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House Votes to Defund Obamacare; Government Shutdown Impact; Mexico Storms; House Passes Budget C.R. With ObamaCare Defunding; Syria Submits Initial Disclosure on Chemical Weapons

Aired September 20, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Holmes. We are AROUND THE WORLD, starting in Washington, D.C., right now.

MALVEAUX: It is the budget fight in Congress with the very real possibility that without a resolution, the U.S. government will run out of money in just ten days.

HOLMES: And we heard this before. Just a few minutes ago, members of the House, which is controlled, of course, by the Republicans, well, they passed their funding plan. The House bill as it is written keeps the government running but takes away all the funding for the president's health care law, called Obamacare by many.

MALVEAUX: The bill has then -- has to pass the Senate, where the Democrats are in charge, and defunding Obamacare is not going to happen. So everything could stall. And if Congress can't settle on a compromise, or at least a stopgap measure to fund the government, when October 1st arrives, the government shuts down.

HOLMES: Now, before the vote, the House held one last debate. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was not happy with the order of the House.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: This place is a mess. Let's get our house in order. We are legislators. We have come here to do a job for the American people. And that job means we have to make the government run for the good of the people. We are not here to expand government, but we're not here to eliminate government. If the idea is to limit government, let's work together to do that. But what is brought to the floor today is, without a doubt, without a doubt a measure designed to shut down government.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The president's health care law is turning our full-time economy into a part-time economy. Even the heads of major unions, who were once so supportive of Obamacare, want to see this law drastically changed to avoid further, quote, "nightmare scenarios," unquote. Let's defund this law now and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know Obamacare will create.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: So, in just a couple of minutes, Congressman Steve King, he's the Iowa Republican, he's going to join us live and he believes that a government shutdown is a better solution than actually keeping Obamacare alive. We're going to talk to him about that.

I want to first bringing in our Lisa Desjardins, Jim Acosta as well, both in Washington. Lisa, on The Hill. Jim, you're at the White House.

So, Lisa, first of all let's talk to you about where we are in this process. We just saw House Speaker John Boehner get a rousing applause. We haven't really seen this kind of activity there in the chamber from fellow Republicans, but this is not far from over. It's got to go to the Senate. And, potential, they're going to reject it there, get back to the House where they've got to come up with something else.

LISA DESJARDINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you wouldn't know that the Senate is likely to reject this by listening to Speaker Boehner today. Suzanne, these folks are rallying in the Republican Party in the House. This is sort of a high point for them as they had an almost entirely united vote. So we'll - I'm going to talk about the Senate in just a second. But first, here's Speaker Boehner and how he is addressing the Senate. This is what he said just a few minutes ago.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our message to the United States Senate is real simple, the American people don't want the government shutdown and they don't want Obamacare.


DESJARDINS: And those cheers there are important to note. Really, this is a caucus that has had a tough last couple of weeks but was almost completely together today. But they're now trying to say that if a shutdown happens, it would be the Senate's fault. Of course, the Senate has always said it would not agree to this CR.

Blame who you will, but you're right, Suzanne, that right now it looks like the Senate will pass a different version without the Obama defunding and then they will send it right back to the House probably next weekend where we don't know what will happen.

One quick note, guys. I said the Republicans were almost entirely united. One Republican did vote with Democrats against this plan today, Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach. His folks tell me exclusively that he voted no - he voted against it because it would hurt his district. Virginia Beach obviously a big Navy town. He wants these budget cuts replaced. They were not in this bill.

HOLMES: All right, Lisa.

Jim, let's move over to you there at the White House. Give us the reaction from there. Is there a mood of compromise? And, you know, certainly for outsiders looking in, it's here we go again. Are we going to do this every few months? JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, that is what the White House and president has said explicitly they want to avoid. Now, the president, we should mention right now, is en route to Kansas City. He's going to be holding a campaign style event on the economy in the next couple of hours. And, you know, you can expect the president to sort of go off on this prospect of a government shutdown.

White House officials say he is going to be talking about that. And when asked for a reaction to this vote in the House on than continuing resolution that also defunds the president's health care law, White House officials pointed us back to what they put out yesterday, and that is a warning that this administration, this president will veto any legislation that defunds the president's health care law. And they've said that time and again, that not only would they veto legislation that delays or defunds the president's health care law, they are not going to negotiate over the debt ceiling.

