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Christie Blasts Congress; Interview With House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Interview With Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett

Aired January 2, 2013 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon. Brooke Baldwin is off today.

Huge day of news, including a big day on Wall Street, the Dow skyrocketing after Congress comes together on a deal that prevents tax hikes for the majority of Americans.

But don't get too happy. This deal only sets up a nastier showdown in the coming weeks. We are going to break that down in just a moment for you.

But, first, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is unleashing his fury right at Congress. Christie is angry because the House did not even vote on a $60 million aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Every day that we don't begin to get this aid are days that we can't help people get back in their homes, get businesses reopened, get our economy re=moving in this state again. Those are the real consequences of it, an inability for people to plan about what their future is going to be.

It's absolutely disgraceful. And I have to tell you, this used to be something that was not political. You know, disaster relief was something that you didn't play games with. But now in this current atmosphere, everything is the subject of oneupmanship, everything is a possibility, a potential piece of bait for the political game. And it is just -- it is why the American people hate Congress.


LEMON: Pretty strong words. Speaker Boehner set to meet with Congressman Peter King and other Republican lawmakers from the affected states this hour.

And Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer joins me right now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman Hoyer, House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers says FEMA has plenty of money. He says, "FEMA has enough money to last until at least February, late February, March."

What is your reaction?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: FEMA does have and has said that. He's right on that.

But as Hal Rogers knows, better than probably anybody else, he was for a $27 billion bill, his committee, which dealt with a lot of other agencies, not just -- way beyond FEMA, in terms of helping communities rebuild, and helping small businesses recoup their losses and try to get back into business, helping families directly.

So while the statements that FEMA has said it has money through March is true, there are billions and billions and billions of dollars that are necessary right now coming from other agencies. So while what Mr. Rogers says is true, he knows full well that that's not enough.

Furthermore, I was shocked last night and deeply saddened that we didn't put the relief bill that was passed through the United States Senate in a very strong bipartisan vote on the floor last night as it was represented to me the day before and the night of last night it would be -- the majority leader told me...

LEMON: Mr. Hoyer...

HOYER: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Why didn't it happen? That's what everyone is wondering. You said you were shocked it wasn't put up for a vote. Why didn't it happen?

HOYER: I talked to the speaker just before the vote occurred on the fiscal cliff bill. And I asked him -- I said I have got to tell my members to stay here for the vote. Is this bill going to come on the floor today or tomorrow?

And he said, well, we will have to make that determination after this vote. That's the last time I talked to the speaker. The next I heard was from Peter King of New York, who was told by Mr. Cantor, who was told by a staffer of the speaker that they had decided not to put the bill on the floor. I don't know the reason.

Whatever the reason was, it was not justified. So many members have pointed out when we had the Katrina damage, which was also a very broad-based natural disaster...

LEMON: Ten or 11 days.

HOYER: We acted within 10 -- well, 10 or 11 days, $60 billion.


HOYER: We acted with alacrity.

Here, for whatever reasons, this was authorized on October 30 by the administration, said this was a disaster. We're now some 60-plus days later and we haven't acted. It is a tragedy. It is unacceptable. And I would hope the speaker would bring this legislation forward in the next few days. While we're leaving one Congress to go into another, this ought to be a priority and we ought to do it this week. LEMON: Congressman Hoyer, a couple of other questions for you. Some House Republicans opposed the Sandy aid package, saying it covered many unrelated items that have nothing to do with Sandy, like repairing fisheries in Alaska or repairing the Smithsonian Institution's roof in D.C.

HOYER: Right.

LEMON: What do you say to them? Did you personally work to address any of those concerns?

HOYER: They were taken out. They wouldn't have been part of last night's legislation. They were taken out by the committee for the reasons you articulated. So, that was not an issue.

They were taken out of the bill. It was going to be offered on the floor without those provisions in there. We didn't argue about that. This is directly about people in the states of New Jersey and New York and Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in particular, that saw their people ravaged and put out of their homes, put out of business, put to the -- trying to fend for food.

