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The Government Has Shut Down; Interview with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. James Lankford

Aired September 30, 2013 - 00:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. It is now midnight. The U.S. government has officially shut down. PIERS MORGAN LIVE takes over our coverage now.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It's midnight on the East Coast. You're looking live at the Capitol.

Our breaking news tonight the government and the United States of America has shut down. It hasn't happened for 17 years. But now it has. We'll see the effects almost immediately. From the most iconic places in America, locked up, the Washington Monument, the heart of the capital, closed. The Statue of Liberty, to billions around the world, the very epitome of freedom and democracy, shut down. Across the country, monuments and the St. Louis Gateway Arch closed.

But what matters more some 800,000 people who worked with the governed will be followed over the next few hours.

Listen to a really exasperated President Obama a little earlier this evening.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away.


MORGAN: So that has happened, what are the numbers? Well, the shutdown can cause the US economy roughly $1 billion a week and less pay for federal workers, the total impact could be 10 times greater. Their estimates of three or four-week shutdown could cause the economy up to $55 billion.

If anyone can make sense of this will (inaudible). So I'm hoping that you can make sense of it because to me, a British guy over here as a great guest of your great country, I find this utterly baffling.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I can't imagine it'll last very long. I think it could last a few hours, it could last a few days, the last time it happened back in early 1996 December, '95 January '96, it lasted for about 20 days in the previous November it lasted for five days. So it could last a few days but eventually cooler heads will prevail, they'll come up with some sort of way to get the government funded because the consequences are enormous. And as bad as the consequences, Piers are right now and they're going to be pretty bad especially if this stay shut for the next several days or even weeks.

October 17th, the US government has to raise the debt ceiling otherwise it can't pay its bills. And the ramifications, the economic ramifications for millions and millions of Americans and people all over the world because the dollar is so important would even be more serious. So there's enormous amount at stake right now and cooler heads are going to have to prevail. They're going to have to get their act together.

MORGAN: But, Wolf, let me -- does Congress realize just how ridiculous it appears to the rest of the world?

BLITZER: It depends on, you know, who you're talking to. They all -- Nobody wants a government shutdown. The Democrats don't want it, the Republicans don't want it but they're fighting right now over what so many Republicans believe is an abomination that the health care reform law that the President signed into law, was passed by the House, passed by Senate, approved as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. It's now the law of the land. In fact, today, October 1st, people can start signing up to get insurance, people who didn't have insurance, people who had preexisting conditions.

So -- But for a lot of these Republicans, they hate it. And they're willing to see the government shutdown unless there can be some substantive changes. And the Democrats say, the President say, "No way. There aren't going to be any changes with them pointing to this government shutdown as a threat." So it's going to continue a little bit. Let's see how long it'll last.

MORGAN: And, Wolf, you're a veteran of these. I saw some great footage of you earlier covering the '95 shutdown. What are the parallels here -- there you are looking magnificent even then and after it would be more magnificent, no you barely age.

BLITZER: Much younger, 17 years younger.

MORGAN: I look a lot older than I did then that I can tell you.

But in terms of the parallels here, last time the Republicans got the blame. Is this just as John McCain said to me, the same movie being replayed?

BLITZER: The Republicans by all accounts are being blamed more than the Democrats from this including in our brand new CNN poll that just came out today. So the Republicans will be blamed and a lot of those Republicans who served in the House, served in the Senate back in '95, '96 they're fully aware of what happened then. And what happened then was very obvious. It helped propel Bill Clinton to get reelected in 1996. He was in deep trouble and his job approval numbers were not good.

But coming out of those two government shutdowns, he went ahead and he never looked back, he beat Bob Bill and has bid to get reelected. And a lot of Republicans including John Boehner remember that but there are plenty of them in the Congress right now who don't remember what happened then and they're willing to fight this fight right now over ObamaCare and it's going to be a brutal fight.

You know, there's other ways to fight this battle but they're insisting on fighting it right now. I suspect though eventually probably sooner rather than later, John Boehner will find a way to let their -- there'll be some sort of clean resolution without any strings attached that will allow the government to fund it and then they can fight their battles over ObamaCare elsewhere.

MORGAN: We've got some live footage here from the Senate that was Harry Reid just now, I think that was Chuck Schumer I just saw speaking. Let's go live from the floor and see what's going on.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: Right, but nothing we can do with this resolution that ...

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NEVADA: Nothing. There's nothing we can do.

SCHUMER: ... they intend to send us until ...

REID: They are over there now, negotiating with themselves I guess.

SCHUMER: Yes, because this ain't a true leader that until they vote for that resolution, the government will remain shut.

REID: And is absolutely ...

