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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
House Debates Terri Schiavo's Fate
Aired March 20, 2005 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The lights are on. The House is in session. Lawmakers debating a potentially precedent setting proposal tonight. We are on top of it. Good evening, from Washington, I'm Judy Woodruff.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. I'm Carol Lin from CNN's world headquarters. We are watching the House session very closely in this extraordinary Palm Sunday session. And we are going to be talking about this very unusual event where the House is considering the very specific interests of one party, and passing legislation potentially to address the concerns of one family. It is the case of Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old Floridian woman, severely disabled, unable to survive without medical intervention.
We have coverage all the way from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is our senior medical correspondent, also, Bob Franken, on the scene, at the hospice, where Terri Schiavo is lying in a bed. And Joe Johns, live from Capitol Hill, we are going to start with Joe Johns, who is monitoring the event from the House floor as an emotional debate continues.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, members of Congress continue to make their way here to the Capitol on this Palm Sunday night in Washington, D.C. Very difficult to say how many are here, how many are prepared to vote, as midnight approaches. That, of course, the time the House Republican leadership would like to hold a vote on the Terri Schiavo legislation. They do say, the Republican leaders, have said to reporters that they essentially plan to hold a vote by the time the sun comes up, although there are some people here suggesting they will be able to reach that magic number of 218 just after midnight, and everyone can go on home.
Now, we do have some pictures, of course, not only of members of Congress making their way back here. Also, of a number of tourists. People going up to the galleries to sit inside the chamber of the House of Representatives, and watch what is going down on the floor, of course, as this debate continues. A potential for a long night. They and we have been listening to the debate. If we can, let's take a couple of the sound bytes from the floor earlier this evening.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: As the House convenes this Palm Sunday the Florida courts are enforcing a merciless directive to deprive Terri Schiavo of her right to life. Terri Schiavo, a person whose humanity is as undeniable as her emotional responses to her family's tender care giving, has committed no crime and has done nothing wrong. Yet the Florida courts have brought Terri and the nation to an ugly crossroads by commanding medical professionals sworn to protect life, to end Terri's life.
JOHNS: Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, on the floor right now of the House of Representatives. She, of course, is one of those many members of Congress, very outspoken on conservative issues, one of the key people here when you talk about issues like this one, including the right to life. Let's listen a bit.
REP. MARILYN MUSGRAVE (R ), COLORADO: And the message we're sending to our children and our grandchildren. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I first yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from New York.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The gentleman from New York is recognized for 30 seconds.
CONGRESSMAN, NEW YORK, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I did, indeed, say that there can be Federal court review of due process, obviously. That has happened here. And the Federal court said, 'not only is Ms. Schiavo's case been given due process in the State court, but few if any similar cases have ever been afforded this heightened level of process.'
The difference in this bill is not that it's a review of State court, but it orders a Denova (ph) proceeding to ignore everything that happens in State court as if the State courts didn't exist. That is unprecedented, that is contemptuous, that is different, and that shouldn't be done. And she got that (ph). The appellate courts and federal court didn't agree with the distinguished Chairman.
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: That's not justification for a new bill.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I yield three minutes to the gentleman from Washington.
HASTERT: The gentleman from Washington is recognized for three minutes.
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Pardon me. Dr. McDermott.
HASTERT: Without objection.
MCDERMOTT: Mr. Speaker, this case, what we're doing here tonight.
JOHNS: That, of course, Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington State, has a medical degree himself. Continue to watch this debate, of course, we have now just about a little less than an hour before midnight. The question that will be, just how long it will take the Republicans and the supporters of this legislation to actually get it through the House of Representatives.
Back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns reporting from the Hill, as we watch the members speak on each side. Joe, earlier, I don't know if you're still there. Earlier you were saying that our producer had identified only a handful of members on each side, but clearly both Republicans and Democrats are producing enough of their members to continue this debate. They are taking what? Just a few minutes each, and they have sustained it. There hasn't been a lull.
JOHNS: That's true. And we were asking just a little while ago, particularly to the Democrats, if they thought this debate would fizzle because of their numbers? We do continue to see people streaming in and going to the microphones.
And the other question, of course, is how many members of Congress right now are in their offices around the U.S. capital complex? Very difficult to tell. What they will do is go into their offices and sit and watch this thing on TV rather than sit on the floor. So, you have to calculate all of that. Simply no way to know just how many people will be here when they actually get past midnight.
WOODRUFF: Well, I think it's pretty clear, most of the pressure is on the Republicans who want to turn out their members to get to that 218 votes needed for a quorum. So, we are expecting a vote in the House just a little under one hour from now, just after midnight Eastern time.
LIN: All right. In the meantime, Judy, several people are waiting down at the hospice where Terri Schiavo is now being cared for. CNN's Bob Franken standing by outside, there in Pinellas Park. Bob, is the court, is the Federal court prepared to accept the legislation tonight and take any sort of action overnight on behalf of Terri Schiavo if this law passes?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are told by the lawyers for the Schindler family, the Schindler family, and the blood relatives of Terri Schiavo, who are fighting so hard to get the feeding tube reinserted, we are told that clerks in both the Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the 11th Circuit, and the Middle District, which is the Federal District of Central Florida, they are waiting there to receive the documents once they come.
Then it will be up to the judge who is assigned, and that's done by random, the judge to decide whether he wants to take action overnight, he or she wants to take action, or whether he would wait a day or so. The lawyers are quite confident we're told that they will want to take action immediately. In fact, we spoke awhile ago with David Gibbs, who represents the family, and he said he is very, very optimistic that the tube will be reinstalled overnight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GIBBS, ATTORNEY, TERRI SCHIAVO FAMILY: In this case, I would feel that a Federal judge would certainly want to hold hearings and put it in an orderly process, as opposed to trying to rule against it in the middle of the night. And so while nothing is certain in a case like this, we would feel fairly confident that if the bill is passed into law that a Federal judge would, indeed, order that Terri be resumed with the feeding of water tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: And, by the way, we're told that that process would not take place in the hospice here. That is a process that involves a bit of surgery. Terri Schiavo would be removed from this facility, taken to a hospital where she would then have the procedure if it happens to have the tube reinstalled.
LIN: So, Bob, your understanding is that they would wake-up a Federal judge tonight in order to make that happen, and that there are people at the hospice prepared to accept that court order?
FRANKEN: There are, but the procedures here before, they have not been willing to accept a faxed order, so there would probably have to be somebody who would rush the documents over to the hospice and then the process would begin. You can imagine that all of this has been prearranged but there's going to be a strict protocol that's followed.
LIN: All right. Thanks very much. Bob Franken reporting live from Pinellas Park as the courts, and the doctors, and the officials down in Florida await to hear what will be the result of this debate at the U.S. House of representatives.
Let's take a step back from the political fray for a moment, and consider some of the legal aspects of the Schiavo case right now, with a leading civil rights attorney and law professor, Avery Friedman is joining me now from Cleveland, Ohio.
Avery, you take a look at e events that are happening on the House floor, it is extraordinary to see this kind of effort and action, especially on a Palm Sunday, isn't it?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, LAW PROFESSOR: It is. It is extraordinary, Carol. Not only because they're doing it over the weekend here on a Sunday night, but the nature of the legislation, itself, putting politics aside, putting emotions aside, there is, there will be no law in American jurisprudential history that will be equivalent to what we're seeing tonight.
LIN: And why do you say that?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you see, the legislation is written not to protect a class of people or all Americans, this is a law that specifically says it is to protect two people, the parents of Terri Schiavo. And what that law does is it gives them something called 'standing,' that's the word in the legislation. Standing is a legal phrase that means you have a right to go to court.
Well, where is that court? As Bob Franken earlier reported, it is the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, that sits in Tampa. And when the legislation kicks in, it gives the right of Terri Schiavo's parents to go to Federal court and consider the case.
Now, what's very unusual, in fact, unprecedented, is that this legislation essentially vacates, throws out all the decisions made by all of the courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court of Florida, and they essentially start over.
But during this debate, what we've seen, Carol, is there's been general talk about the constitutional right of Terri Schiavo. But what they don't say is what are we talking about? As further debate has gone on, Carol, what we've seen is they've said the right of due process. Well, that's a Federal right. And so what the lawyers for the parents of Terri Schiavo are going to argue that under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Terri Schiavo has not been given a fair hearing.
LIN: Right. She has not had her own attorney because her husband is her legal guardian, and the parents have claimed there's a conflict of interests because he's just trying to get on with his life.
FRIEDMAN: That's not exactly right. She's had a guardian ad litem. The court appointed a separate person to represent the interests of Terri Schiavo.
LIN: Other than the husband?
FRIEDMAN: Other than the husband. And the courts have already heard testimony from this independent conservator, protector of Terri Schiavo, separate from the...
LIN: All right.
FRIEDMAN: From the role of Michael's.
LIN: So, it sounds like what you're saying is they still may be standing on shaky legal ground. So let me ask you what may happen next. Let's just say this legislation passes.
LIN: It's communicated to the Federal court. A judge is woken up. Do you expect that this, number one, that the Federal judge will take the case, all right, will the Federal judge take the case, would the Federal judge act as quickly as tonight to have that feeding tube reinstated, or does that judge have the discretion to refuse to accept this action because he or she may have constitutional concerns? I mean what do you think might happen next? What are the big what if's? FRIEDMAN: You just asked me three very complicated questions. Let me...
LIN: Try to keep it simple.
FRIEDMAN: OK. And I'm going to do it. You heard Mr. Briggs (ph) say that they're going to go right into Federal court, and he thinks a judge is going to reattach the tube. I've litigated in that Federal court in the Middle District of Florida, that will absolutely not happen.
What's going to happen is they have very strict procedures. Bob Franken referenced that. And there is likely to be a hearing. There's not going to be a constitutional challenge of the law immediately. There will be an emergency hearing. It may be tomorrow, it may be the next day. And we will determine at that point, the judge will determine whether or not he will first require briefs. But you're not going to see a reconnect, Carol, of the tube involved here. That's not going to happen tonight.
LIN: It's not going to happen tonight?
FRIEDMAN: Absolutely not.
LIN: And you're suggesting it may not even happen in the next couple of days?
FRIEDMAN: Well, the standard that the judge uses is irreparable injury. There's a rule under, in Federal practice, where the person that seeks the relief, the reconnect, has to show irreparable injury. In other words, if Terri Schiavo were to die tomorrow if she weren't reconnected, I have very little doubt that the judge probably would reconnect. But the judge is going to go very carefully. This is a Federal District judge, and he's going to require arguments and briefs by both sides on an expedited basis.
LIN: All right. Avery, that's very interesting, and that's something that we should probably address with our senior medical correspondent shortly. Thank you very much, Avery Friedman, for that legal opinion. Interesting.
FRIEDMAN: Very nice to be with you.
LIN: All right. Judy, back to you in Washington for now.
WOODRUFF: And, of course, Carol, we should point out that Federal courts in Florida have already looked at this case from other angles, and have not, have declined to step in to interfere. But this is coming at it from yet a different direction.
We're going to take a very short break. We are continuing to follow the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives about Terri Schiavo. That debate continues. When we come back, we're going to look at some of the political ramifications of all of this with our analyst, Carlos Watson. We'll be right back. These are live pictures of the United States Capitol where the lights are burning late at night. It is 1:17 Eastern Time, and inside the Capitol we find members of the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, debating the fate, at least in the short term, of Terri Schiavo, the Florida brain damaged woman.
We have been listening to the debate, and right now we're going to talk to two members of the House of Representatives, Congressman Wexler of Florida, who is a Democrat, Congressman Weldon, Weldon of Florida, who is a Republican.
Congressman Weldon, are you going to -- is your party going to be able to get the 218 votes you need to pass this?
REP. DAVE WELDON (R), FLORIDA: Well, the original version of this bill that I introduced had about 30 Democrat cosponsors. It's being portrayed as a Democrat, Republican fight. But there's actually a fair number of Democrats that support the bill, and there are some Republicans who are opposed. So, but I think we will have enough votes to pass it, and hopefully we'll be able to get that done in a few minutes.
WOODRUFF: Do you have that information from the people who are doing the counting, the whip, or where are you getting the information from?
WELDON: This bill that we're taking up is a varied version of the original bill I introduced, and in about a period of about a week- and-a-half I had accumulated 130 cosponsors. These are people whose names went on the bill, and about 30 of them were Democrats, about 100 Republican. So that tells me there's a fair amount of Democrat support, and we may be able to pass it.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Wexler, what's your sense? Are they going to be able to get the votes?
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I wouldn't begin to hazard a guess. I think most members of Congress have just begun to focus on the merits of this legislation in the last day or two. And I think most Democrats are coming to the realization that the bill, in essence, would undermine the jurisdiction of the Florida courts, but the Florida courts for seven years have acted in a deliberate and fair manner. And that Congress has no role in this controversy.
