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Both The House And Senate Back In Session To Get The Government Back Open Monday Morning; Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth Gave Speech On The Senate Floor; The Senate Is Playing Blame Game On The Government Shutdown; Senate And House Meet Amidst Government Shutdown; Time Travel App; Fund Military During Shutdown; Screen Actors Guild Awards. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 21, 2018 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. Hello again and welcome this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. Both the House and Senate back in session while Senator Lindsey Graham is working on a compromise or at least talking about a compromise that his colleagues, bipartisan colleagues are working on that could be a breakthrough.

Senate leadership still playing the blame game as well, and the last hour. Senator Graham spoke frankly about the standoff, and he believes an agreement can happen as soon as tonight, but he believes the President's staff is standing in the way.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the capitol for us.

So Ryan, you know, some really strong messages coming from, you know, Senate leadership about being optimistic, but at the same time, not necessarily counting on any direction from the White House staff nor the President really.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The sense that we are getting here on Capitol Hill that if a deal is going to be struck by the end of the night tonight to get the government back open Monday morning, that it's going to come from senators. And they basically have decided that the White House doesn't need to be involved in this stage of the negotiations. And that it's the Senate's responsibility to come up with a plan.

And, you know, throughout this process, Fred, we have seen incremental progress where it appears as over heading in the right direction and then something derails the process. And that is why we are in the position that we are in now.

But just about an hour ago, we saw 22 different senators, both Republican and Democrat emerge from a high stakes meeting in Senator Susan Collins' office from Maine. And they emerged from that meeting hopeful. They believe that they found some agreement in some key areas and they essentially were going to go back to their leaders, tell them about the progress that they made. And then come back and meet more this afternoon.

So what is happening right now is that they are in the offices of their leaders, telling them what they talked about, talking about the progress that they have made, and then finding out whether or not they can get buy-in from their leaders to bring some sort of a proposal to the floor. Now, we don't know what the outcomes of those meetings are yet. We do know that some of the Democrats have left the meeting with Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer. The Republicans are still huddling.

But this is pretty important stage in these negotiations, Fred, because if they are able to get buy-in from leadership, then the next stage is going to go to the rest of the Senate. You know, the 78 members that have not been involved in these conversations and see if they are willing to vote for something. So a little bit of progress right now. Still a long way to go. And as of right now, the government remains shut down -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And it seems like while Lindsey Graham was sounding very optimistic and really rather confident about the process or the inclusivity, you know, of so many members of the Senate, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski seem like they wanted to reserve some comment, but simply say that they were hopeful. Susan Collins says, we are trying to be helpful and move forward.

NOBLES: Yes. And I think that's right, Fred. I mean, I think that everybody is cautiously optimistic at this point because they have seen the process come off the rails so many times. And what we really don't know is the substance of that conversation. What areas did they agree on, you know? Is it going to be a shorter continuing resolution where they vote on a budget by February 8th, and in between that time, they bring things like immigration reform to the floor, with the opioid crisis that they find more funding? For disaster relief? Or is there something different from that?

And so much of this. And I do believe that those 22 senators who were in that room who genuinely like each other, who are considered to be moderates. They probably trust each other. But now you have to bring this conversation out to the larger Senate. And there is not a lot of trust once you get beyond that room. And not a lot of trust between senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. And then you still have to involve the hardline members of the U.S. Senate, the Rand Pauls and the Ted Cruzs on the Republican side, and the more liberal members on the Democratic side. Many of whom maybe considering a run for President. The Kirsten Gillibrands, and Cory Bookers of the world.

So, you know, it is one thing to get agreement among these 22 moderates senators. It is a whole another things when you bring it up to the entire senate. And that is part of the reason that we are in the position that we are right now.

WHITFIELD: Yes, possibly a long way to go today. It's minute by minute, isn't it?

All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much on Capitol Hill. All right. So here's a question. Where is the President in all of

this? Some of those questions were asked on some of the members right there on Capitol Hill. Either they were silent about it, or they had some really sharp criticism about the President's staff.

Let's bring in CNN's White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez. He is at the White House.

