September 29th, 2013

House Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Senate is ‘playing games’

Today on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke about government shutdown, GOP infighting, and raising the nation’s debt limit.

***CNN will continue to carry live coverage of the congressional budget negotiations throughout the rest of the weekend.

A full transcript and videos are available after the jump


VIDEO: GOP Rep: Senate is ‘playing games’

VIDEO: Getting to know: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Full Transcript: Mandatory CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”


CROWLEY (on-camera): Unless a deal is reached by tomorrow night, the government will shut down. Early this morning, the House passed legislation that would delay Obamacare for a year and repeal the medical device tax that helps funds it. Senate leaders say they will reject that bill and to underscore the resistance, the White House also issued a veto threat.

CNNs chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is with us now. Dana, where does this leave us?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It leaves us at absolute genuine stalemate, Candy. Right now, there are no negotiations, no bipartisan discussions going on of any kind or even plan to try to get them back from the brink. Now, Senate Democrats are so determined to make their point that they believe House Republicans are playing games. The Senate majority leader isn’t even bringing the Senate back into session today. The Senate isn’t coming in until tomorrow afternoon which, of course, is hours before the government is set to run out of money. So, this is a race against the clock and the Senate, it’s their turn to act. They’re not even here.

Now, when it comes to tactics, House Republicans chose the whole idea of repealing a medical device tax, because Senate Democrats voted in double digits earlier this year to repeal that very tax, but many Democrats say that they’re simply going to hold firm on this because they feel that this is an important point to make.

They’re not going to vote on anything that has strings attached to a spending bill. So, the obvious question now is where does this end? And House Republican sources tell me that they’re simply not going to cave. They say that they are possibly even going to send back to the Senate something that has another string attached or another change related to Obamacare.

Even though they privately reject the idea of a government shutdown, when I say they, I mean House Republicans, publicly they reject, I should say, privately they say that they really do believe that it is entirely possible the government will shut down. And you know, when you go back to the beginning of this, much of it is because Republican leaders understand that they have rest of caucus and they want to keep fighting.

They are still fighting. And one Republican I talked to, Candy, said that basically that they believe at the end of the day, I’m quoting here, “Republicans have to touch the stove enough in this process to finally realize that they’re going to get burned.”

CROWLEY: Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Joining me now is Congressman Kathy McMorris-Rogers. She is a member of Speaker Boehner’s leadership team. Where does this end?

RODGERS: Well, it ends with us coming to the table and negotiating. But, no one, Republicans do not want to shut down the government. And we have taken action early. We took action last week passing the legislation in the House, to keep the government open. And, yes, protect Americans from this unworkable, unaffordable law. We are pushing the Senate to have the debate.

Listen to the American people, which even now they refuse to have. We were there almost until midnight last night working on the bill, passing the bill, got even some Democrat support in the House, and yet, the Senate won’t even come back today. They’re the ones playing games. They need to act. They’re the ones that are truly threatening a government shutdown by not being here and acting.

CROWLEY: So, we’re in this phase where they’re going to say you all are responsible for shutting down the government. You’re going to say, wait a second, no, the Democrats are, because it’s in their House. My guess is that Senator Reid will send you back yet another clean, as they call it, CR, that is a spending bill that has nothing attached to it, maybe up against that deadline.

Can you see Speaker Boehner putting a, quote, “clean spending bill” on the House floor before midnight as Monday turns into Tuesday?

RODGERS: We’re waiting for the Senate to act. We are pushing the senate to take — to listen to the American people. Listen to the stories across this country from the implementation of Obamacare. We need them to have this debate. This is important. I hear the stories and the stories that I hear are repeated by other members in our conference, and we have a duty. We have a responsibility to the people we represent.

I was home earlier this week and it’s the mom in Lincoln County has a son with type one diabetes, and yes, she still has an insurance card but no hospital, no doctor in that county will accept it, or, I have a medical device company who is saying because of the new fees, the new taxes, the new regulations, they’re not going to be investing in the cutting edge or the single mom at the employee owned grocery store who is facing reduced hours and higher premiums. People are panicked. And we have a responsibility to the people that we represent.

CROWLEY: And Republicans have made that point time and time again, and i want to point out to you a survey that CNBC did. This is the third quarter survey. The question was, this is regardless of whether you like Obamacare or don’t, the first question is, do you favor or oppose defunding the health care law?

