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GOP House Leaders Meeting with Obama; Debt Default: Slow Motion Catastrophe; Interview with Congressman Becerra, Congressman Yoho; Drunk Dialing Congress

Aired October 10, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: GOP freshman congressman, Ted Yoho, is vowing not to raise the nation's debt ceiling. He'll debate the Democratic Congressman, Xavier Becerra. That's just ahead this hour, as well.

And what does it really mean to default?

Why Democrats and Republicans may be using the term differently.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


You're looking at a live picture right now of the White House. That's the West Wing of the White House. Momentarily, we're expecting to see House Republican leaders emerge from a critical meeting they're now having with President Obama. They're hoping to sell the president on a new proposal to raise the nation's debt ceiling temporarily, for only a few weeks, and keep the country, though, from defaulting. It could potentially default one week from today.

Senate Democrats also met with the president just a little while ago.

So is this plan a glimmer?

Does it provide a glimmer of hope that the White House has been looking for 10 days now into this crisis?

Our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is up on Capitol Hill.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is over at the White House -- Dana, first to you.

What are you hearing about what the House Republicans, at this meeting with the president underway right now, including the speaker, John Boehner, what's the message they are trying to convey to the president?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I talked to several House Republican sources before heading over to the White House. And they told me first and foremost, they want to get a guarantee from president that he would actually support and ultimately sign what they want to pass, which is a short-term deal about six weeks to keep -- to raise the debt ceiling. And in that time, they would use the six weeks to negotiate on bigger questions about the debt and the deficit.

The reason why they want to get that guarantee is because they don't want to put this on the House floor as soon as tomorrow and have their Republican members, particularly conservatives who are not thrilled with this, what is effectively a clean bill, to do it for what one source called "recreational purposes" if it's not going to go anywhere.

The other goals, Wolf, I'm told, are to make sure the president agrees to this negotiation, long-term negotiation, to deal with the debt and deficit, and to appoint what are known as budget conferees or negotiators, to actually sit down and come up with a budget, which it's going to be hard to see the president not agreeing to that, since the Democrats have been asking for that for some time.

Listen to what the House speaker himself said about the goals earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you need in order to reopen the full government?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, that's the conversation we're going to have with the president today. And I don't want to put anything on the table and I don't want to take anything off the table. That's why we want to have this conversation.


BASH: He doesn't want to take anything off the table, Wolf. But obviously, one of the key questions that we don't know the answer to is how the government is going to reopen, because that is absolutely not part of this legislation.

What we are told from House Republican sources is that they would hope that the talks -- that they would agree to start talking almost immediately and that, of course, the first order of business would be what they could come up with to reopen the government, and maybe even get that done as soon as this weekend.

But you heard Harry Reid at the White House say just sort of -- you know, at the very end of a press conference there, after his meeting, that that's not going to happen, suggesting that they don't want to deal with the debt ceiling until they know that the government is going to reopen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, Dana, a live picture from the driveway just outside the West Wing of the White House. You see the Marine guard there. You see the microphones.

Once the meeting is over, the speaker and his other top Republican leaders in the House, they'll come to those microphones and tell us what, if anything, was accomplished. We'll, of course, have live coverage whenever they walk out. You'll see it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Dana, there are growing concerns, apparently, among a lot of Republicans up on the Hill, that with the government still shutdown, this immediate plan to delay -- to allow the debt ceiling to be raised, at least for six weeks, it doesn't necessarily address the government shutdown directly.

BASH: There are concerns. And, you know, we, of course, heard them from Democrats. I walked these halls after we got the details of the House Republican plan. And not surprisingly, a lot of House Democrats said, really, you think we're going to -- we're going to deal with the debt ceiling and not reopen the government?

You know, we'll do it if we have to. But what was maybe most surprising is how vocal the House Republicans' brethren in the Senate were about the fact that they want the government to be reopened. And we're talking about a wide range of Republicans, from McCain to John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, telling Ted Barrett he hopes that they deal with this.

And, you know, I'm hearing also from House Republicans, Wolf, that -- from sources that there is a lot -- growing concern about the polls and about the fact that they are really feeling the heat back home. Not all of them. Some of the conservatives aren't. But many moderates are. So there's going to be a lot -- a big push to get this government reopened, I think, even by Republicans soon.

BLITZER: Yes, the polls show the blame -- the American public is blaming everyone, but Republicans a bit more than Democrats right now.

