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House Votes to Delay Obamacare; U.N. to Syria: Get Rid of Chemical Weapons; Small Businesses Worried about Obamacare

Aired September 29, 2013 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth -- you can't handle the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been hijacked by a small group of extreme folks who simply hate this president.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Overnight while you were sleeping, lawmakers were fighting, but for all they've accomplished, the House may as well have stayed home.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani was historic for the two nations. But it could be life-changing for one American pastor in prison in Iran. We'll talk to his wife and attorney about their renewed hope.

BLACKWELL: And we've all heard about blind justice in the law. But what about in football? We'll introduce a judge who may not be able to see but that does not stop him from calling games.


FEYERICK: Good morning, everyone. I am Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: Good to have you with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

Now, 8:00 here on East Coast. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

We've got a lot coming up this morning. The premier of "Saturday Night Live". Did you watch it?

I mean, there's a good chance if you were up this early, you didn't see this late last night. But it was hilarious. Tina Fey hosted 39th season open.

FEYERICK: And, of course, they gave a nod to the drama in Washington because there is so much political theater. How can you not at least try to take a --

BLACKWELL: You can't ignore it. You can't.

FEYERICK: That's right. Plus, the new film "Gravity", that's premiering next week. It is starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. And if you've seen the trailer, it is pretty incredible.

Bullock plays a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, and then all goes well until the shuttle is destroyed. All you see is her drifting off there into space.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there's that moment where she says, can you hear me? Can anybody hear me? I'm really, really looking forward to this one. I don't go see a lot of movies. This one I will see.

So, this hour we're going to actually take you to the science behind simulating that concept of being stranded in space and how they do it. It's really fascinating stuff. That, of course, is coming up.

But we're going to start with the big deadline in Washington.

FEYERICK: Yes, a couple of deadlines, actually, with the clock ticking toward a Tuesday shutdown. Much of the government is getting ready to close up shop.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's because the House did something early today that makes a shutdown more likely than not. Republicans pushed through a bill that pays the government's bills beyond Monday. But -- and there's a big but.

FEYERICK: There is always a big but.


FEYERICK: The bill delays Obamacare for about year. It delays it. And it repeals a tax that would help to pay for Obamacare that is the medical tax bill. The bill goes to the Senate where the Democratic leadership has basically said, no, dead on arrival.

BLACKWELL: Yes, two Democrats, Mike McIntyre, rather, of North Carolina, Jim Matheson of Utah, they voted with Republicans on the Obamacare delay.

FEYERICK: Conversely, two New York Republicans, Richard Hanna and Chris Gibson voted against their party's bill.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's get reaction to the vote now.

We're joined by CNN's senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar, and "STATE OF THE UNION" host, Candy Crowley.

Brianna, I want to start with you.

This latest turn makes a shutdown very likely. And we heard any response from the administration, from the Obama administration?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have -- we've got a reaction, actually, from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney yesterday as this was going through, as this process was happening. He said Republicans have tried and failed to defund or delay the health care law more than 40 times and they know this demand is reckless and irresponsible.

The president has shown that he is willing to improve the health care law and meet Republicans more than half way to deal with our fiscal challenges but he will not do so under threats of a government shutdown that will hurt our economy. Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown.

And, Victor and Deb, the White House has issued a veto threat over what House Republicans passed last night. Officials here, we heard this just from President Obama, he doesn't want to negotiate on anything that will delay Obamacare or that will defund Obamacare. He has said this is a legitimate law. It was passed by Congress. The Supreme Court upheld it.

And to talk to officials here, they just think that what Republicans are doing is quite ridiculous at this point. Obviously, a lot of the action still on Capitol Hill to see what the Senate is going to do in response to this House bill passing late last night -- Deb and Victor.

FEYERICK: All right. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.

Now, let's bring in CNN's Candy Crowley.

With a government shutdown seeming almost certain, candy, the president -- there's a feeling why aren't both sides coming to the table to negotiate? Are they afraid it's going to fail or are they afraid it's going to succeed this whole Affordable Healthcare Act?

CANDY CROWLEY, ANCHOR, CNN'S STATE OF THE UNION: Well, if you mean -- listen. A lot of folks on the Republican side say it's already a monumental failure. They say businesses aren't hiring because they're worried about what Obamacare means, that in some cases, they're making full time workers part time workers. So their argument has been all along we already know this is a disaster. Here are the things that aren't working, et cetera, et cetera.

