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Government Shutdown at 12 Midnight; Blame Game is the New Talk in Town; President Trump Silent for the First Time. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 19, 2018 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:10] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Indeed it is breaking news. Will the government shutdown, you're going to find out in this broadcast. And by the way, look at those pictures, they are live, they're from the Senate floor, you can see some folks still scurrying about. A vote is scheduled to begin at any moment now.

It's on that short term bill to avoid a government shutdown, to try to avoid a government shutdown, but again if it happens, the vote will happen, you'll see it right here on CNN, we'll bring it to you.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

By the way, here's where we stand right now. If Senate republicans can't win over enough democrats to reach 60 votes, this bill will fail. And barring a Hail Mary, the federal government will begin shutting down at midnight, and that is less than two hours away.

There is a last minute scramble though, right now to try to come up with an alternate deal that could keep this government open. But the clock is ticking. It's clicking down to 12 a.m., and where we go from here is really anybody's guess, but we got you, and we have a whole lot of people who can help us get through this, we're going to watch it all unfold live right here on CNN Tonight with me.

So let's get right to CNN's Phil Mattingly, he's on Capitol Hill. Also Jeff Zeleny, he's at the White House. Wow! Here we are, Phil, we've been talking all week, last night we said it was down to the deadline, you said the next time, when they gave in, they had 13 hours to try to come up with something. Doesn't seem like they have so far. So, talk to me about these last ditch efforts to avert this government shutdown. Give us a play by play.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. To put it bluntly, not to kind of bury the lead at all, there's no deal. Right now, everything they've been trying to do over the course of the last hour appears to have failed.

Senator John Cornyn, the second ranking republican coming out, telling reporters flat out no deal. Let me walk-through what actually happened here. Over the course of the last couple of hours, the idea of pitching a shorter, short-term funding bill, it was at four weeks, they were pitching three weeks, they were essentially saying this could be a potential off-ramp, Don.

Obviously, substantively, policy wise, this wasn't anything democrats were looking for. But there were democrats, three of whom had already come out and said, they wanted to vote with republicans. I'm told from sources that several other democrats had voiced concerns internally about the strategy here, about this pathway forward.

The hope on the republican side, and this was a proposal offered by Senator Lindsey Graham, was giving them something, even if it was just one week on the length of the C.R. would be enough that democrats at least 12, 13 or 14 of them would be willing to come on board.

Well, Don, democrats met behind closed doors, more than an hour and a half, trying to walk-through what they were going to do. When they came out of that meeting, one senator said flatly nothing has changed. What that means, Don, is as this vote starts and it's expected to in just a short while, it is very clear, it is a 60 vote threshold, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not have 60 votes.

This vote will go down, and at this moment, there are no contingency plans. The plan b, there is no deal on. And everything right now is leading heavily towards a shutdown at midnight, Don.

LEMON: So you're saying there's a chance? And listen, but seriously, I want you to be clear here, there is no DACA deal. And so what's the path going forward for democrats? They don't know either?

MATTINGLY: Yes, look, I think that's the big question, and I think some of the democrats have been frustrated. It's not a large number of their 49 members. It's important to note, the vast majority of the democratic caucus has made very clear in very lengthy statements over the course of the last 24 hours, they believe this is the best path forward.

The reason why, they're frustrated with the process, they are very frustrated and most importantly, very disruptful about where republicans are on the DACA issue. Whether or not they'll get to a resolution on that issue.

And because of that, they don't believe that there's any reason to agree to anything right now, short of some type of legislative option on DACA and some type of lnger term on spending.

Well, here's the reality. In a short period of time, those deals aren't anywhere close. The bipartisan proposal on DACA that had been rejected by the president, has been rejected by republican leaders, even Lindsey Graham, one of the sponsors of that this evening said he doesn't believe that's necessarily in play anymore.

So democrats right now are basically going to have the fight. Because they say the fight needs to happen, this is the moment for the fight, they've got the issue they want to fight on. Their base is very supportive of this fight. But in terms of what it will take to actually get them back on board, Don, I don't know that that's actually been laid out yet. At least not in the sense of something that republicans are even willing to consider at this point.

LEMON: So, Phil let me ask you as we're sitting here watching these live pictures. They said 10 o'clock, how are they usually on time? MATTINGLY: Usually they're pretty accurate. I think the one element

here that maybe throws things off a little bit is the closed door democratic meeting had been going on. It went on longer than I think a lot of people expected.

[22:05:01] It was basically running into this vote right now. I will say one thing. When it comes to the U.S. Senate, if votes start being delayed, talks are still happening, things might actually happen.

But I think when Senator Cornyn came out and said in a very definitive manner, there is no deal, when Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director made very clear there is no deal and he said flatly, we need 12, 13, 14 democrats right now, and we simply don't have them. It didn't look like there was much of a path forward. Obviously, there are a lot of people who really don't want the government to shut down at midnight. But right now, it looks like that's where everything is headed.

LEMON: All right. Thank you. Stand by, obviously, let's get to elsewhere in Washington, Jeff Zeleny. The latest from your end of Pennsylvania Avenue, what's the president doing, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, good evening, not quite as much activity here on this side of Pennsylvania Avenue, but all eyes here at the White House are indeed on the U.S. Capitol. Particularly the floor of the Senate there, as senators slowly begin to mill in. There is still an open question here. Would there be enough votes to reach that 60 threshold.

Really hour by hour, that optimism here has somewhat diminished and dwindled. There has not been an all-out effort here at all to get those democrats on board. I fact, the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has been sending out messages on social media throughout the evening, calling out individual red state democrats individually and mocking them, if you will, or trolling them, if you will, for not supporting this deal to keep the government open.

But democrats are unified on this front with the exception of some of those who are up for a re-election this year. But the president for his part had been quiet for a few hours on social media.

But just a short time ago, he sent out a new message, let's take a look at that, Don, again, not a lot of room for optimism there. He says this, "Not looking good for a military, or safety and security on the dangerous southern border. Demos want to shut down in order to help diminish the great success of our tax cuts and what they are doing for our booming economy."

So, of course, they're, the president passing this as a fight over border security. That is just one small part of this, though. Don, the immigration deal that he had talked about only a week ago, has not made any progress.

And really, Don, I've been here throughout the day, I was using sunglasses earlier when I came in, and now obviously it's dark out. Not much progress in terms of deal making, of course there was one key meeting earlier today here, this afternoon, but that was about it.

