Return to Transcripts main page


Federal Government Faces Looming Shutdown; Interview with Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Renee Ellmers; NSA Security Concerns

Aired September 30, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, September 30, 7:00 in the east. The only clock worse than the alarm clock is the shutdown clock. Take a look at this, 17 hours, less than that, until the government runs out of money. Both sides seem to be saying, forget that constitutional responsibility to pass laws to fund the government. Let's just take a pass on it this time.

Now, if the government does shut down, dozens of federal offices as well as national parks and monuments could close, like the Washington monument the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty. But more importantly, everyday Americans would feel the pain from furloughs to delayed paychecks.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at this brand new CNN/ORC poll -- 68 percent of Americans think it will be a bad thing if the government shuts down for even a few days. Take a look at this -- the majority of Americans think the president and Congress are acting like spoiled children. I don't think many people will argue with that.

At this rate, is there any way to get out of this mess in time? We will be talking to members of Congress about why more isn't being done to avoid the nightmare scenario. We're going to be covering this story like no other network can, with reporters on every angle. Let's get started with senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar at the White House. The Senate is taking up a spending bill today, Brianna, but they are likely to reject it. So, what now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, the Senate is expected to take up and then promptly dismantle what the House passed this weekend. So barring some unexpected breakthrough, we're on the expressway to a government shutdown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the old football strategy.

KEILAR: House Republicans rallied on the steps of the Capitol, calling on the Senate to come back to work. Inside, a ghost town not long after the House GOP passed a bill in the early morning hours Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

KEILAR: It funds the government, but delays Obamacare for one year, now just hours to go before a deadline for a deal, the first government shutdown in 17 years seems all but certain, the blame game in full swing, with Republicans on preemptive damage control.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: So far, Majority Leader Harry Reid has essentially told House of Representatives and the American people, go jump in a lake.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: He is saying 100 percent of Obamacare or the highway. The president is the one saying I will shut down government if you don't give me everything I want on Obamacare.

KEILAR: They argued they budged, demanding the president's health care program be delayed after initially voting to defund it altogether. But Senate Democratic leader Harry rode won't put this latest House bill up for a boat, and President Obama, who met Sunday afternoon with his economic at the White House, has threatened to veto of any measure that delays or defunds Obamacare.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me repeat it. That's not going to happen.

KEILAR: The Senate is expected to strip out the Obamacare delay and send it right back to the House. There was one area of possible agreement, however, a repeal of a tax on medical devices that was included in the bill Republicans passed this weekend. A top Democrat said he was opened to the measure but not with a shutdown looming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am willing to look at that, but not with a gun to my head. Not with the prospect of shutting down the government.


KEILAR: Now, there are two chances for us to see and to hear from President Obama today. He will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also has a cabinet meeting. There will be cameras at both events if he does want to say something. But he has made it pretty clear when it comes to changing his signature health care reform program and in any significant way, that's very much a non-starter for him, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Brianna, thank you for the reporting. Of course, the elected officials are only reflecting what their constituents are telling them, right? Let's take a look. CNN has new polls that break down the way you, the voters, think about the shutdown and the people behind it. Here's a hint, they do not reflect the way you feel about the situation.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King is here. The phrase "spoiled children" is used in the poll, I think it might be an insult to spoil people all over the country.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fifth grade may sue us for slander, Chris. You mentioned what do the American people think about this. On so many questions our country is evenly divided, but not on this one. We asked people, what if we shut down the federal government for a few days? Look at this, nearly seven in 10 Americans say that would be a bad thing. It's possible if you have a shutdown it could go on because of the gridlock for a few weeks. What do Americans think about that? It's hard to get eight in 10 American to agree on any political question, but look at that, 79 percent of Americans say a bad thing to shut the government down for a few weeks.

But these are national numbers. Remember, they say all politics is local. Not all politics is national. Who is driving this strategy? And 40 to 50 of the most conservative members of the House, four or five of the most conservative members of the United States Senate, if you look at right here, watch this one here. I want to break this down, take you to the Tea Party. And 56 percent of tea party supporters say it's a good thing to shut down the government. These are the folks those most conservative members of Congress are talking to. They think back home they're on safe ground even though nationally this thing is a nonstarter. So you have to remember that as we go forward.

