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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Republicans Revolt Against Cliff Deal; Boehner Presents GOP Two Options; Blood Clot Keeps Secretary Clinton In Hospital; Interview with Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania; Iran Claims Success Firing New Missiles; Interview with Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma; Interview with Congressman David Schweikert of Arizona
Aired January 1, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Ali Velshi in for Erin Burnett. Breaking news tonight, derailing the deal. Could a revolt by House Republicans kill the fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate at 2:00 a.m. this morning? Two hours after America went over the cliff.
The GOP caucus just met to try and figure out its next move. CNN has learned that House Speaker John Boehner put two options on the table. Amend the Senate bill with a package of spending cuts, or bring up the Senate-passed measure for a so-called up or down vote in the House.
I'm going to ask Dana to explain to us in a moment what an up or down vote means. But today, the number two Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor flatly told reporters I do not support this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: We are still in the process of looking for the best path forward and no decisions have been made yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Here's part of the problem for at least some lawmakers. The Congressional Budget Office, that's a nonpartisan group, said today the Senate-backed legislation will add nearly $4 trillion to federal deficits over a decade, but keep in mind that is relative to where deficits would have been if Congress had let all the Bush tax cuts expire, which was an option that virtually no one wanted.
So is there life left in the Senate's proposal or have we fallen off the cliff for good or at least for a few days? Joining me now is our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, I just got a tweet from someone that says can't Dana Bash kick these idiots in the butt and get it done?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That would be an interesting YouTube moment, wouldn't it? Look, here's what's going on. I think some of that kicking might be going on as we speak by others who have clear seniority inside the Republican caucus.
On the floor of the House right now, we are told House Republican leaders are trying to get a sense of whether or not there are the votes for what House Republicans have been saying behind closed doors and publicly that they want all day, changes that they want to the bill that passed the Senate early this morning.
Those changes are spending cuts, specifically what House Republican leaders have done, they put together a package, which the House has actually passed before, a package of about $300 billion in spending cuts to add to this as an amendment.
But there's a very interesting tactic that John Boehner in particular is using here. When he announced this just about an hour ago to his rank and file in a meeting, he said what I'm going to do is I am going to have this as an option, this amendment.
But I'm also going to go on the floor, which as I said, they're doing right now, and see if I can get the votes even to pass that, the majority votes to pass that. If I can, I will let the vote happen, we'll have the amendment and we'll vote on the Senate bill and send it back to the Senate.
But if I don't, we'll leave it be. He also made very clear, Ali, I'm told to his rank and file that if they do amend the Senate bill, it comes at great risk because the Senate is not in a mood to take up something that they have already passed, not just passed, but passed by a huge majority, 89 senators.
Not just that, a vast majority of Republicans voted for it, 40 out of 45 Republican senators. It's pretty clear that the speaker is trying to thread a needle, a very difficult needle.
VELSHI: Let me ask you this, Dana. For people who don't follow parliamentary procedure, I have had people ask me why can't anything just be voted on, on the House? Why can't they just take that Senate proposal and vote on it. I guess that's what we call an up or down vote?
BASH: Yes. That's a great question. It's a question I've had all day, are the votes there. The answer is almost surely yes because you forget there is another party here, the minority, and the Democrats, and they seem to be for the most part rallying around.
They certainly will lose a chunk of Democratic votes potentially, but they have enough to add Democratic votes to Republican votes to actually pass this. The answer to your question is it is one of the major perks of being in the majority in the House that you really do determine exactly what happens on the House floor.
And the speaker certainly could bring it up for a House -- an up or down vote, but then he risks a revolt among his own rank and file Republicans, because they made clear in a couple meetings today that they are not happy. So that what I meant by threading the needle.
He needs to make clear to Republicans that he hears their concerns. He is trying to figure out a way around their concerns, but at the same time, he's effectively trying to save them from themselves. I'm also told that he made clear that he -- they should understand if this thing goes south, House Republicans will be blamed once again.
VELSHI: Let me ask you this, Dana, because we're just getting this from your colleague there, that the House leadership has proposed an amendment to the Senate bill and it adds $300 billion in spending cuts, but keeps the Senate bill language, which postpones the sequester for two months, the same mix of revenues and cuts to offset the two-month delay. But it actually adds $300 billion in spending cuts, which was not in the Senate bill at all.
BASH: Exactly. That's what I was talking about before, precisely. It is the amendment that they are shopping around right now.
VELSHI: That's the one. OK.
BASH: Exactly, to see if they have the votes for it.
VELSHI: So that is specifically what they are looking to get, if they can get the 217, 218 votes?
BASH: The 217 would be the max. If there are fewer people voting, then they would need fewer people to get the majority but say about 217.
VELSHI: Dana, between 60 and 90 minutes from now, we will have the first major markets in the world open up. We will have Seoul, Singapore, Hongkong markets will open. Australia is open, but it won't really reflect what people are thinking.
