Disrupt   |  September 22, 2013

Full plate ahead for Obama on all fronts

In addition to paying his condolences at the Washington Navy Yard shooting memorial, President Barack Obama has a number of high-stakes meetings coming at the United Nations General Assembly on topics ranging from the global economy, Iran’s nuclear plans, and the ongoing efforts to remove chemical weapons from Syria. He also called the President of Kenya to express condolences for the terrorist attack in that country, all while the day for a potential government shutdown looms closer. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., NBC’s Kristen Welker and NBC's Kasie Hunt join the program to discuss.

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

>>> president obama has just arrived at the marine barracks where soon he'll again face a heart wrenching task as he joins families of the 12 people who were gunned down at the navy yard in washington , d.c., for a memorial service . it's a role that's become all too familiar with the president as consoler in chief. which he talked about at last night's dinner for the congressional black caucus .

>> i'll be meeting and mourning with families in this city. who now know the same unspeakable grief of families in newtown and aurora and tucson and chicago and new orleans and all across the country, people whose loved ones were torn from them without headlines sometimes or public outcry, but it's happening every single day.

>> in addition to the senseless violence here at home, president obama prepares to meet with world leaders in new york this week at the united nations general assembly . the president will participate in a number of high stakes meetings on topics from the global economy to iran's nuclear plans to the ongoing efforts to remove chemical weapons from syria. even as those efforts continue, while chemical weapons may be on the way out, as we saw with new round of violence this weekend, conventional arms are still being used in the conflict. also today, the president called president kenyatta of kenya to express condolences over the terrorists who committed a violent attack that's killed at least 59 people and reportedly injured several americans . you know what? all of that just eight days remain to reach an agreement with congressional republicans before the government shuts down. joining me now, california congresswoman karen bass . you were at the cbc dinner last night with the president.

>> yes.

>> she joins us now. i would love to start with the president's remarks last night. because he covered a lot of ground. just get your thoughts.

>> i thought his speech was very pertinent. especially to that audience where he referenced what happened in washington , d.c. but he also referenced what happened in chicago . and just pointed out the absurdity at the fact that we can't even pass legislation to extend background checks . and he also spoke, you know, a great deal about the affordable care act zblipted to ask you about that. the affordable care act was sort of the biggest, i'd say, applause line it seemed that he got. obviously in the african-american community so many parts of the affordable care act are going to make a tremendous difference.

>> right. exactly. let me just point out, too, pre-existing conditions and the cap on insurance. both of those things literally save lives. i spent many years working in the emergency room at los angeles county hospital . and i know that people's lives will be saved from those two provisions alone.

>> you know, congresswoman, i want to play for you a little something that our old friend wayne la pierre had to say this morning in response to the violence this week.

>> sure.

>> they're trafficking in 13-year-old girls down the street. there's all kinds of drugs. all kinds of guns. the priority of this town is, hey, do you think a hunter that sells a gun to a hunter in kansas ought to have to be under the thumb of the federal government ?

>> so what's -- i mean, what struck me about that, there were so many things that struck me about that.

>> exactly.

>> there continues to be from the perspective of the nra leadership and wayne la pierre such a disconnect in what we're talking about. certainly the president really i thought eloquently laid it out last night in terms of the cycle of violence and what happens in places like chicago . and that, you know, within those communities, how we talk about and think about gun safety measures and gun control is very different than hunters and sportsmen. most of whom actually agree with the idea of responsible gun ownership .

>> well, absolutely. and i'm beginning to worry about that guy. because he's sounding crazier and crazier after each one of these incidents.

>> yes, he is.

>> but you're exactly right. background checks have nothing to do with hunters. we know that the guy that took those lives at the navy barracks, we know that he had a mental health history. and we also know that he bought a gun. and so if background checks had been in place, he had several brushes with the law. and he could have been stopped from buying the weapons that killed so many people just a few days ago.

>> obviously i know there'll be some conversations coming in the week ahead about whether or not there'll be efforts to renew gun safety . although before we get to that, we have to deal with this shutdown showdown that is forthcoming.

>> right.

