Whip Hoyer Discusses the Potential Government Shutdown on MSNBC's The Last Word

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joining me now, congressman steny Hoyer.
lawrence, good to be with you.

i've never seen anything like this and i know you haven't at all your time in the house it could koun down to this. you know john boehner well. you've worked with him for years now. do you think he's going to be able to close some kind of deal here in the hours that remain before the shutdown?

i certainly think the american people expect that to happen. i hope it does happen. i hope the speaker can come forward and say, we're ready to move forward and keep the government opened and we can move on. the fact of the matter is it's been self-evident for some period of time now, that this issue was not over dollars. we made substantial cuts in spending. we know we need to make cuts. we need to effect efficiencies and bring this deficit under control. the fact is this has not been about dollars. it's about social policy. it's been about, in particular, as you pointed out, women's health issues. and very frankly, it's a shame that we've come to the brink of shutting down the federal government over maintaining women's health and it was interesting in the clip you ran of the republican women refuse to answer the question. why did they refuse to answer the question? because they know that women's health is a very important to every family in america. and that the money being cut would have a substantially adverse effect on women's health. and, therefore, they didn't want to answer the question. i'm hopeful, i remain hopeful, even at this late hour, in the next half hour or hour, hour and a half, that the speaker is going to say that, yes, we have an agreement. and that he can get sufficient numbers of his caucus and we'll look at those numbers. we're certainly prepared to as i have done now on three different occasions, have a bridge for keeping the government opened for three days, five days, until next friday, so that this agreement, compromise, can be finalized and we can fund the government for the balance of the fiscal year to september 30th and move on.

the speaker's office confirms that at 6:32 p.m., the president called the speaker. that's probably their most recent communication, unless there's been something ins then. as you know there can be calls every half hour in these kinds of situations. but also, the question of what about calls to you? in a situation like this when a speaker is having trouble within his own party it is kugs mayor to informally reach across the aisle, talk to you about how many democratic votes can you deliver and see if there's a vote that can be put together in a coalition of willing republicans and willing democrats. have you had any communication with john boehner about that possibility?

i talked to the speaker on the floor just a few hours ago. we did not talk about votes. he simply said what he told the press. that negotiations were ongoing. he was hopeful they would be successful. but he did not ask me about any votes at that period of time. we've had discussions in the past over the last week that if we can reach agreement, and he couldn't get as he could not get in the last cr that we passed, he lost 54 republicans, 84 democrats voted for it which is why it passed and then the president signed it. i told him at that point in time that i would certainly try to be helpful. if, in fact, the substance of an agreement was acceptable on our side. clearly, a short-term extensi would be quarterback if it did not include extraneous matters. i pointed out to the speaker that when we had differences of opinion with president bush, we did not push the government to the brink of closure. we came to realistic compromises and if the president wouldn't sign something, we didn't go to the brink and say -- mr. president if you don't sign it we're shutting down the government. that's what they've done. i think it's unfortunate but i think speaker boehner is correct in realizing that there's no confusion in the public's mind as to why the government would shut down if, in fact, that happens. i hope it doesn't.

congressman Hoyer, we saw in the health care legislative battle last year that it came down, in the end, the final provision that you had to struggle over within your party, was the abortion language in that bill. and there were different proposals floated at different times about how to finesse that language. are any proposals being floated now that you're aware of, about how to finesse the language concerning the planned parenthood provision in a way that might allow each side to save face and go forward?

lawrence, i'm not aware of any language along those lines. let me say that while we had certainly, the issue of abortion is a controversial, tough issue. an issue of conscience for all of our members. we don't whip on that issue. what i mean by that is we tell every member, you've got to vote the way you believe is in the best interest and the right thing to do. that's not an issue we whip. but, planned parenthood does not fall in that category. there's, of course, no money. it's fenced off for abortion. this money is spent on women's health issues. and it is in some instances, the only health opportunities that many women throughout this country have. it makes for healthier women and a communities and safer families so that matter is not that controversial on our side of the aisle because the money is fenced off there's no money, federal monies, spent for abortion under title 10. so i will say as far as i know, lawrence, there's no negotiation on language with respect to issue at this point in time.

congressman Hoyer, thanks for joining us on this important and busy night for you.