WOODRUFF: Why not, Congressman Wexler, why doesn't Congress have a role? I mean Congress, as the legislation itself states, it is the role of the legislative branch to secure the rights of individuals.
WEXLER: The Congress is a legislative body, it is not a judicial body. We are making medical judgments we have no business making here. We are making decisions based on testimony we have not heard. We haven't heard a single witness. We haven't heard a single medical expert. All of that was done over years in the Florida courts where between lawyers' due process and their cross-examination the facts can emerge. None of that has happened in Congress. And we are in effect if the bill passes substituting our judgment for the judicial judgment. And we have totally broken down the separation between legislative and judicial branches.
WELDON: I would respectively disagree with my colleague on his interpretation of that. Really the language in the bill simply allows for a judicial review. I'm a physician and not a lawyer, but my understanding of the constitution is that the Congress is given the right to define the jurisdictional authorities of the courts. And we afford these kind of benefits to death row inmates. John Couey, who killed that young girl in Florida, is going to get most likely in the end a Federal review to make sure his constitutional rights were protected.
WOODRUFF: If that's the case, Congressman Wexler, what is wrong with letting the Federal courts take another look at this case. This woman's life is in the balance.
WEXLER: Yes, it is. Nineteen judges in Florid have already been involved in this case. There have been numerous hearings, numerous appeals. The United States Supreme Court just last week denied a petition by the House of Representatives. What we have here is for the most part Republicans and Congress saying they disagree with a State court decision in Florida, therefore, they will pass a special law taking the case away from the State court, bringing it to Federal court. Had the State court in Florida ruled in favor of Mrs. Schiavo's parents do you think the Republicans in Congress would be here tonight, demanding that a Federal court review the matter?
WOODRUFF: Congressman Weldon, can you answer that?
WELDON: Well, the reason I got engaged is I had a lot of my constitutions calling me and writing me, expressing some great concerns that this was a miscarriage of justice.
WOODRUFF: So you're saying that you would not have gotten involved if the courts in Florida had ruled differently?
WELDON: No, I'm not saying that. I'm just telling you the sequence of events.
WELDON: That the way this played out. I was responding to the people in my district. I talked to the family, the mother and the father, and the brothers and sisters, and they all -- this is the Schindler family.
WELDON: These are Terri's immediate blood relatives, and they were adamant that they felt that their sister deserved a Federal review.
WOODRUFF: Last question, Congressman Weldon. How long do you think the leadership, the Republican leadership in the House is going to keep this vote open after midnight?
WELDON: Oh, I would imagine not for long. The planes, you know, have all landed hours ago. Everybody who is going to get here is here, and so we should have a quick vote.
WOODRUFF: OK. So just perhaps in a matter of minutes?
WELDON: I hope so.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Weldon of Florida, Congressman Wexler of Florida with two, both from the State of Florida, Terri Schiavo's home, but with two very, very different perspectives. Gentlemen, thank you very much for talking with us on this extraordinary night as we watch the Congress in session on a Sunday night as the clock approaches midnight.
I want to quickly bring in CNN Political Analysts, Carlos Watson who joins us from Mountainview, California tonight. Carlos, from your perspective, had you ever seen anything like this?
CARLOS WATSON; CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I haven't. And what's interesting here is that there are a series of political implications that you'll see in the short term, Judy, I think. And then there's another set that you'll see in the long term.
In the short term you're already beginning to hear talk within Florida, and I've been on the phone with a series of people all day, that this is potentially going to affect the Senate race and the Governor's race there next year. And so you'll hear a lot more about that in days to come. Across the country including California, where I am, as well as potentially in Arizona, maybe Oregon, maybe Florida, as well. Don't be surprised to see some of the State legislatures and others take up the issue be it initiative route. So last year we saw a number of State initiatives. Don't be surprised to see initiatives that relate to this, as well.
And last but not least, what a number of people, Republicans certainly have told me is that this is likely to rev up the grassroots base ahead of what a number of people expect will be a pretty serious conversation over judges, potentially even an opening on the Supreme Court. So although we're focusing narrowly on the Schiavo case there are a lot of broader short-term political implications from Florida, to State initiatives, to potentially the judicial battles ahead.
WOODRUFF: Carlos, are you saying that the Democrats have something to worry about here?
WATSON: Privately what I'm saying is what you're seeing that is very interesting is that you're seeing two different sets of conversations. There are a few people, like Congressman Wexler and Wasserman Schultz, and others who have spoken out against it. But for the most part most Democrats have kept quiet.
But the truth of the matter is a number of them, both Democrats and Republicans, are concerned. A number of Democrats have expressed to me, and you see some of it in some reports, say they think this is very politically oriented that Republicans could have taken action earlier but have decided to use this in a sense as a political platform. Republicans, of course, pushed back and say this is an issue that we've cared about for a long time, and that Jeb Bush and others have followed quite carefully.
But make no mistake about this, this is a politically heated sensitive issue, but coming out of this and I'll add this, you actually may see some long-term policy in the same way that immediate events in part inspired Megan's Law, immediate events in part inspired Lacy and Connor's Law, you may see Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Mike Enzi, Bill Frist, and several senators, both Republican and Democrats, come together and try and work on a longer term solution after this immediate issue is passed.
WOODRUFF: All right. Carlos Watson, our political analyst, joining us tonight from Mountainview, California. Carlos, thank you very much. As I send it back over to Carol Lynn in Atlanta. Carol, the debate continues on the House floor, and we are now just a little over half an hour away from that vote.
LIN: Yes, that vote, Judy, expected to come at 12:01 Eastern Time. And, of course, we are here monitoring all those events, bringing you all the debate. And, frankly, some really interesting stories behind the scenes.
In fact, one, sitting right next to me, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Senior Medical Correspondent, has been bringing us some perspective, as well as some breaking news right now. You actually got an e-mail from the Senate Majority Leader who is watching our coverage and heard some of the remarks that you made about whether Terri Schiavo is, in fact, cognitive on any level. What did he have to say?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. He just e-mailed me on my blackberry here. Worth pointing out again, as many people know, that he's also a cardiac transplant surgeon, Senator Frist is very well versed on the issues of brain death, coma, and those sorts of things, as a transplant surgeon. Telling in the e-mail that he specifically has reviewed all of the testimony of the 33 positions himself. He never had a chance to actually examine Terri, or see Terri or her scans, but based on some of the footage that he has seen, not just the family videos, he said as a medical professional he was surprised at the level of response that she was giving to verbal commands.
Now, this is an important point the Senator is making, this e- mail that he sent to me, because he's talking specifically about going beyond the realm of wakeful unawareness that we've been talking so much about, and saying at least based on what he has seen from some of this footage from Terri Schiavo that she's actually responding in some sense to verbal commands. Now, again, he has not examined Terri himself, but he points out that if this bill passes that unbiased new neurologists will actually examine Terri again.
So, you and I have talked so much this evening about the five neurologists, three who said that she did have persistent vegetative state, two that weren't quite sure, at least sure enough to say so. New neurologists would now come into this debate if this bill passes, reexamine her to try and clear-up this issue of persistent vegetative state once and for all. So, he's clearly watching, in case you thought all of the Senators were asleep, and just the Congressman awake, you know, he's watching, keeping an eye on this.
LIN: Maybe taking great pleasure that there are members, there are colleagues in the House that are staying up late.
GUPTA: That's right.
LIN: But in terms of verbal commands, I mean make that distinction? Because you originally talked about when you test people who are in a persistent vegetative state for responses, and you clap your hands that they might respond.
LIN: You might get a reflective response. But he's saying -- is he saying that in these videotapes that he saw demonstration of them saying something to the effect of what Terri looked right, Terri looked left, blink your eyes?
GUPTA: Yes, he wasn't as specific as that, but you know, you're right, in terms of persistent vegetative state, someone who is in a persistent vegetative state does have some degree of reflexes. so, if you clap your hands, for example, really loud to their right side, they may look as a reflex of action, which is very different than saying, 'listen, wiggle your thumb, hold up two fingers, turn your head to the right,' These kinds of things are much more of a response to verbal command.
He wasn't specific in terms of what he exactly saw. But, again, he is a cardiac transplant surgeon. He says that as a medical doctor he saw something that at least gave the perception to him that she was actually having some verbal command response. That's the Senator's take on this.
LIN: But wasn't there an MRI done on this woman's brain, the cortex of her brain?
LIN: And there was no brain activity?
GUPTA: Well, there was an MRI done, there was also a spec scan done, that's a more sophisticated scan, actually trying to look at, see if certain areas of the brain are lighting up, actually activating in response to certain commands. Those scans were done, but still, you know, and I think it's important to point out, there still remains a clinical diagnosis. You can see all sorts of changes on these scans, and have someone who is in a pretty good spot, you know, in terms of their ability to respond. You can also see minimal changes on these scans and have someone who is neurologically devastated. The key to this is how is she doing clinically? And I think that's going to be the important thing as other doctors continue to examine her.
LIN: Tom DeLay today, actually indicated that, and the family said this, as well, that Terri Schiavo was aware of the event happening on Capitol Hill. And they believe that she is aware of those events, and that she actually tried to speak today. Do you believe that?
GUPTA: You know, it's just so hard to say. And it's a really difficult position, and you and I have both been sitting here sort of examining this from afar. I've never met Terri Schiavo, nor have I looked at her scans. What I would say is this, and I think this is as much as I could say. Is that someone in a persistent vegetative state may make noises from time to time. They may grimace, they may smile. They may blink their eyes even. Things like that, all seemingly, you know, signs of being awake.
Now, when you look at these images you see someone whose mouth may drop a little bit, is she frowning, is she smiling there in response? It's hard to say. So when you ask me specifically, she made a noise today, when told about the hearings and the goings on on Capitol Hill? That doesn't surprise me. Whether or not it was a -- give some sort of affirmation that she understood, that's very difficult to say.
LIN: The husband, Michael Schiavo, has said that they are, and this is a quote, 'primitive responses.' That is what, that is how he has described her reactions.
GUPTA: Brainstem responses, some doctors will call it, as well. I mean she breathes on her own, she regulates her heart rate on her own, her heart rhythm, those sorts of things. She can swallow to some extent, she can make noises, open her eyes, but is she actually understanding? Is she actually able to communicate in a meaningful way? That's the difficulty. It's really hard even for doctors to put their arms around this.
LIN: All right, earlier, you heard the report from Bob Franken in terms of even if this law passes it gets down to the Federal court, the process down there in Federal court is very specific, that there likely would need to be papers filed officially, a hearing held before a Federal judge down there would likely order the tube reinserted.
LIN: Bob was talking about it could be even a couple more days.
LIN: All right. So that would be close to six days that this woman would be going without any sort of sustenance but especially hydration.
LIN: Without water. Is she going to be physically damaged by that?
GUPTA: She may have some damage to her kidneys from this. You know, it's hard to know exactly. Back in October of 2003, you will remember, she was actually off of these for 6.5 days at that point, six-and-a-half days, and you know she obviously survived that. You know, the hydration is a must. And usually about a week, 10 days or so, doctors start to get very concerned about someone even being able to survive that. So six days certainly is a long time to be without any kind of nutrition or hydration.
LIN: But if the family is talking about the possibility of rehabilitation, or working with Terri Schiavo, with, you know, other doctors, does it damage her chances if there is any potential there?
GUPTA: You know, that's a good question. And it's hard to say. You know, certainly with dehydration someone might have some organ damage. I don't know how much she could be rehabilitated from where she is right now. Fifteen years now after the fact. I think most doctors, neurologists, neurosurgeons, anyone that's examined Terri even would say it's unlikely she's going to make any significant gains. The question is will she lose anything, and that's what everyone is fighting so hard about right now. They're fighting about the fact that they think she can acknowledge certain things, that she is aware of her surroundings. Might she lose some of that as a result of being so dramatically dehydrated for six, seven days, it's possible.
LIN: All right, Sanjay. Fascinating.
GUPTA: It really is.
LIN: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
We've got much more of our special coverage as we tick down the minutes, the minutes now, less than a half hour from now we expect the U.S. House of Representatives to take an extraordinary vote on a law that would give Federal jurisdiction over the case of Terri Schiavo. We'll be right back.
Live pictures of the United States Capitol on a Sunday night, just about 25 minutes from now members of the House of Representatives will vote on a piece of legislation that would in effect throw the case of Terri Schiavo into the Federal courts, having the Federal courts examine this case yet again to determine whether a mistake was made when her feeding tube was removed last Friday. Let's listen in for a few minutes to some of the debate on the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Speaker.
HASTERT: The gentleman from Tennessee is recognized for two minutes.
REP. ZACH WAMP (R), TENNESSEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I come to the floor to just speak about the issues of being here in the first place. When I was home for a couple of days several friends asked questions about this case, my Mother even called to inquire. And like the gentle lady from Colorado, I'm just an earnest layman, not a lawyer or a physician, even though I've been very impressed from both sides with the input from the distinguished lawyers and physicians that are in these chambers.
