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House GOP to Meet & Discuss Senate-Passed Fiscal Cliff Deal; Interview with Congressman Norm Dicks; Bounty Put on U.S. Ambassador; Peace, Culture, Recess; Running A Marathon Every Day

Aired January 1, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Happy new year. Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We have a lot going on.

There is a deal on the table, but we're not out of the woods yet. All eyes, of course, on Capitol Hill, as the Republican controlled -- the House, rather, convening this hour for the fiscal cliff negotiations. Now Vice President Joe Biden, he is heading to The Hill for talks with the House Democrats. This is a pretty critical moment for the country. We are talking about 12 hours after the deadline for the government action has passed.

The Senate okayed a deal wee hours of the morning. It would prevent middle class income taxes from going up, but would raise rates on income of more than $400,000 a year for individuals, more than $450,000 for couples. Now, unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans would be extended for a year. What it does not address is the spending cuts. Lawmakers plan to revisit the difficult issue. That is delayed two months from now.

Going to bring you all angles of the story here, of course, following this every single move. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Jessica Yellin at the White House. Christine Romans breaking down the numbers live from New York. And Alison Kosik, also in New York, hearing from folks at a diner.

Want to begin with you, Dana. Of course, you were up really late into the night, early into the morning here. There is more business to be done. And we know at this hour it involves the vice president. He's going to be meeting with Democrats, House Democrats. What do we expect will come from that meeting? And when do we think we'll get something from the House side?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, you're right, in about 15 minutes, the vice president is going to be here on Capitol Hill to meet with his fellow Democrats in order to sell the deal that he cut. He's going to try to convince particularly the more liberal members of the caucus that they should vote for this. And that is a concern because I was talking to a senior Democratic lawmaker who knows kind of the atmospheric inside the caucus who said that they could lose maybe 30 members of the liberal caucus. So that's -- it's going to be an important meeting.

But perhaps some -- even more important meeting is going to happen 45 minutes later, about an hour from now, and that is House Republicans are going to get together. They are going to figure out how to go forward. And if even they're going to take a vote in the House today. So we're going to be watching that.

But, Suzanne, I also want to tell you that, you know, oftentimes here we walk around the hallways and we bump into people and we get interesting information. I was just -- went downstairs in the basement going to get coffee and I bumped into Congressman Norm Dicks, who was kind enough to come and join us. And I wanted to share -- him to share -- first of all, thank you for coming on.

REP. NORM DICKS (D), WASHINGTON: Yes, Dana, nice to be with you.

BASH: I want you to share with our viewers what you were telling me, because I thought it was fascinate, about the fact that you just came from the House gym. And that's where a lot of business actually gets done. Republicans, Democrats. What did you hear from your colleagues working out this morning about whether you think this is going to fly?

DICKS: Well, there were some Democrats and some Republicans who were for it. There were a couple Democrats that were against it, one from the more liberal caucus, one who had maybe other reasons. But -- so it's going to be a split decision. And I think the biggest thing here is what the Republican conference decides, if they're going to bring this up. I think there will be enough votes between the Democrats and the Republicans, as we've done on appropriation bills all year long, to pass this thing. But I'm always an optimist.

BASH: Now you are a Democrat. A retiring Democrat, which I'll get to in one second.

DICKS: Right.

BASH: But how many -- you know your caucus also very well. How many do you think you'll lose? There are, I think, about 70 member of the progressive caucus. Many of them are not happy with this deal because of the way that the tax cuts go and other reasons.

DICKS: Well, if I had to guess, I would think we'd be around 150 Democrats would vote for it. We have some absentees, too. This is another thing that -- on both sides, I'm sure, are going to be counting who's here and who isn't. That could make a difference. And I would assume that we have enough Republicans to pass this thing. And, you know, this would be a real blow to the country, to the economy, if we fail here and -- with the major overwhelming vote in the Senate, 88-8 is pretty amazing. And Vice President Biden is going to address the caucus at 12:15. And so I hope -- I hope -- I hope he and the president will work the phones and get these people to support it.

BASH: Now you're retiring.

DICKS: Right.

BASH: After 36 years.

DICKS: Right.

BASH: In the House of Representatives.

DICKS: That's right.

BASH: A long time. So this is going to be probably the last vote that you take as a congressman?

DICKS: Well, it will be one of last votes. I mean we have to have a vote on adjournment.

BASH: Right.

DICKS: But we also have the supplemental coming up.

BASH: Right. That's true. That's true.

DICKS: Which is very important to New Jersey and New York.

BASH: That's true.

