Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), right, greets Pope Francis, left, Sept. 24 in the U.S. Capitol building.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), right, greets Pope Francis, left, Sept. 24 in the U.S. Capitol building.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday he will give up his seat at the end of October. Pope Francis is in New York to address world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. In his remarks to Congress this week, he challenged U.S. lawmakers to work together to accept immigrants, respect human life, and protect the environment. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspends his presidential bid. Hillary Clinton and her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders take on Big Pharma over drug prices. And Volkswagen faces fallout over an emissions scandal. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Domenico Montanaro Lead political editor, NPR
  • Lisa Lerer National politics reporter, The Associated Press.
  • Ed O'Keefe Congressional reporter, The Washington Post

Full Video

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Video: How Would A Government Shutdown Affect Republicans In 2016?

Video: How Will John Boehner's Resignation Affect The Threat Of A Government Shutdown?


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. House Speaker John Boehner told members of his party at a meeting today in the capital that he will step down at the end of October, resigning his congressional seat. Hillary Clinton comes out against the Keystone XL pipeline and American car owners react to the Volkswagen emission scandal.

  • 10:07:19

    MS. DIANE REHMHere for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Domenico Montanaro of NPR, Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press and Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post. If you'd like to watch this hour of the Friday News Roundup, we are live streaming. You can go to drshow.org, click on Watch Live. You can also phone us at 800-433-8850. Send us your email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet.

  • 10:07:58

    MS. DIANE REHMWell, that is quite some news, my friends.

  • 10:08:01

    MR. ED O'KEEFEIt is, Diane. That's right. John Boehner announcing this morning in a meeting of House Republicans in the basement of the Capitol that he will resign at the end of October not only as speaker of the House, but as the representative from the 8th district of Ohio.

  • 10:08:14

    REHMIs this or was it expected?

  • 10:08:18

    O'KEEFEIt has been expected for quite some time, frankly, given the sort of fever that continues to hang over the House as Republicans have grappled for years over how to exactly proceed in spending bills. Remember, the fiscal year -- the end of the fiscal year is approaching next week, September 30. There is the threat of a shutdown. If you weren't off this week in Washington because of the Pope, you were in the office preparing for the possibility of a shutdown if you're a federal employee and that's how big a deal it's been.

  • 10:08:46


  • 10:08:47

    MS. LISA LERERI mean, look, this is someone who has been on the front lines of this interparty civil war that's happening within the Republican party for years at this point and I certainly think it's taken its toll. He gave a really -- what I thought was a really telling interview with Politico about a week ago. I think it's worth repeating what he said, which was he told Politico in an interview, garbage men get used to the smell of bad garbage, prisoners learn how to become prisoners.

  • 10:09:12

    MS. LISA LERERYou can teach yourself to do anything. That does not sound like a man who loves his job and, you know, he spends nearly 200 days on the road raising money for the party and when he's not on the road raising money for the party, he's fighting with conservative wing of his party in Congress. So it's a brutal gig.

  • 10:09:30

    REHMAnd Domenico, is the conservative wing pushing him out?

  • 10:09:36

    MR. DOMENICO MONTANAROWell, we've seen him struggle on several occasions to try to get things through. He's had to have Democratic support on other measures like the debt ceiling, which was something that was passed numerous times over the years. What's fascinating to me here about John Boehner, though, is it really signifies and puts a bookend on how much the GOP has changed over the last generation. If you think about when he came into Congress, elected in 1990, he was one of the architects of the Contract for America in 1994.

  • 10:10:07

    MR. DOMENICO MONTANAROAnd, you know, he was one of the rebels. He was one of these guys he's now having a difficulty shepherding or as he had once said, keeping the frogs all in the wheelbarrow.

  • 10:10:19

    O'KEEFEAnd cast ahead a quarter century to this week, I mean, if you're sitting in the car thinking about this, the timing makes a lot of sense for John Boehner. Yesterday was the culmination of a career-long goal, bringing the Pope to the Capitol. He had extended invitations to John Paul II and to Benedict, they demurred. Francis took him up on it. What better way to go. But a few other things in mind here.

  • 10:10:44

    REHMDon't forget he was an altar boy.

  • 10:10:46

    O'KEEFEExactly, a Catholic altar boy so it was a big moment of importance for him. And there had been some chatter at the Capitol for the last year or so that perhaps he would use yesterday as the sort of finale of his career. We're now told, by the way, October 31 will be his last day in office. But a few other things in play, his daughter just gave birth to their first grandchild, two of his close friends, Tom Latham and Saxby Chambliss, former Republican lawmakers, retired at the beginning of this year.

  • 10:11:13

    O'KEEFEHe doesn't have those friends that he came in with at the beginning of the, you know, before the Gingrich revolution around anymore. The guys that surround him that want him out, you know, are not his friends and are from a different Republican Party.

  • 10:11:26

    REHMApparently, pool reporters shouted a question to President Obama about the Boehner resignation, but the president did not respond, Lisa.

  • 10:11:39

    LERERAnd the line on the White House has long been that they didn't mind Boehner, actually. They just didn't trust that he could speak for his caucus. So they were, you know, in rooms negotiating with him and the White House would question whether his guys in the House would go along with him. So while they felt that Boehner, himself, was someone they could perhaps deal with, which may have been part of the problem he had back in Congress, they just weren't convinced that he could bring anyone to the table.

  • 10:12:03

    LERERAnd I think it's important to remember that we're in a presidential year so if you're John Boehner and you're looking ahead, the politics aren't going to get any easier. Everyone in Congress has every incentive to sort of hunker down in their corners, the conservatives and the other folks, and they're going to be encouraged by the many, many Republicans running for president.

