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CNN "Newsroom" - Transcript: Unemployment Benefits and the Current Political Gridlock


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BALDWIN: So, Senator Udall, you talked symbolism then. Right now, you know the deal where you are, the Senate can't even get bipartisan cooperation for this long term unemployment benefits, for, you know, some 1.4 million people. So let me just say what's on so many people's minds. You guys have already tried this. I mean the last two years have been horrendous. Why do you think sitting together, Senator Udall, will improve anything?

UDALL: Well, the people I represent in Colorado expect me to keep working at this, Brooke. Senator Murkowski and I are friends. We've worked together. This is a time to reset the agenda, if you will. And I know Lisa will speak to this. But this is a serious speech. It's a speech to which we should listen. And it's a night when we can reconnect with our colleagues based on the fact that we're Americans, we're United States citizens. And so we're going to keep trying. I know Senator Murkowski feels the same way. But we're going to get through this. The country's divided. We reflect that. But it's coming (ph) on us to be a little bigger than that, to be leaders, to remember in the end that we are Americans.


MURKOWSKI: And we need -

BALDWIN: Yes, go ahead, Senator Murkowski.

MURKOWSKI: Something more important. Maybe it's even more important right now -


MURKOWSKI: Because it has been a very divisive year. There has been a rather extraordinary political gridlock. But if we can't demonstrate through the simplest of acts, talking to one another, sitting next to one another at a very important speech, if we can't even do that, then really the public should give up on us.

But I think it is important to send those small and perhaps subtle messages. There are efforts that are ongoing every single day where Republicans are talking to Democrats and we're trying to work things through. It isn't reflected in the media, in the newspaper, but it is important to know that we haven't given up trying. We should not give up.

BALDWIN: And I think we, the American people, appreciate that. But let me ask, do you think, to either of you, do you think that there is any single group there on The Hill who will say, no way, I'm not playing along with the seating charts.

MURKOWSKI: Sure, there's individuals.

UDALL: Well, yes. Look --

BALDWIN: Who? Who?

MURKOWSKI: I don't think it's important to single out who they are.

UDALL: Yes. Yes.

MURKOWSKI: I think there are some people who are saying, you know, I'm just so mad at the other guy right now. Well, OK, that's fine, but we're not asking -

BALDWIN: Why not? You could - you could bring (INAUDIBLE) on CNN and we're going to be watching closely when we cover the State of the Union.

MURKOWSKI: We're not - we're not asking that these people, you know, sign on to your legislation. We're just saying, be civil to one another. Be respectful.

UDALL: Yes, sit down and get to know that person a little bit. I know when you sit in the chamber and you feel the import of history and you feel the opportunity that's always there for us as Americans, it's a little easier to get to know that person sitting next to you. And I know Lisa and I, when we've sat together, we've compared notes. We're actually made some legislative strategy agreements. And that can happen. Because again (ph) this is a business based on personal relationships. It's a business based on wanting to work together. And I think our states particularly demand that of us, Alaska and Colorado. We have high mountains. I've climbed in Lisa's state. She's skied in my state. And you can always find those connections if you just take a little bit of time. That's - BALDWIN: I hope that the sense of connecting is pervasive through the Capitol where you are and we will look for you when we cover the State of the Union to be seated together where we will look for action, bipartisan action, in the months to come.

MURKOWSKI: Relationships take work. (INAUDIBLE)

BALDWIN: I understand.

UDALL: That's right.

BALDWIN: Senator Murkowski and Senator Udall, thank you so much with the announcement. Appreciate you from Washington today.

MURKOWSKI: Thank you.

UDALL: Thanks, Brooke.

MURKOWSKI: Appreciate it.

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