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Hurricane Irma Packs 185 MPH Winds Barrels Toward U.S.; Florida Under A State Of Emergency; Soon: Congress Votes On Harvey Relief Funds; Trump: I'll "Revisit" DACA If Congress Can't Fix It. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired September 6, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We have an extraordinarily busy morning unfolding right now. Hurricane Irma tearing through the Caribbean. Just look at that. Barreling towards the United States. This is video as Irma, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, hit the Caribbean Island of St. Marten (ph).
Government officials are saying the four strongest buildings on the island there were all destroyed and the damage assessment will likely be catastrophic. Irma is packing 185 mile an hour winds and is now headed towards the United States. Evacuations are under way in Florida.
Tens of millions of people are at risk. The monster storm is coming just days after what could be already the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Harvey.
Very soon, the very first votes are expected to happen on Capitol Hill on emergency funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey, and the recovery there. Billions of dollars are at stake as Congress is getting back to work. It's already getting complicated.
All of this is likely to be part of a crucial meeting happening at the White House this hour. President Trump is meeting with House and Senate leaders of both parties. We are keeping a close eye. We will take you there in a moment.
But first, we do have breaking news. There is a new update coming in from the National Hurricane Center on Irma's track. Let's get over to CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, for more on that. Chad, what is the very latest? What are you hearing?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It does appear that we will have -- the producers are yelling in my ear. The track is moved to the east slightly over closer to Miami. That's later in the forecast.
Let me get to the beginning here, 85 mile-per-hour winds, wind moving north northwest at about 16 miles per hour. Here's the center of the storm, very close to the British Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda (ph, Annigada (ph), (inaudible) Island, George Holla (ph). Back toward the U.S. Virgin Islands as well and that's the area that will have the 185-mile-per hour winds. Now let's get to the change. You talked about it a little bit.
Earlier today, about 20 miles farther west than where we are now. What do I tell you every single time? Please don't focus on the middle of the cone. The entire cone has shifted 20 miles farther to the east.
So maybe moving or at least closer to moving offshore or even in toward the Bahamas. That's because the European model has shifted slightly to the east as well. National Hurricane Center said, we're going to go with that right now. It's also agreeing with the American model.
The new runs are running right now. They start at about 8:00 in the morning Eastern Time and they take two to three hours to run. Even the European takes about six hours to run.
So, when that comes in, you may get a brand-new track at 5:00 p.m. Please tune in there because that will be crucial. The closer we get to landfall time, the better these forecasts get.
Right now, we are 200 miles left to right. That's the average error for four days out. There's San Juan and Puerto Rico getting hit hard with some of these outer bands. The wind right here, you are going to see significant damage through the British Virgin Islands.
The big story here, what happened overnight. Yesterday, we had some of these over here into the Gulf of Mexico. Kate, overnight, very, very few of them are to the west. They to the east or to the northeast of Florida. Possibly even making landfall in the Carolinas if it truly does miss Florida -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: So, sounding like more and more people need to start paying closer attention to this track as we're getting closer to potentially landfall. Great to see you, Chad. Thank you so much for the update.
Let's get a view from the potential path of the storm as Chad was laying out. CNN's Leyla Santiago in Puerto Rico where impact is just hours away and Rosa Flores is in Miami.
So, Rosa, we just got this update on the hurricane track. We also got an update a short time ago from the governor of Florida. How serious is he taking things? What is he saying?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is taking this very seriously. He is asking residents of Florida to also take action and make sure that they listen to local authorities. There were two specific updates from the governor's briefing.
First of all, that officials here in Miami-Dade County are asking and encouraging people in low lying areas to start evacuating and that FIU is being used as a shelter for people coming out of the keys.
As you know, Monroe County is the only county that has a mandatory evacuation at this hour. That includes the keys and, of course, Kate, because of the geography of Florida, everybody is coming north.
There is one way to get out of this storm and that is north. Now here in Miami-Dade County, we know that people with disabilities are being evacuated today. The mayor in this county saying he could issue mandatory evacuations for certain areas of Miami-Dade, whether it be today or tomorrow. It's still unclear.