  • 10:12:23

    MONTANAROHere's an interesting bit of color and Scott Detrow who's on our Washington desk, said that last night Boehner was out at Trattoria Alberto, which is his favorite restaurant and he emerged around 9:30 here in Washington and a man had appeared to be the owner, saw Boehner and his family out. The speaker walked into this SUV, a man at a neighboring restaurant, though, came over and approached him for a handshake, but then told him, please do not shut the federal government down.

  • 10:12:47

    MONTANAROBoehner actually embraced the man, grabbed him with both shoulders and said, quote, "that's not going to happen." He said, "look at me," he said pointing to both men's eyes with two fingers and he said, "from me to you, that's not going to happen."

  • 10:13:01

    REHMAnd that's the question. Is it going to happen? Is that part of the reason why conservatives felt it was time for Boehner to go? He perhaps felt it was time to go, but they want to shut the government down.

  • 10:13:18

    O'KEEFEWell, they don't want to shut the government down necessarily. What they want to do -- this year's issue, if you will, 'cause this has been going on for a while now, is funding for Planned Parenthood. We'll recall from over the summer, there were those videos of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing selling the body parts of fetuses. This, obviously, outraged a lot of people across the country, but Republicans said, that's it. Enough is enough. This organization no longer deserves federal funding for the research it does.

  • 10:13:45

    O'KEEFENot for abortion services, but for the research it does. The Senate, yesterday, tried -- or this week, tried to advance a spending bill that would have included ending funding for Planned Parenthood. They did not get the votes needed to advance that bill. That was the signal that conservatives across the Capitol, it's not going to happen. So next week, the Senate is expected to approve a short-term spending bill that does not include anything about Planned Parenthood.

  • 10:14:10

    O'KEEFEKnowing that that was going to suffer and ugly fate in the House, 30 to 50 Republican conservatives have said we won't vote for that. And if Boehner tries to bring that up, we're going to immediately call for his head, essentially try to have a vote of no confidence, in essence. That is what Boehner is responding to, knowing that he would have to rely on Democrats to remain speaker. Because when you vote for Speaker, it's all members of the House, no matter their party voting, which set a dangerous precedent, that the leader of one party would have to rely on another party.

  • 10:14:40

    O'KEEFEIt's parliamentarian and then that's not what we do in the United States and he didn't want to establish that precedence.

  • 10:14:44

    REHMCan you talk for a moment about that video? That video has raised as many questions as it's provided answers. People have said that that video was spliced together, that it was not a genuine representation of what went on in that moment on that day, Lisa.

  • 10:15:10

    LERERThat's exactly right. There's a lot of questions about how the video was edited and were things taken out of context. But, you know, one really interesting thing about that video is Republicans have seized on it. They think this is their change to bring the abortion issue back and to, you know, make some progress in curtailing abortion rights. The country, frankly, doesn't seem to be following them. Attitudes about Planned Parenthood and abortion haven't changed all that much in light of these videos.

  • 10:15:34

    LERERIn fact, there was a survey, a poll out from CNN this week that showed that 71 percent would prefer to avoid a shutdown, 22 percent would prefer to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. So if Republicans do push this to a shutdown, that's going to be very unpopular and it could certainly have repercussions all the way through election day and that's exactly what some people in the party, like John Boehner, are worried about.

  • 10:15:58

    MONTANAROThe views on abortion rarely change. I mean, since Roe over the last 40 years, it's a mobilizing issue. It's a fundraising issue for both sides. It gets people to the polls. It just so happens to be we're in the middle of a presidential campaign and Ted Cruz, one of the people who's running, happens to be one of the people in the Senate who is pushing this idea. And, you know, what's interesting is what the Pope said yesterday -- which 85 percent of what he said probably put more pressure on Republicans than it did Democrats.

  • 10:16:26

    MONTANAROBut Republicans taking one line out of that speech about how he said that you need to -- he didn't say abortion, but that you need to respect life at all stages of development. Ironically, it seems, that statement could've pushed us a little bit closer to a shutdown because Republicans were saying, well, see, even the Pope says so, even though you Democrats like this guy. Now, the thing about Boehner and the Pope is a really candid statement from Boehner's office that Susan Davis on the Washington desk, a congressional correspondent, friend to the show, had gotten where -- said that Boehner noted the Pope and that after seeing the Holy Father yesterday, it's one thing that unites and inspires us all.

  • 10:17:05

    MONTANAROBut then, he very frankly said, the plan that the Speaker had was to serve only through the end of last year, said Leader Cantor's loss, Eric Cantor last year in his primary, changed that calculation. And he believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution, really candid frank stuff that you don't usually hear as somebody's resigning.

  • 10:17:25

    REHMBut what in the world happens now to these Republicans, Ed O'Keefe?

  • 10:17:31

    O'KEEFEWell, the number two, the House majority leader, it's a guy named Kevin McCarthy from the Bakersfield, California, area, he's in line now essentially to become Speaker should a leadership election go the way that it looks like it would go at this point. There had been some chatter in recent weeks that these 30 to 50 conservatives, they call themselves loosely sort of the Freedom Caucus or the Freedom Coalition, were beginning to say, we would vote for McCarthy. We won't vote for Boehner.

  • 10:17:56

    O'KEEFESo one would assume, at this point, that a guy who's only been in office for about a decade is going to become leader of the House.

  • 10:18:02

    REHMEd O'Keefe of The Washington Post. Pope Francis is continuing to speak at the United Nations. I assume we'll hear from Speaker Boehner soon. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back to the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup. And today we have really breaking news, came just 20 minutes or so before we went on the air, that House Speaker Boehner is not only stepping down from his position as speaker, he is resigning from Congress. His last day will be October 31. So the question becomes, how will this issue of shutting the government down go if Boehner is stepping down? Ed.

