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Waiting For Word On Vote; Private Pot Club Opens; ; House GOP Meeting Behind Closed Doors; Drilling Rig Grounded Off Alaska; State Of Pennsylvania To Sue NCAA Over Penn State Punishment

Aired January 1, 2013 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Happy New Year. I'm Deborah Feyerick. And I want to welcome all of our viewers from around the world.

Right now, all eyes on Washington, where American lawmakers are trying to complete a deal to avoid an economic meltdown. Technically, the nation went over the fiscal cliff when the new year began, but, practically, the Senate pulled a parachute that should soften the fall. About 2:00 a.m. Eastern, senators passed a round of compromises with a vote of 89-8. But I said "should." This deal is far from done. Now it's up to the House to stop $600 billion of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. At this hour, though, a vote is not scheduled. And multiple House members took to the floor today to say their vote will be no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The current agreement with the fiscal cliff was agreed to, we're told, somewhere around 11:30 last night. The bill was voted on at 2:00 in the morning. Now, again, this is New Year's Eve. I don't know how many senators between midnight and 2:00 a.m. in the morning had a chance to thoroughly read this agreement that's 157 pages long. You see, this is not how we should run our government. This is drama. Unnecessary drama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: So what did the senators pass? Well, it was very long bill, about 157 pages. There are a host of tax credit extensions, Medicare extensions, and a lot more. But here are some of the key points.

Couples making $450,000 or more and individuals making $400,000 or more will see a higher tax rate of 39.6 percent. That is the rate from when Bill Clinton was president. Couples making $300,000 or more, well, they're going to have a cap on itemized deductions. Benefits for the long term unemployed, those will be extended. And the most criticized point, the Senate plan, will delay the sequester, that's right, those big automatic spending cuts and taxes by two months. But over that same time period, the plan does allows for about $12 billion to be cut from government programs.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill.

And, Dana, does it even look like the House will vote today? Because that's kind of crucial.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a big open question, Deb. And I can just tell you, the reason why I'm standing in front of a -- maybe not so pretty white wall is because I'm down the hall from where Republicans are meeting as we speak. House Republicans. And you can hear at different times some clapping, at different times other -- maybe not so happy noises coming from inside the meeting. But they are discussing the way forward.

And what we're hearing from sources, again, this meeting is still going on, but what we're hearing from sources about what is happening behind those doors is that there are a lot of members concerned that they want spending cuts to go along with this deal. They don't want to just pass mostly -- most entirely tax cuts, but also from their perspective, tax increases. So that is a big part of what I'm hearing is going on.

The other thing that we're told is that the House speaker is simply not taking a position, whether he is for or against this. He's being very cautious, we're told, in this meeting with his members. Simply listening to ideas, laying out options. You know, one option that the speaker has said publicly, even before we saw the Senate vote, is that the House may take up the deal, may take up the bill, but then try to amend it in some way. So we're waiting to see exactly what they decide.

But we should also note that they're not going to decide anything out of this meeting. We are told very clearly that they are going to take into consideration what they hear from their members in this meeting, spend some time this afternoon discussing it inside the leadership, and then have another meeting later today to figure out how they're going to -- how they're going to move forward. And, of course, the question is whether or not there is going to be a late night vote tonight or maybe they're going to delay it.

FEYERICK: You know, Dana, out of curiosity, because there were eight senators who voted against this deal, is there a possibility that the Republicans cannot rally and cannot get the kind of votes that they need to get this passed? Is that even a remote possibility? Or is it pretty much a done deal even though perhaps a grudging done deal?

BASH: It is -- it is a remote possibility that they can't get the votes, absolutely. There's no question about it. Because, look, to get this -- this -- first of all, the House speaker, as you well know, the House is run in a very tight way, whether it's the Democrats are in charge or Republicans, so the House speaker will be able to decide how he brings it to the floor. What kind of vote it is. So he could decide right off the bat that, yes, he's going to bring it to the floor, which he's promised to do, but he'll only do it as part of a process that also allows amendments. For example, an amendment on adding spending cuts. So that would -- if that passed, that would change the dynamic right away. Then it would have to go back over to the Senate and they would have to decide how to deal with it. That's just one potential option.