LEMON: You may be needing sunglasses by the time you leave if you -- what Phil says is true, there's no contingency plan, they haven't come to a vote yet. It looks like more people are gathering now on the Senate floor.

ZELENY: Right.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, though. Let's put the president's tweet back up.


LEMON: Because there's a -- you said that, you know, the immigration -- the, you know, that's a small part to do with it. What is the -- in border security, what is the military have to do with this, and also tax cuts? What does that have to do with anything.

ZELENY: The president for the last couple days, Don, has been saying that he believes democrats are doing this -- are holding up government funding, are not voting for the republican plan to punish him for his tax cut law that he signed last year. He said that when he was traveling in Pennsylvania briefly yesterday, he said that repeatedly for the last couple of days. Democrats are trying to punish him for that.

I'm not sure that that is. Democrats are trying to use their leverage here on immigration, particularly the DREAMers on DACA. That is something the president said that he wanted -- and Don, I'm just struck by here as we sort of take stock of what day it is, it's January 19th, we all remember a year ago, the president of course being sworn into office.

On that day, he told some senators at a lunch on Capitol Hill just moments after he was sworn in, he's like, we'll take care of the kids.

LEMON: Right.

ZELENY: Meaning the DREAMers, of course. So, all of them have had a year to deal with it, both democrats and republicans alike. And earlier today, Senator Schumer came over here for a meeting, and that was -- I would say the most dramatic point of the day for 90 minutes. You know, the New York democrat, the Senate minority leader came over here for a meeting, and interestingly only four people in the Oval Office for that, not the big meetings we normally see.

So there was a sense of possibly a deal. But Don, you have to wonder, why are these meetings happening again at the 11th hour, it is how things get done in Washington. Things only get done in a stress situation.

But you have to wonder if they would have had those meetings earlier, could anything else have gotten done. But again, at the end of the day here, if a deal is going to be done even after the shutdown, they still have to agree to something. The president said last week, I'll take the heat. If he really means that, he'll take the heat on immigration and DACA. They can get a deal that republicans and democrats can sign on. If he doesn't, there's a stalemate here, Don.

LEMON: Very good point, Jeff Zeleny. He said a year ago, he would take care of the kids, it's not like it had to get down to this point, you're right on, they had a year to do this with this particular president.

Jeff Zeleny, stand by, as well as Phil Mattingly. Again, you're looking live now with some pictures on the Senate floor.

[22:10:00] This is a crucial vote that should happen at any moment now, according to our Phil Mattingly. There are -- senior congressional correspondent if -- it seems that everyone is obviously not on the flower yet. Then they're working and possibly here will be a deal to avoid a government shutdown.

The Senate republicans if they can't win enough democrats to reach 60 votes, then barring some Hail Mary, the government will shut down at midnight. They could come up with something after that. But that's where we stand.

Let's bring in now CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, also CNN political analysts Molly Ball and David Drucker. Wow! That was dramatic. Did you hear the sound from the Senate floor, it just go like, go away in like a vacuum. So we'll them to their work for the moment and then we'll discuss what's going.

Good evening to all of you. David Swerdlick, here we go again.


LEMON: At the last minute? Why can't Congress get their act together?

SWERDLICK: Well, because you have a situation, where especially in the House, members are in districts that are either heavily democrat or heavily republican. That over the years we've shrunk the number of swing districts. And so you have a situation where members know what the voters in their districts want and have less incentive to compromise across the aisle.

It's a little different in the Senate but that is the general pattern going back, you know, a decade or more. In this case, you also have a situation where republicans control both Houses in the White House, but democrats having experienced the Obama years are realizing that they have to at some point take a stand.

Republicans during the Obama years showed that they were willing to take a hostage. They didn't get a lot for it, but they showed they would take a hostage. Democrats haven't shown that they would take a hostage, this might be their opportunity to do it.

LEMON: So but what if they end up the hostage?

SWERDLICK: Well, OK, look, there are risks for democrats too, going- forward with the shutdown. There are risks for democrats not doing it. The risk of the shutdown is that it reflects poorly on the fact that they essentially held up the continuing resolution. Held up the budget because they didn't provide enough votes to break the filibuster.

On the other hand, democratic base voters want a deal on DACA. They want the democrats to press republicans on immigration, and will not be happy with their members if they don't do that.

And Don, here's the thing about the hostage taking. It's not rooting for hostage taking, it's not rooting for the democrats, it's not rooting for a shutdown. What it is, though, is that in a two party system, it doesn't work if one party is afraid of the other party and it doesn't go the other way. You can have an arm's length good faith negotiations where one party has said over and over again, we'll shut it down, and the other party is sort of afraid to. That's where we are.

LEMON: David Drucker, you agree with that?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a lot of truth to that. Look, the democratic base is itching for a fight and they're very, very concerned about the DACA issue, and they want their party on the Hill to use the budget as leverage.

Let's step back for a minute here. We're having trouble coming to an agreement not on a long term spending plan, and not just on DACA, but on a four-week spending plan to buy them time for further negotiations. And part of -- look, part of the problem is that there is not a lot of trust to go around. Republicans don't trust the president, never mind democrats, and the president has a habit of agreeing to -- agreeing with whoever he's talking to at the moment, and then his mind can change and he reassesses.

And after other people have rushed back in to tell him, that's not what you want and that's not what your base wants. At the same time, you have members on Capitol Hill that have their own agenda and their own concerns, And I think right now what both sides are trying to figure out is, how does this benefit us and what are the risks.

I think republicans feel confident for the first time in a long time, that because the shutdown in a sense would be driven or you could explain it as being driven as a minority of democrats in one chamber of Congress.


LEMON: Hey, David?


DRUCKER: I need to interrupt. And Molly, we'll get to you in a moment. I need to get to the Senate floor, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader is speaking now, or he was at least.

SWERDLICK: In the House amendment to the Senate amendment.

LEMON: Not speaking. All right. So he's not speaking any more.

SWERDLICK: Signed by 17 senators. By unanimous amendment -- to the Senate amendment 195, to H.R. 195 shall be brought to a close.


SWERDLICK: The yays and nays are mandatory under the rule.

LEMON: My -- still open. OK. Sorry. Listen, it's very fluid here. He was speaking just moments ago, we missed it as David was talking. We expect Chuck Schumer to come out at any moment, so you guys you'll have to roll with us because this is a, again, it could be a little bit frenetic. It sounds like -- is this the vote underway?

SWERDLICK: Mr. Booker?

LEMON: Yes. Let's see what's happening. Stand by.