  • 10:20:47

    O'KEEFEIn the wake of the speaker's decision, there are some Republicans who have come out of this closed-door meeting who've told my colleagues, at least, that now that they've gotten Boehner to resign, they will vote for what's called a clean CR, or a short-term extension of current federal spending that will take it through basically mid-December. This means that the fight over whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood and other things will continue right up until right before the holidays. But they feel that getting Boehner to resign is a bigger victory, at least in the short term, than the funding for Planned Parenthood.

  • 10:21:22

    REHMDid you say there was a standing ovation when...

  • 10:21:26

    MONTANAROI was just going to mention that. Values Voter Summit, which is in town right now, Marco Rubio actually wound up breaking the news to the crowd. He said that it's time to turn the page on leadership in Washington, that includes in the White House. And when he mentioned Boehner had resigned or was resigning, there was a standing ovation for the fact that he was going to be stepping down.

  • 10:21:44

    LERERI would not make any plans to go out of town for Christmas or New Year's. Not that I think anyone on this panel...

  • 10:21:50

    MONTANAROIf you cover Congress.

  • 10:21:50

    LERER...has those kinds of plans, if you cover Congress. Because mid-December, of course, brings us just about two months -- less than two months before the presidential primaries. So the politics on this are going to be very, very heated because they're going to be playing out both in Congress and on a national stage through these debates and discussions that will be happening with the presidential race.

  • 10:22:09

    REHMSo how do you see this playing out? I mean, so you have a continuing resolution. You keep fighting on the Planned Parenthood issue. How far do you go? Do you shut down the government and risk, as you said, Lisa, the election? You can hand the election to the Democrats, perhaps, if the Republicans shut down the government.

  • 10:22:39

    LERERYeah. I have to tell you, as someone who spends a lot of time covering the Democrats and particularly covering Hillary Clinton, they love this issue. I mean, part of -- whether Hillary Clinton, if she becomes the nominee, whether she wins in the general election will depend in part on how much she is able to mobilize female voter -- in particular, married female voters who are a demographic that typically go Republican. Her campaign believes that they will be mobilized by these threats to reproductive rights and women's health. So she talks about this almost every day. I mean, they see this as a big mobilizing issue for Democrats.

  • 10:23:13

    LERERBut, you know, I think we've all seen this movie before. This feels very familiar, this threat of a shutdown. It feels like we're doing this almost every year because we are, in fact, doing this almost every year. And I think you're seeing that reflected in the voters. There's a lot of frustration and that's, in part, what's contributing to the rise of these, you know, self-considered outsider candidates like Donald Trump, like Bernie Sanders, like Carly Fiorina, even if those people are not even really all that much outsiders. Carly Fiorina lives in northern Virginia. Bernie Sanders has been in Congress an awfully long time.

  • 10:23:45

    LERERYou know, that feeling of -- that voters are looking for something authentic, something that isn't part of the political system, is fueled, in part, by these constant crises.

  • 10:23:55

    MONTANAROI mean, Ed could probably speak to this better. But I think what Boehner did in the short term probably means that we're all but guaranteed not to have a shutdown next Friday. But in the longer term, or at least when that next continuing resolution expires -- whenever that will be, if it's December or if it's a month from now or whatever -- whoever that new leader is, how are they able to, you know, get these guys in line when Boehner wasn't able to?

  • 10:24:22

    O'KEEFEYeah. And if Kevin McCarthy becomes the speaker -- again, the majority leader from California -- everyone on Capitol -- well, many people, many observers on Capitol Hill say he is nowhere near the tactician or the politician that Boehner has been in the ability to bring together the 218 or so member caucus.

  • 10:24:40

    REHMIs there anybody who could?

  • 10:24:42

    O'KEEFENo. And...

  • 10:24:43


  • 10:24:43

    O'KEEFE...and that's kind of what Boehner is doing here. He's sort of saying to them, fine. After four years of me, if you're sick of me, I'm gone. I don't need this anymore. Y'all can figure it out on your own. And it'll be a real mess for them in the next few months, for sure.

  • 10:24:56

    LERERAnd you do have to wonder what it will take to stop this governing by crisis. Like, let's be honest, we all know this is not good for the country. I mean, it's certainly not good for business. It's certainly not good for federal workers who don't know if they're going to lose their paychecks around the holidays.

  • 10:25:08

    REHMWell, exactly. Exactly.

  • 10:25:10

    LERERAnd it gives very little certainty in an economy that's still really struggling to pull out of this Great Recession.

  • 10:25:17

    REHMAll right. And let's talk about the economy, because Pope Francis spoke before Congress yesterday -- a joint meeting, not a joint session -- because...

  • 10:25:30

    MONTANAROEven though Speaker Boehner called it a joint session twice in his video.

  • 10:25:32

    REHMHe did. But the difference is...

  • 10:25:34

    MONTANAROFor his joint meeting.

  • 10:25:35

    REHM...that only the president speaks to a joint session, others to a joint meeting. And what did he really have to say about capitalism? Ed.

  • 10:25:48

    O'KEEFEWell, I actually thought that his line about how business can be a noble thing, especially if it is creating jobs for people, was a good one. I think it was a nod to the business community that this is not a pope who takes issue with your line of work and with your wellbeing, but that business leaders and people who own businesses should be responsible stewards of their money and of their...

  • 10:26:09

    REHMNeed to have heart.

  • 10:26:10

    O'KEEFE...and need to have heart. Which, you know, is a very universal and I think Christian kind of statement to make. There was something for everyone in that speech. And I think one of the things I heard yesterday afterward was, a lawmaker, Henry Cuellar from Texas, said to me, If you try to look at what he says through the prism of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, you're totally misunderstanding what he was trying to do.

  • 10:26:32

    REHMHmm. Hmm.

  • 10:26:32

    O'KEEFEAnd I think that's a very good point.