And I think we should come often now as technology develops exponentially, and just ask questions of ourselves about medical ethics and where we really are. I reject the notion that this is about politics. I do know something about politics, and I would say this is not good politics for either side. This is about life and death.
I do believe that this is somewhat about ideology, though. The gentleman from Massachusetts said so, and I believe there is a culture of life that many conservatives are willing to stand for. I frankly think that many liberals for a long time used every tool at their disposal to push their perspective, and I'm glad conservatives are finally figuring out that that needs to be done from time to time.
I think this is a thoughtful process, I think it's a necessary process, I think the Federal representatives when we face these issues should not hide or shirk the responsibility, we should come here.
Now, I am concerned about the separation of powers in the 10th Amendment, and I've got a record for a decade of standing on almost a libertarian platform on some of these issues, but I don't think we're going too far here. This is a review. It is simply a review. It is a reasonable step.
And to the gentleman from Massachusetts, you have a living will, to the whole country, if you don't want your family in this dilemma and you should not, get a living will so that is clear, so that it's not questioned. So that you won't have a case come to the floor of the House with you. The lesson here is everyone in this country should have a living will so it's cut and dried, we know, and the legislative bodies in Florida or Montana, or Washington, D.C. will not have to be involved.
And I yield back.
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Massachusetts.
CONGRESSMAN, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I yield to the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Levin.
HASTERT: The gentleman is recognized. The gentleman from Michigan is recognized for two minutes.
REP. SANDER LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Fifteen years ago or so I worked with colleagues in the Senate on the difficult issues relating to the wishes of people who were going to receive medical care if they were incapacitated. We required that State laws be told to patients, about living wills and advance directives.
The Florida Judicial System has worked hard to follow its laws and to try to discern what was or would have been the wishes of Mrs. Schiavo. Section I of the bill says, 'the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida shall have jurisdiction to hear, determine, and render judgment on a suit or claim by or on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo for the alleged violation of any of her rights under the Constitution or Federal laws.' That court has already addressed that issue. It did show just a few days ago, and here's what it decided and I quote, 'the court finds there is not a substantial likelihood the petitioners will prevail on their Federal Constitutional claim.' That's the same court to whom you're sending this case. And the Supreme Court of our country denied review.
So essentially what you're doing now for one case is changing Federal rules, for one case, and saying, 'there shall be a Denovo hearing disregarding everything that's happened through the State courts and Federal courts until now.'
In a word, what you're doing is allowing the rule of law of this country to be twisted in the winds. It's a mistake.
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Wisconsin.
CONGRESSMAN, WISCONSIN, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Speaker, I yield two minutes to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McIntyre.
HASTERT: The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Sander Levin from Michigan, Democrat, joining with other Democrats in saying if the Congress Does this it is ignoring what the courts have done over the last many years. He followed a Republican member of Congress, Congressman Zach Wamp of Tennessee, who argued that because of the culture of life Congress is obligated to do what he expects it will do at midnight. That vote coming up just after midnight, which is about 17, 18 minutes from now. It's now 11:42 Eastern Time.
We are watching this story from across the country. Our Joe Johns is at the Capitol. We have Bob Franken in Florida, Dana Bash has been at the White House, Bill Schneider with me here in the Washington Studio.
Joe Johns, to you first. Are the Republican sounding confident now that they're going to get that 218?
JOHNS: I've got to tell you, Judy, we've had uncertainty on this legislation basically since Thursday, and there is still a bit of uncertainty right here on Capital Hill.
The one thing that everybody seemed to agree on is that they will get the votes tonight or early this morning. The question is how long? A lot of people are telling me, including two senior Republican aids, suggesting strongly that they may have to hold the vote open for awhile which means there will not be an immediate resolution to this right after midnight, that it may take awhile as remaining members of Congress trickle in, those who perhaps had late planes, came in at another airport, others who were driving who definitely want to get here and make this vote. They say they will have the numbers, the question is how long after midnight will they reach that number of 218 that allows them to go ahead and have the vote, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Joe, very quickly, is there a rule as to how late they can go?
JOHNS: It doesn't seem to be a rule. As you know, back on the Medicare vote sometime ago they actually went until about 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. The Republicans control the House, they pretty much do what they want to.
WOODRUFF: OK. Joe Johns at the Capitol.
Now, we move to Florida to the place where Terri Schiavo is being cared for, at a hospice, our Bob Franken is there. Bob, what is the situation?
FRANKEN: Well, Judy, to give you an example of how raw the nerves are, a few minutes ago an ambulance came up to the hospice entrance here with its lights flashing, and everybody was wondering does this have anything to do with Terri Schiavo? And everybody included, members of her family who very worried went into the facility. They came out a few minutes later, this had nothing whatsoever to do with Terri Schiavo, it was another patient.
But if they are successful in Congress and then with the President and with the courts their hope is that sometime overnight an ambulance would come and take Terri Schiavo and remove her to a hospital where the feeding tube would be reinserted. It's a surgical procedure which would not be done here, but right now they are as anxious as anybody else about what goes into Congress and, of course, anxious about Terri Schiavo inside.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken describing the situation there at the hospice in Florida.
Our Dana Bash is at the White House. Dana, President Bush returned a week early from a trip to be available to sign any legislation that passes.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I should note that I'm here in the Washington Bureau. The White House though is definitely a place where President Bush is right now and was not expected to be at all, as you mentioned. And he's really here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to wait for Congress to send him this piece of legislation. He has made clear to his aids that he sees this case as a race against time, and that every minute counts in this, so that's why he said he wanted to change his plans, be back in Washington at the White House.
Now, we don't know for sure, but we do know that President Bush is somebody who likes to go to bed early, so it's very possible he is sleeping right now. But certainly the White House says that as soon as they get this bill they will probably take it to the White House residence and he will sign it.
WOODRUFF: So, evidently, the President left instructions, 'wake me up no matter what time it is so I can sign that and we can get it moving into the court system.'?
WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash covering the White House. Thanks for clarifying, Dana, where you are.
With me in the studio, Bill Schneider. Bill, you and I were talking a little earlier about what the public thinks about all of this. The only evidence we have at this point is a recent poll?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. It's a poll done a couple of weeks ago in early March by Fox News and Opinion Dynamics, which asks people, 'if you were Terri's guardian, Terri Schiavo's guardian, would you remove or keep the tube?' And by a solid margin, 59 percent said they would remove the feeding tube, 24 percent said they would keep it in place.
But on an issue like this polls do not tell the whole story. There's also a factor of intensity which politicians are very sensitive to. It could well be the case as many members of Congress have reported, that the 24 percent who say the tube should be kept in place and she should be kept alive feel very intensely about that issue.
Members of Congress say they've been hearing that from their constituents. They care deeply and they're willing to go to great lengths to make their opinions known, whereas the 59 percent who feel the tubes should be removed may not care so much or they may feel a bit squeamish about it because in the end that actually would cause the woman's death. So that maybe that the intensity is on the side of the minority and what we're seeing played out here on the floor of Congress tonight is not majority rule but minority power.
WOODRUFF: And yet the Republicans if they can get enough of -- they are the majority, if they can get enough of their number plus any number of Democrats who agree with them they've got to have a majority to get this thing passed?
SCHNEIDER: That's right, they've got to have a majority. And the big question I think tonight is how many members will actually show up to vote? It's pretty clear even Democrats who are critical of the process are a bit nervous about opposing it because they're worried that some of these people who feel intensely about the issue, and feel that the tubes should be replaced, and that she should be kept alive, may remember this and resent it and take it out on them at the polls.
The question is will people watching this tonight, our viewers tonight, will those who disagree with what the leadership, the Republican leadership of Congress is doing, will they become angry, will they become intense, and will they become outraged and say, 'this is not any of Congress' business,' and communicate that to members of Congress? In which case the story could shift.
WOODRUFF: But up until this point it is the people who are saying, 'keep Terri Schiavo alive, put that feeding tube back in,' those are the ones who have marshaled I would say the most emotion in there?
SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. And in a debate like this intensity matters, not just numbers.
WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider. Thanks very much.
We are in Washington, continuing to monitor the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. We are getting closer. It is just before, 10 minutes before midnight, so we are 10, 11 minutes away from a vote. Let's dip in again, and hear what some of the members are saying.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: We make progress towards that culture of life, one life at a time, one heart at a time. Today let us start by helping Terri Schiavo live. I yield back my time.
HASTERT: The gentleman yields back the balance of his time.
The gentleman from Massachusetts.
CONGRESSMAN, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I yield two-and-half minutes to the gentleman from North Carolina.
HASTERT: The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized for two-and-one-half minutes.
REP. MELVIN WATT (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just came in on the plane from North Carolina, and found myself thinking a lot about what we are doing here this evening.
Wondering, first of all, what this vote is going to cost the American people, making a mental calculation that probably $4 million or $5 million we are spending on this one vote this evening, and wondering how many children are going to go to bed hungry tonight, and how many we could feed with that amount of money? How many feeding tubes we have withdrawn by our own indifference in this body by the decisions that we have made in this body that pit one group against another?
I found myself wondering where the compassion was last week when we tried to rally the members of this body behind the Congressional black caucus agenda and budget, and pointed out to them that 886,000 more people died last, over the last 10 years, African-Americans, because they didn't get the same kind of quality of medical care that white Americans got, just the difference in the quality -- where was your compassion when we tried to get you to address that issue?
The compassion comes out in this one case, but where is the compassion when we point out to you every single day that people are starving and dying, and seeking justice, and you will not hear it? How do we define compassion here? We've got to look at a bigger global picture I think. I can't just react to one person's situation. Where is your compassion when we need you?
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from (INAUDIBLE).
WOODRUFF: That was Congressman Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, raising some of the concerns that other Congressional members have raised, that there are other issues that need to be addressed by this body. Why is the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate so concerned about one particular case, this 41-year- old woman, Terri Schiavo, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for the last 15 years, now getting the full attention of the U.S. Congress.
Right now, I want to turn to Avery Friedman. He is a Civil Rights Attorney. He's been helping us with some of the basic legal questions. And, Avery, this, you know, there have been many claims made right now on the House floor, that this is actually a threat to democracy that Congress is considering this legislation, but specifically names the parents of Terri Schiavo. This is for their specific relief, to give them a way to go to the Federal courts and have Terri Schiavo's medical case reviewed with a fresh start.
FRIEDMAN: I understand the rhetoric of a threat to the democracy. Quite honestly, what this is, is really something constitutionally unprecedented. The difficulty, and I think Congressman Watt raises the issue, where is the compassion for others who are dying, that sort of misses the point of what this is about. This is what one individual and at least part of Congress is trying to do for that one individual. And the difficulty is that it is flying in the face of existing constitutional precedent. There is nothing like this.
Essentially what Congress is being asked to do and what it may do in this one case is federalize what thousands of probate courts do all over this country.
WOODRUFF: What do you mean? In plain English?
FRIEDMAN: Well, and here it is, if there's a family dispute, a guardianship, matters of wills, matters of probate, these matters are exclusively the province of the State courts. These are the local courts. This will be the first time in American constitutional history where we are federalizing it, we are taking a guardianship issue and putting it in a Federal courtroom. That's never been done.
WOODRUFF: All right. Avery, I'm going to interrupt you there, because right now we're going to go back to the House floor where Congressman James Sensenbrenner is making final remarks. Let's listen in.
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: So, in Florida an animal has a higher right than this woman, and that's a wrong priority, and this bill attempts to correct it. No Federal court has agreed to hear Terri Schiavo's Federal claims, while her State court remedies were not yet exhausted.
Now that her State court remedies are exhausted she has only two means of obtaining Federal court review under current law. The first means is in the lower Federal court through the habeas corpus statute, and the second is by petitioning the Supreme Court directly, or she can try to obtain habeas relief under the current Federal law.
On Friday she was denied that relief by the Florida Federal District Court. That denial has been appealed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which requested the briefs of her husband's lawyers by 7:00 tonight. No one knows when the 11th Circuit will make a final decision, and they may yet deny her habeas relief, so time is of the essence.
In any case, even if she is granted a habeas review of her case she faces a major obstacle in that the Federal habeas corpus statute essentially requires the Federal court to defer to the State court's determination regarding the facts of this case. So even if the habeas petition is granted the deck is stacked against her.
Second, Terri Schiavo's lawyers can try to obtain relief in the Supreme Court. So far, her lawyers have petitioned for and been denied an emergency hearing. Her lawyers area currently pursuing an ordinary appeal directly to the Supreme Court but that appeal process will extend for weeks, at least, and in any case her appeal will likely be denied because the Supreme Court will generally not take a case without a lower Federal court's first establishing a record.
The bottom line is that first the 11th Circuit may yet deny Terri Schiavo her habeas petition. Second, even if they granted it she would likely lose her case under the very difficult procedural hurdles any habeas petitioner faces. Third, she has already been denied an emergency review by the Supreme Court. And fourth, the ordinary review process in the Supreme Court will take far too long, she will probably die in the interim.
