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Government Shutdown: Day One; GOP Plan: Fund A Partial Government Reopening; Obamacare Insurance Exchanges Debut; Glitches Plague Obamacare Exchanges; Netanyahu Slams Iran's New President; Government Shutdown Blues; Interview With Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois

Aired October 1, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, push finally comes to shove as the government shutdown idles close to a million federal employees across the country. On day one, the effects are already being felt across the United States. President Obama vows his health care law is here to stay. It's also day one for the insurance exchanges, where so many Americans can now get coverage. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell you what you need to know.

And are Republicans starting to look for a way out of the shutdown stalemate? Will Democrats be willing to make any concessions? I'll ask Senator Dick Durbin, one of the top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"Shutdown Day One" -- it's the top headline all across the country. The partial closure of the federal government especially painful here in the nation's capital. But the ripple effect is already spreading. And if the shutdown continues, the impact will be felt across the economy, as well.

It's also day one of the health insurance exchanges, a key part of Obamacare, which is at the heart of all the

Political shoving matching -- match that's going on up on Capitol Hill.

The president now digging in his heels, blaming Republicans for the shutdown.

Let's go to the White House.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is standing by.

With the latest -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, HOST: Wolf, the White House says President Obama is ready to work with House Republicans to work on a budget, but only after the GOP reopens the federal government.

Meanwhile, I want to show you a picture that was released by the White House earlier today. It shows the president and the vice president in the Oval Office meeting with various top administration officials, grappling with this shutdown. But on the shutdown day one, in the view of this White House, it's either the president's way or the highway.


ACOSTA (voice-over): As the federal government was closed for the first time in 17 years, President Obama tried to make the case it's not his shutdown, it's their shutdown.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.

ACOSTA: The president once again refused to negotiate any changes to Obamacare as part of a spending bill that reopens the government calling the GOP demands, quote, "Weird."

OBAMA: One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government shut down major parts of the government, all because they didn't like one law.

ACOSTA: Standing with Americans who were signing up for insurance under the new health care law, the president acknowledged glitches in the online marketplaces that opened for business today. But he argued that's to be expected given more than one million people had visited the Web site,, by 7:00 a.m..

OBAMA: Apple rolled out a new operating system. And within days, they found a glitch. So they fixed it.

ACOSTA: GOP lawmakers argue Obamacare's delays show the law is already sputtering. House Speaker John Boehner said the president's unwillingness to negotiate makes it his shutdown.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: My goodness, they won't even sit down and have a discussion about this. The only way these problems are going to be resolved is if we sit down amicably and keep the American people in mind and come to an agreement.

ACOSTA: At the White House, where officials are growing worried the standoff could force the nation to hit the debt ceiling and go into default in little more than two weeks, there is no sign the president is budging.

(on camera): How long is the president willing to wait for House Republicans to pass a clean CR?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not sure what that means, because that suggests the Republicans -- that the president could take over the House and pass one himself. And he can't. He cannot order or force, you know, call out the National Guard to get the speaker of the House to put a clean CR on the floor.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But tempers are flaring across the Capitol, from outraged DC tourists who found monuments and memorials closed to this GOP news conference on the shutdown. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might want to tell Harry Reid to end the shutdown.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a Congress that can't govern this country. You guys are worthless.


ACOSTA: Now, the White House says the president will visit a DC construction company on Thursday to talk about the shutdown. That event is a sign the White House expects this shutdown to continue at least until Thursday, perhaps even longer. And, Wolf, the president's schedule is already being affected by this. White House officials telling CNN that the president is going to cancel on an event that he was scheduled to go to tomorrow evening with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He was scheduled to go to that, but because of the shutdown, he's not going to be going tomorrow night.

BLITZER: A lot of things here in Washington are going to be canceled because of this shutdown.

Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

If the shutdown does continue, it could wind up costing the U.S. economy billions and billions of dollars. The White House calls it a "nonstarter," but some Republicans now are working on a piecemeal approach to funding the government -- a little bit here and a little bit there.

Listen to what Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told me here in THE SITUATION ROOM last night as he laid out this new scenario.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think we ought to start passing continuing resolutions narrowly focused on each of the things the president listed. So he said Border Patrol agents won't be paid. Fine. Let's pass a continuing resolution that funds Border Patrol agents. He says that he plans to close every national park. Fine. Let's fund a continuing resolution funding the Interior, keeping the parks open. Let's, one at a time, demonstrate the same bipartisan cooperation we saw today with the military and address all of these people that he's holding out as are going to suffer.


BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss what we just heard and more with our chief national correspondent, John King; our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; and Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics -- John, it sounds like the Republicans of the House are accepting his proposal, his idea for a piecemeal approach. If it's so painful, pass continuing resolutions to keep the funding going in these various areas.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If the president comes out and says let's fund Obamacare, are the Republicans going to say we'll give you a continuing resolution there?

It's just -- it's just not the way to run a railroad, in the sense that, politically, it could be smart for the Republicans in the short- term to say, look, we're trying to make sure that, you know, people aren't hurt. We're trying to make sure the Border Patrol gets funded and we're trying to make sure -- there's a piece in "The Wall Street Journal" today about kids showing up for clinical trials for cancer being turned away from the National Institutes of Health.

So you can do this day by day.

But then so what are we going to talk about tomorrow and the next day and the next day?

Which is why the Democrats say no, no, no. That's a childish way to run the government. Let's do the big deal. And then the Democrats, let's negotiate this other stuff after you fund the government. But here we are.

GLORIA BORGER, HOST: You know, and I think what's happening is you're beginning to see a little bit of cracks in the Republican cement in the House. Some Republicans are saying, OK, enough, because they're looking at the polling numbers. And the polls that we've been seeing over the last couple of days are not really good for the Republican Party.

The Republican Congressional job approval now is down in one poll to 17 percent. And that is an all-time low for the Republican Party.

When you ask people, would you rather elect a Democrat or a Republican, what we call the generic number, now they'd rather elect a Democrat by 9 points. That's almost doubled since July. Some Democrats think that would be enough, if that stuck, to give them back control of the House. So it's a real problem.


BLITZER: Yes, but this idea that Ted Cruz has, you know, they wanted to keep the paychecks going for the men and women of the United States military...


BLITZER: They quickly passed separate legislation, separate from Obamacare, to go ahead and do that. And he says if it's so painful in these other areas, go forward and do it. That's a challenge now from the House...


BLITZER: -- Republican leadership to the Senate, to see if they're willing to do, in these other painful areas, what they've done for the men and women of the military.

KING: It is the flashing neon example of one of the big problems in our politics right now. And some people out in the country think it's not a problem, and that is, the decline of party loyalty and the decline of party leadership.

Ted Cruz, like or don't like him, he's a freshman senator, who is now essentially calling the shots -- or more than anyone else calling the shots on what's happening here. And he has his Republican leader in the United States Senate and the speaker of the House, the most powerful Republican in the country, essentially tied up in knots.

That's not the way Washington traditionally has worked, although at the moment, especially in the Republican Party, as they go through this internal ideological debate and civil war, Speaker Boehner has the

Toughest job in Washington right now. And...

BLITZER: All right.

KING: -- it's hard to do.

BLITZER: -- let's talk about the economy a little bit. Mark, you're not a political analyst, you're...


BLITZER: -- you're an economist.

ZANDI: -- listening to it.

BLITZER: I know. I enjoy listening to it, as well.

KING: Help us out. We can't.

BLITZER: How pain -- if this goes on for a while, how painful to the overall U.S. economy will this be?

ZANDI: A couple, three days, no big deal. We get into next week, then it starts conflating with the debt limit. That has to be increased by October 17th. And that's a -- that's a drop dead date, because if we hit the limit, then we've got a big problem, because the Treasury can't pay all of the government's bills.

BLITZER: But some -- some people have said, like Senator Rand Paul, have said to me, you know what, even if that October 17th date comes, they can figure out -- move money around within the federal government and come up with a way to pay the bills.

ZANDI: That's incorrect. So the Treasury can only spend what it takes in in cash. And it's not going to take in enough cash to pay all of the bills.

Now, on October 18th, 19th, they may have enough cash to start hitting the bills, mostly on time. But by October 20th, 21st and 22nd, they're not going to be able to pay all the bills. And by November 1, when they have a Social Security payment due, they're not going to get their checks.

BLITZER: It's a matter of cash flow right now.

ZANDI: Yes, and by the way...

BLITZER: Is that what you're saying?

ZANDI: Yes. And it's a -- you know, it's more than that, because investors, the guys that really put the money on the line, they're going to begin to question whether they're going to get paid, even if the Treasury says I'm going to pay you...