That's what this is about, not about those other unrelated items that were taken out of the bill by the Appropriations Committee.

LEMON: Does this say anything about Mr. Boehner's speakership in the future, if he will be able to hold on to it having made this move?

HOYER: Look, I think the speaker did the right thing last night with respect to making sure that we maintain some degree of fiscal stability in our country, that we made sure that working Americans didn't get a tax increase, that middle-class Americans wouldn't see a tax increase this week, this month.

I think he did the right thing in allowing us to vote on a bill which made sure that two million people on unemployment wouldn't be put out of work.

LEMON: Yes, but what about this particular issue?

HOYER: What I think happened last night was that this issue perhaps became too hot to handle because it was an emergency. As these emergencies are, it was unpaid for. And I think he may well have been concerned about his members who were going to say this is an additional effort by the speaker to -- which would result in adding to the debt.

But as I pointed out on the floor, if your furnace goes out and it is 30 degrees in your home, and you don't have $10,000 or $5,000 in your pocket to pay for a furnace, you go out and borrow the money, you put the furnace in to maintain health and life in your residence. That what we need do in an emergency. And then, yes, we need to pay for that over time.


House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, thank you for your time.

HOYER: Thank you very much.

LEMON: In case you didn't hear Governor Chris Christie's fury live right here on CNN, here's a little taste.


CHRISTIE: In our hour of desperate need, we have been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina, with no end in sight.

Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress, which places oneupmanship ahead of the lives of the citizens who sent these people to Washington, D.C., in the first place.

New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second- class citizens. New York deserves better than the selfishness we saw on display last night. New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display last night. America deserves better than just another example of a government that has forgotten who they are there to serve and why -- 66 days and counting, shame on you. Shame on Congress.

I was given no explanation. I was called at 11:20 last night by Leader Cantor and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the speaker. And our delegation asked for a meeting with the speaker at that time. They were refused. I called the speaker four times last night after 11:20, and he did not take my calls. So you have to ask the speaker.

QUESTION: Governor, what are the real world consequences of this? It is not just a sense of our feelings are hurt. Are there real tangible economic consequences?

CHRISTIE: Oh, sure. Listen, every day that we don't begin to get this aid are days that we can't help people get back in their homes, get businesses reopened, get our economy re-moving in this state again. Those are the real consequences of it, an inability for people to plan about what their future is going to be.

It's absolutely disgraceful. Governor Cuomo and I are not wallflowers. We are not shrinking violets. And we have resources at our disposal too and we're going to continue to work together and fight together to make sure that this happens.

And I still believe it will happen, because I do believe there are more good people in Congress than bad and that eventually this will happen. But if the people of New Jersey feel betrayed today by those who did this in the House last night, then they have good company. I'm with them.


LEMON: I want to tell you that later on this hour on CNN, we are going to be showing you -- hear from New York's Senator Chuck Schumer. He's out on Long Island, visiting Sandy survivors. Make sure you stay tuned for that conversation.

And a quick programming note for you. From Sandy to Katrina, massive storms seem to be far less rare events, but are we ready for the next superstorm? Be sure to watch our special report, "The Coming Storms," this Sunday night 8:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

And up next, we mentioned the fiscal cliff deal. Well, there is a lot of special interest money included. And some of it raising eyebrows today, this as the Dow skyrockets over the compromise. We're watching it in this hour up straight ahead.


LEMON: We're still awaiting word on when President Bush will sign the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Wall Street, however, didn't need the Oval Office signing off.

Within the first hour of the opening bell, stocks soared 215 points. The Dow Jones is now up 235 points, and no doubt investors are happy the nation won't plummet right over that fiscal cliff. The House passed a deal to avoid it 257-167, with nearly all of the nays coming from Republicans.