Consequently, Terri Schiavo's only hope is the current bill which will guarantee a fresh review of her case in the lower Federal court immediately, without any deference to State court determination and with the lower Federal court issuing a stay of the State court order until it can determine the Federal claims the court is required to hear under this bill on its merits. That's what Terri Schiavo needs, and that's what this bill will get her, and that's why it should pass.
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Massachusetts.
CONGRESSMAN, MASSACHUSETS, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I yield myself 15 seconds. The gentleman from Wisconsin earlier implied that I was being inconsistent because I said I was for habeas corpus. He quoted something. He's just cited the inadequacy of habeas corpus in this case. Yes, I'm for habeas corpus. This goes, as he's just acknowledged, far beyond it. Secondly, he acknowledged our objections to this individual private bill on one case by blaming the Senate -I yield five more seconds -- in other words, he's acknowledged that this is an inappropriate bill and that's all we've said.
I will now yield one minute to the gentleman from Missouri.
HASTERT: The gentleman is recognized for one minute.
CONGRESSMAN, MISSOURI, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Mr. Speaker, I've served as the Senior Pastor of the St. James United Methodist Church for 30 years, for 30 years. And over those 30 years I have had countless men and women who have come to me in situations of decisions that had to be made regarding family members. And in the privacy of a home or in a waiting room we've dealt with those decisions.
Tonight I want to talk about the shame of this debate, the shame of this debate is that in spite of the fact that we are a great legislative body, we are a body that determines peace and war. But my colleagues, we are not a hallowed body. And the fact that we are engaged in this debate is proof positive of the fact that we are a fractured body.
And what we need to also understand is that we live in a world of echoes, a world of echoes. And a thoughtless word falling from the lips of members here can travel around this country and do even more damage to the divisions that we have in this nation.
And we are doing that, we have even used the inflammatory word, 'kill.' We are doing damage to this country. And it is shameful that we would do this.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HASTERT: The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Wisconsin.
CONGRESSMAN, WISCONSIN, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Mr. Speaker, I only have one speaker left, if the other side would use up their time then...
HASTERT: The gentleman from Massachusetts.
CONGRESSMAN, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I would yield for unanimous consent, request, the gentleman from Maryland.
HASTERT: The gentleman from Maryland.
CONGRESSMAN, MARYLAND, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this legislation, and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend?
HASTERT: Without objection. UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Mr. Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentlewoman from Indiana, Ms. Carson.
HASTERT: Gentlewoman from Indiana, Ms. Carson, is recognized for one minute
REP. JULIA CARSON (D), INDIANA: Thank you very much for yielding the time to me, a girl from Indianapolis, Indiana.
For the life of me, I can't understand why we're here. We were all snatched out of our houses of worship to run over to Washington to violate the trial (ph) for the judicial, the legislative and the administrative. But I guess leadership understands what it is and they're calling it a wedge between the Democrats and Republicans. I'm calling it what is right and what is wrong. We have no business being here. There are families across this country who are losing their Medicare right now because the powers that be say they can't get anymore.
The doctors are screaming. I'm sure a lot of people have heard them. The doctors are screaming to their Congress people saying, "Give us our Medicare back. Give us our Medicaid back, or else we're not going to be able to treat these patients." But yet we're going to make one single case in Florida. Get all the Medicare they want and my heart goes out to the family. I know this is a very dark season for them. And I hope that justice will in fact prevail and that God will have the last answer, but Congress should not have the last answer because it's none of our business. This is called meddling.
HASTERT: The - her time's expired. Gentleman from Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I yield one minute to the gentlewoman from Ohio, Ms. Kaptur.
HASTERT: The gentlewoman from Ohio is recognized for one minute.
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Thank you for yielding the time. I rise in opposition to this bill and want to speak from love and compassion, not just the law, and embrace the strongest pro family position as we move in this debate. The Schiavo and Schindler families need our prayers to do for Terri what not a single one of us wishes to image, to make a decision on the life of a beloved as they traverse the jagged edge of being. Terri's family, all of them, love her. She is not alone, but her being belongs not to us, but to God and to them. All of us are mere bystanders - the speaker, ABC NEWS, Jeb Bush, and every single one of us. Only Terri's family has walked the profound journey of a ...
WOODRUFF: You're listening to debate on the floor. And we want to explain we've been telling you that this vote was expected to take place right after midnight. It now turns out that it may be delayed for a few minutes. Earlier in the evening Republicans had more time. The time is supposed to be divided evenly between the two parties. Republicans had more time. Democrats are catching up now. They're being given some of the time they did not get earlier. This debate will go on. We'll hear from a few more members. We will finally hear from the Republicans and then there will be a vote. We're going to continue to listen here.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I now yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from Florida, Ms. Schultz.
HASTERT: The gentlewoman from Florida is recognized for two minutes.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our colleagues have said this evening, reiterating factually inaccurate information. And I want to make sure we clear it up.
The independent guardian ad litem appointed to represent Terri Schiavo has said in his reports that in spite of the fact that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have said that Terri felt pain and laughs and cries that that is factually inaccurate, that her cerebral cortex had been liquefied. And that is the area of the brain that responds to emotion and reason. So, that is impossible what they have detailed here tonight.
Additionally, they talk about six neurologists and eight physicians that have said that she is not in a persistent vegetative state, also factually inaccurate. Those physicians to which they refer have only viewed Terri via videotape. The five court appointed physicians that have examined Terri, two appointed on Michael Schiavo's side, two on the Schindler's side, and one court appointed physician, who have all examined her, the board certified neurologists who had scientifically based, academically researched testimony, their testimony was deemed to be clear and convincing by the court that she was and is in a persistent vegetative state. The other physicians' testimony was discounted as anecdotal only.
In addition to that, I want to just close with the commentary from the guardian ad litem. He would put his - when he - he spent 20 of 30 days with her. He put his face up close to hers and tried to make eye contact, pleading desperately, trying to will her into giving him any kind of sign. He said, "I would beg her, 'Please, Terri, help me.'" You want to believe there's some connection. You hope she's going to sit up in bed and say, "Hey, I'm really here, but don't tell anybody," or, "I'm really here. Tell everybody." But Schiavo never made eye contact. When Wolfson visited her when her parents were there she never made eye contact with them either, he said. And for all of Wolfson's pleadings and coaxings, he never got what he most wanted, a sign. He said, "I felt like there was something distinctive about whoever Terri is, but I was not clear that it was there inside the vessel."
During those 30 days Wolfson was plagued by nightmares ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Time's expired.
SCHULTZ: Can the gentlemen yield me an additional 30 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Fifteen seconds.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The gentlewoman has 15 seconds.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. He concluded that the medical and legal evidence behind Schiavo's diagnosis of being in a persistent vegetative state was credible, but he still felt that for all their equities (ph) those medical experts would never truly know where Schiavo was. He was dismayed to learn Friday that Barbara Weller, an attorney for the Schindler's, claimed that Schiavo tried to speak. He said, "Terri does not speak."
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The gentlewoman's time expired.
SCHULTZ: The claim otherwise reduces her to a fiction.
HASTERT: Gentleman from Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Mr. Speaker, to close on our side, in the absence of our leader, who is traveling overseas and is unable obviously to be here, our whip, the ranking member on our side who's here tonight ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The state of Maryland to Democrat whip.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And he gets all of our remaining time.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Recognized for two-and-a-half minutes.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, this has been an extraordinarily serious debate. It has been in many ways a real debate, with each member rising, understanding the seriousness of the issues which we consider. On the one hand we consider the life of one young woman, a young woman struck by tragedy, shared by her family and by her friends and by her country.
One of the striking facts of American life and American culture is the great importance that America puts on the individual, one life, one swallow that God cares for and plans for. We are here as colleagues who have almost to a person experienced the same kind of pain and trauma that the Schiavo family now faces. The gentle lady from Ohio correctly stated that Terri is loved by her husband, by her parents, by her brother, by others in her family. Those of us who have been in that place know how difficult it is.
I had not expected, as my colleagues had not expected, to be back in this House to consider this legislation. When we were called back by the speaker and the leader and I discussed the circumstances under which the call would come, trying to accommodate members as best as possible, I did what I presume many of you did. I referred to the facts that I could find.
On the one hand my reaction was that I am concerned that we appear to be a Congress that is flexible on the jurisdiction of courts. When we agree with the decisions that courts make we leave them jurisdiction. When we think they may make a decision that we want we try to give them additional jurisdiction, but when we disagree wit the courts we have had legislation on this floor, in recent months, to take from them jurisdiction. If we pursue that course as a country I suggest to you that we will become a nation of men and of politicians, not a nation of laws.
The fact that we are nation of laws has distinguished us very greatly from many other nations of the world. And we have held up that distinction as a critically important one. We now have troops arrayed in Iraq to support that principle of the individual, of freedom and of law.
So, I believe tonight, Mr. Speaker, that every member will vote on behalf of Terri Schiavo tonight, but they will see their responsibility and then act differently. I believe, Mr. Speaker, they will see it honestly and sincerely and realizing the duty they have by lifting their hand and swearing oath to our constitution and to our country.
So, Mr. Speaker, I did as I said what I suppose many have done. I went to the proceedings that have occurred in the Terri Schiavo case caused by the absence of a written directive. I have three daughters, Mr. Speaker. They're all adults. They do not live with me now, but I see them regularly, and I love them dearly. And since the loss of their mother we have become even more close.
And I heard Congresswoman Brown-Waite speak. And as I heard her speak I felt a tear when she referred to Mr. Wolfsan, whom I do not know, but whose report I have read. Mr. Wolfson asked not by the mother and father, not by the husband, but by the state to try to determine as best he could that the medical evidence lead him to conclude. He was not an advocate of the parents or of the husband. He perceived himself correctly as the advocate of Terri Schiavo. His report is a compelling one.
Congresswoman Brown-Waite said that she knows Mr. Wolfson and knows him to be a man of wisdom and deep compassion and a sense of responsibility. And then she spoke of her own daughter in such a condition. And the discussion she had with her daughter I hope that many of you heard her say this. Her daughter said to her that if she was in that state she would not want to be left in that state by her mother. And she said, "No, mom, if you really love me you'd let me go to my rest and be with God."
If I thought the Florida courts had dealt with this in a superficial and uncareful way perhaps - perhaps - I would feel that we ought to interpose our view, but no fair reading of the court's decision of the lower court - no fair reading of the disposition by the district court of the United States, in which they said, in quoting Judge Altibrand (ph) of the Supreme Court of Florida, "Not only has Mrs. Schiavo's case been given due process, but few, if any, similar cases have ever been afforded this heightened level of process." This report is approximately 50 pages long that was issued Mr. Wolfson. I urge my friend, Roy Blunt, to read that he had said he had not. All of us ought to read it.
This case, tragically, is not alone in the circumstances that have occurred. The report says that the Schindler family members stated that even if Teresa had been told of her intention - the family members, mom and dad, have been told of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn they would not do it. All of us can understand that hopefully, the wrenching decision that it would be for a parent to take an action, which would inevitably lead to the loss of life of their daughter. Throughout this painful and difficult trial Mr. Wolfson went on the family acknowledged that Teresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state.
The report seems to indicate to me that any fair reading of it would say that very careful consideration had been given. I know that there are some doctors among us who have looked at reports and perhaps looked at tapes and concluded contrary to the doctors who have examined her that this was not the case. The court, however, in evidentiary hearing and after due consideration, said clear and convincing evidence at the time of trial supported a determination that Mrs. Schiavo would have chosen in February 2000 to withdraw the life prolonging procedures, so that it has been concluded by all of the fact finders in the court systems of the United States, in the state of Florida, under the statutes, as the chairman has pointed out, established by the state of Florida to deal with this extraordinarily difficult human issue because, like birth, death will come to us all. To some of us it will come in a way that will not raise such wrenching questions, but some few of us will individually and with our families have to face this decision. And properly the system should be followed to protect us so that neither our husband nor a mother nor a father nor anybody else can make that decision in a manner that is not fair, that does not have due process and does not protect us as individuals.
In reading the record, Mr. Speaker, I have concluded that the state of Florida in its wisdom provided for that process and accomplished that end. Because of that and because I care about our federal system and because I care about our constitution and, yes, because I care not knowing her individually, but because I care for her as a child of God, I believe that this legislation should not pass.
And I yield back the balance of my time.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The gentleman yields back the balance of time. The gentleman from Wisconsin.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the majority leader, the gentleman from Texas, Mr. DeLay.
HASTERT: Distinguished majority leader is recognized.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from Maryland's words, but I look at it a little differently, after reading all the records and everything. What I do know is that there is a mother, a father, a brother and a sister that want Terri Schiavo to live and they want to take care of her.
I want to thank everybody that's worked on this bill, particularly those in the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate, the Republicans in the Senate. They passed this bill unanimously. I want to thank the Democrats in this House that worked on this bill, the Republicans that worked on this bill. Some have tried to make it a partisan issue.