SCHUMER: They can send us a 100 different little doo-dads (ph), gizmos, and other kinds of things, but the ball is in their court and we hope and wish that they would as our wish, isn't that true, sir, that they keep -- pass our resolution and that would keep the government open.

REID: It's in their court and has been in our court.

SCHUMER: Thank you leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there objection to the unanimous?


MORGAN: Live footage there. And quite obviously, Wolf, before I come to you, I want to play to something we just got in. This is President Obama. We recorded this message to the military. This is post shutdown. So the first, we've seen out the President since the shutdown was confirmed.


OBAMA: Hi everybody. As President and as your Commander-in-Chief, I've worked to make sure have the strategy, the resources, and the support you need to complete the missions our nation asks of you. And every time you've met your responsibilities and performed with extraordinary professionalism, skill, and courage. Unfortunately, Congresses has not fulfilled its responsibility. It's failed to pass a budget and as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.

Secretary Hagel, General Dempsey, and your commanders will have more information about how this affects you and your families. Today, I want to speak directly to you about what happens next. Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status, the threats to our National Security have not changed and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations like our efforts in Afghanistan will continue. If you're serving in harms way, we're going to make sure you have what you need to succeed in your missions.

Congress has passed and I'm signing into law legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time and we'll continue working to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families.

To all our DOD civilians, I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty including possible furloughs and I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer. You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress. Your talents and dedication helped keep our military the best in the world. That's why I'll keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible.

Finally, I know this shutdown occurs against the background of broader changes. The war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan will end next year. After more than a decade of unprecedented operations, we're moving off a war footing. Yes, our military will be leaner. And as a nation, we face difficult budget choices going forward. But here's what I want you to know, I'm going to keep fighting to get rid of those across the board budget cuts, the sequester which are hurting our military and our economy.

We need a responsible approach that deals with our fiscal challenges and keeps our military and our economy strong. I'm going to make sure you stay the greatest military in the world, bar none. That's what I'm fighting for. That's what and your families deserve.

On behalf of the American people, thank you for your service which keeps us free. And thank you for your sacrifice which keeps our nation and our military the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known. God bless you and your families and God bless the United States of America.


MORGAN: First reaction there from President Obama to the official shutdown of the United States government at midnight tonight. Wolf Blitzer, and me (ph) and I'll bring in also Gloria Borger, also Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, Jim Acosta in the White House, and Christine Romans here with me in New York.

Let me go to you Dana, I mean this has happened many feared that it might and it actually has. What is the immediate reaction that you're getting there? Who's to blame, how long will it last?

DANA BASH, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who's to blame, we're going to see what happens and whether or not that the reality matches the polls beforehand and the fear among Republicans frankly that they are the ones who are going to get the blames. That is the big reason why John Boehner, the House Speaker didn't want to go down this room (ph) in the first place. Remember, he wanted to pass a bill that just funded the government and worry about the other things that they wanted to do dealing with the debt ceiling and the negotiations with the next few weeks.

He was unable to do that. He didn't have the votes to do it within his Republican caucus so that's why they set out these series of votes that they have lost ultimately each time dealing with chipping away at ObamaCare.

When will this end? We just simply -- we simply don't know. You know, over the weekend, a senior Republican said to me of the conservatives in the House caucus, we just have to let them catch the stove enough times so that they realize they're going to get burned. What is unclear right now, Piers is how burn they feel or whether or not they feel the burn yet.

And it just seems as they're watching John Boehner and that House leadership go through the motions which by the way, they're not even done with tonight or I guess early this morning. They're still going to have another vote, probably in the next few hours to revote and what they did earlier tonight. And then state that there should be negotiation effectively.

I've been trying to speak in layman's terms, which the Senate said, you know, give me a break, this is not negotiable. So, it's really up in the air. I think it really depends on how the markets react in the morning when they open and they kind of blow back that members of Congress, particularly Republican get because Democrats have made it very clear, they are budging nothing. They will not give up on anything that is not a clean, no strings attached bill to fund the government.

They feel that just -- and when it comes to basic negations, Piers, if they give in on this, which is just a six-week bill to get the government open and they're going to be completely in a horrible position when it comes to the big negotiations on the debt ceiling in a few weeks, which of course, if that doesn't work out, it could end up catastrophic.

MORGAN: Jim Acosta, down the White House, have we heard anything from the White House of the President other than the video we saw that he gave to the military?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have that video that the President delivered to the military that apparently went out to Armed Forces around the world and an interesting juxtaposition there, Piers, as you're seeing, Congress wrangling with each other and arguing and fighting over whether to fund the government for another six weeks and this whole notion of defunding or delaying ObamaCare. You're seeing the President acting as Commander-In-Chief, telling the Armed Forces, telling those troops out there to stay on their guard, stay on their post. Don't worry, the money is going to keep coming because the President said, he signed that bill to protect their pay earlier tonight.