Beyond keeping income tax rates at the same level for 98 percent of Americans, here are some other main points. All right, so take note. The Alternative Minimum Tax is now adjusted for inflation for good. So millions of Americans won't have to pay it.

Benefits for the long-term unemployed will be extended and the bill delays those big automatic spending cuts by two months.

Turn now to Jill Schlesinger, editor of CBS

Jill, the stock market, the reaction, is this a one-day rally or is this real?

JILL SCHLESINGER, CBS MONEYWATCH.COM: I will tell you tomorrow, OK? How about that?

Look, we're very relieved that certainly no one went of the cliff and I think that this rally is really about the Street saying the worst- case was averted. But, you know, Wall Street suffers from short- termitis like crazy. This can turn around next week. Remember, this is probably a light volume week because of the holiday in between. And there is some sense that people were putting money back to work that was on the sidelines, just in case of a disaster.

Now, that said, it is better than expected news that it came together as well as it did. And I think a lot of people went away on their vacations from Wall Street thinking there would not be a deal until January 15. So, again, one day, don't trade on this, but just delight in it. We had such a great year last year in stocks, the S&P was up 13 percent. It is a good first session.

LEMON: What does this bill do for the economy overall, Jill?

SCHLESINGER: You know, I think people lose sight of what is happening here. It is when you have tax increases on 160 Americans and that payroll tax expiring, that cut that expired, we are going to see about half a percent shaved of off GDP this year. If we add into that government cuts that will likely happen because of the negotiation over the sequester, we're looking at about a drag of growth of about 1 percent.

Why is that such a big deal? Hey, the U.S. economy is only growing by 2 percent or 2.5 percent anyway, so 1 percent growth hit is significant. So when we think about balancing our books and trying to get the country in financial order, it does mean there will be a drag on growth.

That's why some economists say this is not the right time to stop the spending side.

LEMON: OK. Let's focus on the Alternative Minimum Tax. After years of temporary fixes, this bill provides something permanent. Just how big a deal is this?

SCHLESINGER: Well, you know, the AMT is such a funny little tax. It started back in 1969. It was meant to be a way to close loopholes on wealthy Americans, actually, just to limit their -- maybe their deductions and their personal exemptions. So it almost came in as a second tax code that affected wealthier Americans.

The problem is it was never indexed for inflation. So we got more and more middle-class Americans ensnared in the AMT. So this is very good news that it is finally a permanent fix to the problem. Without this patch, we would have seen something like 31 million folks having to pay AMT next year, many of those people middle class. I think this was an important one. It did cost a few bucks. I think when we talk about fixing some of the things, we always have to remember there is a cost on the back end.

LEMON: Jill Schlesinger, thank you.


LEMON: All right.

The fallout continues from the Jerry Sandusky case. The NCAA imposed stiff sanctions and a $60 million fine against Penn State University. Now Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is taking the NCAA to court. He joins me live next.


LEMON: The courts say ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky deserves 30 to 60 years for molesting young boys. But Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says Penn State does not deserve the punishment it got for Sandusky's crimes.

Today, Corbett announced a lawsuit against the NCAA, hoping to stop a round of sanctions against Penn State that included fining the university $60 million, stripping 14 seasons of football victories from the late head coach Joe Paterno and banning Penn State from bowl games for four years and reducing football scholarships.

All this was for the university's reported inaction while Sandusky violated his victims, in some instances right on campus.

So, joining me right now is Governor Tom Corbett.

Governor, you initially supported the sanctions. What changed?

GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Don, I initially supported the sanctions because I thought to myself if you belong to an association, you have to play by the rules of the association.

But the more we began looking at the rules and to see exactly what the NCAA did, we realized they didn't have the authority through the process that they went through in their own association bylaws to do exactly what they did.

This was not an incident that has anything to do with competition and with fairness on the playing field or on the courts. This is something that is already being addressed by the criminal court system, by the civil court system, by the university itself before the NCAA ever got involved.