  • 10:26:34

    LERERBy my count, the pope touched on climate change, abortion, refugees, immigration, capital punishment, income inequality, religious freedom and civil liberties, arms sales, poverty and traditional marriage.

  • 10:26:44


  • 10:26:45

    LERERSo this was a very political speech.

  • 10:26:47


  • 10:26:47

    LERERAnd I have to say, now, I'm awfully curious to see what he says when he goes to New York, because that's, of course, the epicenter of income inequality, not just for the U.S. but really for the world. So I -- even though he said business is a noble vocation, I am curious to see what he says when he's in sort of the heart of this global inequality that he's spent a lot of his time as pope talking about. The other thing worth pointing out is he used the word dialogue 13 times.

  • 10:27:12


  • 10:27:12

    LERERSo he was not, you know, being -- saving any of his -- he certainly was delivering a strong message to Congress, which was: Let's get it together. Let's work together and fight pollution.

  • 10:27:22

    REHMAnd back to Speaker Boehner, there he sat with tears streaming down his face, Domenico.

  • 10:27:29

    MONTANAROThat's absolutely true. And he did mention polarization in particular. Now, the one thing that's kind of interesting about what Pope Francis did yesterday -- or should I say, did not say. You know, his English is not the best. He admits, he's never been to the United States. So he stuck very closely to this script that he had, his prepared remarks. There was one line that he skipped over, one paragraph. I don't know if it was intentional or if it was just a skip. But it happens to be him saying: If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. That happened to be the one line that he left out.

  • 10:28:07

    MONTANAROYou know, you look at that and you say, he was -- Nancy Pelosi probably said it best yesterday when she said that he was very philosophical yesterday. It was almost sort of like you had to read what he was trying to say...

  • 10:28:16


  • 10:28:17

    MONTANARO...which is not his usual style. He's pretty direct, generally. So kind of interesting that he left that out. I'm not sure if he just skipped over it because it was a long speech, or if it was inadvertent. But him going to New York today and talking there at the heart of capitalism -- the world's capitalism, it'd be interesting to see if he does touch on that.

  • 10:28:37

    LERERBut what we're seeing today, I think, certainly shows that politics is more powerful than the pontiff here. I mean, it's hard to see how this influences the nitty-gritty of legislating and getting deals done. And, you know, I do wonder, like Boehner said, you saw tears streaming listening to the speech. If he said, Look, maybe the best thing I can do for dialogue and bipartisanship and getting things done is to simply leave.

  • 10:28:58

    REHMBack out.

  • 10:28:58

    LERERBecause I've become a divisive figure myself. It's fascinating.

  • 10:29:00

    REHMExcept, Ed, you think he's had this in mind for quite a while.

  • 10:29:03

    O'KEEFEWe -- yes, but I -- but Lisa makes a good point, you know? And if you look at polling in recent years, what have Americans said? We've had the same leaders running that Capitol Hill for so long, we need to make some changes. And so, you know, perhaps it was a selfless move that he saw coming and thought, Well what better way than to go out on top, having fulfilled my goal of getting the pope to come and then getting out of the way of this and allowing the country to avoid a shutdown, as he told that man last night at the restaurant in D.C.

  • 10:29:32

    LEREROne thing I really loved, though, was watching the responses and how everyone sort of took what they wanted, all the politicians, from the pope's speech. One of my favorites was Bernie Sanders, who pointed out that the pope's praise for Dorothy Day, who's the founder of the Catholic worker movement, and that she was, like him, a socialist. So he's sort of begging the question, if it's good enough for the pope, shouldn't it be good enough for America.

  • 10:29:53

    MONTANAROSanders also like continued to win Twitter, because he tweeted out...

  • 10:29:56

    LERERHe's always using Twitter.

  • 10:29:58

    MONTANARO...10 times, Pope Francis sounded like Bernie Sanders, right, so.

  • 10:30:02

    LERERRight. And I thought Rubio -- I mean, I'm a little bit in Ed's territory here but, and I'm sure he could speak more about this -- I thought Rubio was pretty clever. He's, of course, a Catholic and he gave a version of the JFK line saying, you know, the pope is infallible on matters of religion and not economics. But he did post his YouTube, a video of him tearing up and wiping his eye, which was sort of a smart -- when the pope talked about immigrants and much of the country being immigrants. He, of course, is an immigrant. I thought it was a smart general election play.

  • 10:30:27

    O'KEEFEWell, it was a smart move by the pull camera to get a shot of Rubio at that moment and if you're the Rubio campaign, you're sending that guy a check this morning.

  • 10:30:33

    REHMAnd we have news that, let's see, just moving rather quickly. I'm going to hold off on this because we are not sure, except that Paul Ryan, Congressman Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate in 2012, will not be running to succeed John Boehner. That is reported by The Hill newspaper. Let's open the phones here. First, to Hebron, Ill. Phil, you're on the air.

  • 10:31:15

    PHILHey, Diane. Good morning to all.

  • 10:31:17


  • 10:31:17

    PHILI spoke to, a couple months ago, said I'd been voting for 49 years and never met a -- never missed an election. And I thought it was interesting, the comment your one fellow said there, that John Boehner was at Alberto's and then got into his well-accoutrement SUV and drove away. I'm on my way -- I'm a Republican voter and I'm on my way to a junk dealer because my car is -- parts for a 48-year-old car -- or a 28-year-old car that I'm trying to keep on the road and I can't get parts for anymore. It's interesting that Mr. Boehner holds in the highest esteem the pope, who got in a Fiat and drove away. Do as I do, not as I say.

  • 10:31:57

    O'KEEFEWell, maybe that's why he's leaving office. Look, the SUV is for security reasons. He has no choice about that. I suppose the speaker or a president could demand being driven around in a Ford Focus if they really wanted to. But that's the transportation he's given. Remember, he's a constitutional officer. He's in the line of succession. So with all the issues that have come with national security in recent years...