So who is responsible? If that clock ticks to zero, if the government shuts down, who will you hold responsible? While, 36 percent say it's the president they'd hold responsible. Nearly half say they hold Republicans in Congress responsible, 13 percent a pox on both your houses, they are disgusted with Washington and they would blame both sides.

But again, if you break this down, I will do this by your views of the Tea Party here, 76 percent of the Tea Party supporters say it's the president's fault, 80 percent of Tea Party opponents blame Republicans in Congress.

Now you heard in Brianna's piece Republicans way we just want to change the health care law. Republican often say the American people are with us. Well, they're right to a degree -- 57 percent of Americans oppose the health care law known as Obamacare. But this is a critical distinction. When you hear Republicans say a majority opposed, remember this, 11 percent of the opponents say they didn't go far enough. They think it's too liberal. So Kate, I don't know how your math skills are. Here's the defining question on this debate, what is more important for Congress to, avoid a shutdown or block the health care law? Six in 10 Americans say keep the government open. That number speak for itself.

BOLDUAN: I think it's an important number. Everything you laid out, John, also lays out just how complicated this is, because the motivation and who supports what it's kind of tearing the parties apart. Very interesting. We will come back to you.

So the shutdown could be just hours away, but what will it really mean for you from your Social Security checks to whether you get your mail on time? Christine Romans is here the lay all of that out for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Kate, good morning. It's not just Washington theatrics, because the government shutdown will affect you directly. A few things you will notice immediately, all national parks, zoos, museums would be closed. If you are camping in a park right now, you got about two days to pull up stakes and go home. Many federal offices and programs go dark. Non-essential workers will be sent home with no pay. We think that's about 825,000 people.

Numerous government projects will be delayed due to extensive furloughs. What will remain open? Key here, federal courts, about 10 days they can operate on current funding. Passport offices will function. Those are also funded by fees. They will stay opened unless they're in a federal building.

Air traffic control border protection. Departments of defense, the correct, al function stays opened. The power grid, they will maintain it. Critical essential banking functions will continue. But there are some regulators who will be sent home. Some comforting news for you if you get a Social Security check, Medicare, jobless benefits, those will continue to go out. Those are mandatory spending. Postal service continues. People relying on food assistance, you will get your food stamps. Bad news, you will have to pay your taxes. And of course members of Congress will get paid in a shutdown. So you will have to pay your taxes. You will feel this, no question, but Congress, who is not doing its job and sending the government into a shutdown, will get paid for not doing its job. How is that, Chris?

CUOMO: That's not so good. Let ask some members of Congress, shall we. With less than 17 hours to go, is there any chance Democrats and Republicans will come together to stop a shutdown? Joining us now is Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, who is chair of the Republican Women's Policy Committee, and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is chair of the Democratic National Committee. Thank you both of you for joining us.

Let's start with that first question. Members of Congress in a shutdown still get paid? Is that right? And if you were not going to get paid, you'd think there will be less chance of a shutdown?

REP. RENEE ELLMERS, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN WOMEN'S POLICY COMMITEE: I will say that I am confident that the government is not going to shut down. That's the last thing that we need. I don't want to give the government checkbook to Barack Obama, and that is exactly what will happen. Obamacare will continue to get fund and he will be able to pick and choose what he continues to fund.

CUOMO: All right, what about you guys getting paid through the shutdown if there is one? Do you think that that is right?

ELLMERS: There again, I think the question is moot because we are not going to shut down the government. I think Debbie would agree, that would be a worst case scenario.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D) CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, then, I do agree with you, Renee. And all we have to do is have the Republican leadership when the Senate Bill comes back to the house today without any extraneous, already settled matters. We should make sure that we pass a clean CR, keep the government running and then as Obamacare is implemented, when there are problems that we know will inevitably arise -- nothing goes perfectly smoothly -- we need to sit down and work together and hammer those problems together. That is what has been done in this country for more than 200 years. The policy that the Republicans have been pursuing is irrational. It makes no sense. It jeopardizes our economy, and it doesn't have to be this way. All they have to do is Speaker Boehner has to allow the House to work its will, not have a majority of Republicans approve what comes on the floor but a majority of the House of Representatives. We could get 218 votes if a bill comes on the House floor today in a minute, and everything would be OK and we would move on and we could separately discuss the other things that we don't agree on.