BORGER: Oh, that's when it ends, right.

ZANDI: Yes, they're going to say I -- I'm going to pay you, but if it comes down to paying a Social Security recipient or a Chinese investor, what's going to happen?

BLITZER: We all know when there's a natural disaster, like a hurricane or Super Storm Sandy or Katrina, that winds up costing the U.S. economy billions and billions of dollars, in terms of economic recovery.

But this is a manmade disaster. And it could wind up costing the U.S. economy billions and billions of dollars.

ZANDI: Look, I don't say many things with a great deal of certainty. But here, I can say with a high level of certainty that if we breach the debt limit, we're going back into recession. It's an economic Pandora's box. And it's going to cost us hundreds of...

BLITZER: If they don't raise the debt ceiling?

ZANDI: If they don't raise the debt ceiling.

BLITZER: What if they -- they raise the debt ceiling, but the government is still shut down?

ZANDI: That's manageable. But, you know, each passing day, it becomes a corrosive on the economy.

BORGER: So what...

ZANDI: It starts to do more damage.

BORGER: So here's what I want to know -- and I -- there's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about merging the two, about somehow finding a solution to shutting down the government over the next 16 days, merge it into the debt ceiling. I mean, the question that I have, is that going to be a good thing or a bad thing?

KING: Yes.

BORGER: Could it actually resolve some issues or put... ZANDI: Well, in my view, if you conflate it with the debt limit, they're going to have to settle it, because that is -- that's the drop dead

That here -- here's the one thing, though, I really worry about, is they just kick the can down the road two weeks, four weeks, six weeks. Then we're back here negotiating and bickering.

BORGER: Right.

ZANDI: And the uncertainty of that is a real -- it's not going to undermine the economy on any given day, but it's a significant (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Do John -- do -- does everybody in Washington understand how significant raising the debt ceiling could be, if the U.S. doesn't do that, if Congress doesn't do that, what the ramifications would be?

KING: You just answered your own question, in the sense that if you go out to some of these conservative areas in the country, where they don't trust the leadership, they don't trust the media and they don't trust the current president of the United States, they think we're lying to them. They think that this is not a big deal, that the government shouldn't be spending more than it's taking in; therefore, do whatever it takes to stop the government.

You can go into some of these Tea Party districts -- and that's why these members of Congress, there are people out there mad at them. They are reflecting the views of the people back home. Some of them have been re-elected saying I'm going to go to Washington and say no. And that's the crisis point we're at...


KING: -- where they go home and they're preaching to people who believe them.


ZANDI: The investors are going to tell us very clearly that this is going to be a big problem...

KING: Right.

ZANDI: -- before we get to October 17th, because the stock market is going to start falling by hundreds of points per day.

BLITZER: Why did the markets go up today?

ZANDI: They believe we're going to sign on the dotted line pretty soon. They don't expect policymakers...

BORGER: What do they know that we don't know?

ZANDI: Yes, well, they...

BORGER: Right?

ZANDI: -- you know, we've seen this movie.

KING: That's right.

ZANDI: They've seen the movie. And we -- we see the ending.

BORGER: But here's...

ZANDI: And so they expect it.

BORGER: But here's the thing. The American public believes, as John was saying, that you really should, you know, if you're going to raise the debt limit, that you also you ought to use it as an opportunity to tighten your belt. That's what we generally do.

The problem, politically, for Republicans is that if they attach it to something called Obamacare, which Republicans say is tied to debt, it will cost us more. But it's really about health care. It's kind of a -- it doesn't make a lot of sense and...

ZANDI: Some argument...


ZANDI: -- the CBO says it's not going to cost anything.

KING: Right.

BORGER: Exactly. Right.

ZANDI: And, in fact, if you repeal Obamacare, it's going to raise the deficit.

BORGER: That's right. And so the last time we went through this, it was -- it was raised to -- it was around a question of, how do we cut spending?

And then this debate is about...

BLITZER: Very quickly, Mark...

BORGER: -- something else.

BLITZER: -- among professional economists -- liberal, conservative, Democratic, Republican -- is there really any, any dissent whatsoever to what you're saying about the potential negative impact of failure to raise the debt ceiling?

ZANDI: There's no debate.

BLITZER: Everybody agrees...

ZANDI: Everybody is clear.

BLITZER: -- that that would be a disaster? ZANDI: A disaster.