  • 10:32:16

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:32:17

    O'KEEFE...he really has no choice...

  • 10:32:18


  • 10:32:18

    O'KEEFE...but to be protected the way he is.

  • 10:32:20

    REHMAll right. And let's go to John in Indianapolis. You're on the air.

  • 10:32:27

    JOHNGood morning, everyone. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 10:32:28


  • 10:32:29

    JOHNI wanted to make a couple of points. First off, in regards to the practice of these -- this government by crisis, it's pretty obvious to anybody with a pulse and the capacity for rational thought, that that's been a partisan matter originating from the Republican Party. That was a political strategy that was discussed by a Republican leadership before President Obama ever took office.

  • 10:32:58

    REHMAll right. To your next point.

  • 10:32:58

    JOHNAnd that's basically what they've done. The second thing that I wanted to point out is that the so-called Planned Parenthood videos are demonstrably false -- not just the ones that the Republicans originally seized on, but the so-called unedited videos. They have been examined by multiple forensic experts and it's been demonstrated that they were also very heavily edited.

  • 10:33:24

    REHMAll right. Thanks for your call. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." How much do we know, Ed?

  • 10:33:33


  • 10:33:34

    REHMThose videos.

  • 10:33:36

    O'KEEFEWe know that they were edited. We know that -- John's right. I mean, essentially, they've been reviewed by others who have suggested that they have been selectively edited and that -- and they were done in such a way to try to sway people's opinions on Planned Parenthood one way or the other. We know that Planned Parenthood is in the business of doing this for fetal research, which is an evolving part of medical research, one that many doctors believe is important. And we know that it caused a lot of outrage and that Republicans plan to continue making this a big issue throughout the rest of this year and certainly through the presidential campaign season.

  • 10:34:15

    LERERBut we also know that Planned Parenthood does more than abortions, right?

  • 10:34:17


  • 10:34:18

    LERERThey provide mammograms and all kinds of -- women's health screenings, especially in low-income populations for people who don't have access to those kinds of services. There are some huge -- you'll have to forgive me because I forget the percentage -- but there's some huge number of women who have been to a Planned Parenthood clinic. That's, of course, exactly what Democrats and Hillary Clinton are seizing on. And I thought the vote was very interesting on this bill to defund it in the Senate. You saw Kelly Ayotte, who's up for reelection in New Hampshire in a race that could become competitive. She's a Republican. She voted against defunding Planned Parenthood.

  • 10:34:55

    LERERSo that should give you a sense of where the politics are on this. And I don't think it's a slam-dunk issue for Republicans in a general election by any means.

  • 10:35:04

    MONTANAROBut even Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have criticized the tone of some of the Planned Parenthood workers seen in the videos. And I think that that should be pointed, as it, you know, gave some ability for Republicans to push this issue once again. But as we said earlier, abortion is something that is deeply polarizing. And actually there's more nuance in abortion -- in the discussion around abortion rights, where about 51 percent of people in the latest Pew Surveys had said that it should be legal under certain circumstances. It's sort of that gray area where people disagree. How long should it be legal, et cetera.

  • 10:35:39

    REHMBut and wasn't there a vote just this week on that, Ed?

  • 10:35:44

    O'KEEFEThat's right. And it failed to advance in the Senate 54 to 42. You need 60 to move a bill through. What this did was fulfill a Republican promise to have a vote on abortion issues in the Senate, which had not happened in, I believe, almost a decade. Mitch McConnell, of course, took control of the Senate and had promised a similar social conservative conference here in Washington earlier this year that this vote would happen. This is a bill that's been passed every year that Republicans have controlled the House. But Harry Reid and the Democrats had refused to bring it up. So by merely getting a vote, senators are now on the record, including some Republican senators who refused to vote to move the bill forward.

  • 10:36:23

    O'KEEFESo if, on principle, there was a victory in a sense because abortion opponents got a vote, it didn't advance. It won't advance in the current makeup of the Senate.

  • 10:36:34

    REHMBut that's not going to stop those who want to defund Planned Parenthood from continuing their efforts.

  • 10:36:44

    O'KEEFEThey'll keep trying. But I also do think that extracting John Boehner from leadership might be enough of a victory to get some of these guys to settle down. It will be a big challenge, though, for Kevin McCarthy or whoever it is that becomes speaker next, because this issue will not go away.

  • 10:36:59

    REHMDo you agree, Lisa?

  • 10:37:00

    LERERI agree that the issue is not going away. I mean, we're in a period where attention is rapidly going to transition from Congress to the presidential race. You could argue it already has. And in the -- in a Republican primary, Planned Parenthood is a very important issue, is a very galvanizing and mobilizing issue. So we're going to be hearing a lot, I suspect, about Planned Parenthood and abortion in the coming months. It's interesting, because Republicans want to get away from these divisive social issues.

  • 10:37:26

    REHMLisa Lerer, a politics reporter with The Associated Press. Short break here. When we come back, more of your calls, emails. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:01

    REHMAnd we're back with the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. Remember, you can watch it as we video stream this hour. Go to drshow.org. Click on "watch live." Let's talk about some of the other things going on this week. Lisa, you were talking about Marco Rubio's comments regarding Donald Trump.

  • 10:40:30

    LERERRight. Marco Rubio, finally, after holding his fire for many, many months, finally took his -- it was his time to take a shot at Donald Trump. Donald Trump had been calling Rubio sweaty. That's a direct quote. He does seem like a heat seeking missile, Donald Trump, who can find your biggest point of sensitivity and go for it, you know?

  • 10:40:48

    MONTANAROIt's very Queens, I have to say, being from Queens.

  • 10:40:50


  • 10:40:52

    MONTANAROIt's kind of like, I'm reminded of my...

