Senator Cornyn says “there’s no deal” Transcript 1/19/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 19, 2018
Guest: Maria Teresa Kumar, Adam Jentleson, Ronald Klain, Norman Ornstein, Neera Tanden, Katherine Siemionko
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: – still some last-minute
things going on, but, honestly, the definitiveness with which Democrats
came out of that meeting makes me feel like it`s – it would be a pretty
tough and unexpected thing at this point.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. And couple that with the fact that the
informal whip count we have all been able to do showed that it was nowhere
near close in terms of them having the 60 votes they needed.
Kasie Hunt, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent right in the thick of it,
breaking this news for us tonight.
Kasie, thank you. Much appreciated.
HUNT: Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Don`t go anywhere. MSNBC is going to be live tonight throughout
it all. Put on some comfy slippers, maybe pop some popcorn, settle in.
You might want to let the dog out now because you`re going to not going to
want to get up and let the dog out anytime in the next hour.
Right now, we are expecting a vote, imminently, on whether or not the
government is going to shut down at midnight. As we heard from Frank Thorp
earlier this hour and what we just heard underlying there from Kasie Hunt,
it looks like there`s no Plan B if they don`t get this vote.
And it looks like they`re not going to get this vote. Wee!
That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD WITH
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Here`s a rule of
Senate coverage. Don`t ever believe a senator who says there`s no Plan B.
O`DONNELL: There is always a Plan B in the Senate. And if this clock
ticks past, you know, 10:05, that means that`s what Mitch McConnell is
working on. He is working on a Plan B. He always has one.
O`DONNELL: But he`s got, you know, a mess on his hands tonight. And so
the thing that might be emerging as a Plan B is something that Lindsey
Graham has now suggested.
You`ll remember, he`s been against any form of continuing resolution,
doesn`t want a continuing resolution. Now he does.
And he says, I`ll go for a continuing resolution to February 8th. That
takes them past the State of the Union address. He says that that – he
believes that gives them enough time to actually do a serious job of
So that`s really just moving the date a week. It`s moving it up a week,
and we`ll see what that does.
MADDOW: Well, I think we`re already seeing that the Democrats aren`t
buying it. I mean, we`ll know – well, the proof will be in the pudding
when they actually get out and cast their votes. But it looks like, right
now, even with that on the table, that it`s going to be a no vote.
And I do take your point, though, about there always being a Plan B. And
we thought the vote would have started by now. As it pushes later and
later, that might mean that there are unseen negotiations that might lead
to some sort of third way here. But, right now, it doesn`t look good.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And what`s always true of this situation, the shutdown
situation, is that neither side actually wants a shutdown. And that`s an
unusual dynamic in the Senate.
O`DONNELL: Because usually there`s this dynamic where one side wants one
thing and the other side wants something else and they`re – but they don`t
have a motivation to get them to some kind of solution.
Both sides really have – Republicans have a much stronger motivation, and
Mitch McConnell knows it, than Chuck Schumer does. Chuck Schumer holds all
the cards now.
And we will see. This is going to be one of the – this is going to be my
most interesting hour of the year so far, covering what happens here.
MADDOW: Stiff competition, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence. Good luck, my friend.
O`DONNELL: We really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: And so we are approaching a shutdown, on the verge of a
shutdown, for one very simple reason. Mexico did not pay for the wall.
That is why we have a camera on the floor of the United States Senate
tonight. Because Mexico did not pay for the wall.
The President of the United States says, no wall, no deal. And that`s
where it stands tonight in the United States Congress.
Joining us now, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe
Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President Obama. He`s also a
former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ron Klain knows
the Senate very well.
As does Adam Jentleson. He`s a former deputy chief of staff to Senator
Harry Reid and the director of public affairs for Democracy Forward.
And Maria Teresa Kumar is with us. She`s the president and CEO of Voto
Latino and an MSNBC contributor. And I want to go to Maria first.
Maria Teresa, the possibility of the Democrats agreeing to any form of
going forward tonight without a solution for DACA, how do you see that?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: A win for the – from
the American people. The protests of allies, such as MoveOn and FWD.us,
Welcome.us, and the Dreamers themselves is testament of how the majority of
American people recognize that what has been with DACA.
The fact that it was rescinded without actual – without strategy and now
you have literally 122 million people losing their DACA status every single
day demonstrates the power of the people.
And I think the Democrats recognize that if they do not take care of
immigration reform, it is something that`s going to haunt them come
September and – come the – excuse me, come the November elections. And
that is why they`re holding strong.
I think it`s very disappointing that Graham, all of a sudden, is buckling.
When the – when folks say that the President did not get the funding for
the wall, that`s not the case. Actually, that was part of the bipartisan
deal that Graham and Durbin presented to the President just last Thursday,
and the President was the one that decided to walk away from the deal.
O`DONNELL: Adam Jentleson, Lindsey Graham is saying tonight that he does
not expect the Graham/Durbin deal to ever become law. We see some movement
with Lindsey Graham on the possible dates of a C.R. You`ve worked closer
to Mitch McConnell than any of the rest of us. How do you read the
ADAM JENTLESON, PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, DEMOCRACY FORWARD: I read it as a
giant mess for Mitch McConnell that`s entirely of his own manufacture.
You know, if this shutdown happens, it`ll happen with a whimper, not a
bang. Mitch McConnell has had ample time to negotiate with Democrats, to
reach a deal. He could put the Graham/Durbin deal on the floor right away.
It would pass.
This is entirely of his own making. It`s a giant mess. Republicans will
get blamed, and I think he`s going to regret it.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, you`ve been on the Senate floor in these kinds of
moments as the clock is ticking down. How do you see it unfolding tonight?
RONALD KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well,
Lawrence, you talked before about a Plan B. What they really need is a
Plan M, and that`s to deal with the moron president.
I mean, the problem here is that, as you said, President Trump has just
messed this up with his insistence that there be funding for the wall.
It was important to remember that he shook hands with Chuck Schumer and
Nancy Pelosi last winter and said, we`d fix the status for the Dreamers.
Paul Ryan said it would be fixed by the end of the year.
Last week in that Cabinet meeting – room meeting, he said he agreed with
Diane Feinstein, we needed a clean bill for the Dreamers. And then he said
he`d pass whatever the leadership came up with.
And every time there`s an agreement, this art of the deal President, no
art, no deals, can`t get it done, can`t deliver. And that`s why we`re in
the mess we`re in tonight.
O`DONNELL: I want to read some of Lindsey Graham`s statement about this
because it indicates that he has an agreement with the White House on this.
