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Rep. Scott Rigell talks Compromise Bill; Sen. Amy Klobuchar Works on Compromise Deal; Sen. Bob Corkers Talks Debt Ceiling Deal.
Aired October 14, 2013 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. The talk here in Washington today is about a possible, possible compromise deal being bandied about in the halls of the U.S. Senate. 12 Senators, six Democrats, six Republicans met this morning. They have been working on some details of their plan, which may be the best hope so far in getting a deal done on the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling.
Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Rigell.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. SCOTT RIGELL, (R), VIRGINIA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: What do you think? Let's say this passes, some sort of language passes in the Senate. It's got a bunch of Republicans on board, bunch of Democrats. It comes to the House of Representatives. Do you believe your speaker, the speaker of the House, John Boehner, would let it come up for a vote even if the majority of the Republicans are not necessarily on board? A lot of Republicans like you would be on board, but if the majority were not on board, the so- called Hastert Rule, do you think he would let it come up for vote, get the government reopened and avoid any sort of default?
RIGELL: If it appears that there is no other option whatsoever, that's probably the case, but Wolf, let's make it clear here. I'm a fiscal conservative. I'm a Ford dealer who came up here a little over two years ago, swinging a big bat to get our fiscal house in order. I'm one of the most conservative members in Congress. I did say on the first day of the shutdown we needed to have a clean C.R. come to the floor because I thought what would happen is, as this thing unfolded, as it has, we would be in quite a quagmire with respect to what we're asking for is Republicans. And it's unfortunate I think that our -- what we've been advocating for is has been a little bit unclear in the last few days.
But what's needed, Wolf, is for us to not default. It's for us to fund this government and, simultaneously and importantly, get reforms that slow down the rate of growth of mandatory spending. This is equally as important. And I really see my Democratic colleagues and principally Senator Reid -- I just don't see the leadership there. There's real reluctance on his part that I see and a commitment and sense of urgency on the part of Republicans. I'm proud of ha.
BLITZER: What if Harry Reid worked out a deal with Mitch McConnell and they get that kind of compromise you're looking for? I assume if that were there to pass overwhelmingly and decisively in the Senate, you and a whole bunch of other Republicans would join presumably almost all of the Democrats, not necessarily all of them, but almost all of those 200 Democrats, and get it passed?
RIGELL: The key is how long these things are. If we have a short- term C.R., maybe December 15th, that's a good time because it allows us to have our appropriations process move forward.
Now, on the debt limit, I think anything beyond June of next year is not wise. And here's why. We need that pressure point. I wish we didn't need to have a pressure point from Democratic colleagues but we do need one. That would give us the time to advance a longer term solution. What every American has to ask his or her member of Congress is this, do you either have a plan that puts America on a better fiscal path or are you supporting one.
Wolf, last week I launched the - America First Plan to get America back on track financially. And, look, it may not be the best plan. I think it is. But even if it's not, this place is run off of something I call it "we ought to be." We ought to be reforming mandatory spending. I've heard that since I've been here, Wolf. I'm over with. We need leaders to rise up and put out specific definitive plans.
BLITZER: Very quickly, I want to get your quick reaction. Over the weekend, there was a rally over at the Lincoln Memorial. We heard some outrageous comments front Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch. I want to play them for you because I want to get your reaction. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KLAYMAN, FREEDOM WATCH: I call upon all of you to wage a second American non-violent revolution, to use civil disobedience and to demand that this president leave town, to get out --
KLAYMAN: --, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: When you hear that kind of language, what do you think?
RIGELL: Wolf, I have a visceral response to that, and I repudiate it. It doesn't reflect my personal values. My 70-year-old father right now, Ike Rigell, is listening right now, and he raised me to say it's always the president, the president of the United States, we respect the office, and that type of language is harmful to our country. And it's what's pulling us apart. Civility is not weakness. I refer to the president as the president in my home and my office and in my district. And I think this needs to be done all across America. It's not about an individual. It's about the office, and this is the fabric that holds us together as Americans. BLITZER: Well said. You can certainly disagree with policies, but you have to respect the president of the United States. He is the president, not only twice elected, but the last time by more than five million votes of the American people.
Scott Rigell, of Virginia, thanks very much for joining us.
RIGELL: Thank you.
BLITZER: So are they really making progress on a possible deal? With less than 59 hours to go until America maxes out on its credit line, we're going to speak with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, part of an elite group after U.S. Senators, they're working behind the scenes very aggressively to try to come up with some sort of deal. She's standing by live.
BLITZER: This is clearly shaping up to be a critical if not the most critical day so far in this government shutdown, the need to also raise the nation's debt ceiling.
Dana Bash is getting new information up on Capitol Hill.
The action clearly, Dana, on the Senate side. What are you learning?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We just saw Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, go back into Mitch McConnell's office. This is at least the second meeting they've had today, perhaps more without people even realizing it. That is definitely a good sign. Reid himself suggested so, going into the office and to the meeting with Mitch McConnell. He said that they're not there yet but they're getting closer. Again, this is something he told us earlier, as well.