Obviously, the White House takes a totally different view and says let's put this up there which an online signup is going to start on Tuesday. So, we're going to put it out there. There are going to be glitches. We will fix the glitches. But it's going to go forward.

So, now, I think what you saw in some of those clips is they're setting up that kind of who's responsible for this. Now you're hearing less about the substance of this and a lot more about who's closing down the government. I suspect that's what you're going to hear over the next couple of days.

FEYERICK: Yes, absolutely. We haven't heard anything but. You've got an interview coming up in the next hour with Senator John Barrasso and former Governor Howard Dean. Both of them are doctors.

Do you think in terms of whether this will work, people are going to have to start signing up for these various marketplace plans come Tuesday -- at least they'll have an opportunity to do that.

Do you think it will capture the public imagination? Do you think once it gets going that in fact there will be enough momentum? Or could it get held up if they want to delay it or decide to take away the tax that's supposed to pay for it?

CROWLEY: All things are possible. I think that the medical device tax has a good chance of passing, but probably not on this bill. We'll see.

But there is a lot of resistance to the medical device tax on wheelchairs, et cetera. So that may be one of those things the White House is willing to look at and Democrats are willing to look at. But the White House has made it pretty clear that it's not going to negotiate on either the debt ceiling or the spending resolution about Obamacare because -- it's, you know, obviously going to start up on Tuesday. They're intent on doing that.

As to whether folks will sign up, that's key. I mean, the next six months will certainly tell us a lot about what will work and what won't work because the signup needs to really bring in a lot of what they call the invincibles -- those young people who don't think they need health care, who can't afford health care. They say yes, but I don't get sick anyway. They need a lot of those folks.

That's where the key is. That is the demographic you want to watch the next couple of months.

FEYERICK: Yes, because if they don't sign up, then, obviously, the premiums for the older folks are going to go up.

All right. Candy, thank you so much. Going to be interesting to watch, perfect storm.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, stay here for "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY" coming up next hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

FEYERICK: Now, to the civil war engulfing Syria. Damascus could make its case before the United Nations Monday.

BLACKWELL: And the U.N. Security Council is ordering Syria to get rid of those chemical weapons.

CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott joins us now from New York.

Elise, tell us more about what's happening on Monday.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Victor, well, the Syrian foreign minister is going to be addressing the U.N. General Assembly even as inspectors from the United Nations are in Syria finishing up investigating even more possible incidents of chemical weapons. So it's kind of interesting dichotomy there.

And the Syrian foreign minister even after the U.N. Security Council passed this resolution calling on Syria to give up the chemical weapons, they're saying Assad is not leaving power. He's if power until mid-2014 at least when there's his term ends and there will be another election.

So I think even after everything that's gone on over the past few weeks with the United Nations Security Council, now that Syria has agreed to give up chemical weapons, the Syrian regime feels embolden and that it's even has job security. So they're saying they're willing to go to a peace conference. That the U.S. and Russia are trying to set up in Geneva in the next couple of months, but President Assad is not going anywhere, Victor. That's what they're saying.

BLACKWELL: Interesting turn, because two years ago, President Obama said Assad must go. And now, the president believes he has job security based on something that was spearheaded by the folks in Washington.

Elise Labott there in New York for us -- thank you.

All right. So, rough weather made the way to Oregon this weekend.

FEYERICK: That's right. Just can't hold back winter. Well, heavy rains and winds downed power lines and trees near the Portland area, leaving thousands of residents without power. More rain expected today.

Let's bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri in the CNN severe weather center -- Pedram.


Yes, you know, this storm system looking like a textbook winter storm system here. Clouds well over 1,000 miles end to end and parked out there in the Gulf of Alaska. We know gusty winds upwards of 75 miles per hour already recorded.

Look at Seattle. You know, it's got a dubious distinction for rainfall. The dry season transition into September and October. We go to 1 1/2 inches rainfall in September to about 6 1/2 inches in November.

Look at what occurred so far this September as you round out towards the latter portion of the month. Nearly five inches have already come down. An additional one to three inches could come down, making this the wettest, one of the wettest Septembers on record across Seattle.

