Sen. Mike Braun on border security battle: The merits of the case favor Republicans

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 9, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, this is why Fitch Investors, a rating service, is saying, you know, America, your AAA credit rating, we're reviewing that. We think this silliness on both sides, with keeping the government closed, and not knowing whether you are going to push up against a debt ceiling, whether you even have a budget process, it's worrying us. And we think we're going to have to take some action if it doesn't improve, and soon.

And America's pristine rating, the envy of the world, is now in question as we become the laughingstock of the world.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World."

And what in the world is going on here?

Whether you are taking the side of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer or the president of the United States and leading Republicans over whether it is justified right now to continue day 19, the 19th day in a row a quarter of the United States government has not been able to function, and whether a battle over a wall or security on the border is justification for that, whether you stand by that or not, and whatever your merit or rationale for that reasoning or not, the fact of the matter is that this fact of the matter is this is the stuff that makes the world look at us and say, you know, um, you guys don't look like you're firing on all cylinders.

Now, you wouldn't see it at the corner of Wall and Broad today. We will get into that in just a second. But suffice it to say, unless something dramatically improves in the next 48 hours, we are going to break the record for the longest government shutdown, partial or otherwise, since Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich were going at it in 1995.

Where do we stand right now?

Let's go to Blake Burman at the White House.

Blake, amazing.

BLAKE BURMAN, CORRESPONDENT: You know, Neil, we had a whole lot of activity here today in Washington. You had the president going up to Capitol Hill, having lunch with Senate Republicans.

You had the president inside the Situation Room here at the White House with congressional leadership, including Democrats, lots of activity, but apparently no movement whatsoever.

You had dueling tweets and comments coming out from the president and Democrats after that about-30-minute-or-so meeting. This was what President Trump had to say about it.

He took to Twitter, wrote the following. He said -- quote -- "Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked, what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up? Are you going to improve border security, which includes a wall or steel barrier? Nancy said no. I said bye-bye. Nothing else works."

That's what came just about as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were out at that very stakeout camera, where you just heard the vice president, Mike Pence, talking, and they too gave their play-by-play. Here it was.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., MINORITY LEADER: Unfortunately, the president just got up and walked out. He asked Speaker Pelosi, "Will you agree to my wall?"

She said no. And he just got up and said, "Then we have nothing to discuss," and he just walked out.

Again, we saw a temper tantrum.


BURMAN: The vice president says it started with candy and then ended with a walkout.

As for Fitch, you mentioned them, Neil. Its global head of sovereign ratings gave a bit of an ominous -- ominous warning today, saying that if this shutdown is not solved by March 1 -- March 1, we're talking about -- plus, if the debt ceiling issues are not solved, or at least taken care of, after that, then the U.S.' AAA rating could be at stake.

Here we are in the very early portions of January. March seems like a little bit of a ways off, Neil, but at this point standing here right now there is no clear road map as to how this thing untangles itself -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, thank you very, very much, my friend.

All right, let's get a gauge of this March 1 area. That's technically the time when the debt ceiling, well, we reach it. And you can't do anything. You can't spend any more money, commit to any more funding, do pretty much anything until they raise that debt ceiling.

And what Fitch is saying and what some of these other ratings agencies are worried about is that, at the rate this is going, we're going to get to a point where we're going to hit that ceiling, and no one is going to be able to resolve these differences. So forget about a quarter of the United States government inactive.

We could have the entire United States government inactive if you don't find a way to raise some money, and fast.

Mike Emanuel on Capitol Hill with what's happening behind the scenes there.

It doesn't look like much, but maybe I'm missing something, Mike.

MIKE EMANUEL, CORRESPONDENT: Well, Neil, good afternoon to you.

It sounds like that latest White House meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders was a complete waste of time.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's cold out here, and the temperature wasn't much warmer in the Situation Room.

Our meeting did not last long. But it is so sad that, in a matter of hours, or just a few days, many federal workers will not be receiving their paychecks, and what that means in their lives is tragic.


EMANUEL: This hour, House lawmakers are debating the bill to fund financial services, such as the IRS during, tax season.

Bottom line, a leading House Democrat made this appeal for Republicans to get on board.


REP. MAXINE WATERS, D-CALIF.: Yes, we are going to be able to work together on a lot of good legislation. But why don't you join with us and talk to the president and tell him to open up government, that we cannot continue to have the American people suffer?


EMANUEL: But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said those individual bills would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

And a key Republican says he thinks President Trump is not about to budge either.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA.: I see no indication that he is faltering in his belief, which I happen to share. And that is that we need to see our southern border. I just don't -- I don't see him giving an inch on this.