All right, Dana, stand by.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is over at the White House.

What can you tell us about the meeting that's underway right now and what will the president -- what do we expect the president to be saying to John Boehner and the Republican House leaders right now?

JIM ACOSTA, HOST: Well, first of all, White House officials say the president is happy about this progress that's being made. He believes that cooler heads are starting to prevail.

But at this meeting with House Republicans, which is happening right now, the president is going to be saying two things. And that is to increase the debt ceiling and to reopen the government with no strings attached.

But, Wolf, as Dana was just explaining, the president may only get one of those things, and that is raising the nation's debt ceiling, at least for the time being.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that the president would sign a short-term debt ceiling increase. But he wants to see the bill first. That's very critical in the eyes of this White House.

And that raised a very big question that played out in the White House Briefing Room earlier this afternoon. And that is, will the president accept a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling, but at the same time, not have a bill that goes along with it that reopens the government?

It took a while, but here's how Carney answered the question.


ACOSTA: The president would, at the very least, sign that bill, even though you haven't seen it a clean debt ceiling bill to raise the nation's debt limit?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If a clean debt limit bill is passed, he would likely sign it. Again, we would have to see it. We have seen nothing. We haven't seen a bill yet. We haven't seen what the House -- what the speaker is going to put forward. Again, we -- you're asking me hypothetical...

ACOSTA: I'm asking you how (INAUDIBLE)...

CARNEY: Again, we would have to see it. We're speaking of a bill that does not, at this point, exist.

Again, since we've seen nothing from the Republicans yet, beyond a very brief press conference, we don't know what they're actually going to propose.


ACOSTA: So at the end of all that, Wolf, the answer was eventually, yes, the president would sign a bill to increase the nation's debt ceiling, even though there would not be a separate bill along with it that reopens the government. That's an indication of two things, Wolf.

One is that there is absolutely -- or almost no trust right now between the White House and House Republicans. And the other thing I think, and as Dana was mentioning, this is starting to become clearer and clearer as the minutes and hours go by, that the debt ceiling might get raised, default might be averted, but the government might still be closed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So we're just waiting to see what happens.

We'll have live coverage as soon as they emerge from the White House over there. We'll hear what the speaker has to say.

Jim Acosta at the White House, don't go too far away. Much more coming up.

The breaking news we're following, we anticipate to hear from the speaker fairly soon, we're told. As soon as he walks to those microphones, we'll have live coverage.

So when we come back, what does all this really mean as far as default is concerned?

You might get different answers depending on whom you ask. We're breaking it all down. That's coming up next. Plus, he's one of the most outspoken debt ceiling deniers, as they're called, in the House of representatives. The GOP freshman Congressman, he's vowing not to raise the debt ceiling. He'll debate the Democratic Congressman, Xavier Becerra. That will happen here within a few moments.

By the way, Tweet us your suggested questions for both of them. Don't forget to use the hash tag sitroom.


BLITZER: Most economists agree a government debt default could be catastrophic. It could also be a slow motion catastrophe, with the effects playing out over days or weeks.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here taking a closer look at all of this for us -- Tom, explain to our viewers how this potentially could unfold.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, much of the confusion over a government default lies in the term itself and the way it is being used by Republicans and Democrats.

So let's put the government checkbook next to the calendar and break it down.

The Treasury Department says on October 17th, the government will no longer have enough maneuvering room to cover all of its bills without borrowing more money to pay for the things to which we have already committed ourselves -- interest we owe on money we have borrowed, Social Security, veterans benefits, food stamps, all these things over here in our checkbook. Democrats say we must pay all of this in full. So let me mark this as blue. They say you have to pay all of that in full. All of these checks have to go out on time or the nation is in default and many bad things may follow. That's more or less their definition of it.

Republicans, however, are essentially saying -- at least some of them are saying no, only this top one, the interest must be paid in full to avoid default. Imagine that this is the mortgage on your house. You must pay it, but these other checks are for electricity, water, gas, that sort of thing. Yes, you owe it. They should be on time. But they can be a little late without the sky falling.

So you see the difference here, Wolf. For the Democrats, they're basically saying there is a deadline coming up soon. You have to cover everything. If not, that's default.

Republicans say there is a deadline coming up at some point, but you only have to pay part of it. And that's a really substantial difference -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But, Tom, isn't this a matter of semantics?