Really not that much information for markets to work on right now until the House does something. But does the possibility that in 14- 1/2 hours, U.S. markets will open up. Are they worried about enforcement from the markets?
BASH: Yes. The answer is yes. As much as we talk about concern among Republicans about the fact that there aren't enough spending cuts and many Republicans say they are just not going to vote for it, on the flipside, I'm told by several Republican lawmakers that that was a concern voiced by a lot of them in these private meetings.
That come on, guys, let's not let the enemy -- let the perfect be the enemy of the good and let's just do this and fight it out another time because if we let the ball drop, then the markets will open tomorrow and they could really be spooked and we could put the economy in jeopardy and is it really worth it.
Those were concerns that were very real and are very real, even among the very Republicans in the House who don't like this, that are basically saying hold your nose, vote for it because we don't want to do anything to make the economy -- to hurt the economy.
VELSHI: I'm pleased to hear that they have some recognition of how ridiculous this actually is. Dana, we will stay on top of you this with you very closely. Thanks for excellent reporting. Vice President Joe Biden said today, by the way, that he's not all that worried even if the House does end up sending the bill back to the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we're going to be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: I think we're going to be OK, he says, as he goes out to get a sandwich. At Potbelly, I believe it was. Jessica Yellin -- for lunch, Jessica Yellin, is of course, our chief White House correspondent.
Joe Biden looked pretty relaxed about this whole thing. How's the White House feeling?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, what he said actually reflects the mood inside this White House, which is a sense of cautious optimism, despite the stalling and the stop and go up on Capitol Hill right now.
There is a belief here that if nothing else, a need for political survival will motivate the House to get this over the finish line, maybe as early as before midnight tonight. There also is a belief here that they have the Democratic votes to get the fiscal deal passed if and when Speaker Boehner puts it on the floor.
There is no doubt here that they have the votes to get it done, and you know, the president himself has said yesterday that this Congress takes every last minute when they have it to do something, so there's not actual surprise that this has become such an ugly struggle.
What they would expect, I think, is that you would see this spending measure Dana was talking about get voted on and then if that goes down, then the fiscal measure gets put on the floor and whenever it gets voted on, the Democrats could pass it.
And I'll tell you, the president and the vice president have been here at work all day and they are still here. This is a working White House.
VELSHI: Let me ask you this. When you say they've got the votes, what you're talking about is that the White House feels the Democrats have the vote if it is that so-called up or down vote, right? They're not too worried about this $300 billion thing that the Republicans have attached?
YELLIN: OK, so no one's going to say directly to me because they don't want to say anything that's going to --
VELSHI: Upset anybody, right.
YELLIN: OK, so everything is very indirect. The answer is no, not really, because the idea is that that spending measure will either survive or fail and if it fails, they don't have the votes, then they move on to the fiscal measure and that has the Democratic votes. The speaker puts that on the floor, that has the Democratic votes to pass and that's what moves forward and that puts --
VELSHI: The Democratic votes plus the Republican --
YELLIN: A few Republicans -- they are assuming, yes.
VELSHI: I'm sorry to ask you to dumb that down, but I focus on the economics of it. This is very sort of complicated nuance that's going on with the system that I guess I don't understand as well and I'm sure a lot of our viewers probably don't.
So thank you for your very clear explanations. Jessica, we'll come right back to you. Let's go to John Avlon now, our CNN contributor. John, let's just be frank. This was about the stupidest thing, one of the stupidest things Congress has ever done that looked like it almost had a happy ending last night and here we are again in a yet stupider situation than last night.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's exactly right, Ali. What's really mind-bogglingly dumb about this particular maneuver isn't just this sort of New Year's Day scramble to defuse the time bomb but two things in particular.
One, House Republicans saying that they want to add spending cuts on this, knowing in effect that if they add a spending amendment, they change this bill, it effectively kills the bill because members of the Senate are already out of town.
First of all, they gave up their right to amend a bill when they all went home for Christmas last Friday. You know, if they wanted to stay and fight and negotiate, well, that could have been done, but they all took a long vacation. That's the first thing.
Second thing that's mind-bogglingly and stupid about this particular situation is the fact that this is not a grand bargain. This is about a patch to get us over the fiscal cliff by dealing with taxes supposedly Republicans' favorite thing.
We have already baked in the fact that we kicked the can to a new fiscal cliff at the end of February so the fact they are trying to fold in a grand bargain at the last minute is doubly dumb.
VELSHI: Let me ask you this. Grover Norquist, who is the person who gave these guys this pledge, gave cover not only to this plan, but gave cover to John Boehner's last plan, Plan B. He is saying get away from this poisonous income tax rate discussion and then the Democrats have no excuse, but to focus on the spending and the entitlement issue.