He says, in consultation with the leaders and the White House, I believe
that a C.R. through February 8th is necessary in order to work toward our
shared goals while providing sufficient urgency in these discussions.
And so, Maria Teresa, that looks like Lindsey Graham believes that he has a
Plan B that he has worked out with the White House and the Republican
KUMAR: Well, that`s what Lindsey Graham thought on Thursday when he went
with Durbin and, basically, was completely torpedoed by not only the
President but by Kelly and, also, Miller. So I think that – I think the
majority of Americans can actually recognize that when you try to negotiate
with the President, it`s constantly a moving target so that is not the
And let`s not forget, folks can basically sit down at home and say, well,
you know, that`s going to give the government 20 days. That`s 122 young
DACA students that lose out on DACA every single day.
And this is the President`s undoing. And the Republican leadership has to
recognize that they are impacting lives and families when they decide that
they are going to, basically, move down the goal post without actually a
solution. That`s not acceptable.
O`DONNELL: Adam Jentleson, it sounds like, with the move changing that
date from February 16th to February 8th, they will get all of the
Republican votes. That will get Lindsey Graham. It will probably pull
back in Rand Paul, who has said that he`s a no.
That would leave the Democrats alone voting against this, with actually
four Democrats announcing that they are ready to vote for it – that`s Joe
Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, and Doug Jones. And at that point,
they would need six more Democrats to get to 60. How does that look?
JENTLESON: I don`t think that looks good. But the other thing I would
note is that to set up a vote on a bill that gets introduced at the last
minute, like this three-week C.R. bill would, you basically need the
consent of all senators to set that vote up.
You know, the bill – the C.R. that we`re voting on tonight was – the
procedural motion to set up that vote that`s happening tonight started two
days ago. So there`s going to have to be a high degree of cooperation
across the board for the three-week C.R. to actually get a vote before the
government shuts down in two hours.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s a great point, Ron Klain. In order for them to
move to anything other than what they were on, they basically need
unanimous consent to do that. And so that means they need an agreement
with Chuck Schumer to do that.
KLAIN: That`s right. I mean, and, look, I think with the vote they`re
about to take, it sounds like it`s a vote on the House bill which does not
fix the problem of the Dreamers and doesn`t – you know, it doesn`t really
meet Lindsey Graham`s test even, so, you know, they`re in a big mosh pit up
And the reason is, you know, we`re seeing something we`ve never seen
before. I worked in the Senate for a long time. You worked there,
Lawrence. I was in the White House in 1995 when we had the longest
shutdown in American history.
But what we`ve never had is a situation where one party controls the White
House, the House, and the Senate and can`t keep the government open. And
that`s what`s going on here tonight. And there`s no playbook for that
because that`s just something that`s never happened before.
O`DONNELL: And, Maria Teresa, the voters out there are watching something
that they feel they`ve seen before, but Ron Klain makes a very important
point. We`ve never seen it before when there is one party in control of
the Senate, one party – the same party of the House, the same party in
control of the White House.
KUMAR: Well, and that shows how leaderless the Republican Party is. The
fact that they can`t get their own party in line to vote on resolutions
that actually make sense really speaks volumes.
And the fact that the – the President normally walks into these rooms, and
he is the levelheaded person. He is the one that basically is the adult in
the room, brings the parties together, and say this is how we`re going to
play and this is what I`m going to sign.
The President has been completely absent. And right now, from what we`re
hearing inside, the one that has really been trying to do the negotiations
has been John Kelly.
John Kelly is not a politician. He is a decorated military man. Someone
who is highly respected for what he knows, but I think he is also over his
skis. And that is one of the reasons why I think Mitch McConnell just
recently said we will sign – we will actually do a deal as long as the
President tells us what he wants.
They don`t even know. And that is increasingly, I think, a challenge of
what happens when you have individuals that are elected to these positions
who don`t respect or understand government service.
O`DONNELL: And, Adam, there is a good possibly half-dozen Democrats who
might be available to move to vote for this to get them up to 60, senators
like Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson, possibly Bob Casey.
How did Harry Reid – when you were working for Harry Reid, how did he hold
senators who were there on the margin of these kinds of votes?
JENTLESON: Well, I think the thing is, you know, that the mark of a good
leader is somebody who knows what a senator needs, you know, to get from A
to B. And I think the important thing is understanding the senators`
motivations, what`s important to them, and making it a personal appeal that
really connects with them and resonates with them.
O`DONNELL: I just want to – Adam, as you`re speaking, I just want the
audience to notice that there`s Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor talking
to Mitch McConnell as Mitch McConnell is standing in front of Mitch
McConnell`s desk there.
This is 10 minutes – 12 minutes past the time when Mitch McConnell was
supposed to walk out there and simply call for a vote.
O`DONNELL: And instead of calling for a vote, he is talking to the
Democratic leader of the Senate.
JENTLESON: Yes. Lawrence, if I can make one other point. Just looking at
the floor, what I`m seeing is that you don`t see a lot of senators on the
floor right now.
JENTLESON: If this was a vote that was about to happen, you know, the
floor, the well there in the front should be filled with senators. So I
think there is some kind of a negotiation going on here. Senators are
either holding the cloakroom or in a room just off the floor. If this vote
was imminently about to happen, you`d see a lot more senators on the floor
KUMAR: Well, and what I understand too, what I`m hearing, is that Manchin,
for whatever reason, on the Democrat side, is going – he is actually
trying to pull in more Democrats to vote for this bill. And the Democrats
are basically scratching their heads because they don`t quite understand
why except, perhaps, that he wants credit for not shutting down the
O`DONNELL: Ron, what are you – when you`ve been down there on the floor
in these kinds of moments – and this is leaders who`ve had nothing but
tense times talking to each other – it`s always startling how quickly they
can warm up to each other when the deal needs to get done.
KLAIN: Well, that`s true, Lawrence, but I think this is a different kind
of case. I think it`s going to be very hard to get a deal done here
because the Democrats have been promised a fix for the Dreamers.
The President goes on T.V. and says he wants a bill of love, says he wants
to help the Dreamers, and yet, time and again, they pull back from that.
They don`t get it done. And I think it`s very, very hard for Senator
Schumer to cross that line and to trust the President, to trust Mitch
McConnell one more time.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to go to the floor now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE: – call be
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there objection?
The clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cloture motion. We, the undersigned senators, in
accordance with the provisions of Rule 22 of the Standing Rules of the
Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to concur
in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 195, signed by 17
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has
been waived. The question is, is it the sense of the Senate that debate on
the motion to concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R.
