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House to Vote on GOP Health Care Bill; Prince Philip Retires from Public Life; Interview with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 4, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's billed as a win. But for who?
Let's get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Let's be optimistic about (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are disgusted with this bill that you are bringing before the House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has made very clear that he's going to make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It is a joke. It's a very sad, deadly joke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speak (ph) would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody agrees in one way or another it impacted the election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan Rice declined the Senate's request to testify.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know why she won't before the committee. But we'll deal with her later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president said he was going to build a wall and he's doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are those voters for fences or walls?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, May 4th, 8 o'clock here in New York.
Up first: House Republicans may give President Trump a much needed legislative victory. In just hours, the House is set to vote on a revamped GOP health care bill.
CUOMO: We will take you through the changes made to address the preexisting conditions and far they actually go in doing that. We will discuss why lawmakers are voting without knowing the latest cost and impact of this, what's called the CBO score.
If the bill passes today, that's only one step.
What is going to happen in the Senate?
Let's begin our coverage. We've got CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House.
What is the state of play?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, the House leadership scheduling this vote signals they believe they have enough support to push it through for the White House.
It would certainly just be a defining moment, that first legislative step toward fulfilling a key promise the president made on the campaign trail, also a defining moment for House Republicans, who have been trying to do this now for seven years.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to President Trump's leadership, Congress is going to vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
JOHNS (voice-over): The crucial House vote on the GOP's amended health care bill just hours away, after a last-minute breakthrough gave House leadership confidence to bring a vote to the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pass it. We're going to pass it. Let's be optimistic about life.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump brokering a deal with two Republican hold-outs on pre-existing conditions, a popular provision that is not guaranteed in the Republican bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were both yeses on the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I support the bill with this amendment that's going to be included.
JOHNS (voice-over): The amendment adds $8 billion over five years to an existing $130 billion fund to finance high-risk pools in states where patients with pre-existing conditions could be charged higher rates.
Though experts say the new funding falls far short of the protections guaranteed under ObamaCare, the White House insisting otherwise.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Talking about the pre- existing condition under Trumpcare, they're going to be fine? SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: Yes.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASS.: On behalf of Democrats, we are disgusted. This latest backroom deal is nothing more than a Band-aid on a catastrophic injury.
PELOSI: They had made it -- put this forth to make it look like, oh, we've improved the bill. No, it doesn't improve the bill. This is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
JOHNS (voice-over): Democrats denouncing the vote without an updated cost and impact analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's last estimate projected 24 million people losing coverage by 2026 under the last GOP bill.
Prominent groups like AARP and the American Medical Association also fiercely lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill. Republicans looking for a win after failing to secure funding for the president's border wall and the spending bill passed by the White House on Wednesday.
Despite this, White House trying to spin the appropriations bill as a win. Press secretary Sean Spicer bringing images of a border fence already under construction as evidence that funding was secured, even though the bill expressly restricts border security money being used to construct a wall.
SPICER: There are various types of walls that can be built. Under the legislation that was just passed, it allows us to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's not a wall. It's a levee wall?
SPICER: That's what it's actually called. That's the name of it. It is called --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the fencing --
SPICER: No, no.
JOHNS: One more note on today's health care vote, whatever gets through the House, if it gets through the House, is likely to be dramatically rewritten in the United States Senate. The president, for his part, is expected to stay in town through that vote.
Then he's going to fly off to New York City, where he really hasn't visited since he was sworn in in a meeting with the Australian prime minister -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Thank you very much.
Joining us now CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza: CNN political analyst, April Ryan --
CUOMO: -- and chief White House correspondent for the Associated Press, Julie Pace. So is this as naked a political play as it appears, that this is just
about getting a nominal W and don't worry about what this does to pre- existing conditions, how many poor people it kicks off the rolls in a few years, the Senate will fix it?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNNPOLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Right. Got -- yes, more or less. And, look, when the Affordable Care Act moved through the House, there was a lot -- remember, we didn't even read it. We'll read it after we vote on it, that famous Nancy Pelosi quote.
Look, the reality is, breaking news, it is hard to overhaul the nation's health care system. It is complex. Things that look easy are harder when you go into it. And it touches everyone. Politically speaking, this isn't Dodd-Frank, where people -- big banks and, people understand that. This is something you go to your health care provider, you cluster more (ph), you can't afford it.
So it's complex; it's difficult. I think they are making a calculation between a poor choice and what they believe to be a choice that is -- they cannot take. So the poor choice is, let's pass this. We don't have a CBO score. The Senate is very likely to change it. It may not even make it to conference committee. If it does, we're going to have to vote on it again.