He gave effort. So where does the bloody mindedness come from that says I'm not even going to pay attention to that, I'm going to dig in my heels. My guess is when you see the names of the people who have decided to step up against this. These are people who want more elected positions.
They want greater positions of power. They are the Paul Ryans. They are the Eric Cantors. They are the Marco Rubios of Florida. No one is prepared to put the country in front of their own political interests tonight.
AVLON: That is exactly right. Look, it's worth noting that among the Republicans in the Senate who voted against this amendment to avoid going over the cliff, two were people widely believed to be running for president in 2016, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. That's not an accident. That's a political calculation.
The conservatives are concerned that if they vote to basically save the country from going over the cliff, that it will be a political liability in a Republican primary. That's a profound point and it mirrors the larger problem we have discussed, which is the number of swing districts in the Congress are one-third of what they were 20 years ago.
That's created this dynamic where Republicans aren't reaching across the aisle trying to figure out how to solve problems. They are worried about a primary from their far right. Be careful what you wish for. That is the source of this division and dysfunction.
VELSHI: Many people do not have the fear that someone will come and run against them who has a more reasonable, moderate and centrist position, you are only going to get taken out by somebody who is further to your right or left in this country. There's a lot that needs to be fixed. John Avlon, don't go far. We will have a lot to talk about.
Still to come on OUTFRONT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spends another night in the hospital. What we know now about the potentially dangerous blood clot that has formed between her brain and skull.
Plus, war ships, missiles and a warning to the United States. We got some developments to tell you about in Iran.
VELSHI: Potentially dangerous blood clot has forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to spend another night in a New York City hospital. Tonight, doctors are treating her with blood thinners. The clot was found during a follow-up MRI after the secretary of state suffered a concussion last month.
Doctors say the clot is located between the brain and the skull, behind Mrs. Clinton's right ear. Dr. David Deaton is the chief of vascular surgery at Georgetown University Hospital. He is OUTFRONT tonight.
Dr. Deaton, thanks very much for being with us. This situation that she is in right now, doctors are describing as fully curable.
DR. DAVID DEATON, CHIEF OF VASCULAR SURGERY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Yes. I think that's right, Ali. She has a clot as described in the transverse sinus behind her right ear. This is similar to other clots in the venous system treated with anticoagulants often referred to as blood thinners and should resolve spontaneously on that therapy.
VELSHI: Is it unusual that it would take this long to treat it, just going in for a third night in the hospital?
DEATON: Most of the hospitalization usually is related to regulating the medicine. The clot itself will resolve over many more days. It takes weeks and often anti-coagulant therapy is given three to six months and some cases, life-long.
VELSHI: Our viewers may be familiar with some of those anticoagulants, Coumadin, Heparin, those are what we're talking about?
DEATON: Yes, there are a variety of different anticoagulants. Those are the two most common.
VELSHI: Let's talk about -- they say there's no stroke as a result of this, but this is the kind of thing that can cause a stroke?
DEATON: In some cases, it is associated with stroke, but all the information we have now is that she had a scan and this was discovered on an imaging study and she didn't have any clinical symptoms. So in a large number of cases, as with blood clots in the veins and other parts of the body, it's not associated with anything other than the finding of the clot on an imaging study.
VELSHI: So that makes me wonder for the rest of us, how do we know we're not walking around with something like this?
DEATON: Well, as you might imagine, sometimes we do have undiscovered medical conditions and it is basically clinical symptomatology that leads us to investigate these problems. If it's so small as to not cause any clinical symptoms, the body resolves these things on our own without us ever knowing about it.
VELSHI: All right and one last thing, how long do you think her recovery period is? She's a busy woman. I know she's coming to the end of her tenure, but she keeps pretty busy, she going to have to stay off that kind of schedule?
DEATON: Well, I think that will be dictated by her concussion rather than the blood clot. The blood clot in and of itself doesn't really restrict her activity in any way as long as her medication is dosed appropriately and under control.
VELSHI: Dr. David Deaton, thanks very much for your help in helping our viewers understand this.
All right, now to a show of force in Iran, the Iranian military says it's test-fired a number of advance missiles and is warning the United States and its allies to keep out of its air space.
According to Reuters, Iran has warned the extra regional forces in the area, which include the U.S. to stop flying surveillance planes and drones in the Strait of Hormuz as they conduct naval drills.
CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is working on that story for us tonight. What do you make of it, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have learned that at least one of them was an advance missile that was designed to go after ships in the area. Another was an improved version of its surface-to-air missile designed to go after drones, fighter jets, anything that would be in the air.
Again, these are just exercises, but any time you've got this sort of activity in the Strait of Hormuz, where 20 percent of the world's oil is transiting every day then you are going to have a lot of eyes on these exercises.
VELSHI: All right, let's remind everybody about the Strait of Hormuz. It is a very narrow strip through, which all of the oil that is put on to tankers in the Persian Gulf has to travel through. Pretty much everybody involved in the Strait of Hormuz has the potential to cause trouble to the other parties.
