Disrupt   |  September 21, 2013

A full-blown crisis on Capitol Hill

The House passed a resolution to fund the government and defund Obamacare. After the Senate turns it down, the bill goes back to the House. Can John Boehner convince his caucus not to hold the government hostage to what’s become their only issue? NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Wekler reports on President Obama’s call to John Boehner. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., talk about the situation with MSNBC’s Karen Finney.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> thanks for disrupting your saturday afternoon. i'm karen finney. yes, speaker, senator cruz double dog dared you. he wants you to do it again but don't blink.

>> less than two weeks -- millions of americans who have been locked out of the insurance market are finally going to be able to get quality health care .

>> i want to commend house conservatives.

>> how stupid is ted cruz ?

>> i commend to speaker boehner .

>> the american people don't want the government shut down and they don't want obama care.

>> obama care is coming, folks! run for your lives.

>> they're focused on trying to mess with me.

>> don't run for your lives. that will make you healthier and that's what he wants.

>> do your job.

>> you know the republicans will be blamed for the shutdown.

>> we are winning right now.

>> extortion.

>> extort.

>> er extortion and blackmail.

>> a cam ka zee mission.

>> i will do anything necessary and anything possible.

>> stuff he's saying there is wicked stupid.

>> it seemed over the summer like a harebrain hair has now become a full-blown crisis on capitol hill . spurred on by the gop's right wing, the house passed a continuing resolution to fund the government that defunds obama care. now, the bill moves on to the senate where the democrats are expected to remove the defunding provision and take health care away from tens of millions of americans and then right back to the house and we're exactly where we started. it's like a legislative groundhog day and the only way out is if john boehner convinces the caucus not to hold the government hostage to their one and only issue or finally gives up on the republican right flank and enlists nancy pelosi 's help yet again to forge a bipartisan majority. boehner 's got a week and change to do it before the federal government run out of money. and lest he forget it's his job, there's a constitutional lawyer in the white house to remind him.

>> the most basic constitutional duty congress has is to pass a budget. that's congress 101. if they don't pass a budget by september 30th , what's the date today? the 20th. all right. so if congress doesn't pass a budget in ten days, a week from monday, the government will shut down. the american people have worked too hard for too long digging out of a real crisis just to let politicians in washington cause another crisis.

>> white house correspondent christin welker. we are told that the president actually talked to john boehner last night. what can you tell us about that call?

>> reporter: that is right. president obama placed a call to house speaker boehner . not a lot accomplished in terms of moving the legislative fights forward, but president obama reiterated his stance that he's not going to negotiate over the debt limit. of course, that is the second of two fiscal fight that is are going on right now. president obama has long said he's not going to negotiate over the debt limit ever since the debacle back in 2011 . house speaker john boehner , republicans said they want any increase in the debt limit offset with an equal amount of cuts. they're also proposing a possible extension of president obama 's health care law . of course, that's not something that the president is going to sign off on. so that is one legislative fight that's happening right now. the debt limit by the way, the nation will reach the debt limit in mid-october. the more imminent fiscal battle is the continuing resolution . what you just talked about, karen . of course, we are getting gett ecloser and closer to a government shut do shutdown after the house voted for that bill on friday. it is dividing the republican party right now so incredibly politically perilous for them. democrats believe they have the upper hand. and as you point out, there's just no chance that's going to pass through the senate . the real problem is that economists say these two-pronged battles, the budget and the debt ceiling, if congress doesn't figure out a way to solve the issues, it could have an overall impact on the larger economy. so that's the real concern and we are just nine days out from the government running out of funding. karen ?

>> well, maybe it is a positive step unlike in 2011 boehner took the president's call this time. i'm going to hope that's a positive sign . before i let you go, i want to switch gears here. we have a bit of breaking news. we understand that the white house is monitoring the events in kenya . what can you tell us about that?

>> reporter: right. we know that president obama has been updated on the situation in kenya . the state department releasing a statement condemning the violence in the strongest terms saying that they are in contact with local officials on the scene there nairobi and told state department that there are as many as ten attackers who waged that attack in nairobi. more than 20 people have been killed. as many as 50 people have been injured, karen . the state department believes that some of those are americans and trying to confirm that and the identities of the people involved. we also know that the al qaeda linked group based out of somalia has tweeted essentially taking responsibility for this attack saying that it is in retaliation for kenyan military activity in somalia but we want to be clear that the state department has not confirmed that. they do, however, believe that this attack shows all of the signs of a terrorist incident so they continue to monitor the evolving and devastating situation out of kenya . karen ?

>> thanks so much, kristen.

>> thank you.

>>> now the events in congress and joined by congresswoman barbara lee , democrat of california and luke messer , republican of indiana . i want to start with you, congressman messer , because essentially we're seeing from the house to the senate and we expect it comes right back to the house , and we believe that the version that comes back to the house will not be obama care piece in it that you wanted, so what happens from there?

>> well, listen. i think there's two things that you said in the introduction there that i would take a little bit of issue with. one is that the republican party is divided. we had over 230 votes for the resolution yesterday and 2 democrat votes. and secondly, we are not trying to shut down government. i mean, there is a third way here and that is for the president to compromise on his health care law . he's already signed seven bills that change obama care. he's delayed the employer mandate in recent months and reports that the exchanges aren't ready and if the president comes to the table, there's an opportunity to get this done.