And, in fact, you know, Boris, we actually heard from members of Congress who said it is incumbent upon them, the Senate, to take the lead on this because they are not getting direction from the White House.

[16:05:17] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Some really surprising remarks coming specifically from South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham.

Just about an hour ago, he told reporters, and I quote, "I am begging the White House to help us get to yes, saying that someone has to lead on this issue and saying that it will ultimately come down to the Senate to Congress people within the Senate to come up with an agreement."

It gives you the sense that there is sort of a vacuum of leadership. It is very much a criticism of President Trump's involvement or lack thereof in this effort. So far today, we have got no confirmation from the White House that the President has been working with phones with lawmakers of either party as we did yesterday when we got a picture from the White House of President Trump on the phone wearing his white make America great again hat.

Beyond all of that, though, it really kind of falls in line with what other congressional leaders have said about the President. You have majority leader Mitch McConnell yesterday saying that he doesn't know where President Trump stands on immigration. And further, Chuck Schumer on Friday saying that he was close to a deal with President Trump when he left a White House meeting, but then it got yanked.

Lindsey Graham kind of echoed those remarks when he said that those deals were partly yanked because of the doing of White House staff, specifically senior policy advisor Stephen Miller. He had criticism of Miller at one point saying, Miller's viewpoints were far out of mainstream and they could never get the Senate's 60 votes in favor of his idea. He said Miller. He had some serious criticism of Miller. At one point saying that Miller's idea were far out of the mainstream and that they could never get, the senate, to vote 60 votes in favor of his idea.

He said that Miller had somewhat evolved on the issue of DACA and the legal status of these 800,000 or so DREAMers, but that Miller ultimately wanted more changes to legal immigration, what the White House is calling chain migration. That's the sponsorship of families members got migrants that are in the United States legally.

Beyond again, all of that, Fred, there is this question of how involved will the President get. The only indication that we have gone from the President on what direction he wants this discussion to go is a tweet earlier today in part, in which he talked about invoking the so-called nuclear option. That is changing Senate rules to require only a simple majority of 51 votes to get a budget passed as opposed to the typical 60.

We have heard from several Republican senators now including Mitch McConnell and John Thune that that likely will not be necessary. But that's really all we have heard from the White House today, Fred. We did reach out to them about Lindsey Graham's comments, specifically his comments critical to the White House staff, but we have yet to hear back.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much. Keep us posted when there is a response, if there is a response. Boris Sanchez, appreciate it.

All right. Let's talk about this now, all these developments. Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst. Tim Naftali is a CNN presidential historian and lieutenant general Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and a former commanding general for the U.S. army.

Good to see all of you.

OK. So, wow. A lot has transpired today, you know. Ron, you first. You know, to hear Lindsey Graham say, to say somebody is going to, you know, that somebody has got to lead and then being very critical of White House staff and then singling out Stephen Miller. Take a listen to Lindsey Graham earlier today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I have talked with the President. His heart is right on this issue. I think he has a good understanding of what will sell. And every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members. As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He has been an outlier for years. There is a deal to be had.


WHITFIELD: So Ron, both a criticism of the White House leadership, and at the same time, Senator Graham was trying to sound optimistic that it looks like Senate leadership can come to terms, can get government up and running again even if it means a commitment about dealing with immigration later.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There are a couple of points worth mentioning here, Fred. The first is that really both sides need an exit strategy from this. I mean, if you look at the current polling, it has been very consistent that more people are blaming President Trump and the Republicans than the Democrats. So they don't really want this to go on very long.

On the other hand, if you look at the history, it's also pretty clear that a government shutdown is not a powerful enough leverage to make a President do something he doesn't want to do. I covered the Obama shutdown. I covered the Clinton shutdown. And in each case, the congressional Republicans were unable to use that as a tool basically to cajole the President into doing something her didn't want to do. And I think that would be the case here.

Again, they need to find a way to get out of this and then deal with the underlying issue of immigration.