But one other thing did come out, Piers just before midnight and that is this right here. This is a letter from the Office of Management and Budget Director, Sylvia Burwell, ordering the departments and agencies of the federal government to start shutting down.

And I'll read a quote to you from it. It's not the sexiest document in the world but it gets things going here.

Unfortunately, "We do not have a clear indication that Congress will act in time for the President to sign a Continuing Resolution before the end of the day, tomorrow, October 1st, 2013. Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations."

The term orderly shutdown may puzzle some viewers out there as shutdowns probably are not going to be very orderly, certainly not for all the tourist who are coming to Washington, expecting their parks and their monuments and museums to be open. That is not going to happen for the first time since there was a Clinton in the White House and a Gingrich up on Capitol Hill, this government has shut down, Piers.

MORGAN: Gloria Borger, you know, when I hear that the Statue of Liberty, the absolute emblem of freedom and democracy around the world is just being closed, shutdown because of this.

I can really believe what I'm seeing. I mean ...


MORGAN: ... have you seen Washington ever so dysfunctional. We'll just allow this to happen over what should there been a regulation, the debate and dispute about the program of ObamaCare.

BORGER: I think this could be a high-water mark or a low-water mark depending at -- on ow you look at it. I've never seen sort of ad hoc government like this before. You know, I'm talking to a Senior House Republican member earlier tonight.

He said -- I said, "What's going to happen next." He said, "You know, honestly, I don't know have any idea." And I think the problem with that is that the American public, which already doesn't trust government, Piers, at all. Looks at this and says, "Wait a minute, we don't trust government already and now, you can't even manage it at all." And you know, Congress's approval rating is 10 percent. Yes, the President may have the upper hand right now, I believe he does. But at a certain point, the energy of governance has to come from the White House and this has to get result and the irony of all of this to me, quite honestly, is that republicans in the House has stepped on their own message. Today, ObamaCare begins. If they have problems with it, it would have been a perfect opportunity to talk about those problems and the glitches in it. Instead, we're talking about shutting down the government and not the issue they really want to talk about, which is the President's health care plan.

So, I believe, that's a sort of a message problem for them as well and they've done this all in trying to appeal to the Republican base.

MORGAN: Well, I'm getting bombarded with tweets here of many like this. This is from a guy called Chris Henry (ph).

"The greater politicians everywhere did right are the people for a change instead of self serving."

Christine Romans, if this is the point, the vast majority Americans are scratching their head saying, "How is it come to this?"

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: And you look at this as well, Piers, the ObamaCare implementation is mandatory spending by shutting down the government, you've guaranteed the implementation of ObamaCare.

We're talking about the Statue of Liberty being closed and thinking (ph) to be an inconvenience, there going to be some weddings that are going to be canceled at somebody's locations.

But let's be clear here. Social Security checks will go out. Medicare, doctors will be paid to give you -- when you go to your doctor, your doctor will be reimbursed for Medicare and implementation of ObamaCare continues.

Some of these budget, some of these agencies are going to be running it 60 or 70 percent of their normal staff. There will be work that will be done. It will be slowed, there will be bureaucratic hang-ups it's going to be kind of a nightmare, but there are big parts of the government that will be going forward like getting your Social Security check, I want to say it a hundred times because that's the e- mail that I'm getting.

People who don't think they're going to be affected.

MORGAN: I mean, and someone just tweeted me saying, "Piers, why is your biggest worry Statue of Liberty, not the thousands who don't have jobs to go to."

Of course, the people that don't have jobs to go to are more important as I actually said earlier. But to me, when you have something as iconic as the Statue of Liberty, just being closed down, the message it sends to the rest of the world is that Washington is completely dysfunctional.

ROMANS: We are the biggest business in the world and we just put up the close for business sign, which seems crazy at a time when the economy is barely recovering. We have all these families living paycheck to paycheck. We're talking about two Americas. One America is moving ahead quickly and everyone else is just struggling to get by and it's counter productive to close government at a time when you need government to be helping people.

I mean, I guess, you could say the reason why governments closes because there is a rowdy caucus in the House who thinks that business as usual is bad and they're not going to do that. They're not going to do business as usual.

Christine Romans, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta and Wolf Blitzer, thank you all very much.

When we come back, a top Democrat, one (ph) Republican go head-to-head over the shutdown and who's to blame and all the reigning (ph) real winners in all this.