  • 10:40:53

    LERERIs it your hair, is it your weight?

  • 10:40:56

    MONTANARO...my schoolyard days, yeah. What do you look like?

  • 10:40:56


  • 10:40:58

    LEREROh, your nose or whatever.

  • 10:40:58


  • 10:40:59

    LERERSo, he called Rubio sweaty. This is the level of discourse in our national political conversation.

  • 10:41:03


  • 10:41:04

    LERERAnd, you know, Rubio fired back and called him intolerant, no...

  • 10:41:09

    O'KEEFESo, Rubio, yesterday, really kind of hit his stride a little bit on Trump, and he used a little bit of his medicine in return. And he said, look, this is a guy who speaks in 10 second soundbites, doesn't know a heck of a lot about anything, beyond that. And then he called him, you know, he said he's kind of an insecure and touchy guy.

  • 10:41:26

    REHMAnd Trump showed up at a, an appearance in South Carolina. Not too many people there.

  • 10:41:35

    O'KEEFEThat's right, and it's been an issue of dispute with several news organizations this week, about whether or not people were actually assigned to those seats and had stood up to get closer to the stage, or simply those seats were empty. And it looks like the seats were just empty, that there weren't that many people there, or at least not as many as the seats would have allowed. And, you know, Trump trying to maintain the idea that he's the frontrunner, and that there is momentum behind him.

  • 10:42:01

    REHMHe says he won't appear on Fox anymore.

  • 10:42:04

    O'KEEFERight. And there's supposed to be a meeting between executives and him in the next few days to discuss the coverage yet again. This would be at least the second meeting, I think, between Mr. Ayles of Fox and Trump.

  • 10:42:15

    REHMAnd, meanwhile, Scott Walker drops out.

  • 10:42:20

    MONTANAROWell, it's interesting. I'd just make one point about Donald Trump. You know, he's, his momentum has sort of stalled. When you look at the polling, he's, hasn't fallen off, but he hasn't gained. But in addition to that, what I think is more important on the trend, look at the second question, that's a really important question, on second choice. Who do you want to be your -- who's your second choice if you had to pick somebody? And Donald Trump fell 10 points in the CNN poll, from month to month.

  • 10:42:45

    MONTANAROWhich signifies a softening of his support, so it's not only that he declined slightly in the overall number, but that people don't seem to feel like he's the guy they would even go to secondarily. Now, when Marco Rubio, you know, on the flip side of this, for months, we've been seeing him as one of the top second choice folks. And very high favorable ratings among Republicans. In this poll, Marco Rubio, you know, gaining some ground. And second only to Ben Carson in how much Republicans like him.

  • 10:43:16

    REHMBen Carson had his own moment in the sun this week, as well.

  • 10:43:23

    LERERRight. Ben Carson said on Meet the Press that he would quote, not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that. I'm quoting it, because he later said that he didn't say he wouldn't support -- he didn't think a Muslim could be President. And then later, after that, he said he could back a Muslim if they denounce Sharia Law. So, he was stuck back peddling. But, like, let's call these comments for what they are, which is racist. That's what he said. It was a racist comment.

  • 10:43:49

    LERERAnd it's bad for the Republican Party. I mean, I'm someone who spent two years of my life covering Mitt Romney, and I watched what happened, and he got on the wrong side of a lot of issues. You know, immigration, things like that, in the general election. After that, of course, the party went through this big recalibration and they went through this big, you know, accounting, and they decided they were going to really need to recast their brand as more open to non-white people. This, that effort seems to be undermined at every turn by this primary field.

  • 10:44:22

    LERERAnd it's a problem for the Republican Party. I mean, becoming a more inclusive party is not just, you know, about touchy feely, nice, you know, it's nice to be inclusive. This is a political necessity. The white vote has, the white vote participation has been declining since the 2000s. If they don't find a way to appeal to Latinos, to appeal to African Americans, they're going to have trouble winning the Presidency.

  • 10:44:44

    REHMOkay, back to Scott Walker. He dropped out because he ran out of money?

  • 10:45:19

    O'KEEFEThat's the leading reason. He also ran out of, and why did he run out of money? Well, he ran out of money because this was a guy who was inconsistent in his beliefs, who, you know, stacked up too quickly, it seems. There were reports that there were, you know, nearly four, five dozen staffers based at his national headquarters in Madison. Which is unheard of at this early stage of a campaign. You usually want to have those 80 people out in the early states, as opposed to in Wisconsin at headquarters. And look...

  • 10:45:19

    MONTANAROAnd none of them are his former top advisors.

  • 10:45:21


  • 10:45:21

    MONTANAROBecause they were running his Super PAC, and, you know, when you have your brain trust, basically walled off from you, and you've never run a national campaign before, that's a very difficult thing to overcome.

  • 10:45:32

    LERERBut frankly, he should have done what a lot of other candidates do. Which was hire -- he had 100 staffers at his headquarters, and he had a much more money in the Super PAC. So, what a lot of candidates have been doing in this brave new world of Super PACS is they hire a lot on the Super PAC and keep the campaign staff relatively lean. He just sort of balanced his books wrong. He assumed he'd have more money coming in, he performed badly in the debates, that didn't happen. The cash dried up.

  • 10:45:54

    O'KEEFEAnd he fell into this trap that I think a lot of other candidates in both parties fall into, that suddenly they get successful at the state level, however big or small their state, and they just assume that that will transcend all 49 others.

  • 10:46:06

    REHMAnd by the way, the Pope has just finished speaking. One of the statements he made that drew applause was he was talking for a balance, called for a balance between economic activity and social justice. He said to enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Saying that in New York is important. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton and Keystone. How important is that, Ed?

  • 10:46:52

    O'KEEFEWell, it's important to Democratic base voters who are the folks she desperately needs right now to support her.