Thirty-eight percent favored defunding, 44 percent opposed it. They then asked those who opposed Obamacare whether they would like to see the government shut down in order to defund it, 59 percent of Americans said, no, we don’t — of those who oppose the bill say, no, don’t shut down the government to do it.

So, there will be stories. The White House says there are going to be stories of things that aren’t working. We’ll fix them. The question is, is this the appropriate way to do it? Is the House — is the leadership in the House led by Speaker Boehner prepared to allow — regardless of whose fault it is, let’s take the fault away, are you prepared to allow the government to begin to shut down over the two items that you said, which is delay of Obamacare for a year and end to the medical device tax? Are you prepared to do that?

RODGERS: We want to see — we’re pushing the Senate to have this debate.

CROWLEY: Senator Reid said I’m not doing this. The president said I’m going to veto it. So, there’s a redundancy here.

RODGERS: Well, they need to listen to the American people. And you cited these polls. The polls are overwhelming that people all across this country want to see this law delayed. They recognize it’s not ready for primetime. The wheels are falling off. Even the administration, this week was issuing the delay of this small business enrollment online.

They delayed the employer mandate. And now, we need them to take action to delay this bill for a year.

CROWLEY: They’re not going to. I mean do you — I mean, in reality, the Democratic leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate says we’re not doing this. The president said I will never sign anything that has to do with delaying this.

RODGERS: They want to fix this law, then they need to start by having this debate in the Senate. People are panicked in this country over higher premiums, lack of access. This law is having a negative effect.

CROWLEY: So, is the answer — so, is the answer — this is so important that you would see regardless of who gets the blame that you can see the government shutting down over this battle over Obamacare?

RODGERS: It’s really up to the Senate. The Senate needs to act and they need to act quickly. They should be in today. This is unacceptable that Harry Reid, Senator Reid has said, oh, we’re not even going to come back today. October 1st is right around the corner. Why isn’t the Senate here?

CROWLEY: Cathy McMorris Rodgers, thanks for joining us. It’s going to be an interesting 24 hours.

RODGERS: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it.

At the crux of this Congressional battle is the fate of President Obama’s health care law. It’s a crucial week, Tuesday the health insurance exchanges open for enrollment. CNN’s senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, joins us from the White House. Brianna, the president has been bullish on this roll out. What’s the biggest concern at the White House?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Candy, the biggest concern is really just getting people to be aware of this program of Obamacare. You know, we talk a whole about it. So, it may be hard to imagine, but a lot of folks just don’t know about it. A recent poll shows two-thirds of those who were surveyed really lack even basic understanding about Obamacare. We found anecdotal evidence of that going out and talking to people and doing stories just to see what they know and they don’t know.

A lot of people don’t know a whole lot. It’s why President Obama has really taken it upon himself to be the main messenger on that, holding a couple of high profile events this past week, one with former President Bill Clinton, another big campaign style event in Maryland. Reminding people to go to, that’s sort of the tag line he’s been using.

But there’s a number of other concerns as well, not just the general public awareness but really targeting those young healthy people, many of whom are uninsured at this point, a lot of them take the risk of being uninsured and not paying for insurance because they don’t really get sick and they sort of make that gamble. But they are required under the law to sign up for health insurance and it’s essential to keeping costs down because they really are healthy.

And so, it doesn’t cost a lot for their health care. Then a couple of other issues, the technical glitches, and we’ve already seen some of these, for instance, in the online enrollment website for small businesses. We’re expecting that to be online coming Tuesday. That’s been pushed back a week. And, of course, the White House is concerned that there will be bad press around some of the glitches, Candy.

CROWLEY: Brianna Keilar at the White House, busy week for you as well. Thank you.

Joining me now, former Vermont governor and doctor, Howard Dean, and senator and doctor, John Barrasso of Wyoming. Let me start with the question I asked Brianna about the White House. You both have been in practice. What are your long term concerns if any about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act?

BARRASSO: Well, it’s not going to be affordable. There’s going to be sticker shock, number one. And number two, it’s going to be harder for people to actually get what they wanted which is the care they need from a doctor they want at lower cost. The president made a couple of promises. One with the exchanges, and he said it would be cheaper than a cell phone bill.

And I don’t expect a lot of people to be able to find something less than $71 a month on the exchanges. People are going to be paying more. And he said you can keep the doc — if you have your doctor and you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. We’re seeing all across the country exchanges that trying to get the price down have had to exclude many doctors.

