reid, the Democrat in the Senate. Do they leave here resentful and just "Oh, God," thankful we got it done? Or do they leave here a little bruised but know more about each other, trusting each other more so that they can cut the tougher deals?
Dan Lothian was just talking about the debt ceiling comes next. Anderson, if you think this was a big budget fight over the last couple of weeks, You just wait till the Republicans say the budget that passes the House of Representatives will strip all the money from the Obama health care plan. It will fundamentally change Medicare; it will fundamentally chance Medicaid. It will change the relationship between the federal government and education programs.
It is going to be a transformative document, and the president is going to have to decide how hard to fight it. And it will not only frame next year's budget. It will frame the 2012 election cycle in a dramatic way.
COOPER: We are just now at the top of the hour. It's 11 p.m.
Good evening again. If you are just joining us now at the top of the hour, you have missed an incredibly exciting hour, and we've got another one for you ahead. Breaking news just moments ago, just shy of the 11th hour before a government shut-down..