195 shall be brought to a close?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Alexander.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: Nay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Baldwin. Mr. Barrasso. Mr. Bennet. Mr.
Blumenthal. Mr. Blunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, we are underway. This is the vote.
KLAIN: This is the vote. It`s a vote to cut off debate on essentially
passing the House-passed continuing resolution. And I have very little
doubt that the Democrats will – enough of them will hold together to
defeat this. Mitch McConnell thinks he`s going to make a political point
by casting this vote. He will lose.
But there is little doubt in my mind that, at the end of the day, the
American people will see through this. They will understand the reason we
will have a government shutdown in under two hours, is because President
Trump couldn`t get it together. The Republicans in Congress couldn`t get
it together. This is their shutdown.
O`DONNELL: And, Adam Jentleson, if we`re trying to imagine what that last-
minute conversation with Chuck Schumer was about, between Mitch McConnell
and Chuck Schumer, it seems it was probably about exactly, what do we do
after this vote? What`s the procedure here tonight after this vote?
Because Mitch McConnell called for this vote in the most mournful way I
have ever seen a Senate leader call for a vote.
JENTLESON: Yes. I think he knows this is not a good thing for him. I
think you`re right. They were probably negotiating what time the Senate is
going to adjourn tonight.
I think the key tonight will be, if after this vote, senators leave the
floor and go home. And I think your reporters who are there on the Capitol
will be able to tell us the answer to that. Then, you know, the government
is shutting down. And I think that that`s – that looks like where we`re
O`DONNELL: And, Maria Teresa, we already had reports that the House is
prepared to stay in this weekend. They were all – the House was going on
recess for a week.
Democrats put out the word that Democratic House members have to stay in
town. Republicans put out the word that Republican House members have to
stay in town.
And so if there is a shutdown or if there is anything that happens before
midnight tonight that somehow gets a continuing resolution going for a few
days, they will all be in town working on this.
KUMAR: I think, and they have to because I think that the American people
will recognize that if they don`t have business running on Monday, there
are so many individuals that are going to be affected by it.
And so the Republicans don`t want to have this hanging over their head
because one thing that the – that voters always remember is who basically
failed to give them the checks that they needed to make sure that they can
make ends meet.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, one of the reasons that a leader of the Senate
will call for a vote that he knows he is going to lose is that he has to
prove to someone that this is a losing proposition.
O`DONNELL: Sometimes, they`re trying to prove to the House of
Representatives that this is a losing proposition. In this instance,
there`s no doubt that the person who they have to prove this is a losing
proposition to is the President of the United States.
KLAIN: Yes, Lawrence. And so a big question is what the President`s
weekend plans are. I mean, tomorrow, happy anniversary!
KLAIN: It`s the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump becoming president.
And he`s supposed to go to Florida to his resort, play golf, and have a big
bribery party where people pay him $100,000 to have dinner with him.
And so we`re going to see tomorrow if Donald Trump gets on that airplane,
flies down, and has his golf game while the government is shutting down,
while, as Maria Teresa says, the government`s getting prepared to cut off
various programs, fighting flu, supporting people who need the support.
You know, will Trump get on his plane and fly to his party tomorrow?
That`s what we`re going to find out.
JENTLESON: Lawrence –
KUMAR: Well, and, Lawrence –
JENTLESON: Yes. Go ahead.
KUMAR: I have to say, Lawrence, there was so much conversation today with
whether or not if Schumer could hold – literally hold strong for 24 hours
so that, tomorrow, Saturday morning, the President wakes up and that he
realizes that he`s going to have to stay in town if he doesn`t actually
sign – agree to having the – whatever the Democrats want.
So there has been a lot of buzz on Capitol Hill, saying that maybe the only
thing that the President really wants to do is to go to Mar-a-Lago, go to
his fancy party, and maybe that`s a leverage they should be using. And
it`s no joke.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s a – that`s a serious factor in his life.
KUMAR: It`s wow.
O`DONNELL: I just want to – we`re joined now by Norm Ornstein. He`s a
congressional scholar and historian of sorts.
Norm, you have seen many of these moments – many of these shutdown moments
come, but as we`ve been mentioning, this is the first time we`ve ever seen
it with a single party in control of the House, Senate, and White House.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: And, you
know, if we look at this, Lawrence, we can look back not just at Donald
Trump blowing up a negotiation that had a real chance of doing something
We can also look at the reality that Republicans in the House and Senate,
very deliberately, held off, for months, reauthorizing the Children`s
Health Insurance Program to use it as a hostage.
So we`re not just looking at a party that couldn`t get its act together to
try and keep this shutdown from happening but that used really vile tactics
to do it. And we have to add that a shutdown itself has an enormous human
cost to it if it lasts for any length of time.
Not just that the government employees, hundreds and hundreds of thousands,
maybe of whom rely on a paycheck week to week, won`t get paid and maybe
will get reimbursed much later on.
Food stamps. After several days, the debit cards aren`t going to be able
to be renewed.
The national parks don`t just affect people trying to go to the parks.
It`s all the businesses around them.
The human cost of this is tremendous. And you can imagine not necessarily
Trump deciding to cut a deal to go to Mar-a-Lago but acting in a capricious
fashion and holding out for a while that`s going to have a real cost for
O`DONNELL: And, Adam Jentleson, one of the big incentives Donald Trump has
for a deal here is that the IRS will be hit hard by a government shutdown.
The IRS is in the middle of the incredible, complex task of processing all
these new tax tables for the new tax structure enacted by the Trump tax
cuts. They can`t do that and – which means, in effect, they cannot
deliver the tax cuts in paychecks if their personnel gets cut, as it will
be in a government shutdown.
JENTLESON: That`s absolutely right. That`s a huge liability for
Republicans. If you pass a major bill, passing it is one thing,
implementation is a whole other thing. We saw that with ObamaCare, with
what happened with the website.
So, you know, not being able to smoothly implement the bill that they`re
pinning their political resurgence hopes on is a major liability for
I just want to add one other thing. I`m sitting here watching the body
language on the Senate floor, and it`s very hard to get over this sort of
lack of urgency and the lack of energy on the floor.
In 2013, when the government shutdown, right up to the last minute, there
were shuttle negotiations going on. There were bills being sent back and
forth between the House and Senate.
You know, it`s basically no substantive negotiations. Republicans have
made zero effort to try and avert this in the last 24 hours, if not longer.