MORGAN: Looking live at Capitol Hill tonight where the government is shutting down and that is early as of this morning.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the third (ph) who chaired of the Democratic National Committee, and Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma, the Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee.

Right you two. Let me start by a dental bone tossed your way which has on it a stain on both your Houses.

Debbie, how do you plead?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, D-FL, CHAIR OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATL. CMTE.: Well, I plead with my colleagues who really should just go to the floor and let 218 members of the House of Representatives, not only 218 Republicans decide what legislation we are going to send to the Senate and then to the President.

And unfortunately, because the tail is wagging the dog and extremists have been allowed to run the Republican Conference, we are now shutdown. We are jeopardizing our economy. We have furloughed 100,000 federal employees. And that is all in the name of denying millions of people access to quality, affordable health care. It's mind boggling.

MORGAN: Why -- Let me ask you this so, Debbie. Why is it that Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton in the last shutdown 17 years ago, spoke every single day during that period to try and get something done and this time we understand the President has only spoken to John Boehner twice in a week.

SCHULTZ: Well, they certainly should be talking, but it's very ...

MORGAN: Why aren't they talking?

SCHULTZ: Well, they're not talking because the only thing the Republicans are willing to talk about is whether or not we are to going to delay or defund or repeal ObamaCare. We've voted on that 45 times in the House of Representatives, and there's not much else to talk about if that's the only thing they want to talk about.

If they want to talk about the spending levels, I sit on the Appropriations Committee, Piers, if we want to talk about the spending levels that we're going to have in the Continuing Resolution, great. That's appropriate for this discussion and debate.

But, you know, in my colleagues' home state, essentially, what we're talking about is denying the 89,000 young adults who can now stay on their parent's insurance until they're 26 years old.

MORGAN: OK. Look -- all right, let me go ...

SCHULTZ: The almost, 700,000 people, who will now get health insurance ...

MORGAN: Let me go to your colleague. James Lankford I mean, you're going to get the blame, Republicans. No question, you did last time. You will again. And it looks like John Boehner has lost control of a renegade element of his party.

And although I think that President Obama has been a pretty poor negotiator here, he has got a point. It's his law. He was re-elected with that being the law. People gave him another mandate with this huge ObamaCare plan that he had. Why the hell should he be wasting his time? The (inaudible) said people is going to bring him down.

REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R-OK, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN POLICY COMMITTEE: Well, because not only was he re-elected, so were we re- elected. That's the irony of all these. That people in a constitutional government all had a representative, and a senator, and a president. They all have different opinions. They sit down and work it out.

As you mentioned before, Newt and Gingrich and Bill Clinton sat down and worked it out. Tonight, we ask for a conference committee to say, "Let's conference with Senate." That's how we work things out since the 1700s when Jefferson wrote the rules in about conferences during the House and the Senate when we get to then fast. You sit down and have a conference.

We've already agreed and we're going to the process tonight to say we've done three different proposals over the Senate. All those have been tabled or rejected by the Senate. So, now we're going to vote to the conference. And now we hear that Harry Reid says he's going to table that. And he's not even going to conference. He's not even going to meet to discuss these things.

As my colleague mentioned, we've sent 45 things over to the Senate, which they just ignore everyone. At some point, we have to actually sit down and talk about these things, not just send things over to the Senate one after another and pretend that they didn't actually occur. There are real concerns and real problems with the Affordable Care Act. There are real issues that have to be addressed there. And we can't just say ...

MORGAN: Yes, but nobody -- here's the thing, though ...

LANKSFORD: ... they're going to happen some day.

MORGAN. ... here's the thing, nobody disputes that. Everyone knows it's a huge program. Everyone knows there are parts of it which need to be modified, changed, may be dropped. But, Debbie Wasserman Schultz here, I come back to the main problem again. Is that, it doesn't appear to be a sensible grown up, ongoing dialog, between the two people who matter most, Speaker Beohner and President Obama. And I -- you know them both well. You know the President very well. What is wrong with the President that he can't just pick up a phone or and go see Speaker Boehnor, or get him to come and see him on a daily basis until they thrash out a deal. Isn't not the way any business gets done?

SCHULTZ: Look, President Obama has made it very clear that as we implement ObamaCare, which is going to happen, this is a settled matter. We are not going to repeal or delay, nor should we, ObamaCare. In fact, even the people who have been called that oppose ObamaCare think we shouldn't have shut down the government over it, and think that we shouldn't defund or delay it.

What we should do is what we had done since the 1700s in America. And that is when a law has problems that we passed, we sit down and we work together and we hammer out those problems. We don't hold the economy hostage repeatedly until we get our way.

