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Government Shutdown Looms; New CNN/ORC Poll Numbers; Interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher; Military Paychecks Could be Stopped

Aired September 30, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: T-minus 13 hours to shutdown. Washington, we have a problem.

We are looking beyond the blame game this hour. We're checking the facts and we're finding out what this mess means for you, because when the clock runs out at midnight, so does much of the money. Coming up, what exactly closes and what stays open if the government does in fact shutdown.

It could mean pay delays for 1.4 million U.S. troops. Families who already live paycheck to paycheck would just have to do without. But guess whose paychecks will not stop coming. You guessed it, Congress and the president.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield and it is Monday September 30th.

With just 13 hours to go, it looks like we're going to need more than luck to stop a government shutdown from actually taking effect.

Right now all eyes are on the Senate, which appears ready to reject a House-passed spending plan from this weekend that would again have a big effect on the ObamaCare. It would delay it by a year.

Lawmakers are going to join us this hour before the Senate meets at 2:00, and we could also hear from President Obama a little bit later on as well.

The American people are not one bit happy with any of them right now. Just take a look at the latest polling from CNN/ORC.

Sixty-nine percent of the people who were asked say that Republicans were acting like spoiled children, and the blame didn't stop there.

Fifty-eight percent said that the same thing about Democrats and 47 percent said the same thing about the president.

Our Dana Bash has been working many long hours all weekend long. She's back at it as well. Christine Romans and Brianna Keilar are also with me.

I want to start with you, Dana Bash, with you, if I can. Nobody seems to be scurrying about to any last-minute secret meetings, and that seems worrisome. Should it be? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Possibly, but the reality is at this point, secret meetings or even not-so-secret meetings don't look like that they would solve a problem that we have, and that is a true stalemate.

The Senate is not in and they won't get in until 2:00 p.m., and why is that? The reason is because Senate Democratic leaders have decided to effectively run out the clock.

They got the new bill funding the government from the House after midnight on Saturday night or Sunday morning. They decided not to come in yesterday, and not to come in this morning.

And they insist that when they come in this afternoon, they are going to pretty briskly be able to reject what the House sent them, which is a bill funding the government, but also delaying ObamaCare for a year, and repealing a tax on medical devices to pay for it.

We haven't heard a lot from, really, the man of the hour over the past several days, and that man is House Speaker John Boehner.

We did hear from him this morning, though. Listen to what he said.


REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The Senate decided not the work yesterday. Well, my goodness, if there is such an emergency, where are they?

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


BASH: And now the actually the reason I called him the man of t the hour is because it is up to him, and his fellow Republican leaders to decide what to do after the Senate rejects their latest bid.

Will they go ahead and pass another spending bill with another slice of changing ObamaCare, for example, doing away with those so-called "death panels," or sending back something delaying the individual mandate from the law for a year, any kind of combination of that?

Or will he say, you know what? The clock is ticking and the deadline is coming, and you know what, fellow Republicans, I'm going to have to take this up, this clean bill and pass it with the majority of the House Democrats, which he could do pretty much at any time, it's just he could face the wrath, politically, from conservatives.

BANFIELD: And, Dana, at this point, it sounds like that's a whole new creation that you are talking about, not just sort of revising and cutting down what's already on the table, so we will have to keep an eye very closely on that.

Dana Bash, thank you for that.

The president has already made it pretty clear he is not going to sign something that delays the healthcare law. That's one of those things that he says he's not going to blink at.

Brianna Keilar is live at the White House right now. So what is the administration saying today? Is it all quiet on that front? And there are international affairs that the president has to be involved with today. Is he just going to let this all hang?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's not terribly noisy here, I will tell you that. However, there are a couple of instances today, Ashleigh, I don't think it's going to stay quiet.

There are a couple of times today where we may hear President Obama speak. He has actually a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so, yes, foreign policy's going to be a big issue, Iran's going to be a big issue.

We're waiting to see if, when they meet, maybe sometime around noon or so when the cameras are in there, if the president perhaps will take a question on the shutdown.

It seems also more likely that, come, I think it's 4:45 p.m. Eastern time, he'll be having a cabinet meeting, and the whole purpose really of the cabinet meeting is to meet with the heads of his different departments while on the verge of a government shutdown.