I`d love to know what happened at the White House with Senator Schumer when
he met with President Trump today. If there was a deal that President
Trump might have gone back on.
But, you know, this is a shutdown the Republicans are sleepwalking right
into, with zero effort to try and avert it.
O`DONNELL: Let`s dip back into the Senate floor to hear this roll call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – Corker, Cornyn, Crapo, Cruz, Daines, Donnelly,
Enzi, Ernst, Fischer, Gardner, Heitkamp, Heller, Inhofe, Isakson, Kennedy,
Manchin, Murkowski, Perdue, Risch, Roberts, Rounds, Rubio, Tillis, and
Senators voting in the negative: Baldwin, Blumenthal, Booker, Brown,
Cantwell, Casey, Cortez Masto, Durbin, Feinstein, Graham, Harris, Hassan,
Heinrich, Kaine, King, Klobuchar, Leahy, Menendez, Murphy, Murray, Paul,
Peters, Reed, Sanders, Schatz, Schumer, Shaheen, Smith, Stabenow, Van
Hollen, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, and Wyden.
Mr. Lee, no. Mr. Jones, aye. Mr. Tester, no. Mrs. Gillibrand, no. Mr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In that list of senators voting no, we just heard that Senator
Lindsey Graham did vote no. One – at least one Republican vote no.
We also just heard Senator Jon Tester vote no. Jon Tester, Democrat of
Montana, who was one of the senators who the Republicans thought they were
going to be able to get. This vote is clearly going against the
Ron Klain, to hear Lindsey Graham voting no as we just did, Jon Tester then
voting no immediately after that call of the roll, this – at this point,
it doesn`t look like there`s a possibility for the Republicans in this
KLAIN: No. I think the only chance Mitch McConnell has here is slim to
none and slim left town.
Look, you also heard Bob Casey vote no. He was someone that the
Republicans thought they could pressure.
I only heard four Democrats voting yes, and with most of the Democratic
votes in. So, you know, I think that, basically, it`s pretty clear this is
going down to defeat. There looks like there`s going to be a shutdown.
I agree with Adam, there`s no sign that there`s some last minute save
coming here. And the Republicans have managed to, you know, shut the
government down even though they control all three branches of the
O`DONNELL: Yes. This is clearly on the count we have now. Rand Paul also
voting no. Mike Lee also voting no.
And the four Democrats who said in advance that they were going to vote yes
have voted yes, but no other Democrats have moved to yes. And so this is
now officially hopeless for the Republicans with three Republicans voting
against it so far – Graham, Rand Paul, Mike Lee.
Adam Jentleson, what happens next?
JENTLESON: Well, I just want to make one point on the vote count. If
three Republicans are voting no and four Democrats are voting yes, that
means this thing is, maybe, barely going to clear 50 votes.
So not only is this bill not going to meet the 60-vote threshold required
to pass under these circumstances, it shows that Mitch McConnell wasn`t
even close. He couldn`t even get his whole Republican conference to vote
yes on this thing.
So, you know, we are – I just underscore my point about the lack of
effort. I mean, Mitch McConnell didn`t try to avert the shutdown. This is
O`DONNELL: And, Maria Teresa, what you see in this vote is the White House
and the Republicans will not be able to claim that it was just the
Democrats who voted against this.
KUMAR: Exactly right. And I think the fact that Lindsey Graham – I`m
curious of what happened to Lindsey Graham literally at the top of the hour
when we started your show and now. Because he had sent out a press release
saying that he was going to vote in the affirmative for the C.R., for the
So something must have happened that Schumer was able to communicate with
him the last conversation he had with the President, and it must have been
something that really sank the deal. So I`d be – I would have loved to
have been a fly on that wall and what switched his vote back to the no
O`DONNELL: Well, Maria Teresa, just the fact point on that is that he was
willing to vote for a C.R. that had a different date. He was willing to
vote for one –
KUMAR: Right. That`s fair. Yes, that`s right.
O`DONNELL: – but he was never willing to vote for this one. And they
were not able to switch it out into the different date. And Adam explained
to us the parliamentary prohibitions they had on trying to pull that off.
KUMAR: Yes, that`s right.
O`DONNELL: But there was, Maria Teresa, huge pressure on these Republicans
to vote for this so that the Republicans and the White House could claim
that only Democrats stood in the way of keeping the government open. And
that claim evaporated in this roll call vote.
KUMAR: Well, so the Republicans wanted – the Republicans and the White
House wanted to save face by exactly what you described. What`s going to
be interesting, though, is that in the last couple of months, Lindsey
Graham has been able to get close to President Trump, trying to make sure
that he actually has at least some sort of line to the President directly.
And what is that going to mean after tonight, the fact that he crossed the
White House, is not voting with the President? It will be interesting how
that will impact the rest of the legislation, how it will impact
Is the President going to realize that he`s going to have to concede some
of the issues that he didn`t want to in order for him to ensure that he has
a shot at winning Congress in 2018 for himself?
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I want to go back to the mood that we`re seeing on
the Senate floor there. You`ve spent so many hours literally sitting on
that floor during these votes, as has Adam.
And to Adam`s point before, which I think is really important, there is not
a whiff of tension in that room. There`s not a whiff of suspense. This is
as routine looking a vote as it gets. The only difference being that in a
normal vote in the middle of the day, everyone casts their votes and gets
out of there and goes on with their schedules.
They have nothing else to do after this vote, and so you`re just seeing the
clubhouse gather in complete and utter relaxation and resignation about
what`s happening. None of them believe that there`s a bit of suspense in
the outcome here.
KLAIN: Right. So, Lawrence, this isn`t legislating. This is kabuki. I
mean, they are casting a vote to cast a vote.
And I think it`s a little bit of political gamesmanship. That is, Mitch
McConnell is trying to show that it`s somehow the Democrats` fault for the
government shutting down.
But that is being undone by the fact that, first of all, at least three
Republicans are voting against him and the fact that, you know, at the core
– we talked about the dates and the dates of the C.R., but I want to go
back to the core point here.
And the core point here is that, for months, President Trump has promised
that he would do something to provide a path of legalization for the
Dreamers. I mean, they`re 800,000 human beings at stake in this wrangling
over dates and what not. And it`s been promised time and time again.
And I think the Democrats are right to stand up and say, hey, you know
what, we`re not going to take the IOU anymore. We`re not going to take
the, oh, we`ll fix it next week, next month. There are people who are
losing, who are being put into limbo every day as Maria Teresa said before,
and eventually, in March, the whole program ends.