  • 10:46:58

    REHMWho don't want Keystone to go forward.

  • 10:47:01

    O'KEEFEA majority of those Democrats do not, but a majority of the country support building the pipeline, so she could potentially have a longer term general election problem by doing this. She had been delaying saying what she would do, because she said she had been involved in the early stages of these negotiations. Lisa, I know you know this a lot better, because you follow her.

  • 10:47:19

    LERERYeah, so then, on Monday, at a town hall event in Iowa, she came out and said that she thought Keystone, she thought it would be completed by now and a decision would have been made, and she owes it, because it hasn't been, she owes it to the voters to give them her opinion. And she's against the pipeline. Look, that may be true. She may really feel that way, but she also, all of a sudden, is facing a competitive primary election. And she's set to fly out to California this weekend for a series of fundraising.

  • 10:47:45

    LERERAnd one place where the climate change issue is particularly resonant.

  • 10:47:49

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:47:49

    LERERWith Democratic donors...

  • 10:47:51

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:47:51

    LERER...in in those fancy Hollywood mansions and those beautiful Silicon Valley vineyard side homes where politicians, Democratic politicians raise money. So, the timing of this was no accident. It also came as -- she also made her news as the Pope was touching down.

  • 10:48:09

    MONTANAROLiterally touching down.

  • 10:48:09

    LERERIn Washington. So, you know, it was very carefully timed, as in most things with the Clinton campaign.

  • 10:48:16

    MONTANAROI mean, it was also an interesting bit of messaging Jiu Jitsu that she tried to pull, because she blamed the White House, essentially, and said that she had to give due deference to, you know, her successor, but you know, it's taken quite some time here. And, you know, she's...

  • 10:48:29

    REHMTo figure out exactly what she...

  • 10:48:31

    MONTANARO...yeah. So they, they haven't figured it out.

  • 10:48:32


  • 10:48:33

    MONTANAROSo, now I'm getting asked questions about it. And I told them, I gave them advanced notice, she said. Weeks, advanced notice. The next time I'm asked about this, I'm going to give my position.

  • 10:48:42

    LERERBut she does, it does open up a bunch of questions for her, right? Because there are other issues that the White House is considering, that she's sort of dodged with this excuse that I don't want to influence policy. One of them, of course, is TPP, the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership.

  • 10:48:55

    REHMOf course. Yeah.

  • 10:48:55

    LERERAnd there's plenty of other issues that now she doesn't have that out anymore when she's asked about it. And she'll be asked about it.

  • 10:49:02

    REHMAll right. Both Mrs. Clinton and Bernie Sanders came out criticizing drug companies on pricing.

  • 10:49:12

    O'KEEFEThat's right. And Clinton was actually supposed to be talking about that on Monday, but got asked about Keystone Excel, and so this got drowned out. But she's essentially put forth a proposal that would cap prescription drug -- prescription drug prices. Say that five times fast, at 250 dollars a pop. Or, you know, that would be the total out of pocket expense or the maximum amount of pocket expense. The idea being that pharmaceutical companies, perhaps, have allowed these prices to get out of control. And, you know, again, another popular proposal among Democratic voters has potential cross party appeal, I should think, with Americans concerned about pocketbook issues.

  • 10:49:48

    REHMHow close are she and Bernie Sanders running these days?

  • 10:49:54

    LERERIt's pretty close. I mean, Bernie Sanders is beating her in New Hampshire and he's catching up in Iowa. So, it's getting pretty tight. I think the prescription drug thing is interesting for another reason. You know, the other big figure looming over the Democratic race is Vice President Biden. An interesting thing that people who cover this observed this week was that President Obama always, always speaks at CGI, which is the Clinton Foundation's big event in New York. He's skipping it this year, because he doesn't want to look like he's tipping his finger one way or the other on the scales, right?

  • 10:50:24

    LEREROf, between Hillary and this potential race with Biden. So, one thing that Hillary Clinton has been doing in recent weeks, as Biden, this Biden thing starts to, speculation starts to mount about whether he will or won't get in the race, and I don't think anybody really knows for sure yet. Is she's been casting herself as the natural successor to President Obama. President Obama is a very popular figure in the Democratic Party. This prescription drug plan was a way for her to do that, so she'll continue the work of his biggest domestic achievement, healthcare.

  • 10:50:52

    REHMExcuse me, Reuters is reporting that Speaker Boehner has cancelled his press conference. Is that something you expected, Domenico?

  • 10:51:06

    MONTANAROYou know, I think that he decided that this was not what he wanted to do to have to come out and, you know, command the spotlight. I mean, the Pope is still kind of gaining a lot of the attention today. So it may be, in part, out of deference to that, and it may be in part that he wants to have more of a prepared statement later on at some other point. You'd expect he'd come out at some point to discuss this, but it is something you started to hear rumblings about, that he might cancel it today.

  • 10:51:33

    O'KEEFEI think he's supposed to do Face the Nation this weekend, as well. So there might be a chance for them to ask him about all of this.

  • 10:51:41

    REHMI would think so.

  • 10:51:41


  • 10:51:42

    REHMI would think so.

  • 10:51:42

    O'KEEFEIt probably would be the dominant topic of conversation.

  • 10:51:46

    REHMOur colleague John Dickerson will have lots of questions for him. Volkswagen has named a new CEO. The question that faces Americans is, what do they do with their cars?

  • 10:52:03

    O'KEEFEThey gotta bring them back in I guess, right, to get a new part?

  • 10:52:04

    MONTANAROIs that what it is, or do they just keep driving? Like, what's the difference?

  • 10:52:06


  • 10:52:07

    MONTANAROYou gotta, you still have to fill up.

  • 10:52:09

    REHMOr, is the company going to take those cars back? How is it going to satisfy those consumers?