[16:10:01] WHITFIELD: Except what's confusing here is that the President did say one thing a week ago about his willingness. And then as you heard Lindsey Graham say, something changed two hours, you know, after a commitment from the President, and because of his White House staff. So it was actually the government shutdown that sounds so influential, but his staff.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Except that it isn't really only his staff. I mean, what Stephen Miller reflects is the hardline side of the Republican caucus particularly in the House on immigration. And ultimately, I think if you are going to have a deal - I mean, look at what's happening here. What's holding this up is not only the idea for trading the legal status for the DACA kids for increased border security. It's trading it for border security and reductions in legal immigration which is a big step from where Republicans were even a few years ago when they talk about they opposed undocumented but not legal immigration. And that increasingly is the position of a hardline part of the House.

Ultimately, I think, what Stephen Miller's opposition reflects is that in the end, Paul Ryan may have to -- any deal that can legalize the DACA recipients may ultimately have to pass without support of a majority of the majority in the House. And that is a Rubicon that maybe be coming at the Republicans sometime in the next few weeks if they are going to be getting this whirlpool here.

WHITFIELD: So Ron, let me interrupt you for a moment. If we can go to the floor now. You know, Tammy Duckworth is on the floor now talking - I mean, she is a veteran. And she is talking about the importance of being mindful of the military, its needs and being supportive. Let's listen.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: This great nation. But in the meantime, let's at least take the sample comments in step that we all agree on. Let us remove any possibility, military pay and even worse, military death benefits will be used and held hostage as political leverage. That would be unconscionable. Let's take this off the table right now.

The reality is that quickly passing the pay the military act, is the least we can do. We must continue working for as long as it takes to develop and pass a bipartisan solution to fund our government. However, if acting now to ensure military pay and death benefits continue during our shutdown brings relief to just one military family, that will be worth it.

If it prevents just one survivor from experiencing even more pain and hardship as they struggle with the out of grief of losing a love one killed in action while defending out great nation, then it will be worth it. The time to act is now. This should not be a partisan issue. Every

member of Congress supports paying our military personnel and ensuring death benefits are not delayed. So why delay now? There is no good reason.

Mr. President, that is why I would ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar member of 36 --.

WHITFIELD: All right. General Hertling, let me bring in you in on that. What are the concerns, not just of active duty military who have been receiving reassurances that their pay will continue, but vets their families, et cetera?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This is a much bigger issue, Fred. And for the last three days, I have listen to the miss on both sides of this. And I respect senator Duckworth greatly, but that's only part of the issue. She is attempting to take the military piece off the table as a shield saying, hey, we have to pay our military.

There are so many other things. As a commander who went through a shutdown, with a large organization, the mission will continue. Soldiers will do what they need to do. They will eventually get paid when the appropriations come back. They will have some challenges between then and now, because soldiers frankly don't make a whole lot of money.

But there are other issues involved in this, Fred. You know, when I commanded in Europe, I had 67,000 soldiers. I had 40,000 civilians. Those civilians will be furlough and won't get back pay, and they support the military.

You are talking about family members who won't be able to go to some dental and medical appointments for the entire time of the shutdown. Yes, the death benefits is important. That ought to be taken off the table.

But using the military as a shield on this, it's just unfathomable because it is a very small portion of getting Congress to do their job. But yet everybody who doesn't really understand how it affects the military, is throwing that up there as an argument for either getting the budget passed or not getting the budget passed.

It is important to pay soldiers. It is much more important to get the government running again and have it contribute -- the budget contribute to military actions not only for the soldiers, but everybody that contributes both in contracting, support, civilians, family members.

As a commander who was on the ground when the last budget crisis hit, what I will tell you, it causes unbelievable anxiety within our communities. Everything is affected. It is hard to explain to the American people how much this will do to the military communities. Family members, civilians and soldiers. A lot of questions going on out there. [16:15:09] WHITFIELD: Understandably.

And Tim, this is happening under the Trump administration. How much of this shutdown, this consternation will be a reflection of his strength or weakness?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it will depend on whether there is a deal. If there is a bipartisan deal that emerges from this, the President might be able to declare victory. The problem at the moment is the President has drawn a line. He issued a very, very strong statement when the shutdown started, which seemed to imply that he wasn't willing to deal at all.

What has been very good today, and I think very healthy for the country, is that a bipartisan group is talking. Now, there may be a bipartisan Senate agreement, but I'm not sure the House will buy it.