And that pattern, again, continues down to Portland where we know travel delay is going to be abundant, one to three inches for the metro areas. While four to six could come down in the southwest facing slopes of the Cascades and also the Olympic mountains of Washington and into Oregon.

You take a look, certainly going to be rain cooled, about 57 degrees across the Northwest, while gorgeous conditions in the heart of the country, about 75 in Kansas City. And you cannot beat weather like this northeast fall weather about 75 to 76 degrees for millions of people across the northeast, guys.

FEYERICK: Delicious. Absolutely delicious.

BLACKWELL: Sweet spot right there, (INAUDIBLE), 78, very nice.


FEYERICK: Absolutely. Pedram, thanks so much.

JAVAHERI: You bet.

FEYERICK: The owner of a bunch of Applebee's franchises caused a big stir when he said Obamacare would make him stop hiring. Is he changing his tune now?

Plus, a small act of kindness spreads around the world. We'll tell you how pumpkin spice latte, and a lot of people love pumpkin spice latte, how it inspired thousands to pay forward.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me start by saying I am psyched for Obamacare!


UNIDDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. I love that enthusiasm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because now that I've got free health care, I can get sick all the time. Free medicine, y'all!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's not really how it works.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stopped washing my hands and I'm licking hella subway pools. Thanks, president (ph).


BLACKWELL: You can always count on "SNL". Fun and games on the show. But it really is a serious deal for people all across the country.

FEYERICK: Yes, no question. And just two days, Americans are going to be able to start signing up online to buy health care coverage through these exchanges.

Margaret Conley is following this for us.

And, Margaret, there are a lot of folks, especially small business owners, who are skeptical. They're worried about their bottom line. What this is going to mean for them. MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deb, you know, their number one concern is cost. Zane Tankel, he owns about 38 Applebee's restaurants in the New York area. He has openly criticized the Affordable Care Act. Now that the October 1 enrolment deadline is upon us, he talks to us about how he's going to handle it all.


ZANE TANKEL, OWNER, APPLEBEE'S: That's a virtual reality walk through.

CONLEY (voice-over): Zane Tankel, the owner of all New York area Applebee's restaurants sparked controversy last year when he threatened to stop hiring because of Affordable Care Act costs.

TANKEL: We won't build more restaurants. We won't hire more people.

CONLEY: A year later, from his newest restaurant in East Harlem.

TANKEL: This wall is all living.

CONLEY: Zane says he'll find a way to continue with business and his best people are his full time people.

TANKEL: Am I going to penalize my best people because the president has put into play something that penalizes me? No. I've got too much at stake.

CONLEY: These crucial decisions facing business owners like Zane have dire economic consequences.

Or as (ph) John Goodman from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

JOHN GOODMAN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Small businesses are being forced to provide a very expensive package of health benefits for their employees, and the new law gives them no additional help, there is no subsidy.

CONLEY: Costs is the biggest single concern for companies according to human Julie Stone.

(on camera): What kind of impact is that going to have on this country?

JULIE STONE, CONSULTANT, TOWERS WATSON: I think it has seismic proportions, long term for our country. It's going to change the fabric of who we are and how we go about our daily lives ultimately.

CONLEY (voice-over): For Zane, he is taking each phase of reform at a time.

TANKEL: I don't think it's going to be so terrible. I think that people are not going to opt at least for this first year for 10 percent of their gross income going to Obamacare. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CONLEY: Now, Zane is just one example of how businesses bracing for Obamacare, companies across America are doing the math. They're checking the public and private exchanges and they're calculating what their costs are going to be.

FEYERICK: And, Margaret, what are some other companies doing? They are cutting back in certain areas.

CONLEY: Yes, Deb, UPS and Delta, they say Obamacare is definitely going to cost them more. Trader Joe's, Home Depot, they're moving the part time workers to Obamacare exchanges. So, all these companies are handling them in different ways. Walgreens, for example, they're shifting their employees to a private exchange. IBM and Time Warner, they're moving their retirees to private exchange.

One company, Starbucks, they say they're not going to change their coverage plan even though Obama care is going to raise its costs.

FEYERICK: Yes, absolutely. It's a question of who is going to pay. Margaret Conley -- thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of Starbucks, a lot of people love fall rolls around and that pumpkin spice latte is added to the menu. Well, for a Pennsylvania family, that drink is important. A small act of kindness in remembrance of their daughter has gone viral around world. It involves a drink.