EMANUEL: A senator close to the white have talked about President Trump's focus at lunch with Republican senators.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: The message was hanging together to make sure we get the border security package the president thinks and believes we need to secure the border against multiple threats.

There's a lot of unity on that issue. I do believe people in the conference are going to play around with the idea of adding things to the border wall.


EMANUEL: And some lawmakers are convinced the showdown could last for a while -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Mike, thank you.

Texas Republican Congress Michael Burgess with us right now.

Congressman, this looks like it's going to drag on a while.

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS, R-TX: I don't think so.

I mean, I realize that neither side appears ready to move. And I thought the president last night put forward a reasoned proposal to the country. And I think it was important that he spoke to the country.

The Democratic response, I thought, was -- was a little bit stilted. And, of course, the discussions have continued today. My understanding is the president is traveling to Texas tomorrow, down to McAllen, Texas. I welcome that. I have been down there plenty of times. And I know I always learn something when I go down there.

So I do think the president's visit to Texas is important to learn what's going on the border. And, at the end of the day, Neil, at the end of the day, I think what's going to happen is, the president is going to have to exercise his executive authority to move money from the Department of Defense to the border and build the wall in the area that he feels is most important.

And I know there are people on my side who don't like that approach. But, at the same time, we just simply can't go on with this impasse. But you saw from what happened at the White House today the Democrats are so ideologically dug in, they so dislike this president, that they are not going to give him anything he wants.

The president is going to have to do it.

CAVUTO: But do you think it's fair what a lot of your colleagues, sir, are saying? All right, however strongly you feel about something, you, Mr. President, are the one holding the government hostage to your passionate desire for a wall and security.

BURGESS: That's not true.

CAVUTO: So, however meritorious that might be, it did start with the president saying, I'm going to make that the sword I stand on here.

BURGESS: Well, bear in mind the president is not responsible really for any of this right now.

If he vetoes a bill that is -- does get through the Senate and goes to his desk, then, yes,the president does have part ownership in the shutdown. But, right now, the House sent a bill right before Christmas over to the Senate that had the appropriations language. It had some disaster relief.

CAVUTO: Yes, but the Senate wasn't going to take that up precisely because Mitch McConnell felt...

BURGESS: But the Senate should have.

CAVUTO: ... that the president would just reject it.

BURGESS: The -- no, the president would have signed that bill, had Mitch McConnell -- I'm sorry -- the Senate majority leader decided that it was important enough to pass it with 51 votes, which you know he can do, because he's done with judge after judge, Cabinet secretary after Cabinet secretary.

CAVUTO: Well, Mitch McConnell shelved it because he was convinced the president wouldn't. You think he would have?

BURGESS: Oh, absolutely.

I think he signaled -- look, I'm on the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee, the night before, certainly, the implication was, he wasn't going to sign what the Senate had sent over.


CAVUTO: But do you worry, Congressman, that in the process, however -- and I know you feel passionately about this, certainly being from Texas.

The one thing that amazes me, though, is that, as this drags on, it stands a potential that who is to stop a Democratic president from making the same argument for a separate issue and holding the government hostage to that?

BURGESS: Well, as we saw during the Obama years, that did in fact happen. And it happened during the Clinton years.

So there's nothing that would stop that. It could still happen.

CAVUTO: Well, maybe this is a signal we should stop that nonsense, and both parties should grow up.


BURGESS: But here's the thing.

The president has the authority to end this. I think he needs to go down to the border. I think he's made his case to the American people.


CAVUTO: You think by declaring a national emergency or going ahead and taking funds otherwise allocated for other military purposes is his right, and no one would challenge him on that?

BURGESS: Oh, of course he'd be challenged, but he needs to do it, because that would end the impasse that we're in right now; $716 billion was appropriated for the Department of Defense on September 30 of last year.

I think they can afford the $5 billion.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I have talked to generals, retired generals, who fear, even though those who agree with the president's concern about the border, that's a very slippery slope. Be careful what you wish for.

BURGESS: But I -- I don't disagree with the generals.

But the fact of the matter is that the country is going to be in very, very difficult shape if something bad happens. What -- fill in the blank on the number of days, but this shutdown needs to end.

CAVUTO: All right.

BURGESS: Something bad is going to happen, and no one wants that to occur. No one wants someone to be hurt.

CAVUTO: Yes, but each side said they don't want anything to happen, but it's happening.

All right, Congressman, thank you.

I want to get, fair and balanced, a read from Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.

What Democrats do right now, Senator? Because a lot of Americans watching this are saying, wow, this is crazy.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: It is crazy.

