Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Reconvenes. Majority Leader Speaks amid Government Shutdown; Schumer Speaking amid Government Shutdown. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 21, 2018 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with this breaking news, the U.S. Senate back in session. You're looking at live pictures from the floor, where we are expecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to speak soon. So far, Democrats and Republicans, closer to a budget agreement to help get the U.S. government back up and running. The president calling for the so-called nuclear option in the Senate, allowing the Senate to change the voting rule to end the stalemate. At the same time, the White House saying today that there is a sliver of hope that the growing divide can be bridged.


MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: I might be a naive optimist on this, but I actually think we're making significant progress and we will get a deal. And when we get a deal, I think their champions like Senator Durbin who'll be hailed as a hero probably make this happen.


WHITFIELD: All of this happening as another round of massive women's marches enters a second day around the globe.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill. Let's begin there. U.S. Senate reconvening, Ryan, what are we hearing about what could potentially happen today?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is some talking happening right now, Fredricka, but that talking is happening at the lower levels of the U.S. Senate and House. We have some of the bipartisan talks that are happening amongst rank and file members, trying to come up with some sort of an agreement that will get them to the 60 votes necessary.

What's not happening right now are talks at the highest levels, that means that the leaders, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, are not talking to each other right now. President Trump is not talking to Chuck Schumer right now. And even if there is some sort of a ground swell, a deal that rises from the bottom parts of the Senate and rises to the top, it's not going to get through. Unless it gets by in from Senate leaderships.

So, right now, the Senate leaders are allowing their members to talk to one another to see where they stand on some of these big issues and see if they can come up with a plan. It seems to be right now that the best prevailing option for the Senate right now is to come up with yet another short-term continuing resolution, but one that would be a little bit shorter than the one that was initially passed by the House. This would be a three-week continuing resolution that ends on February 8.

But mixed in there would be some sort of an agreement as to when there can be a vote to deal with DACA. Of course, that program that protects the 700,000 so-called Dreamers who came to this country to no fault of their own and had legal protections under the Obama administration. But those protections were stripped away under a timeline set by the White House. That continues to be the sticking point, Democrats do not want to move on any kind of a continuing resolution until they get more, and I can see the Senate majority leader is now speaking, Fred, I'll send it back to you.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Day two since the Democratic leader made the political calculation to do something that according to a recent survey even most Democrats don't support. He shut down the government to appease a portion, a portion of his party's left wing base. Makes you shake your head. Who comes up with ideas like this?

Well, on Friday, a bipartisan group of senators voted to advance a bill that would have kept the federal government open, provided six years of certainty for the state Children's Health Insurance Program, which at least seven Democratic governors have written are in dire straits, allowed ongoing talks to continue on a variety of other important issues that we have been discussing here for a couple of months. Together, Democrats and Republicans had enough votes to pass it, five Democrats crossed over and voted against shutting down the government. To keep the government open while we do our work. The House had already passed it, the president was ready to sign it. We were poised to send him this compromised solution and erase the threat of a shutdown.

But unfortunately, my friend the Democratic leader had other ideas. We all know in the Senate, the minority has the power to filibuster. I support that right from an institutional point of view, but the question is when do you use it? On Friday, the Democratic leader made an extraordinary and destructive choice to filibuster our bipartisan deal and guarantee the American people a shutdown of their federal government.

[13:05:12] Now it's the second day of the Senate Democrat filibuster and the Senate Democrat shutdown of the federal government. Because the president wouldn't resolve months of ongoing negotiations over massive issues in one brief meeting and give the Democratic leader everything he wants, my friends across the aisle have shut down the government for hundreds of millions of Americans because he didn't get everything he wanted in one meeting Friday with the president. So, who pays the price for that? Health care for needy children, training and resources for our men and women in uniform, care for our veterans, who came home and survivor benefits for families of heroes who did not. Full funding for the CDC, for the NIH and for the safety inspections of food and medicine. You know, to most Americans, those sound like fundamental responsibilities. To the Democratic leader, apparently, they found like hostages ripe for the taking. And all this was totally unnecessary.

There is a broad consensus on both sides of the aisle that DACA and other issues related to immigration require a compromise solution, almost everybody here, Democrat and Republican believe we need to get to a solution on the DACA issue and related immigration matters. Bipartisan, bicameral negotiations have been underway for months, but they can go nowhere until Senate Democrats realize the extreme path their leader has charted leads them nowhere.