DICKS: And I'm the ranking Democrat on appropriations. So I'm going to get one last chance to be on the floor and battling. And we're going to be supporting this bill.

BASH: But talk about -- you have really seen things change here. And change when it comes to both parties, the atmospherics, the dynamics.

DICKS: Well, it's -- when I first got here, we had 295 Democrats. And it wasn't even conceived that the Republicans would ever be in the majority. And so people worked together then. It was a completely different atmosphere. When I was a staffer over in the Senate, we had 67 Democrats. And on every bill there a --

BASH: And Richard Nixon was president, right?

DICKS: And Richard Nixon was president and he signed all the environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the EPA was created. Nixon signed it into law. I mean it was a completely different atmosphere when I first got here in 1976. We had 295 Democrats. I mean, you know, it was two to one over the Republicans. So -- and so then it --

BASH: So what's your diagnosis of why things have changed?

DICKS: Well, ever since Newt Gingrich became speaker, this place has been very competitive and both sides want to be in control. And because of that, there is -- and the country's split. The country, there's a lot of people out there who are very fiscally conservative. Others, like myself, believe in the short term. We've got to do more. Do infrastructure. Do things to get this economy moving ahead and that will reduce the deficit. That will lower unemployment and do positive things for the country.

BASH: So there really is a genuine philosophical flip?

DICKS: There is a --

BASH: Yes.

DICKS: And the problem with the Republicans is they believe their rhetoric. And I guess -- I guess some of us Democrats believe our rhetoric.

BASH: That's true, you do.

DICKS: I think -- but I'm a Paul Krugman devotee. You know we -- austerity hasn't worked. We need more stimulus.

BASH: Thank you so much -- it was serendipity that I bumped into you. Thank you very much for joining us.

DICKS: Thank you.

BASH: A very interesting perspective.

DICKS: Well, thanks.

BASH: And, you know, we don't really get to hear what really goes on in that House gym, so this is some good scoop, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: No -- absolutely, Dana. I was wondering if that's part of their New Year's resolution, that they're all working out in the gym or if they do that on a regular basis and if they would resolve --

BASH: They do it on a regular basis, actually, many of them.

MALVEAUX: That's good.

DICKS: Every day.

BASH: Every day. Every day, he says.

DICKS: And there's a whole group. There's a huge group down there.

MALVEAUX: Oh, good. OK. And we hope that they've resolved to never let this happen again, too. To really conduct business in a different kind of way, because I know people are so, so frustrated with the way things are going.

Dana, if you can, if you're still with us, explain what's going on, on the House floor there. Because I know they've convened. There are a lot of people who are speaking very passionately. I'm assuming that this is about the fiscal cliff before they make any kind of decisions and before the Republican convene in a smaller group.

BASH: Right. Right, what's happening right now is the House just convened formally at 12:00. And what happens when the House convenes every day is they have what's called one-minute speeches. And this is one of the opportunities for members of Congress to come and say their peace and just say what's on their mind and they have one minute to do it. So that's what's going on right now. And I'm sure what is on all the members' mind at this point is how they feel about this fiscal cliff deal. MALVEAUX: All right. We're looking at live pictures of that taking place there. Dana, of course, we're going to bring you back to get a little bit behind the scenes from the gym, but also from the floor and whether or not there's anything that's going to come of these meetings this afternoon, whether or not there's actually a vote on the House side.

There were eight senators who voted against that compromise measure. The opposition coming from both parties, yet Senate Democrats Tom Harkin, Tom Carper and Michael Bennet all voting "no." So did these five Republicans, Senators Mike Lee, Richard Shelby, Rand Paul, Chuck Grassley, and Marco Rubio. They were a tiny minority, however. The Senate passed the fiscal cliff deal with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. It was 89-8.

I want to bring in Jessica Yellin at the White House.

Jessica, you, too, were up late, early in the morning here. The president, how does he feel things are going? We went over the cliff, but clearly there's still more work to be done.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, they're not coming out and talking, so they're being careful and letting the process unfold as it needs to. But there's a sense here that this deal will get done and that they have wrapped up this part of -- that this part of the process will be wrapped up today, Suzanne.

And, you know, I'd say that there's also a sense here that the president did get a win. Now that's the view from this end of Pennsylvania Avenue. There are many different views on the other end. But the sense here is that, for example, this is, as they're saying in their talking points, the first bipartisan agreement to raise taxes on the wealthy in 20 years.