SWERDLICK: Mr. Boozman. Mr. Brown? Mr. Burr? Miss Cantwell? Mrs. Capito. Mr. Cardin? Mr. Carper? Mr. Casey?

[22:15:09] LEMON: So getting some clarification, yes, this is the vote that's happening now. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer will speak afterwards, so everyone stand by, will the government shut down, we'll find out momentarily.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Coons? Mr. Corker? Mr. Cornyn? Ms. Cortez- Masto? Mr. Cotton? Mr. Crapo? Mr. Cruz? Mr. Daines.

LEMON: OK. As we -- as a vote, we'll continue our conversation. Sorry, David, to interrupt you, did you finish your thought?

DRUCKER: It's not a problem. It's not a problem. Don, look, I think the bottom line is that once you get this close to a shutdown, into a government shutdown, it's no longer about the policies that brought you to the brink, it's about who blinks first. Because whoever blinks first ends up weaker in the next round of negotiations, and that is governing all of the decisions both democrats and republicans as well as President Trump are making as we go forward.

LEMON: Molly, I want to bring you in here, and get your, what you think of this conversation. Here we are, Molly, at the once again, really at the 11th hour, I mean, this really is at the 11th hour for this, and we're voting on something that's very important to the American people. I don't remember this happening with any other administration, there's certainly been a lot of drama, but we didn't necessarily have to be here.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I wrote all of my big papers in college by pulling all-nighters the night before, so I certainly understand needing a deadline to get things done. And that was certainly the case in the previous administration too. That we had constant governing by crisis. We had a shutdown. Constant deadlines and then blowing the deadline and then negotiating over how long you were going to need until the next deadline, that you would also blow through.

But to go back to, you know, your original question of just sort of, what is wrong with these people, why can't they get their act together? This is such a case study in congressional dysfunction. It makes sense to have gridlock when you have two sides that fundamentally disagree.

But this is not that, right? This is just two sides that can't come together on the things they do agree on, you have a majority of the House and the Senate who say they want to continue DACA. And there was a deal to do that. Nobody says they want to shut down the government, and there was a deal to keep it open. Nobody wants to do this constant deadline stuff.

Every or a majority of the House and Senate say they want to extend CHIP. And yet, even with all of that, they can't make the deal, and the president who as we've said over and over was supposed to be the guy who makes deals, he's been the deal breaker, he's the one blowing up the deal when Congress actually does manage to get the parties together and get something done. So you couldn't get a better example of how bad things are in Congress.

LEMON: Molly, David, David, I need you to stand by. We'll get back to you. I want to bring in now Senator Jeff Merkley. He's an Oregon democrat. Senator, thank you so much for joining us. How are you going--


SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON : You're very welcome. Great to be with you.

LEMON: You got to vote, so how are you going to vote?

MERKLEY: Yes, it's going on right now, and well I certainly am going to vote against this one month proposal from the House, but we are going to put forward a one day or a three-day or possibly both continuing resolutions, so that we can keep the government open, but really put Mitch McConnell and Trump's feet to the fire for intensive negotiations to get this done.

LEMON: Why are you willing to shut down the government tonight?

MERKLEY: We're not shutting down, we will propose to keep it open for one day or three days. If the president want to shut it down and he's bragged about how it important it is for American to have a -- good for America to have a shutdown. We disagree. We want to keep it open. But you know who's in power, it's the republicans in the House and in the Senate and in the presidency.

LEMON: Yes. So listen, did democrats screw this all up, I mean, why not take this win on the Children's Health Insurance Program, keep the government open for a month, and try to tackle DACA later on?

MERKLEY: No. To address the issues, multiple issues that were neglected. Now realize these are things that we were bringing up in back August and September, republicans were obsessed instead with shutting down healthcare for 30 million Americans, and then they were obsessed with a tax bill to deliver a trillion dollars to richest Americans. [22:19:59] They neglect all the basic issues of governing. And tonight

we don't have anything on the opioid epidemic, we don't have anything on keeping our community health centers open. And we don't have anything to address the defense department's needs which they've been expressing very aggressively.

So there's a lot that's missing here. We need to have intensive negotiations to get this done. Including fair legal status for the members of our community who have been held in limbo for far too long.

LEMON: Senator, you realize the vote is underway. If you need to go, let us know, I'll certainly understand.

MERKLEY: I have my team standing right here to make sure I don't miss it.

LEMON: OK. So you're good. So I'll give you another question. And there are at least three democrats all from red states who support the C.R., did they try to win you over?

MERKLEY: No, they didn't. They're, of course, I respect my colleagues, but there's going to be, as we anticipate, we'll see a number of republicans will be voting with us tonight. This governance by C.R. it's incompetent, it's irresponsible. It doesn't address the needs of the nation, and there's a strong sentiment among republicans as well as democrats that this is no way to -- no way to run an operation. No way to run a country.

LEMON: The White House is calling this a Schumer shutdown, are democrats going to get the blame here, do you think?

MERKLEY: Not at all. It's clear who's in charge. And when the republicans block the bipartisan bill that we've been trying to put on the floor, and realize Mitch McConnell blocked amendments to prevent a bipartisan proposal from being considered.

When the republicans proceed to block a vote on a continuing resolution to keep the government open for one day or three days. This is completely 100 percent on their hands, they're in charge. They're deciding to shut down the government.

LEMON: Yes. Isn't this why Americans hate Washington? The simple task of funding the government can't get done or come down to the last--


MERKLEY: Yes. You know what's absurd in this case, is you have three bipartisan proposals more if you count defense. You have bipartisan support for the clinics, bipartisan support for the DREAMers, bipartisan support for the health care clinics. I mean, it's really just -- it's -- if ever it was simple to close a deal, if the president had any talent to close a deal, this would have been closed today.

LEMON: OK, senator. It sounds like they're counting the votes, no?

MERKLEY: I better run.

LEMON: All right, bye.

MERKLEY: OK. Thank you.

LEMON: Senator Jeff Merkley, democrat from Oregon. But again, they are counting the votes. I hope he has enough time to get his vote in there.

So let's bring the panel back in. David Swerdlick, Molly Ball, and then David Drucker as well. So, Molly, as they count the votes here. Again, it has been a long time and coming. As Jeff Zeleny said from the White House lounge just moments ago, the president stood and said a year ago tomorrow we're going to help these children, meaning the DACA kids. And so one year into it, and nothing has happened.

BALL: I believe sorry to correct you, he was sitting down when he said that.


