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CNN "Newsroom" - Transcript: Government Shutdown


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Republican Congressman Scott Garrett is on the House Financial Services Committee and he joins me now from Washington.

Good to see you, Congressman.

REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, thank you.

WHITFIELD: OK. So a small step this morning, approval in the House for back pay for those furloughed federal workers. How does this lay the ground work in your view to perhaps get government operating again, getting people back to their jobs just like we heard Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying hey, why not pay people for actually doing the work. Let's get government working again. What's the forecast in your view?

GARRETT: Well, this bill I think bodes well for that. As you know, the Republicans have been saying that all along. We said we did -- never wanted to shut down the government. And we have proven it by sending a number of bills from the House over to the Senate. Unfortunately they have all either died in the Senate or never gotten any real support, much support from the Democrats in the House, although about 25 or 30 Democrats have come over and agreed with us on, for example, making sure that the military should be paid, that the veterans should be paid, that we should have research for cancer, should be continuing on. That schools or what have you here in D.C. should be open and running.

So we've sent those bills over to the Senate. And as I would say, the Senate is where all good bills go to die. This is the correct approach. This is the approach that's always been used to fund the government. We do it in a piecemeal manner, we do it in about a dozen different appropriation bills. That's how we normally do it and that's the way we want to do it now. If the Senate would take up these bills and move it, we'll see the government open more and more and more.

WHITFIELD: Well, you said this is the way we always do it, this piecemeal kind of legislation or measures. But then you heard the president say no, we're not going to do piecemeal. Just give me a clean budget. Except that he said he would give a thumbs up and sign this bill if passed by the House and the Senate on the back pay.

So if this is the way the House and Senate usually do it, then why is it not working this go around?

GARRETT: Right. Well, I guess it goes -- your statement answers, you know, the question, I guess, is because the president doesn't want to do it the way things are normally done. Unfortunately it seems and a number of people are reporting this that the administration has begun to play politics with this very unfortunate circumstance of the government being shut down.

You heard someone from -- a senior administration official say the last couple of days -- say, we're winning so we don't care how long the government is shut down. That is a terrible thing to hear from the administration, from a senior administration official, that they see it as politics, they're winning, it's some game. We don't -- we don't see it that way. We see the people are hurting --


GARRETT: -- because the government is shutdown. We see that the things are not going the right way.

(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: Well, that was Mitch McConnell. That's what Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul talking about that, you know, we're winning moment. It was kind of caught with an open mike on.

GARRETT: No, that was from --

WHITFIELD: And it really did reveal in large part that While House Speaker, you know, John Boehner is saying this is not a game, when you hear this kind of dialogue between Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell say, you know, we're winning, we're winning, it really does seem tantamount to this being a game.

GARRETT: I think --

WHITFIELD: In fact here's the moment. Let's listen to this moment.


WHITFIELD: And then we'll talk again about it.



SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Do you -- do you have a second?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: I'm all wired up here.

PAUL: I just did CNN, I just go over and over again, we're willing to compromise. We're willing to negotiate. I think -- I don't think they poll tested, we won't negotiate. I think it's awful for them to say that over and over again.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I do, too. And I just came back from that two-hour meeting with him and that was -- that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly.

PAUL: I think if we keep saying we wanted to defund it, we fought for that, but now we're willing to compromise on this, I think they can't -- and we're going to -- I think -- I know we don't want to be here, but we're going to win this, I think.


WHITFIELD: So does it not exemplify that perhaps being redundant about a message and coming up with a winning strategy is what this game is all about?

GARRETT: So you don't have the quote from the senior administration official saying that they're winning, you just have the quote from them. Is that case?

WHITFIELD: Well, that's what we have on tape.

GARRETT: OK. OK. So we'll have to go elsewhere to get the reports on that, but yes, the way this is normally done, the way that we have always handled appropriations in this -- in this country is that we pass them through the House, constitutionally we have to start them, as you know, in the House, then to the Senate. And one by one they go there.