Now, that is, in fact, an accomplishment for a Democratic president, that they got a concession from the Republican Party to let taxes increase on the wealthy. And, you know, we should acknowledge that in this measure, that is a significant change from past policy, and they feel that that is something that is worth chest bumping about.

Now, it is something many Democrats in their own party are disappointed with because it didn't hit at $250,000, it hit at $450,000 for households and because they wanted to see more in this deal. And Republicans are critical because there's not enough deficit reduction, so are moderate Democrats. The White House argument to that essentially is, there's time to have that deficit fight. We're having that fight in about two months.


MALVEAUX: And, Jess, just want to know about the president's role here because yesterday it was really interesting how things played out.


MALVEAUX: I mean from hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute. We saw the president come out very publicly, encouraging the Republicans, saying, you know, we don't have a deal yet but we're pretty close here, you know, on the Senate side. And a lot of Republicans were upset after he came out. They didn't like his tone. They thought it was too wide or braggadocios or whatever.

YELLIN: Right.

MALVEAUX: And it look like there was, for a moment, a real backlash against the president when we saw Senator McCain coming out and speaking against him. Do we anticipate that the president is going to lay low while the House sorts out all of this, perhaps a lesson learned from yesterday?

YELLIN: Well, I would say, yes, I don't -- I do not expect to see the president before the House votes. But I don't think that's in response to yesterday. I think that was -- that's always how they operate and they wouldn't want to say or do anything to sort of distract attention from what their -- the process is up there.

Yesterday's comments were intended to prod Democrats in the Senate to get on board. And they sort of, whatever, you know, hands up here, a big shrug of the shoulders that Republicans were annoyed by the comments. The bill still passed.

Now, I would point out, first of all, that I'm told the vice president is going to be leaving here momentarily. We have not seen his motorcade depart yet, but any moment now. And, you know, the president is, my understanding from multiple sources, was personally involved in this deal behind the scenes while the vice president and Senator McConnell were the ones on the phone in the very end. It was the president, these sources say, who insisted that this agreement to put off those spending cuts be included in the deal and that they be paid for with a combination of tax increases and pay downs, which we've discussed in some detail, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And do we know if the vice president, when he's going to be meeting with House Democrats, do we know specifically who he's meeting with and what he is trying to do to corral them to come together?

YELLIN: Well, it's my understanding, I think as Dana's been reporting, that he's meeting with the caucus there to encourage them, you know, all commers (ph), to encourage -- to take questions and let them vent or make inquiries. And, you know, he was -- he's not only been on the ground floor of this negotiation, but, remember, he helped build the whole negotiation that led up to the debt ceiling fight in 2011 and knows the intricate details of all this policy. So he can answer questions not only about what's in the legislation, but what's not in the legislation, what's left to do in the new year, and it -- well, it is the new year. Hi. I was up until 2:00 a.m. What's left to do in the next fight. And as I keep saying, there -- we just rolled right into the next fight over the debt ceiling. And one of the messages I think you'll hear him deliver is, hey, congressman so-and-so, you're upset about that. We can have that fight right now when we begin the talks about the debt ceiling, for example.

MALVEAUX: All right. Good. It will be very interesting to see what comes of all of this. And happy new year, Jess. We are in this new year.

YELLIN: You too.

MALVEAUX: All right.


MALVEAUX: We'll get back to you. You'll have a chance to party later when all of this is said and done and all over with. Still a lot of work to be done. Jess, thanks again. We're going to check back in with you very shortly.

Deal or no deal, American taxpayers are getting fed up, right, with what is happening in Washington, all the bickering. We're going to hear what you think about it and what is happening on Capitol Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot begin to tell you how irresponsible I think this has been for both parties to play all the politics they've been playing and leaving the people out, leaving the people's concerns out and just letting this thing happen. Both parties are responsible for this. Both of them have been playing just little silly games.



MALVEAUX: We are waiting and, of course, watching for what happens in Washington here. House Democrats (inaudible) meeting with the vice president at this hour, perhaps even within minutes.

He'll be leaving the White House and he'll be meeting with members of Congress, the Democrats, obviously, to push forward on negotiations to make sure that the House passes some version of a compromise to make sure that the country does not face severe tax hikes, as well as those spending cuts.

There is a deal on the Senate side now; the House has to convene and figure out whether or not they approve of that version, whether they are going to amend it or if they've got their own version in hand and that, of course, is going to be the work of the vice president as well.

Even if the fiscal cliff deal is passed, many of us going to end up paying more taxes than we did last year; that's because the payroll tax cut was allowed to expire. Nobody's trying to actually revive that.