Now, en route to Kansas City, the deputy principle secretary -- press secretary over here at the White House, Josh Earnest, he was doing a gaggle with reporters. And you get the sense that they're seeing where this is headed next. They know this is headed to the Senate, and so Josh Earnest, filling in for Jay Carney on Air Force One, was saying, you know, look at all the senators who say this is a bad idea, pointing to Bob Corker, pointing to people like Richard Burr from North Carolina, Kelly Ayotte, going down a list, name-checking different Republican senators who aren't with the House of Representatives right now and not with Senator Ted Cruz, as well, who has also been out in front on all of this.

HOLMES: All right, Jim, thanks. Jim Acosta at the White House, Lisa Desjardins on Capitol Hill, thanks to you both.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, this is the -- 41st time that the Republicans, House Republicans, have voted to get rid of, defund Obamacare.


MALVEAUX: So this is something, as you mentioned, it continues. It continues.

HOLMES: And the whole funding issue, and not just of Obamacare, but this whole budget, lifting the debt ceiling, I mean certainly, again, as outsiders look at how the country is being run, are we going to do this ever three months? It doesn't look good from the outside in terms of how the country is being run financially.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And, of course, here's what you can expect if the federal government does shut down. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of federal works being furloughed, pay for U.S. troops would actually be delayed. We're talking about medical research could also be affected. Travel, tourism, you name it.

HOLMES: Yes, even those things. Christine Romans joining us now from New York. Hey, put some dollar signs, if you will, on a government shutdown. And again, this is like "Groundhog Day." We were talking about this just a little while ago.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, BUSINESS ANCHOR AND HOST, CNN'S "YOUR MONEY": Although "Groundhog Day" was an entertaining movie.


ROMANS: This is really irritating.


ROMANS: And it is no way to run a business. You're absolutely right, looking from the outside in, this is no way to run a business. And that's what the U.S. is. Like when we look back to the 1990s, we know that cost was something like $1.4 billion for those two shutdowns. There's really no way of knowing how much it would cost this time around, but it would be a cost and you would feel it.

Look, federal workers would feel it most. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be furloughed. That means they'd be sent home without pay. Maybe they'd be paid back later down the line, but that lost spending in the meantime would hurt the economy. You'd have federal offices and programs closed. National parks and museums closed.

You would have some things open for business. Air traffic control, for example, critical functions of the American government. At least on this point, you would see a government that would be functioning and working national security. They would maintain the power grid, for example. Essential parts of the banking system would stay open. You would have to pay your taxes, everyone, and the U.S. would still be able to have bonds. You know, to issue bonds. But it would be very, very disruptive and costly, no question, you guys.

MALVEAUX: And, Christine, we remember, of course, the government shutdown during the Clinton years. And some of the people who are pushing for this, you know, they don't remember, actually. Actually too young to remember what it was like during that time. What are economists actually saying about the damage that could be done because we still are in a state of a fragile economy?

ROMANS: Economists are saying there could be serious harm -- serious harm to this fragile recovery if this were to go on for too long. Look, Mark Zandi, an economist who's actually advised Republicans yesterday testifying to the Joint Economic Committee, he said, "shutting the government down for three or four weeks would do significant economic damage, reducing real GDP by 1.4 percentage points in the fourth quarter." When you reduce GDP, that means you -- the economy doesn't grow as much and it hurts you.

Look, I just asked Mohamed El-Erian, who runs a big - a bond fund, Pimco. I said, why are stocks up then if - you know, why are stocks up then if we're so worried about the government shutting down? This is what he told me. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: The assumption in the market right now is, at the end of the day, these are just games and they're going to sort it out. But if they don't, if they get too close and they can't pull back, then the markets will get hit really hard.


ROMANS: If those games turn really serious and something terrible happens and we shut this thing down, and we're talking about paying our bills again, that would be very, very serious for anyone with a 401(k), anyone with a job, anyone with a savings in this country, you guys.

HOLMES: Really is head-bangingly annoying and aggravating that we're doing this yet again and having this conversation and asking you exactly the same questions again, Christine. Thank you. Christine Romans there.

MALVEAUX: Yes, hopefully it will be sorted out. Coming up, we're actually going to hear from House Republican Steve King. He's going to leave the chambers and he's going to join us live in just a couple of minutes to explain his vote.

HOLMES: Yes, that's going to be interesting. Now Washington not the only capital facing a major deadline. Of course, Syria's government has now submitted its first list of chemical weapons. It's got to provide more information in the next couple of days. This is the first real test of its commitment to hand over its stockpile. That's ahead, as well.


MALVEAUX: Mexico is facing its worst weather crisis. This is in decades here. We're talking about a one-two punch. Powerful storms slamming both sides of the country, leaving nearly 100 people now dead.