Iran has often threatened to close it, mine it and attack ships and the U.S. patrols the area and says if you ever even think about doing that, we will blow up your facilities. So tell me about the tension in the area and how this is playing out.
LAWRENCE: The key point about some of those threats, though, Ali, is the fact that Iran depends on the Strait of Hormuz to really propel its economy. Most of its exports deal with exporting its oil through that strait so, yes, to close it off would definitely disrupt world oil supplies. It would also likely cripple Iran's economy even more than it's already been so far.
VELSHI: All right, Chris, we'll stay on top of this story with you, something very important to keep track of. Chris Lawrence joining us from the Pentagon.
Breaking news now, fault lines on the fiscal cliff. Tonight, there is a growing divide among Republicans over the deal that was overwhelmingly approved, 88 to 9 votes by the Senate early this morning.
Now CNN has just learned from two House GOP aides that House Republicans are considering an amendment, which would add $300 billion in spending cuts to the Senate's plan. This is how this is going to work. The House leadership, the GOP leadership, is going -- right now they are doing something called whipping.
They are going to see whether they have the 217 votes necessary to pass the legislation with the amendment. Then it would have to go back to the Senate for reconsideration. The Senate has gone home so I don't know whether that means they are going to come back and deal with it, but if they were to change it, there would not be passage of this bill tonight.
Markets would open tomorrow morning and the U.S. will have gone over the cliff. Remember, we are also getting a brand new Congress tomorrow. Now, option two, which House Speaker John Boehner has put before his caucus, is that if they cannot come up with the 217 votes necessary to amend this bill, he will put it to the House as an up or down vote.
That means everybody gets to go on the record saying which way they are voting for this bill. Now, the White House and Democrats and the Senate seem to feel that that Senate bill that passed at 2:00 a.m. this morning, if put to an up or down vote in the House of Representatives, will pass, thereby averting the fiscal cliff.
But right now, that is what we believe to be going on right now. To the best of our abilities, we know that the House is thinking about this and there may be a vote sometime within the next hour or so. We will stay on top of this.
I want to -- I'm going to bring in a congressman who is going to be voting on this, Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania when we come back. Right now, you're watching OUTFRONT. We'll be right back.
VELSHI: Breaking news tonight. There's a growing divide among Republicans over the deal that was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate early this morning. OUTFRONT tonight, Pennsylvania's Republican Congressman Tim Murphy.
Congressman, thank you for joining us. We understand the House Republicans met. You guys wrapped it up about an hour ago. What do you think is happening next?
REP. TIM MURHPY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think that the bill's going to come up for a vote sometime tonight. I think there will be a significant number of votes to pass what's come back from the Senate and I think what the American people are going to see is a lot of tax breaks are going to be made permanent in many ways, which I think is going to help our economy, and certainly a lot of the folks who are very concerned that their taxes are going to go up will find that they didn't.
VELSHI: OK. So you're asking for $300 billion in cuts, your leadership is now looking for the votes necessary, going to need 217 votes in order to do that. Do you think he's going to get those votes?
MURPHY: I'm not sure those votes are going to be there in part because it is such -- we certainly are still going to go after with a vengeance a lot of spending cuts. That's going to come with several of the issues coming in the coming months.
But the question is at this late hour, we'll be able to come up with $300 billion and get the Senate back to work on those. Those need a lot of serious consideration. Those are ones we passed out of the House before, too. We are going to revisit those things.
VELSHI: You will get the debt ceiling opportunity to do that. You will get the budget opportunity. There's no question that Republicans are not going to give up what they consider to be a worthwhile fight to get the spending cuts.
But tonight, if you don't get the 217 votes, John Boehner's not going to bring that to the floor and he said he will bring it to the floor. Is it your understanding it will come as an up or down vote?
MURPHY: The bill will still come out an up or down vote as the Senate --
VELSHI: What's your sense what have would happen if it came to that?
MURPHY: I think it will pass with a very strong vote from both sides of the aisle. When you look at the senators who voted for this on the Republican side, you have pretty strongly conservative senators who said there's a lot in this to be pleased with that made a lot of tax cuts permanent.
Frankly, if you asked people a couple years ago if we ever thought the tax cuts would be made permanent, we never would have seen that. To see a number of things I think it will help stabilize not only families in terms of their worries, but small businesses, farmers.
There's a lot here to be pleased with. Now, there's a lot we still have to work on. I'm not happy about some of the things in it like this Hollywood handout, over $200 million, special things for auto racetracks or the other thing for rum taxes.
Look, those have to be dealt with. But we will deal with those in Ways and Means Committee and other ways, bring those back up to make sure special interests are taken out of this.
VELSHI: A compromise means not everybody is going to be happy at all. That said, I sort of sense from your demeanor that you are going to vote for something that averts the fiscal cliff tonight.