KING: So you wait for the president here. This is -- the president says he won't negotiate on the continuing resolution. Agree or disagree with him, you can understand his position, where he says Obamacare was passed, I won re-election, the Supreme Court upheld it, forget about it. You can understand that.

But as you get closer to the debt ceiling, the question is, is there some way for the president, presidential leadership to come in and break this?

And the president is reluctant, because he's done this in the past. You know, he extended the Bush tax cuts a couple of times. It made his base unhappy.

The sequester came from the 2011 debt ceiling. It made the president's base unhappy. And he's been unable to get the grand bargain.

So the president says, why do I keep doing these things and not getting the big structural change...

BORGER: But he has no choice, right?

KING: -- that would make the markets happy?

BORGER: I mean on the debt ceiling...

KING: The question is...

BORGER: -- he has no choice, right?

KING: Does he?

That's the question.

BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there, guys.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, John, Gloria and Mark.

Appreciate it.

Up next, day one for the Obamacare health insurance exchanges.

How worrisome are the opening day technical glitches?

And is there a way out of the standoff that's led to the shutdown?

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, he's standing by to join us live.

By the way, Tweet me some suggested questions. Use the hash tag sitroom.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Despite Republican efforts to kill Obamacare, one of its core provisions debuted today, the health insurance exchanges where Americans can get coverage. There were some glitches. We'll get to more of that in just a moment.

But first, let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's on the CNN Express in Greenville, South Carolina where, get this, where fifth of the state -- a fifth of the people who live in South Carolina, lack health insurance. Sanjay, let's get back to the basics first. Run us through the Obamacare marketplace websites. How do they work, what kind of coverage can people get if they go there?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so day one, I mean, if you go to, as you mention, there may have been some glitches, but if you were able to get through, there's this three-page application, Wolf. That's the first step as part of registering. And I will tell you, it is more notable for what it doesn't ask you versus what it does.

Doesn't ask any questions really about your medical history. That's very important as you know, Wolf. The reason it doesn't have those questions is because that information is not used to determine your premiums. So, once you fill that out, you're basically given choices of different tiers of health care coverage. This is similar to people who have picked health care coverage in other ways, but basically, it's a bronze to platinum.

Bronze, silver, gold, platinum. Bronze is going to be the lowest premiums, but the highest co-pays. Platinum, just the opposite, the highest premiums, lowest co-pays. So, if you're someone who goes to the doctor a lot and you don't want to get dinged on those co-pays, you'll probably pay more of a premium and save on the co-pays. You sort of get the idea, but that's basically how it works.

You sign up before December 17th and that coverage can start January 1st of 2014. But again, day one today, Wolf, for this open enrollment, it goes all the way to the end of March. So, people do have six months ultimately to sign up for this.

BLITZER: A lot of this debate, Sanjay, as you know, comes down to money, for people who currently don't have health insurance, they likely can't afford costly plans. How much can people expect on average to pay in order to purchase health insurance?

GUPTA: Well, it is going to vary. And I'm going to get more specific here, but it does vary by community and certainly by state. But if you take into account everything, and keep in mind, Wolf, that the majority of people who may be joining this marketplace are people who have not had health care insurance. So, they don't really have a reference point for this. But if you count the subsidies that they may receive, if you count the states that have expanded their Medicaid coverage, six out of 10 people who join this new marketplace will pay about $100 or so a month for their premium. So, about $1200 a year.

Again, that is the expectation. We're going to keep very close tabs on those numbers. But about 60 percent of people will pay about $100 a month.

BLITZER: If people sign up in the marketplace for these exchanges, are they going to be able to pick their own doctor? Because, you know, this has been a serious concern for a lot of folks out there.

GUPTA: The answer to that question is maybe. And what I mean by that is once that you go to this marketplace, you find a health plan that you want, you're not sure at that point if your doctor accepts that particular health insurance, you could save out of the program at that point, find out from your doctor if that's going to be an in network and out of network doctor and just get that information before you choose.

But Wolf, I can't emphasize this point enough. It's a very important question about the doctors, but the vast majority of people who are going to be coming to these exchanges are people who haven't had the luxury of that decision. They've never had health care insurance. They don't have a doctor. This is all brand new to them.

So, I think for some people who are thinking about joining the marketplace from their existing insurance, they're going to have to sort of figure that out, but for a lot of other people, this is a brand new experience.

