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Senate GOP Retooling Health Care Plan; Interview with Sen. Roger Wicker; Iron in Your Diet; Trump on Russia Threat. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 29, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:17] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans are hard at work to retool their health care bill in hopes of winning over enough GOP colleagues who opposed the current plan. Are they going to ask Democrats to get in? What are the ideas? Do they really think they can get it done by tomorrow?

Let's discuss with one of the Senate Republican leaders, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Senator, we know that you are very close to the majority leader, Senator McConnell, very involved in this process. So, thank you for joining us on NEW DAY.

SEN. ROGER WICKER (R), MISSISSIPPI: Thank you. Glad to be with you.

CUOMO: So, the easy question, do you think you can get it done by tomorrow?

WICKER: Well, I think there's movement in the right direction and, you know, we had a good meeting at the White House. We had a really good luncheon yesterday with almost all the Republican senators. And I just saw a genuine determination on the part of people, center-right and maybe more center-left in the caucus to get to "yes." I think everybody wants to get to "yes." And if we had that determination and we can -- move the dials a little, I think we can get there.

CUOMO: Why rush it?

WICKER: Well, I think it's important to get it right more than -- than rush it. But there's also a frustration among people who say, why didn't you do this in January? You've had seven years. So I don't think we're rushing it. I just think we're trying to -- to do what we can to get to "yes." We need to get this over and move on to other important issues, like infrastructure, getting our economy going, and making our tax system more competitive with the rest of the world. And we can't do that until we get health care attended to.

CUOMO: Right. But you know a lot of the men and women in your own ranks are saying that it's rushed. That there hasn't been the committee process that they would have expected. There's not the debate they would have expected. What's the reasoning for that behind McConnell's actions?

[08:35:10] WICKER: Well, you know, there's going to be a vote-a-rama when this thing is finally put together. There will be an unlimited opportunity for amendments and discussion. And what I've noticed over the last several weeks is a pretty full discussion on the floor of the Senate. The provisions have been out there. The House version has been passed. And our version has been public for several days now. So I don't think we're rushing it and I think that -- I think as soon as we can get to a consensus, we ought to move.

CUOMO: Right. But the question is whether or not you can get to one based on these very divergent requirements by people within your own party. What are --


CUOMO: What are the different ideas in the air right now for how to make this bill more acceptable to your own constituents?

WICKER: I think there's some important things that are being done. The information I have and, honestly, I was not part of this discussion yesterday afternoon, but my understanding is that we are moving towards adding another $45 billion to the opioid epidemic treatment, and that's a problem for -- that has been a problem for a couple of our members. I think this is going to bring a couple more folks on to a yes. You've seen the discussion about allowing people to pay health insurance premiums out of their health savings accounts. That gets some of the people -- some of our people further on the right and moves them more towards a yes. So I think there's been a movement there.

You know, there's also -- there's a debate between the people who would like the program to be bigger. The people that would like to cut back even further. And also the parliamentarian. We do have to comply with the reconciliation rules. And some of the things that we'd really like to do, like selling across states lines, become a problem under the Byrd rule and we have to work through that.

So there are a number of sides to this debate and one of them does include the parliamentarian, being able to actually get it done under reconciliation.

CUOMO: One of the biggest things that seems to be scaring people, even within your own ranks, is the money being taken out of the Medicaid side and they're just not buying the idea that you can take money out and still provide the same or better care for people. Is that something that is fixable? Do you think that you can put the money in to Medicaid that it demands when it seems to be such a big selling point for McConnell that he's going to carry savings from this health care bill into your tax structure?

WICKER: Well, you know, I don't really accept the premise of your question there, but it is -- it is central to this debate. Let me make this clear, under the Republican plan, House and Senate, there will be more money, much more money spent on Medicaid in the coming years than is being spent today. What we are simply talking about is reducing the growth rate. And, Chris, we have got to come to grips with this as a nation.

Medicaid and Medicare, for that matter, which is not touched in this bill, are growing at a rate of inflation that cannot be sustained. When my kids are in their 60s, and when my grandchildren are coming along, we've got -- we have to make the program better and -- and that's what I like so much about this plan. It block grants the money with a built in increase to the states. And so you've got Jerry Brown out in California working with his Medicaid money, trying to come up with the most efficient way for Californians --

CUOMO: Right.