Earlier this month, 18-year-old Alyssa O'Neill asked her mom if they could go to Starbucks for a pumpkin latte. Well, Alyssa had never had one. But before they go, she could sadly -- she sadly, unfortunately, had an epileptic seizure.

FEYERICK: And in her memory, Alyssa's family went back to Starbucks for that pumpkin spice latte and paid for 40 more to given to whoever wanted one. Each cup got a #ajo for Alyssa Josephine O'Neill. The customer asked about the hashtag, they were told Alyssa's story, she passed away of an epileptic fit.

Since then, thousands acts of kindness have shown up with #ajo coming in from all around the world.

BLACKWELL: Now, if you feel like getting a latte today, maybe paying one forward, today is National Coffee Day, with chains like that Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts giving out a few special offers.

FEYERICK: I will get one for you.

BLACKWELL: I'm not a coffee drinker. But --

FEYERICK: In that case, I'll get you a tea.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much. I'll take it. Well, say it ain't so. For all the fans, "Breaking Bad" is coming to an end. And fans are freaking out really about how the show will end tonight during the last episode.

FEYERICK: Still to come, we will tell you the high price ad buyers are paying to make sure that their commercials are during the show's finale, just like the Super Bowl. Hot spot.


FEYERICK: So guess what tonight is? Well, it's the much anticipated season finale of "Breaking Bad." Fans are going nuts over this. If you never watched it, well, just last Sunday for second to last episode, 6.6 million viewers tuned in.

They're not the only ones watching. Ad buyers paying big bucks to air their commercials. According to "The New York Times," the show sold out of ad time for the finale. Spots will cost buyers between $300,000 and $400,000 for a 30-second spot.

Big question, as of all finales, how will it end?



FEYERICK: And let's talk college football.

Georgia pulled off an impressive win over LSU yesterday.

BLACKWELL: Yes, for the first time in a long time, they got the pieces in place to maybe make a run at a national title.

Joe Carter has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". Joe, they got the ingredients but not everything's perfect, of course.

JOE CARTER, THE BLEACHER REPORT: You're exactly right. I mean, their defense gives up a ton of points -- a lot of points if you've been following Georgia football. But the offense scores a ton of points.

The question really, is Georgia a national title contender? Absolutely. I mean, especially considering that their resume includes two wins over top 10 teams. Georgia scored a touchdown inside the final two minutes yesterday to beat sixth ranked LSU in what was an epic back and forth battle.

And the first month of the season, Georgia has wins over South Carolina and LSU. So they're now well positioned to make another run at a third straight SEC East title.

Number one in the lineup section in this morning, the Atlanta Braves. They head into the playoffs itching for a final. Chris Johnson got thrown out at first base. Down by a run.

And watch Braves' hitting coach Terry Pendleton. He does not like Johnson's hustle. So he gives him an earful. The Braves, they play today. They need a win and they need a Cardinals loss to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Fans of the Kentucky high school football team may be surprised to find out the announcer is calling a game he can't even see. That's because David Holton is blind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't see anything at all.

First down warriors!

I try to get across what I would need to know if I were here in the stadium.


CARTER: Now, Holton played football as a boy until a tumor caused him to lose his sight. A friend stands next to him in the press box and relays what is happening on the field. Holton serves as a court judge during the day and at night seamlessly gives the play- by-play.

Now, one final note real quick, guys. USC football sending out a tweet saying they fired the head coach Lane Kiffin. Head coach Lane Kiffin USC out after losing last night to Arizona State. The straw that obviously broke the camel's back.

Guys, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Tweeted out.

Is it typical, Joe, to just yolk the players up like that?


FEYERICK: Yes. Can you imagine if somebody came up to us at CNN and did that?

BLACKWELL: That left block was terrible! Does that happen often?

CARTER: I think there is a lot of tension going on with the Braves because they need wins in order to log out of home plate, you know, the coach got on him say, hey, you know, we're fighting for home field advantage and you're not giving your all. So, that's kind of why the tension is high --

FEYERICK: A little frustration. All right.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Joe.

CARTER: You bet.

FEYERICK: Well, still to come on NEW DAY, there may not be a postseason for the Yankees, but A-Rod is just beginning the fight of his life. We'll tell you about it.

