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Budget Showdown; Interview With Congressman Tom Price; Interview with Senator Charles Schumer of New York; President Obama to Speak at 4:45PM ET

Aired September 30, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry to interrupt your conversation about the end of "Breaking Bad." I know, it was great. But the government is about eight hours from shutting down.

I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.

The national lead. How would the looming shutdown affect you? Well, it already is. The closing bell ringing on Wall Street after shutdown fears rattled the market and likely bit a chunk out of your 401(k). Also, can you still get a passport? Will your trash get picked up? What happens to our troops and their families and veterans? We will run down what will stay open and what is -- quote -- "nonessential."

And it has gotten downright nasty on both sides. This hour, we will be joined by a Republican and a Democrat playing key roles in this debate. What will they say when we reveal new below-the-basement approval ratings for Congress?

Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome to THE LEAD.

We will begin, of course, with the national lead. We're coming to you live from Capitol Hill this afternoon. I hope you have been having a good Monday, because it could be your last for awhile with a fully functioning government. And I use the term functioning loosely, of course. A live look from the Stock Exchange, where talk of a potential government shutdown at midnight has unnerved the market.

At the closing bell, just moments ago, the Dow finished the day down 125 points. Tomorrow, two things will happen within a span of hours. One, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern, the government officially runs out of money to pay certain expenditures. Two, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, people can start signing up for Obamacare through state-run exchanges.

Now, either one will be catastrophic depending on who you talk to. Behind me at the Capitol Building, Senate Democrats just spiked back a temporary spending bill at House Republicans after they stripped out provisions that the House GOP put in over the weekend, specifically one that delays part of Obamacare for a year.

Now House Republicans are preparing to respond with another vote, but they have very little time left before the midnight deadline. This kind of bickering is one of the things people hate about this town. We are releasing some brand-new poll numbers right this minute on CNN and the approval rating for Congress is at an all-time low, just 10 percent, though that is still 10 percent above the approval ratings for, say, parking tickets and pop-up ads and skin rashes.

Congress has that going for it. It is still the lowest we have ever seen in a CNN poll in terms of the approval rating of Congress. We are also releasing new approval poll numbers for President Obama. They have remained mostly unchanged since June, dropping only a point to 44 percent. Still, most Americans, 53 percent, disapprove of the way President Obama is handling his job.

Overall, faith is pretty low in the officials who can get us out of this mess and there is very little time left.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This law is not ready for prime time.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: House Republicans are shutting down the government.

TAPPER (voice-over): And so it comes down to this, a partial government shutdown just under eight hours away as Congress battles once again over Obamacare.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Obamacare has been the law for four years. Why don't they just (INAUDIBLE) and talk about something else?

TAPPER: Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House voted to fund the government if Democrats agreed to delay the health care law another year, as well as instituting other provisions Republicans have not been able to pass, allowing employers to deny contraception coverage to employees.

That goes against their beliefs, for example. The Democrat-controlled Senate says no way, no how. They passed a clean government funding bill and they say that's it.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Harry Reid has conceded on nothing. He has said he refuses even to talk, he refuses to compromise, he refuses to budge.

TAPPER: Now the government lies in wait for the potential impact of this impasse, also known as a partial government shutdown.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: How dare you? How dare you? How dare you presume a failure? The fact is, the fact is this country is based on people saying they won't do things, and at the end of the day, coming together for compromise.

TAPPER: Of course it is, Congressman Issa, but to be fair, this Congress has compromised so rarely that it's passed fewer than 40 bills in the past 10 months, and, even so, this wouldn't exactly be the first shutdown ever.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Past government shutdowns have disrupted the economy. This shutdown would, too. A shutdown would be a purely self-inflicted wound.

TAPPER: But if Congress fails to compromise before midnight tonight, about a quarter of government workers, the ones deemed nonessential, will have forced and potentially unpaid time off starting tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have liftoff.

TAPPER: That means 97 percent of NASA employees will be out of the office tomorrow. But, of course, if you're out of the atmosphere like astronauts Michael Hopkins and Karen Nyberg, well, you will be expected to continue working from the International Space Station.

If your office looks more like this, you will likely be furloughed; 368 National Park Service sites will lock their gates Tuesday morning along with all national museums. Now, not to worry, those charged with caring for animals like the National Zoo's panda and her new cubs are deemed essential employees. They will be required to come in.