And the unfathomable choice, which is we promised our base for six and a half, seven years that we would do this if we had power. We already swung and missed once. There is only two strikes and you're out in this game.
We swing and miss again, the base will say, why did we vote for you guys again?
Because that was the central piece of the Republican message for virtually the entire Obama presidency.
CAMEROTA: So Julie, I mean, but we all remember that just a couple weeks ago this was a dead duck.
So what was the magic potion that got -- revived this again?
JULIE PACE, AP: Well, I think part of it is that you saw the president really change his tune on this after the first bill never even made it to the floor, the president who was the one who was basically saying, OK, we're done. Let's move on. Let's go to tax reform.
And then I think he realized what a failure this would be for the Republican Party, just in terms of their political messaging, to say that they now have power and can't even deliver on a central promise.
So you really saw the White House going back to the Hill and saying, hey, let's take another shot at this.
In terms of the actual mechanics of the bill and what they're changing to get this over the finish line, it is some small tweaks here and there. You heard the $8 billion added to the funds for pre-existing conditions. That seems to have been enough.
CAMEROTA: -- amendment is what you think swayed some people.
PACE: It did seem to sway some people. Whether that actually impacts the people who have pre-existing conditions and allows them to keep the level of coverage they have is an open question at this point, in part, because we don't have a CBO score. And I think that's a big risk for Republicans.
There will be a CBO score at some point but presumably they will already have put down their marker on this bill by that point.
CUOMO: Well, April Ryan, one thing that they succeeded at is they shifted the analysis of this bill off the poor. You're not hearing about the Medicaid part. You're hearing about the pre-existing condition part -- now sometimes there is overlap there. But I don't -- have you heard anybody say, yes, we have these high-risk pools properly funded now?
This is good; the $8 billion got us where we need to be. I haven't heard that from anyone.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But no, but that $8 piece in these last few days, last few hours, is really the key for the most vulnerable. As Julie said, there is no CBO score yet and that was the big problem a couple of weeks ago with the first issue with the Trumpcare piece.
But now what you have is this $8 billion, no CBO score. They're trying to say there is a safety net for the most vulnerable. There is a large portion of this nation that has pre-existing conditions.
And they look to insurance as assurance and people are really scared, Chris.
And my question is, what's going to happen when these congressional leaders go on recess this week and then we find out over these 11 days, what happens, what the community, what the public will say?
And senators will be listening. The most vulnerable really is in this piece. This is what this was made for, the safety net, this $8 billion safety net when you still don't know the total cost. So I believe that the most vulnerable are included.
CAMEROTA: So is this a little exercise in futility -- Chris?
CILLIZZA: Not futility because I do think -- look, it is possible that the Senate doesn't ever vote on it. It happened to Democrats in 2009; they passed -- House passed a cap-and-trade bill. They leaned on a lot of their swing members to do it.
The Senate never took it up because Senate Democrats, Mary Landrieu and others, said we don't want to vote on this. This is bad politics. I think that that will not happen because, again, it was so central to
what they messaged on for seven years. I think they will have to find a way to vote on it.
Chris mentioned Medicaid. I think the preexisting conditions, getting rid of the preexisting conditions will be an issue for a lot of moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, others.
I think the Medicaid -- the ending --
CILLIZZA: -- freezing Medicaid expansion funds in 2020 may be a bigger issue. Remember Ohio, Rob Portman, is a state that took Medicaid took expansion money. If people who are on that said, OK, sorry, that's it, that's a big problem. We haven't heard much about that.
My guess is let's say they pass it today. In two weeks, when the Senate is talking about it, I bet we're talking about the Medicaid expansion freeze maybe even more than the pre-existing conditions mandate.
CUOMO: Well, Julie, what is your take on that?
Obviously, they keep it the way it is for a couple of years for political cover. But we have heard consistently from lawmakers, they throw a lot of alphabet soup at you about the different ways that governors can ask for the money -- block grant, specific to funding, all for (ph) waiver, non-waiver.
But at the end of the day, it is about how much money you are going to give those states in whatever form it comes. And it is almost certainly going to be less and that almost certainty translates into fewer people being covered, doesn't it?
PACE: It does. And I think Chris is exactly right when you turn toward the Senate. It is amazing how much political capital the president and Paul Ryan are putting into a piece of legislation that, as it moves forward, will, at the very least, get changed dramatically, if not get stalled completely in the Senate.
And there is two reasons for that. One, as you say, I think the Medicaid expansion issue is going to be huge for some of these moderate Republicans in states where Medicaid expansion has expanded coverage, as it was intended to.
And second, just look at the political timeline on this. The Senate would be taking this up as we get later into this year. There are political realities for senators who are going to be in competitive races in swing states in late 2018.