  • 10:52:18

    LERERAnd there's also a larger question of fines and criminal charges.

  • 10:52:21

    REHMYou bet.

  • 10:52:22

    LERERThe EPA could charge something, about 18 billion dollars in fines for violating the Clean Air Act. The Justice Department could go for criminal penalties, based either on profits from violations or consumer losses. So, we're going to be hearing about this for a while. This is going to go on for a while. You know, the CEO, of course, stepped down, saying that he, you know, mistakes were made only by a few. It seems...

  • 10:52:43

    REHMA few? That's what he said.

  • 10:52:44

    LERERRight. It seems unlikely that he won't be involved in some of these...

  • 10:52:48

    REHMBoy, he's already stepped down, but I mean, the fact of the matter is how can something like that happen without it going all the way to the top?

  • 10:52:56

    MONTANAROWell, and that's the question a lot of people are going to be asking.

  • 10:52:59


  • 10:52:59

    MONTANAROBut what I think is really fascinating is how this all came about. We had a story on NPR yesterday about this West Virginia lab that had gained a grant, right?

  • 10:53:07

    REHMWe had them on.

  • 10:53:07

    MONTANAROI mean, it's fantastic stuff.

  • 10:53:09

    REHMI know. We had them on yesterday.

  • 10:53:12

    LERER...and who knew that the emissions testing has no -- there's no regulation of emissions testing. The car -- the auto companies do their own emissions testing.

  • 10:53:19

    REHMNo, but the EPA does not have the wherewithal or the money to do the kind of testing necessary for that particular problem. And you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Let's go to Lansing, Michigan. Hi John. Thanks for waiting.

  • 10:53:41

    JOHNOh, yes, I just wanted to go back to the shutdown issue.

  • 10:53:44


  • 10:53:46

    JOHNThey're spinning it on talk radio as it's not really a shutdown. 80 percent of the government's going to stay open, so security's going to go out. They say that food stamps is going to go out. So, could you sort of clarify how bad -- as I recall, last time, they shut down the national monuments.

  • 10:54:06

    REHMYeah. Sure did. What happened?

  • 10:54:07

    O'KEEFEBasically, the rules are that anything related to national security has to continue. So, there are still air traffic controllers in the towers. There are still TSA agents at the security gates. There are still people working at the Pentagon to make sure the world is safe. But you're right. That's sort of, what they classify generally as non-essential tasks, passport filings, food stamp programs, job training programs, the National Parks, are closed. And again, they sort of do it from an immediacy standpoint.

  • 10:54:33

    O'KEEFEThe idea that, you know, things that are most essential to life, to health, to security, continue. Notably, in administrations in years past, this was something that was allowed to fester and they never really updated. The Obama Administration has now required the agencies to file updated shutdown plans every year now, because they realize that the threat is so constant.

  • 10:54:52

    REHMAll right. To Bloomington, Indiana. Blane, you're on the air.

  • 10:54:58

    BLANEHello, Diane. I'm a long time listener and first time caller.

  • 10:55:01

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:55:03

    BLANEAnd I'm going to back track a little bit. I want to ask the panel about Donald Trump a little bit more.

  • 10:55:12

    REHMIf you can make it quick. We're almost out of time.

  • 10:55:15

    BLANEYes. Part of me believes that he's saying all these crass and incendiary remarks because he's really trying to sabotage his own campaign. He's -- my belief is he's really surprised that he's doing this well. And he never really intended to. So, I just wanted the panel to...

  • 10:55:34

    REHMAll right. Okay, let's see. Domenico.

  • 10:55:37

    MONTANAROYou know, I think he's kind of getting a little bored, frankly. And I think that he's -- it's not, he doesn't look like he's had fun in a couple weeks. And I think now that we're getting to the point after Labor Day where people start to care about issues and they want to kick the tires a little bit more. He doesn't look like he's really kind of enjoying it. You know, it was telling. His first statement after the CNN debate when they asked him, what did you learn tonight? And he said, I learned that I could stand for three hours.

  • 10:55:57


  • 10:55:57


  • 10:55:59

    LERERYeah, it turns out running for President is really hard.

  • 10:56:02

    REHMYou bet.

  • 10:56:03

    LERERIt's harder than flying from penthouse to private jet. But look, who can know what lurks in the mind of the Donald? I mean, it's a decision that he will have to make. How long he keeps doing this.

  • 10:56:13

    REHMAll right, let's talk for a moment about Yogi Berra.

  • 10:56:18

    MONTANAROWell, I mean, Yogi Berra is somebody who, I mean, as a New Yorker, and as a Mets fan, and you know, and I'll tout that now. But you know, as someone who's seen...

  • 10:56:27

    O'KEEFEHave you always been?

  • 10:56:28

    MONTANAROAlways. I mean, that's not just this year.

  • 10:56:30


  • 10:56:31

    MONTANAROI was, you know, hey, I was up until the 14th inning in the Mike Scott Houston Astros NL, you know, championship in 1986.

  • 10:56:41

    O'KEEFEFor the unaware, that means he's a real fan.

  • 10:56:44

    MONTANAROBut, you know, Yogi Berra is always somebody who, you know, he gets attention for these Yogi-isms.

  • 10:56:48


  • 10:56:48

    MONTANAROBut there's -- I heard someone on a major league network, Major League Baseball network yesterday or the day before say, you know, he's the kind of guy no one ever says a bad thing about. Anyone who knew him never had a bad thing to say. And how many of us could really say that about our own lives?

  • 10:57:04

    REHMGood question. Domenico Montanaro. He just said that. Lisa Lerer, Ed O'Keefe, thank you all so much. Have a good weekend.

  • 10:57:15

    O'KEEFEYou too.

  • 10:57:15

    REHMThanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

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