BALL: That was at the lunch he shared with Senator Durbin after the inauguration.

LEMON: Right.

BALL: But, yes. I mean, the president has been all over the place on this, and what I take away from having closely watched his varying stance on the DREAMers, he's repeatedly expressed his heart for these kids, he has repeatedly expressed that he has feelings for them, he has compassion for them, he doesn't want to kick them out of the country. He doesn't want to seem heartless. And at the same time, he's pulled in the other direction by the promises he's made on immigration and by his base, and by his more hardline advisers.

And so the decision has been to not make a decision. And to put this off and put this off and put this off, and try to please everybody. And of course, you end up pleasing nobody, when you do that. If he really felt strongly about it, the president could have gone one way or the other.

We saw him seemingly decisively end DACA. And then immediately pull back from that and say no, no, we're going to extend it and make Congress do something. And so, he's just been all over the map, and you had even Mitch McConnell say this week that they would have an easier time getting something done if they just knew what the president wanted.



LEMON: And I just want to say that Senator Merkely, we just saw him, we heard him, and he did a no. So he made it for the vote. He can't blame Don Lemon and CNN for that. Who was that? Was that David Swerdlick or David Drucker? DRUCKER: Don, I was going -- it's David Drucker.

LEMON: Go ahead.

DRUCKER: I was -- look, I was going to say that the only way that you're going to get a deal on DACA is if the president goes first. The reason that is important is because immigration is such a hot button issue for the republican base and on the republican side. That they need the cover of the president in order to go forward and take a tough vote, a potentially perilous vote, in the next few months, many of them are going to face republican primary voters.

And especially because this president has a habit of changing his mind, even sometimes after a vote is held. What they need is some assurance and some confidence that the tough vote that they're taking is something that's going to result in something.

[22:25:03] And also, they need the political cover of the president's approval, so if they have trouble at home for helping to legalize and prevent from deportation, 800,000 of these DREAMers, they can tell their voters that the biggest immigration hawk in town supported it, they got border security concessions because of it, and therefore you should be happy with it too and you shouldn't be mad at me.

LEMON: Interesting. David Swerdlick, what's incredible here is we're talking about two issues with very broad public support.


LEMON: And this is from a new CNN poll. Eighty percent of Americans say it's extremely or very important for the president and for Congress to fund CHIP. Sixty three percent say that same thing about dealing with DACA. So there's a plan to deal with both, and yet Washington continues to play games here.

SWERDLICK: That's right, Don. That goes back to the point Molly made a few minutes ago, about the idea that it's backward and confounding to Americans when Congress is on the brink of the shutdown over issues that they more or less agree on, and where the public is going in one clear direction.

I think that the point David made a second ago is key. President Trump wants to -- David was right, that republicans need the president to go first, they're unlikely to get that in any sort of definitive way, because what President Trump wants mostly out of this is to look good.

But because he doesn't operate from a set of core beliefs, he's not sure what looking good means in this situation. Is it being tough and strong and the guy who sold the border wall and saying, look, I'm a hawk on immigration. Or is it the - who's your daddy, benevolent strong man that the protect these, you know, wide eyed DREAMers from being sent back to their home countries.

And so, he wants to be able to claim a win legislatively, but Don, I don't think he knows what that looks like, and that's why, again, I think we're in this situation that you're showing right there on the split screen.

LEMON: Yes. Again, we're watching the vote happening now on the Senate floor. As soon as they have the votes and we know what the grand sum total is, we will bring it to you.

David, I have another polling question for you.


LEMON: Fifty six percent of Americans believe it's more important to avoid a government shutdown that protecting the DREAMers with the DACA fix. What does that mean for the democrats? Are they playing this right?

SWERDLICK: So, Don, I think this is the thing, although polls show, and like the CNN poll and our Washington Post poll shows that overwhelming number of Americans, including republicans support letting the DREAMers stay. That number you just showed indicates that it's not an issue where a lot of Americans are going to go to the polls in November.

And that's going to be their decisive voting issue, and that is why we're sort of in this limbo situation.

But here's the challenge for democrats, I'll just go back to this idea that when one side over the last however many years has been playing by this sort of marquis of Queensbury rules, the other side has been playing by like ultimate fighting rules, that's the democrats and republicans, you're not going to be able to sit down at a table and hash out the fine deal points until both sides have a little bit of fear of the other side.

So even though democrats are risking some things for November by going this way, what they probably have decided here to do is say look, let's let Heitkamp, Manchin, Donneley, you know, Tester, republicans in -- I mean, excuse me, democrats in tough states vote for cloture, and everybody else is saying, we're going to fight this out.

LEMON: OK. Guys, well you stand by because I want to bring in some other folks in, so please stand by for me. I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Brian Fallon and Scott Jennings. Welcome to the program, here we are, Brian and Scott, in the middle of all of this, what's your reaction. Brian first.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this vote that's happening right now is a show vote, it's a sham, Don. They could have had it last night, in fact, Chuck Schumer tried to get consent from Mitch McConnell to have it last night. Because we've known since yesterday that this thing didn't have 60 votes. So we could have spent today productively negotiating in good faith on a bill that might actually keep the government open.

But instead, Mitch McConnell purposely delayed it tonight and some manufacture to attempt to create suspense.

So this vote is going to go down, and then perhaps the real negotiating can start. And the democrat's position simply is that they want Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to hold up their end of the bargain and do what they promised several months ago.

In December, Don, the last time Congress punted on the continuing resolution to fund the government, Mitch McConnell promised to democrats and republicans alike, he told Jeff Flake to his face he would give him a vote on any bipartisan deal that they could strike on DACA.

So Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, senators from both sides of the aisle came up with that deal, Mitch McConnell is refusing to give it a vote on the Senate floor even though we know it would have 60 votes and pass if you would give a standalone vote.

Donald Trump said just a week ago, Don, that he would pass whatever this bipartisan group came up with, he's gone back on his word on that front. And so that's why we are where we are tonight.

LEMON: Yes. So Scott, some democrats have crossed over. Before that, give me your assessment to this, and then I'll ask you the question.

[22:30:00] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Brian is I think overstating the support for whatever DACA deal he's referring to, there's not legislative language right now that anyone has 60 votes on the floor.

I agree there's bipartisan support for getting a deal done for the DREAMers. But we don't have legislative language that we know for sure would win. What we do know for sure is that there's plenty of support for CHIP, and there's plenty of support for keeping the government open. Which is why it's mind-boggling that democrats are voting against both of those things tonight.