And they are going to be going home to their districts and having to deal with people who are going to be affected by that. And that's what makes health care just so different, that you will have people who are actually going to be coming to town halls and telling very emotional personal stories. That will impact some of these senators.
CAMEROTA: So, April, who are you keeping your eye on today in terms of maybe a fence straddler or someone for whom this is a real tough decision?
RYAN: You know, I'm watching Upton because Upton is very important. He's already made his decision. But I'm listening to Upton because he is an influencer for those who are still straddling.
So I want to see how Upton influences and who he may talk to to help galvanize for this effort that this could be just a partial win, I believe, for the president. I don't believe it is going to be a total win. But I believe that Upton will be the key and I want to watch what he does, as well as the president and the vice president.
CILLIZZA: Very quickly. This is not about health care but about the House and the House Republican leadership. For the last -- since John Boehner, for the last eightish years, House Republicans have struggled to pass something controversial, something where their members were divided.
They just don't have the arm-twisting ability. Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, The top three Republicans, this is a big day for them. Take outside health care. This is a big day for them to get it passed.
CAMEROTA: OK, panel, thank you very much for breaking it all down for us. Great to talk to you.
We do have some breaking news to get to right now. Buckingham Palace announcing that Prince Philip, the husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, is retiring from public life. The royal couple is attending a church service at this hour in London and CNN's Max Foster is live at Buckingham Palace with all of the breaking details.
What does this mean, Max?
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting; Prince Philip, you know, he's much by turning 96. He's had a pretty good run. He's basically saying he's stepping back from public life. He's not going to be carrying out the same sorts of engagements that he's done for so many years.
So he's about to mark 70 years of marriage to the queen. This is the queen that most Brits have known all of their lives. They haven't known another monarch. So it is a big moment, if we show you those pictures of him going to the service today, you can see he's well.
But people are used to seeing him next to the queen and that's not going to be the case in future. She will be out and about on her own. So quite a big moment, I think part of the transition process actually. You will see Prince Charles stepping into that role next to the queen and he will be the next king, part of a long, slow transition. So part of the stage management of the royal family.
But a big moment. Prince Philip will be missed in the country. He's a great character. You've probably heard the stories. I remember last year, he picked up President Obama at Windsor Castle. there he is, a man in his 90s, driving the president. The Secret Service didn't know quite what to do.
In Australia, he once asked some indigenous Australians if they still threw spears. These moments we're not going to have anymore. He's going back behind closed doors but he's still going to be present. He still runs the household here. He's still going to be, as the queen describes it, his strength and stay.
CUOMO: All right, Max, thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: So nice.
CUOMO: Can't argue with the whole --
CAMEROTA: I mean, 70 years of marriage and he looks fantastic.
[08:15:00] He's 95. No one can quibble with him wanting to step back a little bit.
CUOMO: Very impressive. I look forward to what his next chapter is.
FBI Director Comey heading back to Capitol Hill. This is his next chapter. But this time, it's going to be behind closed doors.
We got a member of the House Intel Committee, what he wants to know when it comes to President Trump's possible ties to Russia and what he expects to hear from James Comey, next.
CUOMO: FBI Director James Comey back in the hot seat. Today, Comey is going to testify behind closed doors before the House Intel Committee on the Russia investigation. It follows a day of stiff questioning before a Senate hearing.
Here's a taste.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Is it fair to say the Russian government is still involved in American politics?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Yes.
GRAHAM: Is it fair to say we need to stop them from doing this?
COMEY: Yes, fair to say.
GRAHAM: Do you agree with me the only way they're going to stop is for them to pay a price for interfering in our political process?
COMEY: I think that's a fair statement. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: No mention of China there. Much to the president's chagrin.
Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intel and Judiciary Committees. He will be at today's hearing.
Good to have you with us.
And, of course, what you want to talk about today will be contextualized by what you heard today. How did you feel about the FBI director's explanations on several issues, including why he felt compelled to disclose the Clinton investigation?
[08:20:02] REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning, Chris.
I'm mostly focused on the FBI director's statement that that Russia is still meddling in our politics. And that should be a wake up call for all of us, Republicans and Democrats, that we need to get back to work, have an independent, credible investigation that shows progress. I look forward to doing that this morning when the FBI director comes back before the House Intelligence Committee.
CUOMO: Oh, good for you. So you are going to put to the side a lot of the intrigue about the political connections and all that and focus on what really is the main congressional component here, which is oversight of that process.
And to that end, how confident are you that you're going to hear that it was Russia, not maybe China as the president continues to suggest? And where do you take it from there?
SWALWELL: The evidence is overwhelming that it was Russia who interfered, that it was ordered by Vladimir Putin and that the candidate they sought to help was Donald Trump. That is not disputed.