A filibuster of health care for 9 million children, a filibuster of the tools and training that are worked by the state to keep us safe. A filibuster of funding for the federal government itself for hundreds of millions of Americans. All over a tangential issue related to illegal immigration that does not even ripen until March. All of these other things are an emergency. The one nonemergency issue that our friends on the other side are trying to shoe horn into this discussion, doesn't reach that status of emergency until March. This is pure folly. The American people know so.

That's why in a recent survey, a majority said keeping the government open is a higher priority than shutting down the government over the issue of illegal immigration. That's why headlines all across America are laying the blame for this government shutdown right at the feet of Senate Democrats and their filibuster.

Now the Democratic leader could end this today. We can get past this manufactured crisis and get on to a host of serious issues before us that require thoughtful bipartisan negotiations. This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow. A lot worse.

Today would be a good day to end it. All we have to do is pass the common-sense legislation the Senate is currently considering, ending a government shutdown and ensuring health care continues for vulnerable children, there's nothing in this measure that my Democratic friends cannot support. So, here's the situation, if nothing changes, the closer vote will be no sooner than at 1:00 a.m. tonight.

We could resolve this much earlier if the Democratic leader withdraws his procedural objection and allows the Senate to proceed to a vote. Our constituents want us to end this. Secretary Mattis, our military leaders and our governors want us to end this. And we can. Today is the right day to do it.

[13:10:12] Senate Democrats only need to withdraw their filibuster and allow bipartisan majority to move America forward. If they really care about the big issues, increased defense funding, disaster relief, DACA and border security and other important matters that we have been negotiating and that I would like to bring to the floor, then they will stop their filibuster and this shutdown and let the negotiators get back to work. Everyone has figured this out. This shutdown was a political miscalculation of gargantuan proportions. But it doesn't need to go on any longer. It could stop today. So, let's step back from the brink, let's stop victimizing the American people and get back to work on their behalf.

WHITFIELD: All right, you're listening to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell there making a very impassioned, very terse plea there to the Senate. At the same time making some very disparaging remarks and criticism of the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Mitch McConnell putting it squarely on Chuck Schumer that he was frying to appease a portion of the base by not agreeing to the Senate measure to keep the government running without the issue of immigration.

Let me bring in my panel now to discuss this government shutdown and the 1:00 a.m. Scheduled culture vote. Later on overnight, Ryan Nobles back with me. I'm also joined by Amy Parnes, who is a CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The Hill." Also with me, Salena Zito, who is a CNN contributor and a national political reporter for the "Washington Examiner." Thanks to all of you for being with me. Ryan, let me begin with you, this very impassioned, very terse plea being made by the Senate majority leader today.

NOBLES: Yes, that's right. And you know, to get into the weeds a little bit as to how the legislative process works here in Washington. He's not even asking Senate Democrats to support a bill to keep the government open. He's just asking them to lift the filibuster.

So, the problem right now for Senate Republicans is that this measure needs 60 votes to move forward. And the reason it needs 60 votes is because Democrats have used that filibuster option to require those 60 votes. And McConnell does raise an important point here.

There are enough votes with a simple majority. And there are both Democrats and Republican in that simple majority to move this bill forward. But the one piece of leverage that Senate Democrats have is this filibuster option and they have chosen to continue to employ that option in, and the way that McConnell described it there in his speech, is that he talked about the issues that are - or the policy measures that are in this bill including funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. He said that Chuck Schumer is viewing them as hostages for the taking to use that as leverage to get that negotiations going on a whole host of other issues, primarily DACA.

So I think that's going to be one of the big things to look for throughout the day. Will Senate Republicans just try and convince Senate Democrats to you know get rid of that filibuster and keep the government open. If Senate Democrats go in that direction, that means they have lost all this leverage and they're going to need at least some sort of an assurance that the Senate majority leader will negotiate with them in good faith on these issues, like immigration, like funding for disaster relief, more money for the opioid crisis. These are all things that they view as priorities. And I can't imagine they're just going to let this go unless they get some sort of serious assurance from McConnell that that - those issues will be taken off as soon as this continued resolution is passed. WHITFIELD: So, Salena, what's the likelihood of that. I mean, Democrats really have been digging in their heels that they want immigration to be part of this package to now agree - let's just deal with getting the government open. Now, set a date for a vote later. I mean, why would anyone believe that Democrats would go for that?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean it's unclear if they will. I think what we need to wonder is what kind of feedback are they getting in their Senate offices from their constituents, in particular, in blue or -- I'm sorry, in red or purple states. When I first observed this happening, right, I thought that probably neither party is going to get hurt, or you know, it suffer too much from this, because we're sort of drinking out of a fire hose every day, right?