And, Mr. Speaker, after four days of words, the best of them uttered in prayer, now comes the time for action. I say again the legal and political issues may be complicated, but the moral ones are not. A young woman in Florida is being dehydrated and starved to death. For 58 long hours her mouth has been parched and her hunger pangs have been throbbing. If we do not act she will die of thirst.
However helpless, Mr. Speaker, she is alive. She is still one of us, and this cannot stand. Terri Schiavo has survived her passion weekend and she has not been forsaken. No more words, Mr. Speaker. She's waiting. The members are here. The hour has come. Mr. Speaker, call the vote.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The gentleman's time expired. All time is expired. The question is will the House suspend the rules and pass the Senate Bill 686. Members in favor say aye. Those opposed no. In opinion of the chair, two-thirds of those ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Mr. Speaker ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: ... members (ph) voted an affirmative. Gentleman from ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The ayes and nays are requested. Those favoring vote by ayes and nays will rise. A sufficient number have risen. The ayes and nays are ordered. Members are to record their votes by electronic device.
WOODRUFF: You have just watched the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, call for a vote. This is after almost three hours and 20 minutes of debate. The debate went on longer than had been predicted.
Now, this is one of the few what we call wide shots that we've seen tonight of the House chamber throughout the evening. It has been hard to see how many members were actually on the floor. And, as you can see there, it is sparsely filled right now. And we had been told by our reporters, our reporter Joe Johns over there, Ted Barrett (ph), CNN's Producer, that at one point there was just a handful of members on each side. But we have seen a steady stream of members, Republicans and Democrats, stepping down into the well of the House to speak pro and con on this legislation. As we watch the votes tally I'm joined by CNN - and it's my understanding this vote goes on for 15 minutes. They are now just about 14 minutes left. They have 14 minutes left. I'm joined by political analyst Bill Schneider.
Bill, there are people who look at this and say, "Well, we know the Senate passed this," as they say, "unanimously." We heard Tom DeLay, the majority leader in the House, thank the Senate for doing that. There are, what, 43, 44 Democrats in the Senate. Why was it unanimous?
SCHNEIDER: The Democrats in the Senate decided not to make a stand on this issue. It happened very quickly. What they did was no one raised an objection to the passage of this bill. And you saw the speaker just call for a voice vote and there were objections, not solely from Democrats, but there were objections on the floor. The Democrats and other critics did not object in the Senate because their view was, look, the Republican leadership wants this. They didn't want to be in the position, they thought, of taking a woman's life or at least damaging a woman's life, and they thought it was too risky to take a position. So nobody objected. No one objected.
WOODRUFF: I think it's interesting, Bill, that in both cases the argument that we heard both from Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader, and the argument that we heard at the end there from the House - the ranking Democrat of the House - Democratic Whip, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, in both cases they said, "We are doing this for Terri Schiavo." There are arguments they've reached that decision from different directions, but they both say they're doing it for Terri Schiavo.
I understand we are joined now by Congressman Franks - Florida Congressman Trent Franks of Florida. Are you with us, Congressman?
REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Yes, I am - of Arizona.
WOODRUFF: I'm sorry, I've had Florida on the mind all evening.
FRANKS: That's OK.
WOODRUFF: My mistake. You are from the state of Arizona. You are a Republican. What is your sense right now? Are you going to be able to get the 218 votes?
FRANKS: Well, you know, I believe so. I think that the important thing to consider here - Hubert Humphrey said that a society is measured by how he treats those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life and those in the twilight of life. And it is true that Terri Schiavo lives among us in the shadows of life, but she is not brain dead. She feels pain. She is happy when her family comes to see her and she is sad when they leave. And I truly believe that if we allow her to starve to death and thirst to death while her mother and father and sister and brother are forced to watch we will scar our own souls and we will allow judges that have lost their way to drag us one more ominous step into that Samarian night when there is no light of human compassion and where the predatory survival of the fittest prevails over humanity.
WOODRUFF: You're saying that judges have lost their way, and yet what the Democrats and what we heard Steny Hoyer say, was that a number of judges have looked at this. He talked about the Florida Supreme Court. He cited other judges who've looked at this. He said, "There's no fair reading," he said, "by any of these judges that would lead one to believe that Terri Schiavo has not had due process." In fact, he quoted one judge as saying, "Few have been given the heightened process that she and this case have received."
FRANKS: Well, you know, the first purpose of any station in government is to protect its citizens and to protect their constitutional rights. And if the courts had duly protected Terri Schiavo's constitutional rights of - and the constitution is very clear. It says no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. That is why we are here, is to protect the innocent, and the courts have not done that. And that's why Congress has had to prevail to step in here. They wonder why we've done this. It's because the courts have failed to do their primary duty, which is to protect the constitutional rights of the innocent. And Terri Schiavo is innocent tonight. If she were a condemned murderer she would be getting better treatment than she is.
It's ironic that the man that we think killed little Jessica Lunsford is getting three square meals tonight on the taxpayer's expense, and yet we are starving a woman who's done nothing wrong to death.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Trent Franks, a Republican of Arizona joining us as we watch the count. We are now about five minutes into this vote. And if I'm reading this correctly, it looks like there are 128 in favor, something - I'm having to lean over to see the numbers, so I'm not going to try to tell you what it is. The numbers are too small on the screen that I can see. There, we have 39 - 130 in favor, 39 against. And there are still a number of members of Congress who have not voted. They need 218 for this legislation to pass the House following the unanimous passage by the Senate.
Carol Lin is watching all this with me. She's in Atlanta - Carol.
LIN: All right. Thanks, Judy.
I want to bring Carlos Watson in, one of our political analysts, into this discussion. Carlos, earlier you and I talked about how much support, frankly - relative support - that the Democrats had actually offered the Republicans on this, that it was rather surprising, in fact, that it got to a compromise, but it did. And now taking a look at the vote count right now, it appears that the Democrats are pretty split.
WATSON: At least in the House, but ultimately certainly Republicans and Democrats expect that the bill will pass. I think Democrats think Bill Schneider, as someone else shared, recognized there could be some risk and seem to be opposing the prolonging of Terri Schiavo's life. And so, I think they're taking some care on this issue.
LIN: Are they taking some risks?
WASTON: You know, that'll be interesting to see. One poll by ABC, "Washington Post" showed that 87 percent of those surveyed said that if they were in Terri Schiavo's condition they would want the tube removed. You also heard about another poll that Bill Schneider referenced that 59 percent that the tube should be removed and they would do that if they were the parents. So, it's unclear where things work out here, but there's certainly, as Bill suggested, a lot of intensity on the issue.
LIN: You bet. All right, Carlos. I've got to leave it there because there's a crowd developing behind Bob Franken, who's down in Pinellas Park outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is right now. Bob, what's happening?
FRANKEN: Well, the people behind me are looking at our monitor here to see what the vote is. And I can tell you that some of the members of the Schindler family, those the blood relatives of Terri Schiavo, are standing outside our satellite plug just a few feet from here looking at the screen, monitoring to see what the developments will be. We're told that after the vote is taken, if it is successful from the Schindler's point of view, they will be making an announcement about 10 minutes after that. And then things start moving at a very quick pace. The lawyers start to get into the action. After, the politicians finish in Washington.
Of course, in Washington this would have to go to the president's signature, assuming passage here, then the legislation would be very quickly sent on its way to this area so the lawyers in the family could bring it to court in the hopes that overnight a federal judge would decide that he wanted to put a stop, a court order, out there, reordering that the feeding tube is reattached, and then the legal proceeding can begin. That is, as far as the Schindler's are concerned, the blood relatives, as I said, of Terri Schiavo - that would be the optimum result.
Of course, there are many things that could slow it down, but that's what they're hoping for so this can then be put to rest a little bit while the federal courts take jurisdiction and the arguments can begin there - Carol.
LIN: Bob, knowing what you know about the federal court process down there and what it's going to take, what are the chances that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube will be reinserted tonight?
FRANKEN: Well, the lawyers seem to think that that possibility is strong. And it just really depends on what a federal judge would want to do. We do know that the clerks in both of the courts, the district court here in Florida, federal district court, and the federal appeals court in Atlanta, are there to receive the documents. Then if a judge decides he can issue the order that would have the feeding tube attached, or it could wait till tomorrow or there could be some legal hang-ups. It's really difficult to tell with the judges, but the possibility is there that this could take place tonight.
LIN: Do you know if the hospice is staffed at this hour to deal with this kind of situation? Because it would require that an ambulance come to pick Terri Schiavo up and take her to a hospital to have that feeding tube reinserted.
FRANKEN: The answer is yes. The answer is yes. The hospice has been staffed. And the fact of the matter is that we've been told that ambulances could very easily come probably to a dock that's around the corner out of sight and she would be taken to another hospital for the procedure. People are getting a little bit edgy here as they're watching this vote starting to very slowly build up.
FRANKEN: But people are hoping here that they're going to have a result that they've been looking for. The people, most of them in back of me, are ones who have been protesting the decision to remove the feeding tube - Carol.
LIN: All right. Thank you very much. Bob Franken standing by outside the hospice, where Terri Schiavo is in Pinellas Park.
Let's go back to Judy right now. The vote's getting pretty close.
WOODRUFF: Carol, that's right. We - less than five minutes to vote. And they are very close to getting a 218 total votes they need. And of that they'll need two-thirds. And it looks like they just about have it. You can see the numbers here - 163 so far in favor. That's 129 Republicans, 34 Democrats against. You have 46 Democrats and two Republicans. And we are just about four votes away, it looks like, from their getting the 218 total vote that they need, and it looks like they're going to make it.
We had been told - our reporters Joe Johns and Ed Henry had been told that the Republican leadership would not call for this vote unless they were certain that they had the votes, and it looks like they're going to have it. A little under four minutes left, and you can see the numbers. I expect the next change of numbers will put them over the top. We're there. They are now 218 votes that have been cast, which is what - which is the quorum that is set. So, you have 218 members who have now voted, more than 218. And easily the Republican leadership has prevailed. That means that this legislation has now passed the House as well as the Senate earlier today. And once this vote is finalized that document will be hurried to the White House, where President Bush, we are told, will sign it. And from there, there will be a document that will move on to the federal courts, district court in state of Florida. And from there will see what happens because the whole point of this, as we - I'm bringing in Joe Johns, our congressional correspondent, and Bill Schneider, with me here in the studio. The whole point of this is to get the federal courts to take yet another look at what the state courts in Florida have done.
Joe, they're over the top. JOHNS: A healthy number of Democrats vote for it too, as expected, if you look at those numbers. Something like 38 Democrats right now saying yes, 47 saying no. That's a much larger number of Democrats saying no than some of the Democratic leadership had suggested. They simply didn't know who was here and how they were going to go. But as you listened to the debate through the evening, there were a lot of Democrats who felt strongly. They said that the United States Congress should not be interfering in this court case in Florida for whatever the reasons. They raised constitutional questions. And so, that's a reflection of it.
Over on the Senate side, as you know, when this bill was passed earlier, today they simply waved it through. There were no objections. So, as you said, Judy, this bill now will, we expect, go down to the White House pretty quickly after they finish up the vote.
We were told there were a lot of people who were still trying to get to the capitol to cast their vote because they felt very strongly on this issue. The question of course is whether the Republican leadership will hold open that vote for other people to vote or close it down so that they can get this bill enrolled and on its way down to the White House as quickly as possible - Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. The Terri Schiavo legislation has passed the House of Representatives, having passed the Senate earlier today. We watched the vote. The Republicans and Democrats have come together to push the total well over the quorum - or over the quorum needed. And to pass, it did need a two-thirds vote, and they have it now. You can watch the vote as it is tallied. Just a little over a minute left in the vote - the voting time.
Let's go quickly to our White House Correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, it's our understanding that as soon as they have a piece of paper they're going to run it, drive it to the White House for the president's signature.
BASH: That's right. As soon as it's signed off on officially it is expected to go to the White House. And we are certainly awaiting that call to find out when the president will sign it, because, as we have been talking about, what he said - the reason why he came back to Washington, is because he believes that every moment counts here in trying to get this case into the federal courts, from his perspective and from obviously the perspective of most in Congress, in order to get the feeding tube back, reinserted, for Terri Schiavo.
WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash. And Bill Schneider is here with me in the studio. Bill, there may been some doubt at some point about whether the Republicans and the Democrats would come together, but that's doubt behind us.
SCHNEIDER: Well, they have come together and it has passed, but notice the number that's interesting right here is the 112 Democrats who didn't show up. They didn't vote. These are Democrats - they weren't told they had to show up or that they were expected to show up. It was left up to them. And obviously a lot of Democrats, it looks like well over half of the Democrats in the House, have so far not voted.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk about what was needed here, Bill. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. In order to - for a vote to count you have to have a quorum - what's called a quorum. That's 218 people - members voting. Once they reach that 218 and once it was clear that they had two-thirds of the 218 the legislation passed. Why the two-thirds, Bill, because not every piece of legislation requires that?