One of the problems now is getting the hardline congressional Republicans to yes. It's not simply Donald Trump, although it's primarily him and Stephen Miller is whispering in his ear. But don't forget that Stephen Miller or somebody in the White House called Cotton and Perdue over and other and some people from the House to steady the President so that he would not accept the Graham/Durbin plan. So there are a lot of pieces in motion. And it's not simply a Senate issue. It is also a House issue.

I would like to add to what the general said that we are -- we should be very concerned of the effect of our military families. Let's not forget the effect of our civilian members of our government. The military keeps us strong abroad, and the civilian folks keep us strong at home. And they were also furloughed and they will also be affected very much tomorrow if this continues.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ron Brownstein, Tim Naftali, general Hertling, thanks so much to all of you. Appreciate it.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. So how do Republicans in Congress see this? And is this amounting to another blame game? Republican congressman Don Bacon rather discusses this after the break.


[16:21:35] WHITFIELD: All right. It is day two of a government shutdown and lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill trying to come up with a deal. The House and Senate have both reconvened. They are trying to come up with an agreement to end this shutdown.

Joining me right now, one of the lawmakers up on Capitol Hill, meeting and talking with his colleagues. Republican congressman, Don Bacon of Nebraska.

So congressman, first off, I would like you to listen to some of your colleagues from across the aisle talking about the shutdown this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We are in a minority position. The Republicans control what comes to the floor in both the House and the Senate. In the Senate though, with the 60-vote margin, there is a need for bipartisanship. That's all we have asked for. Sit down at the table and let us work this out of the bipartisan fashion.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: And I think he should, instead of throwing tweets from the White House, pull together the four leaders of the House and the Senate on a bipartisan basis today and negotiate.


WHITFIELD: All right. And then after hearing from, you know, senator Lindsey Graham earlier today who said there is a bipartisan -- or there was a bipartisan meeting of more than 20, you know, in the Senate, and they all seem to be moving toward a direction of a possible proposal that would keep the government running, and maybe later on, deal with immigration. How optimistic does all of this sound to you that there is a co consensus at least among a handful of folks who say there needs to be a bipartisan movement towards resolution?

REP. DON BACON (R), NEBRASKA: Well, two things. First, and thanks for having me on today. I'm grateful.

But two things. First, this was the Schumer shutdown. Ninety-three percent of the Democrats vote to shut down, 91 percent of the Republicans voted to keep the government open, and that filibuster did require Democrats to have the government stay open.

WHITFIELD: OK. But moving forward because I think all of that has already been said within the past 24 hours but today --

BACON: It's the tapes though.

WHITFIELD: Well, today is a new day. And we are listening to, you know, your colleagues both, you know, Republicans and Democrats who are saying a bipartisan effort, you know, would get, you know, this country somewhere today.

BACON: We do need to do that.

WHITFIELD: OK. And when Lindsey Graham earlier said today that the Senate feels like it needs to, you know, take the bull by the horns, and because there isn't a whole lot of leadership coming from the White House, are you confident that perhaps if there is this proposal that the agreed upon in the Senate, you know, possibly voted on tonight, that when it goes back to the House, that there may be some support on a measure to get the government running and later, dealing with immigration?

BACON: When it comes to DACA issue and immigration, this is tailor- made for compromising bipartisanship. Most folks in the House and people in my district are constituents. They do want to see more border security. They would like to see some reforms in immigration. We need more judges to do immigration, judicial hearings because they are undermanned.

But I will tell you, also, that our constituents do not want to deport DACA, but don't want to fix DACA today, and then do it two years from now, four years from now, sex years from now. So this needs to be a balanced plan that secures the border, reforms immigration. But we are going to make sure DACA kids are no longer under threat of being deported.

I think we can do this. And this is tailor-made for bipartisanship. I like to be more than Senator Graham's for the Republican side though. Let's be more balance across section there. I do think we can get it done.

WHITFIELD: So if there are critics who say this was the President's doing for rescinding the executive order by the Obama administration, you know, back in the fall, and now setting this March deadline. Is it your feeling that the President should be more engaged in coming up with some sort of proposal, resolution to get the government running? Are you confident that the President would be engaged?