What exactly the sort of the final sticking points are? As you can imagine, because this is a very delicate negotiation, they're holding their cards very close to their vests as to what Mitch McConnell may be trying to demand, what Harry Reid might be trying to give in on. But big picture, we know that the day started out with Harry Reid making an offer of extending the continuing resolution or the spending bill to reopen the government to about mid-December. And with regard to the debt ceiling, to extending that, raising it for the next six to nine months. That's where they started. Of course, that didn't give Mitch McConnell and the Republicans much. Of course, he came back with something. But we're not sure what that was and where things stand. We're hoping to find out more very soon.
BLITZER: I'm sure we will.
Thanks very much, Dana.
Let's bring in Senator, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She's one of 12 Senators, six Democrats, six Republicans, who have been working very actively behind the scenes to try to come up with some sort of deal.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D), MINNESOTA: Well, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: How close are we to a deal, let's say, in the Senate, a deal that would unite Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think you see, with the two leaders meeting, a number of times this morning, talking yesterday, that there are some very productive discussions going on that are very positive. Our group, called together under the leadership of Susan Collins, has been contributing to those discussions and we're feeling good about this, as good as you can feel when we've got the government shutdown and we're creeping up on the day where America actually would be saying to the world, we're not paying our bills. That can't happen. Not to the greatest democracy on earth. I think that's what's uniting us.
One of the things I like that people are talking about, including the congressman that was on last, we also have to look at a reasonable time period here where we can negotiate a longer-term budget deal. We have passed a budget in the Senate. The House has passed a budget deal. And to bring those two budgets and make the very serious attempt to get a longer term budget so we don't lurch from financial crisis to financial crisis would be the best outcome of all.
BLITZER: I know Senator Manchin, of West Virginia, has been part of your group. He was on "New Day" here on CNN earlier. He released some of the details of what you're talking about. I wonder if you could give us a few of the headlines, the main parts of this tentative deal that will hopefully is in the works.
KLOBUCHAR: Senator Manchin played a critical role here. I don't think we want to be negotiating on television, as alluring as that would be for your viewers. But you've hit on some of them. We need to open the government again and do it in a time period which also gives us that moment in time with all of this momentum to actually negotiate a longer-term budget deal.
The second thing is to stretch the debt ceiling date out so we don't have something -- next month, we're back at this again in terms of putting our stock market into a situation where we could see a sudden downturn. Look what happened in 2011. We haven't reached the day and the Dow dropped 2,000 points and we lost over $2 trillion in household wealth. We don't want to get there again. Those are very important parts of this deal for really both political parties and, most importantly, for the American people.
BLITZER: A lot of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate -- I think, more than 70 -- already on the record wanting to end or at least delay this tax for medical devices as part of the Affordable Care Act. And I guess one of the proposals is now at least to delay it for two years. Are you on board for that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, actually, Wolf, Senator Hatch and I have led that effort in the Senate. It was our amendment to repeal the medical device tax that was voted on this spring where we were able to get 79 votes, including over 30 Democrats, to vote for this repeal. Again, we're looking for whether or not this is included as -- it's in the midst of the discussions. We don't know that yet. But one of the things that has been discussed is a two-year delay, and that would allow us to look at this again and figure out whether it should continue and at what level, because it is truly a tax on manufacturing. It involves a lot of jobs in this country and it was something smacked together at the last minute in the negotiations. That's why a lot of people are interested in looking at it again on a bipartisan basis in the House and the Senate.
BLITZER: Right. I knew you were among those who would like to see it go away, at least delayed. The only question I was trying to get is, are you OK making it part of the deal to reopen the government fully and extend the debt ceiling?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: In other words, link that medical tax device issue, medical device tax issue to the current negotiations?
KLOBUCHAR: Of course, I am. And I think one of the key things here is we're looking at how that would be paid for, and how would we go forward. But it is clearly in the discussions.
BLITZER: You think the White House is going to be on board to make that connection?
KLOBUCHAR: That is up to them. The president has, you know, addressed this in the past, and I guess the discussions are under way. And that is all I can say right now because I have certainly found that in the last few weeks, a lot of people talk on TV. What we need to do is to allow them that space to get a negotiated agreement, some common ground, and then we're looking forward to explaining why it is the best thing for America.
BLITZER: You make an excellent point. So much is at stake right now for the whole country right now, especially if that debt ceiling is not raised and raised quickly.
Senator, I hope you'll come back. Thanks very much for joining us.
KLOBUCHAR: I look forward to it. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And thanks to you and thanks to Senator Collins and all the others who have been working so aggressively behind the scenes to end this current crisis for the United States.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. She's done a tremendous job. Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, thank you very much.
The Dow has been a real barometer of the progress on the debt ceiling deal.
Zain Asher is joining us over at the New York Stock Exchange.
What's the latest, Zain? ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, right here, I think there's some sort of blind optimism. Everyone here knows Harry Reid and other Senators are saying they're getting closer to a deal. We have the White House meeting at 3:00. Traders are certainly crossing their fingers.
Another thing you have to remember it is technically a holiday. Banks are closed. The bond market is closed. So the number of trade taking place is muted. Futures had triple-digit loses and now we're in the green right now.
