Return to Transcripts main page
Government Shutdown Senate Reaches Compromise; Trump on Immigration; Flake on Senate Compromise. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired January 22, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us today on "INSIDE POLITICS" working through the very dramatic vote in the United States Senate.
The White House press holding a press briefing next hour. A lot to talk about.
Wolf Blitzer picks up our breaking news coverage right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: -- in a bipartisan way. Everyone's talking with each other, trying to help each other and not at each other.
And I want to thank Susan for always being there. We started this -- her and I started it in 2013 when the first shutdown. And we just -- so frustrated.
And her and I were always talking. We said, can't we just get some like-minded people together?
And that's how we started in pushing our leadership into a bipartisan deal to open the government back up.
So, it was a natural for the common -- what we call our Common Sense Coalition to do it again.
Of course, Susan jumps to the front. And an office opens up and away we go. So, with that, I want to introduce you to my dear, dear compatriot, Susan Collins.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (D), MAINE: Thank you so much, Joe.
Well, today is the day to celebrate because we have shown that a determined group of senators, working together across the aisle, can result in positive action.
In this case, the reopening of government. When government shuts down, it represents the ultimate failure to govern. It causes real hardship, not only for our military, for those brave men and women who are wearing the uniform of our country, but for all those who depend on government programs and those who work administering these programs. Last time we had a government shutdown, in 2013, it cost our economy $1.5 billion a day. That's how harmful a shutdown is.
But even more profound is the harm that it does to public confidence in government, in our ability to be leaders of this country.
Joe and I have worked very hard in leading the effort of the Common Sense Coalition, in 2013, to reopen government. And we talked about reconvening our group, which we did last week after government shutdown. In fact, our first meeting was Friday.
We started out with about 17 senators attending the first meeting in our office. And the number grew, ultimately, to 25 senators. Senators representing generally the center of the parties, but both Democrats and Republicans.
And what we shared in common was the determination to accomplish the goal of reopening government, convincing our leaders that there was a path forward that would also accommodate those of us who are concerned about the fate of the Dreamers who live in this country, many of whom have known no other country as their home.
There are many other issues that we need to deal with, ranging from budget caps, including the urgent need for additional defense spending and for the opioid crisis. And that is the crisis that affects both of our states.
But today, today, we've taken a significant step forward with more than 80 senators voting to reopen government and with a commitment from the Republican leader to bring an immigration bill to the floor with ample opportunity for those with differing views to offer up substitutes to a bill.
MANCHIN: And the only thing I'd like to say is that one thing that unites us here is our military. Our veterans, those who have served and those who are continuing to serve and defend our country.
That's extremely important to all of us. Whether you're Democrats or Republican, it always brings us together in a common dialogue. How do we protect and give them all that -- where is it they need more to keep us safe? That played heavily on it.
The CHIP for our children. The pension programs. I had my minors pension people that by 2022, an average modest pension of $586, and most in the widows, will be lost if we don't do something.
So, these are all so, so seriously important for all of us. And I think that rose to really take the -- take the lead today.
So, with that, we'll answer a few questions if you want. We're going to have to run real quick.
COLLINS: Let me just make one comment on the CHIP program.
[13:05:00] I'm particularly happy that the Children's Health Insurance Program, -- MANCHIN: Six years.
COLLINS: -- which I remember sponsoring as a freshman senator, when Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy approached me about their bill.
And it's a six-year reauthorization. It expired at midnight on Friday night, so it was absolutely urgent that it be extended, in order not to disrupt or jeopardize health insurance for low in -- for 9 million low-income children, including nearly 23,000 in the state of Maine.
MANCHIN: And about the same in West Virginia.
COLLINS: So, I'm very happy that, in addition to opening government, we've assured that that program will continue.
MANCHIN: Let's start right here.
UNIDENDITIFE FEMALE: OK, thanks, Senator.
Can you walk us through what happened last night? There was optimism and then (INAUDIBLE) overnight into early morning. And then, you guys met. And then, ultimately, (INAUDIBLE.) Can you talk about what (INAUDIBLE) change or --
MANCHIN: Let me just say the base -- every meeting that we were in, in Susan's office and the meetings that Susan and I had separately, was always an optimistic meeting. We always knew that there was a pathway forward. And it was a reasonable pathway forward.