MURPHY: Yes. What we are also going to do is with an equal commitment and drive and even more so, redoubling our efforts to work on other spending cuts. We have got to get back to that.
VELSHI: Representative Murphy, I appreciate you taking some time to talk to us. We will follow up with you later in the night. Let's go back to our contributor, John Avlon.
John, the question is, is that sentiment you just heard from Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania going to prevail tonight, the idea that this debate over spending and entitlements is definitely not over, there are specific instances in which it's not going to be over.
One is the debt ceiling. Two is, "The Sequester" that's been pushed off for two more months. Three is a budget. No one's -- this is not the last chance anyone's got to discuss spending cuts. We are a little disappointed in the fact that they didn't get this deal. They had 517 days to come to a deal on this.
AVLON: That' right. But we knew a grand bargain was dead last week and so should any member of Congress who is paying half attention.
What Congressman Murphy laid out is actually heartening because he said, look, there's going to be an amendment to the bill put forward first to address some of these spending concerns. But he himself said it's probably not going to have all the votes to pass. And then separate from that, delinked is the Senate version. That he indicated will have broad bipartisan support, certainly Democrats likely to vote for that as well.
If things are done in that sequence, there is a hope and there is the possibility that we will avoid the fiscal cliff before markets open in the morning. That's the good news.
And just in terms of reality check, he's going to have two months to start dealing with spending and to try to have all members of Congress carve a real grand bargain before we hit the debt ceiling limit and with the sequester. There is time to address that -- a positive comment by Congressman Murphy.
VELSHI: All right. I want you to listen to this conversation that I'm about to have.
One man responsible for wrangling Republican votes in the House is the deputy whip. Congressman Tom Cole, who serves on both Budget and Appropriation Committees, he's OUTFRONT.
Congressman Cole, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.
You have been a voice of reason on this thing for some months right now. I know you don't like to bring this up and you don't like when it's brought up, but you were one of the earlier ones to say, let's vote, get this tax business out of the way, stop Democrats from focusing on it, then turn the discussion over to spending.
Your own party slammed you for saying that. Now, it looks like they are coming around to your point of view.
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, I don't think they slammed me. Look, you expect to have a spirited dialogue and disagreement. That's OK. I mean, that's why you put these things out there.
But I do think we are going to do the right thing tonight. That is, we're going to basically take the Senate bill which has got some big wins in it for us. If you can tell me we would get a permanent fix for AMT and get 85 percent of the Bush tax cuts made permanent for 98 percent of the American people, I think those are big, big wins for Republicans.
So, yes, I think we will take what the Senate negotiated and pass it with a pretty strong bipartisan majority. Then, I agree with my friend, Tim Murphy. We'll move forward and we've got some big spending fights coming up with the sequester, with the continuing resolution in March and obviously the debt ceiling mixed in.
So, there's lots of leverage on the spending fights to come. VELSHI: Yes. You've got what we call the Valentine's Day cliff coming up with the debt ceiling. You got the St. Patrick's Day cliff with the sequester.
But here's the thing -- you've got a leadership there of which you are part, by the way, as deputy whip, trying to figure out if you have 217 votes to get the $300 billion in spending cuts through. Do you think that's going to happen?
COLE: Well, actually it would be nice if we could do that, but just getting the cuts in the House bill doesn't matter if the Senate doesn't pick it up or you can't pass it there. So, I take -- I always lean toward taking the sure win and I'm not going to gamble $3.6 trillion in permanent tax cuts for $300 billion in spending cuts that might not happen at all.
I'd say let's take the Senate deal, fight another day and fight on much better ground and on issues honestly that are absolutely critical to the long-term solvency of the country.
VELSHI: But that's reasonable. But I spoke to one of your Republican colleagues this morning who said, you know what, living to fight another day sometimes isn't as important as saying I'm going to die for this cause today.
COLE: Well, look, I know when to die and when to fight. I think this is the time to accept the wins we have, which are considerable, make a reasonable bargain and understand we've got bigger fights coming up.
We actually have a chance to make long-term changes in spending and actually get at entitlement reform. Those are the sources of the problem. But to get the revenue card out of the hands of the president and the Democrats --
COLE: -- and to have done it, you know -- and look, we're talking about every American that makes $450,000 or more getting a permanent tax cut, never having to go through this again. We're talking about no more threat of an AMT. Those are gigantic Republican wins. We have extracted them with the single House -- I think John Boehner has done an incredible job.
VELSHI: Let me -- I wanted to ask you. That's what I wanted to ask you, because last week, it looked like John Boehner was licking his wounds after he tried this Plan B that couldn't get enough votes from his own caucus, particularly from the 50 or so very conservative members of the Republican Caucus.
If you get this thing passed tonight, forget the 300 billion, you don't seem that enthused about it. If you get this bill passed tonight, is this a win for John Boehner?