[11:05:05] But they are taking those very seriously. Now people are also heeding the warning. We're seeing empty shelves in grocery stores and hardware stores. We are seeing long lines at gas stations as people try to prepare.
Officials here have told residents that they need to prepare for at least three days of food and water. A lot of these people getting that food and water from local stores, packing their cars, going home, and also patching their homes as much as they can with plywood and the such to make sure their homes are protected.
Our friends to the north in Broward County, they have 43 shelters that are ready to take 33,000 people. So, Kate, a lot of preparation is going on here in Florida. This monster storm is coming in with a lot of fury, but people are prepping with a lot of fury as well -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: It sure looks like it. All right, thank you so much. Let's go over to Leyla Santiago. Before any potential impact in Florida, Puerto Rico is in Irma's path, possibly today. What's going on there right now?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're starting to feel the impact of those outer bands that are starting to move through Puerto Rico. It's kind of been going in waves where we will see -- we will feel those winds, those strong winds.
We will actually see the water become a little more aggressive and then there's a little bit of a lull. But make no mistake, Irma is on its way. The people of this island are very much aware.
We actually talked to one woman who not too long ago within last few hours sort of locked up her business and very interesting, she locked the door and looked over at us and just said, now we turn to God.
I mean, there is a level of fear of the devastation that could come this way given Hurricane Irma's strength. The governor has said that this island has never seen a weather system of this magnitude in its recorded history.
It won't just be the winds that they expect to be the problem here. The flooding is expected to be a very big issue. They have evacuated early on as early as last night. Parts of the eastern part of the island.
Because they were very much worried that once we get into where we are right now when it's too late, when the shelters have opened and it's hard to get out of areas because of the conditions, they wanted to make sure to try to avoid that. We have also visited the shelters. The governor a few hours ago said that there are more than 700 people that were seeking shelter. I suspect that number is much higher right now given that we are really starting to see Irma as it hits the northern coast of Puerto Rico where we are right now.
But the feeling among the people here is fear. Waiting to see what will happen. One other quick note, it's important to note that there's another storm, something else looming over this island. That's the economic crisis. If they have to rebuild, this is an island that is $70 billion in debt. How they will rebuild after destruction is unknown -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: So, it begins for Puerto Rico is what it looks like right now. Leyla, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. We are going to be keeping a very close eye obviously tracking the storm throughout the day as Chad is saying.
We have new tracks. We have new forecasts coming in very quickly. We will keep a close eye on it. A few miles one way or the other can make a lot difference for millions of people. We are going to be keeping a close on this and bring it back to you throughout the hour and the day.
Let's turn back to Washington right now and Capitol Hill where this is also a focus. Lawmakers are getting ready to vote on first round of disaster relief funds for Hurricane Harvey victims.
The White House wants nearly $8 billion as a downpayment. Hugely important given that FEMA could be out of money in a matter of days. Discussing another monster storm fast approaching.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill following all of this for us. So, Ryan, the House is up first on this. What are you hearing about this Harvey funding vote that's going to happen very shortly?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems pretty clear, Kate, that at least this first round of debate over the Harvey funding bill should pass through the House sometime this afternoon. They could begin voting on this as soon as 12:00 noon Eastern Time.
But the question becomes then what happens to this Harvey aid package once it makes its way back over to the Senate. That's where there is some concern that Democrats will try and push to add the raising the debt ceiling onto this bill in sort of a bipartisan effort to eliminate two problems that the Congress has to confront.
Now there is some reluctance among Republicans to add the debt ceiling into this Harvey aid package, particularly with some conservative Republicans, who would like to have a separate conversation as to whether or not it's responsible to raise the debt ceiling without adding some spending limits on to that.
[11:10:06] Now they are prepared here in Washington to debate this through the weekend. Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that they want a bill on the president's desk by Saturday.
But already, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader and the minority leader on the House side, Nancy Pelosi have said that they want to add the debt ceiling to this conversation. That's where we could get into a political fight here, Kate, and a political fight is something that leaders in Washington promised was not going to happen when it came to aid to Harvey.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And Paul Ryan calling the suggestion from Schumer and Pelosi ridiculous and playing politics. Let's see where this goes or devolves very quickly.