Most importantly, should we have ever shut the government down? Absolutely not, but there was other people that felt differently.
But the bottom line was not to keep it shut down. It should never be shut down past this past weekend. We knew that.
So, we were all moving in a very positive movement towards that. But leadership was still in a jousting, you know, both back and forth.
I'm only going to say this. The system must change. The rules of the Senate have to change. I'm speaking for myself, not for our bipartisan group. This is me.
I don't believe that either leader on either side should have the powers that they have. That's me speaking that two people, whether it be Mitch or Chuck, whoever's in the majority and the minority, should be in a position of that much power to be able to set an agenda or stop an agenda, when you have a force as strong as ours moving in a direction.
And I will tell you, they listened. And that's what moved it because we weren't backing off. We weren't going to be beat into submission, oh, no, we're going to do this and that.
But I think if we looked at anything is the rules of the Senate. How do we make the place work better? How come committee don't work? How comes chairs don't have input? How come the appropriation bills aren't working? How come -- how do we get to this point?
So, with that being said, we were always optimistic -- Susan.
COLLINS: Let me just add a little bit to what Joe has said. First of all, every single difficult negotiation I've ever been in, in the 21 years that I have been privileged to serve in the Senate, has had these peaks and valleys. And this was no different.
But, in the end, I give our leaders a lot of credit for listening to the ideas that we put forward and for showing some flexibility after starting out being pretty dug in.
And, obviously, ultimately, it was the decisions made by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer that brought us to this point.
But I believe that our group, by giving them specific ideas for how to move forward, and because of the size and bipartisan nature of our group, played a very instrumental role in breaking the impasse.
MANCHIN: You get an awful lot of people from the outside pushing and you start pushing the envelope from the far right and far left.
Chuck and Mitch had to come together, for the good of the country, and said, we hear you loud and clear. You're going to get a chance. You're going to get your voices heard.
You're going to get a chance to have votes on certain things. But we've got to open this government and move forward.
BLITZER: All right, let's continue our coverage. There, you see Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. They are clearly delighted that the government shutdown is about to end.
The House of Representatives has to vote. The president will sign it into law. But then, there will be full government services, at least for the next three weeks or so.
So, there's no more shutdown, after what clearly appears to be a backdown, the U.S. government is, in effect, back in business. Democrats have agreed to a Republican plan to reopen the government plan, ending this three-day shutdown.
But the new, short-term resolution only takes them through February 8th, when there could be yet another government shutdown over spending issues.
Listen carefully to the Democratic minority leader, Chuck Schumer, on the president's involvement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK, 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.
[13:10:03] The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's get White House reaction to all these late- breaking developments. Joining us now, the principal deputy press secretary for the president, Raj Shah.
Raj, thanks so much for joining us.
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Wolf, thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: All right, this is a historic time right now. What do you, first of all, think of Senator Schumer's assessment, how the president was not involved these past few days, despite that they've reached this compromise?
SHAH: Well, the president was certainly involved. He was engaged in the process, talking to the Republican leaders.
He sat down with Senator Schumer on Friday. And they weren't able to come to an agreement because Senator Schumer's terms, frankly, didn't make any sense and they weren't reasonable.
And now, he and his caucus are voting for this proposal that was in front of them on Friday and that they had basically rejected back then.
So, the fact that we think the president's engagement was right, was properly set forward and it helped reopen the government today. So -- or it's going to be reopening today.
So, we're happy with how the president engaged. Frankly, it's the senators on the Democratic side of the aisle. We're happy that they came to their sense, but it was them who was holding back funding for our military, for our troops, for our border patrol agents and our first responders.
BLITZER: Do you believe the Senate Democrats blinked?
SHAH: I think that the fact that they're voting in favor of this proposal, that they had rejected a few days ago, is, sort of, evidence that they blinked.
BLITZER: Well, is the president committed to this proposal that the Senate will now take up these sensitive issues, including allowing the Dreamers, the DACA recipients, to stay in the United States, to get some sort of legal status for them? Perhaps, even a pathway to citizenship, some border security issues, other issues?