Also another thing is that traders I've spoken to downstairs say, from what they understand, even if October 1st comes and goes, we may not technically run out of money until the end of the month. They know there is some wiggle room. They're just not sure how much.
Another thing a lot of people have been asking me is, how do you as an investor handle this degree of uncertainty. The best thing is to avoid panic buying and selling as we get closer to Thursday. In this kind of climate, especially when you're seeing one minute in the red, one minute in the green, I think it's very important that investors think long term. People are saying if we make it out in one piece, we are likely to see a rally. And also, in the consequence of the shutdown, people are saying the Fed is going to continue stimulus. That's keeping investors very calm -- Wolf?
BLITZER: The market's up about 25 points as you're speaking right now. We've been showing our viewers.
Zain, thank you.
We've heard from lawmakers. Now we want to hear from you. After the break, we're heading to the west coast. We'll hear some Californian, what their messages are to Washington.
BLITZER: Just heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar, key Democratic Senator from Minnesota, working behind the scenes to come up with a deal ending the government shutdown.
Let's bring in Bob Corker, the Republican Senator from Tennessee. I know he's been working very aggressively behind the scenes as well.
Deal or no deal? Are we there, Senator?
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: You know, Wolf, I think the outlines of a deal are there. I think some details are being worked out. You know, obviously, the Republican side would like to have a shorter debt ceiling increase, and a longer continuing resolution, because you lock in those reduced spending levels. Democrats would like it in reverse. My guess is those issues will be resolved very soon. And yes, I do think there will be something on the Senate floor in the next 24 hours.
BLITZER: Maybe as early as today, you think, if the meeting at the White House goes OK?
CORKER: Yeah, I'm not sure the meeting at the White House is one that necessarily has a lot to do with bringing this to a conclusion. But I certainly -- it's always good for leaders to be talking. I think the Reid-McConnell discussions have borne some fruit and the offers are being looked at. back and forth. And hopefully we'll get to a place that's good on the Senate side. And Wolf, you know, it goes to the House, and I don't think it can yet be visualized what's going to happen there.
BLITZER: My own gut tells me, and correct me if I am wrong, if it does pass, if Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell can be on the same page and it does pass the Senate with 70 or 80 votes, that's going to put enormous pressure on the speaker, John Boehner, to at least let it put it up on the floor for a vote. Probably almost all of the Democrats would vote, and then you would have a deal, the president would sign it. And at least the government shutdown would end and the debt ceiling would be extended. What's your analysis?
CORKER: At the end of the day, you know, Wolf, what's happened over the last two months is there's been this defunding effort, which was never realistic. You're not going to have a moment like this to leverage, doing away with the central agenda item of the president. It's just not going to happen. So we basically wasted two months and we've been talking about the wrong topic, which is spending and our country's solvency.
So what's going to happen, Wolf, and I think there will be a frame work put in place. As you know, January 15th is very, very important. That's the date that the automatic spending cuts kick in again, and you go from a $986 billion per year to $967. And I think that moment in time, Wolf, that we have to finally get to those mandatory reforms you know we need to put in place, I know, and everyone up here knows.
Again, yes, there's a deal to be had here. There is something that could be good for our country. It's just a shame that we have wasted the last two months on the wrong topic, on the wrong page, and finally, over the last 72 hours, have gotten there. But we could have made a lot more progress. There's a lot that this country needs for us to do up here as far as spending reforms, and hopefully this framework will be put in place over the next several days to allow us to again do those things that we know have to be done for future generations.
BLITZER: Very quickly, because we're almost out of time, but you're a numbers guy. You point out correctly that the current discretionary spending would go from $986 billion, that's almost a trillion, to $967 billion. In the scheme of a trillion, $19 billion cut, explain why that would be such a huge deal.
CORKER: Well what's happened, Wolf, you know this, we have had reductions in spending over the last two years that we haven't seen since 1955 and 1956. But all of those cuts have come on the discretionary side. People are worried on the military side and also research and development, that we're getting into the quick, if you will. What we haven't done is dealt with the 70 percent of the budget which, as you know, is on automatic control. We have no say over that each year. It just keeps growing. That's the part that's taking our country under over time.
So again, I think that the fact that we've had these reductions, there are people concerned about the military readiness. I'm concerned about it. I still think, though, if we're not going to reduce spending in any other way, keep sequester, but I think it might be the mechanism now. And maybe this is the time. We've had a lot of dry runs, but maybe this is a time where we finally get some of the mandatory reforms. And for what it's worth, the president was discussing that the other day. Obviously, there were some issues he has. Senator Reid has been talking about that, Senator McConnell, certainly all of us on our side have been talking about it. So maybe we're going to finally get to that place, with a mechanism, by the way, Wolf, that doesn't shut the country down and doesn't put our country's credit in question. So maybe the sequester is the place.
BLITZER: And maybe out of this crisis something positive could emerge for the country. Let's hope. And see what happens. But as you point out, the next 24 hours, critical, indeed.
Senator Corker, thanks very much, as usual, for joining us.
CORKER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Good luck to you and everyone trying to end this government shutdown.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room." Much more coming up then.
In the meantime, the NEWSROOM continues with Brooke Baldwin right after this.