I want to bring in our business correspondent Christine Romans to join us, talk a little bit about this.

What is the difference here? This tax cut, it's been around since, what, 2009 or so, to boost the economy. Tell us how the payroll tax is different than the others. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So the payroll taxes come right out of your paycheck automatically and they are used to fund Social Security. Costs about $120 billion a year for the Treasury Department to instead let you have a little smaller -- a little smaller part of your paycheck goes to Social Security taxes and then general funds are used to cover the difference.

So you've had a little holiday. You've had a little holiday for the past couple of years and that means you've been paying 4.2 percent toward your payroll taxes. It's going to go back up to 6.2 percent. And the more money you make, the more you're going to pay.

Let me show you exactly what it means. If you make $35,000 a year, you're going pay $700 more a year. If you make $50,000, you're going to pay $1,000. You can see. Just everyone look for your little -- look for your bracket there, because what this means is you're going to have a smaller paycheck.

Always meant to be a temporary boost to the economy. And in the fiscal cliff, it is really temporary. They're not going to extend it.

MALVEAUX: How important it is, do you think, Christine -- the markets are not open today but they're going to be open tomorrow -- that there is some sort of real deal in hand from the Senate side and the House side to indicate that there is some stability here?

ROMANS: So look, you had a really good year for stocks, the S&P 500 up 13 percent. You had stocks up very strongly on the last trading day that they could trade, right? They are anticipating a deal. If you don't get a deal -- markets are closed today -- if you don't get a deal, Suzanne, it would be tough for stocks. If you do get a deal --


MALVEAUX: (Inaudible). I want to interrupt you just for a moment here, because we're just -- I want our viewers to know what we're watching here. We're actually seeing -- this is live at the White House, the vice president getting into the motorcade there. You can see the Secret Service outside the vehicle.

And, of course, the motorcade will be traveling to the Hill, where he'll be meeting with the House Democrats to talk about pushing forward on the House side. I think we're turning some tape here. And you can actually see the vice president, he's in that vehicle. And that's going to be key to moving things forward on the House side, at least.

But Christine, you were explaining some of the ways that we are actually going to be impacted by this, and, of course, the markets and how they behave when they see this kind of uncertainty, as we watch the -- you know, the sausage being made, if you will.

ROMANS: And, oh, man, and it's so ugly, isn't it, that process is so ugly?

Look, if you -- if you were to have the House add a bunch of amendments or not do something, you know what many in Washington are saying the worst-case scenario, the House doesn't move forward and avert the fiscal cliff, it would be tough for the markets. It really would.

Because the markets are telling us they think that there has been a momentary -- a momentary judgment call; they've done the right thing and the markets think something is going to get done here. So a solution is priced into the market here.

I think if you don't get a solution, it's going to be -- it's going to be a problem, maybe not the first day but certainly will be a problem. And I know that I've talked to congressmen -- I know you have, too -- they have 2008 and TARP fresh in their memory. Remember when they didn't pass the bank bailout?


ROMANS: They said we're not going to bail out these banks. And Wall Street said, that's not going to work and the stock market went down 700 points. They have that fresh in their memory. They don't want to -- they don't want to -- they don't want to do anything like that. So they're being very careful here, I think.

MALVEAUX: And, Christine, tell us a little bit about some of the things that were, at least on the Senate side, that were the tax goodies, if you will, the things that were saved, some of the things that we didn't lose because of the agreement on the Senate side.

ROMANS: You know, it's interesting, when you look at, for example, write-off for teachers for some of the supplies they get for their classroom, when you look at some of the parent -- the parent and college tuition kind of tax breaks, especially for lower income families, those around there.

I've actually been investigating all of the extenders for business and the sweet goodies for business because they want to try to get companies to start spending their money.

Their money's been sitting in the bank, companies have been saying we're not going to do anything until we figure out -- we're not going to buy new software, we're not going to open a new plant. We're going to just wait to figure out if Washington can get it together and we know what kind of situation we're going to have for taxes for the beginning of the year.

So we're like digging into what all of those other little things are. There are -- there are the AMT, for example, permanently patched. That's important.

And for doctors, a lot of doctors, very concerned about a potential 27 percent cut to their Medicare reimbursements. That's been fixed as well.

MALVEAUX: All right. Christine Romans, thank you very much.

Obviously we're waiting for the vice president. He's going to be arriving on Capitol Hill, he's meeting with House Democrats to try to figure out a way to get them all together, all on board because, of course, you're going to have the Republicans and the Democrats going to have to work together on their own version to avert the -- going off the fiscal cliff.