[16:25:22] BACON: Well, first of all, I think the President was right. We shouldn't be an executive order that drives DACA policy. It should be congressional. It should be legislative. It should be law. So you are saying, Congress, come up with a compromise and pass a law that fix this DACA. I expect to have him and his team involved. I believe they have been. Because it's going to have to be a combined effort of the consecutive branch and the legislative branch working together and make this possible.

But this is a problem that is tailor-made for both sides coming together, securing the border and providing a long-term fix for DACA. We can do it.

WHITFIELD: But when you heard from Senator Graham earlier today who said, you know, that he praised the President. The President was really good a week ago. I'm quoting him now, and then he says, you know, but his staff is unreliable. And that he specifically pointed to, you know, Stephen Miller, adviser to the White House as interfering in the process and helping to influence the President who then changed his mind a couple hours after seeming to agree to a proposal.

BACON: Senator Cotton and others have a different view of what happened there.

This is what I think this was good. Initially, the President and the people were negotiating had a framework. Let's provide a permanent fix for DACA and no deportation. Let's provide some wall. Not a coast to coast wall, a 2,000 mile wall, but where the border patrol wants it. And let's do some reform to immigration with the lottery system, and the family - it has been family of process and reform that to a more merit-based system.

I thought that was a good framework to work from. Of course, the devil is in the details and all that. And I think the grand Durbin team came in and it was not strong enough for the President. But that doesn't mean walk away. That means let's keep working this out. And it probably needed to be a little more conservative in a few areas there on the border and those immigration reforms, but that doesn't mean we are far apart. I think it means this is doable in my view.

WHITFIELD: And do you feel like the American people should be hearing from the President directly, not via tweet, not via recorded messaging, you know, on the White House compliant line? But hearing from the President directly about this juncture, the government being shutdown, the why and the way out?

BACON: I think they will.

WHITFIELD: But right now, this weekend while he is in Washington?

BACON: Well, they may -- I'm sure he will be talking more about it. I think right now it is in our hands in Congress in the Senate and the House. First of all, we have to get the government running again. Our military is not being paid. Our first responders here that are federally funded, our federally paid are not getting paid. That 800, 000 federal policemen not getting paid.

The most important thing to do that the Democrats to do in the Senate is to get the government funded again because I think that's job number one. We can always go to the stock. We have five more weeks to do that. It was not right to shutdown government for a DACA program that we have five more weeks to do. I think it was extortion putting a gun to the head of Republicans saying, you have to deal with it. We had time to solve this problem. And we didn't need to define government, shut government down in the meantime.

WHITFIELD: All right. We leave it right there.

Congressman Don Bacon. And while we are hearing from the White House, we will not be hearing directly from the White House today. Tomorrow potentially? A new day. We will see.

All right. Thanks so much congressman. Appreciate it.

BACON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So are Democrats taking a huge gamble by standing firm in the wake of this government shutdown? Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters joins me next to weigh in.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. Both the House and Senate are back in a rare Sunday session right now. Members from both parties are working behind the scenes to end the government shutdown, possibly that began just Friday. We're in day two now. South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham saying he thinks a breakthrough can be made tonight. I want to bring in Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Congresswoman, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Perhaps you heard the senator, Lindsey Graham, earlier today who said he was very encouraged after meeting with about 20, you know, bipartisan colleagues in the Senate saying that he believes they can come up with a proposal or they have a proposal to get the government up and running again, but then addressing immigration later. Are you equally hopeful about that?

WATERS: Oh, I'm very hopeful and more than the fact that they have some people in conference. It's been basically led by women. I tell you I think that when the women decided that they were going to invite themselves to the party and they started talking, I think they can get some people listening.

Collins has been known to be a good negotiator. She is, you know, a moderate Republican, and I think that she sees things a little bit clearer than of course, many of those who around the president were causing the problems since, so yes, and I am very hopeful, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So, it was mostly Susan Collins and you know, Lisa Murkowski who were talking about the meeting. They were not willing to share too much about what they wanted to be hopeful about, but

[16:35:00] Susan Collins did say that, you know, they felt that they were trying to be helpful and it was important in order to try to help move forward. However, Senator Lindsey Graham went a bit further on that point about the White House staff saying that while the president was great a week ago, he seemed like he wanted to come to the table and agree with a proposal.