Is the president committed to allowing this debate to go forward, not only in the Senate but in the House?
SHAH: Well, the president has invited this debate and engaged in this debate. And, actually, two weeks ago in the White House, for what we saw a televised debate basically for an hour, we walked away with wanting immigration reform that outlined four principles. It was the DACA recipients that you just talked about.
But it was also the issue of border security and a southern border wall. The issue of ending the visa lottery system. And reform the chain migration, the extended family chain migration system.
Those are still the points and the contours of a deal that this president would be open to, that he wants to hear from.
And he wants to get, again, a bipartisan group in Congress around those -- around that deal. Now, those negotiations were going on before the shutdown. Frankly, all the shutdown did was delay those negotiations for a few days.
But we're excited to get back into them and get a deal that reforms our immigration system and does take care of the DACA recipients.
BLITZER: Because here's the question. If you remember a few years ago, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform. It, then, went to the House of Representatives. They didn't even bring it up for a vote because the speaker, at the time, said that you've got to have a majority.
Clearly, there wasn't a majority of Republicans who supported the compromise that was overwhelmingly supported in the Senate.
Let's say the Senate, this time, passes the immigration reform, a compromised plan put forward by Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin and others. Will the president work? Will he work strenuously to make sure whatever passes the Senate comes up for an up or down vote in the House?
SHAH: Well, we think that leader McConnell is going to bring forward something that the president can sign. The Graham-Durbin proposal is not a proposal the president can sign.
I just outlined four issues. The only issue that that proposal deals with is the DACA population in any meaningful way.
On the issue of border security, it provides a fraction of the funding that we actually need to build the border wall. It doesn't provide removal authority that we need, it doesn't provide the resources that we need for more border patrol and ICE agents.
On the issue of the visa lottery, it simply doesn't reform the visa lottery system. And it doesn't reform the chain migration system.
So, it is one proposal. It is not one that we embrace as a White House. We want meaningful immigration. Our test on any bill is, if we pass this bill, are we going to have a new group of illegal immigrants that come across our southern border and create new problems a few years from now, where new individuals are asking for more protected status?
Our southern border isn't secure and the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs is still coming across our southern border, along with a legal immigration system that needs reform.
If we take a step in the right direction, the president is open to signing a bill. But if we take a step in the wrong direction, which is the Durbin-Flake-Graham proposal, the president can't support that.
BLITZER: Well, what if the Senate passes that? Will you at least want the House of Representatives to allow it to come up for a vote?
SHAH: Well, I'm not going to make comments about what Speaker Ryan or the House are going to do. I'm sure that's going to be part of the ongoing talks.
But this president's not going to sign the Durbin-Graham-Flake proposal as it's been presented right now.
[13:15:05] BLITZER: How much is the president relying -- you've seen all these reports over the past 24, 48 hours that he's relying on his -- immigration position on his White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, senior adviser Steven Miller, to set immigration policy that perhaps even goes against what the president's own instincts are.
SHAH: Look, those charges are frankly ridiculous and they're a little insulting. This is the president of the United States. He's setting the agenda. These are his policy views and frankly exactly what he ran on for over a year and a half during the campaign.
You know, in the chief of staff, in Steven Miller, you have people who are really experienced in this debate, bring great ideas. If you look at John Kelly, he was the general in charge of the Southern Command before becoming secretary of Homeland Security. Of course the president's going to listen to his views and he's going to inform the debate. But the terms that we are setting in the views that the president is endorsing are his and his alone.
BLITZER: The president wants -- just to wrap it up, the president does want the dreamers, the DACA recipients, to stay here in the United States, to have legal status and eventually some pathway to citizenship, is that right?
SHAH: Well, that will be part of ongoing negotiations. Again, when you legalize a population, you're going to encourage more people to come across the southern border with children who are underage, because that's where the DACA population comes from. So we've got to fix the problems that incentivize that. That means securing our border, ending the visa lottery program, reforming the chain migration system. We can't fix one problem and create a much larger problem in the process. That -- that is --
BLITZER: I understand that, but in principle, does the -- the president wants -- the president wants the dreamers to stay?