The Senate side does have an agreement and it all depends on the House now and how these two sides will come together and present something that the president can sign. We're going to be -- we're going to be following this throughout the hours. We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: We're keeping a very close eye on what's happening in Washington today. The vice president just left the White House. We just saw him leaving in his motorcade, he's heading to Capitol Hill. That is where he's going to be meeting with House Democrats to try to cobble together something on the House side to avoid the fiscal cliff.

We are also seeing on the House floor there, these are Republicans, there's some Democrats as well, but a lot of fiery rhetoric, a lot of really pointed opinions about where this country is going, how to avoid the fiscal cliff, what needs to happen regarding taxes, regarding spending cuts, all kinds of things.

But clearly this is their moment, each one of them getting a minute to talk about what they believe we should be doing to avoid the fiscal cliff. I want to listen in.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Congress must regain its full power accorded under the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, to coin, to create money, to invest in our nation, interest free, to put America back to work.

Why go into debt borrowing money from China, Japan, South Korea, when we have the constitutional authority to protect our economic sovereignty and to assure America's long-term fiscal health?

The endless cycle of increasing taxes and cutting spending will not work because the debt keeps ballooning with compounded interest. It's time for a new American monetary policy to climb out of poverty and debt. Reforms are outlined in the National Emergency Employment Defense Act, H.R. 2990. It's the NEED Act. Let's regain control of America's destiny.

REP. MORRIS BROOKS (R), ALA.: Senator Mitch McConnell observed, quote, "This shouldn't be the model for how we do things around here," end quote.

And the Senate proceeded like a bull in a China closet anyway. The Senate boasts it is America's deliberative body. Today that claim rings hollow.

Mr. Speaker, the House must postpone this vote until Congress and the American people have time to study and evaluate this extraordinarily complex legislation and its impact on taxes, revenue, the economy, our debt and a myriad of other issues.

It is better to get it right than to act in haste. Mr. Speaker, if we vote on the Senate fiscal cliff bill today, I will vote against it because this is not the way to do the people's business.


MALVEAUX: So what is he talking about? The Senate deal addressing the fiscal cliff, it is hanging in the balance because it goes now to the Republican-controlled House. And here's what's in the Senate's compromise.

So it would prevent middle class income taxes from going up but it would raise rates on income of more than $400,000 a year for individuals or more than $450,000 for couples.

The unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans, that would be extended for a year. It does not address spending cuts. And that of course, lawmakers planning to revisit that issue. That's going to happen a couple of months from now.

There's a two-month delay when it comes to the dramatic spending cuts that were put out there as part of the fiscal cliff.

Now the stock market is closed for today -- of course it's a holiday. So we don't know how Wall Street is going to react to all of this. But we certainly have a feeling and a sense of how you are responding.

Alison Kosik at a diner in New York -- Alison, I imagine if you talk to folks -- you know, I talk to my relatives and friends, they're just frustrated, really frustrated with this, thinking, why would you wait till the very last minute? This is something that impacts all of us.

Well, what are they telling you?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: There are lots of opinions, yes. I mean, we're in New York City where people really don't hold back their opinions. But what's great about this diner is we're getting opinions from all across the country.

Liz (ph) here from Maine, all I have to do is say the words fiscal cliff, and what comes to mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a cliff, it's a slope.

KOSIK: Meaning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not this really huge deal. It's not going to be like this disastrous event. It's just not. Like it's not really going to affect me personally. I'm a graduate student. I get paid by the State of Indiana like for my assistantship, you know. It's really not going to affect me. And it's not going to affect a vast majority of Americans.

KOSIK: How do you think the negotiations are going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as I know, like they're not really happening. I don't know.

KOSIK: And how does that make you feel? I mean, you vote. You know, lawmakers knew that this deadline was coming. How does that make you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They shouldn't have been on vacation like that. I mean, the president came back from Hawaii in order to like get this done. And then like they didn't really call -- like they didn't put the call out early enough, kind of what I understand. They didn't -- they just didn't get them back here early enough to deal with this.

KOSIK: But it is -- it is a big challenge here to go ahead and pass all of the -- all of these parts of this legislation, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess so. I mean, just let some of the tax cuts expire and let others remain. Like it's not that hard.

KOSIK: All right.

So lots of opinions. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Alison, what would you say? I mean is there a consensus here? I mean, are most people feeling like it's no big deal? Are people engaged? Are they watching what is happening in Washington? Do they understand how it impacts them?