All you need to know about the politic of this come in the democrats tonight who are crossing over. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Donnelly in Indiana, McCaskill in Missouri, Jones in Alabama.

LEMON: They're in red states.

JENNINGS: All of these people live in red states.


JENNINGS: And some of them, most of them are on the ballot. That's all you need to know about the politics of this, the democrats are on the losing end of this message war. And that's why the people in tough races are crossing over.

LEMON: OK. Listen, it's not over, gentlemen, until they pound the gavel. But they already have more than 45 votes against cloture, they can only afford how many, 40?

DRUCKER: The thing needs 60 to pass, Don. And to go to an up or down vote--

(CROSSTALK) JENNINGS: Yes, it's over.

DRUCKER: -- simple majority, so this thing is dead.

LEMON: So does this mean the government is going to shut down unless there's a Hail Mary?

DRUCKER: Unless there's -- unless there's some kind of a measure they can pass in the next 90 minutes then the government will shutdown.

Now of course, we're going to an overnight period where the ramifications of this will be minimal.

LEMON: Because we're on the weekend.

DRUCKER: I mean, realistically, yes, it's overnight and it's on the weekend.


DRUCKER: And so, I expect that there might still be -- I mean, Scott may know if he's in touch with McConnell. There might be some other stand for votes that might be plan for the last 90 minutes to make a show of a last-ditch effort to try to force senators to consider for things.

But what's really going to have to happen here is, to Scott's point, you know, yes, there were some democrats that crossed over and voted for this measure, there are republicans that crossed over like Lindsey Graham and voted with the democrats to block this because they want the DACA measure consider.

And every poll I'll seen in the last week, there was an ABC poll today that showed by a 20 point margin the public would blame Donald Trump and the republicans who control Congress over the democrats. The DACA measure is supportive according to a CBS poll that came out today, by an 89 to 11 measure.

These kids -- these 800,000 DREAMers because of Donald Trump's decision to rescind the DACA program back in September, no one force his hand on that point, he made that decision of his own volition after promising last year that he would, quote, unquote, "take care of the DACA kids."

He's created this crisis. We've now had two short term funding extensions of the government, the first time in September, Donald Trump, remember that infamous meetings with Chuck and Nancy, where he struck a deal with the democrats right there in the Oval Office and said, I'll do a deal with you on DACA. He reneged on that.

Then in December, there was another short term extension of the government. Mitch McConnell got 18 democrats crossed over and voted for it then because Mitch McConnell promised he would put this DACA bill on the floor in January. He's gone back on that word. So now democrats have said enough, this is going to be the third temporary extension of the government. You fool us twice, shame on you-- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. So, Brian--

DRUCKER: Shame on us.

LEMON: OK, Brian, so then everyone talked about that meeting today with Chuck Schumer. He went to the Oval Office, and that was supposedly big, maybe they could work something out. The president tweeting out that was a good meeting. But do you think he came out of that meeting saying, this president has promised so much, and democrats said, how -- do we -- how can we believe him? Because every time he promises us something, he does the opposite?

FALLON: Well, that's the thing, Don, I think Chuck Schumer, in fact, I know Chuck Schumer went to that meeting this afternoon optimistic, because he's had plenty of conversations with Donald Trump where he's--


LEMON: And you know him?

FALLON: I worked for him for six years. Chuck Schumer has had enough conversations by now with Donald Trump, that he knows that if you can get him one on one, you can pretty much get him to agree to anything because the man has no principles or policy compass.

And that's why he's twice now publicly agreed to cut a deal with democrats and republicans on DACA. What then happened is his chief of staff, John Kelly, who's a right wing ideologue, albeit a decorated military veteran, and Stephen Miller who's a 33-year-old hack that worked on Capitol Hill and was a spokesperson for Jeff Sessions and is also a right wing ideologue when it comes to immigration, getting Donald Trump and convince him to renege to his previous promises to the democrats.

So to the extent that Chuck Schumer emerged from that meeting earlier today, with some glimmer of hope, it's because Donald Trump can be very reasonable because he's reminded of his own promises that he made to these DACA kids and he reassures people that something can get done.

But then these ideological staffers in the West Wing get back to Donald Trump and then he reneges on his promises.


FALLON: And that's why Mitch McConnell himself this week said the reason we don't have a deal on DACA is because Mitch McConnell doesn't know where Donald Trump stands on this anymore.

LEMON: So, I want to bring in, because you, Scott, you know Mitch McConnell. As Brian knows Chuck Schumer, you know Mitch McConnell. How do you think he's handle of himself, and what is he thinking over the last couple hours or so? JENNINGS: Well, I think he feels like the republicans are in a very

solid position as it relates to talking to the public about what they're doing. Look, tonight the vote count will not lie, it will be most republicans voting to keep the government open, and most democrats voting to shut the government down.

[22:35:04] I see it very simply. There are two cakes in the oven here, one cake is ready to eat. The CHIP bill is ready. One cake is not set up yet, that's the DACA bill.

I agree with everything Brian said about the polling and the support and so on and so forth, but the legislative language is not yet ready, it will be ready, and I have full faith that a vast majority of Congress is going to pass a fix for the DREAMers within the next couple months, and that Donald Trump will sign it. It is not ready tonight.

If you want to talk about manufactured crisis, and I've heard McConnell talk about this over the last couple of days, why in the world are we dying on the DACA hill tonight. No one is going to get deported tomorrow, we have until at least March. This court in junction makes, then that even further. There is no urgency to do DACA tonight.

However, there are 10 states that are going to run out of CHIP money, and so filibustering CHIP to die on the DACA hill tonight, whether it is completely unnecessary I think to most Americans it's going to look pretty foolish.

LEMON: All right. I want both of you to stand by, I need to get to Phil Mattingly. Phil, as I understand, a senior congressional, you've got some news for us?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, look, Don. I think the big question now is what happens next, here's kind of what we know, obviously this vote is going to go down, and it's not been gaveled in yet, but there are already enough votes -- enough no votes to ensure that they won't pass the 60 votes threshold.

After this vote, there will likely be another one, it will be procedural, it won't matter in the grand scheme of things. And then they will forward. According to the sources that I'm talking on the republican side of aisle, Don, here's what you can expect in the next couple of days, assuming this continues to go that long.

As many painful votes for republicans -- or democrats that come from red states that are up for re-election in 2018, as they can possibly muster, there is no sense right now on the republican side of things that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in the mood to deal in anyway. They still believe that the four-week stopgap C.R. is the pathway forward. And that means that they are basically going to try to make things as difficult as possible for democrats in the days ahead.