And so the Democrats are insisting, you know, you promised you`d do
something about it. You made this mess. You now have to do something
about it. And I`m glad to see them standing up and doing that.
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, when this vote is completed, it looks like we
will be roughly 90 minutes away from a government shutdown. What might
happen in those 90 minutes?
ORNSTEIN: I don`t think anything much is going to happen except that there
should be scrambling in the White House because a shutdown is an extremely
difficult and arduous task.
You have to figure out who the nonessential employees and who the
essentials one are; which ones can`t go to their offices, which ones have
to; how functions are going to operate. This is complicated, and we have
an administration that is the least competent in history, I think.
Certainly in modern history.
Alyssa Mastromonaco who had been at a top-level position with President
Obama noted that you have certain top officials who are designated to deal
with this. They don`t have them in this White House. You have a huge
book, and they haven`t looked at it.
So we may see more chaos because the preparation leading up to the shutdown
is not very likely to have been done in the kind of fashion that we saw
when it happened under President Obama, when it happened under President
Reagan, when it happened under President Clinton.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, what is it going to mean for the Dreamers out
there hoping for – to be able to understand their future through DACA when
they see this vote in the United States Senate tonight that is really, on
the Democratic side, a vote to protect them?
KUMAR: You were reading my mind. I have to say that I – I`m just – my
brain right now is going literally through all the Dreamers that I know
that have been sacrificing, that have been calling members of Congress,
that have come out of the shadows.
They are a testament of what happens when you work the levers of power even
if you don`t have a vote. And they have been – we just – we were – one
of our partner organizations recently just brought in over 200 Dreamers
just yesterday, knocking on doors, talking to members of Congress.
And this is the result of their efforts and those of the allies. And I
could not be prouder of these young people because they literally put their
life at risks so that they can be – continue contributing to the American
And this is such a win, not just for them, but for their parents and for
every single person who has sacrificed. And we cannot forget the people
that have been deported, even though they`ve served into our military.
That`s how we got to fix this, but I couldn`t be prouder of them.
O`DONNELL: Adam Jentleson, Twitter is going to be filled with suggestions
to the White House about who nonessential personnel might be, including
Kellyanne Conway who said publicly today that the 60-vote threshold in the
Senate is provided for in the constitution.
O`DONNELL: Now, we are all going to laugh about that because, of course,
it`s not in the constitution. That is so typical of the ineptitude and
incompetence that Norm was talking about –
KUMAR: I think ACLU –
O`DONNELL: – in this administration and this –
KUMAR: I`m sorry, Lawrence, but the – Lawrence, ACLU needs to go send her
like one of the little pocket constitutions just for her to read it. Just
an abbreviated version. All right.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to send her, instead, the Rules of the Senate.
She`ll learn a lot more from that.
KUMAR: That will probably do.
O`DONNELL: But –
JENTLESON: Yes. Just so Kellyanne knows, it was invented in 1917. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Yes, but, Adam –
JENTLESON: A few years after the constitution.
O`DONNELL: To Norm`s point and to Kellyanne Conway emphasizing it today,
this is the most incompetent set of leaders of the executive branch that we
have ever had on a day when the executive branch was supposed to shut down.
JENTLESON: Right. I mean, who is essential in an administration that`s as
incompetent as this, you know? I mean, it`s hard to tell who`s in charge
over there. For the sake of everybody out there who depends on government
functions, I hope that they do find a way to make things operate at a
somewhat reasonable level.
However, it`s hard to put much faith in their ability to have that happen,
given their overall level of incompetence. If you thought the lead up to
this was messy and ugly and incompetent, wait until you see the actual shut
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I hate watching Senate votes without having my tally
sheet in front of me and checking off very names. But the best information
we have at this moment on the count from our control room is 48 yes, 47 no
at this point, with the clock still open apparently on this vote. This may
end up being shy of the 50.
KLAIN: You know, Lawrence, it will either be shy of the 50, maybe just a
little bit over the 50, right at the 50, but certainly nowhere near the
kind of resounding, you know, near – even near victory for Mitch
And I want to go back to what Norm was saying. You know, I worked in the
White House in 1995 when we had the longest government shutdown. It is
complicated to do it and not mess things up even worse than they`re messed
Now, the person who`s usually in charge of this process is the head of OMB.
But we have a part-time head of OMB because the head of OMB is busy trying
to undo the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau right now. He has two
So, usually, that falls to the deputy head of OMB, except we don`t have a
deputy head of OMB. President Trump hasn`t put anyone in that job.
So we have hundreds of senior level positions in the government that Trump
hasn`t filled, hasn`t even tried to fill. The key people are either doing
part-time jobs or no jobs at all. And the number of things that are going
to go wrong here over the next few days, it`s just going to be a real
tragedy. And that`s Donald Trump`s fault.
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, I was really struck today that we were on the
threshold of a government shutdown, and it was not Ted Cruz`s fault. That
was really, I thought –
O`DONNELL: That was worthy of breaking news in and of itself. But if you
– we all recall that when Ted Cruz was pushing the government toward a
shutdown, he was the most hated man in the United States Senate by both
sides, including his own party.
And here we have us headed for a shutdown because President Trump could not
get Mexico to pay for the wall, and yet this Republican Party in the Senate
is still overwhelmingly attached and adoring President Trump.
ORNSTEIN: And it`s also worth mentioning that President Trump had tweeted
some time ago, we need a good shutdown. So it`s not as if he has been
working night and day to try and keep the government going, an essential
function of his own.
And it was amazing after that blow up in the last week that so few of his
people in Congress criticized him in even the slightest way.
Lindsey Graham has stood out dramatically on that front. And even some of
the others who you might think would be very upset about this and who may
suffer in their states back home are silent about it. Ted Cruz, meantime,
has pretty much disappeared from public view.
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Neera Tanden, president of the
Center for American Progress.
Neera, you worked on the Clinton for President campaign.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes.
O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton, of course, came in second in the Electoral
College, but she`s a former senator.
This is the kind of thing that, when former senators become presidents,
they are usually pretty adept at steering their way out of. Unless, of
course, they`re faced with an opposition party in both the House and the
Here you have a president who has his own party in the House and the
Senate, and he has managed to get it to the brink of a shutdown.
TANDEN: Yes. I think what`s really central here and is – there are
reports now from the caucus meeting Democrats had in the Senate just over
the last hour. And I think what`s really central here is that people think
they have an agreement with Donald Trump, and he has basically walked away
with – walked away from it.