KOSIK: You know, they don't understand the minute details. It's really hard unless you're following it every single day. But, you know, today's a holiday, and I'm getting a good -- a sort of a really good gauge on what a lot of people, though, think about it.

I mean, they have strong opinions about whether or not lawmakers have dragged their feet and whether or not they should have dragged them as long as they did.

We're also getting some great international perspectives. I ran into Matt (ph) here from Australia.

Matt (ph), you're -- you've been watching the negotiations from afar. What's your take?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of it is really emotionally charged hot air that a lot of people are getting upset over things that aren't really as big or as impactful as they are making it out to be.

I come from Australia; we have higher taxes and more expensive goods and services. And even if the fiscal cliff did occur, Australia would still have higher taxes and higher goods and services. But we are doing OK.

You know, what they are talking about with the lawmakers and the discussions at the moment, they're trying to fight off something that, to be honest, is not really going to be a big impact to the everyday working man or woman.

KOSIK: All right, Matt (ph). So that's the international -- one international perspective on what's going on. (Inaudible), Suzanne, is I'm sitting here in the Tick Tock Diner (ph). So, yes, the clock continues ticking, doesn't it?


MALVEAUX: It certainly does, Alison. It's good to see people out and about having a good time, but clearly paying attention as well.

We are also following another story. We're learning new details about Secretary Hillary Clinton's blood clot as well as her treatment. We're going to bring you the very latest.


MALVEAUX: We now know Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's blood clot is located between her brain and her skull and behind her right ear. Now doctors, they are treating her with blood thinners. They expect her to make a full recovery. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at how serious the blood clot is.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We do have some new details about what happened to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Specifically, where this blood clot is located, you remember, before we knew that she had a blood clot, she was getting blood-thinning medication and we could surmise from that that the blood clot itself wasn't located on top of the brain because if it was actually pushing on the brain, blood-thinning medication would worsen that, make that pressure on the brain even worse.

Let me show you here by way of model. First of all, this is on the right side of her head, but for the -- for this demonstration, I'll show you the left side of the head for this model. Here you have the brain. Again, if the clot was actually pushing on the brain you wouldn't give blood-thinning medication.

But rather, in this case, the blood clot is located in one of the blood vessels inside the brain, a vessel that drains typically drains blood away from the brain. It's called the sinus here. In her case, it's actually in this area over here, the transverse sinus, again on the right side of her brain.

This is a pretty rare condition. This is something that doesn't happen often. But it needs to be treated with blood-thinning medications to try and make that clot dissolve.

Here's the concern: you have blood going to the brain. That blood also needs to leave the brain. If that blood is not leaving the brain, the pressure in the brain can start to build up. And that's what you don't want to happen.

Most likely, you know, in the secretary's case, they will need to get another scan at some point to actually show that the clot, this blood clot inside that blood vessel, has in fact gone away. Doctors -- very important to point out, they've said, look, she's had no stroke from this, which is a potential complication. She -- in fact they say that she's had no neurological impact whatsoever.

I've heard from sources that if you were to see her, you wouldn't know that this sort of problem was going on. But again, a rare occurrence, a cerebral venous clot -- cerebral venous thrombosis, it's called -- being treated with blood thinners in the hospital right now.

As we get more information, we'll certainly bring it to you. Back to you.


MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Sanjay.

Back to the fiscal cliff. One thing is certain, for the vast majority of Americans, this is more than just a political battle. This is a fight essentially over your bottom line.


VALERIE STAYSKAL, IREPORTER: My message to all of Washington for the new year is to set partisanship aside working on behalf of 100 percent of voters, fix this mess you've gotten us into, bring a balanced budget to the table to grow this economy for the long term, not the short term.



MALVEAUX: We're taking a look there on the House floor as people are debating the best way to avoid the fiscal cliff. This is on the House side today, because we already went through this on the Senate side. They came up with a plan that both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly agreed on to avoid the fiscal cliff.

But of course, we went over that fiscal cliff because you don't have something on the House side. And they need to figure out if they're going to amend what the Senate has decided on, whether they're going to scrap it altogether, come up with something new or if they're going to sign on to it. So there's a lot of debate that is taking place there.

The vice president this hour is meeting with the Democrats of the House to make sure that they're all on board as well.

And here's what we are hearing from some of those House Republicans and Democrats. Let's listen in.


REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R), KANS.: I am a no vote. But until we actually see the details, we're just (inaudible) most folks might presume a member of Congress has those details. We haven't seen anything. We're just reading media reports. There's nothing on any websites out there.