Isn't the danger very real no matter which definition you choose?

FOREMAN: Yes, most analysts say yes. Even if they buy this Republican argument that the Democrats are making too much of the October 17th deadline, that maybe you can slide this down and go to any number of different dates, they say even if you can do that, real consequences will follow if, at some point, we pass this point of no return, whether or not it's technically a default or not.

First, tens of millions of Americans would not get government assistance, checks that they expect. Or those checks might be smaller than usual -- senior citizens, poor folks, government workers, students, many people who depend on that money week in and week out.

Second, the stock market could go into a freefall in the face of this sudden and dramatic weakening of consumer buying power and all of the related financial uncertainty.

And third, once again, we're back to this issue of credit. Those who loan money to America to run the government could pull back substantially, leaving the country not only largely broke, but also unable to borrow at any reasonable rate.

And you are correct, Wolf, there is a wide agreement that many of these things will happen even if we get too close to a default, whether or not we technically cross the line, depending on any definition.

BLITZER: Yes. You don't even want to get close to checking to see if that's going to cause the disaster that so many people are suggesting it will cause. All right. Thanks very much, Tom Foreman, for that.

Meanwhile, they're meeting inside the White House right now. The House Republican leadership, including the Speaker John Boehner, they're meeting with the president. We're waiting for them to emerge and tell us deal or no deal. A lot depending on this.

You're looking outside the west wing of the White House underneath the cover over there. It's raining outside, so they'll be protected when Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor and the others emerge.


BLITZER: So, even if a deal to raise the debt ceiling temporarily is reached, won't that just prolong the uncertainty in the global economy? Let's discuss what's going on with CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and Diane Swonk. She's visiting Washington. She's the chief economist for Mesereau Financial. Guys, thanks very much.

Let's say they work it out, a six-week extension raising the debt ceiling for six weeks until November 22nd, just before Thanksgiving. Is that going to calm everybody down?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MESIROW FINANCIAL: Temporarily, and then we'll find out what they do on November 22nd. Haven't we sort of done this dance before? I mean, you can tell me, right? You're the political -- I spend more time with my political strategist friends now than I do my economist friends and my policy maker friends because they can't make policy when there's the government shut down. I mean, this is just ridiculous.

BLITZER: This is by no means, Gloria, a done deal --


BLITZER: -- despite the optimism, the markets reacting about 300 points today.

BORGER: You know, we set the bar low for being optimistic, because actually, they're starting to look each other in the face, right, and there are some proposals, but honestly, Wolf, if you report this out today what we're finding out is that Senate Republicans are not exactly happy with this.

They're looking for a way to try and reopen the government rather than just raise the debt ceiling and leave the government closed, and Democrats in both chambers are not happy, because they don't want any negotiations to start until the government is reopened. They're all sort of thinking why would you do one of those things and not do the other.

SWONK: Well, you know, the part I see that's really hard is that -- that Wall Street has turned to Washington, then also they listen when it finally gets loud enough, and then they back off again and they get, you know, jubilant. And it's almost like their manic or something. And I watch it and I'm like, hey guys, in financial markets, the costs are accumulating already.

Coming in talking to the cab drivers, the people that aren't going to restaurants, and it's different than 1995 and 1996. The collateral damage to the economy of just this two-week shutdown is already about a half percent with the direct cost off a GDP. That takes it down to less than two percent growth. I mean, this is pitiful.

BORGER: And not to mention the cost of the government itself.

SWONK: Absolutely. I mean, this is just ridiculous. You're losing productivity.

BORGER: Right.

SWONK: You're losing -- everything is getting backlogged.

BORGER: We're going to pay people not to work.

BLITZER: You talk to these people all the time, big investors, Wall Street, big business CEOs and all of that who say, you know what, it's not such a big deal. You come to next week and there's no increase in the debt ceiling. The U.S. and the American people can live with that?

SWONK: Nobody said that about the debt ceiling, but I will say, you know, these sort of, you know, crying wolf, hate to say that, Wolf, sorry about that, but Washington has been down this road before and they come to the end and they actually figure out something in the 11th hour. That's what most people are expecting. That said, a lot of businesses I know, that's what investors are doing.

A lot of businesses I know are holding back right now and you see a real quiet before, you know, the storm, and the quiet could be very bad before the storm if they end up firing instead of hiring during the critical holiday season, holiday shopping season. I also think it's really important to understand this sort of -- the collateral damage and collective damage we've seen.