This is a senseless and unnecessary shutdown. And the first thing we should do is release the hostages, meaning open up the eight of the nine federal departments of government that have nothing to do with border security that are currently shut down by President Trump in order to gain leverage for negotiation.

CAVUTO: Well, he's not going to do that. He's not going to do that.

But, then, what apparently got the president upset, Senator, is that when he even hypothetically looked at doing something like that and asked Nancy Pelosi whether she would go for a wall, and she said no, that he just threw up his hands and left, which was weird, his own -- his own house there.

But my point was, is this now too far gone? Is each side so locked in their positions, we're not going to get this solved?

VAN HOLLEN: Neil, I'm very worried about this.

And you may -- I understand what the president has said. But Senate Republicans also have a responsibility here. We have in the possession of the Senate right now two bills which we could vote on today which would reopen the government.

And the catch here is that these are bills that Senate Republicans have supported in one way or another already. And so we heard today coming out of the lunch the president had with Republican senators that there are a growing number of them who agree that we should reopen the government and then focus on the border security issue.

Now, I...

CAVUTO: So, let's say they do that, Senator. Would you be among those Democrats who would be open to funding for a wall?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm not going to fund a 2,000-mile-long wall, because we all know from the experts...

CAVUTO: So, no wall, no wall? The fact that Democrats in the past have supported a wall and supported the fact that about half that gap is a wall, you wouldn't support it?


VAN HOLLEN: Neil, here are the facts, right?

Long before President Trump was in the Oval Office, we have steel barriers -- you can call them fences, you can call them walls -- in the strategic areas where they're needed. So in populated areas...

CAVUTO: And that's enough? That's enough to you?

VAN HOLLEN: They're already there.

CAVUTO: That is enough to you, not to strengthen it or make more of it? That's enough?

VAN HOLLEN: Because the experts tell us that we're better off spending our resources in other places.

So, for example, last night, the president talked about drugs coming across the southern border. You know the facts. Those drugs are coming through legal ports of entry. A wall on all the -- all the rest of the border will do nothing to stop that.

So, let's just be smart about this.

CAVUTO: All right, but I guess what is confusing me, Senator, is that, in the past -- and both sides are guilty of this. I don't know your personal positions over the years.

But it seems to me that Democrats in the past have supported this type of funding. And now, suddenly, because of this president, Republicans claim they are not. Is it fair to say that a way, a middle ground might need to be open to wall or some funding, maybe you can just call it, I don't know, cottage cheese or something, so to get the wall terminology out of the way, so at least talks can advance?

VAN HOLLEN: So, Neil, let me be clear.

Democrats have in the past supported the most effective means to provide border security. When that required building barriers in certain key strategic areas...

CAVUTO: Which you're open to. You don't want to call them a wall, but iron slats or stuff like that, that you're open to that?


VAN HOLLEN: I don't even care what you call it.


VAN HOLLEN: The fact is that, where that was necessary, we have built it.

And, as you probably know, the funds that are being appropriated are...


CAVUTO: But that's not satisfactory now? Do you argue that those reactors now, Senator, are satisfactory to you?

VAN HOLLEN: There -- we have already spent money in the last year to reinforce those existing fences in those strategic areas.

CAVUTO: So, you want to leave it at that, and not go beyond what you have already done and committed to?

VAN HOLLEN: I want to have the most effective border security.

And that means not only those barriers in those strategic areas where they already are.


VAN HOLLEN: It means also hiring more Border Patrol people. It means making sure that we have the technology to detect border crossings.

CAVUTO: Understood.

VAN HOLLEN: It means providing more resources at the points of entry to screen and detect drugs coming through those ports of entries.

A 2,000-mile wall that is what you know well the president said Mexico was going to pay for it, not American taxpayers, that will not solve the problem.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, we will watch closely.

I'm jumping on you because we're going to go to a hard break here.

VAN HOLLEN: But let's reopen the government, for goodness' sake.

CAVUTO: We will look at this and where this stands after this.

VAN HOLLEN: OK. Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAVUTO: All right, on the verge, maybe, of losing our AAA credit rating, you would think the markets would be tanking throughout all of this. They were not. We had the fourth straight up session. Haven't seen that since back last fall.

So what's going on here? And is it the markets' way of saying we think this shall pass as well?

One of the more calming presences I know, certainly on the financial and just general arena, Charles Payne, the host of "Making Money."

What's going on here?

CHARLES PAYNE, ANCHOR: The market is kind of recalibrating everything, and based in part on some changes.