Dealing with the victims -- and we can never forget the victims in this, and I'm the last one that is ever going to forget the victims in this. My background has been protecting victims of child predators.

But let me make this very clear. I think the NCAA who set the rules have to play by their own rules. And if you read the lawsuit, and it is an antitrust action, because this is a trade association that was not playing by its rules, in fact, at some point tried to change the rules afterwards that the executive committee could usurp the infractions committee and what they're allowed to do in regard to its member players.

LEMON: So how do you respond to that?

CORBETT: This is an important distinction.

How do I respond to it? What I say is that the NCAA actually violated its own rules in taking the action the way it did and did not have the authority. Now, the university is addressing as well they can everything that has been brought up throughout this period of time.

I suggested in my press conference today that their commitment of $60 million be kept and continued here in Pennsylvania to work with those people who are out there working to prevent child abuse and child predators.

We have a lot of agencies in Pennsylvania. We need more. We need to keep that money here. But this is not about the money. This is about the principle that the NCAA has taken actions that have well -- gone well beyond their intended purpose, to harm the citizens of Pennsylvania, the economy of Pennsylvania, and the reputation of Penn State University.

LEMON: Governor, I want to put this up. The NCAA has responded to the lawsuit saying -- here's what they say -- "Not only does this forthcoming lawsuit appear to be without merit. It is an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy, lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky. Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and it is moving forward. Today's announcement by the governor is a setback to the university's efforts."

CORBETT: It is not a setback to the university's efforts.

And it is not an affront to the victims of this. As I said earlier on, you know, I began this investigation and I will not do anything to harm the victims. But we are dealing with that and the university is dealing with that.

But at the same time, the NCAA put themselves into a situation that they had no authority to do. This had nothing do with competition on the playing field and keeping a level playing field. This had something to do with the NCAA seeing a chance to take a shot at Penn State in a situation that while very bad for what happened...


LEMON: Governor, I am going to have to interrupt because we need to get to Capitol Hill and Congressman Peter King speaking.

Thank you, Tom Corbett.

CORBETT: Thank you.


REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: ... remaining $51 billion will be voted on, and voted on and hopefully voted for.

This is basically the same as we were promised yesterday or today. This is the package we were looking for. For whatever reasons, the speaker decided not to bring it to a vote this week. Obviously, we disagreed with that. But that's in the past. The bottom line is that between Friday morning and January 15, those two votes, we will bring in $60 billion that is absolutely necessary for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

So as far as I'm concerned, I think I can speak for all the members of New York and New Jersey delegations, it was an extremely positive meeting.

QUESTION: Congressman, I'm sorry, we're live now. I just want to have you repeat just to make sure that we have it right -- $9 billion this Friday?

KING: Roughly, there's going to be $9 billion on flood insurance this Friday will be voted on. And then on January 15, the first full legislative day, there will be an additional $51 billion will be voted on and that will come to a total of 60, which was what the total was in the bill that was supposed to be voted on this week.

QUESTION: Did the speaker explain why he put off...

KING: Again, it is in the past. But, basically, the speaker made the decision in view of all the controversy over the fiscal cliff it wasn't appropriate to bring this up either last night or this morning. Obviously, that was his decision. We disagreed with it, made it clear last night. But that's in the past.

All I care about is my constituents, the constituents in New York and New Jersey were absolutely devastated. Clearly, the speaker responded and that's all I -- I take him at his word. He and the majority leader both are in full agreement.


QUESTION: Why not do the whole 60?


KING: It is just a question really of the timetable. And $9 billion is going on, first of all, the suspension calendar -- and then we have to actually introduce a bill and start all over. That will be done in one day on January 15, the first legislative day.

QUESTION: Is there any timeline for how long it will take now to go back?

KING: No. Again, it's one thing at a time. My job is the House. And this should be fully resolved in the House by January 15.