SCHNEIDER: Because this is being passed under exceptional circumstances and, therefore, the majority in these circumstances has to be larger than the usual majority because they have suspended the rules in order to take up this vote at such a critical moment. That means it has to - it requires a super majority to pass. And, as you can see, the vote now is almost four to one, almost 200 votes in favor and a little over 50 against. So, it has a very strong majority.
Again, remember, though, over 100 Democrats didn't show up - haven't voted yet at least at all.
WOODRUFF: That's right. And just to be clear, they have a pretty good cushion here. They may have ...
WOODRUFF: They may have put the word out, the Republican leadership, that they were sweating this out, but they've gone - by my math here, they're at 249. They needed 218 votes. And they knew all along that they were going to have the two-thirds. The question was could they get enough members back in town, because these members are normally in their districts. They don't come back to Washington until Monday night or Tuesday.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. The issue is always the quorum, when enough members show up for this vote or just stay home. Clearly Republicans did and a lot of Democrats did as well. But, remember, this is a vote to send the issue to the federal court system, which starts the process all over again. It's not a vote to reinsert the tube. It was decided that Congress has no constitutional authority to do that. It starts the process over again, but gives the federal courts now jurisdiction they did not have before. The state courts have treated it so far.
WOODRUFF: But we have witnessed a serious dispute here, Bill, over which - whether it is proper for the Congress to step in and say, "We don't like what the state courts in Florida have done. We want the federal courts to come in and give us a better answer."
SCHNEIDER: That's right. This has really been a debate about judicial authority and constitutional principles, separation of power. All that has been brought up. With a lot of the critics, most of them Democrats, saying that they thought it was inappropriate for Congress to cross that separation of power and say, "We don't like the way the state court has made this decision, a decision, by the way, which the Supreme Court, the highest authority in the land, refused to rule on. They say, "We don't like the way this has been handled. We think it violates life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. And, therefore, we believe that the Congress has a constitutional obligation to take it up."
What motivates, of course, a lot of the critics of the Florida decision has been fury really over judicial activism and the sense that the state courts in Florida have usurped their authority in making the decision that the feeding tube could be removed. Their argument is this is another case - yet another case, in their view, the view of many conservatives, where activist judges have violated what they consider the culture of life. And, therefore, they put it into the hands of Congress to take this extraordinary action.
WOODRUFF: Bill, let's go back again, for those viewers who are watching who've been maybe dipping in and out of our coverage through the night, to explain what's happened. We have had a vote taken in the House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, where there was unanimous consent. Democrats who may have disagreed and any others they let that vote go through in the House. They had three hours plus of debate. And then, in order for this vote to count, they had to have what's called a quorum. That means more than half of those who are members of the House of Representatives - there are 435 members of the House. More than half of those - and if you get out your calculator, it's 218. They had to have 218 members present and voting. And of that 218 they had to have a two-thirds. And, as you see by these numbers, they had more than 218. They have something like 258 voting so far. The numbers continue to come in. And clearly, easily a two-thirds.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. They have an easy majority here. And the president has come back to Washington, another extraordinary gesture. The president has decided this is important enough. He came back to Washington. He will apparently be awakened in order to sign this legislation in a very quick signature - it won't be ceremonious - to sign the legislation, because he said he believes the culture of life is at stake. But, again, this is a decision to turn the jurisdiction over this case over to the federal courts.
WOODRUFF: And very interesting again, Bill, to point out. Even though much of our discussion has portrayed this as Republicans versus Democrats, you are seeing a significant Democratic vote there. Forty- six Democrats voted with the Republican majority. Fifty-three Democrats voted against. Pretty significant Democratic turnout. Only - I see only five Republicans voted against, the vast majority of the majority party, the Republicans, voted for.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats voting - 103 Democrats have not voted. So, the Democrats are split really three ways. They're split between those voting and those not voting, and those voting are split between those voting yes and those voting no.
WOODRUFF: And that number getting even closer, 46 in favor, 53 against. So, Carol Lin looking at all this from Atlanta. The strange and wonderful workings of the United States Congress, Carol.
LIN: Yes, and making history tonight, Judy. And right down here at the world headquarters I'm monitoring the events around this story. Down in Pinellas Park there's a crowd gathering outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is. And the big question is what happens next. We do know - all right, Judy, I'm going to get back to you because there's more action in Washington. Go ahead.
WOODRUFF: OK. I am looking at the same numbers that we've been showing our audience right now. We are at 202 votes in favor of this legislation that would send the Terri Schiavo case to the federal courts for one more serious look at the case, which has the potential for those courts to call for that feeding tube to be put back in to Terri Schiavo. That tube was taken out on the order of the state courts. What this legislation does is say we want the federal courts to take another look at this case. It's that important. Two hundred and three votes in favor, 156 Republicans, 47 Democrats.
Here's the speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Two-thirds of those present having voted in the affirmative, the rules are suspended. The bill is passed. And without objection the motion to reconsider is laid up on the table.
WOODRUFF: Now, the ...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Will (ph) purposes (ph) the gentleman from Georgia arise?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Mr. Speaker, I've said to the desk two privileges report - two privilege reports from the committee on rules of filing under the rule.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The cleric will report the titles.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Report to accompany House Resolution 181, resolution waiting a requirement of Clause 6a of Rule 13 with respect to consideration of certain resolutions reported from the Committee on Rules. Report to accompany House Resolution 182, resolution providing for consideration of the Bill Senate 686 for the relief of the parents of Theresa Maria Schiavo.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Referred to the House ...
WOODRUFF: So there you have it, Carol. The House of Representatives has spoken. The members who represent 435 districts, good many of them - not all of them, but a good many of them showed up tonight in Washington much sooner than they would have normally come back to Washington. And they have voted this special legislation for the relief of the parents of Terri Schiavo, Carol.
LIN: Yes, Judy. And we're expecting to hear from the parents, at least the father, of Terri Schiavo down in Pinellas Park outside the hospice where his daughter is laying in a bed. The feeding tube still disconnected because presumably the parents now have to make their petition to the federal court in Tampa, the court clerk waiting up now 24 hours preparing and ready to receive that paperwork. So, I'm going to talk to Avery Friedman, Civil Rights Attorney as well as a law professor, about what may or may not happen next. So, Avery, presumably the parents are going to make this petition. They're going to wake up a judge, right?
FRIEDMAN: Well ...
WOODRUFF: Are they going to wake up a judge to address this case tonight?
FRIEDMAN: It's really not going to happen that way, Carol. What's going to happen is first of all President Bush has to sign the legislation. Sometime in the next couple of hours, even though the clerk is there, papers will be filed by the parents of Terri Schiavo. Whether or not a judge is woken up - and this is a federal district judge. I don't think that's really going to happen. But I can bet you that there's going to be an early morning proceeding where the judge will require both sides to be present for a hearing and set out an expedited briefing period.
There was some discussion about whether or not a tube was going to be put in tonight. Carol, that's simply logistically an impossibility.
WOODRUFF: Why not? I mean, isn't there a sense of urgency? Here you had an historic session of Congress, legislation has passed, the president is going to be up to sign it, and the parents are standing by ready to make an announcement that they're going to file a petition federal court.
FRIEDMAN: Well, because the judge is obligated to consider some evidence. You just don't enter an order attaching the tube. There has to be the presentation of evidence of information.
And what I can tell you to a certainty, Carol, is that within the next few hours, within the next, let's say, 12 hours you're going to see some action by the judge involving both sides, submitting briefs, making arguments. It's not going to be tonight, but the judge will consider it probably in the next 12 hours.
WOODRUFF: Well, what sort of evidence is the judge going to want to or need to see in order for him to address whether the feeding tube is reinserted or not?
FRIEDMAN: The judge has to be convinced that there is a reparable injury. In other words, here's an example. If the judge had evidence that Terri Schiavo would die in the next several hours or in the next 12 hours there is no doubt that a temporary restraining order would be granted. But both sides have different evidence. So, the court is going to be deliberate ...
WOODRUFF: What evidence is there? The woman hasn't had any food or water since Friday.
FRIEDMAN: The question is whether or not there's a reparable injury, Carol, meaning could she die. One side's going to say she's being irreparably injured because she's not getting hydration. The other is going to say these issues have been considered. She's not suffering irreparable injury. Bottom line in the next 12 hours a judge is going to do something. You are not going to see a restraining order tonight.
WOODRUFF: All right. What are the legal options, if any, that the husband, the guardian, who is clearly on personal grounds going to oppose this action, since he insists that these are not his wife's wishes to be resuscitated, to live in this manner? What are his legal options at this point?
FRIEDMAN: There are three of them, very quickly. Number one, he's going to say that this law that was just passed, signed by the president is unconstitutional, is violative of federalistic principles, separation of powers. Number two, he's going to introduce evidence, which is already part of the record, showing that this is the desire of Terri Schiavo not to be - not to remain plugged in, if you will. And third and finally, we have to see what the judge wants in order for Michael Schiavo to introduce information. In other words, the judge is going to tell both sides this is what we want, this is the hearing we're going to have, and he's going to make a quick decision.
WOODRUFF: And you expect that he might make that decision tomorrow then?
FRIEDMAN: We're going to see some ruling by the federal district judge there in the middle district of Florida before the end of - well, the end of today.
WOODRUFF: All right. But is there no doubt in your mind that the judge will actually accept this petition by the parents and take on this case?
FRIEDMAN: The obligation of the federal court is to accept consideration based on this ruling. The issues of confidentiality, the issues of proof are yet to come.
WOODRUFF: All right. Avery, I've got to interrupt you now because right there we're looking at a live picture as certainly the father and the family make their way to the microphones.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Suzanne Vitadamo is going to make a short statement and Bob and Suzanne are going to retire back to the room for a few more minutes, maybe a few more hours. We'll see.
SUZANNE VITADAMO: We are very, very, very thankful to have crossed this bridge and we're very hopeful - very hopeful - that the federal courts will follow the will of Congress and save my sister's life. That's it. Daddy?
BOB SCHINDLER: We're going to see Terri and let her know the good news.
LIN: All right, a very short statement by Suzanne Vitadamo, the sister of Terri Schiavo, as Bob Schindler pulls his other daughter away from the microphones as they go back into the room to spend more time, they said a brief time or even several hours, with Terri Schiavo while they await the legal process to unfold as this bill is being sent over from the House, which has just adjourned, over to the White House for the president's signature and then will make its way down to the federal court, the middle district, which is based in Tampa, Florida.
We're going to go back to Judy Woodruff right now up in Washington. Judy, clearly the family relieved that the House has taken this action.
WOODRUFF: It's so interesting, Carol. I was watching and thinking as they go - say they go back in and spend some time with Terri Schiavo what the dynamics must be inside the hospice between the father and the sister and the brother and, on the other hand, the husband, who we were told is also keeping a vigil near his wife. It must be a very interesting scenario playing itself out because both are saying that they are spending time at her side. So ...
LIN: And at one point today, Judy, the husband terminating the visitation rights of the parents during the heat of battle as the House and Senate were debating the legislation.
WOODRUFF: All right, Carol. We want to go quickly to our White House Correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, all eyes are now on President Bush now that the Senate and the House both have passed this legislation.
BASH: That's right. All eyes are on the White House. We are certainly waiting to hear from the White House.
One thing I wanted to sort of mention. You and Bill were talking earlier about the fact that it was remarkable that the Senate passed this without any kind of comment, passed it unanimously. And one thing I think to note is that perhaps that's because what the House did was what the Senate tried to do late last week, which was essentially really limit this piece of legislation just to the Terri Schiavo case. What some Republicans wanted to do and what they actually passed in the House last week was much broader legislation that could have applied to other people in this particular situation.
And that is an issue that is sort of interesting when it comes to the president because one thing that I and other reporters flying back with the president were asking is why is the president willing to do this for one particular U.S. citizen when this could really open the floodgates, if you will, for others who say that they are in a complex and extraordinary circumstances and they need Congress's help and they need the president's help. And simply what the White House is saying is that this is what they do see as an extraordinary circumstance where you have two family members - two sets of family members really fighting one another and all the other medical questions. So, that is one of the key reasons why they say the president is intending to sign this.
And, as you said, we expect that to happen very, very soon. As soon as that happens, of course, we'll let you know, Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Dana, the White House staff, the officials you deal with there, phones are on. They're there. They're waiting for this to take place.
BASH: Waiting for this to take place. They are - all plans are in place to let all of us know as soon as the president signs this. And we will let you know when that happens.
WOODRUFF: And after this, Dana, the president heads back West tomorrow. Is that right?
BASH: Back to selling social security. And one other interesting thing is that though the president has put out a written statement on this he hasn't spoken publicly about this at all. He was in Florida on Friday, just left just before Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed. He was with his brother, the governor, and he didn't speak at all, even though he was - we tried to ask him a question about it. He has simply let his spokesmen speak about this. He has made it be known of course that he will sign this legislation. He made this dramatic move to come back to Washington. But it will be interesting to see if we actually hear from the president about this after he signs it.