I will tell you, I had one republican source tell me very flatly, a couple hours ago, the wild card in this issue will always be the president. They don't know necessarily when the president is going to step in and try and change the dynamic, they thought for a period of time today that that might actually be happening. Clearly democrats thought for a period of time today that that might be actually happening.

So I think there's two things you need to keep a close eye on, Don, and then kind of the near term over the next couple days. What is the pain threshold for, perhaps democrats, particularly those democrats who are dealing with difficult re-election issues and where does the president enough on all of this. Does he decide at some point that he's had enough, or is he willing to stay in line with republicans who, Don, I cannot stress this enough.

You talked to House republican leaders, you talked to Senate republican leaders, they're very comfortable with where they are right now. They feel like they're in a good place, they feel like democrats are out over their skis on this one. I can tell you right now, Brian will say the same exact thing, democrats don't feel that way.

They feel like they're having a fight that they have to have that they need to have. But one thing is very clear, as long as those two sides stay in those two positions, this is going to continue for the foreseeable future, Don.

LEMON: Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill, we're going to get right back to Phil in just a moment. Are we going to Sunlen? Are we going to Sunlen Serfaty, is that where we're going? OK, we're having trouble. We're going to go to Sunlen but we're going to go -- let's get back to Scott Jennings, and Brian Fallon.

So, I was talking about you two guys about knowing the two leaders, the democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, both of you know them. But now, I mean, after this they're going to speak. What do you think they're going to say? Because are you sure they're going to speak? Are they going to get down to work to try to figure out something to come with so that the government doesn't shut down? You first, Brian.

FALLON: Well, I don't know, you heard Phil just report that McConnell is cooking up another cynical ploy of trying to expose democratic senators from Trump won states to as many show votes over the next 90 minutes as possible. So maybe you'll see something where he offers a three-week continuing resolution or two-week continuing resolution.

Again, without any DACA measure attach which is the whole kettle of fish here. But let me just respond if I could, Don, to two things that Scott said right before you went to Phil. First he said democrats should want to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, and that's right, we obviously do.

But the Children's Health Insurance Program, let's be clear, the authority for that lapse on September 30th. Democrats howled when republicans went home without extending that program. They held out without extending it for four months on purpose to use it as a bargaining chip tonight. This is an extremely cynical ploy on the part of Senate and House

republicans. If they wanted to bring it up, it could pass by unanimous consent, by a voice vote if they would bring it up on a standalone basis. They are purposely attaching it to the C.R. in order to make democrats have to give up on the DREAMers.

[22:39:55] The other thing that Scott said, was that there's no urgency to the DREAMer crisis because there's no deadline until March. That's wrong. There's 800,000 kids that came out of the shadows and registered, because under President Obama, the government told them that they would get protected status, so they would at least get their first status.

They signed up, they gave their phone numbers, their home addresses where their parents live, and now this government is telling them they're going to be exposed and that potentially going to be rounded up and deported by the act of trust that they took when they came forward and came out of the shadows.

And that is -- DREAMers are losing their status, their deferred status, hundreds of them every day on a rolling basis, it's not just a matter of a March deadline. So democrats who meet with these DREAMers all the time, these DREAMers have been showing at members of Congress' officer and their stories are heartbreaking.

So, I would like any of these republican senators that are voting against this measure tonight and acting like it's not a crisis to meet with these DREAMers, many of them have never met a single DREAMer. You heard Secretary Nielson, the secretary of DHS this week in congressional testimony admit she's never met a DREAMer. I think they would have their minds open, if they actually met with one of the people impacted by these threats Donald Trump is making.

LEMON: Yes. Scott, you want to respond to that?

JENNINGS: Yes. Look, I share Brian's passion about fixing the issue on DACA. These DREAMers deserve legal certainty. I 100 percent agree, virtually every republican I know agrees with that. But I don't think there is broad consensus in the Congress and at the White House right now over what that legislative package is going to look like.

What we do have consensus on is the CHIP program, and yes, it lapsed last year but the funding hasn't run out. The funding is running out, and 10 states at least are on the hook for this very soon. So, it strikes me, that if I were a democrat, and I had to go home, and every state has some population of CHIP kids that are on this health insurance program.

And I have to explain why the government is shut down. You're talking about pitting nine million U.S. citizen children versus 700,000 non- citizen DACA people. Not to denigrate their status, and not to denigrate who they are and what they need. But nine million citizens versus 700,000 non-citizens when a vote could be had tonight to fix the CHIP program, I just don't see how democrats think they're going to win that argument. You ask, Don, about what McConnell is going to say? This man is a

study in message discipline. He's going to continue to say all you have to do is vote yes. CHIP gets fixed, the government does not shutdown and the world keep spinning. That's a real simple message, and I think it's going to sell.

LEMON: All right. So if there is a fix and they know that they can do it, why -- then why can't they get it done? That's what everyone at home is saying? Why can't they do it?

FALLON: Look, Don, I think we have to be honest here. I don't think the republicans want a DACA deal. Paul Ryan goes around and says that he wants to help these kids, and Donald Trump goes around saying he wants to help these kids. But every action they take is completely to the contrary.

Just this week the Trump Justice Department filed a motion in federal court seeking to defend Donald Trump's decision to rescind DACA. They didn't have to do it this week. That was an utter act of bad faith. They could have waited for this to be solved if they were clearly open to doing something having some resolution on the DACA situation.

They threw another log on the fire here, douse some more oil on the flames to inflame the situation. And the democrats are completely reasonable I think in saying that if we don't resolve this tonight, this might be our last point where we have any leverage to exercise in this matter, and March will come and there will be no action taken.

Scott keeps saying there's no consensus around a DACA solution, that's not true. There are seven republican senators that are co-sponsoring the deal and principle that was struck last week by Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, alongside Dick Durbin that they brought to the White House before Donald Trump rejected it.

And then moments later issued that racist utterance where he referred to shithole countries. There are seven republican co-sponsors, let alone how many others may be willing to vote for it, but are not willing to buck Mitch McConnell by publicly saying that they will co- sponsor. If that bill was given a standalone vote on the floor, it would pass.

If Paul Ryan would put it on the floor of the House, it would pass. And so the fact that they will not do that means that to me, that they're operating completely bad faith, they don't want to rescue these 800,000 DREAMers.


FALLON: Because they're worried about offending Trump's xenophobic base.