Panda-cam, however, is not essential. It will go dark. If your office building has five sides, a Pentagon, check with your boss; 1.3 million active-duty military personnel are required to work during shutdowns, but the Department of Defense also has 800,000 employees who are deemed nonessential. They will be furloughed without pay in the case of a shutdown.

Money will still be made, however. the treasury employees who physically churn out the nation's currency, they will be required to come in. And if your office building looks like this or like this, that money in the form of paychecks will continue to come in. That's right. The very people whose approval ratings are tanking as most Americans conclude they're not competently doing their jobs, I mean, of course, our elected representatives, well, they will be paid no matter how long the shutdown lasts. Essential personnel, indeed.


TAPPER: And you can bet this fight over Obamacare would look a whole lot different if Mitt Romney had won the election last year, not more civil, necessarily, but certainly a different dynamic. Repealing Obamacare was a key part of Romney's platform, but when I sat down with him a few days ago, he disagreed with those in his party who have linked Obamacare to cutting -- to the spending bill.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The tactic of using a government shutdown to try and push that will be counterproductive politically, that it's going to end up hurting our party and it could well inconvenience and hurt some individuals as well if checks are late and so forth.


TAPPER: I want to bring in Congressman Tom Price, Republican from Georgia.

Thanks so much for being here.

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: So, you heard Mitt Romney just then. He's reflecting the view of a lot of Republicans, including many in the Senate, who say this is going to hurt the Republican Party; the American people are going to blame you.

PRICE: Well, I think that's not true. As a matter of fact, I think the American people will brush everybody with the same stroke.

This isn't the way Washington ought to work. The fact of the matter is, the president and his party and Harry Reid have refused to compromise on anything whatsoever. The Republicans, if you will think about it, have put forward a repeal bill, have put forward a defund bill, have put forward a delay bill. Those are three different compromises, if you will, for the president's health care law that we believe to be destructive not only to quality health care -- and, as a physician, I can tell you it's harming quality health care, it's destructive to the economy and it is destructive to large and small business.

TAPPER: Why is it a compromise for the funding of the government to be allowed to go forward? Why is that you conceding something? Isn't that just how this is supposed to work?

PRICE: Look, the president has said himself, in fact, he has used his unilateral authority, according to him -- we believe some of it is overstretched -- to delay or defund fully a fourth of the law already. We think it's simply --

TAPPER: To delay it. He delayed the employer mandate.

PRICE: The employer mandate, delayed the caps, delay the -- actually said you don't have to prove that you are eligible for a subsidy in order to get a subsidy. Those are simply things that say his law isn't ready for prime time.

We believe that, in fact, that what he ought to say is it's not ready for prime time for the American people either, because, again, it's destructive to quality health care and it's destructive to the economy. We ought not stand idly by and have that go into effect.

TAPPER: Don't you think that you're stepping on -- you want to have this discussion about Obamacare and I understand that, and that is certainly a discussion worth having. Don't you think that you are ruining that message by instead there are all these veterans who aren't going to get benefits, all these people who work for the government who aren't going to be able to work and pay the bills for their families? The American people are going to look. Whether they blame both the Democrats and Republicans or just the Republicans, I guess we will see.

But you're not -- we're not talking about Obamacare. We're talking about Republicans and Democrats and the government shutdown. PRICE: Jake, think about what the Republicans in the House have done. They have passed multiple pieces of legislation to fund the entire government, with the exception of a very small portion that the vast majority of the American people believe ought not go into effect.

That's what the House Republicans --


TAPPER: I don't know where you get that. I mean, the last poll I saw had 54 percent of the American people opposing Obamacare, but 16 percent of them thought it wasn't liberal enough. So you can go back and forth on how many -- the percentage of the American people that are opposed to it.

Let me ask you about a clean bill, because that's what the Senate Democrats are saying, give us a clean bill, just fund the government for a few months without any of this Obamacare stuff, without the defunding or delaying extraneous material.

The speaker, John Boehner, said , no way, you guys aren't going to do that. Aren't there enough votes, though, in the House to have a clean bill?