WOODRUFF: One suspects that he may want to make a statement of some sort, but we will see, especially after making this extraordinary trip all the way back East. Dana Bash, thank you very much. And I know Dana is waiting to confirm when it happens that the president has indeed signed this legislation.
We don't have cameras that can show the piece of legislation actually being driven from the capitol about a mile-and-a-half over to the White House, but we assume that's exactly how it will take place.
Carol, back to you.
LIN: All right, Judy. We just heard from the sister of Terri Schiavo. She went to the microphones just outside the hospice down in Pinellas Park. CNN's Bob Franken is standing by there. Bob, not much from the family, clearly relieved, and apparently the last words by the dad by the microphone were that he was going to go inside and tell Terri. Why didn't they say what they're - how the petition was going to work or what was going to happen next down there?
FRANKEN: Well, because it's in the hands of the lawyers now. And they do not claim to be lawyers. What we're going to see now is what we're not going to be seeing, and that is the rushing of the documents to the hands of the lawyers, the fax machines and other means, then the delivery to the clerks in two courts, the middle district federal district court here in Tampa, but also the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, because it has jurisdiction on some pending litigation that's still going on in this case. Then a decision will be made. There's some difference about how quickly it can be done. The judge could of course decide immediately if he was awakened that this required an immediate court order to reinstall the feeding tube, or he might call some sort of evidentiary proceeding, something within the next day or so. The nature of the litigation and the procedures that are followed in federal court would suggest that it wouldn't take too long, but there's some - of course we just heard a moment ago - when you talk to the lawyer, Carol, who said that it's really not reasonable to expect that this is going to happen tonight. There is some hope on the part of the family here that it will. And they have an ambulance ready if needed to transport Terri Schiavo to a hospital where the procedure could occur.
Now, the feeding tube was withdrawn on Friday, so it's been not that long yet in terms of whether she would be in danger, but it is a procedure that everybody says has to be completed as soon as possible so they can proceed with whatever litigation they pursue.
LIN: All right. Thanks very much.
LIN: Bob Franken live in Pinellas Park outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo's family is standing by her side right now. Her blood relatives giving her the good news now that the House - good news in their minds that the House has passed this legislation, allowing Terri Schiavo's case to be reviewed in federal court.
Doctor Sanjay Gupta being our medical expert on the set right now. Obviously for the family time is of the essence, maybe less about food and more about water. She has not had any water since Friday at 1:45 in the afternoon. Is this woman going to survive the court process now?
GUPTA: I think she would probably survive the court process. She's certainly shown us that she can in the past. Remember, again, October of 2003 the tube was out for six-and-a-half days. Something that can be - cause some concern for damage to the kidneys. But, you know, it's an interesting sort of blend of medicine and politics here. On one hand you have all these people staying up late, obviously tonight. You would think that the process will continue to go at the same rate that it's going now, waking up a judge, taking Terri Schiavo to the operating room, which is what you would need to do. We've been talking about this feeding tube. I mean, it would actually need to be replaced back through the skin and into the stomach and probably be in the hospital for a day or two after that sort of operation.
But, again, you would think - I think most doctors would think it's not an emergency, but why wait. We want to get her re-hydrated as quickly as possible if that's the plan.
LIN: Is it not an emergency in your mind?
GUPTA: Well, again, the question becomes how long can someone survive or how long can someone sustain without suffering any significant organ damage without any hydration. And in someone like Terri it's a little bit of a different ballgame because she is severely debilitated. Otherwise she doesn't get up and move around. She's had significant neurological damage obviously. So, she may have a harder time regulating her fluids as it is. So, emergency's sort of a strong word. I'd say it's probably an urgency at a minimum.
LIN: So, that the possibility that it's unlikely they're going to wake up a federal judge to hear this case, that the hearing at the soonest may not take place until tomorrow. And a decision could take yet another 24 to 48 hours potentially. As a doctor ...
GUPTA: I was surprised.
LIN: ... does that concern you?
GUPTA: It does concern me. And I was surprised actually to hear our civil rights attorney say that, that just - pretty confidently he said it absolutely was not going to happen tonight. I'm kind of surprised by that. I think it might actually happen tonight. It might happen at least within the next several hours. We're already, what, almost 1:00 in the morning. So, within the next several hours. Most operating rooms get going around 6:00 in the morning. So maybe as a first operation tomorrow morning. Who knows?
LIN: Right. Plus there's this additional process where they have an ambulance waiting at the hospice. The hospice is a medical facility of sorts. Why couldn't they - can you show me, because I know you've got an example of the feeding tube ...
LIN: ... that they would have to reinsert in to Terri. Why couldn't they do that at the hospice? Why would she have to be transferred to the hospital? And is it a dangerous procedure?
GUPTA: Right. Let me show you. And I've been actually e- mailing again on my Blackberry with Dr. Frist about this because he's been following ...
LIN: The Senate majority leader.
GUPTA: The Senate majority leader. He's following this. He's awake and he's watching CNN apparently.
LIN: Good to know.
GUPTA: Let me just tell you a couple things. One is that the feeding tube again looks like this. It's just a silastic flexible catheter. It goes through the skin and into the stomach here like this. It was taken out now, we're learning. It is a possibility that it could actually go right back in to the same area where it was placed before. Sometimes that tract can actually close up pretty quickly, within a day or so, in which case another operation would have to be performed. We simply don't know what has happened with that specific tract through the skin and into the stomach, but that would sort of determine what she needs to have done.
It's not really particularly dangerous. I think every operation people consider to take seriously, but it would just be a question of basically placing this tube back into the stomach again.
LIN: All right. Thanks very much, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Thank you. All right.
LIN: Great medical advice tonight. It's been a good perspective.
I'm going to send it back to Judy - Judy.
WOODRUFF: Carol, we want to share with our audience some comments from the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as he, we are told - and this comes from Ed Henry, our congressional reporter. Forgive me for reading off the computer. Apparently as DeLay left the House floor he told CNN off camera when asked how he feels about passage, he said, "I tell you, I won't feel good until that tube is put back in. It's been 58 hours. I hope, I pray she lasts until the judge puts that tube back in." And then DeLay apparently went to his office very close to the House floor where waiting was Bobbie Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo. The two men hugged when they came together at that point.
So, this is a moment of success for Tom DeLay. He really has been the driving force behind this move that did pass the Senate today and has now passed the House by a telling majority. Joining us now at the Capital is a democratic member of the Florida Congressional Delegation. She is Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Congresswoman, you argued the other way. What are your thoughts about what happens now?
SCHULTZ: Well, tonight I really believe the American people lost because they have fewer family rights after the vote this evening. It was about making sure that the Congress could not insert itself into private family matters and the republican leadership here thumb their nose at the Constitution and thumb their nose at families. And I'm just not certain where it's going to stop. You ask me where it goes from here, it could potentially go from here that we insert ourselves into every family dispute when it comes to an end of life decision, not necessarily just drawing the line at Terri Schiavo, and that would be a tremendous shame and it would be totally the opposite of the way American government should operate.
WOODRUFF: Let me site to you very briefly what Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader said when he came to the floor just before the vote. He said -- he said, "I look at it differently from Steny Hoyer, the Senate Leader. He said, "There's a mother. There's a father. There's a brother. There's a sister. They want Terri Schiavo to live. They want to take care of her." He said it comes down to that. It's as simple as that.
SCHULTZ: Judy, what it comes down to is what Terri Schiavo wanted and Terri Schiavo wanted that she never be sustained on artificial life support in a persistent vegetative state.
WOODRUFF: But how -- Congresswoman, how is that known for certain since she did not leave any sort of document?
SCHULTZ: That's why we have a court review process in Florida. I was in the legislature when we established it in the state statute to deal with end of life decisions. The reason that we have a court review is so that an independent body can take testimony and examine the whole question of whether or not she had a desire never to be kept alive in this state. And they took testimony from her brother-in-law, from her sister-in-law and from numerous friends, all of whom said they had heard Terri say at funerals of close family members who had been on artificial life support, that she would never have wanted to be sustained that way. They didn't take her husband's word for it. They didn't take her parent's word for it. They took independent testimony and came to the conclusion that her husband was correct.
WOODRUFF: And so...
SCHULTZ: That's the bottom line. It's Terri Schiavo's rights were denied tonight. It's not about her parents. It's not about her husband. It should be about what she wanted and we've inserted ourselves -- we have jammed ourselves -- in between family members where we don't belong.
WOODRUFF: But again, the other side argues that without a piece of paper signed by Terri Schiavo, what you say is in doubt.
SCHULTZ: Well, it's always going to be in doubt when you don't have an advanced directive, but that's why there is an independent court review which has -- which was done at the circuit court level, at the District Court of Appeals level, at the Florida Supreme Court, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to grant authority (ph) in this case. All of the court reviews have shown -- and there were more than 10 reviews -- showed that the testimony given at the trial court level was accurate and that it was clear and convincing Terri had not wished to be sustained this way. We'll never know without an advanced directive, but that's why we have a process at the state level and it's why it's inappropriate for Congress to insert ourselves because, you're right, I don't know as one individual of Congress. I didn't hear the Court testimony. Neither did the 434 other members of Congress. That's why it's not our place to insert ourselves. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a bioethisist. I'm a member of Congress and I was elected to uphold the Constitution, which we thumbed our nose at tonight.
WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida who voted against this special and extraordinary legislation. Congresswoman, thank you very much.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Carol, back to you in Atlanta.
LIN: Judy, the Congresswoman is not necessarily in the minority in this case. I want to talk to Carlos Watson about how the democratic vote actually broke out and what we could read into this. Carlos, you take a look at the total vote, 203 to 58. This is how this House bill passed. But you break down that 47 democrats voted in favor but 53 against and 102 did not even vote at all. What do you read into those numbers in terms of how split the Democratic Party lists on this issue?
WATSON: I actually don't see the fact that 53 or 50 some democrats voted against it as being that significant. It would have stood out more to me, Carol; if we had seen 100 democrats come out against it. Not a surprise that some democrats like Mel Watt of North Carolina said, "No matter how I feel about the issue, there's a larger point here for me in which I think there are other priorities that are more important and we should address it in that way."
You also had some democrats interestingly enough take almost libertarian stances on this. And so 46 to 53, not as surprised as I would have been if 100 democrats had come out against this in a meaningful way.
LIN: Does it say to you, though, that democrats are buying into the argument of this culture of life that the lessons of the Presidential election is that the democratic needs to get on board with how, frankly, many, if not a majority, of Americans think when it comes to the right to life issue?
WATSON: Well, I think the polls aren't that clear that a majority of Americans will agree with what the House and the Senate did. In fact, some of the limited poll evidence we had at best is mixed and may, in fact, suggest that a lot of Americans, 87 percent, if they were in Terri Schiavo's situation would want the tube pulled. So we're not 100 percent clear. But make no mistake about it, the 2004 election has said to lots of democrats, not just as represented here tonight, but also some of Hillary Clinton's recent statements, John Kerry's recent statements, that they may fear they are frankly being perceived as too much of a quote unquote pro-choice party and that there's a sense that a lot of voters on some of these so-called culture of life issues have strong feelings and are willing to demonstrate those at the poll.
It's worth noting that 2000 then Governor Bush got about 50 million votes. In 2004 he got 59 million votes. That increase of nine million votes, by at least some surveys, suggest a majority of those, that nine million, were regular church goers and those who frankly felt very strongly about these sorts of issues, so...
LIN: So do you -- do you think this vote in the Terri Schiavo case extends as far as the concerns of turning back Roe V Wade now, the woman's right to choose an abortion?
WATSON: Well, let's at least say this, that in 2005 we are going to see culture of life issues come up in a lot of different places in a lot of different ways. We hear one example already that on the bankruptcy bill you would think, "How is culture of life getting involved in the bankruptcy issue?" Well, the bankruptcy bill the Senate just voted on, there was at least one amendment there that would prevent anti-abortion protesters who later are sued for claiming bankruptcy in order to protect their assets. Republicans beat back that attempt. That was one skirmish.
There is an assisted suicide case coming out of Oregon that the Supreme Court is going to hear. Of course there is this issue and certainly when any of the judicial nominations that have been stalled ultimately come to a full vote, you'll hear that as well. So we will throughout the year, not just now early in the year, but we will throughout the year hear these culture of life issues and potentially some of them touch on aspects of Roe V Wade. LIN: But you actually see glimmers of bipartisanship that may actually play out in other important issues to Americans when it comes to this vote.
WATSON: Well, I think it will be interesting because certainly on the Senate side you saw more bipartisanship and I think one of the questions at least you'll have to ask is that given some of the bipartisanship that was shown, will that turn into a little more cooperation on the budget? Will that turn into a little more cooperation maybe on this issue of whether or not to allow the filibuster rule, which gives democrats in the Senate some input into how things go? And Republicans have talked about possibly...
