tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC January 20, 2018 9:00am-9:30am PST
day one of the great government shutdown of 2018. both the house and the senate convening at this hour in hopes of striking a deal. and dramatic developments across the country on streets in city after city. the huge women's march on the one-year anniversary of donald trump's inauguration. a very good day to all of you, i'm alex witt at nbc headquarters in new york. we have big developments at this hour for you. there is no deal in sight. but congress is back in session right now. democrats and republicans playing the blame game. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> but the people's time is expiring. let us do our work. one issue at a time. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> we have the same rules that the house had, government would not have shut down. schumer shut it down for the idea to hold the government hostage. that is just wrong. we said they're in session. we'll go right now to the floor of the house.
let's listen to speaker paul ryan. >> on thursday -- >> the house will be in order. members, remove your conversation from the house floor. the house will be in order. >> mr. speaker, let me understand why this happened. on thursday, this house responsibly passed a bill to keep the government open and to extend the children's health insurance program which covers nearly 9 million children from low income families. no games. no strings attached. a straightforward bill. we did our job. but senate democrats simply refused to do theirs. last night, they used the filibuster to block our bill and to shut down this government. but why? what exactly in this bill was it that the senate democrats opposed? why would they do such a thing? what do they find so objectable?
what do they disagree with? what is so objectionable that it is worth holding the entire government hostage? was it funding for our military? was it the children's health insurance program? is it funding for the veterans administration? is it funding for our national parks? what is it? the answer is they have no problems with any of it. and yet they are blocking this legislation anyway. that's right. senate democrats shut down the government over a bill that they have no issues with. they opposed a bill they don't even oppose. we do some crazy things in washington. but this is utter madness.
here is the simple truth. senate democrats refuse to fund the government unless we agree to their demands on something entirely unrelated. they want a deal on immigration and then they'll think about reopening the government. it is a shakedown strategy that senate democrats have been talked into by their base. now, i could go on and on about how cynical i think this ploy is, and i certainly do. but let me read you something senator schumer himself said in 2013. the last time we found ours in this position with a government shutdown. and here is what, in 2013, during a government shutdown, senator schumer said. quote, no matter how strongly one feels about an issue, you shouldn't hold millions of people hostage. that's what the other side is doing. that's what's wrong. and we cannot give into that, close quote. let me repeat that first line. quote, no matter how strongly
one feels about an issue, you shouldn't hold millions of people hostage, close quote. he was right. you shouldn't. but that is exactly what he and his party are doing right now. here is something else that senator schumer said in 2013. quote, i believe in immigration reform. what if i persuaded my caucus to say i'm going to shut down the government, i'm going to not pay our bills unless i get my way? it's a politics of idiocy, of confrontation, of paralysis, close quote. politics of idiocy, his words, not mine. here is one more quote from senator schumer in 2013 during that government shutdown. quote, we believe strongly in immigration reform. we could say we're shutting down the government until you pass immigration reform. it would be governmental chaos, close quote.
sadly, he had that right as well. mr. speaker, as we speak, furlough notices are going out to federal workers across the country. half of the defense department's civilian workforce has been furloughed. training for reserves has got to stop. guardsmen have to be sent home. a number of states are going to run out of money for children's health insurance. and all of this, all of this, is completely unnecessary. but senate democrats believe none of it is too high a price to pay for appeasing their political base. there is no reason for this shutdown. we have been and we continue to be willing to work together in good faith on immigration. but that deadline, that deadline is weeks away.
there is no good reason for senate democrats to keep willfully forcing a shutdown on this country. now, i want to take a moment and i want to address the men and women who work here in the capital, and who work around the country in this government. whether you're in the military or you're in the reserves or law enforcement or medical researchers or people working at our national parks, whichever you do, whatever you are, whatever it is you're doing for the taxpayers. thank you for your service. thank you for your sacrifices that you and your families make. we could not be more grateful. you should not have to go through this uncertainty. you deserve so much better than this needless shutdown. and we hope that it will end very soon. my colleagues, senate democrats shut down this government, and now senate democrats need to open this government back up.