The implementation of ObamaCare has nothing to do with the Continuing Resolution, has nothing to do with whether we are going to fund the essential needs of this government. They are separate. They should -- would be treated separately. And now we have shut the government down because the Republicans won't just let it go.

MORGAN: James Lanksford are you proud of what the Republicans have done tonight?

LANKFORD: No, this is the great challenge of this, Piers. I wish we could just -- today work this out, 45 times we send somebody over the Senate. Every time we said, "Let's sit down, let's talk about this." And we finally reached a point that had something like this to be able to sit down and say, "No. We're serious. We think that the House and the Senate should sit down and be able to work together. We thought tonight's proposal was actually very reasonable. We've already agreed upon a budget number. Divide the budget number and we added two requests to it that members of Congress and the White House actually are included in ObamaCare.

It's in the original law. The White House changed it with the waver and we said, "No. You can't do that. That's not legal in the law. So members of Congress and the White House should be in the exchanges like every other American take out the deductions.

The second thing we asked for was, in the first year of ObamaCare, individuals should not have to pay penalties and the tax on it, just for the first year. And it's already been done for businesses. We just said we think it should be for individuals. It's an extremely confusing law. A lot of people misunderstand it. A lot of people are going to make mistakes. They're going to make a mistake and get a penalty at the end of year for making mistake.

We just felt like in the first year, they shouldn't have a mistake and all members of Congress and White House should have the ObamaCare.

MORGAN: Well, yes, but the point is -- you're missing this other bigger point which is it's law. It is law and therefore a debate about what is existing law should not lead to the government being shutdown. It seemed utterly here are...

LANKFORD: It's the job there, Piers.

MORGAN: I'm going to leave it there ...

LANKFORD: Well the members of Congress. That's in a law as well that ...

MORGAN: You two sound like you can talk to each other they can bang their heads together, get Speaker Boehner and President Obama in a room tonight. Get it done for the American people.

SCHULTZ: Piers, we need to put a House bill on the floor that gets 218 votes -- not 218 votes of Republicans. That's the American Democratic process works. And the Republicans are only allowing Republicans to make decisions and extremist ones at that. It's unacceptable.

LANKFORD: Let's check the vote count, we've had Democrats on all of our votes for every time that we sense a member we've had Democrats joining us on every single one all in this bipartisan.

SCHULTZ: (inaudible) the House work its well and reopen the government ...


SCHULTZ: ... stop holding the economy ...

MORGAN: Well, OK. We're ending with you two apparently in agreement which is probably first positive summit (ph) -- I don't know. So, I thank you both very much indeed.

LANKFORD: Thanks, Piers.

SCHULTZ: Thanks.

MORGAN: It's a Tea party coming on top of another government shutdown? I'll talk to the Chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.


MORGAN: Looking live at the Statue of Liberty, but you won't get much closer to it for a while. It's shut down among the rest of the Federal Government. This is a sign of the Tea Party's reemerging power.

Joining me now is Amy Kremer, the Chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. Amy Kremer, welcome to you.


MORGAN: Are you happy about the shut down tonight?

KREMER: No, I'm not happy about it. We didn't advocate for this. We didn't want this. This is Harry Reid's shut down. He is responsible for this. He's brought us to this point.

MORGAN: Right. So, it's entirely the Democrat's fault that a bunch of Republicans have tried to defund ObamaCare.

KREMER: Piers, hello, how many times -- how many times have we set legislation to the Senate and Harry Reid just continues to table it. I mean, why not debate it on the floor? Have an up or down vote. As a matter of fact, we have Democrats that have come out against ObamaCare. I mean the unions are against it. Even the person that wrote it, Max Baucus has called it a "train wreck."

It's like Harry Reid is acting like a spoiled brat crossing his arms, there's nothing with ObamaCare. We're not going to do this. We're not going to discuss it. If they keep saying it's not true. No, it's failing. We need to have this discussion and if it's so great, what are they afraid of?

MORGAN: Well, ObamaCare was of course debated vigorously. It passed both chambers. It was signed into law, upheld by the Supreme Court and of course was (inaudible) sent in Barack Obama's re-election last year. So, all in all...

KREMER: I completely disagree with you Piers.

MORGAN: I would imagine the President has a fairly good claim to say, "We've been down this road and what the hell is this going to be. What is happening down the government?"

KREMER: No, no. This -- this legislation -- this legislation was passed not with one Republican vote and it wasn't even passed through the normal process. They had to use a procedural trick to get it through because they knew they couldn't get it through.

MORGAN: Amy is (inaudible).

KREMER: And don't tell -- wait no. And don't tell me...

MORGAN: Amy, you may not like it but it's called -- Amy?

KREMER: ... the election was about ObamaCare...