Ryan, I also want to ask you, adding to Congress' already full plate is now coming from the president a fix of the DACA program or a fix some kind of protections for "DREAMers." Is there a clear sense where that debate stands right now or the appetite amongst the leaders to bring this forward quickly?
NOBLES: I think it's the exact opposite of clear, Kate. Depending on who you talk to in Congress, there seems to be a different approach how to handle DACA. Paul Ryan just a few minutes ago suggested that he is interested in a fix to protect the "DREAMers," but he wants it to be tied to some level of border security.
Does that mean adding funding for the wall to any deal that comes out when it comes protecting "DREAMers?" I talked to Senator Jeff Flake yesterday. He has been someone on the Republican side, who strongly has been in support of some sort of legislation that would give long- term security to the "DREAMers."
He said this is really on President Trump to come to the table and spell out explicitly what he envisions as a future when it comes to the "DREAMers" in the United States. That's something that leaders in Congress don't appear to have a good handle on.
They don't know exactly what President Trump's end game is as it relates to DACA. That will make this whole debate confusing going forward -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Brian, great to see you. Nothing like a slow day on Capitol Hill for you. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Let's discuss this and much more right now. Joining me, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He supported the president's decision to end the DACA program. Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Thanks for having me on.
BOLDUAN: So, you have Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, announcing that the administration is ending the DACA program. Then the president sends out this tweet last night. I'm sure you saw it.
For our viewers, "Congress now has six months to legalize DACA, something the Obama administration was unable to do. If they can't, I will re-visit this issue." What does he mean, revisit, Congressman? KING: Well, that implies as I listen to that, that he would back up and take another look and try to figure another way. I thought when I listened to his campaign promises -- I don't think it was any mistake on my part or the American people or the people that went to the polls and voted for Donald Trump that he was going to end DACA.
I expected it would happen January 20th to that very busy of signing all of the documents that could be brought in front of him. It's now eight months into this. Now there's a six-month extension.
Every day, it has been a continuation of the constitutional violations of Barack Obama and so a revisitation of this. Congress has refused to adopt the DACA policy over and over again. I brought the amendments multiple times with success in the House of Representatives.
This isn't because Congress didn't act. Congress made a decision not to act. Now let this thing expire. I think that's what Jeff Sessions would prefer. If it's six months, let it be six months.
Let it wind itself out and be done because to reward law breakers just brings more law breakers in any roads to rule of law and the center for me on immigration --
BOLDUAN: Congressman, just on this issue -- on this issue of what the president -- at the least it seems the president muddied the waters on where he stands. Do you see that tweet when he says he will re-visit it as going back on his commitment to terminate the program?
KING: I think you will hear members of Congress today saying so. They will try to exploit that to the maximum extent possible. I'm hearing today from people who are open borders pro amnesty, Democrats all for that.
I don't know any Democrat that's for enforcement of existing immigration law let alone adopting some more stringent immigration laws even at the request of the president. But we have Republicans also that seize upon this because they are -- they are just intensively and hyperventilating delivering their virtues signal and said adhering to their oath of office and the rule of law.
BOLDUAN: Right. But this is -- isn't this on the president, though? This was an executive order. He could have just ended it. Now he is asking Congress for help. Do you know where the president stands on "DREAMers"?
KING: Well, at this point, we don't have a lot of public discussion on that. I have talked with him privately about it. It's not as quite clear to me as I would like it to be. It looks to me like a good group of solid principled conservatives that were established in the west wing of the White House are now gone.
The voices of those who would be more open borders pro-amnesty advocates seem to be prevailing in the White House. I'm hopeful that what he has done now is stimulated a debate and the entire base for Donald Trump that voted for immigration enforcement and new immigration laws and to build a wall 2,000 miles long, I'm committed to all of that.
So are the vast majority of his base. So, I'm hopeful the base will rise up and say, we want to restore the rule of law, secure the borders, enforce domestically. We can't be bleeding with amnesty as a means to try to get to a goal that is contrary to the campaign promises and to the principle of the oath of office itself.