>> congressman moran had a comment earlier today. he said, i'm willing to shut down the got to get rid of the sequester. that certainly isn't the immediate interest of federal employees. this is about the long-term interest of the government and the country. this is not going to be a world class economy and progressive society if the government isn't able to play its role. one of the dynamics, congresswoman, we're seeing, obviously there's this ping-pong with the republicans. then also we have -- we're seeing reports of some democrats raising concerns about voting for this without having -- without the opportunity to undo parts of the sequester.

>> well, right. that's exactly right. if you just think about it, you know, the mantra of the republicans had been the deficit. government spending . government spending . well, the deficit has been reduced over $800 billion. the fact of the matter is, is that the deficit would be reduced even further, employment would be better, and the economy would be doing even better if we didn't have the sequester. and so i think it's right to say that we now have to look at that. we shouldn't just lock in the sequester into place. but i really think that the playbook is on the republican side . they are fixated now on the health care reform . they for whatever reason don't want to see all of the country be covered with health care . and so i think they've painted themselves into a corner.

>> all right. thank you, congresswoman bass, for joining us this morning. this afternoon.

>> thanks for having me on.

>>> let's go now to nbc white house correspondent kristen welker and political reporter casey hunt. i want to start with you, latest. i know president obama spoke with president kenyatta from kenya . what can you tell us about that call?

>> reporter: we know president obama did place that call earlier today to the president of kenya . offered his condolences. also offered the full support of the american people as kenya endures this tragedy that they are going through right now. we also know that the president reiterated that the u.s. stands with apartner, as a partner with kenya in fighting terrorism. this all comes as we're getting a little bit of news, karen . according to nbc's richard es powe see toe who's been talking to local and federal authorities, the fbi and its local joint terrorism task force are currently trying to track down leads about tweets that have been put out by the terrorists. those tweets suggest that there may be americans among the attackers. again, they're trying to track down these leads. this is not confirmed right now. those tweets suggest there could be as many as five americans among the attackers. law enforcement officials working on that angle right now. in a separate statement by the state department which sort of reiterated what president obama said, that the u.s. stands with kenya right now, wants to support kenya right now as it goes through this horrible tragedy, americans who are in nairobi have offered their assistance and whatever those kenyan authorities need right now to help them deal with this situation.

>> and meanwhile while we have all of that going on, the president has just arrived, as i understand it, as the marine barracks at the navy yard in preparation for the memorial. casey, what can you tell us? it's my understanding he will be meeting with the family members prior to the start of the service.

>> reporter: good afternoon, karen . yeah. the president is meeting with family members at the marine bar racks. the barracks are just up the street from where we're standing here. we're right outside the gates to the navy yard where most of the activity that we saw on monday actually happened. after the president meets with the families, then they'll begin the service. we're going to hear from the mayor of washington , vincent gray . we're going to hear from the chief of naval operations who actually lives at the navy yard . so in the complex right behind me. we're going to hear from the secretary of the navy , from defense secretary chuck hagel , then, of course, from the president of the united states . they'll also read all of the names of those victims. karen , one thing i should note. this is actually a pretty tight-knit neighborhood here. the marine barracks are just a little bit of a distance away from the navy yard . the marine corps is, of course, part of the the president of the navy. for people who live around here, seeing people in uniform, marines, sailors, is really not an uncommon experience. as we've been standing here waiting for this to begin, we've heard people walk by on the streets yelling, go navy. wearing blue and yellow ribbons. the community is clearly remembering and honoring these victims today.

>> it really has -- i mean, that whole area, i know many have talked about this. but that whole area really has sprung up with new restaurants and activity. the baseball stadium in large measure thanks to the activity there. thanks to the navy and the marines. you see them out on the streets hanging out, eating, you know, so they are definitely a part of the community. and it's obviously something i think that the whole city is -- has taken pretty hard.

>> reporter: absolutely. and this area has become increasingly residential as you mentioned. they built the baseball stadium just a little bit away from here on the other side. so there's brand-new condos springing up. it slowed down a little bit during the recession. people are starting to really move in. then you have townhouses and people who've been in the neighborhood for a longer period of time. so it's not as though this is just while a lot of people do commute in from other areas in the metro, in the metro region, virginia and maryland, there is a lot -- there's a ground swell right here of community.

>> thank you, kasie hunt and kristen welker.