We're not doing trade negotiations. We don't have immigration policy. All this is hurting our international competitiveness. The first trade delays on trade talks for 2011 debt ceiling debacle --

BLITZER: Usually, Gloria, that big business community, Wall Street, they have -- normally, their constituent, that's the constituency of the big republican leadership out there. You'd think they'd have some more influence.

BORGER: Well, right, but they're not getting their calls returned and that's because a lot of Republicans actually agree with them, but there is a group of Republicans in the House that's been very vocal, very important. I call them the hell no caucus in this particular fight, and they don't really care about Wall Street.

So, they can have all the influence they want with the leadership, but not with, you know, not with that rank and file and apparently, not with Ted Cruz, who by the way is going to run for president, so one would assume he would need some republican money.

BLITZER: Normal constituency.

SWONK: And Wall Street, as we learned from 2008. I know -- I understand. I'm an economist. I work in the Midwest, but I understand that people don't understand the link between Main Street and Wall Street, but nobody understands it after 2008. We're here because that link is inextricable.

BORGER: But it's not Wall Street that's going to get them -- this to get done. It's going to be their poll numbers, honestly, which are plummeting so dramatically, and Republican polls have dropped ten points in the last month. So, that's what's going to finally, hopefully, get this done.

BLITZER: Gloria, as usual, thanks very much. Diane, good to have you here in Washington. Welcome from Chicago. I know you're here for the IMF meetings.

SWONK: Yes. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll have you back.

Up next, two congressmen, one Democrat, one Republican, they will debate raising the debt ceiling, this government shutdown. Tweet us your suggested questions, by the way. You still can, use the #sitroom.

We're also standing by to hear from the House Republican leadership, including the Speaker John Boehner. They're meeting inside the west wing of the White House right now with president Obama. You see the microphones. You see the driveway there of the west wing. They'll be walking out soon. We'll have live coverage. Will there be a deal or no deal?


BLITZER: The government shutdown part of a testy exchange in a debate between the New Jersey senate candidates. Listen to the Newark mayor, Cory Booker, the Democratic nominee and his rival, the Republican, Steve Lonegan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we want to send more Tea Party people down there who are so obsessed with Obamacare that they want to shut down the entire government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that your consultants, your strategists, and your acting coaches tell you to use the word Tea Party as much as possible. There are thousands of people across the United States of America who aren't going to donate $10 to this campaign.


BLITZER: Cory Booker's campaign reports his father, Cary Booker (ph), has died at 76 following a stroke. More news, including a debate between two congressmen, a liberal Democratic, conservative Republican on the government shutdown when we come back.


BLITZER: Urgent new warnings today from leading financial voices on what could happen if the debt ceiling isn't raised next week. Here's what the treasury secretary, Jack Lew, and the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde had to say today.


JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: The systems are automated to pay because for 224 years, the policy of Congress and every president has been we pay our bills. You cannot go into those systems and easily make them pay some things and not other things. They weren't designed that way because it was never the policy of this government to be in the position that we would have to be in if we couldn't pay all our bills.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR: Failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause serious damage to the U.S. economy but also to the global economy as a result of this spillover effect.


BLITZER: Let's discuss with two members of Congress, Xavier Becerra is a Democrat from California, he's chairman of the House Democratic caucus. Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida, also happens to be a veterinarian. First time here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Thanks, gentlemen, to both of you for joining us.

And Congressman Yoho, let me begin with you as there was an article that jumped out at all of us in the "Washington Post" the other day that said, and it quoted you as saying this. I want to make sure that they quoted you accurately.

"You're seeing the tremor before the tsunami here. I'm not going to raise the debt ceiling." And then you went on to say, "I think personally it would bring stability to the world markets if the debt ceiling were not raised."

I want you to -- first of all tell us if those quotes were accurate and what you meant.

REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: Yes. Those quotes are accurate. And I appreciate you having me on, Wolf.

Not raising the debt ceiling does not automatically trigger a default. And what I meant by that article there was, you know, I feel like Groundhog Day, it's this kind of like that debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Jimmy, there you go again. I mean, we're doing the same things we've done for the last 15 years.