stop holding our troops and children's health insurance hot t -- hostage. end this reckless shutdown that is inflicting needless suffering on our country. let calmer heads prevail. come to your senses. do the right thing. open this government back up. i yield. >> the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. >> and there you heard paul ryan, pretty impassioned speech there, from the house floor, all of five or six minutes there, getting things started. we were also watching on the side of your screen the women's marchs erupting around the country both today and tomorrow. d.c., new york, charlotte, dallas, los angeles today, the big one las vegas tomorrow. but of course there's a lot to cover. we're going to get to it here. the msnbc news team is on the ground covering the entire government shutdown. garrett haake is live at capitol hill, jeff bennett is at the
white house. betsy and phillip, we'll get to you guys in a second. nbc's garrett haake has been covering the story all night for us. garrett, what more can you tell us about the call between the president and majority leader mitch mcconnell? did it get anywhere? >> reporter: alex, it's going to be tough to say until the senate opens this morning. senator ryan's speech there very much a political effort to cast blame for the shutdown on the shoulders of senate democrats. regardless of what you think of that argument, the ball will be in senate democrats' court this morning. they're going to have to decide if the new effort in the senate is enough to get their support, that is, the exact same continuing resolution that passed the house a few days ago, now lays before the senate with a shorter timetable. it would end february 8th instead of the 16th. why does this date matter? lindsey graham and other republicans involved in the senate immigration discussion say that shorter timetable ought
to put pressure on the white house to strike a big picture deal. so what we're going to see develop over the day today is, is that enough, that shorter timetable being the only change, enough to convince what probably would have to be five or six additional senate democrats to vote for and reopen the government and restart big picture negotiations? because as of right now, the white house and senate republican leaders are saying they will not negotiate on the immigration issue or on the bigger picture budget issues while the government is shut down. they're treating this like a hostage situation, saying they won't negotiate with the democrats as long as the government is shut down and trying very hard to place blame, for however we got here, setting that aside, placing blame for the fact that the government is not reopening imminently on the democrats' shoulders. i expect that republicans, like speaker ryan, will try to get senate democrats to change their
stance on this. >> garrett, you talk about trying to winnow down this time, was it going to be a month, 30 days, now down to three weeks. chuck schumer had proposed a ten-day extension. from a pr optics perspective, this one, we go to a government shutdown to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the president's inauguration, that ten-day extension would have gone to the day right before the president makes a state of the union address. you would think there would be even more pressure because nobody wants to have the government shut down from a pr perspective for both the annual date of the inauguration and the state of the union speech. you would think that would have been something that would have gotten pushed through. >> reporter: you would think. but senate democrats don't want to be held responsible if they agree to that date and then negotiations fail. but stay tuned, alex. there's not a lot that can be
changed about this continuing resolution unless there's some giant deal that gets reached in the interim, which is increasingly unlikely at this point. there's not a lot that can get changed except for that date. so don't be surprised if the effort fails today to move it to february 8th. if we start seeing proposals pop up to push the day forward or backwa backward, everybody needs an off-ramp of some kind, or we could be in a shutdown for quite a while. >> speaking of the senate, although not a democrat, certainly a republican, mitch mcconnell. let's take a listen to him on the floor. >> for the vulnerable families. the bill passed the house. the president said he would sign it. bipartisan majority of democrats and republicans voted for it. the votes were there. the president was ready.
the solution to this manufactured crisis was inches away. but then the democratic leader took the extraordinary step of filibustering this legislation, preventing it from passing, and plunging the country into this totally avoidable mess. the house of representatives, a bipartisan majority of republicans and democrats, all agreed on a prevention of a shutdown. it would have enabled congress to do the common sense thing. keep negotiating other issues while also providing for our troops, our veterans, and literally millions of vulnerable americans. the democratic leader instead chose to filibuster the bipartisan bill.