Now the White House seems to be saying one thing and doing the other. They say they will not do a piecemeal approach, but on the other hand they did sign, they did accept the first bill that we sent over there, which is a good bill, and that says let's fund the troops. Now they're saying they will accept making sure that federal employees are paid.

WHITFIELD: So isn't this a -- does that not exemplify the concessions of a compromise that people want to see between the White House and Congress?

GARRETT: It does, it absolutely does, but they do that with one breath, but then as you said, you had the quote from the president, they say that with one breath, but then with the other breath they say they will not accept anything else, they will only accept a CR. So -- the White House, you can't have it both ways. If they want to do it the normal way, the way that actually gets this done, the way we've been throwing out here, Democrats have come on board --

WHITFIELD: But bottom line, Congressman.


WHITFIELD: The American people, I think most people are just simply exhausted by this --


WHITFIELD: You know, ping pong game. This going back and forth. All people want to know especially the 800,000 furloughed workers, they want to know when can they report back to work. Yes, it's great they're going to get back pay, but that doesn't come at the end of the week when they might expect their regular paycheck. They want to know when they can get back to work, when government can -- you know, get running again, when Head Start can pick up again.


WHITFIELD: When people can get their bank loans approved for those mortgages, and those refinancing.


WHITFIELD: All of that. That's what they want to know.

GARRETT: Well, Eric Cantor has said on the floor that we have each -- I think just about each and every one of those items, I can't speak to all of them right now, each and -- issue that you just mentioned just about he has sort of laid out saying we're doing them in the House. We just did I think about nine, eight or nine of those issues -- total issues already. We're doing it in the House, we're sending them out. So I guess, I don't know when he's going to come on next with you, but if you have Harry Reid here, I guess, he'd be the appropriate person to say when are you taking each of those bills the House has sent over to you and pass them and then send them to the White House? And that would answer the question. One by one, we're sending them over there, one by one, Harry Reid could do it.

And -- just like that, the government would be opening up again and you would not see these terrible situations like we've seen this past week here in D.C. with, you know, the Honor Flights coming in and going to National Mall and war memorial.

WHITFIELD: Well, you can't have -- I mean, if you're going to close all parks, you can't have one park open and not others. So I don't think it's really a surprise --

GARRETT: Wait, wait, wait. Yes, you can because historically --

WHITFIELD: I don't think too many people are surprised that you're going to have one national monument closed when you've got others across the country closed.

GARRETT: Wait, wait, wait. Let's get what the facts are here. Every other time when the government has been slowed down or shut down, past presidents have not shut down the mall. No president has shut down visitors from going to Lincoln Memorial. No president has them this close down, the lawns, (INAUDIBLE) memorial. This is the first time that happened. This is the first time that a president during a slowdown or shutdown has actually shut off, totally blocked access.

WHITFIELD: And then people would say, why even let it get to this point?

GARRETT: No, the question --

WHITFIELD: Why even allow government to shut down?

GARRETT: No, no, no. The question -- no, the question is, why would a president when he should never shut down the war memorial shut it down? Why would a president when he never -- when it was never done before shut down the Lincoln Memorial? Why would a president shut down access to the Martin Luther King Memorial?

The question is why would he do this except it goes back to the earlier discussion we had was this administration sees this as a game, playing politics with it, and as I say, they don't care how long the government is shut down because they're winning.

WHITFIELD: All right.

GARRETT: So really questions have to go to Harry Reid, why won't he move these bills? We moved them, more than a half dozen, and the president, why was he actually trying to exert undue influence on World War II vets and anybody else in Washington. That's where I am now. I see people walking around, wanting to get there.

WHITFIELD: All right.

GARRETT: Any other time in the past, Carter didn't do it, Clinton didn't do it. You have to ask, why is this administration doing it? And I'll just turn it back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congressman Scott Garrett, thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it. In Washington --

GARRETT: I appreciate the chance. Thanks a lot.

WHITFIELD: Get back to work. Get that government working.

GARRETT: You got it.


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