[13:15:00] But then I started thinking that maybe the Democrats hurt a little bit more from this because they have had momentum going in this. They've started to develop a message and the worst message that I have heard from sort of Democrats around the country, is they don't like the resistance. They like being about something, you know, doing something, talking about the economy. And I don't think this helps them as much as they want it to. I mean it helps their base, but it doesn't help those independent voters that make all the difference in House elections and in now presidential elections. And that speech that McConnell gave was aimed directly at independent voters.

WHITFIELD: And so, you know, Amy, Mitch McConnell said you know because the Democrats didn't get everything that he wants, really meaning, you know, Schumer that it led to the shutdown. Is it as simple as that?

AMY PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's how Republicans want to portray this, that this was the Schumer shutdown, that's what they have been calling it. But I don't think it is as simple as that, Fred, and I think that's why you're seeing Democrats kind of saying, no, this is a very core fundamental issue to us. This is immigration. This is something that we tried to deal with this last month and Republicans kind of kicked the can down the road and this is why we're here now. And that's why I think he wants.

They want to see reassurance right now. I don't think that a vote in the short-term future will be enough. I think they want more support from Republicans on this. And they're holding firm and they're hearing from constituents and their base that this is the right way to go, that this isn't just a political move, that this is something that they hold dear. And so, I think you're going to see them kind of dig their heels in and continue to do so.

WHITFIELD: And so, Ryan, what about options that have been on the table? Chuck Schumer has said, you know, he and Democrats were willing to give, you know, $25 million in funding for a wall, something that president really want in exchange for you know Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, being able to stay. What's the likelihood that that might be part of the equation considered again today?

NOBLES: Well, that's part of the problem, Fred, is that there is a real lack of trust, not just between the White House and Senate Democrats but between Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans and to a certain extend what you heard in Mitch McConnell's speech was a -

WHITFIELD: OK. Let me stop right there. Let's go to Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Day two of the first real government shutdown ever to take place when one party controlled the presidency, the House and the Senate.

Under this unified control, it was the Republicans' job to govern. It was their job to lead. It was their job to reach out to us and come up with a compromise. They have failed. Our democracy was designed to run on compromise. The Senate was designed to run on compromise. We are no dictatorship, subject to the whims of an executive, just as we're not a one-party system where the winner of an election gets to decide everything and the minority nothing.

We are a government that can only operate if the majority party, the governing party, accepts and seeks compromise. The majority however has forgotten the lessons of the founding fathers. They have shown that they do not know how to compromise, not only do they not consult us. They can't even get on the same page with their president, president from their own party. The Congressional leaders tell me to negotiate with President Trump. President Trump tells me to figure it out with the Congressional leaders.

This political catch-22 never seen before has driven our government to dysfunction. Americans know why the dysfunction is occurring, a dysfunctional president, hence, we are in a Trump shutdown. And party leaders who won't act without him. It has created the chaos and the grid lock we find ourselves in today. It all really stems from the president whose inability to clinch a deal has created the Trump shut down.

I agree with Majority Leader McConnell, the Trump shutdown was totally avoidable. President Trump walked away from not one, but two bipartisan deals. And that's after he walked away from an agreement in principle on DACA we reached way back in the fall of last year. If he had been willing to accept any one of these deals, we wouldn't be where we are today.

On Friday, in the Oval Office, I made what I thought was a very generous officer to the president. The most generous offer yet. The president demanded for months that a deal on DACA include the wall. Most of we Democrats don't think the wall is effective, we think it's expensive and a waste of money.

[13:20:05] We are all for tough border security, but every expert will tell you that drones and sensory devices and roads and personnel are far more effective than the wall. But because the president campaigned on the wall, even though he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and demands the wall, for the sake of compromise, for the sake of coming together, I offered it. Despite what some people are saying on TV, and mind you these are folks not in the room during discussion. That is exactly what happened. The president picked a number for a wall, I accepted it. It wasn't my number, it wasn't the number in the bills here. He picked it. Now it would be hard to imagine such a more reasonable compromise. All along the president's saying, well, I'll do DACA and Dreamers in return for the wall. He's got it. He can't take yes for an answer. That's why we're here. And we don't have anyone in the White House or here in the Senate, in the House, Republicans are the president's own party, to tell him he's got to straighten this whole thing out. He can't say yes one minute and no the next, three, four, five times.