The Federal Reserve was the big news in December, just miscommunication from the Fed chairman. Not sure what was going to happen. Then they had a meeting suggested that they were going to raise rates a lot more than Wall Street was anticipating and certainly wanted.

I think they have cleared the air on that for now. We're focused on trade. We had a three-day trade meeting looked pretty good. Hoping some good things come out of that.

CAVUTO: On the China thing.

PAYNE: On the China-U.S. trade front.

CAVUTO: But the shutdown stuff is like a blip.

PAYNE: You know the last time the stock market was down on a shutdown, 1990.

CAVUTO: Is that right?

PAYNE: Yes, we have rallied the last three shutdowns.

The shutdown -- a couple shutdowns ago, we were up 3.7 percent. We're up about 6 percent since this shutdown began. I don't think they have anything to do with each other. But it is kind of an interesting tidbit.

CAVUTO: But what if it were to drag -- this is hypothetical.

PAYNE: Sure.

CAVUTO: But I have had some pretty smart people involved in this who say, yes, it could go on for months.

PAYNE: To your point, now that the Fed is somewhat resolved, now that the trade -- U.S. trade, China tensions are starting to show that there could be a resolution, I do believe some of this weakness into today's session wasn't necessarily shutdown, but the vitriolic animosity that exists in D.C.

It's one thing to say hey we like grid and gridlock in D.C., but another when you have both parties at war. And I think that can have a -- we're fragile. We have a great autonomy, but it's fragile, particularly on the psychological side.

And that to me, I think, kind of played a role in the sort of soft way we finished the session.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask a little bit about Fitch Investors, what they're saying, that if the situation leads to hitting our debt ceiling, the United States debt ceiling, and tampering with our budget processes, if we have one, then that AAA rating might go.

Then what?


PAYNE: It sounds like they're saying, hey, raise it, do a continuing resolution, a temporary stopgap measure, because we have already been doing them for 30 years. Make sure you get that out of the way, Congress, and then you can finish with your temper tantrum.

CAVUTO: And, by the way, the last time we saw a credit rating downgrade for the United States with S&P, we weren't in a shutdown. It was the Kabuki theater...


PAYNE: The same thing that we're going through right now.


CAVUTO: ... that did it.

But how likely is that? And what would be the impact, if it came to that?

PAYNE: When I looked at what Fitch said, I thought the more alarming part was getting back to the debts and deficits and debt ceilings. And that's the bigger issue, I think.

That's the ticking time bomb.

CAVUTO: March 1.

PAYNE: Yes, that's the ticking time bomb.

And they always come up with a continuing resolution. And some people would say unfortunately. I don't know why we put a temporary ceiling in, and we move it every time for 30 years. But it is what it is.

Fitch has had their say. Markets didn't really pay attention to it, because no one thinks it's going to come to that.

CAVUTO: All right, but these things can suddenly take a life of their own.

PAYNE: You know what? There's a unique factor going on right now with the personalities involved.

And you're right. It's not Washington, D.C., negotiations as usual. Both sides seem very far apart.

CAVUTO: What do you think of the president, though, walking out of his own room?

PAYNE: You know what? If he had gone across the street to a bar, I would have been a little bit more worried. But it is kind of interesting.


PAYNE: I'm upset. I'm leaving.


CAVUTO: I'm out of here. I'm leaving my own house!

PAYNE: This is my -- yes. I have done that a few times myself, Neil, to be honest with you, but never in winter.

CAVUTO: Sometimes, I have had no choice. No, you're leaving. All right.

PAYNE: Never in the wintertime. All right.


CAVUTO: Charles, thank you very, very much, Charles Payne, a good egg and a very, very good financial read. How many things has he been so prescient on?

All right, we have a lot more coming up after this, including how long this lasts. We think we know -- after this.



PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The only reason they're against it is because I won the president. And they think they can try and hurt us going into the presidency. But that's not going to happen. And we don't give up.


CAVUTO: All right, they're not even close. The two sides are not even close on this. And nothing today indicated that they're getting any closer. If anything, they're further apart.

The read now from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, bestselling author Karl Rove.

Karl, what do you think?


And what's this astonishing to me is, when are of the Democrats finally going to say yes to comprehensive immigration reform to get some of the things that they supposedly want?

This is so clear that if they said, we want to have a solution to the dreamers, or maybe we want to have a solution to the dreamers and the people who have temporary protective status, and in turn, we will give you money for the wall, they could get it done.

And not only that, but they're being hypocritical. You had just on a few moments ago Senator Van Hollen of Maryland.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROVE: Last year, there were nine members of the Democratic -- or -- excuse me -- 11 members of the Democratic leadership. He's one of them.

