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Senate Reaches Deal to Reopen Government; White House Briefing As Senate Reaches Deal to End Government Shutdown. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 22, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:10] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We pick it up right here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Monday afternoon.
Listen, you have seen it. Big breaking news this Monday. We are waiting for the White House briefing to start as the Senate reaches a compromise to end this government shutdown, which as you all know is in day number three. A short time ago, the Senate passed a key vote by an 81-18 margin to advance the bill to end the shutdown. So, the final vote will be expected in just a little bit.
The leader of the Senate Democrats gave no credit to the president for the end of the impasse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump's unwillingness to compromise caused the Trump shutdown and brought us to this moment. The facts are well-known. Since our meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, the president and I have not spoken. And the White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty who is live on the Hill.
And take us behind the scenes, how did they find a solution and the big question, what did the Democrats get out of this?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is the big question, Brooke. And I think some of -- a contingent of Democrats are asking that very question today even though, yes, this is a good thing that they are pushing towards keeping -- re-opening the government and keeping it funded for at least another three weeks. There are -- is a sect of the Democratic Party that's saying what did we get for all this?
The agreement here essentially gives them more time. Today, a lot of Democrats had to come out in the Senate side and vote to keep the government funded for the next three weeks. They felt they had a pledge from Mitch McConnell to continue negotiating, continue working on DACA and hold the vote on the immigration plans before February 8th when the end of this new spending bill takes effect.
So, we heard from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this morning on the floor before the vote.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: The Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to re-open the government to continue negotiating a global agreement with the commitment that if an agreement isn't reached by February 8th, the Senate will immediately proceed to consideration of legislation dealing with DACA. The process will be neutral and fair to all sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: So, you heard Chuck Schumer use the word "commitment". Democrats trying to hold Mitch McConnell's feet to the fire here, Brooke, saying he's made these agreements, he's made these promises in front of the world today on this big stage. We hope that he holds firm to that. You have a lot of, of course, politics at play behind the scenes here. You have Republicans just talked to Richard Shelby. He thinks Democrats overplayed their hand. This is essentially he says their off ramp, that they got -- they didn't get much out of the deal.
And then you have Senator Jeff Flake who's been so key in these negotiations. And he said, look, the extra time certainly is helpful here and really hope that this actually happens. But he said, look, what have we done at the end of the day, we have just re-opened the government. And the feeling that there is this drama around this vote today, saying certainly, re-opening the government is an important thing, but this in essence is something that they brought on themselves.
BALDWIN: Sunlen, thank you very much. We've been ping-ponging, listening to different members of Congress here in response to the impasse over.
Here is Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: I think my critique of this place is everything is run by the caucuses. Of course I want the caucuses to be strong. I strongly support my caucus leader. There's got to be non-caucus space where people can work together not just with folks in the same party. And all of us in the room felt the same way.
So, we are sitting around in Susan's office again and again, and we're dispatching and going talking to the leaders, and coming back, doing the same thing, shuttle diplomacy. So, we do have a strong degree of trust in each other that we want this outcome of opening the government and finding permanent protection for DREAMers. Everybody in that room said, we've got to find permanent protection for DREAMers and that's really important.
And then, in terms of, look, trust in McConnell or you could ask the Republicans, trust in Schumer, we actually think that this group of 30 helps with that, because everybody can remember a slight this or that happened in the past. It's ultimately unproductive. But if you got a bipartisan group of 30 to say, look, we're going to support you, if we do these things. We move forward.
We need to move forward, do the issues. We have big budget issues to resolve.
[14:05:02] Today, we opened government. We got six years of funding for CHIP, which is deeply important for Virginia. Reopening the government is deeply important in Virginia, and we got the guarantee that we will take up the issue of the DREAMers on the floor, which we hadn't had. We didn't get it Friday night and we didn't get it until really this morning.
REPORTER: So, to critics who say Democrats caved?
KAINE: There will always be critics, just like there were critics about shutting down the government who were deeply afraid about their Social Security disability checks or whether they would have a job to go to. One of the senators, I'll leave the name, is on the group of 30, said one of the staffers, my most recently hired staff said I can't pay my rent if the government shuts down. I mean, this is not a minor matter.