CROWLEY: Governor Dean, we are — it really does seem to me, it depends on which state you’re in, because this is very hard to keep track of, because in some states, some people are saying oh, mine will be much lower. And other states it appears to be much higher. Long term —

DEAN: Candy, the vast majority of states, in fact, the premiums are significantly lower including mine. I mean, really lower, like 40 percent in some cases. So, I would disagree with Senator Doctor Barrasso on that. Look, I think there are going to be some glitches.

As you know, I wasn’t a big supporter of this bill, but now, that we’re at the day I’m looking forward to it. I really do think it’s going to change things and it’s changed (ph) in the private sector. These people are going to go on the exchanges and they’re going to get private insurance. That’s what this does. So, I don’t buy this doctors aren’t going to accept this.

Doctors always have trouble accepting, some doctors don’t accept Medicare, but this is going to work. It’s a sensible solution. There are going to be glitches. None of them, so far, are major. We’ll see how this – the big one is the federal exchange. For all the folks who refuse, governors who refuse to become part of the — their own estate exchange are now in a big 33-state federal exchange. And that’s what they’ve got to do right and we’ll have to see how it works, but I’m very optimistic. I think it’s going to be good for the public. And I think when they see what this looks like, this debate that we’re having, which is outrageous is going to look really stupid.

CROWLEY: Go ahead with the —

BARRASSO: I think the exchanges are being held together right now with duct tape and chicken wire. We’re not sure what’s —


BARRASSO: We see many states, even governors home state of Vermont has had problems. They’re not going to be able to accept payments online. Oregon is backing down. Other states and the District of Columbia last week said, hey, we’re not ready. Huge ability, I think, for fraud, for identity theft on the exchanges. The bottom line is, I think it’s not just an issue of will doctors still see patient.

Patients are going to have a hard time finding a doctor to take care of them under these exchanges. In New Hampshire, where Howard was on Monday giving a speech, we know that there’s an uproar, because – Blue Cross/Blue Shield is excluding 10 of the 28 hospitals in that state.


BARRASSO: And pediatricians aren’t going to be able to take care of kids they’ve been taking care of.

DEAN: That does need to be fixed that that’s the fault of New Hampshire state government, not the fault of Obamacare. Look, we’re going to see, I don’t think the sky is falling. We’ve been through much more. This is what they said about Medicare. The right wingers said this about Medicare. The sky was going to fall. Nothing was going to happen. It was going to be awful. And it’s one of the most popular programs in the country.

CROWLEY: But you know, we are seeing what they call those with concierge (ph), doctors or are saying —

DEAN: That was long before this ever started.

CROWLEY: Exactly, but will we see more? And these are doctors who say forget insurance. If you can come and pay me, you know, write new check —

DEAN: The reason you’re not going to see a lot of that is there’s not much of a market for it. There are a couple of those in Vermont. There’s more in New York and L.A. This is just — look, this is what’s going to happen. People are going to have a different system. The glitch in Vermont and D.C. is minimal, but you can sign up for health care. Now, it doesn’t matter if you can pay for it today or November 1st, because it doesn’t go into effect until January 1st. I look at this stuff inside out, because I look at it from a point of view of somebody who didn’t like what they did in the beginning. I actually wanted Medicare, public option so we could sign up for something we knew what it was and understood it more easily. But we are where we are.

This is going to be a very positive thing for the public. And I think you saw the desperation in Cathy Morris’ voice is about the fact that they realize that once this goes into effect, people are going to like it. And the right-wing, very conservative let’s not spend another dime people, are going to be stuck supporting another entitlement, which is really —

BARRASSO: This law is unworkable. It’s unpopular. It is unaffordable for us as a nation. It’s hurting jobs. It’s hurting the economy. And now, what I’m hearing and I was at a health fair in Wyoming yesterday, it is unfair. Someone said to me why is it that the president is going to give my boss a one-year delay? The bosses are getting a delay, but the workers are not. And we need a delay in the individual mandate.

CROWLEY: Hold that thought. We’re going to come back with the two of you. And when we return, the Obamacare exchange is open Tuesday, but the question is, will patients sign up?


CROWLEY: From theory to practice, Obamacare exchanges open for business Tuesday in a CNN iReport (INAUDIBLE) Virginia Beach weighs in.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I think the election changes that. It’s pretty clear that president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land.


CROWLEY: Really? That was not who we were expecting (ph). That was the speaker of the House, John Boehner, for sure. We will have more when Howard Dean and John Barrasso next.