QUESTION: Congressman, you were extremely critical of the House speaker and his leadership, extremely. Tomorrow, there is going to be a vote for speaker. Will you vote for John Boehner as speaker?

KING: Yes, I will.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with this approach? Like she said, you were very upset about this.

KING: Sure.

No, this procedure that is laid out is fully acceptable and fully satisfactory. This is a -- this will give us the full $60 billion that is required, so, yes, obviously.

Congressman Smith, do you have any?


REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you very much.

This was a case where a very unified New York and New Jersey delegation kept making this substantive case as to why the $60 billion is absolutely critical. And the speaker opened up the meeting by telling us, you know, it will happen. It will happen on January 15, as I'm sure Peter told you a moment ago.

The flood insurance suspension will come up on Friday at about 9 -- a little over $9 billion. But we have had unprecedented solidarity. We have made our case on substance. We have all read the information that came down from Governor Christie and from Governor Cuomo line by line. This is all about people who are in dire straits who are -- who have lost their homes, their businesses.

As I pointed out on the floor, 100,000 New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment insurance attributable to superstorm Sandy. It is a -- it is devastation the likes of which we have never seen in our part of the country. So we do have support.

(INAUDIBLE) will offer the amendment for the $33 billion. Or it might be different, but it will be -- it will get us to the $60 billion. It will be a two-step process. (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman Rogers will offer his $27 billion $27 billion amendment -- amendment. Following his amendment, I will be offering the $33 billion, which will make the $60 million, the round number.

I feel that the assurances we had from both the speaker and the majority leader, Eric Cantor, are ironclad. I think we're going to proceed. And I think that this recognizes the heartache and misery that both of our states, the region have suffered as a -- it has been -- as the governor emphasized, Governor Christie, in his press conference within the last hour or two, it has been over 66 days. I think it is about time Congress responded. I'm pleased that the speaker and the majority leader have listened to our pleas.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) on Friday. Why not have voted on the Senate bill and have it all done today?

SMITH: That was our hope, but, you know, we're two weeks late. It will happen. That's the bottom line. And it will happen at the amount that we think is required to meet the legitimate needs of the people of New Jersey, New York and points north.

QUESTION: Congressman Smith and others (OFF-MIKE) we asked Congressman King. Did the speaker tell you the reason why he abruptly yanked this from the calendar?

SMITH: As Peter probably said, he alluded to the fact that there was so much going on, but did not give a specific reason. But you might want to ask him that.

But we're -- for us, it is about getting critical aid to people who are suffering. We all have been out to meet the people in an ongoing fashion. I have never seen devastation like this. You all have covered it. You know how bad it is. This money is needed to rebuild and to rebuild and to provide the recovery that will get us to that next stage and make whole as humanly possible.

QUESTION: Congressman King is going to vote for John Boehner as speaker tomorrow. Will all of you as well?



QUESTION: All of you?

Congressman Graham, you said you were going to abstain, but not anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I want to be clear about something.

QUESTION: Absolutely you will vote...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will vote for Speaker Boehner.

And I stayed behind. I didn't come to the press conference, because I wanted just a moment to actually look in the eyes and shake hands with not only the speaker, but with Eric Cantor. And I can tell you that both of them shook my hand and gave me their word that this vote will go forward as planned and that they will be there for us.

And I also want to emphasize I think the one thing that has been getting lost here. I had discussions with Speaker Boehner literally for almost nine weeks now about the Sandy disaster and the people in need. And I want to be clear. I don't think I have ever questioned where his heart was. There is no question the speaker always wanted to help the people of New York and New Jersey.

I don't agree with his call to delay this -- to delay the vote. I don't. I don't support it at all. I think it was the wrong call. But it was his call to make. But it wasn't because he didn't want to help New York or New Jersey. It was because of the timing issue, and he didn't think it was right for his conference to take that vote at that time.