BLITZER: What about people who say, Sanjay, you know, no way. I never had health insurance. I don't need health insurance. I'm a healthy young person or middle-aged person or whatever. They don't want health insurance, although, they could afford to spend $100 a month or whatever. What about these folks?

GUPTA: Well, the way that it works is there is a penalty for this. This is now part of the individual mandate which basically says you have to have health care insurance. If you can afford it, you buy it. If you can't afford it, you can get a subsidy. Now, if you choose to do neither one of those things, you get penalized and the penalties are very specific.

It's $95 or one percent of your income in the first year and it goes up. Second year, for example, is $325 or two percent of your income, whichever is higher. And it goes up all the way up to at least, I think, four percent of your income. So, the penalties get pretty stiff as time goes on, but that's basically it.

Ultimately, the penalties may sort of be roughly the same amount of money that would cost to buy health insurance and the idea is that if you have to pay the penalty or buy health care insurance, more people would buy health care insurance. That's what's sort of driving those numbers ultimately, Wolf.

BLITZER: And these penalties are administered, are really taxes, in effect. They're administered through the IRS. People will be billed, if you will, when they pay their taxes if they don't, if they can afford to buy health insurance, they don't buy it, they're going to pay these taxes at the end of the year. All right. Sanjay, thanks very much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting for us.

By the way, tomorrow, Sanjay will take the CNN Express to Lexington, Kentucky, where he'll take a closer look at how the Affordable Care Act affects people who already have health insurance. And don't forget to tune in to a special "Sanjay Gupta M.D." this weekend, Saturday afternoon 4:30 p.m. eastern, Sunday morning 7:30 a.m. eastern right here on CNN.

Let's get some more now on those technical glitches that are hampering the Obamacare insurance exchange websites today. The president says it's because of overwhelming demand. CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look. What's going on with these problems that developed today, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president's probably right, Wolf, in the sense that there was a lot of demand early on. Obamacare hoped to launch with a bang this morning. It's been more like a sputter. Look at all these states across the country in red here, where people have had problems with the websites as they tried to look into and sign up for this program.

Some of our producers checked out this system. And in New York, they got a message that said there was an internal server error. In Maryland, they were told that they were essentially connectivity issues and the webpage was not available. And in Washington, the whole screen froze up and they actually had to shut it down and restart it for troubleshooting.

Still, our team got through just fine in places like Kentucky, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, and other places. So, while the problems are widespread, one person may find an issue in one state and in the same state, this next person may not. The federal government, meanwhile, is handling enrollment for 36 states which have opted out of Obamacare or haven't fully established their insurance marketplaces.

And this is the message that many people were getting when they signed on to the federal website when they had troubles. We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and "we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the log-in page. Thanks for your patience." So, a lot of glitches is the right word, really. This is not particularly unexpected.

This is a massive, complicated program. The president said he expected glitches and the Department of Health and Human Services even put out a statement saying look, take a look at this right now. They said, "We have built a dynamic system and we're prepared to make adjustments as needed to improve the customer experience." There will be many adjustments, I suspect, Wolf, because this is such a huge and complicated system.

But, most of this so far today, seemed to be just that, glitch. And bear in mind, this is just the beginning of a six-month process of signing up. So, really, what we need to do is see where this is in two, three weeks and how well it's going.

BLITZER: We'll see how long these glitches continue. You'll stay on top of it for us. Tom, thank you.

Coming up, the Statue of Liberty closed by the government shutdown along with so many other iconic American landmarks. We're going there live. >

And why can't Democrats negotiate with Republicans to end this impasse? I'll ask Senator Dick Durbin. He's standing by to join us live. By the way, tweet us your suggested questions using the #sitroom.


BLITZER: When the government shuts down so do many American landmarks, including some that represent the United States, itself. CNN's Poppy Harlow is joining us now from not far from the Statue of Liberty, which is now officially closed. Poppy, tell our viewers about this economic fallout on these iconic landmarks.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's huge, Wolf. I mean, if you look at the nation's national parks, they bring in $450,000 per day in revenue. They're not getting a penny of that now with this government shutdown. And it's kind of ironic because on Saturday, President Obama declared all the national parks National Public Land Day. Now they're all shuttered, including Lady Liberty behind me, and we are only able to see her from afar.


HARLOW: Another sign of the government shutdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Now the Statue of Liberty is closed.

LINDSAY SIMON, STATUE CRUISES EMPLOYEE: I'm worried more in general for the American economy as a whole and all the jobs that people are losing as we speak.