What I think is most important now is to find out whether any U.S. persons were involved and mostly importantly now that we know Russia intends to do this again, what are we going to do, what reforms are going to be put in place to make sure we never find ourselves in a mess like this again?
And the one thing I will say about China, Chris, is that there are countries we know have similar cyber capabilities --
SWALWELL: -- out there that will look at this as an opportunity if our country is divided, and we're not doing anything to make sure it doesn't happen again.
CUOMO: Do -- so what do you think about the questioning of Comey and his actions with respect to the Clinton investigation? Do you think that's a proper line of questioning for you guys today? SWALWELL: Our job is oversight, and I saw that on display yesterday
in the Judiciary Committee. I'm focused, though, on what happens next. And that's where I hope my colleagues will go, I believe.
We want to know, does the FBI director have all the resources he needs to follow the evidence? This is a very complicated case that took place over a lengthy period of time with a number of foreign witnesses, complicated financial transactions and electronic communications.
We want to make sure at the end of the day, he can say when he brings an investigation to a close, he had everything he needed to chase the evidence.
CUOMO: The president says that you guys made this up. Democrats made up the Russia/Trump connection to explain the loss in the election. Now, obviously, you still have ongoing inquiries and an FBI investigation into the matter.
But have you seen any cause for concern here that goes beyond speculation?
SWALWELL: Yes. Great cause for concern. Evidence of the collusion.
And, Chris, as a former prosecutor, I can tell you oftentimes, the way a person behaves once they find out they are being investigated tells you a lot about whether you are investigating the right person. And from Donald Trump, we have seen someone that continues to try and obstruct an investigation.
CUOMO: Switch topics. On the health care bill, where is your vote? What do you think happens today? What do you think it means?
SWALWELL: I will oppose it. When I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, I didn't see somebody who felt it was right to raise the premiums of my neighbors, to deny coverage to people we have preexisting conditions, to kick 24 million people off of health care. I hope my Republican colleagues do the same and vote against it as well.
CUOMO: Now, we just had Congressman Burgess on. And he says, well, we're taking money out but that's only because it's inefficiently spent. We will have the same levels of coverage that you have now and spend less because we're going to do it better.
Do you see how that is possible?
SWALWELL: No. And what they're doing is leaving it up to the states to decide if they want to deny people coverage for having a pre- existing condition. And so, that now leaves uncertainty for any patient in America who has a pre-existing condition, and that I think is exactly what we tried to prevent when we passed the Affordable Care Act.
CUOMO: They say the governor asked for this. They wanted more choice and they could get a block grant or other defined contribution from the federal government. And that will give them flexibility and therefore make it better for people, not just getting it off Medicaid, but also to deal with preexisting conditions and high risk pools.
SWALWELL: What we have right now is a system that says if your child has a pre-existing condition, you have to worry about a lot of unfortunate things, but one of those is not finding coverage, accordable coverage for your child. And now, that has been taken away, and it will put every parent in America into a state of uncertainty. And, Chris, that's not right, whether the governors want it or not.
CUOMO: Do you think it is going to pass?
SWALWELL: I hope not. And also, Chris, one other thing -- you know, this also includes one of the largest tax cuts and transfers of wealth from the poorest and middle class families in America to the richest, which would include a $2 million bonus for Donald Trump in his first 100 days and I don't think anyone thinks that after what we've seen this fast 100 days, he deserves a $2 million tax cut.
CUOMO: Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for laying out the issues of the day. We look forward to the hearing and the vote.
[08:25:01] SWALWELL: My pleasure.
CUOMO: All right. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Chris, as you know, the GOP health care vote could get a vote today in the house. What happens then after that? CNN political director David Chalian with the bottom line, next.
CUOMO: All right. So, today is the day it looks like. The House is going to vote on the GOP's health care vote. Will it pass? How tough will it be in the Senate?
Let's get the bottom line from CNN political director David Chalian.
Bottom line, is this just a naked political play to get a "W"?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No. It's a fulfillment of a campaign promise is what it really is, and it's been an eight-yearlong campaign promise for Republicans. You have to remember, we have seen cycle after cycle, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016. This has been the organizing principle of the Republican Party.
CUOMO: Right. It was always assumed that when you repeal and replace, it was going to be better for all the people who are voting for you when you said repeal and replace. It's hard to make the case that this bill does that.
CHALIAN: Well, certainly, the American people, according to the polls, at the time this legislation was introduced, do not agree with that yet. That is not -- this bill is not popular, there is no doubt about that. Of course, Obamacare wasn't popular either until people started really living with it and feeling the effects. It's gotten more popular.