But the answer to your question is, it is definitely possible, even plausible, that there aren't the votes here. Democrats, that's why there's a meeting actually still going on, Deb. It's been going on, we think, for probably almost two hours, are meeting with the vice president in another part of the Capitol because he's trying to make sure that the Democrats are still in line because there are a lot of liberals who are also not happy with it.

In fact, I'm just told in my ear, Joe Biden just left that meeting. So it just wrapped up. That's why both sides are trying to figure out where things stand. And it's obvious from what I'm saying, it's very unclear.

FEYERICK: Sure. And clearly so much uncertainty. Sort of a ping-pong effect going back and forth. It will be interesting to see exactly how this turns out. But clearly still work to be done.

Dana Bash, thank you so much for all your work.

BASH: Thanks, Deb.

FEYERICK: Well, the political leaders who cut this deal call it imperfect and many members of Congress on the floor today, Democrat and Republican, could not have agreed more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A New Year's deal for New Year's Day. Or is it "Groundhog Day"? Because like the movie "Groundhog Day," this government, in two months, will arrive at another crisis of debt, of spending and taxes. Our debt-based economics system with its exponential growth of debt due to compounded interest consigns us to massive unemployment, threats to the social safety net, a deteriorated infrastructure, a psychology of poverty amidst plenty, austerity. Congress must regain its full power accorded under the Constitution.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Congress is addicted to spending money. Maybe Congress should join Spending Anonymous. Here's the 12-step plan. One, Congress should admit it is addicted to spending someone else's money. Two, make a list of the wasteful spending. Three, pass a yearly budget and a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Four, stop giving money to countries that hate us. Five, have the resolve not to spend money we don't have. Six, don't contribute to the addiction by taking more money away from Americans. Seven, don't borrow any more money from China. Eight, don't make excuses for our addiction. Nine, don't blame others for the addiction. Ten, run Congress like most people run their family budgets. Eleven, remember we are to do the will of the people. And, 12, have a support group and meet regularly to confess our addiction.

REP. SCOTT RIGELL (R), VIRGINIA: What do we know with certainty about the bill which passed the Senate? We know it has bipartisan support. That's encouraging. I'm a Republican who's been making the case that revenues must rise. That bill does that. And if it becomes law, it provides some certainty to our tax code which would surely help our economy. Yet, Mr. Speaker, we also know with certainty that it fails to address the mortal threat facing our country, uncontrolled spending. It fails to reflect the balanced approach that was advocated by our president. So we find ourselves again with a bill that reflects not financial wisdom, but the seductive spirit that pervades this town.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: We're going into a new year as the first generation who did not ask the question, what can we do, what can we sacrifice to make future generations have a better life than we have? Instead, we ask, how much can we eek up taxes a little bit so that we can keep spending, 58 cents, to get a dollar's worth of wasteful bloated government so that our children and grandchildren can pay 42 cents of every dollar that we waste on ourselves. Is that any way to start the new year? We're taking up a bill that will not do anything to cut spending. I'm embarrassed for this generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Clearly a lot of dissatisfaction there on Capitol Hill.

Well, no matter what goes down there today, your taxes are going up. That's right. Well, for the majority, probably not as much as you probably feared, but expect an increase in at least four areas. First, everyone will get hit with the Social Security payroll tax. It is going back up from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. So for a person with an annual income of $50,000, that would take about $1,000 away. There's also a new Medicare tax, close to 1 percent of income over $250,000. That group will also pay nearly 4 percent more on dividends and capital gains from investments. And if you put money away in a flexible spending account for medical expenses, well, you're not going to be able to stash as much as you did last year.

I'm going to turn now to CNN's Christine Romans, host of "YOUR BOTTOM LINE."

And, Christine, are we breathing maybe a premature sigh of relief here?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know me, Deb, I never breathe a sigh of relief, especially when I'm watching Washington.