We have raised the debt ceiling 14 times since 2001 and if raising the debt ceiling was the answer, we wouldn't be here today. So what I meant by that -- by that statement was this. If we as a nation, as legislators, address this condition of overspending and if we address that and we say to the rest of the world, to our financial markets, to the rest of the world market, say listen, we've got a spending problem, we realize it, we get it, we're going to address this, and we're going to get this under control, I think the rest of the market would breathe or a sigh of relief.

Just in the fact that we're addressing that and saying we've got a spending problem and we're going to get it under control this time so we don't kick the can down the road again and again and again.

BLITZER: All right. So just to be precise, Congressman Yoho, you're not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling under any condition, is that right?

YOHO: No, I never said that.

BLITZER: Well, I'm asking.

YOHO: All right. Again, raising the debt ceiling does not automatically trigger a default. A default is when you can't service your debt. We've got enough money coming in right now, our government is bringing in between $200 billion to $250 billion a month. The service on our debt is between $25 billion to $30 billion a month.

We've got plenty of money to service that, and then we've got money to pay Social Security, veterans' benefits and the things on. We have deficit spending for the last five years or longer than that. And the thing is, we're in better shape today than we were in 2011.

You know, back then, we had $1.2 trillion in deficit spending. We're at $700 billion. This is the time to stand up and say we're going in the right direction.

BLITZER: All right.

YOHO: Why in the heck would we want to go backwards?

BLITZER: We've got deficit spending actually going back to 2000, to the end of the Bill Clinton administration, the start of the George W. Bush administration. But go ahead and respond, Congressman Becerra, to what you just heard.

REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: It's tough to respond, Wolf, because that's why we're in this situation. We have very hard-core group of members who believe contrary to all the evidence, contrary to all the experts, that if you just go ahead and stop paying for your past bills, that it's OK. That is playing with fire and it's unfortunate because those who believe they can play with fire here in Congress don't recognize that the folks who are going to get burned aren't the folks in Congress.

We make a pretty good wage. It's every American family that has to pay their bills day to day, month to month. They're the ones that are looking at us and saying, wait a minute, I pay my bills because I know if I'm going to keep my mortgage or keep my car, I've got to pay my bills.

All of a sudden, Congress is saying to the world, the American government is going to stop paying for its bills, for the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, for our troops that are out there today, for all the services that we provide to our seniors, to our veterans.

That's why we are where we are. We are watching this family feud among Republicans, between the right and the far right, about what to do and it's hurting Americans.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman Yoho, explain what you meant by this quote that we read the other day, too, because it's directly related. "Someone needs to convince me why we need to raise the debt ceiling."

You don't understand why for 50 years or whatever it's been, the U.S. has been forced to raise that debt ceiling every year or two?

YOHO: No, I want to respond to what Congressman Becerra because it ties right into this.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

YOHO: I mean, we're where we're at today because we haven't addressed these problems. Nobody says we're going to default. Nobody has said that we're not going to pay our bills. You know, constitutionally, we cannot default. So we're going to pay the bills, we're going to pay our veterans, we're going to pay that, so to say that is being disingenuous. BLITZER: All right. Let's let Congressman Becerra respond. Go ahead.

BECERRA: Wolf, the reason you have to have a debt limit increase is because we are right now recovering from a very deep recession and if -- if the Republicans didn't want our troops to have the uniforms that they need, to have the equipment they need to protect themselves, then they shouldn't have voted last year for a budget that provided them that.

If they didn't want for veterans to get the services they need after they have come home and left the service, they shouldn't have voted for the budget that provided for that. But today, we're trying to make sure that we cover those past obligations. This isn't anything about future obligations.

All of us are ready to sit down and negotiate what do we do to make sure in the future we have a more fiscally responsible budget, but to start to tell our veterans and our seniors on Social Security and our troops in Afghanistan today that we are going to stop paying last month's bills because Republicans are trying to make a point about the future, is crazy.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Congressman Yoho.

YOHO: No, he's off base. Nobody is saying we're not going to pay our bills. Again, that's why we have a $700 billion deficit, because we spent. What we're saying is we're going to honor those obligations that we have and any debt ceiling increase would have to be to pay that deficit spending, but not spend on new spending or new programs.

I mean, that would be ridiculous, especially when you look at we're at $17 trillion in debt and if you add just what we're going to add to Social Security with 10,000 baby boomers -- retiring a day, that's going to add over $1 trillion within nine years to our debt. And we've got to address this problem and say, you know what, we get it, this is a time we've got to make some hard choices and people that have been in Congress for a long time, the career politicians, either led us to where we are at or they failed to prevent it because they're --

BLITZER: All right.