There are reports that Schumer thought he had a kind of global agreement
with Trump. And then he talked to his most conservative aides or the right
wing of the party and then basically walked away.
O`DONNELL: Neera –
TANDEN: And I think what`s really happening in the caucus is that –
O`DONNELL: Neera, let me just –
TANDEN: Sure, go ahead.
O`DONNELL: Let me just interrupt you for a second. Neera, do you mean in
Schumer`s meeting today with the President?
O`DONNELL: That he came out of that meeting believing me had an overall
agreement with the President, which is very – a very common result from
that kind of meeting –
O`DONNELL: – and the details get filled in afterwards.
TANDEN: So Senator Blumenthal just spoke out in the last half an hour,
saying that, basically, Chuck Schumer thought he had a kind of broad
agreement with Trump – with President Trump and then that evaporated. And
I think you see that. Mitch McConnell himself says he doesn`t really know
where the President is.
And what`s really happening here is that you have a White House incapable
of governing which makes it impossible for the Congress to do its job.
Basically, Republicans have a simple path here. There is a majority. It
is a DACA and CHIP deal.
And a leader has to decide that that`s what they want to do, going forward,
but Mitch McConnell can`t seem to do that deal without Donald Trump. And
that`s why we are where we are: because Donald Trump is incapable of making
O`DONNELL: And, Neera, I`m sure we will be hearing through leaks or
directly from Senator Schumer what he believes was agreed to with the
President today in that meeting, but what we have seen is that the real
hardline staff opponents in the White House are Stephen Miller, which
everyone has been focusing on, but also John Kelly.
John Kelly turns out to be a very hardline opponent who basically arranged
for an ambush of Senator Graham and Senator Durbin when they went up to the
White House last week.
TANDEN: Right. I mean, just to step back here. The President created a
mess with DACA last September. He said he wanted Congress to fix it, and
then he sabotaged every effort to fix it.
That is basically why we are where we are right now, which is the Democrats
are basically saying if you want our votes for a bill, you need to
negotiate with us. You can`t just hold a gun to our head.
And I think the truth is Donald Trump is a bully and Democrats are just
done with being bullied. And I applaud them for that because you`re not
going to get resolution with a bully by just caving to him time after time.
O`DONNELL: Neera, do we have any sense of how unified the Democrats were
in that meeting when they have only four defections? And those were four
people who already announced that they were going to vote with the
Republicans on this. It`s not unusual for those meetings among Democrats
to have a lot more difference of opinion than just four Democrats.
TANDEN: Well, what I have heard is that the caucus was pretty unified and
pretty strong. And I think the reason why they are is because they
recognize that Democrats have made good faith efforts. Schumer made a good
faith effort today to come to a resolution with Trump himself, and he was
incapable of making a deal.
I would say, if you really think about this week, we started off this week
with a lot more Democrats on the fence. They really pulled together to
hold the line.
And I think they recognize that if you want to solve these problems –
these are problems the American people see as core issues, CHIP, DACA. And
90 percent of Americans think we should have a resolution of DACA that
This is a – these are positions where, you know, 75, 80 percent of
Americans are on one side and really hard right is on the other. And
Democrats think that they have a strong hand because they do. Because
they`re trying to solve these problems and the President is incapable of
O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it.
TANDEN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I want to go back to our panel.
To Adam Jentleson, this vote is obviously being held open. It`s extended
beyond the normal vote clock. I haven`t been able to follow exactly what`s
going on the floor. What`s your reading of why they`re keeping this vote
JENTLESON: Well, probably – I`m speculating, but because if they close
the vote, everybody is going to go home. So there may be some order of
business that they need people to stick around for, something they need to
pass by unanimous consent.
It could be something as simple as deciding what time they`re going to
adjourn tonight and come back in the morning, you know. Or who knows,
maybe there`s a last-minute deal going up. But it certainly doesn`t look
like that from what I can tell.
But I think, at this point, with no prospect of any further action tonight,
as soon as this vote closes, senators are probably going to head for the
exits and go home. So, you know, there are sort of some housekeeping
business that they may need people to stick around for.
So that`s my guess, but, you know, who knows right now? We`re 90 minutes
from a shutdown. Anything could happen.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I`m not sure if they`re trying to – if they`re
working on any individual or individuals to try to flip a vote to try to
get this into something that looks a little better for Republicans. But
usually, they keep – the vote clock is kept open because there`s a vote or
two that they`re working on.
KLAIN: Yes, it`s certainly possible they`re trying to flip those three
Republicans who voted with the Democrats back over. It`s possible there`s
someone on their way wanting to vote. I think Adam`s probably right. It`s
also possible they`re trying to figure out what the plan of action is for
But I also want to go back to something said a minute ago, Lawrence, about
how everyone blamed Ted Cruz for the shutdown in 2013. You know, one
person didn`t. Donald Trump!
Donald Trump said that when the government shuts down, it`s the fault of
the president. That was his position in 2013.
And so if the government shuts down in little over an hour, as it looks
like it will, you know, that clip of Donald Trump saying it`s the
president`s fault when the government shuts down? Well, that clip is going
to come back to haunt him tomorrow morning. As it should because in this
case in particular, it is his fault that we are in this mess.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Norm.
ORNSTEIN: Yes. You know, there`s one other element here we haven`t been
talking about. This has been a dispute over CHIP and DACA and the
immigration issue. We haven`t talked about the deep problems Republicans
have getting majorities on the spending issues.
And once we get past this, this was only going to be for three weeks.
We`ve been punting since the first of October without any kind of a
You have many House Republicans who don`t want any spending increases for
defense or the domestic programs. Those are deals that would not work with
the Senate. You have Paul Ryan who`s been unwilling in the past to give up
the Freedom Caucus and to go for Democrats to get some of these votes.
So even if they resolve some of these other issues and even if they had
done it tonight – it would have been until February – they`re going to
come back and still have great difficulty finding a way to get past their
deep internal differences, between conservatives and radicals, on how much
government should be spending.
O`DONNELL: The scene you always look for on the floor in these situations
is Senator McConnell or one of his whips working hard on some senator to
flip, but I don`t see that happening.
O`DONNELL: I just want to report on the Republican votes that voted no,
there were four at this point – Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and
Jeff Flake. And there were five Democrats who voted for this – Joe
Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, and Claire
What I don`t have is the total vote as it stands as of this moment, and
that`s because I haven`t been able to hear the roll calls as we`ve been
sitting here from this coverage desk.