COLE: I think it is. I would be enthused if we could get the $300 billion but I know enough when you can overplay your hand.
Lot of our members from the best of intentions -- look, they're trying to do the right thing, run the risk of overplaying it here, in my opinion. But the speaker's guided us through here. He kept our majority in a very tough election cycle.
I think if you look over his decisions over the last two years on everything -- from the budget deal to the debt ceiling deal to this situation, he's been vindicated. He has a very good sense of political reality. Got strong core convictions. He's fighting for the right things.
COLE: But you're not going to win every day, every battle, so you take the wins you can and move on.
VELSHI: You come from a more conservative case than he does, how are you going to go back to your constituents and argue the case that you did, in fact, vote for spending -- tax increases --
VELSHI: Go ahead.
COLE: Tax decreases. This is the easiest argument you are ever going to make. Most of my constituents don't make $450,000 a year. Telling them I'm making sure your income taxes are permanently staying in place, that they're not going to go up as they were scheduled to do literally in a matter of a day -- you know, if we don't get this fixed, that's what will be the case, that's an easy argument to make.
Most of my constituents understand the issue very clearly and most of them think, look, you're trying to be reasonable, trying to fight for the wrong things -- right things and you're looking after us. So, it's not a hard sell.
VELSHI: Tom Cole, it's a pleasure to talk to you again, sir. Thank you very much.
COLE: Thank you.
VELSHI: Wish you the best in your deliberations, you and your colleagues.
Let's go -- let's stay at Capitol Hill. Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
I know you have been busy, Dana. So, you probably haven't been listening to these conversations with Tim Murphy and Tom Cole, neither of whom think that this $300 billion in cuts amendment is the thing that they are really going to end up with tonight. They do feel they're probably going to have an up or down vote and it's going to pass.
BASH: I have been listening and we have been doing reporting of our own here in the halls outside the House floor, and that definitely is the emerging sentiment, even among the most conservative Republicans, even among those who we talked to who will vote against the Senate bill. They simply are saying and telling their leaders who are, as you said, whipping but in layman's terms, engaging support for this amendment for new spending cuts, that they would vote against it.
And the main reason we are told that they would vote against it is because they realize that the Senate which has gone for the night, not officially coming back until tomorrow, but most importantly, is run by Democrats and there is no guarantee that they would actually take it up, meaning this whole thing could backfire and effectively blow up in Republicans' faces.
So bottom line is that this is anecdotal but I think --
VELSHI: Yes, sure.
BASH: -- it's pretty good, because we have checked around with some key sources here, that it does appear that there is a move towards just voting up or down --
BASH: -- on the Senate bill and not doing this amendment.
VELSHI: We were just -- I mean, Tom Cole is the deputy whip, part of the leadership. He didn't seem that enthused about gathering people up for these 217 votes that they need.
One of the things that changes as you mentioned, the Senate is gone so -- gone for the night. If they get this amendment and it has to go back to the Senate, what you will face between now and 14 hours from now is the opening of U.S. markets for the first time, and there is some sense that they are conscious of the fact that both the public and the markets may not approve of them not getting a deal 518 days now after they first knew this was going to come about.
BASH: There is a sentiment. Look, they have seen this movie before.
BASH: That was a year and a half ago when they put the sequester in place to begin with when the debt ceiling was an issue. And the markets did not react well. You remember this a lot better than I do, I think.
So, they understand the risk to the economy, to the U.S. economy and the world economy, by standing on principle. Certainly, the principle is very important to a lot of these Republicans but again, that's why the speaker has been going through -- you know, this is actually a good way that somebody put it to me here, that Republicans in the House who came in two years ago vowing to cut spending and keep taxes low, over the past couple of days --
BASH: -- has been trying to go through the stages of grief and now they're just about getting to the seventh stage of grief.
VELSHI: Dana, let me ask this quick question. There are people who seem to think a new Congress starts with the swearing in of a new president. That is not true. The new Congress takes office when?
BASH: Thursday. January 3rd. That's when the new Congress is sworn in and I should tell you that Democrats still control the Senate with more seats.
BASH: Republicans still control the House but Democrats do have more seats. So that will definitely change the dynamic a bit.
VELSHI: Dana, don't go anywhere. I know you are not going to go. You're just going to go and talk people and find out what the story is -- Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.
OUTFRONT next, despite what two Republicans just told us, a Republican from Arizona, David Schweikert says he won't support the Senate bill.
VELSHI: Let's bring in our political panel. Tim Carney, political columnist for "The Washington Examiner", Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist, and John Avlon, senior political columnist for "The Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast".