YOHO: They are not willing to stand up and address these hard issues.

BLITZER: Let me -- let me ask you both a question that they're talking about in the White House right now. This six-week limited extension until November 22nd.

First to you, Congressman Becerra, are you open to -- to raising the nation's debt ceiling for six weeks, until November 22nd, but the government would still remain shut down, and -- but negotiations presumably would continue?

BECERRA: Again, it's crazy the way we're trying to run the government. Let's put it this way. YOHO: I agree.

BECERRA: Not the smallest business on main street would run this way on a six-week basis. Why should the largest economy be run this way? This is like a banana republic that we see Republicans treating the American government the way banana republics were run.

But to the point that Mr. Yoho made, don't believe me that by not allowing us to move forward and pay our past bills is going to be a problem. Talk to your own Republican colleagues who are saying to so many Republicans, stop doing this to the economy, let's move forward, and so what Democrats are saying is Republicans are meeting today with the president is let's stop this posturing, let us have a vote.

We know that today there exists Republicans and Democrats alike that as a majority in the House would pass a clean vote to not only move forward on paying our past bills, but also on reopening the government so Americans can get back to work.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman Yoho, if the speaker allows that vote to come up, a six-week extension, raise the debt ceiling for six weeks, in the meantime talks will continue, will you vote yay or nay?

YOHO: I'd have to look and see what else is in that. I can't answer that until I see what's in that. But again, hitting a debt ceiling is not an automatic trigger to raise -- or to a default. If we can service our debt without borrowing money, why don't we just go until we have to borrow the money. To borrow money in this government with people that have been here since 1993, what you're looking at is giving an open credit card to people --


BECERRA: That's a pay China first policy. You're going to pay China first before you pay Social Security recipients, you're going to pay China first --

YOHO: No, sir. No --

BECERRA: -- before you pay our veterans for their services that they need, that they earned.

YOHO: Absolutely not. We're going to --

BECERRA: Sure you are. Our creditors are folks like China and Japan and --

YOHO: They are.

BECERRA: -- you're not going to put Social Security recipients and our veterans before them because you say pay our creditors first.

YOHO: No, absolutely not. We've got the money coming in to pay that. And you know that. You're being disingenuous to tell the American people that we're not going to pay Social Security or our veterans. The federal government -- BECERRA: They don't have enough dollars in the bank account right now to pay China, Japan, all those creditors, along with our Social Security recipients, veterans, and keep all the services moving.

YOHO: Again --

BECERRA: So you would have to prioritize which is what many Republicans are talking about, and many Republicans are talking about prioritizing those creditors before Social Security recipients and veterans.

YOHO: Absolutely.

BECERRA: And we're saying let's just move forward and rather than hold hostage veterans and seniors and our kids, let's move forward together and deal with future obligations, but let's not --

YOHO: That's one of those --

BECERRA: Let's not default on our previous obligations --

BLITZER: All right.

BECERRA: -- Republicans and Democrats voted for.

YOHO: And we're not -- we are not going to default. And that's one of those words I hear a lot coming out from one side.

BECERRA: Just give us a vote. Ted, just give us a vote.

YOHO: I'm --

BECERRA: Just give us the vote.


YOHO: We're not --

BECERRA: Why not just give us a vote? Why not put America back to work?

YOHO: Because you're --


You want to have this conversation by yourself or you want to engage here?

BECERRA: Well, let's just have a vote. Why don't we put a bill on the floor that takes away all the mud and lets us have a clean vote on reopening our government and putting 800,000 Americans back to work, and allowing the economy to move forward?

BLITZER: All right. Very quickly, because we've got to wrap it up.

YOHO: Again, if you go back to the Department of Defense bill that was authorized that people shouldn't have been laid off, so you need to talk to the Senate and the administration why they laid those people off.

BLITZER: All right.

YOHO: But again --


YOHO: We've got enough money coming in to where we don't have to borrow money at this point in time. And when we hit that point, I would be willing for that moment to raise the debt ceiling to cover that obligation. And we are going to pay Social Security. We are going to pay veterans. And for the other side to say we're not going to, that's a scare tactic and that's not right for the American people.

BECERRA: Wolf, we know --

BLITZER: Congressmen -- all right, Congressmen --

BECERRA: Democrats to get this done.

