All-Star Panel: What Congress wants for Christmas

All-Star Panel breaks down D.C.'s to-do list


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 28, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN, D - MA: My bottom line here is I'm willing to negotiate and compromise as long as we have a farm bill that does not make hunger worse in America.

REP. STEVE SOUTHERLAND, R - FL: I think it's normal that you have tensions and angst any time an authorized bill comes to the end. But, look, I think we can get this done. I really believe that.


MCKELWAY: Congressman Jim McGovern and Steve Sutherland talking about the farm bill, which has been bottled up in Congress for the better part of the year, largely over the SNAP program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, what most people know as food stamps. It has expanded dramatically during the Obama administration, something like 10 million people. Republicans want to reduce it in size. Democrats find that offensive.

But only one of the issues that is facing Congress when they come back from their Thanksgiving recess. Among the other issues, ObamaCare, of course, which colors everything. Also, funding the government, they have got five weeks before another government shutdown looms. The Farm Bill, which I just mentioned. The federal debt ceiling, they have nine weeks to raise that $17 trillion of debt. Also, immigration reform, and then minimum wage bill, which Harry Reid certainly will bring to the floor, a great distraction from ObamaCare.

Let's bring the panel back. David, do you want to tackle what Congress can accomplish in the next few weeks that they have?

DRUCKER: Not too much. Immigration is dead. If you think Republicans are going to distract from ObamaCare by bringing up a volatile issue on which they are split on policy -- people would like to get some stuff done but there is a big disagreement, then you haven't been paying attention to Congress.

The budget is an area where they are going to do something between now and January 15th. There is no appetite for a shutdown, I think, on either side. And it's possible that maybe the Farm Bill, maybe some of these areas you will get a few things done.

But even in the Senate where that's where the shutdown ended, since the Democrats changed the rules using the so-called nuclear option, I expect slim and none activity between now and the election because Republicans are just very upset about how that went down, fair or not, and they're just not going to help Democrats do anything other than that which really needs to happen, maybe the budget, maybe defense authorization, that's it.

MCKELWAY: Kirsten, the dynamic has changed considerably since the last government shutdown.

POWERS: Yeah, but I also think the dynamics changed in a couple ways in the sense that the government shutdown had been bad for Republicans, and then ObamaCare happened. But at the same time I don't think we can expect another government shutdown. Hopefully the Republicans have learned their lessons from what happened last time even if it has since been overshadowed by ObamaCare. They can very quickly hand something to the president if they wanted to and make them look bad by having another shutdown. So, hopefully, we won't be seeing that game again.

MCKELWAY: Charles, there is a bit of a conundrum for Republicans, because ObamaCare and defunding it, delaying it was the centerpiece of the Republicans' position on the government shutdown. Yet the Cruzes and the Senator Lees of the world were proven right.

KRAUTHAMMER: But the beauty of the Republicans' position today is that the death of ObamaCare if and when it comes will be delivered by Democrats. Had it been delivered by Republicans before it was enacted with a defunding or any other measure, liberals would have said for 100 years we tried to get national health care, and the Republicans have thrown orphans in the snow again.

This time you can get a revolt in the Senate that's already started.  It was suspended temporarily while Obama said we are going to fix the website. But the Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year are in a panic. They have been quiet. They're not going to remain quiet. When the web site is not working in December, when tens of millions of cancellations are going to go out next year among people who have employer-provided insurance, there is going to be a revolt, and it will be Democrats who do this. And that, in and of itself, will be a blow to Obama-style liberalism of a kind it would take a decade to recover from.

MCKELWAY: But at the same time, the administration and the Democratic Policy and Communication Center are urging Democrats to go on the offensive in support of ObamaCare.

DRUCKER: It's the best strategy, really, because, when you are faced with a problem this big, being on the defensive isn't going to help. So you can go on the offensive, be aggressive, and hope that things turn around. And at least people are going to wonder, why do you feel so great if things aren't so good? It doesn't mean it's going to help, but it's really the best of a lot of bad options.

MCKELWAY: We are out of time for the segment because I want to invite you all to offer what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving before we have to cut to break.

DRUCKER: More than I can get in in about 15 seconds, but my wife Jenny and my son Jake. There aren't many words but I'm very thankful.

MCKELWAY: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yeah, I would say for wonderful friends and family and particularly my two little nieces Chloe and Mataya.

MCKELWAY: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Correct answer, Barack Obama. As Woodward, Bob Woodward said of Richard Nixon, the gift that keeps on giving.

MCKELWAY: All right, and I will offer mine as well. Tomorrow is my third year anniversary at Fox News. I used to watch this program religiously, long before I was employed here. To have this opportunity to sit here at this desk on a part-time basis even once is something I'm very thankful for, to be with such esteemed colleagues like this. Thank you all for that.

And that's going to do it for the panel. But stay tuned for a look at the real life hunger games that will be taking place tonight.

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