CUOMO: So is that going to happen? What's the chance that happens, Representative Ellmers?

ELLMERS: I think we have a very good chance. I think we all want to sit down and work this issue out. We have many issues pending. As you know, tomorrow, the exchanges for Obamacare will be starting. This is a significant issue for us and one that we pursue the delay because we know that it isn't ready to go. We know the American people are not going to get what they were promised. So this is the issue.

Now, however, we've got to make sure the federal government is open. So we're going to do just that, and we are going to work with those across the aisle in order to achieve it.

CUOMO: Do you think that you will put through a bill to fund the government without any attachments to it? Do you think there is any chance of that, Representative Ellmers?

ELLMERS: I'll tell you, I don't know what it will look like. It will probably be wrong for me to speculate, but we've got to get this situation resolved so we can move forward. One of the things I support is the American health care reforming act, which will take care of the issues with health care moving forward. Those are the positive moves we need to be making. We need to be looking at that debt ceiling. We need a bridge to that point. There is much we can do. If we work together, we can achieve it.

CUOMO: How willing are the Democrats to do some kind of compromise here instead of just watching this implode into the shutdown?

SCHULTZ: You know, what we're willing to do is make sure that we pass a clean continuing resolution. I sit on the appropriations committee, Chris. A continuing resolution is just that. You continue the government's functions while we work out budget-related matters, to make sure that we can keep the government functioning. We don't attach extraneous measures. We don't block -- we don't put employers, as the Republicans did the other night, in charge of whether women can get access to contraception. That was a little watched provision that they added back to the continuing resolution.

They want to delay the implementation of Obamacare, including whether or not people with preexisting conditions will be dropped or denied coverage by their insurance companies. What does that have to do with whether or not national parks stay open or whether or not Head Start programs, kids can go to Head Start programs? We've got to work together. And my good friend, Renee, I hope you go back to your colleague, encourage them when the Bill comes back clean, let's pass it. And then as issues arise with the implementation of Obamacare, we should sit down and work those out together. I know we can do that.

CUOMO: But if that's your condition the bill has to be clean with nothing to do with Obamacare on it, you are basically saying you are not going to get a bill, because Representative Ellmers, as cooperative you are in this interview, nobody in the leadership on your side is saying, yes, we will fund the government with nothing to do with Obamacare attached to it. Who is saying that other than you?

ELLMERS: Well, I will tell you the main objective here again is to keep the federal government going. We know where the issues are. If it's just a simple three month CR where we're keeping the federal government going, we're keeping the checkbook out of Barack Obama's hands and the damage that can be done there, that's our objective. The real issue here is the debt ceiling negotiation. That's going to be the most important piece.

And let's get America back together and Debbie to your point about pre-existing conditions, we want to cover preexisting conditions as well. Your side cut off the high risk pool money so that you could advertise for Obamacare. I really find that amazing.

CUOMO: So let's end it on this notion, just yes, no, on it. Representative Ellmers can you say you know any Bill will come through the house that doesn't involve Obamacare but involves funding the government?

ELLMERS: I believe we are confident in the idea we will keep the federal government going, and it's wrong for me to speculate on what it will lock like.

CUOMO: So no answer from you. On the Democrat side, if a bill comes through and it is connected in some way to Obamacare, will you act on that bill at all?

SCHULTZ: We don't control what happens in the House of Representatives. What I can tell you is that a bill will come back from the United States Senate without anything related to Obamacare to keep the government functioning, to make sure that we don't hamper our economy and hold the economy hostage. And the Republicans have the ability to put it on the House floor and allow 218 members to vote on it together and make sure that we can keep the government functioning.

And to her points on the debt ceiling, that that's even worse. So the next fight is we're going to be arguing over whether or not we hold the economy hostage and not pay the nation's bills, jeopardizing the full and credit of the United States, all in the name of the Republicans being hell-bent on stopping everyone in America from having health care, which is irrational.