The bottom line is this. It would be hard to imagine a much more reasonable compromise. I was in principle agreeing to help the president to get his signature campaign promise, something Democrats and Republicans on the Hill staunchly oppose, in exchange for DACA, a group of people the president said he has great love for. I essentially agreed to give the president something he has said he wants in exchange for something we both want. But only hours after he seemed very open, very eager about that generous tentative agreement and it was only tentative. There were no handshakes. He backed away from the last best chance to avoid a shutdown.

That's why from one corner of America, this is being called the Trump shutdown. It's trending all over. People from one end of the country to the other know it's the Trump shutdown and they know why. They have seen what the president has done, it's the direct result of a president who's been proved unwilling to compromise and is thus unable to govern. The deal wasn't everything the president wanted, it certainly wasn't everything we wanted, what it was, was compromise, something nobody loved, but everyone could live with, something good for the country.

It would have staved off a government shutdown on Friday. It could still reopen the government today. So Mr. President, I'm willing to seal the deal, to sit and work, right now, with the president or anyone he designates, let's get it done.

Meanwhile, the Republican leader would have you believe we Democrats forced the shutdown. He first forgets that several members of his own party voted against the C.R., are they holding the government hostage over illegal immigration? Nope, doesn't seem that way. The Republican leader accuses Democrats of holding up pay for our troops, I heard Speaker Ryan blame the Senate on TV.

But yesterday, Mr. President, Senator McCaskill offered a motion to make sure our military gets paid. And the majority leader himself objected. The majority leader prevented the troops from getting paid, because this would have passed in a minute. Speaker Ryan should talk to leader McConnell, who's the only person in the U.S. Senate standing in the way of paying our troops, not anybody here. We don't want to use the troops as hostages. Unfortunately, some on the other side may be doing just that.

We could make sure our troops get paid right now if the majority leader would only consent, or if there's pride of authorship, let him offer the resolution. We won't block it. We'll applaud it. I hope it can happen as soon as possible.

The Republican leader also accuses Democrats of blocking CHIP. When he full well knows that every Democrat here supports extending CHIP. It's four months lapsed. Who let that happen? The Republican majority. The Democratic majority would never have allowed CHIP to expire.

[13:25:00] Now, just because it was placed on a C.R. that was a bad idea for so many reasons, Republicans want to pretend that they're advocates of CHIP. Quite the contrary, they were using the 10 million kids on CHIP holding them as hostage for the 800,000 kids who are Dreamers. Kids against kids, innocent kids against innocent kids. That's no way to operate in this country.

So, again, a party that controls the House, the Senate and the presidency would rather sit back and point fingers of blame than roll up their sleeves and govern. The way out of this is simple. Our parties are very close on all of the issues we have been debating for months now. So close, I believe we might have a deal twice, only for the president to change his mind and walk away.

The president must take yes for an answer. Until he does, it's the Trump shutdown. He has said he has a love for Dreamers, let him show it. He said he needs a wall and border security, accept our offer to do both of those things, because we Democrats, while we think the wall will not accomplish very much and cost a lot of money, we strongly believe in border security and have fully supported the president's offer or budget proposal on border security for this year. So this is the Trump shutdown, only President Trump can end it. We Democrats are at the table, ready to negotiate. The president needs to pull-up a chair and end this shutdown. I yield the floor.

WHITFIELD: Squarely putting the blame of the government shutdown on the president of United States. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer there offering message not just to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is placing the blame on Schumer, calling it a Schumer shutdown. But on the president, hearing from Schumer there, saying you know, so Mr. President, I will seal the deal, let's get it done, meaning let's get back to the table.

He laid out what happened on Friday between the meeting between Schumer and the president saying they came to a compromise, it was Schumer who compromised on including in this bill a wall, something that the president has campaigned on, but then hours later, Schumer describes it all fell apart.

Let me bring back my panel now, Amy Parnes, Salena Zito, Ryan Nobles, back with me. So, this was an interesting duel that we just saw between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, Ryan to you first. Chuck Schumer getting the last word, really saying, you know, with the Republicans having the majority in both Houses and in the White House, the responsibility squarely falls on the majority to compromise, the Democrats offering a compromise, but Schumer saying it's the Republicans who have failed the nation by allowing the government to shut down. So, what does this mean this point forward?