So I think that we would expect obviously to hear something then, although that's certainly not official.

But the argument coming from the White House here, Ashleigh, is that they don't think this House proposal is serious.

They're saying, look, it's an extension of government funding for what, two-and-a-half more months in exchange for a one-year delay in ObamaCare. They just don't think that's serious.

And as you said, President Obama doesn't want to negotiate on anything that delays or defunds ObamaCare.

BANFIELD: OK, keep an ear out, and let us know if you hear anything other than the plans for this meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Brianna Keilar, live at the White House for us, thank you.

I just want to direct everyone's attention, as well, to you screen because there's a number of stuff ticking away. On the right-hand side of your screen is the countdown clock, and that's pretty obvious.

On the left-hand side of your screen is something that's also sort of dismal, and that's the Dow. It had a really bad opening. It's only been open for a little bit, but you know something? The day is yet early.

So, it's looking pretty likely that midnight is going to be the witching hour at this point, and that means that tomorrow morning places like the Air and Space Museum which -- hello, that's a nice live shot for you this morning in Washington, D.C. -- could be a place that you can't visit, shutdown, closed, and it is not the only place.

In fact, Christine Romans joins me live now to talk a little bit more. I was in Washington, D.C., Ms. Romans -

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST, "YOUR MONEY": Go back there and fix it.

BANFIELD: -- kind of felt like I was the most useless person on the street, honestly.

I was there for a function, and I just had a little extra time, so I went to the American History Museum and I thought, well, I might be one of the last ones through this door. That's really true.

ROMANS: Yeah, and there's this old saying that if it is free, it's probably going to close, right, because if it's free in Washington, the national parks, anything that's free, those things are probably going to close, and they're going to close quickly.

I'm told if you have a camper on national park service land right now, you'll have a couple of days maybe to pull up stakes, but this is all going to unfold pretty quickly.

Let me tell you what's closed here, national parks, zoos. Museums will close, Statue of Liberty, everything like that, so if you are planning your trip, prepare yourself.

Many federal offices and programs, you're going to see anywhere from 750,000 to 825,000 people will be sent home. Those nonessential workers will be sent home. Probably take them maybe three or four hours tomorrow to power down what they're working on and get out of town.

So what remains open? Federal courts have enough funding, we're told, to stay open for maybe 10 days. Passport offices are open, unless they are in a federal building. Federal buildings will be closed, but passport offices could also be in the post office.

Post office remains open, air traffic control, border protection, power grid maintenance, all that kind of stuff.

Now there's something else here. Most of you are asking me about your Social Security check or about food stamps or about Medicare.

All of those things are considered mandatory spending, Ashleigh. All of those things will -- jobless benefits, for example, post office. SNAP, that's the food stamps.

Bad news, you have to pay your taxes, Ashleigh -

BANFIELD: I knew it.

ROMANS: -- and Congress is going to get paid.

So you have to pay your taxes. Congress is going to get paid, even though Congress will have not done its job.

Its job is to keep the government running.

BANFIELD: You walked by my office this morning and you told me the number of days that Congress has actually not been on the floor.

ROMANS: Oh, yeah, I think they're in session like -

BANFIELD: Over a hundred.

ROMANS: Yeah, I think they're in session like 126 days or something this year.

Now they go home and they raise a lot of money, of course, but their job is to run the government, and a shutdown by definition means that the Congress has not done its job.

They will be paid. They are essential. The president will be paid as well.

BANFIELD: I was just going to say the president, yeah, we're talking a couple of hundred k, too, not just chump change. They get a lot of money from us.

Christine Romans, thank you for that.

By the way, you are watching the markets, too, this morning, right?

ROMANS: Oh, yeah..


I want to check in on that market. Look right now. Dow is down just a little over 99, but I man, I think we were what 140 or so.

ROMANS: It's off the worst levels, so that's good. It's good that it's not down 200.

BANFIELD: I can't even remember what the worst point was this morning? Somewhere around 130 or 140?


BANFIELD: OK, well, there you go.

We did have a good September, though. We had a really good September, but the shutdown has obviously caused significant stress for everybody.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are splitting the party, and they're causing some really big headaches for the leadership.