CUOMO: Which is why I have to ask you, again, is there any bill that can come through that has something to do with Obamacare that the Democratic party will entertain as compromise right now to get the government back?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We should pass a clean CR. That's what will come back from the Senate, and that's the next action, and that's -- the ball is in the Republicans' court. No, we will not associate jeopardizing the economy with whether or not everyone in America is going to have access to healthcare. That's irrational and irresponsible.

CUOMO: All right, well while the conversation here is relatively polite, and I respect both of you for that. It does not seem as though will is consensus beneath that rhetoric, but I hope you guys can figure it out because the shutdown you can fix. If you stay this way getting into the debt ceiling, you can do things to the American economy that you cannot fix. I hope you are aware of that.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're absolutely right.


CUOMO: Every poll says that, every common sense should tell you that as well.

ELLMERS: Let's see what the Senate sends back to us, because the ball is in their court right now.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It is coming back clean, and we need to take it up and pass it and move on. Enough already.

CUOMO: All right Representatives, thank you very much. Please, don't take up any more of your time with me. Get back to work. We appreciate you being here on NEW DAY.

All right. You hear it there. You have to do a little reading of the tea leaves, but obviously you understand the issues. Tell us your thoughts. That's how Congress is going to hear your voice effectively right now. Tweet, use the hashtag NEWDAY. You can do it individually. We hope you do it as soon as possible. There is a lot of news in addition to the shutdown, there are things going on all over the world so let's get to Michaela for the latest.

PEREIRA: All right, let's look at those headlines right now. Chris, thank you.

California fire officials calling this an unsurvivable crash. A business jet going off the runway to Santa Monica airport Sunday, slamming into a hangar and bursting into flames. The hangar, itself, then collapsed, thus preventing firefighters from entering it. Right now we don't know how many people were inside, but the plane carries anywhere from 7 to 9 passengers.

About two dozen engineers, chemists, and paramedics are headed to Syria today to start dismantling the regime's chemical weapons. They face 100 degree heat, a civil war, and tight, tight deadlines. U.N. Security Council resolution calls for plans and equipment to be destroyed by November 1st. An all chemical weapons to be destroyed by the middle of next year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be delivering a warning when he meets with President Obama at the White House today, don't trust Iran. The Israelis want the U.S. to tighten sanctions against the Iranians, not ease them. They say it's the only way to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Back here at home, still no motive in the shooting death of a Louisiana pastor as he preached to a crowd during a Friday evening service. The alleged gunman a former church deacon. Police say 53- year-old Woodrow Carey shot Pastor Ronald Harris twice with a shotgun in front of several dozen worshipers, including the pastor's wife at a church in Lake Charles. Police say Carey later told them where to find his weapons. He is in now in jail on murder charges.

We want to leave you with something sweet, a wedding proposal from Independence, Missouri. Crystal Escobar, the coach of Van Horn High School's cheerleading team. They entire squad got into the act and helped coach's boyfriend pop the question on the field during halftime of the football game. She said yes. I just love it. We've had a lot of team spirit today. We show you the tuba. The Sousaphone the cheerleaders.

BOLDUAN: We just trying to balance the lack of team spirit in Washington.

PEREIRA: It was metaphoric. Thank you, Kate, I like the way we did that.

BOLDUAN: It all comes full circle. Also, I believe men do a very smart job of trying to make sure they say yes by presenting the question in front of a crowd.

PEREIRA: The witnesses.

BOLDUAN: The whole shebang, I love that.

PEREIRA: Insurance.

BOLDUAN: There you go, an insurance policy. There is no insurance with weather, though. Let's go to Indra Petersons to give you (ph) who's keeping track of the forecast this morning. Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METOROLOGIST: By the way, I am so with you on that. The amount of times someone said yes, and came back and said you know what? About that. Yeah.