NOBLES: Well, the biggest thing, Fred, is that these two speeches by these two leaders aren't a whole heck of a lot different than they were yesterday. So that gives us some indication that the ball hasn't really moved forward at all. And to provide some context to what the Senate minority leader was talking about in that meeting with President Trump. You know it is true that he and President Trump did at least have some of a deal in principle on the table.

And when he talks about the funding for the wall, you know there are many Republicans that are concerned. And again this goes back to what we're talking about before the Senate minority leader spoke, is this issue of trust.

Yes, Schumer agreed to an authorization of funding but not necessarily and appropriation which are two completely different things. And that's why Chief of Staff John Kelly got involved and according to reports, that's where the deal started to back away. So what we have here is negotiating happening from a bunch of different parties and no one really trusting anyone else as it relates to these conversations. So it's hard to move forward and cut a deal when you don't necessarily trust all the players involved.

And, yes, you know Mitch McConnell can say if you let us get this done, then we'll negotiate on all these other issues, but Democrats are saying we don't trust you. We don't believe that that's going to happen. That's why we need to use this leverage now. And it only gets to a point where some trust starts to be created between these two parties, this standoff continues.

And that's why, Fred, I go back to the point we made at the beginning of the broadcast, that there are conversations happening at the lower level among rank and file members. I talked to Senator Mike Rounds yesterday of South Dakota. And he told me there are quite a few Democrats that he genuinely likes and that he trust. And they're talking and they're saying these are areas that we can agree upon.

So that's why I still believe that if this deal happens, it's going to come from the ground up as opposed to the top down. But we're running out of time to make that happen before most of these government offices are supposed to be opened on Monday morning.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And Amy, you know, Chuck Schumer giving his version of events seems to try to make the case or underscore the president perhaps does not understand himself perhaps between either the appropriation versus the authorization. So is this, Schumer, trying to embarrass the President? Is to coming to the table, challenging him as the great negotiator to become more engaged in this process and at this juncture, doing more to get the ball rolling?

AMIE PARMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes you kept hearing him say, say yes. And so I think this is, he was speaking directly to the President more so than anyone I think and but you know what he was reiterating also is that this isn't the fault of Democrats. Something or a talking point the Democrats have been saying is this is a country that is currently being run by a Republican White House, a Republican House and Senate. This isn't -- they could have taken care of DACA months ago, they could have taken care of TEAP months ago but they haven't.

So he's squarely putting the blame on them while speaking to the President and saying, come on you campaigned on being a dealmaker why don't you act like a dealmaker here. And a lot of people, even Republicans right now have told me that they don't know where the President is on this so he's kind of missing in action.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: Yes and so Salena the President doesn't like to be embarrassed and if he's watching, which he probably is, because he watches all of the coverage to hear directly Schumer and Mitch McConnell plead their cases, does putting the President, pinning him in a corner, mean that Democrats are more likely to get their way or might it go the other direction?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Who knows what happens?


SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right? We just never know. I mean, I thought, yes, Schumer is definitely -- from his point of view and until we get his tactic, right, he has the sort of the backdrop of the women's march. It's not only yesterday but today they are happening here where I live in Pittsburg there is a big march. So he has and he feels he has the wind in his back and he is able to directly blame the President. I lost count after 17 mentions in that speech, right?

And he feels that this is the best tactic that he has. To blame him, to call him out, to goad him a little bit and see what comes from that. He understands Trump, he knows Trump, he knows he doesn't like to be embarrassed like that. Having said that, I haven't seen any tweets in the past few hours so you can correct me if I'm wrong, I've been pleasantly surprised how measured the President has been since this shock.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: You mean by way of not barrage of tweets?


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: OK as he hasn't emerged. He hasn't come out as a leader of this country. He has not come out of the White House to address this matter head-on and that is glaring too.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes sure. I mean, people have all these sort of different expectations of him and he's never sort of hit those expectations because he's not your typical President. That's why he won but that's also why he makes everyone crazy, who doesn't understand the unpredictability of the nature of his personality. I'm not saying its right. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just saying we are dealing and with a completely different type of President. And Schumer knows that and McConnell knows that and I have no idea what's going to happen but...


SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's true. Ryan probably made an excellent point...


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right. SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: ...that's just the way the bottom....