HOLMES: And there's been more bad weather since that happened. We're talking flooding, mudslides, houses destroyed, half a village washed away actually. Also, roads, bridges, thousands of people trapped in remote areas. Sixty-eight people unaccounted for in that one town alone that I mentioned had the landslide.

MALVEAUX: As streets are turning into muddy rivers, some Acapulco residents even had to deal with -- you see there -- a crocodile. Thousands of tourists also remain stranded in the resort town. Our Shasta Darlington, she's in Acapulco with the very latest.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. I'm right here in front of the convention center that's been turned into a shelter, but also a check-in counter for three different commercial airlines. You can see people mulling around behind me. Some of them are tourists just desperate to get home. Forty thousand tourists were stranded here when Manuel hit on Sunday and only about 15,000 have managed to get out. That's because the airport was flooded, the main roads were cut off. There's a glimmer of hope today for them. And that's because the main highway to Mexico City is opening back up.

Nonetheless, we've seen hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in these lines, scrambling to get on these emergency flights because there's no guarantee that these roads will be 100 percent. They were covered in mud and rock. So it's just a very cautious opening. They -- if they can, they're still trying to get out on these flights.

And then, of course, there are the many communities where the rescue work continues. Sixty-eight missing. We just don't know what has happened to them and what will come of that, Suzanne.

HOLMES: Unbelievable, that picture we're just showing right there. Shasta, thanks so much. I don't know if we can have a look at that. That hill just fell down the side of the mountain and buried half a village. Absolutely horrifying for those people there. And that's where a lot of those missing people are, by the way.

MALVEAUX: It's a tragic situation.

HOLMES: Look at that. That village was there.

MALVEAUX: Unbelievable. Yes, no longer.

It is the most powerful storm on the planet right now. We're talking about the outer bands of a super typhoon. It's starting to reach Taiwan right now. The center of the storm churning in the western Pacific Ocean. This is a massive storm. It is 620 miles wide with winds up to 162 miles per hour.

HOLMES: That's the strength of a category five hurricane, by the way, just to give you an idea. It's called Usagi, by the way. That's the name of it. In its sights, Taiwan, the Philippines. Folks in Hong Kong are rushing to prepare because it's going to make landfall there on Saturday. A lot of people pretty worried about this. It is huge.

MALVEAUX: And also coming up, red flags, unexplained etchings on the gun. New details that the shooter started his attack after darting into the bathroom. The latest on the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

HOLMES: And people who clearly have a lot of time on their hands are lining up at Apple stores AROUND THE WORLD, the first day of the 5S and 5C are on sale.

MALVEAUX: It's an iPhone craze this hour on AROUND THE WORLD.

HOLMES: IPhone crazy.


HOLMES: It is our top story this hour, of course, at CNN, the House in just the past few minutes or so passed a funding bill with two very heavy impacts.

Number one, it provides for the government to keep running past that the shutdown deadline, but here's the other side.

It strips all funding from President Obama's health care plan, called by many ObamaCare.

MALVEAUX: So we just heard House Speaker John Boehner claiming victory with his Republican colleagues. He says that the vote represents the will of the American people.

Here's how he put it.


REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our message to the United States Senate is real simple. The American people don't want the government shutdown, and they don't want ObamaCare.


MALVEAUX: Congressman Steve King, he's joining us live now.

And, Congressman, you've made your position clear about the president's health care plan that you do not want to fund ObamaCare.

Forty-one times, House Republicans have voted to defund ObamaCare, has not happened yet.

What's going to be different this time?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, what's different this time is, this is on a continuing resolution. That has never happened before.

I brought this language to the rules committee on February 14th of 2011, and my amendment was denied rules, and under the similar rules, or maybe even exactly same rules we have today. If we had done that then, we would be in a better position today.

But this is the first time that we have put this shutoff of ObamaCare funding into a continuing resolution, into an appropriations bill, a "must-pass" piece of legislation, so this now sets up a drama between the House and the Senate, Harry Reid and John Boehner.

And we need to stand strong in the House, but you saw the vote go up on the vote. It was a very strong Republican vote in favor of cutting off all funding to implement or enforce ObamaCare.

MALVEAUX: And the drama of all of this is what voters are really, really frustrated with here, four different occasions that we've gotten to the point where there is on the verge of a government shutdown, and people are thinking, this is not the way to resolve issues and to get something repealed, to tie it to the federal budget.

KING: You know, if you just simply say I'm going to give in, then never is when you get the job done.

But the American people have gone to the polls in 2010 and 2012. They've sent a resounding message and reject ObamaCare, in every polling that I know, as well. So this is in response to the American people.