But like I said, it looks like a no. It looks like the typical insider deal for Washington, D.C., where they get 89 votes in the Senate but at the end of the day our debt's going to get bigger, our spending is going to go up, taxes are going to increase and I think Americans are going to continue to be very upset at Washington.

REP.LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: There's still a question as to whether amendments are offered here, and of course, as you've also noted, the big question here that having circumvented the dangers of the cliff here at New Year's, that we soon face the Valentine Day cliff and perhaps the April Fools' Day cliff because all of the things that are not in this agreement.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIF.: The president cannot and should not add about $11 billion to the deficit by the stroke of a pen, by an executive order at a time in which he's negotiating to try to raise taxes to earn maybe another $60 billion or $70 billion, at most.


MALVEAUX: We're also following other top stories.

For the first time in 19 years, North Korea's leader makes a televised New Year's speech. The big themes in Kim Jong-un's address, overhauling the country's struggling economy, moving toward reuniting with South Korea. Now Kim also celebrated last month's launch of a long-range rocket. Kim's father, who ruled North Korea until 2011, never made a televised New Year's speech.


MALVEAUX: A Royal Dutch Shell Oil drilling ship has run aground on an uninhabited island near Alaska Kodiak Island. The Coast Guard says a tugboat was towing the ship during a huge storm yesterday. The ship has been evacuated since Saturday when the trouble started.

The tugboat's crew had to cut lines and set the ship adrift when the weather conditions got too dangerous. Shell's incident response team says it has not detected any fuel leak from the rig and the National Weather Service is predicting better weather which could help those crews get that rig back under control.

He is a U.S. ambassador and Al Qaeda wants him dead. It's a dangerous situation that is unfolding in Yemen.


MALVEAUX: U.S. authorities are looking into threats against the U.S. ambassador to Yemen. There are reports that a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda has issued a reward for his death. Brian Todd's got the story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than four months after the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, word of a specific threat to another American envoy, in another Arab country where al Qaeda is dangerously strong. A bounty of $160,000 worth of gold has been placed on Gerald Feierstein, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen. According to Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadists on the Internet, the bounty announced in audio clips and screen graphs posted by militants. We can't verify the clips' authenticity, but the U.S. and Yemeni governments are taking them seriously.

The militants also offered $23,000 for the killing of an American soldier in Yemen. Analysts say those militants may be affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the terror group's powerful branch in Yemen.

GREGORY JOHNSEN, AUTHOR, "THE LAST REFUGE: YEMEN": They've really been looking for a way to hit the United States, whether the U.S. embassy in Yemen, which they attacked in September of 2008, or carrying out more attacks here in the United States.

TODD: This is the same group that came close to detonating a bomb in the underwear of a militant in the 2009 Christmas Day plot to the bomb an airliner bound for Detroit. It attempted to send printer bombs to the U.S. the following year. And tried again this year to bomb a plane bound for the U.S. It's also not the first time al Qaeda or an affiliate has offered gold for the killing of a prominent American.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The example that leaps to mind is Paul Bremer, who, of course, was the most important American non-military official in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration, and Osama bin Laden himself offered substantial gold reward for -- basically for his death.

TODD: No one got to Bremer. The odds of an assassination this time? A Yemeni official says security is being stepped up around the U.S. embassy and the areas where diplomats live. Analysts say Ambassador Feierstein may not need to reinforce his personal security detail too much.

JOHNSEN: (INAUDIBLE) you essentially have this little mini green zone in which all the people who work at the embassy essentially live within a very secure corridor there right next to the embassy and so they travel from this secure housing location to the embassy and back and forth and they don't really get out, which makes them very, very difficult targets.

TODD: But one deadly asset that al Qaeda in Yemen has may tip the balance.

TODD (on camera): That's this man, Ibrahim al-Asiri, the young master bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Intelligence officials say he was behind that Christmas Day attack three years ago, and the printer bomb plot. He once placed a bomb inside the body of his own brother, which came close to killing a top Saudi official. Ibrahim al-Asiri is still at large and, experts say, has been able to train others on his techniques.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


MALVEAUX: Coming up next, violence sent them running from their home countries. We're going to take you to a school that is welcoming these young refugees with open arms, teaching them that there is more in this world than violence.


MALVEAUX: Members of Congress on the House side, they've gathered on the House floor to make their views known about the fiscal cliff, how to avoid the fiscal cliff, potentially their own plan to do that, this after negotiations from the Senate side actually produced a concrete plan. It is now up to the House and members of Congress on the House side to either amend it, scrap it, or essentially come up with their own plan. And we'll see if that happens. But they've convened. Want to listen in to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who just spoke.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: And so now Congress is going to get a spending increase? This was a cynical, planned move, Mr. Speaker, on the part of our president. He brought great drama to this effort. Unnecessary drama. Because, you see, this House of Representatives already did the job to avert the fiscal cliff. We did this work. It was completed last August.