Nine of the 11 leaders of the Senate Democrats voted for a bill, along with a total of 40 Democrats, to fund the wall at a total of $1.571 billion last year. And now he comes on and says, oh, I'm content with the way it is.

Well, let me tell you, some of that wall along the border is Vietnam era helicopter landing pads welded together. So we do need to -- we don't -- and he also laid out a canard, that the president wants to put a wall along the entire southern border. He said that during the campaign, but reality has set in, and the president realizes he doesn't need and doesn't need to have and can't have a wall all along the border.


CAVUTO: Well, I think the problem is that -- I thought it was silly at first, when I was exploring this. But the problem seems to be the very word wall.

ROVE: Well, exactly.

CAVUTO: And that's why I suggested something like cottage cheese or something.

ROVE: Barrier.

CAVUTO: Just call it something else, because that seems to stick in people's craw.

Now, a lot of this started with Republicans as well, trying to tie the government funding to this in a make-or-break moment that the president might come to regret.

ROVE: I get it.

CAVUTO: What do you think?

ROVE: I agree. Both sides have got a problem here.

Interestingly enough, I think both sides understand that if they compromise, and each one gets something, they can both walk away winners, and the American people are going to say, congratulations for finally getting your act together.

Look, both sides are suffering. Let's not kid ourselves. The Economist/YouGov poll came out today. Who do you blame a lot for the shutdown? Democrats, 46 percent -- and Democrats in Congress, 46 percent say they blame them a lot, 46 percent say they blame Republicans in Congress a lot.

The president, 59 percent blame a lot. But you think they'd be all focused on blaming the president.

CAVUTO: What is that?


CAVUTO: What is that?

ROVE: The Economist/YouGov, January 6 through the 8th.


CAVUTO: So, if that is right -- and I have no reason to doubt you.

But if that's right, then the numbers have turned south for Democrats, who were overwhelmingly seen as getting the better of this from Republicans, right?


CAVUTO: The longer it drags on, I would imagine it's going to be a problem for both parties, right?

ROVE: Pox on both houses.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROVE: Look, if you say, who's to blame more, the president or Democrats, you're going to -- they're going to say the president.

But if you say, in essence, do you blame everybody and do you blame a lot or a little, you bet you they blame everybody a lot.

CAVUTO: All right, so the president walks out of this room where he's meeting with the Democratic leaders. And, first of all, that's a little odd, considering it's his house for the time being.

But leaving that aside, is it -- is it your sense that the two are going to get past this, the two sides, and sit down again? Because the president's message to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was, if you're not changing your position, there's no point in talking.

Theirs to him is, if you're not changing your position holding the government hostage to this, we're not talking. That's a problem.

ROVE: Yes.

Well, look, the Democrats are going to pay a political price for this. And, remember, they helped gut comprehensive immigration reform that was being championed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John McCain.

When they had overwhelming majorities in the Congress in 2009 and '10, they did nothing. They could have passed anything they wanted to pass, and they didn't do it.

So now they have got a chance to get something. They have a chance to say, Mr. President, we're not really fans of the wall. I'm Nancy Pelosi and I voted for $1.571 billion last year, as did Clyburn and Hakeem Jeffries, the number two and number -- excuse me -- the number two and number four of the members of the Democratic House leadership.

We all voted for the wall last year. We didn't like it, but we will vote for a little bit more money, but we need to get something out of this. We want to solve the problem of the dreamers.

CAVUTO: All right.

ROVE: That's the way it ought to happen.


CAVUTO: But it's not happening, Karl. It's not happening.

ROVE: It isn't. It isn't. And both parties are to blame for this.

And the president ought to hang in there, but the hypocrisy of the Democrats on this is really grating.

CAVUTO: All right, thank you very much, my friend.

In the meantime, if you are looking to get a home closing done, and you have an FHA-backed loan, good luck. If you're trying to get a visa secured at the State Department, good luck. If you are looking to walk into a United States federal park, good luck.

So for those of you who have no axe to grind or no passion one way or the other about a wall or security or any of that, whatever your personal positions on that, the reality is this. The most powerful government in the world, a quarter of it, isn't functioning. And the last three quarters, well, that's leaving some people up for doubt -- after this.


CAVUTO: President Trump's attorney general pick, William Barr, was making the rounds on Capitol Hill to help his chances to move in.

If and when he does, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, says he's moving out. What's going on?

We're back in 60.



CAVUTO: Is this now too far gone? Is each side so locked in their positions, we're not going to get this solved?

VAN HOLLEN: Neil, I'm very worried about this.