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: Sorry to interrupt. Still on the hill House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, let's listen in.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Reporting (ph) to the streets to champion the values of the American people. Hundreds of thousands of people here, hundreds of thousands of people in different cities across the country, tens of thousands and thousands throughout in different venues at the -- in the anniversary of the women's march and day of the Trump shutdown Americans marched to call on our government to honor the priorities and values of the American people. I'm proud here to stand here today with The House democratic women who are leading the fight for those priorities and values in The Congress.

Yesterday on the floor of the house I said there is a path and here today we want to talk more about that path. You said yesterday in our precedent when Mr. Welsh talked about his letter to the President to say what are the priorities that we are fighting for in all of this? I just want to say something to our men and women in uniform.

We in Congress take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and the American people. We value the service, and courage and leadership of our men and women in uniform and we are here for them, the men and women in uniform. We in Congress take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and the American people. We value the service and courage and leadership of our men and women in uniform and we are here for them.

I want them to ignore anything that they're hearing from the other side that they're not going to get paid, that we're not here for them. They are going to get paid and we want them to have the resources they need to keep America safe and to keep themselves safe. And we know from listening to General Mattis and other leaders in the Department of Defense that the best way to keep them safe is for us to have an omnibus until the end of the fiscal year instead of once again, CR after CR after CR.

So honoring our oath to keep the American people safe and recognizing that in the domestic budget there are security initiatives that relate to homeland security, veterans, state department, anti-terrorism activities and the Justice department we really need to have parity in our discussion on the budget. And the additional money that we want on the domestic side is what we're her to discuss this morning. So that people know what this discussion is about.

We are not resenting we're supporting the defense initiatives if that's what the Department of Defense thinks we need to keep America safe but at the same time, as I say, there are security functions on the domestic side and we want additional money to address some of the challenges that our country faces. And one of those that is really very, very important in every District in America. With a strong bipartisan support every one of our solutions on the path to an agreement which we can make, in an hour, we want the President to come to the table and negotiate how we can do this in a very short period of time to open up government.

But one of the issue -- and every initiative has strong bipartisan support as you will hear. And one of the issues that has vexed every member of Congress all across the country and the strength of our country is the opioid epidemic. A leader in that fight here, leading a bipartisan coalition is Congresswoman Amy Kuster of New Hampshire.

REP. AMY KUSTER (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: My State is in the middle...


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: You were listening to Nancy Pelosi there, House Minority Leader, there really reiterating and she's standing there beside other women in House leadership. They are on day two of the government shutdown. On day two of women's march which is taking place across the country and Pelosi there underscoring, reiterating a commitment to funding and supporting the military and military families. Ryan Nobles is back with me. So Ryan this is kind of now a tit-for-tat of House and Senate leadership talking about the importance of moving on, getting the government going.

Less of the finger pointing from a Nancy Pelosi but we saw direct finger pointing coming from Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and a very direct challenge going to the White House from Chuck Schumer on getting the President more engaged, involved in getting the government up and running, agreeing on a proposal of compromise.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes that's right and I think what you're seeing here Fred is somewhat of a public relations battle by these Congressional leaders because to a certain extent this is a standoff and in order to succeed in a standoff you need to have your rank and file members willing to take part in a standoff for as long as possible. And the longer that this shutdown goes on the more difficult it's going to be for members from both parties. Their constituents are going to have a more difficult time accessing their government.

Many of their, of these members of Congress have federal workers that are their constituents. If they are off of work for a couple of days and don't get that paycheck that's going to make life more difficult for them. So nobody up here wants a shutdown, that's clear. So what they have to kind of gauge within their caucuses is how long these members are willing to stand firm to get what they want and at what point are they willing to break ranks and then get on board with the vote.

I do want to make one point, Fred, from our conversation before Leader Pelosi started talking and that's about the President's involvement in this and you're right, he has not spoken publicly about this. He is sending surrogates out there like Marc Short, his Legislative Director, to speak on his behalf. The only tweet that he has sent out this morning on this particular issue is actually criticizing Republicans suggesting that they get rid of this long time institutional rule of the filibuster, saying that they should just...