Look, a couple of things to remember here. We still have the House. That's a really important hurdle here. The market's closed today. You've got a House that has to deal with this. And then, you know, there's a punt, if you will, on the sequester. You got a lot of other things that are going to be decided going forward here. And you still have weeks, months, maybe years of difficult budget negotiations on getting our debt and deficits in order. So a sigh of relief, I wouldn't necessarily breathe one just yet.

What we know for sure is that your taxes, your tax rates on 98 percent of Americans, are not going to go up. Your tax rates will not go up on 98 percent of Americans. We know doctors are breathing a sigh of relief because they're not going to -- you know, they're not going to have to get a big cut in what their Medicare reimbursement rates are. We know the people on jobless benefits are breathing a sigh of relief. But beyond that, you're pointing out that the payroll tax holiday is really important too. Most workers, almost all of the 160 million workers in America, are going to get a little bit less each week in the paycheck because that temporary payroll tax holiday is going away.

FEYERICK: Right. And certainly not as bad as most people expected given the uncertainty. But, you know, at this point with no vote from the House -- and you could see that podium just there, that's where some Republicans are going to come out and speak -- with no vote from the House, it's going to be very difficult for millions of people this year to file their tax returns. Some folks not even knowing where to begin or over what period of time taxes are going to apply.

ROMANS: One thing that's really important here is the AMT patch. I mean it looks like the Senate part of this thing, they want to make -- they want to patch permanently the Alternative Minimum Tax, the so- called wealth tax. Look, they want to patch that permanently. If the House picks that up and it happens quickly, you could see -- you could see that the tax refund season could go along as normal.

But, remember, according to the IRS, you know, if they didn't approve a patch to the AMT, they said up to 100 million taxpayers might not be able to file their returns or collect their refunds until late March. So, you know, by the deadline, of course, in April. But by late March, that's an awful lot of time that money is not working in the economy. So it's important to get this fixed very, very quickly on that front, no question.

FEYERICK: You know, and we talk about everything that's going on right now. And Dana just -- Dana Bash just said that, in fact, there is a distinct possibility that there may not be enough votes to pass this. How will investors react if, in fact, the House either doesn't vote, votes it down or amends it and it has to go back to the Senate? How does the market react?

ROMANS: I mean they won't like it. I mean the market -- the way the market stands right now, rally on the last trading day of the year, the anticipation was that this was going to get done, the progress in the Senate was something that suggested there be progress to get this under way. We had a very good year in stocks last year. The S&P up 13 percent despite those fiscal cliff worries. And you got to see it get handled.

If you saw the House not pass this, or you all of a sudden saw some controversy with amendments in the like and you have two competing versions of this bill and this drags on, I think you could see the stock market take a tumble, and that's something members of Congress have told us, they'd like to avoid that. They remember TARP and the bank bailout and how the stock market did not like it when they didn't pass the bank bailout in first place. That's a very fresh memory for them.

FEYERICK: All right, Christine Romans, thanks so much for keeping an eye on all of this. There's just so much to keep an eye on. Thanks.

Well, as we wait for Republicans to speak, once again the vice president playing a huge role in getting this deal done. But does Joe Biden have the pull to actually get it through the House?

Plus, I'll speak live with the attorney for one of the very first pot clubs in Colorado. It just opened after voters approved a new marijuana law.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Well, marijuana smokers in Denver have a new place to light up outside their homes. It is called Club 64 and it's billed as a private pot smoking club. Back in November, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in a private space. With plenty of Goldfish and, yes, Cheetos on hand, Club 64 opened its doors yesterday at 4:20 p.m. to start ringing in the new year. You can't buy marijuana there, but the $30 membership fee will get you a new place to light up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SADIE LANE, CLUB 64 MEMBER: They said regulate like alcohol. So this is where, you know, you can come and hang out and smoke instead of drink.

GABRIEL KINDEROY, CLUB 64 MEMBER: It's great to actually be able to exercise my vote now, to be able to just get together with my common man and be able to, you know, express ourselves in our constitutional limit (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Joining me live from Denver is Robert Corry Jr. He is the general counsel for Club 64.

Thanks so much for being here with us. So is this so-called cannabis club, is it actually legal for people to gather and do this?