And you may -- I understand what the president has said. But Senate Republicans also have a responsibility here. We have in the possession of the Senate right now two bills which we could vote on today which would reopen the government.

And the catch here is that these are bills that Senate Republicans have supported in one way or another already.


CAVUTO: All right. How would you like to be this next guy? He just gets elected to the United States Senate. He steps in, in the middle of all of this, Indiana's newly elected Republican Senator Mike Braun.

Senator, welcome to you. Congratulations.

SEN. MIKE BRAUN, R-IND.: Well, thank you very much. Good to be on the show.

CAVUTO: The same here.

What is your sense of this? I mean, you have just come to Washington. A lot of people have said, it's become very dysfunctional, this is evidence of it. What do you think?

BRAUN: Well, I came here for that very reason.

I think, unless more folks like myself don't come here, expect the same thing dynamic. And when it comes to the current issue of border security and the budget, I'm on the Budget Committee, and, in fact, just met with the chair. And we were discussing the normal issues that confront us.

And we have got to do better at getting a he budget out on regular order anyway. But here, when we look at border security, the president and vice president came into our luncheon here. And our caucus is, I think, fairly steadfast that the merits of the case favor us.

Most of the Democrats have been on record very recently for wanting everything we're talking about. It's just that now, at this stage of the game, they think they can get by with doing nothing.

And I know, in Indiana, that's not the sentiment.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, I was talking to a Republican colleague of yours in the House, Congressman Burgess of Texas, who said, it might have been a wise idea for Mitch McConnell to have gone ahead and take the House manager, put it up for a vote in the Senate, even though the senator is saying that the president wouldn't have supported it, but at least you would have put the pressure on the president to yea or nay that and move on.

What do you think?

BRAUN: Well, I think, in the case, the president -- I can't give you all the details.

But he was clear that he thinks now is the right time to push harder. And, basically, he made the case last night for all the reasons, in terms of the merit of the case, but he doesn't think, politically, that the Democrats have the strong position here, because they have all been on record to actually wanting as much as he wants now, and very recently.

So I think, as long as he comes from that point of reasoning, American public's going to be behind him, and I think our caucus will be.

CAVUTO: Some of your members are getting a little anxious, I guess, the longer this drags on.

I am curious, though, if the president were to declare an emergency to get this, what would you think about that?

BRAUN: I think -- and he we talked about that a little bit, that that's not in his current framework, although he clearly stated he could.

I think, if it came to that, it would be a really sad synopsis of where we're at in terms of running this government. I think, when it gets so political, like this issue has, here, tax reform, cost of health care, these big issues are where we have the big divide.

And we are so diametrically opposed that I think he's going to hold firm on this one.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, welcome to Washington, as they say. Enjoy the view.

Thank you very, very much.

BRAUN: You're welcome.

CAVUTO: All right.

All right, in the meantime, we're getting reports that the deputy attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, will in fact leave the Justice Department after special counsel Bob Mueller submits his final report -- this as the guy who wants to run that Justice Department is doing a meet-and-greet on Capitol Hill.

Stay with us.


CAVUTO: All right, attorney general nominee William Barr was doing the meet-and-greet thing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, this as reports the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, will in fact leave the Justice Department shortly after special counsel Bob Mueller submits his final report, whenever that is.

Catherine Herridge keeping track of these fast-moving developments.

Hey, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CORRESPONDENT: Well, thanks, Neil. And good afternoon.

Sources close to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, tell FOX News he always believed he would do the deputy's job for about two years, which is now approaching, but it hasn't been without controversy. This morning, the White House characterized Rosenstein's departure as civil.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think there's any willingness by the president or the White House to push him out. My guess is that he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team that he wants around him.


HERRIDGE: Rosenstein didn't speak to reporters as he left his home in suburban Washington this morning. Last month, House Republicans closed out their Russia probe and singled out Rosenstein for failing to come to the Hill to answer questions under oath about his role in alleged surveillance abuse targeting the Trump campaign and after former FBI top lawyer James Baker backed up accounts first broken by The New York Times that Rosenstein was serious when he discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.

A source close to Rosenstein has always maintained those comments were sarcastic. This morning, the incoming chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee told FOX that he will drill down on the surveillance abuse allegations once he takes the gavel, which happened just a few minutes ago, in fact, adding that Rosenstein will be part of it.

Senator Graham also said he shared his assessment with William Barr, the nominee, to lead the Justice Department.


GRAHAM: I told him I want to give him a deep dive on the FISA warrant problem, as I see it, get him to comment about when a counterintelligence investigation turns into a criminal investigation.