HARLOW: Liberty Island sees up to four million visitors a year. Stacy Garcia was one of the last to visit.

What does it mean for you to visit the Statue of Liberty?

STACY GARCIA, ONE OF LAST TO VISIT STATUE OF LIBERTY: Freedom. Liberty. That's why I'm in America. So to hear that the government is shutting down, it's like what have we come to?

HARLOW: With more than 280 million visitors a year from Yellowstone to Yosemite to the Grand Canyon, more than 400 national parks are now closed.


ANN MARIE KENNY, TOURIST: We came all the way from Australia, and we really wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Tourists come here to see this beautiful thing. Obviously, the government doesn't put much value on it.

HARLOW: Michael Lawlor came from London for his birthday. So, the U.S. government shut down. That's why it's closed. What do you think of that, looking from an outside perspective?

MICHAEL LAWLOR, TOURIST FROM LONDON: Very surprised. This is supposed to be the number one country in the world, and obviously the most democratic. Obviously, things like this probably would not go on in Europe as much.

HARLOW: This is as close as he'll get to Lady Liberty. More than 21,000 national parks employees furloughed, and thousands more like cleanup crews and concession stand workers all left without jobs.

VICTORIA DUNCAN, LIBERTY ISLAND EMPLOYEE: I'll have to find another job if they're not paying us while we're laid off or file for unemployment, but it's still not going to be enough.

QUINN AGARD, LIBERTY ISLAND EMPLOYEE: Things like this can have such a big impact on people that aren't in the limelight, you know, the people that are working in hourly positions at spots. This whole island would be shut down. That's a ton of different positions that people won't be working or won't be getting paid for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people are not coming. This is what we do daily. So, if people are not coming, we're not selling tickets, we're not making money.


HARLOW: And Wolf, I can tell you that of all the tourists from literally all over the world that I talked to today, none of them knew why the U.S. government was shut down, and they certainly seemed bewildered when I told them that it was a fight over the health care law in this country. So, that was an interesting thing to me.

We're going to have to wait and see if the federal workers and all these national parks get back pay once the government gets up and running like they did back in the '90s. But one thing I can tell you for sure is those concession stand workers, all the hourly workers for private companies in these national parks, they're out of luck. Every day the government is shut down, they are out of a paycheck, and that is already impacting them.

BLITZER: Tourism all across the country does generate a lot of money for the U.S. economy. Money that is now, at least, lost for the time being. Poppy Harlow, thanks very much for that report.

All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. The White House has just responded to the latest House GOP move to try to fund at least parts of the federal government by passing so-called piecemeal pieces of legislation to avoid some of the more serious pain from this government shutdown. A statement released by the White House just moments ago saying, "These piecemeal efforts are not serious and they are no way to run a government. The president and the Senate have been clear that they won't accept this kind of game playing and if," here's the key words, "if these bills were to come to the president's desk, he would veto them."

Let's discuss what's going on with one of the Democratic leaders in the United States Senate, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the majority whip. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lot of people were wondering, I asked some of our Twitter followers for some suggested questions to you. We got this one. "Will the Senate consider piecemeal CRs to fund government that is sent over by the Tea Party House?" That question had come in.

Are you with the White House on this? Do you think it's right that in order to avoid paying for those who work at national parks or for other various parts of the federal government where people are suffering right now, 800,000 people have been laid off, have been furloughed, that the president would veto these efforts to try to at least ease that pain?

DURBIN: I stand with the president. This is an embarrassment. For international visitors to be standing in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty wondering what has happened to this great nation - you know, I just wonder if Speaker Boehner and Senator Cruz and the Tea Party Republicans realize the embarrassment they are creating. --

BLITZER: But they are trying to eliminate that embarrassment, Senator. Senator Cruz was on this show exactly almost 24 hours ago, and he said we can ease some of the pain by passing these piecemeal CRs or continuing resolutions, as they're called. What's wrong with that? Then tourists would be able to go to these places.

DURBIN: So, it's come to this? It's the Ted Cruz wish list? He's decided, OK, we'll take care of international tourists but we won't fund the medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

BLITZER: He's willing to pass that, too. He says all these areas that are difficult, he's willing to submit individual continuing resolutions just as they did when the Senate passed to make sure the men and women of the United States military get paid. That was passed in separate legislation, quickly passed by the House and Senate.