BOLDUAN: I'm confused he might be surrounded by people. He might take their advice because that's why you have advisers, but it comes down to the president. So, you don't know where the president stands on "DREAMers" at this point?
KING: Well, I know what he says throughout the campaign. I'm watching what's happened since then. He hasn't said that he wants to grant them amnesty, but he has said that he is going to end this program in six months and so if that --
BOLDUAN: And he wants Congress to do something to fix it so they can be protected. What does that tell you?
KING: I missed it. I'm sorry?
BOLDUAN: And he says he wants Congress to do something so they -- so "DREAMers" can be protected. What does that tell you?
KING: Well, I think that's a little bit of a (inaudible) maneuver. Cut the baby in half and threw it to the Congress to fight over. I didn't want to see our Congress divided. Paul Ryan has said multiple times he would not bring a full repeal vote to Obamacare, which by the way passed in every Congress except this one because he doesn't want to divide our conference.
Yet this will divide our conference. So, I think that it's now going to be a lot of pressure on leadership. What did you mean when you wouldn't let us vote for a full repeal of Obamacare, but you do want us to vote on amnesty?
That decision will be I think pull our conference apart and it pits Republicans against Republicans. All the Democrats are --
BOLDUAN: I want to move on. It's not entirely clear that what you would be voting on -- we will move on. It's not entirely clear that what you would be voting on, since nothing has been presented that it would be amnesty. It could be exactly what DACA is, which is not amnesty, which is just --
KING: DACA is amnesty. It's an unconstitutional amnesty. Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers and in this country, it's coupled with a reward --
BOLDUAN: Amnesty, though, as you well know is a very loaded term. By definition, though, it was just legal protection from being deported. They were not being given amnesty to be citizens.
KING: They got the objective of their crime to live in America without fear of the law being applied to them. On top of that, they got a work permit. I don't think that's stretching that to call that amnesty. It's not a political definition. It's a legal one.
BOLDUAN: Sorry, Congressman, the control room is talking to me. Standby with me, Congressman. We're getting some video in from the meeting with President Trump and congressional leaders. Listen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have a lot to discuss, including the fact that there's a new and seems to be record breaking hurricane heading right toward Florida and Puerto Rico and other places. We will see what happens. We will know in a very short period of time.
But it looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me, not good. We have many, many things that are on the plate. Hopefully, we can solve them in a rational way and maybe we won't be able to.
We'll probably know pretty much at the end of this meeting or the meetings that we will be having over a short period of time, but our country has a lot of great assets. We have some liabilities that we have to work out. So, we will see if we can do that.
I appreciate everybody being here, thank you very much. Thank you very much. Nancy, Chuck, appreciate it very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thanks, guys. We will see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I hope they do.
BOLDUAN: I think what I heard at the very end is you hope Congress does something for DACA recipients? The president says, I hope they do. It's always difficult to hear. Hopefully, you are with me Congressman. I appreciate it.
One of the things that the president was also talking about -- let's transition over to Harvey because you're about to take a vote on the Harvey funding. One of the things that he was talking about is the hurricane barreling down towards the United States, Hurricane Irma.
You have Hurricane Harvey funding coming up for a vote in the House very shortly. Are you going to be able to support that?
[11:20:04 KING: Yes. I don't have hesitation about that. It's $7.8 billion I believe is the number we will see in a few minutes here on the floor of the House. That's entirely reasonable for the opening of this to fill some of the gaps in the funding that FEMA actually has.
If you remember, the first ask after Katrina in New Orleans, now 12 years ago, was $10.5 billion. I voted for that first $10.5 billion. FEMA has to have resources to function and especially with another hurricane baring down on Florida. We need to get this out. We will see multiple supplemental requests in the aftermath of these hurricanes.
BOLDUAN: And Congressman, what if it comes back from the Senate with -- tied to an increase to the debt ceiling? Will you be able to sign on to that?