PRICE: I don't believe so. In fact, I think with the House of Representatives, in representing their districts, is saying clearly that we need to fund the entire federal government. There's no doubt about it. But we need to make certain that we modify at least minimally the law that the American people do not desire to go into effect.

Look, the president again has said to large business, you don't have to comply with this law for the next year.

TAPPER: For a year, a year extension.

PRICE: We ought to say the same thing to every single American. If you're going to give it to business, it's only fair to give it to the American people.

TAPPER: There is another new poll from CNN; 69 percent of Americans say congressional Republicans are acting like spoiled children. Only one in four say they are acting like responsible adults. The numbers are not as bad for Democrats or for President Obama.

Doesn't that indicate that this is hurting your party?

PRICE: Look, what's hurting our party, what's hurting our body politic, what's hurting the democracy that we have is that individuals in this town refuse to get together and compromise.

And the president has not come to the table to compromise. Harry Reid has not come to the table to compromise.

TAPPER: But this isn't something for them to -- this is a government spending bill. This is funding the government. Just like the debt ceiling is, as you know, this is about just America paying its bills. These aren't debates over health care or budgets coming in the future. This is -- these are separate issues.

PRICE: Oh, but, Jake, they are; 17 times since 1976, this piece of legislation, the spending bills for the American people, have had something tied to it that the other party wanted,12 times under Tip O'Neill when he was speaker of the House.

So the fact of the matter is, it is about things other than just spending. Remember, spending out of this building behind us demonstrates the priorities of the American people, and so one of the priorities we ought to have is to make certain that people's health care isn't harmed, that the economy isn't harmed, that we're able to have small businesses create jobs, not become a part-time economy and a part-time America. That's what this bill is doing.

TAPPER: So it's OK with you if the roles are completely reversed, let's say, in four years.? There's a Republican president, a Republican Senate, and the Democrats have the House and Democrats say we're going to shut down the government unless you raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

I mean, you disagree with it, but that's OK, that tactic is OK?

PRICE: That's not what we have said. We said we want to fund the entire federal government with the exception of that portion that the American people don't believe is ready for prime time. We want to make certain that jobs are created. We don't want part-time jobs. We want full-time jobs.

TAPPER: Yes, but I'm saying the tactic of saying you don't have the votes to do what you want to do with Obamacare in the Senate.

PRICE: I don't know that.

TAPPER: You don't.

PRICE: No. I don't know that.

TAPPER: You have 67 votes to delay or defund Obamacare? Because that's what you would need to override President Obama's veto.

PRICE: You need 60. It's a dynamic process.

I believe hopefully the president will wake up and say I guess I better represent the American people. The president himself has taken fully a third of his single piece of legislation and said it's not ready for prime time. He's told employers, don't worry about it, it's not anything you have to worry about. Why don't we do that same thing for the American people?

TAPPER: Congressman, what do you say to your critics who say that House Republicans are acting as if they are in an alternative universe where Mitt Romney won and Republicans control the Senate? You're trying to pass things that the president, who was reelected last November, opposes and who the Democrats in the Senate, who have the majority, oppose.

PRICE: Twenty-two Democrats in the United States House of Representatives supported, voted for a one-year delay of the individual mandate; 35 voted for a one-year delay of the employer mandate. This is a bipartisan issue.

TAPPER: That's the House. I just talked about the Senate and the White House, though.

PRICE: Seventy-nine individuals in the United States Senate voted for a medical device tax repeal earlier this year. The fact of the matter is, Harry Reid won't let him vote, won't let them vote. He just tabled it.

But how dismissive is that of the normal process that ought to occur here, the normal give and take? The folks that won't compromise are the president of the United States, Harry Reid and Mrs. Pelosi. Those are the folks that won't compromise.

TAPPER: Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

PRICE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: When we come back, the Washington blame game continues as John Boehner goes after the Senate for taking a day off. How does Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer respond? I will ask him next.

Plus, "Breaking Bad" ends its run, and we're just getting word of how many millions tuned in for last night's series finale. And let's just say, a lot of you caught up in time for the big finish.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper coming to you live from outside the United States Senate, where the countdown to a partial government shutdown continues.

With fewer than eight hours for the Congress to come to a solution. Just a short time ago, the Senate voted to reject the Republican government funding bill which included a one year delay on a key part of Obamacare. It's now back to the House to decide the next move on how to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.