DURBIN: Golly, I hope that some agencies like our intelligence agencies make Senator Cruz's wish list where we have laid off some three-fourths of the employees trying to keep America safe. And I sure hope that the medical research at the NIH makes Senator Cruz's wish list.

For goodness' sakes, this is irresponsible and it's reckless. Why does this senator or the Tea Party Republicans think they can pick and choose the priorities of the American government?

BLITZER: Well, there is a divided government, as you know. The Republicans do have the majority in the House of Representatives. You once served in the House. You know how it works when there's one point of view in the House, a different point of view in the Senate. People are supposed to get together and see if they can resolve it in these House/Senate conference committees. But you've rejected that's as well.

DURBIN: You missed an important point, Wolf. If the House of Representatives and Speaker Boehner would call the spending bill that passed the Senate, it would pass the House of Representatives. The reason the speaker won't call it is a bipartisan group of House members, both Democrats and Republicans, would reopen the government, and he knows it. This Tea Party strategy is a desperate strategy that is really hurting a lot of innocent people. And most importantly, it is endangering our economy when we need to create jobs and have business confidence.

BLITZER: Here's what Governor Chris Christie, the moderate Republican governor of New Jersey, said. I'm going to play this clip, and then we'll discuss.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: My approach would be as the executive is to call in the leaders of the Congress, the legislature, whatever you're dealing with, and say that we're not leaving this room until we fix this problem. Because I'm the boss, I'm in charge.


BLITZER: Here's the question, Senator. Why doesn't the president of the United States do that? Call the speaker, call Senate minority leader, call the Democratic leaders, bring them over to the White House, go to Camp David, and make sure that the U.S. government is not shut down?

DURBIN: I think that will probably happen. But I'll be honest with you, the president has seen this movie before and I have, too. The Tea Party Republicans have done this before, threatened to shut down the government. Wolf, they have gone so far as to threaten to default on America's debt for the first time in our history. The single, most irresponsible economic move any politician could make.

For the president to say we've got to put an end to this temper tantrum by the Tea Party Republicans once and for all, I stand with him. This is a great nation. We shouldn't be demeaned by these political tactics.

BLITZER: When you say the president is going to make that call and invite them to all get together, when do you think that's going to happen?

DURBIN: I think it will be soon. I don't have any special insight into it, but I would imagine it will be soon. And the president has made it clear he is not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling. He wants this government open. They're not doing him a favor by opening the government. They've got to get over the fact that he won the last election by five million votes! They still haven't accepted that political reality.

BLITZER: Senator Durbin, thanks very much for coming in.

DURBIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope this shutdown ends quickly.

In our next hour, Republican Congressman Raul Abrador will join us live to talk about the shutdown as well. We have some important questions for him. Tweet us, by the way, your suggested questions. Remember, use the hashtag #sitroom.

Just ahead, a terrifying incident on the streets of New York City. A motorcycle gang chases, catches and beats a motorist. You are going to want to see what happens. Stand by.


BLITZER: Much more news straight ahead, including a blunt warning to the world about Iran from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: When it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, here's my advice: distrust, dismantle and verify.



BLITZER: Let's get to some other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. International team tasked with overseeing the effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons has now arrived in Damascus. The inspectors will visit 50 chemical weapons production facilities, and they will plan how to destroy them. The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to require Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons or face consequences.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office says four people are dead after a business jet crashed at the Santa Monica, California airport. The small twin engine plane ran off the side of the runway after landing on Sunday and crashed into the hangar. The National Transportation Safety Board says there was no communication with the pilot to indicate mechanical failure.

And look at this video of a terrifying incident in New York. The NYPD says a man driving a Range Rover apparently crashed into a biker. So the gang of bikers retaliated by chasing him all the way into the city, where they cornered him and bashed in the driver's side window. Police say they also beat him. He was treated at a hospital. All this happened with his wife and young daughter in the car. Police say the man who smashed the window has turned himself in.

Coming up at the top of the hour, a SITUATION ROOM special report. Government shutdown. We're going to have the latest on the crisis as it unfolds.

But up next, fireworks at the United Nations today as Israel's prime minister speaks out about Iran.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.



BLITZER: Day one of the government shutdown and here's a list of just some of the places across the country that are now closed.