LEMON: All right. Both of you, stand by because Sunlen is on the move. I thought we had her just moments ago. But guess what, there she is now. She's just outside the Senate chamber where the vote is ongoing. So what can you tell us, Sunlen? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, I'm here at the Russell

center office building. This is a place where many senators came down from their office, and they take the short trip over to the U.S. capitol and cast their vote. And I spoke with a lot of senators as they were en route there, and certainly, it's no surprise how this vote is breaking this way, a lot of talk about what the plan b is.

And I have to say, a lot of people did not know what the plan b is. I spoke to republican Senator Cory Gardner and he said, you know, look, we're going to keep continuing to work really end out the clock to midnight tonight, the last 90 minutes after this vote ultimately fails, we're going to keep working, see what we can do.

[22:45:04] But certainly no optimism on his part that they would be able to reach any sort of really Hail Mary passage and say at this 11th hour. I asked him, would you be in support of potentially a few days short term C.R.? Some republican senators really interested in that.

Senator Inhofe, a republican senator said yes, he would be in support of that, they don't want to see any sort of long shutdown, but certainly not what a lot of senators wanted up here tonight.

I have not seen any democrats pass it, I should say, just republicans en route to the vote. Certainly the big question right now is, what's the plan b. And I think there are just fascinating conversations, if you look down on the Senate floor just fascinating huddles going on.

And you can sense there is this collective, goodness, what is plan b, we've got to figure this out. Certainly, though, for many hours, this was the direction that republicans and democrats knew they were headed. But right now, they're faced with the reality of having to go there.

LEMON: I think the democrats are supposed to meet tomorrow at 10, and are there plans for republicans to meet? Take us there, take us to this contingency plan and who will be at this meeting, at these meetings?

SERFATY: Yes. We know that democrats over in the House are going to be meeting tomorrow. As of now, we don't have any firm plans for any other groups that will be meeting. Of course, we know that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that he intends to keep the Senate open and working in the event of a shutdown.

He has planned a lot of test votes likely to force many democrats to take some hard votes as they get through this. Certainly negotiating behind the doors, behind closed doors is the most important thing that will be going on as they get through this this weekend. But as far as the feeling and the tone I'm getting from many senators going out to cast their vote coming back from that vote, a little defeatism. And the question is, where does this all go next.

LEMON: Where does it go? It's anybody's guess. So thank you, Sunlen. We'll get back. Sunlen is standing by in Washington. Also Phil Mattingly standing by as well on Capitol Hill. The voting is pretty much over but they have not announced the final

vote count yet, so we can still say it's ongoing because they're not done yet, they have not pounded the gavel so we don't know what the exact vote is.

But we do know that there are enough votes to defeat this, and the government is expected to shut down to defeat this C.R. to keep the government open. It's expected to shutdown unless there is a Hail Mary, unless they come up with some sort of a negotiation, something, some sort of fix between now and midnight Eastern Time.

Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell supposed to speak. Take to the Senate floor right after this and we're going to carry it for you here.

But let's continue to discuss this until we can figure out exactly what's going on the floor, exactly how many votes and we'll -- you'll know when we know. I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Tara Setmayer and Maria Cardona. And CNN contributor, Salena Zito as well.

So here we go, everyone, it's very fluid. We could go back to any number of folks, but we don't know. But we're going to go with you now. Salena, both sides are there right now, what do you think?

SALENA ZITO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, if you're wondering what voters think, I think there's probably a level of expectation that voters sort of expect Congress to be dysfunctional. All have you to do is sort of look at what their approval rating is, right? It's like 17 percent.

So they don't expect a lot out of Congress. And so I don't know if there's a big upheaval. I went around before I came out here tonight, and I went around and I talked to people, people that were democrats and republicans, about how they felt about this. If they were a democrat, they were still going to vote democrat. If they were republican, they were going to still vote for republican.

And when I talked to independent voters, as you know, those are the important people that sort of swing at a certain point, you know, summer or in the fall, you know, they're still nimble about this. And there's this idea that there's probably going to be so many more crisis between now and November, then I don't know that it hurts either party that bad and I don't know that it helps either party that bad -- much -- that much.

LEMON: Much. OK. So, as we talk to our other panelists, let me give you a little bit that I'm learning from our folks that we have planted there in Washington. They said on the Senate floor, republicans and democrats, democratic colleagues are spreading -- spending more time than usual on the opposite side of the chamber.

I guess they're trying to make some sort of deal, win people over. On the republican side of the chamber, a huge scrum has broken out between republican Senators Graham, Alexander, Flake, and Collins. With democratic Senators Cane, Stabenow, Donnelly, Klobuchar, Bennett, Shulkin, and Cardin. [22:50:01] The scrum continues to grow. Republican Senators Tillis and

Corker. Meanwhile, dispatched to the democratic side of the room to try to talk to Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Maggie Hassan, and so on, and so on.

That's how it works there in Washington right now especially when you have so many votes. Because as I said at the beginning of the show so many times that have come down in this short period of time that has come down to the wire. Certainly has been a dramatic year with this administration.

I mean, this is a mess. Do people out in the country, Salena, before I bring other folks in, do they feel like no one in Washington is doing their job and no one in Washington is really listening to them even though many of them may have voted for this president, who they think is hearing them, but the folks in Washington may not be doing their business?

ZITO: Well, I always think it's interesting in that I think Congress, in particular the House of Representatives, but also in the Senate, they are the most reflective of who we are in our communities, right? And so I think that this Congress and this Senate is reflective of how polarized we are.

And so, I don't know that people are that surprised that they're dysfunctional because they understand, like, they're feeling disruptive not just on the republican side, but also on the democratic side.

And I don't know that there's going to be that many -- that much big repercussion from this. I mean, it's hard for the democrats -- I will say this. It's very hard for the democrats to say the republicans shut the government down just because they all voted to keep it open, and they've got some red state democrats in there, including Doug Jones, who is incredibly progressive, you know, personally progressive, but he voted for the way his constituents feel. I thought that was an interesting and sort of smart move on his part.

LEMON: Not all republicans -- I mean most of them, the large majority of them, but not all republicans voted yes.

ZITO: No, yes, I should say that, yes. You need 60.

LEMON: Right.

ZITO: They only have 51. I think that two or three of them didn't vote for it, McCain, Graham, and Paul.

LEMON: Yes. Go ahead. Tara, go ahead. Say again.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It was also Flake, Lee, and Paul. They didn't vote for it either.