It's just like hot potato. But instead of a potato, it's about 800,000 employees facing losing their paychecks.

New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is one of those senators who voted to strip the bill of the anti-Obamacare provision. He's the third ranking Democrat in the Senate and he joins me here outside the Capitol.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good afternoon. Beautiful day.

TAPPER: It's a nice day.

Congressman Tom Price of Georgia was here, Republican. And he said that an overwhelming majority of the Senate earlier this year -- including you, he didn't say that, I am -- voted to get rid of the medical device tax --


TAPPER: -- which the latest provision of the House bill would also do.

Why not concede on that one point since it's already a bipartisan majority in the Senate and get rid of this whole thing?

SCHUMER: Well, because of the way it's being done. It's basically extortion. They basically send us a bill and say unless you do what we want, we're going to shut down the government.

Now, if we did it here on medical device tax or anything, then when we got to debt ceiling, these hard right wing people would say, "See, by holding out, we got what we wanted, let's move it up." And then when we got to funding the government for a full year in November, they would do it again.

You cannot govern with a gun to your head. You cannot govern when somebody says, "I am going to hurt more than 800,000, millions of innocent people unless you do it exactly my way."

And so, the -- whatever they send us is not the point. The point is there's a time and place to debate things. I'd love to debate the medical device tax. I think it should be changed.

TAPPER: Right, you voted to repeal it.

SCHUMER: But not to say, not to send it over and say unless you do what we want, because it had other things in that bill, too --

TAPPER: Right.

SCHUMER: -- such as delaying Obamacare, change in contraceptive laws which we debated -- unless you do what we want, we are going to shut down the government, or not raise the debt ceiling.

I have never seen anything like this. You know, Jake --

TAPPER: It has happened before.

SCHUMER: No. No. Let's --

TAPPER: Government shutdowns have happened before.

SCHUMER: But they never shut down where one side said unless I get my way, I'm going to shut down the government. There have been a bunch of them where they were debating an extraneous issue.

Abortion was one. They couldn't come to an agreement. They ran out of time so a day later, the government -- but it wasn't saying unless you vote my way on abortion, unless you make for -- each side could do it -- unless you make abortion legal, I'll shut down the government, fully legal. Unless you make abortion illegal, I'll shut down the government.

That is what's happening here. It would be as if President Bush was president when we had the big crisis --

TAPPER: Right.

SCHUMER: -- with Lehman brothers and AIG. Nancy Pelosi could have come to President Bush of the opposite party and done just what Boehner is doing, unless you get rid of your signature issue, the Bush tax cuts, I'm not doing TARP and I'll let the nation suffer.

She didn't. We didn't. We voted for TARP because America needed it.

It's the same exact analogy now. You don't say it's extortion.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question. A lot of people, especially veterans I know are asking -- how come you and Tom Price, members of Congress, how come you guys continue to be paid? How come you guys continue as essential personnel?

SCHUMER: Well, look, the issue -- you know, the issue of what's constitutional is set by the Constitution but the issue is not us. The issue is a million people who have to feed their children, who have to feed, they're innocent.


SCHUMER: Why does Tom Price and the people like him say, "I am not going to feed you, I am not going to give you a paycheck, unless Congress and the president does it my way on Obamacare"?

TAPPER: Well, what's --

SCHUMER: I have never -- this is not government by democracy.

TAPPER: That he's --

SCHUMER: This is government by bullying. You know, I'm from Brooklyn. You give up -- you give in to a bully once, they'll ask for more and more and more.

I know they feel very strongly Obamacare is terrible. They have debated it before. We can debate it again. They ran on the election saying repeal Obamacare. Not a single Democratic senator -- they ran against every Democratic senator --

TAPPER: Right.

SCHUMER: -- on Obamacare, they lost the election. Now they have a bludgeon.

TAPPER: But, Senator, first of all, I should point out that there is breaking news that President Obama is going to come out to the briefing room at 4:45 to talk presumably about this. We'll be obviously be covering that live.

Senator, obviously there have been issues with Obamacare. You had the White House itself delaying the employer mandate for businesses.

SCHUMER: That is -- yes.

TAPPER: Right?


TAPPER: You have, there are questions about the exchanges.

SCHUMER: There are issues --

TAPPER: There are questions about glitches in the technology.