And I think that the Republican conference is -- I know that they had said last week we want to do this. We insist we do this.

And now the House has spoken. That's what we're directed to do constitutionally.

HOLMES: But you know the Senate's going to throw it back. So you know, really what's the point?

It's a frustration for most Americans that their government is essentially -- and their economy is being held to ransom over this.

KING: I wouldn't say essentially the economy.

We've said this. We will provide all of the funds necessary to fund our government at sequestration levels. That's been very clear. John Boehner has been very clear about that since he was speaker-elect.

So the House will make sure the funds are available, and if the president should decide he's going to shut down the government, it will never be the House of Representatives.

If this happens, it will be an act of either Harry Reid or the Democrats in the Senate or the president, or them working in conjunction with each other.

We'll put the resources out there to run the government. If the president decides to shut the government down, it will be equivalent of a tantrum, saying I will have my piece of signature legislation, even if the American people reject it, and I'll punish you by shutting had the government down if I don't get my way.

I think that's the argument, and we need to make that to the American people. They will decide in the end.

MALVEAUX: We know that -- Congressman, we know that the president has drawn a couple of red lines that he has said he's not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling issue, and he's certainly not going to sign anything.

He's going to veto it if there's anything that delays or defunds ObamaCare, so you have a political fight on your hands here.

We don't have enough time to get into the details of all this, but we'll certainly bring you back and see where this goes because it is very clear that the Senate is not going to move forward with this.

KING: Can I just say the president's red lines have been fairly blurry in the past, and so I don't take them to be exactly gospel when I hear them today.

MALVEAUX: All right. Steve King, we'll bring you back and we'll have more on that debate, as well. KING: I look forward to that. Thank you.

HOLMES: I think there's a lot of people watching right now in the electorate around the place who say this is politics at play and an economy held to ransom because it is.

MALVEAUX: And the Republicans themselves are divided over this, as well.

Syria's government, of course, we're following that being fast tracked on its way to giving up its chemical weapons.

The Assad regime has submitted its first list of chemical stockpiles and has to provide more information in just a matter of days.

HOLMES: Yeah, first real test, really, of the government's commitment to hand over its arsenal. We're going to discuss that and the impact of it, too.

Is Iran in play at the moment, too, as well? Coming up.


MALVEAUX: In Chicago, another outburst of gun violence left 13 people injured, among them this three-year-old boy. He is listed in serious but stable condition.

And what you're watching here, these are live pictures of a press conference that's taking place there, the Chicago police superintendent, Gary McCarthy, calling again for a ban on high-assault weapons that he believes were involved in that shooting.

HOLMES: Yeah, the shooting we're talking about happened last night in a park on the city's south side.

Police say the attack appears to be gang-related. No arrests so far.

Of course, this is just the latest of a troubling trend in the nation's third biggest city. The FBI reports Chicago leads the country in homicides, last year, 500 of them.

MALVEAUX: The mayor, Rahm Emanuel, he canceled a trip to Washington today, his office issuing instead this statement, saying, "Senseless and brazen acts of violence have no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for."

This is just the first of the major steps destroying Syria's chemical weapons under way right now.

CNN has now learned the Assad regime has at least submitted an initial disclosure of its chemical weapons stockpile. And more information is also expected over the weekend.

HOLMES: Yes. It's procedure that they have to follow, and it's moving it along. It's all started now.

It's all being handled by the world chemical arms watchdog. It's called the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Arwa Damon following developments in Syria for us from neighboring Lebanon, she's there in our Beirut bureau where the process normally takes about 60 days.

It is being pushed forward a bit quicker in the case of Syria, seven days or so. What are you hearing there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this level of speed is actually unprecedented at this stage, Michael.

The Syrian government is expected to disclose even more information over the next few days.

The watchdog's executive council was supposed to be meeting over the weekend. That has been postponed to a date not yet set, but expected to be sometime next week.

Once they receive the full declaration, then comes the very difficult task of trying to put together a plan to verify the information that the Syrian government has given them, to get teams into the country, and also, ultimately, to oversee the process of destroying Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

But this is not only unprecedented because of the hasty timeline that has been put into place, but also because Syria is a full-on war zone.

So a very difficult task lies ahead for sure, Michael.

MALVEAUX: And, Arwa, we've seen these reports about satellites actually showing trucks moving in and out of sites where Syria is known to be storing its chemical weapons.

So what does that suggest to the inspectors? Are they moving these things around to hide them, consolidate the stockpiles? What do we know about that?