ROBERT CORRY, JR., GENERAL COUNSEL, CLUB 64: It is legal. The voters of Colorado have spoken and the voters of Colorado legalized cannabis. And it is a new year in the mile high city. And it's a wonderful new year. And freedom was in the house last night.

FEYERICK: Well, what's interesting also is, does this club have any sort of legal responsibility to -- legal responsibility to its clients? For example, if somebody comes there and then goes home and they're impaired, what responsibility does the club have?

CORRY: Well, the club has a similar responsibility to any bar that over serves a patron or puts somebody in a difficult spot. It's the same thing. The voters of Colorado wanted to treat marijuana like alcohol. And that is what this club does to some extent. We provide marijuana, but we don't sell it. And people can come and exercise their constitutional rights together and associate together.

FEYERICK: So this club, is it like any other kind of club? Can you get a drink or are you basically just smoking pot? And is there dancing? Are there couches? Walk me through it.

CORRY: Well, what we had last night was a deejay, we had some good music and we had some refreshments. We did break out the Cheetos and Goldfish. And those were gone by the end of the night. And the champagne was not all consumed. We did have some of that to ring in the new year. We didn't sell liquor yet. We can't do that. And it was just a lot of conversation.

And the feeling last night was, you know, this is our new freedom. And we are emerging from the chains of prohibition in this state. And Washington state is doing the same. And so there' a lot of pent-up emotion and demand to exercise our freedoms. And that's what happened last night. And it was a wonderful thing.

You know, across the United States, there were, I'm sure, lots of bars that were celebrating New Year's Eve and there was probably some violence and problems with those liquor establishments. Club 64 had no such problems. It was peaceful. It was positive. And it was a good thing. And everybody was happy.

FEYERICK: You know, what's so interesting is that, you know, those of us of a certain generation knew a group of people called sort of pot heads, quote/unquote. Is this more of a refined crowd or are you concerned that there may still be a negative connotation about the clientele that's coming and doing this? Because not everybody is going to.

CORRY: Well, we have a very diverse membership. All ages, different races, social, economic levels, and -- but these different people come together because of marijuana and because of cannabis. And so it's actually a very diverse club. And is there a stigma with marijuana? Of course. There's a stigma with alcohol too. And we are looking to move past that, though. And we do it in a respectful and a classy way. And we do it in private on our own. And we're not making a spectacle of ourselves by any means.

FEYERICK: So do you think people will be more out in terms of saying, "oh, sure, I light up, did you?"

CORRY: I think people are pretty open about that. I think people, at the club, they're proud to exercise their constitutional rights. They're proud of what the voters of Colorado did. And the voters of Colorado spoke very loudly. I mean we enacted this overwhelmingly, 55 percent of the vote. It got more -- Amendment 64 got more votes in Colorado than President Barack Obama got in Colorado. So marijuana is popular here. And we're not ashamed of it. And the members of this club are not ashamed to be exercising our constitutional rights.

FEYERICK: All right. Very good. Robert Corry, Jr., thanks so much for joining us.

CORRY: Thank you for having me.

FEYERICK: Well, any minute, House Republicans and Democrats are expected to announce what each party will do in regards to the Senate's fiscal cliff deal. Could we see a vote tonight? We'll find out. There it is, a live picture, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Well, just moments ago, Vice President Joe Biden met with House Democrats, rallying votes in favor of the fiscal cliff deal that passed the Senate in the wee hours of the morning. Biden is playing a major role in these negotiations. Jessica Yellin is at the White House.

And, Jessica, what is the mood after the vice president's meeting there?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Deb.

Well, first of all, the vice president's motorcade just got back here to the White House. So clearly work continues. But there's a sense still that things are progressing and this is going to come to completion. It's not surprising to anybody that there are concerns by Democrats and that some of them would voice them. The vice president's meeting lasted about 90 minutes. Obviously if everything was smooth sailing, it would have lasted much less time.

So -- but they're used to that. Vice President Biden has done these deals now three times. And he goes up there and is sometimes the punching bag and listens to what Democrats have to complain about, takes it all on board, explains to them. One person in the room I think tweeted out and described it as a bit of a filibuster by the vice president. But he is done now and back and the White House is confident -- I wouldn't say overly confident, but they feel good that they will get the Democrats they need to support this, Deb.