BLACKWELL: Plus, a classic car collection, the likes of which may never be seen again.


FEYERICK: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you this NEW DAY SUNDAY.

Here are the five things you need to know to start this NEW DAY.

FEYERICK: Number on, the Republican-led House passed a spending bill overnight to fund the government but delay Obamacare by a year. The bill also repealed a tax on medical devices which is intended to help pay for the Affordable Healthcare Act. Those measures make the government shut down on Tuesday almost certain.

BLACKWELL: Number two, if you think your social calendar is busy, the NSA might think so, too. And here's why -- because according to a "New York Times" report, the agency has been using personal data to track American social connections including the time of travel and who you're traveling with. The agency, of course, has been under fire after recent leak of information by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

FEYERICK: And number three, new information made here on NEW DAY about the man suspected of gunning down a pastor in a Louisiana church Friday. Last hour police told us the suspect 53-year-old Woodrow Karey is a deacon and member of the church. Karey fled the scene after he shot Ronald Harris in front of the congregation. And he's been charged with second-degree murder.

BLACKWELL: Number four, the Olympic torch starts its journey to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. We watched it live this morning on NEW DAY. The flame was lit this morning during a ceremony in Olympia Greece. Now it starts the journey around Greece and from there it'll head to Moscow for a tour around Russia. The opening ceremonies for the 2014 games, February 7th of 2014.

FEYERICK: And number five, more than 450 classic Chevys being auctioned in Pierce, Nebraska today. It is part of a two day auction that began yesterday. The cars belong to a dealership owner whose store deals with trade-ins and some new ones on his family farm beginning back in the 60s. The starting bid for every car on the lot, just $350.

BLACKWELL: Well, Washington is getting ready to shut down like its 1995. A House vote early today just about guarantees almost the government will grind to a halt Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. Now the spending bill includes a measure to delay Obamacare. That's a no go for the President. And Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid calls the bill pointless. Well let's talk to a pair of CNN political commentators in Washington. Kevin Madden is a Republican strategist. Donna Brazile is a Democratic strategist. Good to have both of you.

I want to start with Kevin. Kevin the recent polls suggest that Republicans will get most of the blame for the shutdown. Is this going to cost control? I mean maybe the Senate is out of reach now. But will this cost control of the House in 2014?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look I think we can make our partisan case for who's going to be -- who's going to get the most blame here. I think there is a great deal of risk for though for Republicans as part of a government shutdown.

You mention the 1995 shutdown. So many folks in the media will again I think portray this through that same lens which is that this is going to be a negative for Republicans if the government were to shutdown.

But I think overall the -- the -- you know, the issue of Obamacare, I still think is a big Republican -- is a big winning issue for Republicans. Because so many people across the country right now are feeling the taxes, they're feeling their health care changing as a result of Obamacare. And that's going to be a big issue in the midterm elections.

BLACKWELL: What's the role here, Donna, of people who just do not understand what Obamacare is? We talked earlier in the show about a man who heard the term Obamacare and said I guess it means he cares about people.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It means affordable health care coverage for all people. Look, I was around during the last government shutdown. I was a government employee. And let me tell you, it's not fun being told that you're unessential and don't have to come back to work so much uncertainty. This will cost the economy over $1 billion. This is stupid. It's embarrassing -- enough already. I think it's important that the American people know that over 100 million citizens have already benefited from Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.

And starting Tuesday, they will be able to go to these health marketplaces all across the country, go on and get the information. Don't listen to your Congressmen, I'm sorry. Don't listen to them. Go and get the information for yourself.

BLACKWELL: Well the congressmen also are listening to the American people. Many of them say that they do not like that. Now granted, I'll give you that there is a percentage of liberals who say that it doesn't go far enough that's in this percentage of people who don't like it.

But you know it would not be unprecedented for this administration to either not enforce a law that it does not like or to delay something. We're speaking about drug policies in states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. DOMA when it was a decision that could have been made by the administration.

So what do you say to people who ask why not delay this until people understand and until people know exactly what it means for their life and for their business?

BRAZILE: They're given exemptions based on the recommendations that they've gotten from, you know, businesses and others to allow them time to implement some of the crucial parts of the law. But I don't buy this argument that the administration has gone around cherry picking things that they like and dislike about our Constitution and our law. That's right-wing talking points. And I strongly and firmly disagree with that analysis.