BLITZER: All right.

BECERRA: So we could have a clean vote today.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens in this meeting that's going on in the White House with the speaker and the president and other Republican leaders right now. Maybe there will be a deal. Maybe there won't be a deal. But let's see what happens.

Congressman Ted Yoho, thanks very much. Xavier Becerra, thanks to you as well.

YOHO: Thank you, sir.

BECERRA: Thank you. Thank you, Ted.

BLITZER: All right. Once again, we're standing by to see what they say when they emerge. We expect the speaker to be emerging from the White House momentarily. There you see the microphones. We'll have live coverage.

Also, a closer look at some of the online glitches plaguing Obamacare right now. Here's a question. Is there a real cybersecurity threat? Stay with us.


BLITZER: Possible breakthrough in treating Alzheimer's disease. British researchers say they developed a drug that stops the disease in lab mice and also protects brain cells, restores some normal behaviors while preventing memory loss.

More news right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: House Speaker John Boehner is meeting with President Obama inside the West Wing of the White House right now. We expect Boehner to emerge momentarily. Stand by. Deal or no deal. We'll find out very soon.

Other news we're following. Libya's prime minister is appealing for calm after he was taken by gunmen and held for hours before being released.

Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson. He's got the very latest from Tripoli, Libya.

What happened, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About 2:30, 3:00 in the morning, Wolf, about 100 militiamen armed, heavily armed militiamen burst into the hotel -- luxury hotel in the center of Tripoli where the prime minister was living. Other government ministers live there, too.

I had been in the hotel, met with the prime minister just hours before. The militiamen forced him out, took him to what they called a jail in the city, accused him of breaking the law of undermining the interests of the nation.

This stems from essentially them accusing him of siding with the United States in the arrest of Abu Anas al-Libi, the Libyan man connected with al Qaeda, believed to have been -- partly responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And it was on this basis they held him. The justice minister said absolute rubbish, he hasn't broken the law. This is a kidnapping.

And by the end of the morning, by midday, the prime minister was released. Why? Because the militiamen that took him were in the minority. The vast majority of people here, while not necessarily supporting the prime minister, were against what happened. But this undermines the weakness of the government and really indicates how powerful the militias here are. They're not loyal to the government. They are loyal to their own commanders -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Looks like Libya could be falling apart even as we speak right now. We'll stay in close touch.

Nic Robertson, in Tripoli, thanks very much.

Let's take a closer look at some of the top stories we're following here in the SITUATION ROOM. Police have taken the former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf back into custody and placed him under house arrest. He's charged in connection with the 2007 government raid on a mosque where militants were holed up. More than 50 people were killed, including a Muslim cleric.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is tightening his grip on power and control of the country's massive military. State media reported he'd ousted a hard line general as head of the military and put his pick in place. It's the latest in a series of high-level changes in the North Korean military and the government. Kim Jong-Un has replaced dozens of top officials since taking power.

A 28-year prison sentence for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He was convicted in March of two dozen federal charges, including racketeering, extortion and filing of false tax returns. He apologized for the crimes before his sentencing.

A report by Ohio prison officials says two guards assigned to watch Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro didn't do their required rounds on time and apparently falsified their logbook. Castro was serving a life sentence for holding three women captive in his home for a decade when he was found hanged from a bed sheet in his cell. Investigators now say he may have died accidentally while choking himself for a sexual thrill.

Crews have recovered the body of a winged suit flyer who crashed in front of horrified onlookers in a remote valley in northwest China. A Hungarian daredevil was on a practice flight Tuesday ahead of an international competition. Investigators suspect his parachute may have failed to deploy.

Coming up, food producers impacted by the government shutdown. Some say it may put them out of business.

Plus my interview with the independent senator, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He's here to talk about Obamacare, the debt ceiling showdown, raising the nation's debt ceiling limit.

Tweet us your questions, using the #sitroom.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hotshots."

In Scotland, cranes are used to construct sculptures of horse heads. In Nepal a man prepares for a religious festival. In Taiwan students celebrate National Day. And in New York the latest work from a street artist is seen through a chain link fence.

"Hotshots," pictures coming in from around the world.

We're standing by for the speaker of the House, John Boehner. He's meeting with President Obama inside the West Wing of the White House right now. This is a critically important meeting.