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: ...yes, go nuclear, so to speak, and have it be only a majority vote. This is something that Senate Republican leadership has fought back against for a long time. Republicans in the House would like them to get rid of that rule. Obviously the White House would like them to get rid of that rule but the Senate Majority Leader, John Thune, number three in the Senate all said this morning that they're not interested in doing that. So that shows you that even within these parties there isn't necessarily unification when it comes to this issue and why it is so difficult for them to come up with some sort of an agreement.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: And that's a really important point Ryan because it is interesting how Mr. McConnell's office did respond today. A direct response to the President's tweet saying, no they don't believe that that is the right option to take. They're going to stick with the 60 vote rule and not try to change the rules and go for the simple majority. That too is an interesting position that Mitch McConnell would take today while placing blame on the Democrats.

Chuck Schumer directly at the same time not acquiescing to the President's command of the Senate going nuke, having --- exercising that nuclear option today. All right Ryan Nobles thank you so much we're going to check back with you. I appreciate it. Thanks again to Amie Parnes and Salena Zito for being with us as well. We're going to take a short break for now. We'll be right back.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right welcome back. Live pictures out of Phoenix, Arizona on what has unfolded as day two of the women's marches across the country. Women marches which have also morphed into voter registration drives now roughly tem months ahead of mid- term elections 2018, live pictures right there out of Phoenix. All this while the US government is in day two of a shutdown and President Donald Trump is blaming the Democrats. Today he is hinting that it may be time for Republicans to change the filibuster rule to end the stalemate he hinted by way of tweet.

Saying great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our military and safety at the border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour in to our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues Republicans should go to 51 percent nuclear option and vote on real long-term budget. No continuing resolutions. That from the President this morning so even the White House voicemail where the public can call or leave a comment, their complaint line, well it's been changed to point the finger at Democrats for this political chaos, this government shutdown.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling the White House comment line. Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today because Congressional Democrats are holding government funding including funding for our troops and other national security priorities hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction the government is shutdown.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right. This might be a first when you call in the White House complaint line. CNN White House Correspondent, Abby Phillips is there for us. So Abby are there any signs the President does plan to get more involved or will it be more of that sentiment coming from the White House that it's time to point the blame?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Fredericka. Well you heard from Chuck Schumer that he thinks that the President is the only person who can really resolve this problem. But as you pointed out the President is taking a completely different tact on this. He's saying, let's just change the rules and take Democrats out of the picture so that we can move forward on this. That sentiment is getting some pushback from Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell whose office has pointed out that once again they do not believe in changing these rules and at the same time the President's aides have really blanketed television painting a different picture of where we are in negotiations. They are saying that we are further from a deal than it seems. Listen to Mick Mulvaney speaking on "State of the Union" this morning.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: There's a long way, I think, towards getting a larger deal which is why it's so important to go and open the government now because what the Democrats are talking about is a very complex and very large. It's actually a massive spending bill with a lot of other things added to it. That's not going to get done between now and tomorrow morning and now and next Friday. So the government needs to be open, they need to vote to open the government tonight or tomorrow and then we can start talking about those bigger issues.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well what' we're hearing from the White House today is that they are still committed to the basic immigration priorities that they laid out a week ago. They still want changes to legal immigration, they want that border wall. And they don't think that we've moved that much further ahead. We've asked the White House today what the President is doing on the shutdown, what calls he's made, what meetings he's had.

So far we've heard nothing but, again, we are hearing different things from Democrats than we are hearing from the White House. If you listen to Chuck Schumer, you would think that on Friday they were very close to a deal but White House aides this morning made it clear that the broad outlines of that deal were nothing close to what they would need in order to move forward and at the moment what they really want is just a clean government funding bill, no immigration priorities dealt (ph) within that as well, something like that.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: And then Abby, I know you may not even have the answer to this but I've just got to ask because the President made a decision not to go to Florida for a fundraiser this weekend. He said he's going to stay in Washington and stay in the White House. We know that Chuck Schumer apparently extended an olive branch, just an invitation that is, to talk face-to-face and that didn't happen and the President is only tweeting today about breaking the rules or changing the rules, going nuclear.

What was the objective for the President staying in town, is it strictly optics. It just looks better for him to stay in town while the government is shut or is their real objective of working with negotiating, getting the hands dirty, talking directly with these law makers to try to get the government working again?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well you know that's a really good question and even though the president has kept such a low profile over the last couple of days, he's been making phone calls from here in the White House. They released a photo of him on the phone talking to his aides but we have not seen him talk to the American people directly like we've seen previous Presidents do at moments like this.