KREMER: ... because you know what have the American people known all this negative stuff that's coming out now... MORGAN: Go ahead.

KREMER: ... I think that the results of the last election would've been different because they had believed the president that they could keep their gut (ph) through their plan, you know, it would decrease premiums to $2,500.

MORGAN: Amy, the problem is it's not any law. It's democracy and if the American people didn't like Obama that much, they could've kicked him out on the last election but they reelected him. After which, John Boehner, John Boehner...

KREMER: And we also reelected the House of Representatives.

MORGAN: ... the Republican speaker said, "ObamaCare is law, the people have had their say. So, what the hell is going on?"

KREMER: After this legislation was shoved down our throats in 2009, 2010 we elected a Republican House. The house controls the first string, the - your House of Representatives is our most direct form or representation in Washington D.C. and we control the House. We, I mean that's a fact. Yes, he may have been reelected but the House was also reelected into conservative hand, Republican hand, and we are having this conversation which we should be having.

Harry Reid sat on the bill when the House passed the C.R. on Saturday night at 12:30 p.m. Harry Reid sat on that bill for almost 38 hours. Had he brought the Senate back into session then? We've had 38 more hours right now to be dealing with this. But Harry Reid didn't do that. He let everybody take the day off and so now here we are. Harry Reid wants a shutdown because he believes it's a political victory for the Democrats in 2014.

No one's talking about how Harry Reid and the White House was threatening a government shutdown on July 26th if the sequester was not rolled back.

MORGAN: Amy Kremer, thank you very much indeed.

KREMER: Thanks.

MORGAN: Coming next, the bickering and blaming on both sides of the aisle led to the shutdown, how long will it go on for? And I'll see expert panel after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feel in Texas are shutdown, why? Because the Republicans are on the Florida with a phony procedural vote that is not going anywhere and the government is shutdown. Hundreds of...



MORGAN: We're seeing live at the White House tonight. The government has officially shut down, while ObamaCare is set to begin today.

So what does it all mean for America? Well, joining me now, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, Political Commentators Ryan Lizza and Ben Ferguson, and Josh Barro, the Politics Editor at Business Insider. What a stellar panel to have at 12:39 a.m.

David Gergen, 17 years since the last shut down, what do you make of this? Is it exactly the same story replayed now 17 years later?

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: No. You know, Piers, for the last few years we've been saying politics can't get anywhere in the country and tonight it just did. It is (inaudible) ain't got well beyond what happened in '95, '96, (inaudible), '95.

In that case, by the way, the two shut down, Newt Gingrich and the Republican were on top of Washington, Bill Clinton was underneath. After the two shut down, it flipped so Bill Clinton got the upper hand. And after that, they actually got some things done. I think there is some possibility that can happen with President Obama.

MORGAN: Let me turn to Ryan Lizza. Ryan, you know, I keep coming back to the fact, there seems to be a very fractured relationship between John Boehner and Barack Obama. They just don't seem to be able to have any proper line of ongoing communication. And without that, how do you get anything done?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that's part of it. And look, I think the bigger part frankly, Piers, is that there is a split between John Boehner and the right wing of his conference. And every time that Boehner has reached out to Obama, his conference had said "No, we don't like it when you do that. We think that your burns us when you negotiate with Obama."

I honesty think that this really isn't a story of Democrats versus Republicans at least the last two weeks. This is a story of Republicans versus Republicans. I think that's a pretty fair assessment here.

This started when a group of 80 House Republicans said to John Boehner, "We want to use the threat of a government shut down to try and roll back ObamaCare." Previously to that, John Boehner said, "No. That was a bad strategy."

So this whole thing got started because John Boehner is a weak Speaker of the House and couldn't control his Republican conference and I hate to put things so boldly as that and not to play this game that it's one side versus the other. But I really think that that's what set the rude of this and it's a sort of fair assessment.

So, I disagree with you there. I don't think this goes back to Obama and Boehner not being able to work things out.

MORGAN: OK. Ben Ferguson, the blame laid well and squarely there on John Boehner's inability to control his own truth. What is your reaction to that? BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think that's ridiculous and I think you can see it from both sides. You see the Democrats. You saw on Debbie Wasserman Schultz just some moment ago. I mean there is this pure, I think, bitterness, anger on both sides. They're both yelling at each other in TV instead of in a private room.

And I think cooler heads have to prevail, I mean you can't walk out there and say as the President of United States of America tonight, "You know, well -- they don't -- they're not going to do me any favors and I don't have to give in anything."

At some point, you've got to walk into a room and say, "I'm the President of United States of America. This is affecting people's lives. We're not going to negotiate out in the public anymore. We're going to all come to the White House in a meeting and we're going to work this crop out before it gets real serious."