So, there will be critics on the left and the right, and reasonably so, you can have a different point of view about these things. I get that. But my goal -- look, I have always been for the DREAMers since long before I got into public office. My goal is to make something happen for them. And I think given this set-up, I mean, we know who's in the White House, we know the majorities are, it might be different if circumstances are different. But we are living in a reality.
I think this is the most likely path to find a solution for DREAMers. So, you know, I hope they stay at the table. I hope they lean on senators and I hope they lean on House members and we get a good Senate bill passed because we need their energetic actors to make this come out the right way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We got Dana Bash and Chris Cillizza standing by, just out of that Senator Kaine sound.
And, Dana, first to you, you know, one of the words I kept hearing from the senator over and over was trust, right? And this key question, can the Democrats trust the word of the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. I just want to read a quote, this is from -- this is the House, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond blaming Chuck Schumer for making the issue about immigration. This is according to one Democrat in the meeting saying about Senate Democrats, quote, they are getting their butts kicked.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think there is any way to see this as a win, at least in the short term. Now, we might be in a place a month from now where the Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer might be able to stand up and say it looked like we got our butts kicked back then. I know the base was mad at me. Look where we are now.
But it's impossible to know in this environment if Chuck Schumer can get from there to here. There is no question that there are many people in his own caucus, not the majority, but many people who were vocal and have a lot of ambition, say, for 2020 who are not happy with this whole process. The decision to, you know, kind of lead the charge to say we are going to stand firm and then three days later say, OK, fine, we'll agree to re-open the government from their perspective without getting real hard assurances.
But I have to say for my reporting, those voices in terms of the elected members in the United States Senate are a minority compared to the Democratic senators who appear to have been urging their own leader Chuck Schumer to just trust this, go for this, do this. Not so much because of what Mitch McConnell said but because of the talks going on behind closed doors for the last three days with a group of about 25 Republican and Democratic senators which is no small thing. That's a quarter of the U.S. Senate.
BASH: So, we'll see if at the end of the day, Schumer is going to be able to say, you know, I played the long ball here. But at least right now, in the short term, boy, if he's looking at his Twitter feed, he's not happy right now.
BALDWIN: Sure. Yes, it's long game versus short game and on the short game, we can't see into the future, Chris Cillizza. I know we wish we had super powers. But, I mean, what do you think Chuck Schumer got out of the Republicans?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, just to day that's point quickly, I'm never happy when I look at my Twitter feed. I feel your pain, Chuck Schumer.
BASH: I thought you stopped following me, Chris.
CILLIZZA: No, never.
BALDWIN: You love the trolls, you love the trolls.
CILLIZZA: I sort of do. They certainly love me.
I think what you get here is Dana is right about potential short-term pain for -- actually, no. Actual short term pain for potential long- term gain, right?
BALDWIN: Long-term gain, yes. CILLIZZA: Chuck Schumer is going to get hammered on this by the left
who view it as a capitulation and I think in some ways rightly so. Chuck Schumer told our colleague Manu Raju on Saturday, no three-week continuing resolution and we need definite agreements on planned votes on these various issues including DACA. Well, Mitch McConnell is saying it is my intention to do these things and it is not the same.
The way he gets long-term gain, speaking of Schumer, is they get some sort of DACA/border security funding deal that looks overwhelmingly favorable to Democrats.
[14:10:02] You know, if you see $8 billion allocated to a border wall and some DACA protections, I don't know that Chuck -- let's say that happens on February 6th. I don't know that Chuck Schumer has a victory here. I can't imagine a clean DACA vote. Just DACA. Just the extension of the program coming up.
CILLIZZA: Even if it did in the Senate, before House is even talking about it, but even if it did in the Senate, there is no way that goes anywhere in the Republican House. And I know Chuck Schumer knows this, but Mitch McConnell's sway over the House is not considerable.
So, I just think it is hope in the unseen by Chuck Schumer. It's a hope that McConnell is good to his word which he may well be. And then -- and this is the harder part, I think -- the House and Trump, the least predictable of all these elements, find a way to do what Democrats want them to do.
I mean, could it happen? Sure. But it is a lot of ifs to shut the government down for three days.
BALDWIN: That's the whole negotiating with Jell-o from, you know, Chuck Schumer over the weekend and then you bring up the president, and I want to ask both of you to stand by. We are waiting for the White House briefing to begin.