WICKER: And Scott Walker in Wisconsin trying to do a totally different model --

CUOMO: And you've got them both complaining that you're cutting the overall amount and they won't be able to do as much and people are going to lose coverage.

WICKER: I don't know that -- that Governor Walker has been doing that. But let me just say, we are not cutting money from Medicaid. We are growing Medicaid --

CUOMO: But isn't it --

WICKER: At a much more sustainable rate.

CUOMO: Right, but isn't that semantics at the end of the day?

WICKER: And I think we can do that.

CUOMO: You're going to give it less money than it is getting now in terms of the rate adjustments? So it won't meet costs the same way. It will be less. People will lose care.

WICKER: Well, you know, if you measure -- you know, Chris, if you measure success in the amount of money you're sending to a program, you know, that's just -- that's one way to look at it, but that's not the way I look at it. I look at it in terms of having a program where 50 states can experiment with doing it more efficiently, cutting out waste and -- and fraud and abuse, and making it work better for the people who need Medicaid.

[08:40:10] I also like the fact that, frankly, in states like mine that didn't expand Medicaid, thousands and thousands of people are going to have an opportunity through refundable tax credits to buy real insurance on the open market, with choices. I think most people would much rather have a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy than be stuck with a one-size-fits-all Medicaid.

CUOMO: Well --

WICKER: So, I mean, I like where we're going in this regard.

CUOMO: Understood, senator, and that's the big debate is, which way will be seen at the best for the American people. WICKER: I think it's going to -- I think it's going to end up being better for the American people and better for the taxpayer long term.

CUOMO: Wow, that should certainly be the goal.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us.

WICKER: Thank you.

CUOMO: You're always welcome here on NEW DAY.

WICKER: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Clarissa.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Forget why did the chicken cross the road? We've got a better question. Take a look at this. Why are these pigs taking over a highway? Breaking news. We'll have the details.

CUOMO: Sounds like a movie title.

WARD: It does. That's coming up next.


CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day.

Number one, President Trump's revised travel ban takes effect tonight. The Trump administration unveiling new visa guidelines requiring foreign nationals from six Muslim majority nations and all refugees to have a close family or business tie to the U.S.

[08:45:06] WARD: Fired FBI Director James Comey's memos are expected to be in the hands of the Senate Intelligence Committee soon. The memos are part of the panel's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

CUOMO: President Trump promising a big surprise on health care as GOP leaders scramble to change the Senate bill in order to get more support.

WARD: And Australian Cardinal George Powell, one of Pope Francis' top advisers, is facing sex abuse charges. Powell adamantly denies the allegation saying he looks forward to clearing his name in court next month.

CUOMO: All right, check it out, pigs on a highway. That basically tells you everything you need to know. An 18-wheeler behind, that's the problem here. It overturned. Shut down the highway in both directions. The pigs have made themselves at home, wandering around the road as the crash is being cleaned up. Where is that? Wilmer, Texas.

WARD: I'm just looking at them and I'm thinking, be free! Run! Get away!

CUOMO: Yes. This is your chance.

WARD: This is your chance to make a break before you end up in a BLT.

OK. Well, for more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CUOMO: All right, Russia's election interference, it met with indifference by the president and his White House. Is there any plan to do anything about it? That's "The Bottom Line."

WARD: Also, iron is an essential mineral, especially for women who tend not to get enough of it. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen shows us simple ways to pump more iron naturally into your diet in today's "Food as Fuel."


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Meat and fish are great sources of iron, but they're not the only ones out there. Lentils, for example, are packed with iron. One cup gives women more than a third of what they need every day and gives men almost all the iron that they need in a day.

Spinach is another great source of iron, but it's better to eat it cooked. Your body can absorb the iron better than if you eat it raw.

One surprising source of iron is dark chocolate. Look for at least 70 percent cacao. Just a one ounce serving goes a long way with about 19 percent of your daily value of iron.