But it was never because he doesn't want to help New York or New Jersey. It was because of the timing issue and he didn't think it was right for his conference to take that vote at that time.

But it was never because he doesn't want to help New York or New Jersey. I want to make that clear and I don't think that was ever in question.

But I did disagree with delaying this vote. I think we all did. But now that it's done, we have to do the very next best thing which is not waste any more time and we have gotten that solid commitment and I can tell you I stayed behind to make sure I personally got it, not in a conference room of many, but individually and that's good enough for Michael Grimm and I believe my constituents will understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it the pushback that made them change their mind?

REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Whatever it was was done, was done and that's it. The fact is we're getting what New York and New Jersey need and that's all that counts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the Speaker say anything about Governor Christie's comments that were highly critical of the Speaker's leadership?

KING: No. And I think everything -- you know, right now, this is a very intense 24 and 48 hours. We're all big boys. We understand that. And all that counts is the bottom line.

The bottom line is we're getting the results we need and the Speaker and the majority leader have committed to follow through on it. That's all we can ask for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask you -- you said you're all big boys. You were all in the two meetings Republicans had yesterday about the fiscal cliff, listening to your colleagues. Maybe you even were some of the -- had complaints yourselves about too much spending in the government and the fact that there should be spending cuts that went along with that fiscal cliff deal.

Do you understand politically why the House Speaker after having those meetings made the decision he did about not putting a bill on the floor with $60 billion in spending that is not paid for.

KING: Well, he's the Speaker. He had to make the decision. We disagreed with it. And, again, that's all -- as far as I'm concerned, that was a lifetime ago. I know it was last night, but bottom line is, we're going forward, getting what we believe is necessary.

And to me there is no reason to question what happened before, so long as we have the commitment and we did. We got the group commitment and we got individual commitments. That's all we need.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there pushback, though, from your fellow Republicans?

KING: You know, what happens happens. So long as there's 218 votes on January 15th, all of us are going to be satisfied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you guys vow your support to Speaker Boehner?

KING: It never came up.

GRIMM: It never came up.

KING: It never came up.

GRIMM: And, again, I think the thing here is about, you know, one thing that New York and New Jersey has always done, we've been through tough times.

We look forward. We're not going to look back and see what could have been. We could "what could have been" until the cows come home. What matters is what we do going forward.

People are suffering right now. Small businesses are going under. We have an economic calamity waiting in the wings if we don't rebuild New York and New Jersey. That's what we're focused on doing and we just got the commitment of not just our Speaker, but our leader, and that's what we're focused on is making sure that we will have the votes and the support come January 15th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hal Rogers said last night that -- obviously, he was pushing this bill through, but he also said that FEMA thought that they had enough money until February or March. Do you all disagree with that?

KING: Bottom line is we need the $60 billion. FEMA is only a part of what we need the funding for. The community block development grants, absolutely essential to rebuild. You have to have that funding and that's what is going to be included.

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Right. And let me just add. (INAUDIBLE) that money with full expectation that it is there, not something that, you know, that may happen, but that it's there in a pot of money.

Otherwise, you can't do the engineering studies. You can't -- particularly on the building that is going to be required and then go to construction phase.

So, this is a very complete package that has been very well thought out, vetted very well by New York, by New Jersey, by the others, by OMB, so we have something that we can really be very proud of in terms of legislation that will help huge numbers of people in both states and further north in Connecticut.

KING: Also, there's one thing we can put to rest right now. There are no earmarks. There's no pork in there. I see that being reported today.

Everything that was at all questionable is out. Everything in that bill relates directly to Sandy and is directly related to the superstorm, so the stories that are going around are of things that may have been in the Senate bill are not in the House bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, are you going to take back or suspend your comments that New Yorkers shouldn't give contributions to Republicans and did that concept come up at all in the meeting?

KING: We don't discuss contributions in the government building.


GRIMM: Well said. Well said, chairman. Thank you. Thank you. Good job.