We're also, I want to talk what the president's role, Chris, and I know you just wrote about this. the president's role or lack thereof throw all of this. We're going to talk about it. Again, also standing by for the White House briefing any moment.
You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, the impending conclusion of the Schumer shutdown is leading media coverage today. And I'll get into that shortly, but want to start with a couple of other national security issues first.
First on northwest Syria, we call on all parties to remain focused on the goal of defeating ISIS, deescalating and resolving the Syrian conflict and protecting innocent civilians. We herein take seriously Turkey's legitimate security concerns and are committed to working with Turkey as a NATO ally. Increased violence disrupts a normally stable area of Syria. It distracts from efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS. It could be exploited by ISIS and al Qaeda for resupply and safe haven and it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
We urge Turkey to exercise restraint in its military actions and rhetoric, ensure that its operations are limited in scope and duration, ensure humanitarian aid continues and avoid civilian casualties.
[14:15:11] We want to assure that Assad's brutal regime cannot return to Afrin, and we will continue working diplomatically to end the Syrian civil war.
In Afghanistan, where terrorists attacked a hotel in Kabul, such attacks on civilians only strengthen our resolve to support our Afghan partners. We commend the swift and effective response of the Afghan security forces. Afghan forces with our support will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemies of Afghanistan who also seek to export error around the world. We call on Pakistan to immediately arrest or expel the Taliban's leaders and prevent the group from using Pakistani territory to support its operations.
Lastly, in regards to the government shutdown, we are pleased to see Senator Schumer accept the deal that President Trump put on the table from the very beginning, which was to responsibly fund the government and debate immigration as a separate issue. We have a statement from the president of the United States that I will read.
Quote: I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children. As I have always said, once the government, my administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if and only if it's good for the country, end quote.
With that, I will take your questions.
REPORTER: Sarah, how is the president going to work with Democrats when he's running a campaign ad that is calling them complicit in murder? How is he actually going to show leadership on this?
SANDERS: Look, the president's number one focus is our national security. He's been very strong on discussing the need for border security and tying that directly to national security. That's a big focus of both the president's campaign at the time and also since he's become president.
In terms of specifics of ad running, those aren't done by the White House. I can't get into details. But his position in terms of the need for border security and how that impacts national security is something we've talked about and been very clear on. REPORTER: So, is he bringing the Democrats down here, bringing
Republicans here, hashing this out? How is this going to be different? We didn't see him over the weekend. He was only talking to Republicans. Obviously, if there's going to be a deal by February 8, it needs to be a deal with Democrats.
SANDERS: Look, we have been very clear about what we want to see in any legislation. I don't think there is a lot of daylight between where we are and where the Democrats are. We want to negotiate and get to a place. We are hopeful we can do it over the next couple of weeks.
REPORTER: Senator Schumer on the floor claimed that the deal that he had on the table for Mitch McConnell today was much different than the one that he had last week. How did the ball move forward if it did at all between Friday night and this morning?
SANDERS: Look, I think that Democrats realized that the position they had taken frankly was indefensible and that they had to focus first on funding our military, protecting border patrol agents, funding vulnerable children through the CHIP program. These are things that they didn't disagree with.
They agreed with everything in this C.R. the president stayed firm. Republicans stayed firm. Democrats, I think, realized that they had to move past that piece of legislation and so that they can focus on the conversation they are desperate to have.
REPORTER: So, is it your contention the deal that Chuck Schumer accepted and lauded today is really no different from the deal that he had on the table Friday?
SANDERS: I don't see it to be drastically different, no.
REPORTER: Just so we understand, is there no interaction and was there no interaction between the president and the campaign committee in the creation of the ad? Did he approve it?
SANDERS: That's something I wouldn't be part of the process, Major. I couldn't speak to that.
REPORTER: But it's an important question.
REPORTER: It says, I'm Donald Trump and I approved the message.
SANDERS: Again, the president has some liberties that I don't, that would be something I would have to check him, but I would refer to you to the campaign because they're the only ones that can speak specifically --
REPORTER: Would you describe that as an accurate representation of his belief about what Democrats are and what their position was during the shutdown -- that they were complicit and would be complicit in future murders because of the shutdown?