so here we are, mr. president, day one. and already funding is in jeopardy for our veterans. because the democratic leader filibustered a bipartisan compromise that a majority of senators supported and chose instead to shut down the government. because the democratic leader filibustered a bipartisan compromise that a majority of senators supported and chose a government shutdown. and of course low income families across america woke up today without the knowledge that their children's health care is safe. all because the democratic leader filibustered a bipartisan compromise that a majority of senators supported and chose instead a government shutdown.
yesterday, my friend, the senior senator from new york, tried to insist that the shutdown was anybody's fault about his own. anybody else but me, he said. he blamed president trump, because the president wouldn't resolve months of ongoing negotiations over massive issues in one brief meeting, and give the senator everything he wanted. he blamed republicans in congress as though everybody didn't know that the senate rules allow the minority party, if they choose, to obstruct the american people's business and filibuster for their own political purposes. it's possible. but in this instance, foolishly done. these rhetorical gymnastics are simply not persuasive. the american people see right through all this bluster. see right through all this
bluster. like the president, like the house, and like a bipartisan majority of senators, the american people want long term solutions on immigration policy, on government spending, and on all the major issues we've been discussing literally for months, and will continue to discuss. but like the president, like the house, and like a bipartisan majority of senators, the american people cannot begin to understand why the senate democratic leader thinks the entire government should be shut down until he gets his way on illegal immigration. the american people cannot comprehend why the senior senator from new york is advising his party to keep the government shuttered for american troops, american veterans, american military families, and vulnerable american children until he gets
exactly what he wants on the issue of illegal immigration. a situation which does not even become urgent until march. all these other matters are indeed urgent. they need to be dealt with right now. this particular issue does not become urgent until march. i hope senate democrats are starting to realize all this. i hope they're starting to realize that their constituents, the president, the house, and a majority of the senate, are on one side of this. on the other side, all alone, is the democratic leader, who invented this unfortunate hostage situation and led his party into this untenable position. the solution is to end the
foolishness. it's hurting millions of americans who have done absolutely nothing to deserve this. so i would invite all of my colleagues across the aisle to join together and do what is obviously responsible and right for the people we represent. pretty clear here. let's reopen the government. let's resume the bipartisan discussion on funding our troops, daca, on government spending, and on all the other priorities that all of us can work together to resolve. >> and there you heard it from mitch mcconnell. it would seem as if he and paul ryan squared the talking points and the way they would present them for political gain exactly the same, lots of the same phrases being used there. mitch mcconnell took it a step
further than paul ryan. paul ryan said senate democrats have to get their act together. mitch mcconnell putting the blame for the government shutdown on the shoulders of senate minority leader chuck schumer. clearly no love lost between those two at this point. we're told they are not the best of friends, to put it mildly, and sometimes conversation between the two can get pretty heated. we are going to take you over to the white house and get to nbc's jeff bennett who is monitoring the developments there for us. jeff, as we await more activity on the floor, what about the white house? how is it reacting to the shutdown? >> reporter: the white house, much like senator mcconnell, they're doing their level best to lay the blame for the shutdown at the feet of democrats. one thing i would like to point out there, you saw senator mcconnell allude to the meeting that chuck schumer had with president trump at the white house yesterday.