SHAH: The president is certainly -- the president is supportive of that as part of a larger -- yes, but, Wolf, the president is supportive of that as part of a larger deal. He does want the dreamer -- this population, the DACA population, to stay in the United States if it can be part of a responsible solution that provides long-term solutions to our immigration problems.
BLITZER: And if it is part of a long-term solution that deals with these other issues, these other three issues, including border security and the other issues you've raised, will the president support eventually a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers?.
SHAH: That would be part of the negotiation. But certainly we are open to it as a White House.
But, again, those other pieces must be addressed in any kind of a package.
BLITZER: And you want them to be addressed in February. You don't want there to be separate comprehensive immigration reform down the road?
SHAH: I think we would love them to be addressed tomorrow. If the Congress could come to terms on an agreement that met these four priorities, the president would be glad to sign it any time. But, you know, we have three weeks with this continuing resolution. We're practical that these steps are going to take some time and negotiations are going to take time. But we want -- we want action on this issue. It's an urgent issue. We need our borders secured. And we need some responsible solution for these individuals.
BLITZER: Raj Shah is the principal deputy press secretary over at the White House.
Thanks so much for joining us.
SHAH: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, let's get some analysis to what we just heard, all the breaking news that's unfolding. Mark Preston is with us. He's our CNN senior political analyst. Karoun Demirjian is CNN political analyst, congressional report for "The Washington Post," our chief national correspondent, anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS," John King is with us. And our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with us.
It seems they've got a deal in the Senate, but doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a deal in the House of Representatives.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And even if there -- if there is approval of this in the House, and we don't know, we don't know what's going to happen in the House --
BLITZER: I mean I think the House will approve --
BLITZER: This three-week extension.
BORGER: Right. But --
BLITZER: End the government shutdown.
BLITZER: But I'm -- but what I'm talking about is immigration reform, including DACA.
BORGER: DACA. Right. No, there is no -- there is no commitment.
Look, I think what the Democrats got out of this was six years of funding for children's Health Insurance, you know, and commitment to a vote on DACA in the Senate. But Mitch McConnell can't control what Paul Ryan is going to do. And Paul Ryan can't control what his conservatives are going to do. So that's very much up in the air and that's why the president needs to get involved.
BLITZER: Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It was basically what we ended with, but just a firmer commitment than we had initially. So --
QUESTION: Did you promise to hold McConnell's feet to the fire on this?
FLAKE: Well, I mean, we -- we did talk to the Democrats and said that we feel that we have a commitment. And I -- I did go back to the leader's office and said that stronger language would be helpful. And he did get stronger language on the floor today, particularly about the fairness of the process. You know, in terms of picking a bill or how the motion to proceed would work. And that was -- that was convincing to the Democrats.
QUESTION: Do you trust Mitch McConnell?
FLAKE: I do think that commitment made like this today with such fanfare, and this is for, you know, what will happen three weeks from now, I think we can count on it.
[13:20:01] QUESTION: Would this show that compromise is back and popular (ph) in Washington?
FLAKE: I hope so. I hope so. We had this meeting -- these meeting in Susan Collins' office. A growing number of people. And it was really good to see. It will be nice --
FLAKE: It will be nice to see, actually, to have a process on the Senate floor that we haven't seen for a long time, really since, you know, the -- like the bipartisan immigration bill that we did before, where we went through regular order and dealt with amendments and everybody had their say. And this will be much like that, I think.
QUESTION: You've been trying to negotiate a bill on immigration for months now though.
QUESTION: What makes this difficult?
FLAKE: Well, what has been difficult is dealing with the White House and not knowing where the president is. And that was what was holding us back and holding Mitch McConnell from this commitment to move to the floor.
QUESTION: How does that change?
FLAKE: No, it hasn't, but that -- that's what I'm saying. I don't think it will change. I hope that it does. I hope that the president will say, here's what we need and here's what we'll stick with. But if we don't, what we've said is, we'll come to the Senate floor and the Senate will be the Senate again. And we'll pass something and then see if the president likes it.
QUESTION: Senator Flake, how long --
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) to dreamers today?
