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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling


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Congressman, if you were in that meeting, what would you say to resolve this crisis?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, first of all, I have been very critical of the Republicans.

However, I have also been very critical of President Obama for waiting so long to get involved. Now that they are in the room, I would try to see if they could put together a comprehensive agreement both on the continuing resolution and on the debt ceiling, so our country doesn't go through this.

If they could even find some way to call a cease-fire over the next few weeks and put elements on the table that have to be discussed, because, again, the president is going to be leaving. They have to get a process going. And it should be as encompassing as possible, because the debt ceiling is really the key issue here, and if this continuing resolution debate goes on, and the government stays shut down, and then we go into the debt ceiling, it will only add more pressure and it's going to be much more damaging.

BLITZER: Would you like to see, Congressman, what's called a clean continuing resolution, a clean bill that would end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling at the same time as part of a condition that both sides, Republicans and Democrats and the president, they would work out a whole bunch of other issues separate from these two issues?

KING: I would certainly want the clean C.R., the clean continuing resolution.

As far as the debt ceiling, I don't want to be undercutting John Boehner's negotiating position. If he feels that that's best for him -- I want to get the first thing done first. If they can do it all at once, fine, but really what I'm calling for now is a clean continuing resolution to open the government, get the government reopened and go from there.

If they can also tie that into the debt ceiling, that's fine, whatever has to be done to get it done.

BLITZER: We asked our Twitter followers to send some questions for you. Here's one that came in. Let me read it to you. "Does Representative King believe the Tea Party should be its own party and not part of the Republican Party?"

Go ahead.

KING: No, I do believe in the two-party system.

But I do feel that the Ted Cruz wing of the Republicans are very damaging to our party right now. That's up to us to resolve internally. I don't want fragmentations forming. Otherwise, we will end up like one of those French republics where they have 40 or 50 parties. No, to me, it's important that keep the two-party system if at all possible. But we should not be allowing the Tea Party to control what we do.

BLITZER: Tell us why you think Senator Ted Cruz has been -- I don't remember the word, disaster, whatever word you used to describe him.

KING: I think the precise word, I said he was a fraud, because he started this whole process, he was the one who was bringing pressure on Republicans, he's the one who is behind this whole effort to defund Obamacare and threatening to shut down the government and basically if the House did that, sent it over to him, it would work.

He knew this could never work, he knew that from the start. That is why this was a fraudulent advertising on his part. And he was basically just being a con men. And how the House Republicans allowed themselves to be suckered in by this guy is beyond me.

BLITZER: Strong words. I'm sure that he will respond at some point.

Congressman, how much progress are you making in bringing over other Republicans to your point of view? We know Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and a few others were willing to join you over the weekend and try to resolve this crisis, but what do you see? Give us a little bit of the political landscape among the GOP in the House.

KING: Basically, it's a work in progress. It's not going as fast as I would like it to. There's definitely more than 20 people who want to do it. They're trying to find the right time. I think the right time is now.

But they are again negotiating among themselves, deciding when the right time is to actually make a decisive move, but I think the longer we wait, the worse it is. I'm disappointed we haven't moved more quickly on it. I voted no today on the rule, for instance, to show that I'm still opposed to what we're doing.

But there is a good number, I would say 20 to 25 who are talking about voting no on rules and stopping the process. There's probably another 100 who want the government to reopen on the Republican side. But right now people just don't want to move.

And let me say this. I have been very critical of the Ted Cruz Republicans. I give them credit for one thing. When they want to do something, they get it done. They don't worry about hurting anyone's feels, what people are going to say about them, and that's why they're taken very seriously. I give them credit for that. I wish people on my side had the same type of resolve.

BLITZER: Among other things, you're on the House Homeland Security Committee, the chairman on the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

We heard James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, say this government shutdown, the jeopardy increases for U.S. national security the longer the shutdown continues. Is he right?

KING: Yes, he is. I agree totally with Senator Lindsey Graham on that. The fact is we have the intelligence agencies, per se, many of the civilian workers are being furloughed, Homeland Security, counterterrorism people are being furloughed. And also the Army -- the military reservists are being furloughed, and they make up a key component, for instance, of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Naval intelligence. I have two former staff members of mine who are very active in the reserve. They do a tremendous amount of counterterrorism work on weekends. They have been furloughed. So we are definitely putting ourselves at risk. There's no doubt about it. There's a real homeland security, national security terrorism risk because of the shutdown.

BLITZER: Peter King, the Republican congressman from New York, thanks very much for coming in.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.


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