Lindsey graham, you know, pointed blame at adviser Stephen Miller and said the staff is going at opposite direction. Do you largely blame the White House staff or perhaps even, you know, Trump trying to please his base?

WATERS: Well, you know, what's interesting is we have heard it from a Democrat and a Republican now. Schumer, Senator Schumer, thought that he had an agreement, a concept that they can move forward with, and he said he got a call from Kelly who basically said, whatever you all agreed to in essence, that's not a deal. That's not something you can move forward with. That's not what we have agreed to.

And then of course, Lindsey saying the same thing and identifying another person that's close to the president, Miller, so I think there is a lot of truth to it. And I like the fact that McConnell has said also at one point that they have to know what the president wants, but now I think they have moved from exactly that position.

And again, with the women involved and with Senator Collins providing some leadership, I think that we have an opportunity to get something done. I know that they did not reveal exactly what was going on in that meeting this they were having, but you really shouldn't reveal it. When you are in negotiation, you can't come out and negotiate on television and so I think she was very wise.

WHITFIELD: Are you gathering that the senators are now saying, you know, we're going yet alone because it's too confusing or there are perhaps isn't enough leadership coming from the president or the White House? That they feel like just as Charlie Dent had already said, Mitch McConnell had already said, that they really are not sure where the president stands on some of these issues.

WATERS: Yeah, I do have a sense that they have decided to move on. I think that McConnell has been very patient, basically saying they were waiting on the president. They wanted, you know, the president to take the lead, et cetera. But we're facing Monday and we're in a shutdown. And we have people who are, you know, not going to be able to go to work, who are not going to get paid.

And that's a dangerous position for all of us to be in. And we should do everything that we can to lift this shutdown, and so I do think that McConnell have decided that they have got to keep going, that they can't wait until the president decides what he wants to do.

WHITFIELD: And then according to some of my CNN colleagues, some of my colleagues eyewitnessed Senators McConnell and Schumer actually going off together perhaps even meeting. How encouraging potentially would that be and what would that say to you if that were the case?

WATERS: Well, I mean that's a good sign. Don't forget, Senator Schumer tried to get the president to meet with him and all of the leadership including Nancy Pelosi on the House side, and that did not take place. The president did not grant them that meeting that he asked for. So the fact that McConnell and Schumer are getting together is a good sign. And the two of them are experienced legislators. They have been here before. They understand how government works.

You don't have that kind of experience in the White House. The president does not have a clue about public policy and how it really works, and then those around him are basically new people who have not been involved in government, and so I will place a lot of confidence in the fact that there is a real opportunity for Schumer and McConnell to move this issue, come to some agreement and bring something out that I think most people can agree to.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, potentially a coming together with McConnell and Schumer after a day earlier of rather blistering remarks about one another and the process. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, always a pleasure. Thank you so much.

WATERS: Well, let me just thank you because you have had a lot of women on today. You have been following the march, and you had leader Pelosi on and Carolyn Maloney and on and on. This is good for us, and it's good for the nation to see the women and the women involved and the thoughts that we have. So thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, well thank you. Like you said, a lot of eyewitness to women taking the lead.

WATERS: That's right.

WHITFIELD: All right, appreciate it.

WATERS: You're so welcome.

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WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. If you were with us moments ago, we had Congresswoman Maxine Waters on, and she said women are taking the lead this weekend, whether it's at the women's marches that are coast to coast across the country this weekend or perhaps even in the U.S. Senate. A meeting, a bipartisan meeting being led today by senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski today, trying to come to some resolution to get the government back up and running.

And then just moments ago, Illinois senator and Iraq war veteran, Tammy Duckworth was on the floor imploring the U.S. Senate to ensure pay for military members as well keeping benefits going for families. Tammy Duckworth is with me now. So, good to see you, senator. This was an impassioned plea asking for assurances that pay continues. Do you feel like you had a captive audience? Do you believe that will be part of any potential resolution to get the U.S. government running again?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Well, unfortunately, the Republican leadership objected to the pay our military act that I asked and then did this floor speech asking to please during this shutdown as we negotiate, please, let's at least make sure our military men and women on the frontlines get paid. And unfortunately, the Republican leadership objected and so it did not come up -- it did not pass.