Will there be a deal to avert the -- to end the government shutdown, to raise the nation's debt ceilings or no deal? We should know momentarily. We'll have live coverage coming up right here in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're watching that stakeout over at the White House. GOP leaders getting ready to emerge for their meeting with the president of the United States.

As we await, we anticipate to hear from them, maybe even the speaker of the House, John Boehner.

Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

Usually when they come out, if there's good news, we hear right away. Sometimes they want to go back to the Hill to speak.

Dana, are you hearing anything at all from what may be going on inside the West Wing of the White House?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I haven't. We're told that this meeting was supposed to begin at 4:35, kind of an odd time, but 4:35 and end at 5:35. And before the meeting began, we were told by House Republican leadership sources that they did plan to have the leaders come out to the microphones that we're looking at there at the White House and give us a read on what happened.

But as you well know from covering these things for so many years, Wolf, sometimes the best-laid plans don't end up happening, particularly if a meeting doesn't go the way a certain side wants it. So we're waiting to see exactly what happens. Of course, this is -- of all meetings that have gone on, probably the most critical that we have seen in weeks because this is generally what the House speaker has been calling for every day, multiple times a day, a conversation with the president.

And it comes, of course, as House Republicans have offered a bit of an olive branch, saying that they will pass, at least short term, a bill to increase the debt ceiling, with some strings, but not the kind of strings that many conservatives wanted to put out there.

So my understanding was the first thing that they were hoping to get from the president in this meeting was a confirmation that he would support this, and then, of course, the whole issue is whether or not they -- and how they're going to open the government following that, and whether or not the president would even great to support this debt ceiling increase without a promise first to open the government. So we'll see exactly what happens. But this is a very, very important meetings.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a critical moment indeed. We'll have live coverage. Stand by.

Meanwhile. there's an unusual way to vent frustration with lawmakers.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're mad at Congress, you could hold a sign, maybe one saying, "Congress, beware, when we're screwed we multiply."

Or you could try this -- (On camera): Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Is this government shutdown making you want to drink?

MOOS (voice-over): It's a free service at the Web site

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let me tell you, when I drink, I like to tell people what's on my mind.

MOOS: You enter your number at the Web site. In a couple of seconds, the recorded drunk dialer calls you back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to forward you to a member of the House of Representatives.

MOOS: Your call is then forwarded to a randomly chosen member of the House, and you can give them a piece of your mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning. Representative Sutherland's office.

MOOS (on camera): Hi. I'm wondering, I'm calling from CNN. Have you guys been getting a bunch of weird calls?

(Voice-over): The Florida Republican's office had no comment on drunkdialcongress. It was set up, they say, for fun by a digital tech company founded by a former Obama campaign staffer.

(On camera): And you're not going to make money off this, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're actually going to lose money off of it.

MOOS (voice-over): On Thursday afternoon the Web site apparently needed a drink. For a while it stopped working, overwhelmed, just like Obamacare.

If House Speaker John Boehner was overwhelmed, he wasn't showing it. Listen to how he answered a hypothetical question containing an if.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.

MOOS (on camera): It turns out this is one of the speaker's favorite "deflect the question" rhymes.

(Voice-over): Here he is using it twice in different years.

BOEHNER: If ands and buts were candy and nuts -- if that were the case every day would be Christmas.

MOOS: The joys of watching Anthony Weiner argue the shutdown on FOX.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS' "SEAN HANNITY": I'm the host, you're the guest. ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: I get a new question. What am I? A potted plant? Why do you always have patsies on? FOX apparently has much lower standards. I must have a job on FOX.

HANNITY: Ouch. Want me to talk about low standards? You really want to go there?

WEINER: I'll go wherever you want.

MOOS: And look how low Florida Democrat Alan Grayson went, citing an actual Public Policy Polling survey.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: What do you have a higher opinion of, Americans? Congress or toenail fungus? Congress, 41 percent, toenail fungus, 44 percent.

MOOS: Well, the two do have something in common.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is difficult to treat.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure makes me want to drink.

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Happening now, a SITUATION ROOM special report, government shutdown. We're waiting for House Republican leaders to leave the White House, tell us if the president is open to their new offer, a possible step away from the brink of a debt disaster one week from today.

Plus even beer is being affected by the partial government shutdown. You're going to find out why you won't be able to taste some new brews anytime soon.

And we're drilling the point man for the rollout of the Obamacare Web site about the system's big problems. Some high costs as well.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in the SITUATION ROOM.