We also haven't seen him kraaling the powers-that-be into the White House for meetings so it's a very different strategy here. I think White House aides over the course of this weekend have acknowledged that the Problem with the President going to Florida and going to Mar- a-Largo would have been the optics. They recognize that that would have looked very terrible for him to be eating and drinking with wealthy people at a Florida resort when the rest of the country and the government is shutdown.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: Right. The flipside to that is, how does it look that the President is in the White House and remains silent and doesn't address this and take that leadership and address the American people about what is going on or what should happen? All right, pick your poison. Abby Phillip thank you so much from the White House, appreciate it.

All right, travelling in the Middle East this weekend Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Jordan today where he met with King Abdullah and then spoke to American soldiers stationed there, Pence addressing the government shutdown laying the blame at the feet of the Democrats.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know I'm sure you're all aware of what's going on in Washington D.C. Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with a military cut but you deserve better. You and your families shouldn't have to worry for one minute about whether you're going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States.

So know this. Your President, your Vice President and the American people are not going to put up with it. We're going to demand that they re-open the government. In fact, we're not going to open negotiations on illegal immigration until they've re-opened the government and give you, our soldiers, and your families the benefits and wages you've earned.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: The Vice President now landing in Israel on the final leg of his trip. I want o bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann who is in Jerusalem. So Oren, this is the highest level visit form the Trump Administration since the US announced that it would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. So what do we expect Pence to focus on while he's here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well of the first two legs of this visit, the stop in Egypt and the stop in Jordan were sort of the heavier parts of this trip. The more difficult parts than this very much for Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump Administration is a bit of a victory lap and he will be greeted as the man of the hour by the Israeli government. He was when he landed and he will be at all of the events, the biggest of which will be his speech at the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, scheduled for tomorrow.

He also has a trip to the Western Wall just like President Trump when he was here back in May as well as the stop at the Yad Vashem, the Israel's Holocaust museum. Shortly after Pence's arrival which was just about an hour ago, he arrived here in Jerusalem at his hotel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Foreign Ministry and said they'll talk about two topics in particular. The first is security, and that means talk of the Iran nuclear deal, which is one of Netanyahu's favorite talking points.

There he actually addressed European leaders and said you better take Trump's threat seriously when he said he'll scrap the deal if it's not fixed then the other big topic Netanyahu says they'll talk about is peace. Pence on his trip has told the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king that Trump is still serious about a peace process between Israeli's and Palestinians and he'll commit to a two-state solution if that's what the sides want.

Netanyahu, when he spoke just a bit ago said, to Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, if you want to be a partner for peace you can't reject the Americans. Come to the negotiating table. Worth pointing out Fredricka that Abbas, who won't be meeting with anybody from the American delegation, is actually in Europe or will be tomorrow meeting with European Union foreign ministers.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right. Oren Liebermann thanks so much in Jerusalem. I appreciate it. All right I want to bring to bring in our Ryan Browne now at the Pentagon. So Ryan the Vice President addressing the issue of military pay while he was visiting soldiers in the Middle East but for some of those soldiers the bigger issue, at least for today, also was football and whether the Armed Forces Networks would broadcast today's NFL playoff games. How did all this work out?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well initially the Armed Forces Network was going to shutdown along with big -- other portions of the government and or other portions of the Department of Defense. However the Pentagon just issuing a statement earlier today saying they're using some previous resources from last year and using some military personnel that are not being furloughed. They were able to keep some channels of the Armed Forces Network open including the channel that plays sporting events, so plays sports.

So US troops abroad will be able to watch these, the NFL football playoff games and again this is just one impact of several that the shutdown is causing to the Department of Defense and to the military. Now well all US troops will continue to be deployed, continue to operate around the world. A lot of civilian personnel, some 50 to 75 percent have been furloughed. There's also been some impacts with contracting, with training of reserve units so the Pentagon definitely working on contingency planning just to handle a lot of these impacts but one of the impacts that they really put extra attention to resolve was getting these playoff games back on the air for troops overseas.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right, Ryan Browne. Thanks so much.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: All right. Welcome back you're looking at live pictures right now out of Phoenix, Arizona where many are taking to the streets there in day two of the women's marches that has swept across the country. This is the second annual women's march movement after seeing record numbers a day after inauguration last year and then this weekend went in from Coast-to-Coast. From New York to Philadelphia, Washington, LA and now Phoenix today and then later on in Las Vegas where people are mobilizing and at the same time also encouraging voter registration drives. Hello and welcome back, happening now in the NEWSROOM.