But look, I think it's important that people understand how it impacts them. I own a small business. It will impact the way I conduct myself. And it's not raising taxes on my business. And as an individual and as a woman, I'm no longer pre-existing condition. My premiums I've seen my premiums go up. And I've seen them come down because of the rebates.

So I really do think that people should know what's inside the law and not listen to all of the foolish stuff that we're hearing from Capitol Hill and it's quite embarrassing, like I said.

MADDEN: Well there's no point on that.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead.

MADDEN: You know I don't think its right-wing or left wing. I think it's just -- it changed the way -- the nature of the way people look at their health care. It's gone from being a very patient centric thing to being a very government centric thing. And that worries a lot of them.

BRAZILE: How? How?

MADDEN: And you are seeing it affect -- you are seeing it affect economies. Because -- because of Obamacare regulations you're seeing so many businesses are actually cutting many of their employees from full time work to part time work just to deal with the law. And that is affecting the local and regional economies. And that's why it's got people very worried.


BLACKWELL: Ok but let me --

BRAZILE: Even Wal-Mart -- Wal-Mart yesterday disputed that, Kevin. I think that is erroneous. Look, what is happening with this is the -- as the bill rolls out and remember, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act has been the law now for a long time. I mean we've been implementing this law -- I mean not we -- the government has been implementing this law for a long time.

And what the Republicans are afraid is that once the American people see that they might get lower premiums, you might get -- you know, people who will get access to health care, they're afraid of the rollout.


MADDEN: No that's --


BLACKWELL: Kevin let me get in here. We're running out of time.


BLACKWELL: But I really got to ask you this question Kevin. How many of the Republicans really believe in their heart of hearts that the 42nd vote and the 43rd vote to delay or defund or to replace Obamacare will be productive or how many of them see that this is just a 42nd or 43rd purity test that they have to take because of the views of maybe a Ted Cruz or a Mike Lee?

MADDEN: Yes. No I think it goes beyond a purity test. I think many of these members that continue to vote against it and many of the folks within the conference that continue to press for this issue believe that this is part of the long strategy to help to change the law, to get rid of the law and then move to a different type of more patient centric healthcare legislation.

BLACKWELL: Is the strategy working because we're on vote 43?


MADDEN: It's -- you know as I would say you know legislating in Washington and it's not an event, it's a process. So it's a big part of a long process. And the other thing is Victor is that many of these voters -- many of these members believe that this is them aligning themselves with their -- with voter frustration about this law -- the spending, the taxes and the regulation that are all part of it.

BLACKWELL: We've got to wrap it up there.

BRAZILE: But then why -- why do the Republicans use this to even balance their budget over the next ten years? They're using the savings from Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act to balance the budget. It's posturing and they're using this to raise money. That's what they're doing fund-raising.

BLACKWELL: Donna Brazile, Democratic strategy; Kevin Madden, Republican strategist -- thank you so much for your insight this morning.

MADDEN: Nice to be with you -- Victor.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

FEYERICK: Well still to come on NEW DAY, after a year in a notorious Iranian prison, there is renewed hope for the return of an American pastor. We'll have the latest on the fight for Saeed Abedini.


FEYERICK: In today's "Faces of Faith", the fight to save an Idaho pastor who may have been arrested and tortured for practicing his Christian faith. This is Naghmeh Abedini. Her husband Saeed was setting up an orphanage when he was arrested and convicted in Iran. His alleged crime: threatening the Iranian national security by working as a Christian pastor. He spent the last year in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. An appeal to overturn Saeed's conviction was denied.

But there is growing faith in that 15-minute phone call between President Obama and the Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. The president made an appeal for the American's safe return.

I'm joined now by Saeed's wife, Naghmeh Abedini; and Jordan Sekulow executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice who represents the Abedinis. Thank you both so much for being here.

First of all, Naghmeh how did you react when you were told that President Obama had requested the release of your husband?

NAGHMEH ABEDINI, WIFE OF DETAINED PASTOR: I was jumping up with joy. It was the news I've been waiting for all year. It was the best news I've heard all year since Saeed's arrest.

FEYERICK: Do you know -- when you were in New York and this was amazing. And it just shows your determination. You were able to get to the Iranian delegation. You were staying at the same hotel. You are actually able to hand someone a letter which you believe now may be going up the chain in Iran. Do you think the tide may be turning?