Why are they doing it? And can they stop a shutdown? You're going to hear from two Republicans who are in the thick of this standoff when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very frustrating. I mean, you know, we invested quite a bit to come out here to see this, and it's going to be a huge disappointment, a huge disappointment.


BANFIELD: There will be plenty of upset tourists throughout the country if the government does in fact shutdown.

Those people aren't the only ones upset over the looming government shutdown. All national parks would close if that happens, and that's going to be a disappointment to thousands of Americans who are visiting the parks right now, or who are planning to do so in the coming days.

Kids do this stuff all year long. They plan big events around this. And many, if not most Americans, are fed up with the lawmakers on Capitol Hill for pushing this country to this point.

You want some examples of that? Here's our John King with the latest poll numbers.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First and foremost, there is no question that the American people think this is a bad idea, to have that shutdown clock run to zero.

Look, seven-in-10 Americans, 68 percent, say it would be a bad thing to shut the government down for a few days.

What about the prospect of a shutdown that ran on longer, for a few weeks. Hard to get eight-in-10 Americans to agree on any political question, but they agree on this, a bad thing to shut the government down for more than a few weeks.

However, we should note. These are national numbers. Remember the old adage that all politics are local? Forty-to-50 of the most conservative House members, four or five of the most conservative senators are pushing this strategy for the Republican Party. They think they're on safe ground back home.

Fifty-six percent of tea party supporters say it's a good thing to shut down the government. That is why some of those conservatives are not afraid to go to brink right here.

However, if we come back to the national numbers, if this happens, who would the American people think is most responsible. Thirty-six percent say the president would be responsible, but nearly half say Republicans would be responsible and 13 percent say both.

So the president on safer ground at the moment on the question of responsibility. This is interesting, though, again. How you vote impacts what you think of this political brinkmanship. If you're a Democrat, you overwhelmingly blame Republicans in Congress. If you're a Republican, you overwhelmingly blame the president.

But independent voters, evenly divided on this question of who is responsible. That tells you the president has a sales case to make to the middle of the electorate, if you will, as this debate goes on.

Now some Republicans say we're on safe ground here because the American people don't like the president's healthcare law, and it's true. Our new poll shows 57 percent, nearly six-in-10 Americans oppose ObamaCare.

However, this is a critical distinction. Break that number down. Eleven percent of those who oppose the president's healthcare law, oppose it because they think it didn't go far enough. They wanted a single-payer system or they wanted more government involvement.

So that is a critical point as Republicans say, hey, the American people oppose this law. Some oppose it not for the reasons Republicans cite.

What's the fundamental question of this debate right now, as that clock ticks down? What's most important for the Congress to do? Avoid a government shutdown or block parts of the healthcare law?

Six-in-10 Americans say it's more important to avoid the government shutdown. That number speaks for itself.

BANFIELD: All right, John King, breaking the numbers down for us. Thank you, John.

I have another number that might tickle your fancy, because so many people are so frustrated with what is happening. In fact, the words "spoiled children" come to mind. Acting like spoiled children in the budget debate. Republicans, 69 percent. Democrats, 58 percent. The president, 47 percent.

Whenever you hear about the spoiled children, you don't want to be in any of those percents. And yet, my next two guests are going to have to deal with what Americans are saying. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican from California, standing beside Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, who's also a member of the House Budget Committee.

Thank you both for being on the program today. This cannot be an easy day for you, especially when you just heard what John King was laying out in the polls, and you just heard what I laid out with regard to the "spoiled children" factor. How are you going to weather this? And I will begin with you, Congressman Blackburn.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: Yes, you know I think that what we look at is that the American people have repeatedly said that they want things to be under control and run by an orderly process in Washington, D.C. We completely agree with that. That is why we have repeatedly sent options, and possibilities to the Senate. I will tell you that I think that the House is as disappointed as the American people, that the Senate decided they were going to take off and have a weekend to go to ball games and play golf and things of that nature. We have been here working. We wish they were back in town now, and we were addressing this.

We agree with the American people. Don't shut the government down. We don't want to. What we want to do is keep it open and keep working to fix some of these programs that have very obvious, substantiated problems and glitches like Obamacare.

BANFIELD: It just sounds so simple when you say it like that, and it reminds me of the time in the Middle East when the Palestinians and Israelis say we just want peace, but you both want your way and neither one of you seems to want to blink in this ridiculous staring contest where we are the ones who need the Visine, so Congressman Rohrabacher, why the continuing resolution?