KING: Well, it depends on when the -- how long the increase in the debt ceiling is set for. If they set it so that it's open ended, it wouldn't be favorable to that. If it's a short-term debt ceiling increase, we know that that's going to happen --
BOLDUAN: How about three months? That's what Democrats are proposing.
KING: I would be fine with three months.
BOLDUAN: Even though Paul Ryan called that ridiculous?
KING: He did. I didn't know that. I don't know how long he wants to make it. There's going to be a debt ceiling increase. I do think that's a forgone conclusion here. If I could get something conservative attached to that and get some leverage, I would be looking at that.
I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze. We have Obamacare that needs to be repealed. We have DACA in front of us. We have a hurricane that's just gotten over in Texas and one coming in on Florida. I don't think it's the time to have a fight over that over whether it's one or three-month extension of the debt ceiling.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for your time. Always appreciate it.
KING: Thanks a lot for having me.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, President Trump hits the road making a pitch for yet another not easy agenda item, tax reform. Why is a Democrat joining him on the plane heading over there?
Monster Hurricane Irma with winds of 185 miles per hour heading towards the United States. Florida is in the path. Everyone is keeping a close eye. Irma is already wreaking havoc. Stay close. Be right back.
BOLDUAN: This morning, the president is meeting with the leadership from both parties in Congress. You saw that pull spray that we just played for you a short time ago. Near the top of the president's agenda will be tax reform, of course, which is why he is heading to North Dakota in just a little while to push one of his key campaign promises, a major tax overhaul for the nation's tax vote.
Joe Johns at the White House, though, with much more on exactly what we've heard in the meeting. Joe, I can never hear the questions off camera. I'm hoping you can clarify a little bit of what happened in the meeting. Did the president have more to say about DACA? Did he clarify his tweet?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's very difficult to hear when you listen to that tape. Yes, DACA is the issue of the day. It's clear from the pool notes that have come out that the president was asked if he had any second thoughts on DACA.
He said, no, no second thoughts. He was also asked about the question of tying the debt ceiling to other issues, including the hurricane relief for Harvey. All he said was, we will see, we will see. We have been able to clarify at least those parts of the very brief pool spray.
A lot of other questions remain, especially how they're going to get that relief through to the Harvey victims very quickly, unless they tie it to an increase in the debt ceiling.
BOLDUAN: Joe, this is important. When we talk about the debt ceiling, at least from what I can remember, the idea of tying the debt ceiling and getting the debt ceiling tied to any kind of Harvey funding, that seemed to have started Sunday with the treasury secretary saying this is what we need to do because I can't pay the bills and I can't push out this money unless we raise the debt ceiling. Is the president not signing on to that strategy?
JOHNS: It's not clear quite frankly. I do know that from the very beginning, when they were talking about the numbers, the money they wanted to send to Harvey, it was understood and people here in the administration were sending the message that they thought Congress would get the idea that the debt ceiling had to be increased, even though there were conservatives, particularly over on the House side, who were opposed to tying these two things together.
The suspicion even then was that it would still be tied together once the bill gets to the Senate. Of course, the question is where the president is going to come out and give his full pledge support to that idea as a practical matter because it will reduce the time they have to go back and forth on the Hill and get a bill to the president's desk for his signature.
BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Where Congress -- we hear a lot of Republicans saying they need clarity from the president where he stands on DACA and exactly what he would sign. They need clarity on where the president stands in terms of Harvey funding and the debt ceiling.
Clarity all around, that's what's needed. Great to see you, Joe. Thank you so much. Let's try to get some clarity now or maybe not. Let's see. CNN political commentator and former Georgia Republican congressman, Jack Kingston is here.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You will get nothing but clarity.
BOLDUAN: Former Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu is also here. Also served as assistant to President Obama. First, it's great to have you as well. Let's just start right there with Harvey funding. Congressman, if the funding is needed desperately, obviously, these are two things that are -- there's a good argument both need to pass and need to pass quickly, a debt ceiling increase and emergency aid for Harvey victims. Do you think tying them together is smart?
KINGSTON: I don't think it's necessary. I don't think it's a deal killer or either though. I think they ought to just very quickly get --