ABEDINI: It was -- the New York trip was amazing and being able to speak with the delegations and hand the letter and getting confirmation that they would give the letter to the President and with President Obama having called the President now it's very hopeful. I'm very hopeful. It's been a great week. And I'm very thankful for President Obama what he -- about the phone call and him following up about Saeed and those other Americans who were in prison in Iran.

FEYERICK: Now your husband converted from Islam to Christianity 13 years ago. And I'm going to ask this to your lawyer now. The government has charged Saeed with undermining the government. What do you say to those allegations?

JORDAN SEKULOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: I mean think about the fact that this actually dates back to charges from 2000 to 2005. In the legal suit brought by the prosecutors in Iran after he was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard in July of 2012, he was first under house arrest and then put into prison September 26th. We mark that one year anniversary.

And President Obama has now made this historic phone call which we appreciate so much. The first phone call between these two top leaders since the revolution in Iran and Saeed's name is mentioned. So we have to thank President Obama and thank the State Department for their continued work.

But Saeed was literally charged with undermining the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran for illegal assembly because of work with house churches between the years 2000 and 2005.

This was his ninth trip back to Iran in over the last three years building an orphanage that was about to open in northern Iran. That orphanage was going to serve Muslim kids and the government had approved it.

FEYERICK: Now earlier this week CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke with the Hassan Rouhani and asked about a possible return for Saeed and two others who's gone missing. This is what he said through a translator.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): I asked what governments can do perhaps on this issue. I think it's a very positive gesture for any government to do what it can to help. But I would like to say that we also have people who are in prison here in the United States. And our judiciary is independent and based on a Constitution the government has no right to interfere in the judicial process.


FEYERICK: You know, it sort of raises the question, is he suggesting some sort of a prisoner swap? Jordan, what was your response to that? That this is about the judicial system?

SEKULOW: Well, in Iran there is one thing that overrides the entire judicial system and that is the Ayatollah. The Ayatollah in Iran is the Supreme Leader. And the Supreme Leader, unlike a President of the United States or president of Iran can do and tell people to do what he wants and what he thinks is the best interest. I think by President Obama setting the stage up and, again thanking the president -- and I want to thank CNN and Christiane Amanpour. I think the only reason Saeed is alive today in this prison and that we're even having the discussion about a possible release of Saeed is because of media coverage. And it all started this week with Christiane Amanpour asking that question to President Rouhani when she had this sit-down interview.

But we all know that Iran is not like a democracy like the United States. There is a Supreme Leader. And this is a bar to getting to the table on nuclear negotiations, well, this is -- this should be. I mean we absolutely believe that this should be a precondition for the United States taking more steps towards diplomacy with Iran because they've got two Americans in jail, one American missing that we believe they know and Iran said they would help find.


SEKULOW: That all needs to happen before we get to the next step in negotiations. FEYERICK: And one of them is a former soldier, the other is a former FBI.

And then Naghmeh, final word -- in your op-ed, at the "New York Times" you wrote that your two children no longer have their former love of their Persian heritage. Do you think this is -- it's got to happen or things the Iranians will just view their country differently those here in America?

ABEDINI: You know they will. There's fear. There's fear of Iranians here to go back to think they're friendly, to believe they're friendly. And unfortunately, it's having effect on the next generations.

My kids are afraid to go to Iran now. They loved it. They loved going back and seeing their grandparents and now their views have changed. I do believe unless the Iranian government changes and allows for freedom of thought, freedom of religion, it will affect the next generation.


FEYERICK: All right. Naghmeh Abedini and Jordan Sekulow, thank you so much. We appreciate it. We're out of time. Good luck to you.

SEKULOW: Thank you.

ABEDINI: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Coming up on NEW DAY, the Yankees, well they didn't make the playoffs. But a very different high stakes game is just beginning for the slugger A-Rod who is about to take on the MLB in a fight for his legacy. That's next.


FEYERICK: We still have a whole lot of Sunday to enjoy but we're going to show you what's coming up in the week ahead.

Monday, all eyes on the government. If it shuts down, will a budget deal be reached? That's the question.

Tuesday, we have open enrollment, Obama care. It's likely to be a day filled with a lot of questions, possibly some confusions so you can check us out here, for guides on understanding every bit of it.