But we will talk about that. That's a concern of mine.


HERRIDGE: Barr's confirmation hearings are set for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

For context, the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, took over director or principal oversight of the special counsel investigation in November, replacing Rosenstein. One report suggests Rosenstein may stay on until after the Mueller report is complete in early March.

If you want to look at the tea leaves, that may be another indicator the investigation is winding down. But it's also important to note that once the Barr is confirmed, if that happens, really, it will be Barr's call, not Rosenstein's, if he stays on in that position -- Neil.

CAVUTO: OK, Catherine, thank you very, very much.


CAVUTO: Let's go to constitutional law professor, Georgetown -- George Washington University -- I apologize, Jonathan -- Jonathan Turley with me right now.

I would just like to get your take, then, Jonathan on how that confirmation hearing for Barr is likely to go. What do you think?

JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, all hearings today on the Hill are something of a blood sport.

I don't think we can expect anything less. It'll be very hard, however, to beat up Bill Barr very much. He, after all, did hold this position before. He was held in very high regard. He's extremely popular with the rank and file. And he really cut his teeth as a professional in the Justice Department. He identifies very closely with it.

So I think you could not pick a better choice for this time at the Justice Department. I mean, if you want someone to bring stability and continuity, what could be better than to bring back Bill Barr, who is the -- sort of a lawyer's lawyer?

CAVUTO: So, let me ask you about what Rod Rosenstein is saying.

All right, I'm out of here very soon. You could time it to the Mueller investigation, whenever that comes in, or letting Barr, if he -- assumes he is made the attorney general, selects his own team. What do you think?

TURLEY: Well, I think it's much more intriguing to look at the Mueller report timing.

Rosenstein likely does know when that report is likely to be submitted. Once it does, it will be a furious fight that will go on over how much of the report will be made public, whether it will be given to Congress. The White House may very well ask for a chance to have a reply that's given to Congress when the report is sent over.

It is very likely to raise privilege issues. It's very likely to ask for review. All those issues are likely to drag out a bit. He will probably - - Rosenstein probably doesn't want to start that process unless he could finish it.

So the question is whether this has more timing to do with that than the incoming attorney general.

CAVUTO: So, the fact that he is now announcing that he's leaving -- that is, Rosenstein -- and it's pegged to the Mueller release, then that would seem to indicate that he's got wind -- assuming he does have wind -- of the report's release that is more evident than we are led to believe. TURLEY: Well, many of us expected for a report to be released either at the end of the 2018 or the beginning of 2019.

Keep in mind, the special counsel doesn't have to issue a single omnibus report. It could be a couple of reports looking at collusion and another one looking at obstruction. So we don't know what's coming out of that gate.

But the anticipation is that the special counsel will be looking at the calendar. There are plenty people in Congress that I think are very uneasy that they're running out of runway, that there's two years left in this administration. Everything is sort of on hold waiting for the report.

The Democrats have already said they're going to be sending out subpoenas. There was a suggestion today that Donald Trump Jr. might be the first one to get a subpoena. But it's really the report that the committees are waiting for.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch closely.

Jonathan Turley, thank you, as always, my friend.

TURLEY: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Jonathan Turley.

All right, you think a $5 billion wall is expensive? Just take a gander what it would be for universal health care or Medicare for all. We crunch, you puke.



REP. JOHN YARMUTH, D-KY.: It's important, you would think, as head of the House Budget Committee, it would start with you, that Medicare should be for everybody, Medicare for all?

I support Medicare for all.

What we're going to do in the hearing is explore the options that are available to the country to expand health care to everybody through a Medicare-like program, consider the varieties of how we could do that, and what the impact on the budget would be.


CAVUTO: All right, that's a $100 billion price tag some are saying, dwarfing the $5 billion for the wall here. That is just for starters.

Among some of the plans a lot of Democrats are cooking up in the House to help get better health care coverage for Americans, on even revisiting the idea of a higher top rate for individuals, not necessarily the 70 percent top rate that some have envisioned.

Get the read on all that and what the direction the House is going with senior fellow at the Natural Taxpayers Union Mattie Duppler, Democratic strategist Marjorie Clifton.

Mattie, he's just new in the job. The House Budget chief seems to be saying, though, I'm open to these ideas. Longer term, they will save money and Americans will be better off. Your thoughts?

MATTIE DUPPLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: So something to remember about budgets and the way Congress handles them is, they are not signed into law by the president. Each chamber writes its own.

And under normal order, a House and Senate would reconcile their two budgets. Now, I don't think we will see a Democrat House and a Republican Senate reconcile their budget plans.