WATSON: ...scrapping it. Will that remain?
LIN: Yes. I just want to interrupt you there just for a quick moment because the picture that we're showing right next to you in a crowd of people is the blood relatives of Terri Schiavo now leaving the hospice, the father and the sister and a brother holding vigil inside Terri Schiavo's room as the House debated this issue for more than three hours and then finally came to a vote shortly after midnight, 203 to 58, they voted in favor of this legislation that to give jurisdiction to the federal courts to now review this case virtually from scratch. It has never actually been reviewed in detail, the medical records, doctor's testimony and what not and the -- and Terri Schiavo's parents have maintained that she has never fully had her case heard because her guardian, her husband, has not, you know, either given up his guardianship and, frankly, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court is has been determined that this was a state issue and the state time and time again, more than a dozen rulings, has sided with the husband that Terri Schiavo's wish was to not live in this way. So we are waiting to hear what plans, if any, the federal court has in Tampa, Florida to hear this case and if and when the parents will file their petition. I'm sure they will file it as soon as possible if it has not already been filed already.
We're going to take a quick break and be right back with our special coverage.
WOODRUFF: It was just about a half an hour ago, a little bit more, that the House of Representatives voted to move ahead and pass legislation which will permit Terri Schiavo's case to go before -- once again to go before the federal courts, having been -- having been dealing with a state court ruling that called for Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to be pulled out last Friday. Now the federal courts will take another look at this case.
We've just been handed a statement by the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. He is, of course, the brother of President Bush. Jeb Bush's office quoting, "I thank the Congress for its swift action, allowing Terri's parents to seek a federal review of this case. Certainly an incapacitated person deserves at least the same protection afforded criminals sentenced to death." That is just a part of what Governor Bush says in this statement.
I want to turn now to our congressional correspondent, Joe Johns. Joe, step back, if you will, and what -- help us understand what this vote represents. You didn't have all the members of Congress there. You did have what we call a quorum, more than half where they are voting. In fact, we counted 261 voting. The vote was 203 to 58. It was largely republicans, but you had a good chunk of democrats coming over and voting for.
JOHNS: That's true, 203 to 58. I think one of the things its reflects is democrats were saying all along that they were not energized. This was not a bill that they cared a great deal about and we were warned beforehand that a lot of democrats were not going to show up. On the other hand, republicans were highly energized and it's reflected in their numbers here at the capital. You have to talk a little bit, I think, about the political memo that went around starting probably Thursdayish, here on Capital Hill, suggesting that supporters of this bill would see political gain because it would energize the conservative base. A number of republicans, including some leaders, disowned that memo, said they had nothing to do with it, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Clearly, though, republicans felt energized by this. Clearly they got in touch with the base and the base told them this was a good idea to come out and vote for it. Democrats, on the other hand, it didn't make them that much different. Just the same, a number of democrats, as you said, did vote for it.
JOHNS: I think between 40 and 50, maybe up close to 60 democrats voted for it, somewhere in that area. So that shows that a lot of democrats did think it was an important issue, too.
WOODRUFF: Yes. We -- by our count, and I think this is right, Joe. I've just been told it was 47 democrats crossed over to vote for it and there were five republicans who crossed in the other direction and voted against it. So far more democrats separating from their leadership.
Carol, something developing at your end?
LIN: Yes. Judy, right now I'm going to go to Pinellas Park, outside the hospice. I'm going to talk with Mr. Bob Schindler, Terri Schiavo's father. Bob, you have a very different expression on your face today than you did last Friday when it was so tense and the rulings were going against you and the feeding tube was removed. You just came from Terri's room. How did that conversation go?
SCHINDLER: With Terri, I asked her if she was ready to take a little ride. And I told her that we're going to take her for a little trip to take her outside and get her some breakfast. And I got a big smile out of her face, so help me God. So she seemed to be very pleased. And we're pleased. You know, we're very thankful for both the House and the Senate for passing this bill and saving -- literally saving Terri's life, so what more can we say? LIN: Mr. Schindler, what is going to happen next legally? What are -- what are your attorneys doing right now?
SCHINDLER: I'm a neophyte when it comes to that stuff, but I believe they have to get a federal judge to issue a -- I guess it's like a release retiree so that she can have her feeding tube reinserted. And I believe that's in the process now. And unfortunately our advisories will be opposing that, so what could be a relatively simple thing may take a little longer than what we'd like to take -- that Terri would like to take.
LIN: So are you concerned that now that it is in federal court, I mean, in your mind does this -- how does this improve the odds that Terri Schiavo, your daughter, may get a chance to live?
SCHINDLER: Well, I think it's imperative that, you know, Terri receive a fair trial and that's been our, you know, concern and frustration is that everything that was presented in this trial before the circuit court was being ignored. So hopefully with -- if we get this in front of a federal court that they will listen to the evidence as presented and then Terri will be a free woman again.
LIN: Mr. Schindler, though -- but it has been before a federal court. I mean, you have appealed in a federal court. It's gone, in fact, all the way to the Supreme Court. So why do you feel that there's...
SCHINDLER: There's a federal...
LIN: ...going to be any different outcome this time around?
SCHINDLER: They have never heard the case. No court has heard the case and no court has been presented the evidence. That's what we're looking forward to.
LIN: They had a chance, at least though, to review -- they did have a chance to review the case, though, that the state had decided (INAUDIBLE).
SCHINDLER: Well, they haven't heard -- they haven't heard the case and we're looking forward to that and we're just looking forward to that opportunity.
LIN: Do you -- are you going to -- is there going to be a new case presented in federal court or do you expect that a federal judge is going to be reviewing the existing evidence that was considered by the state and then rejected?
SCHINDLER: I have no idea. I would -- I would hope that we're back to square one on this. That's what I would hope, but I don't know how the system works.
LIN: How are you spirits? How have you been able to hold up these last few weeks? I mean, you have been really in a week time, once again, all the way up to the Supreme Court, through the federal court system and back and now through the U.S. House of Representatives twice, all in the last 48 -- actually 72 hours.
SCHINDLER: I think it's a matter of our family, you know, we support one another and we've had tremendous support outside of our family. And through the grace of God we do believe there is a God and we do pray to God and we believe God gave us strength to get us through this drama.
LIN: All right. Robert Schindler, father of Terri Schiavo, after a win in the House of Representatives, which now at least gives your family, Mr. Schindler, a chance to have your case presented before a federal judge.
We are going to take a quick break. We're going to be right back with more of our special coverage of this historic vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.
WOODRUFF: Live pictures of the Capitol. We are waiting for word that President Bush has put his signature on a piece of legislation that has now passed the house, just about 40 minutes ago, passing by a vote of 203 to 58 after a unanimous passage by the Senate, this legislation putting in the hands of the federal courts the fate of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman brain damaged, age 41. She has been in what some doctors describe as a persistent or permanent, even, vegetative state for the last 15 years.
A deep split in her family. Her parents have wanted Terri Schiavo to remain alive, to remain on a feeding tube. Her husband, Michael Schiavo separated from the family arguing that the feeding tube should be removed, that that's the most humane thing and that was something that his wife would have wanted. And we wait for word of whether President Bush has signed the legislation or not. And we were told he was going to be signing it as quickly as the piece of paper could be gotten from the Capitol to the White House.
Let's quickly turn to Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Congressman Frank, you were leading the debate for the democrats tonight. We heard the father of Terri Schiavo say, "Finally the courts will have a chance to review this case." He said, "Everything up until now has been ignored. Now," he said, "the courts will have a chance to hear the case.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I understand his pain, but the fact is that the Florida courts have heard the case. The Florida courts have heard it very extensively and, in fact, the people for the bill tonight were being very critical of the Florida courts. The Florida courts appointed a neutral guardian. Every doctor, as we understand it -- you say -- people have said there's a split among the doctors, but every doctor who examined her said she doesn't feel anything. She doesn't think anything. She is in this vegetative state. People talked inaccurately today and, well, pangs of hunger and thirst. Tragically, sadly, she doesn't feel those things according to every doctor who has examined her.
So the answer is the Florida courts have already looked at this. They have gotten a great deal of attention from the Florida courts, a lot of evidence being presented. I understand that the family was unhappy with the evidence with the outcome, but it's not accurate to say that the courts haven't decided.
I will make a prediction. I think the bill set a very bad precedent to have Congress basically be the appeals court for the Florida Supreme Court and pass a special bill about one situation only, but I doubt very much whether they're going to get any satisfaction from the federal court and I predict you'll hear the same objections later.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Frank, it wasn't just a large number of republicans who voted for this legislation, by my count there were 47 democrats...
FRANK: Yes, that's true.
WOODRUFF: ...voted for it. Fifty-three voted against it. That's a pretty sizeable...
FRANK: It is. I wasn't making -- but I wasn't making that part of an argument.
WOODRUFF: I understand that. I'm just...
FRANK: You said I was arguing the democrats (ph). Well, the merit to the merits (ph). People feel political pressures. People feel -- there's been a lot of political pressure. There's a lot of emotion here. People say we are starving this woman. We -- the Florida court said it is not accurate to talk about it as if there was this kind of feelings and emotions going on, but people do feel political pressure.
WOODRUFF: What is the political pressure? What is the worry on the part of anybody who would vote...
FRANK: Well, you have to ask them. You have to give me -- you have to give me -- this is an important enough issue that I want to talk about the merits. You have plenty of pundits who can talk politics with you. I don't feel like talking politics...
FRANK: I mean, you have to ask -- I didn't vote for it. You'd have to ask the people who did why they did.
WOODRUFF: Well, then let me ask you on the merits, what is wrong -- and I'm restating what Congressman DeLay said, the Majority Leader, and what members of the Schiavo family have said, "What's the harm in letting this woman live if there is any doubt about what her intent would have been?"
FRANK: In the first place, the bill doesn't say that and they objected to arguing it. It's not up to Congress to decide in individual cases.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Frank, I've got to interrupt because I am told that President Bush...
FRANK: Well, I wish you hadn't asked me the question with my having a chance to answer (ph), but it's your show.
WOODRUFF: No. I'm going to -- I'm going to give you a chance to answer it. I was just told that we have learned that President Bush has signed the legislation, meaning that it will move quickly to the courts, the federal courts, for their reaction. And we got the information -- our medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta received the information in an e-mail from the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist.
So Congressman Frank, with the President's signature, where does this go from here?
FRANK: Oh, it goes into federal court and I don't think you're going to see, frankly, any different outcome. And the bill didn't say to keep her alive. It's been a significant degree of litigation in the Florida court. The Florida court said, "This woman is in a vegetative state," and you asked me what's the harm. Well, I don't think Congress ought to be making individual decisions. This is not an unusual case, sadly. People are in this medical condition in the thousands and I don't -- and there are sometimes disagreements about it. I think it is not what the Constitution was supposed to be to have Congress be the appeal court from the -- from the state courts. And it's not what we can do. We weren't in the position to say whether she was or wasn't in a vegetative state. I don't think political pressure over a particular case ought to put Congress into the position of being the court.
What do we do? Does this mean that every time there's a dispute in a family, parents versus spouse, brother versus sister, children versus parents, that the Congress will take it case by case? I don't think these kind of sensitive decisions ought to be decided politically, but when they send them into Congress, that's exactly what happens.
WOODRUFF: We hear you. Congressman Barney Frank, who played a pivotal role tonight in the debate on the floor of the House. And I've just been handed a piece of paper. This is a statement by the President and I'm going to read it.
"Today I signed into law a bill that will allow federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life. In cases like this one," and again I'm reading from a statement from the President, "where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor -- a presumption in favor of life. This presumption is especially critical," again, statement from the President, "for those like Terri Schiavo who live at the mercy of others. I appreciate the bipartisan action by the members of Congress to pass this bill. I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities."
Again, this statement by the President and I've just also been handed a statement by the White House Press Secretary indicating that just moments ago the President did sign into law Senate legislation 686, which provides the U.S. District Court for the middle district of Florida shall have jurisdiction to hear, determine and render judgment on a suit or claim by or on behalf of Theresa Marie Schiavo for the alleged violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo under the Constitution of laws of the United States relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.
So, there you have it at 1:31 in the morning. We have just gotten word that President Bush has signed the legislation that has passed the House and the Senate. This case is now in the hands of the federal courts. Back to you, Carol.
LIN: Judy, it's a question of how quickly the federal courts can or will move on this case. We've heard from our legal experts. It could be as much as 24 to 48 hours. The family has just told us that they have an ambulance standing by at the hospice ready to take Terri Schiavo to a hospital where they expect and hope that this feeding tube will be reinserted as soon as possible.
I want to thank everybody here at CNN for joining in on our special coverage and pitching in. And Judy, it was a pleasure working with you tonight.
WOODRUFF: And you.
LIN: All right. And for all of us at CNN, thanks so much for joining our special coverage of this historic day. I'm Carol Lin. For all of us, good night.
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