FLAKE: We want to get a deal before March 5th. I last -- what -- I think the worst outcome would be to get to March 5th and then try to jam something through, which would look something like the legislative equivalent of DACA, where we make it constitutional, but it's no more certain for these kids. And they'd have to wait for something more certain again. And that's not good. I'm convinced a deal would be done, but it just wouldn't be permanent.
QUESTION: Do you think a deal can be done without --
QUESTION: Is this a victory for President Trump?
FLAKE: It's a victory for I think everybody when the government opens back up. But we're just -- I mean we're climbing out of the hole. Let's get it -- I mean we -- we haven't done anything yet other than open up the government hopefully at about 2:30 when we have the final vote today.
QUESTION: Can a deal be done without the president's leadership?
FLAKE: You know, ultimately, the president is going to need to get on board in order for the House to vote on it. The House still very -- much less -- much more so than the Senate, relies on the backing of the president.
QUESTION: Have you talked to Speaker Ryan about this? You're a good friend.
FLAKE: I have. I have. I talked to him. And that's his message as well. It's going to be very difficult to pass anything through the House without the president's support. We acknowledge that. But what we're saying is, we can't wait for the president to indicate his support before starting the process here. If we can pass a bill, obviously if it passes the Senate, it's a bipartisan bill by definition. It will have at least 60 votes, I think closer to 70. And if that gets to the White House, I'm confident the president will say, I like this.
QUESTION: And has the speaker --
FLAKE: And then -- and then it can move through the House.
QUESTION: Has the speaker told you that he will put the Senate immigration bill on the floor?
FLAKE: No. No, he hasn't. So -- he doesn't have to. He can put another bill and we can deal with it in conference. That's how we usually work it. So, no, he doesn't have to put the Senate bill. But I do think, if the president gets behind it, then it's something that they'll want to put on the House floor. So --
QUESTION: What are the next steps for the bipartisan group of senators?
FLAKE: Well, to make sure that we have a bill -- I mean if we do go to regular order where -- well, somewhat regular order. We're not going through committee. But if we bring something to the floor, keep in mind that if everybody offers amendments and you deal with the process under the Senate rules, it can be a long, long, long process. So we're still going to need some consent and some kind of agreement to move ahead.
And to do that, you've got to have a product that has wide support. And that's what we're hoping to do is broaden the support that we already have with the bipartisan bill. We have seven Democrats, seven Republicans, but broaden that, add some border security elements that people on my side of the aisle want. I'm sure the Democrats will want some things as well. But if we can broaden that product, the support for that product, we can have an easier time when we get to February 8th.
QUESTION: And when you talk about border security, how much of that is a physical border wall?
FLAKE: Well, Senator Schumer indicated that he was willing to give additional money. What is on the table so far and what we have in the bill so far is what the president has requested for this next year. If additional commitments need to be made in terms of a mix of authorization and appropriation beyond that time, we'll do that.
But is it going to be a wall? The president has said, you know, not all of it is a wall. Some of it's a fence. Most of it's a fence, actually. But it's a border wall system, I guess you can call it. Whatever it is, it will be additional border security, and that's important.
BLITZER: Republican Senator Jeff Flake speaking with reporters up on Capitol Hill. An important day. The government shutdown about to be officially over.
John King, he made an important point that even if they get some sort of compromise on the dreamers in the Senate, it's got to go to the House. And the only way probably it will come up for an up or down vote, any compromises that emerges from the Senate in the House is if the president gets directly involved and supports it. He's going to be speaking shortly. We'll hear what he has to say.
[13:25:14] KING: It will be interesting to see if on this day as he celebrates reopening the government, does he lay down those principles now? Does he stick with them if he doesn't? Does he wait and decide just to sign the bill and celebrate today?
But this is the debate we were having before the shutdown. It is the debate that will resume again immediately after the shutdown.
You know, there's no question the Democrats blinked here. There's no question, if you go back to look at the demands Senator Schumer made over the weekend and what he got today, he cannot check most of the boxes he had laid out.
Now, how will that be scored by the voters? We'll know that much more in November than we do in January. The Democrats are hoping the president is so unpopular this will be quickly forgotten and they go back to a year where they're popular.