FEYERICK: You know, and it's interesting because there were some Senate Democrats who did vote against it. Is there any particular part of the plan that he's really trying hard to push amongst the Democrats?

YELLIN: Well, it depends -- there is -- progressive Democrats are upset about the fact that the income tax threshold, people who will be paying a higher income tax, was set at $450,000, not $250,000. Their argument is -- Democrats had Republicans over the barrel. Why did they give in on this point?

The other thing that's very upsetting to some Democrats is, why did they put off the debt fight until -- for another two months, because there will now be a debt ceiling battle in two months and they're very upset that they will lose leverage and have to negotiate with Republicans again. From the White House's point of view, and from other moderate Democrats' point of view, there was no choice. This is what one does in a negotiation. They had to compromise.

Deb.

FEYERICK: And so when we look at all of this and how this plays out, you know, I think it was David Brooks who coined the term sort of trench warfare when it comes now to the kinds of negotiations we're going to be seeing up there on Capitol Hill.

YELLIN: Yes.

FEYERICK: Is that the sense you're getting, that it's not going to get easier to do a deal after this?

YELLIN: Gosh, I feel like we've been in the trenches and now we're down to the muck. And we're barely seeing the light. And we've been there for more than two years now. So, yes. I point out that one of the most important elements of this for the White House was obviously raising income tax rates for the highest income earners. The president campaigned on that. It was an absolute must. He got that.

The other piece of this was something we kind of gloss over. It's that two month buy down on those big spending cuts. And part of the way they agreed to this, they've postponed the debt cliff, if you will. And the way they agreed to it is they paid down $24 billion on the deficit. Remember, Congress agreed to these major spending cuts, right?

FEYERICK: Right.

YELLIN: The president --

FEYERICK: And not going to be that -- that's two -- two months down the road. So even that is kind of a little bit anti-climactic. It's like, oh my God, the fiscal cliff, the fiscal cliff. We'll deal with it in two months.

All right, Jessica Yellin, so much more to talk to you about. We're going to check in a little later, but thanks so much.

YELLIN: Thanks.

FEYERICK: Well, as we wait for Republicans and Democrats to come to the microphones, one Democrat just left the meeting. He's going to be joining us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Well, despite progress early this morning in the Senate, and you can see right there where the Democrats are expected to speak, despite some progress, the fiscal cliff deal is far from over. At this hour, a vote is still not scheduled in the House, but multiple House members did take to the floor today to say that their vote is going to be "no." Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill.

And, Dana, you are with one of those folks who was in the Democratic meeting with the vice president. Was it a pep rally? Was it a warning? Was it a rallying cry: your president needs you? What went on in there?

BASH: I think it sounds more like pep rally, but I'll have the congressman speak for himself. This is Steve Israel, a congressman from New York and obviously the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

That's why you've probably seen him a lot on CNN, in charge of electing Democrats in the last cycle and this coming cycle as well. So let's answer the question that Deb just asked, which is, tell us what the vice president told you all.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, he was evangelical, converting a bunch of skeptics. I think he's persuaded our caucus that there are pieces of this deal that everybody can dislike. But going off this cliff is something that no one can accept.

And while everybody would prefer improvements, nobody can get the deal that he got and that the president got. So we're at a moment of truth. We have to get this done. And he let the caucus feeling that we need to get this done.

BASH: Now, again, you're talking about the Democratic vice president talking to a group of Democrats, happened to be evangelical talking to a group of skeptics.

ISRAEL: Well, there were some members in the caucus including myself who have some concerns about pieces of this. But as the vice president said, there is something in there -- it is the perfect compromise, like any classic compromise.

At the end of the day, nobody is entirely happy. But what would make America completely unhappy is if we just vote against this thing and go off the cliff. We have done our part. There is a critical mass of Democrats that are prepared to support this.

And continue to negotiate, to strengthen the middle class and protect Medicare. We now need the Republican caucus, once again, this is like deja vu all over again, we now need the Republican caucus to meet us and get this thing passed and move on.