That's what's going to have to have to happen here for us to move forward. I mean I jokingly said a moment ago to a friend I said, "You know what? I wish on the government shut down that also meant that every microphone in front of a politician also shut down, because they figure this out in about five minutes. They couldn't be on TV anymore."

MORGAN: OK. Let me jump in a minute. I mean, since (inaudible) to Bill Clinton last week. And he was telling me that whether he was negotiating with -- this is for you Josh Farrow -- whether it's (inaudible) with Vladimir Putin or Newt Gingrich. The principle remains the same with anyone who's an opponent that you were talking to.

Yes, in public don't do anything to embarrass them or humiliate them and in private go at them hard, expect them to come at you hard but it make it one on one, man to man, man to woman, whatever it maybe and get stuff done and don't leave that room until you've done that. I don't see that happening.

So I think that actually Ryan has a good point. It's a fraction (ph) Republican Party. But I also think that I'm right, that it's not good enough relationship between the two key people on either side.

JOSH BARRO, POLITICS EDITOR, BUSINESS INSIDER: Well, I think that's a good principle for negotiations between two principles who have the ability to make commitments on behalf of the people they're representing. But I think Ryan is absolutely right. John Boehner is not a principle here. He is driven by his caucus.

Three weeks ago, John Boehner and Eric Cantor were trying to put together a plan that would have led to almost exactly what's come out of the Democratic Senate now. They were going to pass a continuing resolution that funded the government that the levels its contemplated in this continuing resolution and it would have had a provision defunding ObamaCare that the Senate could strip out and send directly to the President without it coming back to the House.

Three weeks ago, John Boehner wanted to cave on this. It's not that he changed his mind, it's that he's been forced by his caucus not to give that up. So what is he suppose to do discuss in a negotiation with the President?

The President going to say, "Look, I'm not doing something that delays or defunds ObamaCare." And Boehner can't just say, "I disagree with that," he has to say, "I'm not authorized to negotiate on that by my caucus."

MORGAN: Right. Go on. Okay...


MORGAN: Let me go back to Ryan Lizza a bit, because Ryan, you know, you definitely have a very good point.

LIZZA: And I want to add something too, but go ahead Piers.

MORGAN: Well, the point I want to make here, is are we dealing though with essentially two quite weak leaders here?

LIZZA: Yes. Look, I think there is something too that, but I don't want to suggest that there aren't major differences between Obama and Boehner and a major problem with their relationship.

There are obviously incredible differences between these two parties that need to be worked out and there needs to be a process to do that.

All I'm saying here is we should never shut the government down. And one party whether it's Democrats or Republicans shouldn't use the threat of a shut down to get their way -- to get their policy.

All we have to do is pass a continuing Resolution and 800,000 employees won't be out of jobs tomorrow, or at least temporarily. That's my point. It's a process point about using the threat of a government shut down.

MORGAN: OK. All right.

LIZZA: It's...


MORGAN: And you'll talk (ph) in a debate. Come on in.

FERGUSON: It's after midnight the government is shut down. So right now you got to clear the whole table if you're John Boehner or for the President of United States of America and realize the government shut down. You can each go out on TV and you can each say that the other one's a terrorist and the other one's an evil person, the other person won't negotiate. None of that matters right now, because it's shut down.

So I would hope that one of the two of them is going to walk out tomorrow and say, "Enough of the theatrics. We're going to go into a room and stop talking at one another in the media. Until that happens, we're going to have a shut down government and nobody wins in this situation."

MORGAN: OK. David, hang on one second as we take a short break and come back with David Gergen's take because there's nobody more experienced, for me, in the world than David Gergen. (Inaudible) so let's come back after break and get his take.


MORGAN: Live with a famous panda cam at the National Zoo, it's going to shut down, of course it is. No one enjoyed it, so they shut it down.

Back with me now is David Gergen, Ryan Lizza, Ben Ferguson and Josh Barro. Were they even shutting down the panda cam David Gergen? It's a serious time. A tweet here from Reverend Willy Lewis (ph), when will you ever see a government of the people by the people for the people again? You're the man to us, will we?

GERGEN: Well, I think we can again. This is about more than John Boehner and Barack Obama and they're relative weaknesses. They are relatively weak. It's about a breakdown of a political culture.

So that now we've actually descendent into a form of anarchy and no one can govern.

This Congress cannot put together some sort of sensible plan. It's going to take presidential leadership. But more than that, this government by the people. What we need now is for the people to rise up and raise hell.

