Sen. McCain on battle heating up over debt limit

Arizona lawmaker sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 8, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Is a $1 trillion hike about to go down?

Senate Democrats say they only need about six Republicans to back their bill on a clean debt limit hike on Friday. And this is not just any minor debt limit hike. It would take us right through the next election in 2014.

There`s talk, in fact, that Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mark Kirk of Illinois are OK with this clean deal, with the promise of cuts later.

Will Senator John McCain joins them? He joins us right now?

Will you, Senator?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - AZ: Neil, I -- the dynamics are that it`s something that Republicans would push, and then the House would reject -- the Senate would push and the House would reject, and we would ping-pong back and forth.

Look, here`s the point. We got to sit down and we got to work this out. We know that, sooner or later, the debt limit will be increased and the continuing resolution and funding of the government will continue, sooner or later. Why not sooner?

And the American people are sick and tired of this. And that`s not why they sent us here. And we Republicans have to have a plan, rather than the fool`s errand of repealing ObamaCare. We can`t. We don`t have the votes to do that. So, why don`t...

CAVUTO: So, you`re saying that Senator Cruz`s filibuster was essentially a fool`s errand?

MCCAIN: Of course it was.

Look, I can`t tell you how hard I worked when ObamaCare was there for 25 days to beat it. In 2012, I traveled this country saying, elect Mitt Romney, elect Mitt Romney, and we will repeal and replace ObamaCare. I fought as hard as I can. The people spoke.

It would require 67 votes in the United States Senate to repeal ObamaCare. It is not there. So, we sent -- so, we went...


CAVUTO: Well, what about this effort then? I know you want to fight that good fight later, Senator.

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes, definitely.


CAVUTO: And that`s what you always tell your colleagues, save your arsenal for that.

But would you accept what the president offered? And that is sort of a plan by which you attach to openly up the government now and giving a clean CR, a promise, something in writing that we will address any and all issues that you Republicans think are crucial, we will have at it?

Many of your colleagues don`t trust him on that. Do you?

MCCAIN: I don`t -- I don`t particularly trust him, but that`s the outlines of something that might be agreed to.

But it would require Republicans and Democrats and the president sitting down and saying, OK, here`s the deal. I don`t trust, but I do say that, what about repealing the medical device tax? Most Americans are for that. What about some other provisions that maybe we could put into it that would fix some of the worst parts of ObamaCare?

In other words, this back and forth of, here`s my plan, let`s force a vote on it, and then send it over to the other body, who won`t agree with it, and they pass something, sending it over to us, after a while, it grows very tiresome, Neil.

CAVUTO: Well, and to that point...

MCCAIN: We need to sit down together.

CAVUTO: Well, to that point, Senator -- I don`t mean to jump on you there, sir.

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes. Sure.

CAVUTO: The White House is now saying the president would veto this House-passed measure that would create I guess a bipartisan panel to work on deficit reduction and the debt limit.

So, I don`t know. You`re closer to this than I am. But it -- it does seem like an ongoing, you know, soap opera.

MCCAIN: Look, I guarantee -- it is an ongoing soap opera.

And when we`re denying families the death benefits of their loved ones who were killed in Afghanistan, we have gone too far. And that`s why I sound -- that`s why I sound angry with this who wins, who loses.

The way you solve it is have Republicans and Democrats of both houses sitting down together and solving it, and I guarantee you, if there was a bipartisan agreement, the President of the United States would not veto it.

CAVUTO: All right, so when the president says, don`t even discuss health care, don`t attach or use as leverage my health care law, and the Republican Party has increasingly gone back a number of times from defunding it, to can you delay a provision, could you get rid of the medical device tax, and it`s still rejected, is there any sense from your point of view that -- that the other side is even interested in a deal, or are we -- is this going to last for quite some time?

MCCAIN: The other side is interested in a deal.

The markets are already beginning to react. And I have been told by too many of my friends -- and you know many, too, there up on Wall Street - - that say the markets will react. And that, of course, would -- remember when the House failed to enact TARP and the next day the markets went down and they quickly reconvened and then passed it?

We`re -- we`re fooling around with the faith and credit of the United States of America. And so it`s going to come crunch time. And why do we have to wait until then when we know sooner or later we will keep the government functioning and we will raise the debt limit?

And that`s why I have had conversations. As soon as I get off of this program, I`m going to go have a meeting with some of my friends and we`re going to try work through this.

CAVUTO: Well, who are those friends? Who are those friends?

MCCAIN: Well, you know, I`m not sure they would want to...

CAVUTO: Are they Republican friends or are they Democratic friends?

MCCAIN: Democratic. Both. Both.

CAVUTO: Really?


CAVUTO: So, are you trying to carve out a middle compromise here?


MCCAIN: I have been having conversations. I`m -- not middle -- I have been trying to carve out a compromise. And I have conversations and conversations and conversations.

And I can`t tell you we have achieved any progress. But I know this. Without conversations, there`s no chance of coming to an agreement.

CAVUTO: All right.

MCCAIN: And, by the way, the president of the United States is acting very differently than Bill Clinton did.

At least President Clinton sat down and negotiated. And I think he is making a terrific mistake by not doing that.


Senator, it`s always good talking to you, even under crazy days like this, Senator John McCain in Washington.

You heard him there. He is talking to some folks, some prominent Democratic senators, I would assume. What`s he up to?

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