he said if senator schumer thought he could resolve the issues in a short meeting, he was mistaken. senator schumer has told people that he left that cheeseburger summit with the president, they had cheeseburgers in the oval office, thinking that he had the broad outlines of a deal, only to see the president renege on it after he got pushback from republicans. that's his account. the account from the white house is that the president didn't agree to much of anything. at this point it's not clear when or if we'll hear from the president today. the president has sent out a number of tweets using the hashtag #democratshutdown. republicans on both sides of capitol hill are doing what they can to make the point that democrats co-own the senate. that's why they're saying, yes, even though the republicans control the senate, the house, and the white house, senate democrats have a role to play
in. they're dug in in large part over this issue of daca, the protections for the roughly 700,000 or so young people brought to the country through no fault of their own. you heard senator mcconnell say there's no urgency here, this can be dealt with in march. of course early march is the self-imposed deadline that president trump gave congress to fix this. democrats say the real deadline was yesterday, january 19th. they're basing that on the guidance from former department of homeland security chiefs who say that whatever congress comes up with, whatever kind of fix that congress reaches, that dhs will need time, about three months to implement it. that's what accounts for the sense of urgency on the democratic side, alex. >> all right, geoff bennett at the white house, thank you very much for that. we're now going to speak with phillip and betsy, phillip, i'm glad to have you from the washington post, betsy woodruff from the daily beast.
phillip, the deadline here was for march 5th. is there any indication from your reporting or if you look at history, with regard to the issue of immigration, daca specifically, is there anything to indicate both sides would have come together in a kumbaya moment and agreed on some sort of legislation going forward? i mean, the buck had to stop at some point. if not last night, would it have been fine by march 5th? >> from some standpoint. from a historic standpoint, it would seem this would be somewhat intractable. we're operating in this post historic moment when we have donald trump as the president of the united states, this big deal maker. he himself had said this is something i wanted to see us reach a deal on. he repeatedly said if you bring me a compromise deal, that's something i'll happily sign into law. this was the origin of the contentious remarks he made about haiti and africa. that was the meeting at which he rejected a bipartisan deal.
instantiating this law that people were brought here illegally by their parents as children, that has broad bipartisan support and would pass if voted on in the senate. it is certainly not the case that what was just presented by mitch mcconnell and paul ryan is the entire scope of accuracy. but it is also the case that this could be something that was resolved, yes, if donald trump in particular had upheld what he said he was planning on doing. >> okay. let's take that a step further with you, betsy. does this -- is it fair to put this on the shoulders of chuck schumer? is he the one that is holding this up because he wants to put forward his agenda? like phillip just said, the two sides could have agreed on something, if it were, say, a clean bill. >> i think the point that republicans are making is accurate just based on the senate rules work. remember, we saw this play out in sort of the inverse type of
scenario in 2013, another shutdown i covered really closely. in 2013, republicans led in large part by ted cruz blocked government spending bills even though democrats held the white house. ultimately the responsibility for that government shutdown was very much put on republicans' shoulders. now, the senate rules give the party that's in the minority an extraordinary amount of power. it's one of the things about the senate that makes it a unique, fascinating legislative body. last night, we saw the vast majority of senate republicans as well as some democrats, more than 50 senators, vote for a bill that would have kept the government open. but because of the way the senate rules work, schumer and democrats were able to filibuster and block that vote from going through. just from a logistical senate procedural perspective, that's the reason the government is shut down. now, of course these questions about negotiations and democrats seeking leverage are much larger. i don't want to say they're philosophical, but they aren't necessarily directly related to
the procedural votes that we saw play out on the senate floor last night. the reality is democrats are playing hardball with the white house now. they used that vote as a way to amp up, rachet up the pressure on republicans to come to a deal on daca. we know, however, at the same time, that donald trump and republicans in congress historically have been very opposed to daca, particularly in 2014. republicans ran on opposition to daca. they made it a core platform. what we're seeing here is almost an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. these negotiations are going to be really tough, they'll be contentious. it's honestly tough to predict how it's all going to play out. >> you mentioned that the democrats are playing hardball, apparently so is the white house. let's go to the white house and nbc's geoff bennett. let's get it from you. >> reporter: here is the latest from white house press secretary sarah sanders. the president is receiving