BASH: One last question about the Democratic meeting. Do you think keeping on the evangelical metaphor, do you think he converted enough of his fellow Democrats that you feel -- how many at this point do you think as a member of the leadership, how many do you think you're going to lose?

ISRAEL: Well, I'm not concerned about losing Democrats. I'm concerned about what the Republican majority is going to do quite honestly. They're the majority. They have a responsibility for getting this done. This place has become like an episode of the road runner cartoon.

You know, every Congress is another cliff. So they have a responsibility to produce the votes. They have yet another caucus. We should have done this a year ago, should have done it a month ago, could have done it two weeks ago. They need to come to the table and work with us.

BASH: Well, I just came from downstairs where the House Republicans are still meeting as we speak, I believe. And it sounds like still going on, behind closed doors, but it sounds like there are not surprisingly a lot of complaints that this deal is just dealing with taxes and they really want to include spending cuts.

And perhaps they haven't decided what they're going to do perhaps House Republicans might agree to offer an amendment to this. That adds spending cuts. Do you think that's a deal killer?

ISRAEL: Well, first of all, we have done spending cuts. The Democrats joined with Republicans, we did a trillion dollars in spending cuts in the budget control act last year so there are spending cuts. That's number one.

Number two, there are some cuts in this. Sequestration is delayed for two months, but it's paid for with a mix of revenues and additional spending cuts. So there are spending cuts in this. At the end of the day, we need compromise.

You know, I've learned one thing, in politics and in life, when it is always my way or the highway, you end up on the highway. So let's just stay here and get this done.

We have to revisit many issues in the next two months and there will be other opportunities for us to negotiate, but right now, we cannot continue to hurdle off this cliff. More people want action.

BASH: One last question, a good chance that the House, you will not be voting on this today. Is that problematic, especially as a New Yorker, you know that the markets are going to open again tomorrow. Is that a potential risk?

ISRAEL: The longer we wait, the less confidence the American people have and they have very low confidence in us already, number one. Number two, the more that can be done, and right now we need more confidence and less mischief, which is why we should vote on this today. Democrats want to get to yes. Republicans need to quit trying to get to no.

BASH: Thank you very much, Steve Israel. Appreciate it.

There you got not only a readout from what the vice president told Democrats, but also a pretty good sense of where Democrats are as they're waiting for Republicans who run the House to make a decision, Deb, about where they're going to go and that they're going to do and when this vote will happen.

FEYERICK: Yes, all right, everybody watching and waiting. Dana Bash, thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.

FEYERICK: Well, there is a lot of attention on John Boehner and whether he's got the votes to pass the fiscal cliff plan. There are some in his own party who may stand in his way. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: As we continue to keep an eye on the fiscal cliff, the Republicans continue to meet behind closed doors, a meeting described as a bit noisy and excited. The Democrats just finished their meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. That was described as an evangelical meeting.

Still unclear whether a vote by the House will take place on the bill that was passed by the Senate or whether in fact they will amend it and send it back to the Senate. Joining us now from Washington, Bob Cusack, who is the managing editor of the online journal "The Hill." And, so, Bob what is the latest word you have as to what is going on and whether in fact John Boehner can get his people together to vote for this?

BOB CUSACK, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE HILL": Well, it is going to be very difficult. House Republicans don't like the Senate passed bill, even though it passed 89-8. It looks like the House is going to pass something to return it back to the Senate.

They're going to amend it in some way, it looks like, because they don't like this $4 trillion price tag that just came out over the last 10 minutes, CBO just released that. And this is just a tough vote for House conservatives who many of them would worry about a primary challenge should they vote for this.

So it looks like the drama is intensifying here. This is not going to be over with a final House vote today. It will just be kind of the beginning. They're going to punt it back to the Senate and they'll have to see -- they'll have to pass that version, whatever is in that, and then the Senate will have to decide what to do.

FEYERICK: So Bob, talk to us a little bit about the cost of this. You just cited the -- how much did you say, how many trillion?

CUSACK: It's $4 trillion.

FEYERICK: So $4 trillion. So basically the bill, as it stands, if I understand you, will cost $4 trillion.