Also Tuesday, if you're lucky enough, you may even bump into CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's going to be traveling the country, measuring the response and impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, opening statements in the Austin Sigg trial -- the teen is accused of kidnapping and strangling a 10-year-old girl. He has pleaded not guilty.

And Friday, well, convicted murderer Jodi Arias back in court. The judge expected to set the date of her sentencing retrial. Jurors will decide whether she lives or dies -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you Deb.

Come this Tuesday, Alex Rodriguez may face the fight of his life -- the fight for his legacy. Actually, how he is remembered in history books. A-Rod will take on Major League Baseball's historic 211-game suspension for violating doping rules. According to ESPN, the hearing could take five days, the decision could take another 25. Now if his appeal fails, that could really mean the end of his embattled career.

All right. Coming up, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, they star in a new film about astronauts eerily stranded in space after their shuttle is destroyed. So how realistic is it? Could all that really happen hundreds of miles above earth?

We'll take a look next.


FEYERICK: Well, this week we're going to Hollywood for our weekly segment "The Science Behind".

BLACKWELL: Have you seen the ad for this movie "Gravity"? I mean it looks really good. It is Sandra Bullock, George Clooney. Bullock plays a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Everything is fine until this happened, until the shuttle for some reason it's destroyed. And then they're just stranded in space.

FEYERICK: Ok, that is just terrifying. But could any of its crazy plot play out in real life 400 miles above our heads?

CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle turner brings all the gossip and rumors back down to earth.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A thrilling, nerve-shredding phenomenon, that is critics describing "Gravity".


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: (inaudible) it's all structure.

BULLOCK: What do I do?

TURNER: When it comes to space movies, its no secret Hollywood can be light on facts and heavy on fiction.

DR. JEAN-LUC MARGOT, UCLA: I was in grad school, we went to see "The Core" and there were maybe 20 or so geophysicists in the audience. And I remember we were laughing at different times than the rest of the audience.

TURNER: As for the science behind this movie, UCLA's Dr. Jean- Luc Margot says things are looking up. MARGOT: From a scientific standpoint, the moviemakers did a very good job. It was based on a shuttle servicing mission -- that has happened. They paid attention to the fact that sound doesn't propagate in space. They also tried hard to portray the conservation of momentum. So when Sandra and George collide with each other and they will sort of bounce off of each other. I would give it an A.

TURNER: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney co-star in the 90- minute 3D epic directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

ALFONSO CUARON, DIRECTOR: Well, the most important thing was to get right the science on screen.

BULLOCK: Because the minute that you see a crack or you see something that doesn't feel right, you see the audience is going to go, no, not there. You lost me.

TURNER: The film's $80 million budget included scientists, new lighting technology and a gravity-free simulator.

CUARON: A lot of that for me was also to see how a camera would react there.

BULLOCK: Do you copy?

TURNER: To portray an astronaut stranded 400 miles above earth, Bullock trained with real NASA veteran, Cady Coleman.

BULLOCK: The thing I needed to know from her was physically what her body was doing, what it did in space.

TURNER: Margot who saw the film in L.A. notes there are a few moments of movie magic.

MARGOT: In particular there is one scene where you see the space shuttle spinning wildly out of control because it is hit by a piece of debris. They actually did that calculation. It would have to be about 1,000 kilograms, about a ton of material.

TURNER: Space trash that big would have been tracked by NASA.

MARGOT: I mean every single piece larger than about the size of my fist is being tracked.

TURNER: As for the film's suggestion its heroine only had six months of training --

MARGOT: That would be implausible but that makes the film more enjoyable.

TURNER: Enjoyable, acclaimed and for the most part realistic.

BULLOCK: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


BLACKWELL: Now I'm even more excited about seeing this movie.

FEYERICK: You know what? There is a certain amount of claustrophobia that just would go.


FEYERICK: The thought of being left to drift out in space, yes, I would spend most of the movie with my hands over my eyes. I guarantee you.

BLACKWELL: And Sandra is right, though. Once you see something that just doesn't ring true, you're like I don't buy the rest of it. I will definitely be in a seat to see this one.

FEYERICK: I think I will, too.

BLACKWELL: Thanks for watching today.

FEYERICK: "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right now. Have a great day.