WHITFIELD: Do you go back to the drawing board and perhaps propose something else so that you get some really affirmation on that?

DUCKWORTH: Well, we're going to continue to push for it. We introduced this act now twice and we're going to keep introducing it. You know, this was something that we fixed and solved when we had the shutdown in 2013 before the shutdown even happened. We made sure our troops were paid, and I don't understand why the majority would object to making sure that our troops who are on the frontlines right now this very moment receive their pay as they defend our nation.

WHITFIELD: We have heard some, you know, expressed optimism from your colleagues, senator, today, about potentially having a proposal to get things up and running, but at the same time you have been, you know, very critical of the president, his involvement or lack thereof earlier. You even, you know, being critical of the president, saying that you will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five- deferment draft dodger and I have a message for Cadet Bones Spurs. If you cared about our military, you would stop baiting Kim Jong-un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops and millions of innocent civilians in danger.

And we also heard some criticism coming from Senator Lindsey Graham today. Not really directed at the president, but really his White House staff. Where are you on the president's involvement or lack thereof in where we are in this juncture?

DUCKWORTH: Fredricka, I think there is a general just real frustration with the White House and with this president. This is truly the Trump shutdown. He could stop this. I believe that the Senate Republican leadership look to him and if he would step forward and accept any type of a deal, any of the offers that have been made, we could move beyond this. And unfortunately, we can't move without the White House's approval.

And Senator Schumer puts a whole bunch of things on the table in the negotiations that really, you know, signified coming to the middle. He even put the wall up on the table, and the president after agreeing, changes his mind. This was not the first time. This is the second time that he has done this that he made an agreement and then backed away from it after some pretty substantive talks. We could fix this problem, but the president is really obstructing this and keeping this from happening.

This is why it's a Trump shutdown. You know, us moderate senators, we have been talking together. I was just in a little clutch just talking and trying to figure out a way to get to the floor so that we can pass this and we can get back on track and pass a budget for our nation.

WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling as Senator Lindsey Graham said members of the Senate have to take the lead here because they are not getting, you know, very clear direction from the White House. Is it your feeling that

[16:50:00] if there is indeed a resolution that it's going to come from a bipartisan effort from the U.S. Senate?

DUCKWORTH: It is, but it's going to take the Republican leadership allowing it to happen. After all, Republicans control not just the White House, but the Senate and the House of Representatives as well. And so for example, if Speaker Ryan would indicate that he would allow for an up or down floor vote on the Graham bill on immigration reform, on the DREAM Act.

If Mitch McConnell would allow it to come up, that would be something, but neither is willing to step forward and do anything without the president's consensus. So this is really -- yes, it's a Trump shutdown, but it also takes both the speaker of the house, Speaker Ryan and leader McConnell coming forward. And right now, none of the Republican leaders in any of the three components of government leadership are willing to let this move forward. Us senators in the middle, we're sitting and talking, but, you know, we have got to be allowed to put this stuff on the floor.

WHITFIELD: OK, we're going to leave it right there. Senator Tammy Duckworth, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right. Tonight is a pretty big night for Hollywood as stars gather for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and CNN's Stephanie Elam is there on the red carpet.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Yes, we are getting ready for the night where actors get to honor their colleagues. There are other actors in the field, and you will see that tonight. For the first time ever, the Screen Actor Guild is going to have a host for their evening, and that is Kristen Bell. In fact, you can expect a lot of female centric highlights tonight. We will be looking for that as the show gets started here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, I'll be watching. Thank you so much, Stephanie Elam.. We appreciate it, in Los Angeles.

[16:55:00] And thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So much more ahead with Ana Cabrera.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us. And we have breaking news. Right now, the United States

[17:00:00] government is not working, literally. There is no money, and for the second straight day, the wheels of the government are not turning. National parks are chained off. Scores of government employees are told to stay home.