>> congressman, i feel like i actually think on the house side you're very much -- you're very much all on the same page. i think that where there does seem to be some discord is house and senate . i have seen some of your colleagues. i have some sound from representative duffy on michael jackson who says he's not so happy with ted cruz and feeling like a punching bag .

>> well, i think --

>> all summer long as the ads have been running, holding town halls and raising money, we have kept a lid on our anger in the house . as we were the punching bag and bullied by some of the senate conservatives.

>> so, you know, i mean, that's where i think there's clearly discord between the house and the senate and seems like we're playing ping-pong here.

>> well, i think the senate will now have their opportunity to lead. certainly, senator cruz and others asked for that opportunity. and then we'll are to respond in the coming days to what comes back from the senate .

>> congresswoman lee, i mean, in effect, though, i take the point of congressman messer and disagree in effect by sending something over to the senate we know is not going to come back to the house in the same way, i mean, in effect, this is leading to a showdown about shutting down the government and if not that perhaps this fight getting to the debt ceiling. but the thing that strikes me the most is we're talk about republicans wanting to repeal obama care which is actually already working. i have some statistics here. just looking at children covered, i mean, you have children 81.7% of children are covered in 2008 . 87.2% in 2011 . so essentially, what we are talking about when we talk about repealing obama care is taking that away from those children.

>> you know, first of all, the affordable care act is the law of the land and the supreme court has upheld its constitutionality. what the republicans are doing really quite frankly holding the affordable care act ie holding the american people who need health care , hostage. we have also in addition to the children with preexisting conditions who now have access to health care , over 3 million young people can stay on their parent's insurance plans until they're 26. we have over 105 million americans now who do not face lifetime benefits. we have people who really come october 1 will be able to enroll in affordable, accessible health care and so, karen , this is really a hostage taking effort of the republican extremists. this is what they have done over and orr and over again. they'll not pass legislation to create jobs. all they continue to do is to try to really unravel the affordable care act and once again hurt the majority of the american people who desperately need health insurance .

>> on that point, congressman messer , we have numbers specifically looking at people in your district and there. you have 41,000 children in indiana 6th district with preexisting health conditions that can no longer be denied coverage. 231,000 individuals have insurance and a lifetime limit on the coverage is no longer a problem. what do you say to those people in your district when you're talking about taking that away from them?

>> well, listen. there's two provisions in the law. you guys focused on the two most popular. it's the preexisting conditions language and also the fact that young people can stay on their parent's health care plans until they're 26. those are both two good changes and i've supported legislation that would take a very similar approach to dealing with preexisting conditions. but there's also a lot of unmet promises with obama care. folks promised that rates would go down. they have gone up.

>> that's not true, sir. at this point it appears --

>> depends on where you are in the country.

>> it does and most of the studies suggest that costs will actually go down and i guess my question to you is, why not spend the time working with democrats to make -- to improve the bill? we knew like with social security , there would need to be improvements made to the bill. why not do that instead of, again, taking this care away from people in your own district?

>> well, listen. again, there have been a lot of unmet promises and in indiana rates are going up. you talk to people losing hours on their job. they're losing their job because of obama care, as well. and there's outrage where i live and folks that want us to stand up against this law. now, i'll tell you. i supported repealing obama care and defunding and delaying obama care. the president did that in major ways already and supported common sense fixes, as well. i supported moving from a 30-hour to a 40-hour full-time equivalent so people don't lose their job or lose hours on the job. i'm willing to do whatever we can to protect people from the failings in this law.

>> congresswoman lee, i want to switch gears and a question to you. one of the other crowning achievements we saw this week with the gop was the vote about snap. taking away snap provisions for children. the argument that we have heard time and again is waste, fraud and abuse. and yet, we're talking about $40 million which is going to have a massive impact on very -- on families. yet, if we're looking for places where there are waste, fraud and abuse, how about iraq and afghanistan? or how about canceled weapons programs? what is the obsession with focusing on taking away these programs that we know are effective and actually helping people get out of poverty rather than saying, hey, let's look for waste, fraud and abuse in other places?

>> karen , there's a systematic assault on the most vulnerable in our country. there's a systematic attack on the poor and the working poor . when you lock at the fact that the snap program really is a safety net , first of all, people still have not found jobs. we have not created enough jobs. the economy is slowly recovering. it's mean spirited to say to people that they're not eligible to eat. i mean, come on. we have here in our own country, values say we're going to protect and support the least of these. it's a very mean spirited approach. it's going to take approximately 26 meals off of the table for a family of 4. this terrible cut could in my own state affect 346,000 people. it is wrong. i personally have been on food stamps , unfortunately, during a period of my life when i needed help. majority of people want to work and like myself they want to have a decent job so they can take care of their kids and live the american dream . snap helps people do that and so this was very mean and as i said on the floor, many people on the other side who voted for this, they -- there are people of faith and go to church on sunday and they plray and on thursday they moved to take food from the hungry people.

>> thank you, congress wam barbara lee and congressman luke messer .

>>> next, is it the republican party or the tea party ? whatever it is, it's got even bill o 'reilly mad. that's coming up.

>> what you're trying to do, the tea party is trying to do, is impossible. so do you not know that? the senate is not going to go along. even if the house were to vote to defund obama care which it will not. copd makes