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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript: ACA and Government Shutdown


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Well, joining me now is Republican Congressman Mark Sanford. And good to see you, sir. I really appreciate it.

Do you think it's time to just bring this to a vote?

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I don't know that I do. Simply because of this -- we could take that vote that you've just discussed. It was just discussed on air a moment ago and based on the Republican proposal of extending the C.R. would be at December 16th. The Democratic proposal be November 15th. But in either case, we'd be right back to where we are right now if we haven't gotten our grip around the disagreement on spending here in Washington, D.C.

Until we come to that agreement, we will continue to kick this thing down the road and with real harmful effects for the American populace.

BURNETT: And, you know, we were just reporting the breaking news at the top of the hour, that the president had apparently opened the door, as you know now to a short-term fix for the debt ceiling. So, raise it for a while with no strings attached and everybody negotiate. But I guess that my fear is that that just means you take it to the brink again, right? I mean, if you don't agree, you don't agree. It's just going to be deadline after deadline, right?

SANFORD: Yes. And here's the interesting part. There have been 53 increases in the debt ceiling since the mid '70s. There have been 17 shutdowns since the mid '70s.

And every instance, I mean, even with the debt ceiling with the exception of the Gephardt Rule, which basically made it automatic, based on a budget, with that exception, in every instance, it has been a negotiated process. If in 100 percent of the other occasions, there has been folks sitting down at the table, coming one a compromise, I mean, that is the American way.

And for the president and in this case, Harry Reid, to say we won't negotiate is at odds with what we've seen for more than 35 years.

BURNETT: Well, let me ask you about the shutdown itself. Your district includes Charleston, South Carolina, 24,000 federal workers, more than 7 percent of the workforce, tenth highest proportion of any city in the country. So, this matters to you and to your voters, there's no question about it.

I know you were back home this weekend holding town hall meetings about it. And I'm very well aware that you're probably aware of this. That Josh Earnest, the White House deputy press secretary, tweeted about you. Quote, "GOP overplayed their hand in shutting down the government over ACA." Obviously, the affordable care act. "|That's what Mark Sanford told a town hall meeting in South Carolina."

So, I saw that and I said, did you really say that? I went back and checked the tape and here's what you said.


SANFORD: Republican leadership, and they've overplayed their hand on some of the Obama stuff. I'll gladly concede that."


BURNETT: "They've overplayed their hands on some of the Obama stuff. I'll gladly concede that." So, you're talking about Obamacare?

SANFORD: No, again, I always as you know, Erin, the world of quotes -- people grab the part that they like that serves their purpose. So, what I was talking about was with the Republican and Democratic side, who really cares at this point whether Republicans overplayed their hand initially or whether the president is overplaying his hand now.

I mean, take for instance, I for almost 20 years of my life run down to the Lincoln Memorial. And, you know, I went down there the other day, it is shuttered up. All kinds of open air monuments here in Washington, D.C. are shuttered in a way that wasn't the case in the last shutdown. In many cases, it has never been the situation in the whole history of our republic. Yet this president has chosen to shut them down.

So I would say either side, whether they're overplaying, is irrelevant to this larger spending problem than we've got in Washington, D.C. The fact that it has come to a head now and the fact that it needs to be resolved rather than kick down the can yet for another week, another month or two months.

BURNETT: All right. Let me ask you this and I know -- maybe some agree with you, they hate everybody in Washington. Others do care deeply. I know about whose, quote-unquote, "fault" it is. But you yourself called your furloughed workers back to work.

There was the vote as we all know, right? And that vote in Congress, nobody voted against it. It would guarantee back pay to anybody who is furloughed, right? So, that would essentially mean that if they're not right now, some say that would be a paid vacation.

Do you think that all furloughed employees across the country should go back to work right now because of that vote? Because they're going to get back pay?

SANFORD: I would say that the handwriting is on the wall. In the 17 other shutdowns that have occurred since the mid-1970s, in every instance, this is with exceptions, folks have been paid back pay. And therefore, my view, with my own staff, the part that I did have control over, was to say look, the handwriting is on the wall, 407-0 vote in the House. The president said he is willing to sign that bill.

Folks are going to get back paid. If you are going to get back pay, I think you ought to be working for your pay. It's a fairly simple and basic common sense proposition. I'll let others apply it to their respective agencies or the cabinet, or go down the lead. But to me, it makes a lot of sense.

I had a TSA worker come to me back home and said, look, I don't think this is fair. I'm here as an essential employee. And other folks that aren't essential are basically getting a vacation while I'm here working the TSA line in airport security.

I think wherever possible, yes. Folks who are going to be paid ought to be working today.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Congressman Sanford, appreciate your time tonight.


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