But to the Republican question, you were just interviewing the principle White House press secretary. He said, we are confident Leader McConnell will bring forward a bill in the Senate that the president can accept. What did Leader McConnell say just the other day, I'm not bringing anything to the floor until the president tells me what he will accept.
So we have a who's on first debate within the Republican Party on an issue that is quick sand for the House. Many of the conservative House members, Karoun speaks to every day, view this as amnesty. They don't want to vote on it. The only way they're going to vote on it is if the president says, I want this, do it.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": But there's a lot less trust in the House too between Democrats and Republicans to even talk about this in the first place. The senators, at least, have worked together in the past on other issues. There are people in the middle. It was just a few years ago that they actually got a bill through the Senate floor, but that died at the doorstep of the House, too. So there's just a lot of bad blood over there and no driving incentive, absent the president, getting involved to make Ryan buck his own party, especially because they are riding high right now. They feel like they've been sticking together for the last few big fights and they've won. So why should they start negotiating with Democrats now based on where they're sitting?
BLITZER: And you heard Raj Shah, the principal deputy White House press secretary, say these other issues have to be included as well. Some of those other issues are sort of poisonous to a lot of Democrats, ending what they call chain migration or family unification and the lottery system in some countries that allows individuals to come with diverse backgrounds to the United States.
DEMIRJIAN: They can't even agree on the terminology to use for a lot of these programs, much less on what the policy should look like. So there's a very, very vast gap, a chasm there. I don't think you're going to see a resolution of it on the House side. The resolution will come in the Senate. The question is, do they actually consider it in the House?
DEMIRJIAN: And that's, to John's point, of, there needs to be a driving wind at their backs to do that, and that is called President Trump.
BLITZER: And the president, he's got to get involved. But you heard -- you just heard, Mark, Senator Flake say he doesn't know where the president stands on these issues.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he doesn't know and there's no more clarity to where the president is going to be going forward, not only on this issue, but other issues. You have Chuck Schumer say that after the meeting on Friday, he never heard from the White House again, which is unheard of when the government goes into a shutdown. You have Raj Shah telling you that the president's engagement was just right. You know, so they thought that him being muted was a good way to negotiate. And, of course, you have Jeff Flake saying, look, we need the president.
So the question is going forward, will the president's role in these negotiations just be more as a push from behind the scenes to House Republicans and Senate Republicans, whatever the issue may be, and not actually be the grand dealmaker that he says he is.
BLITZER: Because over the weekend, Gloria, as you know, we saw a picture of the president in the White House. We saw some tweets. But that was about it.
BORGER: Right. And you have this image that I'm sure the president hates of him being effectively a puppet, being manipulated by his chief of staff or by his -- Steven Miller, the -- who Lindsey Graham pointed to by name, which is -- which is very rare, talking about a White House staffer. And so I think that knowing Donald Trump, as we all do, this is something that he's going to want to erase because he doesn't want to be a puppet here.
But we still need the president to come out and show a little leg here and say, not you bring me something and I'll sign it, which is what he said originally. But, actually, what he will accept, because that's going to be so important for the House because Paul Ryan cannot do anything without the president.
KING: It's just another example, though, where -- the early days of year two, and we still don't have a good sense -- and maybe it's because the president doesn't have a good sense of his governing style, how he wants to govern. The fact that he has shifted on some of these immigration issues sometimes within 24 to 48 hours, some people would argue 24 to 48 minutes.
But the fact -- set all that side for a minute. The immigration debate is a tough one. I have a very hard time, in a midterm election year, seeing the House passing a bill that a good chunk of the House Republicans consider amnesty. Can the president make that happen? Yes. Will he? We'll see.
But the -- just, in the short term, the United States government was shut down for three days by the time we're done with this, two and a half days, and the president of the United States said nothing publicly to the American people. That is stunning. He's the CEO. He came here because everybody in Washington was stupid and he was going to run it like a business. The American people, whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, whether you're a federal worker, whether you were planning to go today to a museum or a national park, you heard nothing from your president for two and a half days now of a government shutdown, I'm on top of this, my team's on top of this, nothing. Just the basic nuts and bolts of being president. Silence.
[13:30:11] BLITZER: Yes, a few tweets, but that was about it. You're absolutely right.