updates from members on the hill, he's spoken to leader mcconnell and just spoke with speaker ryan within the last hour. we are committed to making sure the american people especially our great military and the most vulnerable children are taken care of. the president will not negotiate on immigration reform until democrats stop playing games and reopen the government. so that's sarah sanders drawing a hard line here as both sides, having stumbled into a shutdown that few seemed to want, alex, find a way to haggle towards a resolution. >> when we think about what they're doing today, i think the likelihood of a resolution happening today, phillip, is slim to none, a snowball's chance in you know where. >> exactly. there could be a chance for a short term deal to kick this down the road. >> if that happens, why couldn't they do that last night, why not 12 hours ago? >> a totally fair question. we've seen repeatedly over the course of the past decade, five
to ten years, this is the way congress increasingly works, they'll only do something when faced with an absolute deadline and sometimes they miss that deadline. we heard repeatedly both from mcconnell, ryan, and the statement just now from sarah huckabee sanders, this mention of children's health insurance problem, it's a problem for months that could have been dealt with by congress. but republicans understood this was a bargaining chip they could use. it's also the case, in 2013 they passed a bill to make sure the military would keep getting paid. there are ways to fix that. there are these machinations on both sides. >> betsy, sit tight for a moment, i want to bring in democrat congressman emanuel cleaver from missouri. sir, welcome on this busy day. i want to get your reaction to the house speaker, really most of your republican colleagues blaming democrats for the shutdown. what's your reaction? >> well, i appreciate them
trying to award something to us. the truth of the matter is that a president either flourishes or flunks in the middle of a crisis. being president doesn't mean one is blame resistant. president trump in 2013 said that it all starts at the top. that's a direct quote. this was being said about president obama. and so, you know, he would have to say that he himself is to blame for what's going on. and i think there are a couple of things that are not coming out, i think, for the country to understand. number one, it makes no difference if people are talking about c.h.i.p. it makes no difference, whatever they're talking about. we don't have a budget. we haven't had one for three years. that is the issue. and even if you approve c.h.i.p., we don't have a budget for the community health centers that would take care of the
children who would come for help. so it's not just daca. we need a budget. here we are, the most powerful nation on the planet, and we can't even get a budget. and i think this is an embarrassment, or it ought to be, to the members here in congress. everybody is sitting around trying to blame someone. the president has said that he's to blame. one final comment, if you will, before i go back to you, and that is this. we cannot continue to function like this, because without a budget, we're doing a couple of things with sleight of hand. one is we're reducing the federal budget, every time we pass a cr, because it means we're passing a continuing resolution, meaning the funding on the previous year. so if we've been doing that for three years, it means we've now been impacted by the cost of living or we haven't benefitted because the budget is remaining
at the same level. that means that we're hurting. to the crowd here that doesn't believe in government, they're perfectly fine with passing a cr. >> so i appreciate your point, sir, that there's issues that need to be addressed, mandatory things that need to be funded, government spending, daca, border security, disaster aid, c.h.i.p., all of that. if democrats and republicans were not able to compromise enough to get a deal done, what is going to change in the coming hours, in the coming days, to get a deal? and if a deal is possible, how did it get to a shutdown at midnight last night? >> well, because i think we are in the process of dismantling the government of the united states of america. i know that's a straight, hard statement. but i do see that, because of the political tribalism. we want war on everything. and the people out in the world
are cheering us on, our enemies are cheering it on. we're not trying to work together. look, we have three branches of government. and people are sitting around saying, let's find out what the president wants. we can pass a bill in the house and the senate and send it to the president. we don't work for the president of the united states. we are an independent body. and then let the president make a decision on whether or not he's going to sign it. we have been constantly chipping away at the authority given to the house and the senate by the constitution, by giving more and more power to the executive branch. >> all right, congressman, thank you very much for weighing in. we're going to go from you, sir, with my thanks, to chuck schumer, everyone, he's now on the floor, let's take a listen to what he's saying. >> my republican friends speak often of the damage done to our military by lurching from continuing resolution to continuing resolution. we democrats agree. that's why we offered secretary mattis his