And fore those in the audience who hate the technical speak, why connect the funding of the government, the entire U.S. economy, why bring it to this brink? Why not all of the other times and the other 100-plus Congresses have been able to fund the government.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R ) CALIFORNIA: Well, have you addressed that to the Senate? We have offered a compromise. You are acting - you're telling your listeners that we Republicans are holding this up, and the government is going to shutdown. We have actually reached out to the Democrats with a compromised position. We passed it.


BANFIELD: Congressman, that's not fair. Don't you dare put this back on me --

ROHRABACHER: Hold on, hold on. Are you interrupting me?


BANFIELD: You know full well that you have attached Obamacare and defending it and you can't make something up.


ROHRABACHER: Am I your guest on this news show? Am I a guess on the news show or am I here to listen to a tirade (ph)

BANFIELD: You can't make something up.

ROHRABACHER: Am I a guest on your new show, or are you here to give us a tirade? Let me finish my sentence.

BANFIELD: You can't make up facts, sir.


ROHRABACHER: Let me finish my sentence. BANFIELD: You passed a bill back to the Senate saying defund Obamacare.

ROHRABACHER: Let me finish my sentence.


ROHRABACHER: Excuse me. Do your listeners understand that this is the same thing we are putting up with the Senate? We are for a compromise. They won't even talk to us about it. You won't even talk to us about it. Whose bidding are you doing?

We have offered the compromise. We don't like Obamacare, they like it. We have reached out halfway to them, put on the table a proposal, passed a resolution to keep the government going. They opposed the resolution to keep the government going, and now say that there is no negotiations, we get it all and you get nothing. And you are blaming us for the shutdown of the government?

BANFIELD: So if you want to know whose bidding I am doing, check my Twitter account after this interview where I invited two Republicans on and not a Democrat, so let's just clear the air right there.

ROHRABACHER And you were cutting me off.

BANFIELD: You said that they were doing this, and it is important that you can in a moment, Congresswoman, but it is I important for people to understand what is at stake here. There is a continuing resolution which is the funding bill, just for the next two months to keep the government going, and the Republicans chose under a lot of pressure, Ted Cruz for one in the Senate creating a lot of that pressure to attach defunding Obamacare. which is the law of the land. Why would you attach it, when you knew that it would create the problem, and go ahead, Marsha Blackburn?

ROHRABACHER: We came to a compromise.

BLACKBURN: Ashleigh, one of the things you need to realize, and I would hope that your listeners and watchers all realize, number one, the House passes a budget every year. We have had a problem with the Senate not passing a budget. That is why we continue to work on a continuing resolution. This year, they did pass a budget, but then they said, okay, House, we are not going the negotiate with you, unless you agree to a tax increase. We weren't going to do that. We want to do tax reform. So, thereby we get into the process of the continuing resolution.

Now the biggest part of growth in the budget is healthcare cost. The American people by overwhelming numbers do not like what is happening with Obamacare. So, the first continuing resolution we sent had a bill that is carried by Tom Graves in the House, and that was a defunding bill. The Senate rejected that.

So we went back into session, our compromised position that we sent back to them carried a bill that, by the way, the amendment passed with bipartisan support, and that is the amendment to simply delay Obamacare for a year. The president has already given 1,200 waivers, he has had 19 delays, and they have missed 47 regulatory deadlines on this pr program. It is not ready.

So we have sent that to the Senate, and what we are hearing back is, well, they didn't stay here Saturday, they didn't show up Sunday, and they're going to come back today. So we have offered them a compromise.

BANFIELD: I hear you. We are 12 hours and 38 minutes on our countdown clock --


BANFIELD: -- which by the way is ticking away right underneath Congress Rohrabacher's tie. Twelve minutes and 38 minutes until a lot of people aren't muckity, muckity logistics. So I just want to ask you -


ROHRABACHER: We did our job to stop that.


BANFIELD: -- you both are - just a moment. You are both paid $174,000 a year. That's your salary. Would you be prepared to add some kind of a rider or an amendment onto a continuing resolution that would take you out of the essential services category and stop payment on your paychecks in order to get a continuing resolution through, would you both -- yes or no?