But what we do know about budgets is, they are really a governing document for the vision that party wants to set for America. We saw this with Paul Ryan when he was Budget chairman. He really put forth a lot of the ideas that ended up becoming legislation, like tax reform, that really framed the debate about what the House GOP was all about.

So I expect this to be the same for Democrats. If Democrats want to be serious about some of the ideas that have been bandied about on the campaign trail, like Medicare for all, potentially a green New Deal, they have to start putting pen to paper and writing it into legislation.

I do think they are going to be in trouble when the American public sees that sticker shock about how much those plans will cost. That's the problem with a budget. You need to actually budget the money for what you want to spend.

CAVUTO: Well, but Republicans are not doing a great job keeping to a budget either.

Marjorie, I do want to get your reaction to something else the Budget Committee chief had said, responding to this growing wave among some, not all, Democrats for a higher top rate. Listen to this.

All right, I apologize. I thought we had it. We don't.


CAVUTO: But, Marjorie, let me cut to the chase here.


CAVUTO: What he talked about was responding to Congressman Ocasio-Cortez's view of a 70 percent top rate.

He wasn't exactly for that, but he did say that the corporate rate has got to be raised, and he will do everything he can on that front, but did say that it's just a matter of time that other rates go up for the rich, et cetera.

What do you think?

CLIFTON: Well, I mean, you have to realize the corporate tax rate was changed pretty dramatically from 20 -- from 35 percent down to 21. And that was a big jump that even Republicans went, that's a little aggressive.

So the rate that they're talking about is actually between 25 and 28 percent, which is a little more palatable. I mean, we have a, by 2020, $21 trillion deficit, and that is nothing to sniff out.

And issues that are going to be critical are things like immigration and health care.

CAVUTO: But isn't weird, though, Marjorie? And I don't blame Democrats. So, don't -- a significant of the blame for Republicans.

But both parties have piled up deficits.

CLIFTON: Sure. Yes.

CAVUTO: Both parties are good at talking a good game and getting budgets into control. And both parties have done miserably.

CLIFTON: Yes, that's right.

And so I think that there needs to be a new way of looking at that -- at this. And it's going to be interesting, with a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, how are we going reconcile the budget?

And, right now, what we're looking at is hitting that deficit ceiling, which, March 1, goes into effect, which means automatic cuts across the board, so 11 percent in defense spending, 9 percent in all other spending.

And there's a lot of people thinking that may be not a bad thing, because who else is going to come up with a solution?

CAVUTO: Well, that's where we're heading. And that, by the way, that debt ceiling you talk about on March 1, I mean, they either raise that debt ceiling, as they do time and again, or they address it seriously.

Mattie, it's one of the reasons why the folks at Fitch Investors, the ratings folks, are saying, you know, your AAA rating, that's not a guaranteed thing. Are they justified in saying that?

DUPPLER: Well, Neil, we saw that in 2011.

And I would say that we have been at an economic expansion ever since the rating agencies called into question the United States' debt rating.

Now, I want to revisit what was that just said, though, about how you have to deal with the debt limit. Two important things that House Democrats did when they took control. They changed the rules so that they no longer have to have a stand-alone vote on the debt limit. Instead, the vote on their budget would suffice.

So what that means is, they can vote for any spending that they want and not say that they want to pay for it because the debt limit will increase as a result of it. Another thing that House Democrats changed in their rules with dynamic scoring, and that's where you get into an argument about what it means to have a lower corporate tax rate.

Remember, we're one of the only countries that we compete with that has state corporate tax rates. So when you look at something like a 25 percent...


CAVUTO: So, bottom line, we're not making progress.

Marjorie, real quickly, is it your sense that we're going to blow past that deadline and blow past this debt ceiling?

CLIFTON: It's not starting off on the right foot, especially today with Nancy Pelosi and Trump already at odds.

CAVUTO: Right.

CLIFTON: So I can't say I feel a lot of promise.

I do think there's an important thing to look out with health care. I don't think that Medicare for all is a palatable option, but there are things that we could look at within the Affordable Care Act that would get us in a better place.

CAVUTO: All right, ladies, I'm sorry to jump on you. That break comes whether we're yapping or not.


CAVUTO: More after this.


CAVUTO: Day 19, and there's going to be a day 20, and very likely a day 21, and we're going to break the longest government shutdown record set back in 1995.

And the Chamber of Commerce, a key ally of this president, is worried. The guy who runs that organization with me exclusively on FOX Business tomorrow at noon Eastern time to weigh in on something he says is way over the top.

That will do it. "The Five" is now.

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