But – sorry – Adam, so it`s basically a trade there, four Republicans for
five Democrats. That doesn`t really move the Republicans to where they
have to go.
JENTLESON: No. I mean, they are – they`re – you know, 10 – they`re 10
votes away from the 60 they would need to pass this. That`s a million
miles in Senate terms.
And I just wanted to add one other thing to Ron`s point about Trump rooting
for the shutdown. The other thing I would add to that is that this is
Mitch McConnell`s second shutdown on his watch.
He was the Republican leader in 2013 in the Senate when the government
shutdown. And here we are shutting down again. So, you know, you`ve got
Trump rooting for a shutdown. You`ve got McConnell having overseen two
shutdowns now at this point.
So this is what Republicans do, they govern by crisis. They let everything
happen to the last minute. They set up sick choices, like the idea that we
have to choose between giving healthcare to nine million kids and saving
700,000 Dreamers for deportation. And then this is the predictable result
when something like this happens, and this is entirely of their making.
O`DONNELL: I`m told by the control room that the total vote count at the
moment is 50/48. And, Ron Klain, that indicates there is one vote that has
not yet been cast possibly at this point.
KLAIN: Correct. I mean, we don`t – I don`t think Senator McCain is going
to vote and so we expect 99 votes. It sounds like there`s one person who
is still missing. But even if that one person is a yes vote, obviously, at
51, they`re just barely over sea level. They are, as Adam said, a million
miles away from the 60 votes they need.
And it`s – and they`re not going to get there by this path of allowing,
essentially, Stephen Miller and Tom Cotton to be, you know, in charge of
all the policy in the United States. And I think if that`s where they
stand, this shutdown is going to go on for a very long time.
KUMAR: Well, I also think that –
O`DONNELL: Well –
KUMAR: I also think one of the things –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Maria Teresa.
KUMAR: – we`re seeing is unlike the 2013 shutdown where Mitch McConnell
was animated, he was trying to make a deal, he was – and he was frustrated
In this, he`s kind of almost stepping back and saying, you know what, I`m
going to let you fall over to see – so that you can better understand that
there is an art to making a deal, that there`s art to governance, and that
you, basically, have to recognize, as Ron just mentioned, that it`s not
going to be the Steve Miller agenda. It has to be something that actually
can pass the Senate, and you need have to cooperation by both parties.
And that is, I think, a different place where Mitch McConnell is not used
to being. He is very much into being in the weeds, making sure that he`s
cutting the deal, that he is threading those deals. Instead, he`s kind of
like almost absolving himself kind of like Pontius Pilate. It`s very
fascinating to watch his strategy in this one.
O`DONNELL: So, Adam Jentleson, I`m just told by the control room – and
Mitch McConnell seems to be taking his place at the podium – that it`s
Mitch McConnell who has not yet voted in the roll call. What do you make
JENTLESON: So that`s probably because he`s going to do what`s called
entering a motion to reconsider, which is the leader can vote – he`ll
probably vote no, and what it does is – well, he`ll vote against the
What it does is it gives him the option to bring the bill back up,
basically, at a time of his choosing without having to go through the
process of filing cloture, which is a pretty clunky process that takes
about three days to set up a vote.
So McConnell is probably giving himself the option to recall this vote. I
think what he`s likely to do is call the vote again, probably tomorrow
morning, make Democrats revote. This is something he`s done in the past.
At that point, he might – which might seem he`d do tonight, is actually
file cloture on the bill again. So that after he recalls this vote, he`s
going to set up the same vote again after that. He might try to make
Democrats keep taking the same vote, thinking that it would change them.
What we found in the past was that tactic only entrenches people in
opposition. It`s never worked for him in the past in terms of, you know,
getting people to switch sides.
And I think the significance of the 10-vote difference is it really raises
the question of, how do you get out of this? With five votes –
JENTLESON: – five Democrats voting for this bill, that`s about as many as
you can expect to get on a bill like this. So it really raises the
question, how are Republicans going to get out of this? They`re a million
miles away from giving – from a deal that would avert this shutdown, and I
think it`s likely to really drag on.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, the parliamentary maneuver that Adam just
described is something that majority leaders have to do frequently, and
they end up with these strange voting records –
O`DONNELL: – where you can actually see them having voted against their
party on certain things. But the other thing that`s striking about this is
that it`s very clear that McConnell has not figured out what happens next,
and that`s why this vote now – this vote clock has been kept open.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence. And I think Mitch McConnell is betting
wrongly, but betting, that, you know, the Democrats will wear this vote.
And he`ll – and he wants them to vote over and over again so that, he
thinks, this will look like the Democrats` fault.
And I want to go back to that shutdown in 1995 because what people forget -
- people remember that, at the end, President Clinton emerged politically
stronger. He was kind of the winner in it, but not in the early parts.
In the early part, his approval rating went down. It was bad for the
President. He won in the end because Newt Gingrich was such an idiot. He
said that he shut down the government because he had the wrong seat on Air
But, you know, if the Democrats play their cards right, if they stand
strong, if they stand with the Dreamers, they stand tough. The Republicans
are going to wear this, the Republicans on the Hill, the Republican in the
White House. That`s where the politics on this is headed.
O`DONNELL: And, Maria Teresa, we`ve never before had a president who has
ever said we need a good shutdown, which this President has said.
KUMAR: Well, he doesn`t understand what the government does and the full
breadth of services. And that`s why, I think, he is so flippant about it
because he actually doesn`t understand what the consequences are. Either
that or he simply does not care.
He wants to make sure that he is the President of the rich. He wants to
make sure that he has access to that. That is what he has demonstrated
where his strength is. And he is surrounded, unfortunately, by people
who`d – who would say that their – that the government is working just
fine because their aim is to drown out the government.
So that is – those are competing narratives, I recognize, but it is a
tough place to come out and say that he is going to come out on top on
this. It`s particularly difficult for McConnell to say that they`re going
to hold the Senate and Congress come 2018 because the American people are
not going to forget this.
And because he – and, as you mentioned, the President gloated in saying
that we need a good shutdown. That impacts hundreds of thousands of people
that the repercussions can really, really hurt.
And the fact that he just simply doesn`t care is not only alarming, but it
lacks empathy. It lacks leadership, and it lacks the adults that the
Republicans right now need in the room to shake him up.
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, on these cloture votes, the losing side always
loves to end up somewhere around 56, 57, something like that, so that they
can claim an overwhelming majority was in favor of this, but you`re not
going to have that tonight.