SCHUMER: Of course. There are issues.

TAPPER: So, what is -- what is theoretical wrong with saying --

SCHUMER: The place to debate it -- you know, we have a budget coming up.

TAPPER: Right.

SCHUMER: The place to debate it is on that budget. That's a logical place to debate it. It is not to say I will shut down the government or not renew the government's full faith and credit to hurt this country -- millions of innocent people, unless I get my way.

That is the basic point here. You can say they'll send over this. It doesn't matter what they send over. It's the methodology of what they're doing which is -- which is basically saying, "I have a baseball bat, I'm going to hit you over the head unless you give in my way."

TAPPER: I want to play some sound.

SCHUMER: And you, it's not even hitting me over the head. It's hitting all those people who need their paychecks to pay their families.

TAPPER: I want to play some sound from Speaker Boehner talking about the U.S. Senate and get your reaction.

SCHUMER: All right.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The Senate decided not to work yesterday. Well, my goodness. If there's such an emergency, where are they?

It's time for the Senate to listen to the American people just like the House has listened to the American people and to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare and a permanent repeal of the medical device tax.


SCHUMER: OK, look --

TAPPER: Lots of Republicans have been critical. The Senate hasn't been in session.

SCHUMER: No, but he just is trying -- what he's trying to do, he's shutting down the government. He knows it. The American people know it. Everyone knows it.

And so, he tries to wriggle his way out of it. The bills he sent us were meaningless. In the House right now, is a clean extension of funding the government. Not with Obamacare in it, doesn't make it better, doesn't make it worse, doesn't change it. That is the only way to overcome the shutdown.

So, we could be here today, tomorrow, the next day -- until the House passes that bill which, by the way, the road to it was paved by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Twenty-five Republicans voted to allow that bill to go forward in the House and in the Senate, including Mitch McConnell, who I must say is showing a lot more strength and courage than Speaker Boehner, even though McConnell has a primary from the Tea Party.

I mean, what is going on in Congressman Boehner's head? He knows shutting down the government is a bad thing.

TAPPER: We have --

SCHUMER: He knows that the right wing is bullying him. Doesn't he know if he gives in to them this time, they'll ask for more and more and more until they depose him?

TAPPER: I have to take a break.

SCHUMER: All right.

TAPPER: Thank you very much, Senator Chuck Schumer. Very animated and excited.

SCHUMER: You bet.

TAPPER: Democrat of New York. Appreciate it.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Reminder, we are waiting to hear from President Obama in just a few minutes, at 4:45 p.m.

Coming up next, a runaway train collides with another one full of rush hour commuters and now, police are asking how the park train got loose and whether someone intentionally set it in motion.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're now awaiting remarks from President Obama live at 4:45 p.m. Eastern. You can see them right here live on THE LEAD.

We have been waiting to see if Congress will pull an 11th hour rabbit out of its hat to avoid a government shutdown. We'll have more on that in a moment.

But, first, some other top stories.

On the national lead: Chicago investigators have a real head-scratcher on their hands. How in the world did an empty train end up taking off on a rail line and slamming into another train that was carrying dozens of passengers?

At least 48 people were hurt in the crash but no one suffered serious injuries, thankfully. Investigators are looking into whether someone climbed aboard the empty train and set it rolling on the tracks. But they have yet to find any evidence of that so far. The empty train had been parked in a service yard for repairs. The National Transportation Safety Board plans to investigate.

In the world lead: there have been plenty of skeptics regarding Iran's sudden kinder, gentler approach to the U.S., courtesy of new President Hassan Rouhani, but none more leery than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader met with President Obama today and urged the president not to fall for Iran's sweet talk. Netanyahu wants to keep sanctions against Iran in place until the country's nuclear program is completely wiped out.

The president once again pledged U.S. loyalty to Israel and said military options remain on the table if Iran's nuclear program is not shut down. The meeting with Netanyahu comes just days after President Obama's historic phone call with President Rouhani -- the first call between a U.S. president and Iranian leader in four decades.

We're still waiting for the president. That's coming up soon and we'll have it live.

When we come down, shutdown showdown. We'll an update on the negotiations going on behind closed doors right now.

Plus, the political winners and losers. Who will bear the brunt of it politically if the government does shut down? Our panel weighs in. That's coming up next.