MALVEAUX: Police are on the hunt for armed robbers who stole more than $1.6 million worth of gadgets from an Apple store in Paris. This story trending right now across France. Authorities say the robbers made their move after the store shut down on New Year's Eve, carrying handguns as well as attacking a security guard to get in. Police in Paris say thieves often steal Apple product but this break-in comes as the biggest raid in a store there. We're going to have more after a break.


MALVEAUX: It's a common thing to toast on the arrival of a New Year, world peace, right? Well, one school in Atlanta actually taking a very unique approach to actually trying to achieve it. They are welcoming international refugees. Kids that come from all over the world. And their families, they are too afraid to return to their home country. So the school's mission to catch these kids while they're young, show them that there is more to this world than violence and fear.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Igey Muzeleya and his family moved to the United States after fleeing violence in Tanzania. Anzwa (ph) and his family moved out of Myanmar, also known as Burma, hoping for a safer future. Paria Foroughi parents left their native Iran in search of better education. The three are now students at the International Community School in Decatur, Georgia, and their lives are dramatically different. ICS is a K-5 charter school with 270 students from more than 30 countries.

IGEY MUZELEYA, STUDENT FROM TANZANIA: I like the school because it's a fun place to be, a fun place to learn.

PARIA FOROUGHI, STUDENT FROM IRAN: It's like a whole neighbored together or like a whole little country together or a whole world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This school is great and you can get a lot of friends.

MALVEAUX: Charitable groups and the local government in nearby Clarkston have, for years, encouraged international refugees to settle here. Bilingual teaching assistants work with the main teacher in every kindergarten and first grade class room. Language classes and additional reading and math practice are part of the daily school schedule. The goal is to help refugee children without separating them from the rest of their American classmates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a school for refugee children any more than its a school for American kids.

MALVEAUX: The school receives state and federal funds, but relies heavily on donations and partnerships with community organizations. There are programs and activities designed to promote intercultural understanding and expand their world view.

Each year, the schools celebrates its own United Nations Day. A colorful bash that highlights the school's vision.

FOROUGHI: You get to learn about different countries. Everyone's friends.

MALVEAUX: Igey, Paria and Un (ph) are only in fifth grade, but they've got big plans for the future. Paria wants to be a judge. Igey wants to be a professional soccer player. And Un wants to be an artist. All three believe they're already working toward their dream at the International Community School.


MALVEAUX: The school says about half of the kindergarten through fifth graders are from other countries. Most of them survivors of war. All of them study a second and even a third language. Good for them.

Well, have you come up with your fitness goals for this year? Well, wait until you hear about one couple. They're in their 60s. What they are planning to do this year. They are running a marathon a day. That's right, running a marathon a day. Melanie Davis of Australia's Network 10, she's got their story.


MELANIE DAVIS, AUSTRALIA'S NETWORK 10 REPORTER (voice-over): The countdown to begin clocking up the kilometers. CROWD: Four, three, two, one.

DAVIS: At 6:30 this morning, grandparents Alan and Jeanette embarked on the run of a lifetime. They've vowed to complete a marathon every day of 2013.

JEANETTE MURRAY-WAKELIN, RUNNER: We're trying to inspire other people to make really conscious lifestyle choices by thinking about the choices you make, every choice you make in life.

DAVIS: The couple, in their sixties, is promoting healthy, sustainable living as they set off to cover more than 15,000 kilometers around the country and raise money for various charities. But they haven't always been in fine form.

ALAN MURRAY, RUNNER: About 20 years ago, I wouldn't be able to run one city block. I couldn't run more than 100 meters.


MURRAY: And since then I've lost about 23 kilograms, 50 pounds, and just feel so much better.

MURRAY-WAKELIN: And not only that, but I get a younger man without the divorce.

DAVIS: Ten years ago, Jeanette, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was given six months to live. She believes that eating raw vegan food saved her life. And the pair will rely on that diet to fuel the 365 marathons. In New Zealand in 2000, the endurance athletes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. But this year holds a far greater challenge for the run raw (ph) duo. Day one, 42 kilometers down, still thousands to go.


MALVEAUX: Wow. Amazing. We'll see how they do. Pretty impressive. Best of luck to both of them. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Happy New Year.