SETMAYER: I think that was cover. If there had been enough votes from democrats to put this over, I think Mitch McConnell could have convinced those guys to vote for it possibly. That happens all the time. I know on the house side -- I worked on the house side for seven years.

There would be times where members would vote for something knowing that they had cover, whether they would send it back to committee or they would vote against an amendment, but then vote for final passage so they could go on record saying they were against certain things, but they end up voting for the whole thing.

So this is some of that political brinksmanship going on as we were watching. What you're seeing with the senators talking to each other in little pockets on the floor. Look, no one actually wants a shutdown. This is something that is -- that has become the weaponization of the budgeting process and part of the dysfunction in Washington that has plagued both democrats and republicans who have been in charge for the last several years now.

We haven't had a budget passed in regular order in years, and this is part of why people were upset and voted for Donald Trump to drain the swamp, to change things like this. But unfortunately, Trump -- he got -- he derailed what would have been bipartisan efforts, probably would have avoided a shutdown.

He derailed it with his tweets and with the shithole comments last week, and that blew everything up. And democrats saw an opportunity to use that for political leverage to try to get something on DACA, thinking that republicans would get the blame for the shutdown because in the past, they have.

I think that they're overplaying their hand at this point. The CNN polling today, I think, was very revealing, showing that the majority of Americans cared more about stopping the government from being shut down than the DACA fix.

Scott Jennings made an excellent point earlier that DACA is not imminent right now. You still have a month to fix that problem. And there are ongoing negotiations. And it's really -- it is the Schumer shutdown at this point. It's not -- it's not republicans that are doing this.

It's a pocket of democrats that are from very left states, that are holding this process hostage because they want a DACA fix now, thinking that that's going to help them, I think, in 2018 and they're standing for something. I think at this point it may actually backfire on them.

LEMON: Hey, Maria, is this republicans giving -- I know you want to weigh in here.


LEMON: Giving democrats giving republicans a taste of their own medicine?

CARDONA: I think it's democrats actually fighting for what the majority of the American people want, and it's actually democrats fighting for what President Trump even promised, not just these kids, but promised both the bipartisan group of republicans and democrats who wanted a DACA fix.

[22:55:06] And President Trump promised if you bring me a bipartisan deal, I will sign it. Quote, "I will take whatever heat there is for this," unquote. And then two days later, instead of a bipartisan legislation, he gives us shithole countries.

So, the republicans are actually on the hook for this. The majority of the American people, we saw this both in the CNN poll as well as the Washington Post/ABC poll, by 20 points would blame republicans and President Trump on this.

And here's another point. You know, we talk about how people out -- you know, outside of the beltway, let's say, how are they going to see this? How are they going to judge this? And, yes, they don't believe that Congress can get anything done. But people do believe that their own member of Congress wants to get things done.

But President Trump campaigned and promised that he would be the deal maker. He campaigned and promised that only he could fix this mess. And here we have a president who was presented with a deal and instead of accepting the deal, he blew up the deal.

The other thing is you're not going to see any democrat that has ever said or tweeted or put down in a public statement that maybe a government shutdown is exactly what we need, that a government shutdown is exactly what America needs to fix this mess. Trump tweeted that May 2nd of 2017 while he was a sitting president. So there are so many things here--


SETMAYER: That's a fair point, Maria. I think but the republicans in Congress who are trying to get this done, believe me, they're not thrilled with the Trump tweeting. Yes, that's how we got here in the first place.


SETMAYER: I think everyone was happily on track to avoid this, and then Trump tweeting and those kinds of comments because he doesn't really understand how these things work, and he doesn't really care about how republicans look. He cares how he looks. So, in this instance--


CARDONA: Agreed.

SETMAYER: In this instance, this is what's making it so challenging. You saw Mitch McConnell say, look, let us know what you want because we don't know what you want. President, let us know, because they can't function this way if they don't know where the president stands. So that part is fair. LEMON: Yes.

SETMAYER: But democrats -- and everyone knows you need 60 votes. So democrats are the ones that they're saying, hey, we want DACA, and we want it now. And the republicans are saying, well, we can fund Children's Health Insurance, the military, and the government and things that are fiscally imminent that need to be fixed now, and let's do that. And then we can continue to negotiate. I think that's solid messaging. It's tough to sell that to the American people right now.

LEMON: I need to get this in. We're getting word we won't hear from the president tonight. The president will not be speaking, at least not -- he may release a tweet. We know that he does at any time, whenever he wants to, and there could be a paper statement. But we will not hear from the president tonight in person.

Salena Zito, I want to bring you back in here because we're following this closely. People who are tuned in, zoned in, really interested in politics following this closely. I think many Americans maybe more so following because they're concerned about their government being shut down. How much do you think -- how closely do you think the average person, especially republican and Trump supporter, how closely are they paying attention to this?

ZITO: It's Friday night. They might be coming home for a kid's basketball game, or they went out to a movie or binge watching a show on Netflix.

LEMON: Or binge watching CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, but go on.

ZITO: Of course. I mean, that goes without saying, right?

LEMON: Right.

ZITO: But I mean, that does not say that people aren't interested and they're not paying attention to this. Of course they are. This is part of their lives. This is part of culture. This is part of, you know, civic engagement.

But they don't watch it and obsess over it in the way that we do. A lot of times people say, well, there goes Congress again, and I know in x amount of days that we'll be back to the -- eventually the budget has to get fixed.

I'm not saying that's a great place to be, but unfortunately as part of our culture, that's sort of where we are right now. I personally don't particularly care for it. But, you know, both parties are in this sort of disruptive populist movement, and so they're OK with this -- not OK like, yes, this is great.

SETMAYER: It's part for the course at this point.

ZITO: Yes. Thank you. I lost my words. That's what I was trying to say, yes.

LEMON: It's not very often that-- (CROSSTALK)

ZITO: Status quo.

LEMON: -- Salena Zito, who writes and speaks for a living, who's at a loss for words when it comes to this. But I think many people are at a loss for words. As I have said over the last minutes there's been so much drama. We have seen so many of these votes. We saw it with the health care vote. We saw it with this. We saw a number of health care votes. We saw it with taxes.

So there's been a lot of this in a short period of time. So much drama, so much down to the wire.

[23:00:00] And Americans are wondering, not that the government hasn't shut down before, but in this amount of time, there has been a lot of drama.

Let's get now to the top of the hour. It's 11 o'clock here on the East Coast. I'm Don Lemon. We're live with the breaking news.