CUSACK: Yes. And that's what conservative Republicans are upset about is that a month ago, we were talking about -- they proposed $2.2 trillion in spending reductions and now you have this.

There say lot of provisions in this the estate tax, or income rates, also fix for doctors who participate in Medicare. These are all very expensive items. The Senate passed it in the middle of the night, earlier today, but the House doesn't like it.

FEYERICK: And what is so amazing is when I was reading through it, it is a very lengthy and wordy and thick document, how many other things sort of found its way in. You know, from the way we have been breaking it down, the fiscal cliff, how much do you tax, how much do you spend, but there are a lot of other pieces and add-ons in a sense, am I wrong?

CUSACK: Yes. And a lot of people didn't like how the Senate process worked. I mean, it was struck behind the -- the deal was struck behind closed doors. Then they went to the floor on New Year's Eve, and right after New Year's Eve, they passed it. Basically nobody had time to read the bill.

And it had a very limited amount of debate at 1:00, 2:00 in the morning. So that's what House Republicans, they stressed they like to read bills, they don't like to vote in the middle of the night. And the more they look at this, the less they like it. So the bottom line here, if Speaker Boehner does not support this bill, and he has not expressed public opposition or support for this, it is not going to pass the House. House Democrats clearly are on board. The president is on board, but House Republicans are not, and they control the chamber.

FEYERICK: But Bob, you know, it is hard to have sympathy for lawmakers who basically say we don't like the way this was done, we don't want to pass bills in the middle of the night. They had plenty of time where they could have had plenty of time to read through whatever it was they negotiated.

So right now, the American public is really running out of patience and goodwill. And so it almost seems that it is incumbent of the House Republicans to at least maybe have a show of good faith.

That they're willing to consider this as they negotiate everything else, but do you think a lot of the amendments we're going to see are going to be about spending cuts?

CUSACK: I think it will. There will be a lot of -- and House Republicans have to band together because House Democrats are not going to support those spending cuts and it is true. Congress had a long time to deal with this, even since the election they had two months, waited until the last second.

Boehner couldn't pass the so-called Plan B bill. He lost a lot of leverage on this. This is very tricky for John Boehner and his lieutenants. So they have a relatively narrow House majority.

Polls show that the fiscal cliff blame would be mostly on them, not the president. Not on Democrats. That might change, but this is a very risky move if we go well into January with this unresolved.

FEYERICK: Yes, and you know, you got to wonder if the House Republicans are kicking themselves for not passing the Plan B, which allowed for tax rates on people making a million or more since the figure that passed was significantly less at 400,000. All right, Bob Cusack, thank you so much. We appreciate you being with us.

CUSACK: Thanks, Deb.

FEYERICK: Well, developing this hour in Alaska, on a shallow and rocky shore line near the uninhabited Kodiak Island, a huge oil rig has run aground. That's right. It has run aground. The Coast Guard has done a flyover of the shipwreck.

It says that there are no signs of an oil spill, at least not at this stage. The Kulluk is carrying about 150,000 gallons of fuel and oil, operating as part of Shell's controversial arctic drilling program.

Well, word of new fallout from the case against Jerry Sandusky. "Sports Illustrated" is reporting that the state of Pennsylvania is expected to sue the NCAA over the punishments against Penn State in the aftermath of Sandusky's sex abuse scandal. The former assistant coach is behind bars for the next 30 years and you'll recall the NCAA took away all of its wins, reduced scholarships, and temporarily banned the school from competing in the post season, making it an unattractive place to actually go. We're told Penn State is not involved in the lawsuit.

Well, it turns out that the blood clot that put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the hospital is in a vein in her head. How doctors are treating it, what it means for her future health. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. He'll explain it all to us.

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FEYERICK: New details on Hillary Clinton's health scare. The secretary of state is being treated with blood thinners to help dissolve a blood clot discovered in her head. The clot is located in the vein between the brain and the skull, and it is just behind her right ear.

The doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital say they're confident she will make a full recovery. Her daughter Chelsea echoed that positive outlook in a tweet saying, quote, "Thank you to al for sending good thoughts my mom's way. Grateful to her doctors and that she will make a full recovery."