Maria, let's start with you. You have been listening to this as we have. It does sound like the Republicans are not all that enthused about the idea that they are going to get their amended bill passed tonight, going back to the Senate and have the Senate look at it again. In fact, they seem to be resigned to the idea that this is just going to be an up or down vote and it is going to pass.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. You know, Ali, when all this started rolling itself out in terms of the Republicans in the House not being very happy about this, kicking and screaming, saying they wanted to amend it, I thought to myself -- do Republicans, especially those in the House, really have a political suicide wish? Because that's what we're really looking at if they are the ones to be blamed for all families and all small businesses' taxes going up if we don't get this deal.
Then I started hearing inklings of what we're talking about here. I talked to Democrats, I have even talked to some Republicans basically saying that the amendment is not going to get the votes and then I heard Congressman Murphy, Congressman Cole, who are really sounding much more of a rational tone -- and it seems to me that all the kicking and screaming was probably necessary for Speaker Boehner to be able to say, we tried, we tried to get the amended pieces that you wanted done .
CARDONA: We couldn't. Let's now vote for what we know will pass and what this country needs.
VELSHI: Tim Carney, it's an interesting analysis. But John Boehner tried to bring that whole Plan B thing, didn't work. He got smacked by the right of his party. He really was outside of these negotiations for the last few days.
Do you think John Boehner was really even trying at this point? I think he knew the up and down vote was going to save his bacon, was going to get a bill passed, that they would have gotten the blame for if it didn't get passed. At this point, it almost looks like he was doing what he had to do.
TIM CARNEY, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, yes, he's got elements in his party that definitely wanted to address spending and he had to demonstrate that they did not have the votes to address spending today. Spending needs to be cut, it needs to be cut and he said, look, we're going to have to cut it later.
CARNEY: So he had to walk through that. So a lot of this blowup about Republicans are blowing up this bill -- no, it was just an idea that if we don't talk about spending right now, it seemed like it was spineless.
VELSHI: Tim, hold that thought for a second.
I want to bring in Republican Congressman David Schweikert from Arizona.
Congressman, everything I just said sounds like a bunch of baloney to you. You are not going to vote in favor of the bill as it stands, the Senate bill.
REP. DAVID SCHWEIKERT (R), ARIZONA: Sorry about saying this about baloney but --
VELSHI: It's OK. I won't take offense.
SCHWEIKERT: Seriously, let's walk through the political theater the last six weeks.
SCHWEIKERT: How many times did the left-leaning media or all the other debate around us, we want a balanced approach. We're going to do a balanced approach. This piece of legislation that just came to the House from the Senate spends about, what is it, $330 billion new dollars.
How is that a balanced approach?
VELSHI: I'm not sure who you're talking about with respect to the left-leaning media.
SCHWEIKERT: No, no, I think -- think of the political theater we have gone through in the last six weeks.
VELSHI: All right. Let's think about the political theater we have gone through for 518 days, right? If you want a balanced approach, 500 days ago, 400 days ago, 300 days ago, 200 days. Honestly, you can't expect we were getting a big deal this weekend or this week, right?
SCHWEIKERT: I could expect the president and many of those on the Democratic side would have lived up to their own language of a balanced approach.
VELSHI: Right. Right. OK. Fair enough. We don't have that deal.
What we have is something that's going to stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. Is that worse than not getting the balanced approach right now and living to fight another day?
SCHWEIKERT: Well, here's the reality. This is one that I think the panel should actually share with the viewers.
SCHWEIKERT: This is probably what 2013 looks like. We're going to have the debt ceiling. We're going to have the continuing resolutions. This is what our future looks like, because the issue before us is about debt and spending. It is about the explosion in the cost of the entitlements.
This is our reality and you've just seen in what just happened tonight how hard it is to have that conversation.
VELSHI: This is a problem. That's the problem. I don't think there's all that much disagreement among thinking people that this is a real problem. How our budget goes and how the deficits grow. That's a real, real problem.
What is remarkable to people as we watched it, is the dysfunction with which people whom we elect to arrive at these compromises and to negotiate seem to have been unwilling to negotiate.
SCHWEIKERT: Well, think about what you've seen the last couple weeks. Beat on the conservatives, they're being hard-nosed, demanding too much spending.
Well, here we are, the evening of the vote. How much spending change is in the bill? It goes up. If I had come to you three weeks ago and said the final vote will be raising spending, you would have thought I was a lunatic.
Well, guess what? This is what we got.
SCHWEIKERT: It's a demonstration of the bad faith that this president and Harry Reid and the gang over there have negotiated in.
VELSHI: Well, you had me -- you had me until you blamed everything on the Democrats. There's no Republicans responsible for any of this?
SCHWEIKERT: One more time. If you were going to engage in the rhetoric of the balanced approach and the final piece of legislation that marches over to the House spends more money --
SCHWEIKERT: -- how is that even close?
VELSHI: Fair enough. It's now the 11th hour was last night. It's now beyond the 11th hour. What's going to happen tonight? Is this bill to attempt to amend the Senate plan going to work or are you going to have an up and down vote and if you are going to have an up and down vote, you're not voting for it, right?