Now, try to eat some vitamin c when you eat any of these foods. It helps your body absorb almost twice as much iron.



[08:50:43] WARD: Sources tell CNN Trump administration officials are frustrated and struggling to convince the president of the threat Russia poses to the United States. They want to know why the president has not taken action.

Well, let's get "The Bottom Line" with one of the reporters who broke this story, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, what have you heard? What's the deal here?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's -- there are a lot of things that go into this, but it seems that one of the big issues is that -- we're told by our sources who have spoken to the president, who are familiar with his thinking on this, is that he struggles to separate the investigation going on about whether or not there was collusion between anybody in his campaign or his orbit and the Russians, and the very real intelligence that Russia did try to meddle in the U.S. election. One source close to the president said that he sees everything being organized around a challenge to him. And I spoke to a Republican congressional source who told me he can't admit anything that may taint his election. He's more hung up how it affected the election outcome than what Russia did.

And this is really frustrating officials in the White House and even more broadly. I was also told that the NSA director, Mike Rogers when he was in a classified briefing on Capitol Hill, expressed his sort of dismay that he can't get the president to a place where he believes the intelligence about Russia meddling in the election. So the question is, importantly, what -- what's going to happen in terms of looking into the future. I will tell you, the White House insists that they are doing things to try to prevent anything in the future. They're just doing it silently. But on Capitol Hill, guys, they're trying to work around the president. There's bipartisan legislation to form a 9/11 kind of commission in order to try to kind of, again, act in a way that they don't think the White House is.

CUOMO: Yes, sensitivity is interesting if for no other reason than even the most ardent Democrats aren't saying that vote tallies were affected. There's nobody making a baseline legitimacy argument, but that does seem to be what the president is hearing every time this comes up.

So, let me ask you something. We just had Senator Wicker on. He's obviously very close to Senator McConnell. Kind of have -- operates as his counsel. He was dodgy about getting it done tomorrow and he was dodgy about -- and I don't mean that in a bad way, but he didn't want to deal with the idea of why they're rushing this in the first place. What are you hearing about the prospect for getting it done tomorrow and the feelings about cottoning to this urgency?

BASH: It is still TBD. It's really still unclear whether they can get there, they can get to the magic number of 50. Fifty Republicans, of course, we're talking about. They're working very hard. I think the fact that it's -- that the Republican leadership is trying to talk to some of the -- of the senators who are dealing with the opioid crisis. I know you talked to the governor of New Hampshire on this program, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Rob Portman of Ohio, those who want more funding, they're trying to make that happen, to take those from the "no" column to the "yes" column.

But there's still a lot more that they have to deal with. So the question is whether or not they are going to be able to convince -- I think mostly at this point the conservatives who want to do things like, you know, still roll back more Obama regulations, have more flexibility in the states. It's really unclear whether the leadership can make that happen for them in a way that they feel comfortable, especially in the next 24 hours. It's really, really a jump ball.

CUOMO: All right, Dana, appreciate the perspective, my friend. Thanks for "The Bottom Line."

BASH: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, Thursday, what do you say, you need a little "Good Stuff"?

WARD: I go.

CUOMO: A little reinvigoration of the soul?

WARD: I'm ready for it. Bring it on.

[08:54:40] CUOMO: Soul food, next.


CUOMO: All right, time for "The Good Stuff."

A group of little kids, big, big hearts. These heroes wanted to help one of our nation's heroes. His name is Lorenzo Reince (ph). He's an Army vet. He's disabled. Desperately needed repairs to his home. That's where the young helpers come in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a lemonade stand and it helps people, like to raise money.



CUOMO: So, they raised the $800. But here's what happens. When the community, when the adults, hear what these kids were doing, they say, this is the right thing to do. They pitch in. Thy raise $15,000. They get all the repairs made to Lorenzo's house.


LORENZO REINCE: I thank God for the angels coming through, man. These are angels, yes, ma'am.


[09:00:00] WARD: I love that we get to end on a positive note like that, you know?

CUOMO: And that's why we do "The Good Stuff." Things can be ugly, especially in politics. There's a lot of hostility out there.

WARD: There sure is.