ORNSTEIN: No, certainly not. And, you know, getting over 50 was something
they wanted to do so that they could at least say that if it hadn`t been
for the filibuster, they would have been able to make this happen.
I want to make a larger point, Lawrence, which is we`re focusing naturally
on the Senate tonight as it should be, but look ahead to the more pivotal
figure may well be Speaker Ryan. At some point, we know that there are 56,
57, or more votes in the Senate for a bipartisan agreement, very much along
the lines of maybe even more votes than that of what Lindsey Graham, Jeff
Flake, and Dick Durbin had come up with.
And if that happens, after a shutdown for a period of time, the question is
whether Paul Ryan is going to have the ability or the guts to do what he
would need to do to end this shutdown, which is to get more Democrats and
give up a lot of those Republicans. That`s something the Speaker sees as
anathema. It`s what killed his predecessor, John Boehner. But looking
ahead, how we resolve all of this, that may be the key.
O`DONNELL: And I want to bring in another voice to this discussion,
Katherine Siemionko. She is one of the founders of the Women`s March
And it has been exactly one year since you assembled the resistance in that
march, that historic march both in the United States and around the world.
What is it like for you tonight, on the eve of that anniversary, to be
watching this kind of resistance to the President unfold on the Senate
KATHERINE SIEMIONKO, FOUNDER, WOMEN`S MARCH ALLIANCE: Not surprising.
Thank you for taking time to – for women`s rights with an hour to
government shutdown. We appreciate it. It`s necessary.
We`re going to bring adrenaline. We`re going to change it. We`re going to
change the government. Watch.
O`DONNELL: You`ve gone from a march to a giant march of women candidates
who are entering the field this year.
O`DONNELL: And that seems to have been, in large part, sparked by the
SIEMIONKO: It has been. Women are coming out to say, you know what, not
only do I have a voice, I need representation. And if I`m not going to get
it by the current government, I`m going to run myself. And it`s just
incredibly beautiful. We`re not going to see this shutdown once we get
women on that floor.
O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Adam Jentleson.
And, Adam, this is becoming more and more extraordinary by the minute.
Every minute this vote stays open, it becomes stranger. This now really is
in the territory I have never seen before.
JENTLESON: Yes, and it makes you wonder. I mean, you know, look, this
might be a situation where, you know, having walked up the abyss and stared
into it – I`m sorry, I keep being distracted by the floor.
JENTLESON: But the body language here is critical, so I`m trying to read
it and respond. But, you know, having walked up to the abyss and looked
into it, people might be having second thoughts. The problem is I don`t
know what the Plan B is.
O`DONNELL: We are watching Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer walk off the
Senate floor together. They just did that in the upper left corner of your
screen. That is the beginnings of a deal discussion in the making. And
the vote has been left open on the floor while the two leaders leave the
Adam, go ahead.
JENTLESON: So the upper left corner would be the Republican cloakroom, and
that`s probably where they went to have a private conversation. So I think
that means that there is something afoot.
Again, it comes back to the point, though, what is the Plan B? The only
thing we`ve heard raised today was Senator Graham`s three-week clean C.R.,
which, you know, doesn`t have anything else attached to it. It`s not much
of a deal, but it would keep the lights on for a little bit longer.
Again, in order to put that vote up for a vote on the floor, you would need
unanimous consent. All of the senators, all hundred of them – or 99 of
them since McCain is not there, would have to agree to hold that vote
immediately because setting up a vote takes three days in the Senate at
Then, for it to become law, it would have to immediately go over to the
House and be passed there. So there`s – you know, the Senate can`t
unilaterally make a law. And then, of course, Trump would have to sign it.
So, you know, there are a lot that would have to happen in the next less
than an hour to keep the lights on, but the fact that people are talking
means there might be some progress.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, this is literally a move I have never seen on the
Senate floor before. We`ve been in this kind of situation before.
O`DONNELL: But they call the vote and they don`t keep the clock running on
the vote. The vote clock is 15 minutes, sometimes 20 minutes. Whenever it
goes a couple minutes over, it`s only because some senator is racing from a
difficult distance to get there.
I`ve never seen the vote clock left open for this kind of situation where
they are literally going to have a backroom negotiation between the
Democratic leader and the Republican leader.
Before the Republican leader will even announce the result of this vote, we
already know what that number is going to be. It`s either going to be
51/49 or 50/48 – 50/49. And here`s the leader keeping the clock open,
going into the backroom. This is something we haven`t seen.
KLAIN: You know, Lawrence, the only thing – and it`s a speculation, of
course. The only thing I can predict is not really related to this vote,
but that they`re trying to come up with a game plan for how to solve this
And that means there still would be a government shutdown tonight. I think
it`s almost inconceivable that that could be averted at this stage in the
But, you know, there might be some theory of how to get together tomorrow,
how to put something together tomorrow, how to quickly get something moving
tomorrow. And they want to get that resolved before they announce that
vote count and all these senators head to the exits.
But there`s almost no prospect at this point in time, at this late in the
day, that we are not going at least technically have a government shutdown
at midnight. And I actually think – you know, stepping back, I do think
the prospects of a longer shutdown are higher than the prospects of a
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, Chuck Schumer has said he is open to the idea of
a very short C.R., two or three days, something that takes them to Monday,
possibly Tuesday. Is that the discussion in the back room right now?
ORNSTEIN: I would have to believe that that`s the discussion going on now.
Democrats are not going to agree to a three-week extension now. If they
do, they`re going to lose an awful lot of their own supporters, including
the Dreamers, if you just keep pushing that.
If you do it for a few days, hoping that you can reach some kind of a deal
that will be more long-lasting, then you`re going to see Democrats go along
with it. I can`t imagine much of anything else at this point, and I can`t
also imagine that making its way through before midnight. So for at least
a brief period, no matter what, we`re going to have a shutdown.
O`DONNELL: Well, Adam, about that point, if they were to come out of that
room with an agreement for a 24-hour or a two to three-day C.R., they could
pull that off before midnight, couldn`t they?
JENTLESON: The Senate could pass it. You`d have to have extraordinary
cooperation. I wonder if, whatever room Schumer and McConnell are in right
now, if Pelosi and Ryan are on the phone. Because in order to avert a
shutdown, you would have to have the wheels completely skinned, completely
greased with the House.
JENTLESON: Whatever would pass the Senate – the Senate, they could walk
out of there in the next 10 seconds and the Senate could pass it in five
minutes and get it over to the House. But the House would then have to
pass it and get it to Trump`s desk and have it be signed into law.
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