SCHWEIKERT: Yes. At this point, I have no idea where the whip count is on trying to change some of the mechanics within the sequestration so they actually have better longer term cost savings, which -- but with that, it's also the bill will move forward.
SCHWEIKERT: I'm -- so, I'm going to vote no.
VELSHI: You are going to vote no. OK.
SCHWEIKERT: I am absolutely going to vote no. And part of this actually breaks my heart because I was struggling to find a way to get to yes.
VELSHI: But you can -- I give way to get to yes. You get to yes as of tomorrow, you can start talking about spending. The Democrats have nothing else to hang their hat on, right?
VELSHI: I mean, once you take tax increases away --
SCHWEIKERT: But you understand what you just said is continue to do what we've done the last couple years and we've done for years now, is we'll have that conversation tomorrow, it's to hard to do it right now.
VELSHI: Sir --
SCHWEIKERT: No, no. At some point, you've got to actually have the conversation and do it. VELSHI: But you do have a debt ceiling debate coming up. You do have a two-month delay on the sequestration and you have a budget. You have three absolute deadline opportunities to have this conversation and not take the country over the fiscal cliff.
SCHWEIKERT: But no -- OK, go back to your shows a year and a half ago, August 2011 when we had the debt ceiling battle then.
SCHWEIKERT: Your own show.
SCHWEIKERT: You're going to push us off of our credit rating.
VELSHI: Absolutely, you're right. I've been on this thing the whole time.
SCHWEIKERT: So, now, for you to turn and say, oh, you can have the debate of spending --
VELSHI: I would rather we are not in this position, Congressman.
SCHWEIKERT: We're regurgitating --
VELSHI: You and I are -- you and I are in the same place. I would rather not have this ridiculous situation we are in now. I just think that everything would be worse if we go over the fiscal cliff. That's all I'm saying.
I agree with you. I'd rather we not be backed into this corner.
SCHWEIKERT: Can I give -- I agree with you about halfway. The other half is I worry about the fixed income markets, our continuing to selling debt. I mean, we're still borrowing $4 billion every single day.
VELSHI: But you know what it costs, 1.7 percent, we're the cheapest the world.
SCHWEIKERT: The fact of the matter is small incremental increases in our borrowing costs are devastating when you have about what, $12 trillion that's publicly held debt.
So even the increased revenues the president was talking about last week --
SCHWEIKERT: -- didn't even cover the additional borrowing costs --
SCHWEIKERT: -- in 2013. This is an absurd debate.
VELSHI: Congressman, I'm glad to hear your view. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Whatever decision you make, I wish you the best in your deliberations tonight -- Congressman David Schweikert of Arizona.
Coming up next, who wins and who losses.
VELSHI: We're continuing to cover what's going on in Congress. Still waiting to see what they vote on, but there's expected to be a vote tonight.
John Avlon joins me again.
A lot of conversation, John, about who wins and who loses. We need to come around to an idea that, you know what, in a real compromise, in a real deal, everybody gives something up.
AVLON: Yes. That's exactly right. That's just the reality, especially with divided government. You want all or nothing, you get nothing.
And, look, the good news it looks like there will be some kind of a patch. Hopefully, the House will pass the Senate bill and we'll avoid the fiscal cliff. But to Dave Schweikert's point, the congressman you just spoke to, to bemoan a lack of a grand bargain at this 11th hour implied that you supported all those efforts in the past, balanced plans to deal with the deficit and the debt. So, where was Schweikert when Boehner and Obama were negotiating a year and a half?
AVLON: Was he supporting the supercommittee attempt to come together? Were you backing the Bowles/Simpson plan or gang of six like a principled fiscal conservative like Tom Coburn? Because if you're only waking up and complaining about that now, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.
We're going to be dealing with this in two months, folks. We're going to have another debt ceiling debacle and hopefully it will be more constructive than destructive. But I'm sorry. If you've been on the far right and argued against these balanced negotiations in the past, you're part of the problem tonight, not part of the solution.
VELSHI: But there is redemption. Redemption is possible, John, because they're going to have to deal with the debt ceiling.
VELSHI: They're going to have to deal with the sequester all over again, and they're going to have to, one of these days, this government will actually come up with a budget.
So, we have three full authority to redeem yourself. Put your money where your mouth is, come up with suggestion, tell -- say exactly what you want and put your back into the negotiation.
AVLON: And let's just hope they actually do that, because unfortunately our experience Washington tells us that it will lead to another downgrading if they don't deal in good faith.
VELSHI: We've got to go, John. We'll keep talking about this. So, imagine we'll be doing it for a few more days, John Avlon.
And that's it for me. We'll be right back.
VELSHI: All right. As of now, it looks as if the House of Representatives will vote on the plan that was passed in the Senate at 2:00 a.m. this morning. We'll keep you posted on that. We're back at 11:00 p.m. Eastern with more.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.