If politicians in Washington go all sane, they can't see the light, make them feel the heat. If senior tries (ph) up and talk about their social security, businessmen, CEOs, you know, if the labor unions and others come down hard on this. Washington will get the message, and it will scare the decants (ph) out of them and they'll get something done. And then we could actually have a silver lining Piers. I'm not sure what the other panelists think, but I think the main thing right now is not only get a settlement but purge the system of all these animosity, this craziness before we get to the default. Make sure we get something, we get to some sort of truce in the next two weeks so that we don't have a default. That's what...


MORGAN: See, I thought -- I wish I could be comfort of that, but I mean -- Josh Barro I saw you shaking head there. I was sort of shaking mine to myself because I didn't see any will now on the more extreme sides of either party to do any kind of business together.

BARRO: Yes. I'm very pessimistic. I think the Republican Party has a base that is more interested in breaking the federal government than in making it work. And so long as that continues to be true, well, basically medal (ph) true like this, it doesn't mean everything will fall apart. I think we will get a detriment increase when it's needed, because Republicans, when there is real pressure on them from the center of the electorate that will punish them for breaking everything, that's when they have to come to the table. That's what they did in January when we have the fiscal cliff and they agreed to a deal that set new terms for tax policy for the coming year and that raise that debt ceiling. And I think that will happen again this time with the stock market and -- but anything that -- it doesn't absolutely have to be done.

MORGAN: OK. Let me -- let's listen to Ryan. I think he's jumping in there, Ryan?

LIZZA: I think you're being overly optimistic Josh. Remember the fiscal cliff the pressure on the fiscal cliff was the taxes were going to rise. So there was a pretty serious policy reason for Republicans to not want that to happen.

I think what happens with the debt default, all depends on what lessons both parties take from this current debate. If the Republicans extract some policy concessions from the White House over the government shutdown, what is that to the psychology of the Republicans in the House going into the debt default?

Well, maybe it worked once with the shutdown, maybe it's not such a big gamble to gamble at the default and extract some more policy concessions.

So I think Obama has a big decision here to make.

MORGAN: Let me ask Ben Ferguson this question because as bigger thing here in place, you know, this, the 2016 election, you know, you guys have lost twice. Now you're desperate to get back into power, how is that going to happen if your own party is so obviously fractured when the likes of John McCain are so diametrically opposed to the tank- crude (inaudible). Where do you get any kind of nominee? Who is that should be given (ph) an election who manages to please everybody?

FERGUSON: Look, I think John McCain's are on their way out and that's the reason why they weren't able to win the presidential election. They're not this new type of conservative that is coming in and not -- they're not going to sit there and act like they're all high and mighty 24/7 like John McCain is, like he's better than everybody else, but I want to get back to the shut down for just a moment.

I think most people in Congress have the date of a 17th on their calendar and it's big. And I think the next 10 days, they know they can play politics, they know they're going to get something done by the 17th. They know they're not going to have America default. They're going to try to use that to their advantage politically, and I think that's where you're going to see a (inaudible) on

The government has shutdown before, and everyone is still living and we all survived, and people didn't die. I mean, this is part of the ugly thing of government and watching the sausage be made.

MORGAN: OK. All right.

FERGUSON: But it's going to -- we're going to get it together. MORGAN: (Inaudible). Let's go to David Gergen to round this up. In all your years, David, in all your experience and all the Congresses you've seen the Senates you've seen and so on, when you put it all together, have you ever known it as bad as this, the actual polarizing between the two camps?

GERGEN: No. I can't remember a time. There's been anger, but I must say, I think especially during World War II generation period, the Presidents Kennedy through Bush Sr., I think we had a very different kind of politics. People were strong, Republicans are strong, Democrats, but they thought they serve under one flag and that was pretty darn important to them. And I think that's what's broken down here in the last 15 (ph) were you've got a new generation now that frankly is not acting it very well. I think the younger generation is coming as much more promising

But we're going to a really terrible period. I don't think any of us were alive in the 1880s, 1890s but that's the last time you can remember a politics as rancid as what we have now.

MORGAN: David Gergen a pretty damning verdict there. And what many is seeing is one of the most dysfunctional Washington D.C. as anyone can remember. That set -- it seems to be the case.

To recap for anyone tuning in, the government has shut down, that's it close down up to 17 years since the last time. Statue of Liberty will shut tomorrow, the Pentagram is shut tomorrow. A lot of stuff will be shut tomorrow because a bunch of politicians couldn't get their act into gear.

Anyway, congratulations to all of you.

CNN's live coverage as the government shut down will continue right now. I'll be back at 9:00 tonight with Tess Kersud (ph) and Grover Norquist, and former Minnesota Governor, Jesse Ventura. He's got a few strong views about this, and the live audience.