SANDERS: I think that if people are unwilling to secure our borders, that they are unwilling to end chain migration, unwilling to end the visa lottery system, unwilling to fix all of the problems that we have in our immigration system and aren't willing to negotiate and actually do things that fix that system that we know to be problematic then, yes, that would be a problem and certainly allow for future incidents to take place.
[14:20:00] REPORTER: Is the two-year requirement required from the president for defense spending going forward, is one of his top goals for the budget negotiations going forward? Not just this fiscal year but two years on defense?
SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to negotiate with you here. But we made clear that that's -- I'm not going to -- we made clear that that's certainly our preference.
REPORTER: Thanks, Sarah. The president several months ago called on Congress to provide a legislative fix for those 700,000 or so DACA recipients. Is it his position that he would sign such a bill, a clean bill or would he insist upon funding with that border wall with Mexico?
SANDERS: Certainly, we want to make sure the president and the administration have laid out what we'd like to see. Those priorities haven't changed -- a solution on DACA into chain migration, into the visa lottery system and funding for border security that would certainly include the wall.
REPORTER: On another issue I believe tomorrow is the beginning of the final round of negotiations concerning NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement. How are the negotiations going now? What we are hearing is that they're not going well. They haven't been going well for the first five rounds. Is the president prepared to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA?
SANDERS: Look, we don't have any specific announcements, but we actually feel like things are moving forward. We are going to continue in those negotiations. But as the president has said many times before, he's going to make sure that he gets the best deal for America and American workers. That's still the focus and that will still be a topic of discussion as we move in these negotiations.
REPORTER: Sarah, thanks.
After this shutdown episode, does the president feel like he can deal with Democrats anymore? I mean, for example, Senator Coons said over the weekend, he implied that the president didn't know the difference between authorization and appropriation. There's been other leaks about conversations behind closed doors.
What is the president's level of trust with the Senate Democrats going forward?
SANDERS: I wouldn't say it is the highest level of trust, but I think we are certainly hopeful that we can reach an agreement on responsible immigration reform. We have laid out what we want. And we hope that Democrats -- we know they agree on most of those components. And we hope they'll come to the table ready to make a deal and less focused on playing political games.
REPORTER: Beyond immigration, you have the budget, you got infrastructure, other big things to get done. Is that going to be possible after this fight?
SANDERS: We hope so. We hope Democrats, again, will not play politics and they'll focus and put the needs of the country ahead of the political gamesmanship that they have been playing over the past couple of months. We hope to move the ball down the field on a number of issues, but starting with the budget moving into immigration.
REPORTER: Would the president support a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers?
SANDERS: We have said we would support a permanent solution for those in the DACA program. I think that would address that in that front.
REPORTER: To be clear about that, you must have some position on this. The president clearly has conviction on the issue. So, does he support this divisive issue -- a pathway to citizenship for these individuals?
SANDERS: I think on the specific, the number of people that are already in that program, we do hope to find a permanent solution that would address that.
REPORTER: To be clear, legal status versus pathway to citizenship, or does not it matter to the president?
SANDERS: I think that's part of the negotiation process. We want a permanent solution for the program. But we also want to keep -- a big priority for the administration is making sure we don't find ourselves having the same battle in two, three, four, five years down the road. So, we have to have a responsible immigration reform that addresses a number of issues, not just the DACA program.
REPORTER: I want to follow up on that. You said you would be open to legal -- permanent legal solutions for the 690,000 people in the DACA program. What about beyond that?
There was a lot -- "Axios" had a story last week that said an internal White House memo estimated that what the Democrats want would potentially legalize 3 million DREAMers. Where did they get the number? And what is the limit the president has on how big the population of DREAMers really is? I think the DREAM Act would be predicted to legalize 1.7 million. Where do you draw the line?
SANDERS: Look, again, I'm not going to negotiate with you any more than I was going to with Major. This is something that we're going to work on with Congress and look for the best solution for our country as long as, too, again, don't forget a big priority for this administration is making sure we address this program in its entirety, not just the one piece of it.
REPORTER: You said this program -- again, there are certain people who had the DACA protection, other DREAMers decided not to apply for various reasons. Are you -- is the White House open to addressing a deal in this go around for a population that's larger than just those with DACA?