BLACKBURN: We are waiting to see -


ROHRABACHER: We are waiting to see what they offer.


BANFIELD: Yes or no? Would you both be prepared to stop your paychecks?

BLACKBURN: We are waiting to see what they send back, and I hope that as you were running -

BANFIELD: That wasn't the question.

BLACKBURN: -- the countdown clock that you are running the debt clock. I have two grandsons. Their share of the national debt is now over $53,000 each.


BANFIELD: No, no, no, I'm sorry. I asked a specific question, and I wanted a yes or no question. There are a lot of the government workers going to stop receiving their paychecks, and there are a lot of military service members who are serving overseas who might be stopped being paid and veterans whose benefits, and --


ROHRABACHER: Would you -- let me answer your question specific --

BANFIELD: It's a yes or no question.

ROHRABACHER: Members of THE Congress should not be treated any differently than any other federal employee.

BANFIELD: Is that a yes?

ROHRABACHER: For that to happen, whatever happens to the federal employee should happen to us. When it comes to what we get in benefits and whether it is retirement or healthcare, whatever happens to the average federal employee should happen to us. That rule should not be changed. The bottom line is that we have reached out now to the Senate, and when you have that numbers underneath my tie, that should be under Harry Reid's picture and not mine. I have done my job.

BANFIELD: And it will be. Two 'o' clock is coming soon. Two 'o' clock's coming soon.

BLACKBURN: And we are working. We are working. We are in session, and they are not.

BANFIELD: You are not the only two on the hot seat, but you are both great to come on with me today, and please fix this mess for the rest of us. We really like to pay you the big salaries, but we'd like you to do more and do more negotiating and figure it out. You are like intransigent kids.

BLACKBURN: No, we are not. The House has been working, and we wish that the Senate would.

BALFIELD: Dana Rohrabacher, Marsha Blackburn -

BLACKBURN: Get them here with us.

BANFIELD: Thank you both.

I want to bring in our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash just briefly, really quickly to wrap this up. Dana, I mentioned it 113 different Congresses have convened in the country, and we don't careen from continuing resolution to continuing resolution at the pace that we have been doing it. What's wrong?

BASH: Well, what'd different is that we have a Republican-led House, that was elected, at least the majority was elected in 2010, to fight these fights, to say that we won't go ahead to do the business as usual. That is why so many Republicans, and conservatives challenged - conservatives challenged fellow Republicans who were sitting in Congress, because they argued that they were just simply agreening to spend so much. That is sort of the origin or the genesis of where we are. I think that what will be very interesting to see going forward and everybody wants to know how this movie ends is whether or not Republicans, including the two that you had on will be willing to accept a clean bill, meaning a spending bill just like the Democrats want without anything attached to it about Obamacare or anything else, and agree to do that with Democratic support. That support is there. The question is whether or not John Boehner and fellow Republican leaders can do that, and risk getting a lot of pushback from within their own party.

BANFIELD: Dana bash, live for us on Capitol Hill, and thank you for that.

Happening right now at the White House, President Obama is welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and these men have a lot to talk about from peace talks with Palestinian leaders to Iran's nuclear program and all that smiling from the Iranian leader earlier in the week.

And this warm homecoming for servicemen and women could soon become a bit of a cold shoulder if the government shuts down. How the military will be affected is coming up in a moment.


BANFIELD: Check out the other top stories that we are following. President Obama is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and this is comes just after Mr. Obama spoke on the phone on Friday with the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In addition to Iran, the two are also expected to talk about the Syrian civil war and negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

That possible thaw between the U.S. and Iran may in fact include resuming direct flights between the two countries, if you can believe it. The Associated Press is reporting that Iranian President Rouhani is asking aviation officials to study the possibility. Direct Flights between these two countries were stopped after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, and they have not been on the table since.

This may come as a surprise to the rest of the world, but Syria's foreign minister says there is no civil war in his country. Let that digest for a minute.

Walid Muallem spoke this morning at the U.N. general assembly. His assertion comes despite the fact that rebels have been fighting to overthrow the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad for more than two years. The United Nations says more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, however you label the fighting.

And just over 12 and a half hours from the possible government shutdown and the military families are concerned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is going to be bills that are going to be due, and those places like you can't just tell the electric department hey I got an IOU.