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more on the possible dangers Mrs. Clinton faces -- Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN 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 she had a blood clot, she was getting blood thinning medication.

And we can surmise from 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 demonstration I'll show you the left side of the head for the model. Here you have the brain, the blood clot was pushing on the brain, you wouldn't give blood thinning medication.

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

This is a pretty rare condition, something that doesn't happen often. But needs to be treated with blood thinning medications to try and make that clot dissolve. Here is 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. That's what you don't want to happen. Now, most likely, you know, in the secretary's case, they need to get another scan at some point to actually show that the clot, the blood clot inside the blood vessel has in fact gone away.

Doctors very important to point out they said, look, she had no stroke from this, which is a potential complication. She 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 being treated with blood thinners in the hospital right now, as we get more information, we'll bring it to you. Back to you.

FEYERICK: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

Well, it is something we have not heard for almost two decades, North Korea's leader giving a New Year's Day speech to his people. What he told them and his surprising message for South Korea straight ahead.

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FEYERICK: New Year's Eve celebrations turned deadly in Ivory Coast in West Africa. Thousands were walking home following a big fireworks display in the former capital city of Abidjan. It's unclear why, but panic spread, triggering a stampede in the city's narrow street. Sixty people were crushed to death including dozens of children.

In Syria today, in the north flights in and out of Aleppo's International Airport are being canceled. A Syrian troop and the rebels battle on surrounding roads. The opposition stepping up its attacks on airports in Aleppo Province chipping away at the government's dominance of the skies.

This video shows the aftermath of attacks on rebel-held strongholds in a Damascus neighborhood. Activists say the Syrian Army pounded the city with fighter jets and rocket attacks.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has made a rare New Year's speech with an even more surprising message. He says it is time to end the conflict with South Korea once and for all, offering the olive branch while warning the confrontation only leads to war. He also spoke of the need to improve the country's economy and hail the controversial rocket launch last month that put a satellite in orbit.

The 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 has the details.

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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 Feuerstein, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen. According to site intelligence group, which monitors jihadists on the internet, the bounty was announced in audio clips and screen grabs posted by militants.

We can't verify the clip's 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 the 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 have 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 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 is 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 Bremmer who 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 his death.

TODD: No one got to Bremmer. 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 Feuerstein may not need to reinforce his personal security detail too much.

JOHNSEN: They had 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.

(on camera): That's this man, Ibrahim Al Yasiri, 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. He is still at large, and experts say has been able to train others on his techniques. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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FEYERICK: Well, as Republicans meet right now behind closed doors, discussing what to do with this Senate fiscal cliff plan, we'll speak live with one Republican who is inside that meeting. Live coverage of our breaking news right after this.

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FEYERICK: The man who lived a real life movie thriller by protecting American lives during the Iran hostage crisis has died. John Sheardon was the Canadian immigration officer who helped shelter and smuggle six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980.

The rescue was the basis for the hit movie "Argo" with Ben Affleck. While Sheardon's role was left out of the film, his actions during the hostage crisis were pivotal in protecting the Americans after the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed by militants.

He hid the Americans in his home until they could escape the country. His son told us he was a humble man and a real Canadian hero. Sheardon suffered from Alzheimer's and also had cancer. He was 88 years old.

Top of the hour. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick. And right now the House is in recess while the nation is in limbo. Technically, we went over the fiscal cliff when the New Year began. But for all practical measures, the Senate pulled a power shoot that should soften the fall.

A plan with a round of compromises passed with senators approved it 89-8. Now it is up to the House to stop the fiscal cliff. That's $600 billion of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.

At this hour, though, a vote by the House is not yet scheduled. Multiple representatives took to the store today floor today to say their votes would be no.

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REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: I wish I could say this was a proud moment, a moment in which we started the year of right, in which the first of January was the first of great many good things. It isn't.

We're kicking the can down the road. And worse than that, when faced with a mountain of debt that we were heading for, like an airplane, did we climb over it? No. What we're going to do in the present plan is put a nearly another trillion dollars worth of debt on the American people.

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