SANDERS: We are open to having a debate on a level playing field on this issue and negotiating that with Congress and making sure that we get the deal that meets the criteria we have clearly laid out.
REPORTER: Sarah, one clarification before my question. The president is still planning on going to Davos?
SANDERS: As of right now, if all things go as expected this afternoon with the re-opening of the government, which we expect they will, the president's delegation will leave tomorrow and the president will continue on his trip later in the week.
REPORTER: My question, the priorities of a DACA fix, where exactly does that rank when you talk about what needs to happen for a deal -- diversity, visa lottery program, the wall, ending chain migration, DACA, some other components up on the Hill may need to be worked in as well. The actual DACA solution, how big of a priority is that one component for the president?
SANDERS: We look at all of those as equal parts in this process. That's why we laid out what we called our four priorities and listed that as one of them.
REPORTER: So, a DACA fix is on the same level playing field as the wall?
SANDERS: Look, we know that that's going to be part of this negotiation. That's something the president has committed to do. But we don't want to do that without the other three components. It's like having a stool with two legs that doesn't work very well. We want to make sure that we are addressing this more fully and in a responsible way so we are not just kicking the can down the road but we're actually dealing with the issue more long-term.
REPORTER: We haven't seen the president in a couple of days. What's he been doing behind the scenes as this drama unfolded?
SANDERS: Look, we put out a number of readouts he's had, several calls both with members on the Hill. He has met with a number of his cabinet to manage the shutdown. That was a big priority for the president. It was making sure that this was well-managed and that it wasn't as Director Mulvaney calls it weaponized as it was in 2013 and making sure that we could make the impact of the shutdown have as little effect on Americans as possible.
That's been a big priority for the president. I think it went much smoother than it has in the past. But also, the president was putting pressure and standing firm on exactly what he was willing to do and what he wasn't. And it very clearly worked because we are back where we basically started on Friday. And the Democrats have now allowed this to move forward.
Hopefully, the House will move this through quickly and it will be at the White House for the president to sign. And then we can start immediately on discussions on immigration reform.
REPORTER: Sarah, when will we see him?
SANDERS: We'll keep you posted. We'll certainly make sure you guys are aware when that time comes.
REPORTER: Will we see him sign the thing?
SANDERS: Certainly possible. And we'll let you know. The timing of that still isn't finalized. We've got to wait on the House piece.
There is also OMB and legal reviews that have to take place before it actually finally hits the president's desk. And so, there's a little bit of that is just a timing and formality issue.
REPORTER: Are we going to see him today regardless of what the House does or doesn't do?
SANDERS: We'll let you know. We'll keep you posted.
REPORTER: Sarah, just going back to the NAFTA discussions. Does the president still have faith in Wilbur Ross? There was a report suggesting otherwise.
SANDERS: Absolutely. I spoke with the president about it directly this morning. He has 100 percent confidence in Secretary Ross. He loves Wilbur, thinks he's doing a great job and has been a strong advocate for the administration and been a great leader when it comes to the trade discussion on steel, aluminum, and certainly his involvement in trade across the board with the administration.
REPORTER: The president was clear back in September when he said DREAMers have nothing to worry about. Is that still the case? SANDERS: I think we have been pretty clear that we want to find a
solution on the DACA program. And we're going to hope that Democrats are willing to work with us to make sure we actually resolve this issue.
REPORTER: There are a lot of DREAMers in this country who are living on pins and needles, not knowing what their fate is and has in store for them. What's the White House's message to that population?
SANDERS: I think they should storm Capitol Hill and protest there, because that is the place that's held up this discussion. Democrats are the one that shut this discussion down by forcing a government shutdown, by being unwilling to fund the government.
We lost four days over this process of the conversation that should have been focused on immigration reform fighting over this C.R. If they had been part of the solution instead of part of the problem, then I think we would have already been further down the road in our negotiations on that package. And, hopefully, we won't have problems like that in the future.
REPORTER: Thank you, Sara.
Two questions. First, the obvious. Congressman Tom Cole, a member of the Republican leadership, said over the weekend that to a member Republicans in the House were committed to the three priorities the president laid out in the process of re-opening the government.
Are -- is the president in cement on those three in the negotiations that are going to follow ending chain migration, the ending of the lottery and the appropriations for the wall?