This is Tacoma, Washington. It shows you how much rain was in the pacific northwest this weekend. There was so much that the manholes literally exploded. Some of them were reportedly going about 20 feet high in the air. So yeah, 3-5 inches of rain setting records in both Portland and Seattle over the weekend, all thanks to this big cold upper level low that brought in all that moisture off the coastline. It brought storm after storm to the area this Weekend.

Unfortunately, there is more rain in the forecast today. Not just a little bit. Talking about two to four inches on the border line of Oregon and Washington, about 1-3 inches still back in through Seattle today.

Of course the winds are gusting high with this thing as well. The reason for that. This is a cold system, not only bringing rain but cold temperatures. You get the cold air next to the warm air, just east - look at Denver, 82 degrees. We see those strong in the pacific northwest. They report winds as high as 75 miles per hour over the weekend. That was the west coast. What are we expecting today? Anywhere from Ohio Valley through Texas. A front starting to make its way east. It is dissipating. You can see that very clearly in the water vapor. Almost hard to find here. A couple sprinkles out of the sky unless you're right around the Gulf. Pretty much the big story, it is. Beautiful weather, 70s, looking for '80s today. Hey, it gets better.

BOLDUAN: No story is a good story.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, Indra.

CUOMO: I'm looking forward to any good weather. I'll take it. We need positive energy. Any kind of positive energy we can take, we'll take it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, it turns out this isn't so much positive energy. The NSA has its own social network made up of your information. So what does your Facebook account have to do with protecting the country? We'll explain the latest revelations ahead.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead the never-ending saga continues, Amanda Knox back on trial for the death of her college roommate. We will tell you why the case is back in court and why Knox won't be anywhere in sight.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. If you wonder what the National Security Agency has been doing with all of the e-mail and phone data it's been mining, well we now have some more answers. According to "The New York Times," the NSA has been graphing out the social connections of some Americans using GPS data, bank codes, even Facebook. Pamela Brown is here with the latest developments. Pretty amazing.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Important information here, Kate. According to "The New York Times," the social mapping of certain U.S. citizens who officials believe may have a foreign intelligence link has been going on since November of 2010. As one privacy expert put it, it's the equivalent of tailing a suspect.


BROWN (voice-over): The NSA isn't only tracking metadata from your phone calls and e-mail logs, it's using that information to create a sophisticated web of some U.S. citizens, according to documents leaked to "The New York Times." KAREN GREENBERG, CENTER ON NAT. SEC., FORDHAM UNIV. LAW SCHOOL: We assume as Americans if somebody, if the government is locking at your information, it's because they have a reason because you are suspected of a crime.

BROWN: This slide from an NSA PowerPoint presentation shows how analysts use software to create diagrams to chart a person's social ties, locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to documents leaked by a former government contractor Edward Snowden.

The policy shift intended to help the agency discover and track when there is a link between an intelligence interest overseas and a U.S. citizen.

The NSA can also draw a material from Facebook profiles, GPS location information, insurance information, property records and other public and commercial sources to better analyze American's phone and e-mail logs.

GREENBERG: Now we know from these leaks that this is how the government is operating, that there is a much broader swath of people that Americans are included in this mix.

BROWN: In a statement, the agency says, "We know there is a false perception the NSA listens to the phone calls and reads the e-mails of every day Americans, aiming to unlawfully monitor or profile U.S. citizens. It's just not the case."

NSA Chief Keith Alexander has said a person's individual data is analyzed only when there is a foreign intelligence justification.

While some argued the NSA efforts are keeping Americans safer, critics say this latest disclosure is yet another example of how the NSA is infringing on American's privacy.

GREENBERG: Americans assume a right to a certain kind of privacy. That usually starts at the door to their home.


BROWN: "The New York Times" says the leaked documents do not specify how many American citizens have been targeted by NSA for social mapping and how many have been involved in wrong-doing.

BOLDUAN: Something to know, thank you.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the next chapter in Amanda Knox's legal saga begins right now. Italy is trying her again, you'll remember, for the killing of her roommate Meredith Kercher. What happens if they find her guilty? Can she be sent back? We'll let you know.

BOLDUAN: Regardless of the shutdown drama, we are a day away from the open enrollment for the new healthcare law. Do you know what to expect and also how to sign up? More ahead.