How is it affecting your life? Tweet us using the hash tag sitroom. Our coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: The United Nations and the White House may still be a bit more upbeat over the more moderate tone taken by Iran's new president raising hopes for ending a nuclear standoff. But Israel's prime minister isn't buying it. Benjamin Netanyahu made that very clear in his own address to the U.N. General Assembly today. And he also issued a very blunt warning.

Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Very tough words from Bibi Netanyahu.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. We said last night to expect fireworks from him. And he certainly delivered.

Today at the U.N. a war of words between Israel and Iran and the U.S., which stood in sharp contrast to the euphoria just a few days ago.


NETANYAHU: This is a bomb --

SCIUTTO (voice-over): He had none of the eye-catching props from last year.

NETANYAHU: A red line should be drawn right here.

SCIUTTO: Instead, the Israeli prime minister came equipped with a stream of stinging one-liners against Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and his charm offensive.

NETANYAHU: Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing. A wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes, the wool over the eyes of the international community. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons.

Any of you believe that? Rouhani thinks he can have his yellow cake and eat it, too.

SCIUTTO: Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded with a message that seemed intended as much for Washington as Tehran.

NETANYAHU: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.

SCIUTTO: The moment the speech ended, an Iranian diplomat fired back with some threatening words of his own.

KHODADAD SEIFI, IRANIAN DIPLOMAT: The Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran. Let alone planning for that.

SCIUTTO: The fiery exchange highlights the challenge the U.S. will face in bringing its closest ally in the region, Israel, on board with any potential agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It doesn't necessarily mean it's a deal made in heaven for the Israelis. But it seems to me either there'll be a deal that broadly meet both of those concerns or there will be no deal at all.


SCIUTTO: Iranian officials had some stinging one-liners of their own for President Obama. The Foreign Minister Javad Sharif reacting to the president's comments yesterday that only stiff sanctions have brought Iran to the table with this tweet, "President Obama's presumption that Iran is negotiating because of his illegal threats and sanctions is disrespectful of a nation, macho and wrong."

So not quite the historic phone call moment from last Friday. You can see from that kind war of words, not only between Israel and Iran, but also Iran and that U.S. now that still some serious disagreement to overcome.

BLITZER: Certainly are. Let's hope that they can, you know, resolve this in a peaceful way and that military force is not going to be necessary.

Appreciate it very much. Jim Sciutto reporting.

Coming up, the government shutdown. Our SITUATION special report. That begins right at the top of the hour.

Straight ahead, though, a different take on the shut down. Jeanne Moos is next.


BLITZER: Coming up, our special report on the shutdown. Republican Congressman Raul Labrador standing by to join us live. Tweet me your questions for him using the hashtag sitroom.


BLITZER: CNN's Jeanne Moos is singing the government shutdown blues.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Knock, knock. Who's in there? No one. Nonessential. The federal government is shut down and some won't shut up. Heckling GOP congressman holding an outdoor press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't get govern this country. You guys are worthless.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are fed up with you.

MOOS: Raised voices outside and inside the capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to stand for your country? Or do you want to take it down?

MOOS: The "New York Daily News" took Kevin Spacey's "House of Cards" promo and twisted it.

(On camera): Instead of off with his head, critics are putting House Speaker John Boehner's head where it doesn't belong.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That is such an inappropriate headline. How do they get away with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, inappropriate and inaccurate, right?

MOOS (voice-over): Amid the political wreckage, some joker replaced Miley Cyrus' head with Speaker Boehner's. Government entities like NASA's Voyager II put up notices saying, "Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves," said a space probe not alien to humor.

And then there was the National Zoo's panda cam. Instead of watching mom cuddle her new cub, instead of zooming in for a licking of love, the panda cam went to black. "TIME" magazine picked up the slack by live streaming a stuffed panda cam with a guy from the "Scream" alongside.

Of course not everyone was screaming about the shutdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened today?

MOOS (on camera): Yes, it happened today. I guess you're not impacted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not really.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course I am. I'm a human being.

MOOS (voice-over): Jimmy Kimmel's show hit the street to test whether folks know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And which plan do you support, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Affordable Care Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Obamacare is socialist?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the Affordable Care Act is socialist?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the Affordable Care Act is more affordable than Obamacare?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the name says it all.


MOOS (on camera): People are even tweeting their own solutions to the shutdown.

(Voice-over): "Has anyone just tried turning the government off, then back on again?" Jimmy Fallon's show tried half of that suggestion.


MOOS: Come on, Democrats and Republicans. Can't you all just put your heads together?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.