Face the Nation transcripts January 5, 2014: Reid, King, Salmon

The latest on the 2014 agenda in Washington, from Obamacare to unemployment benefits

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 5, 2014, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., Peggy Noonan, David Ignatius, David Sanger, and John Dickerson.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, 2014 marks the sixtieth year of this broadcast and we started with one of Washington’s most powerful, but rarely interviewed officials, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

SENATOR HARRY REID: The House will be in order.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Twenty thirteen was not exactly a banner year from Washington. Will this year be any better?

 MAN: No organizational or legislative business will be conducted on this day.

 BOB SCHIEFFER: So it’s official, nothing to report so far. But what are the prospects for immigration reform, cutting the deficit, extending unemployment benefits. What will happen to Obamacare and what about the National Security Agency? We'll ask the Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid, who controlled much of the agenda on Capitol Hill. Then we’ll talk to key House Republicans New York’s Peter King and Arizona’s Matt Salmon. We’ll have analysis from Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, David Sanger of the New York Times, and CBS News political director John Dickerson. And in our flashback, how a CBS News crew went to Havana to interview Fidel Castro for FACE THE NATION and got scooped by Ed Sullivan. Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.

And good morning, again, and before we get to Senator Reid, a quick update on this bitter cold that has two-thirds of the country in its grip from the Midwest to the Northeast and a good part of the South. This cold is expected to set record lows in many parts of the country, some of the coldest weather so far is in the St. Paul, Minneapolis, area and WCCO TV reporter Jamie Yuccas has the latest from there. Jamie.

JAMIE YUCCAS (WCCO-TV): Bob, it is currently nine degrees below zero and it’s only expected to get worse. For the first time in twenty years schools are closed statewide on Monday with lows expected at minus twenty-five. With windchills expected to be around minus seventy degrees, exposed skin can become frostbitten in just minutes, ski hills and ice rinks have closed until Tuesday at the earliest. Today’s Green Bay Packers playoff game could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. The temperature at Lambeau Field is expected to be two degrees below zero with windchills at minus thirty when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kick off. The arctic air will keep its track east as well. By Monday Chicago will likely hit fifteen below. New York and New England will deal with frigid temperatures as residents there continue to dig out from that massive snowstorm. Many heading south to escape the cold could also be out of luck. Atlanta is forecasted to stay in the twenties and those chilly temps could continue into Florida. Highs in the Minneapolis area may reach above zero by Wednesday, but many meteorologists predict that now that we’ve seen these cold temperatures it will just continue through the rest of the winter season, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thanks, Jamie. Now get inside, quick. Thank you.

JAMIE YUCCAS: Sounds good.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Washington is seeing some of the lowest temperatures in about twenty years. It is not nine below as it is out there in Minneapolis, but we want to thank Senator Harry Reid for braving the cold to come inside and join us. Senator Reid, thank you.

SENATOR HARRY REID (Majority Leader/D-Nevada): Really my pleasure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll see you very often. We hope we’ll see you often, though, during this-- this New Year. Let’s start out by talking about unemployment benefits that ran out for 1.3 million Americans in December. You have said, the President has said this is going to be one of the priority items here. It’s also going to cost twenty-six million dollars for the year, Republicans are already saying, no way, unless you agree to somehow offset that with spending cuts, are you willing to negotiate on that?

SENATOR HARRY REID: This is typical for Republican members of Congress. Not Republicans, but Republican members of Congress. The vast majority of American people believe that unemployment benefits should be extended. Never with unemployment like this have we ever even considered not extending them and John McCain's chief economic advisor during his presidential campaign Mark Zandi said for every dollar we spend on unemployment benefits, the government and the country gets back fifty cents extra. It’s so important to do this, the gross domestic project-- product would be increased to-- by twenty-three billion dollars. It’s the right thing to do. We have long-term unemployment. That’s why the American people support this, Democrats, independents, and Republicans.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator, you praised the budget deal back in December for reducing the deficit. You said that’s something that had to be done. But aren’t you just undoing that now with this?

SENATOR HARRY REID: Bob, the-- the place we always look to find out what’s happening with the deficit is Bowles-Simpson. They set a goal of four trillion dollars. We’ve already approached nine trillion dollars and if we did comprehensive immigration reform it would be taken care of. We'd be at four trillion dollars. So it seems to me that we should start focusing as we have on reducing the debt, we’ve done that. But let’s start focusing on helping the middle class. We have a situation in America today that is really not good. The last thirty years, the top one percent of Americans, and their income and wealth has increased three hundred percent. The middle class during that same thirty years has lost almost ten percent. We’ve got to turn this around. I'm-- I want-- I want the economy to be good. I want people to be rich. I have nothing against rich people. But the rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. The middle class are being squeezed out of existence.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you about a-- a straight out political question here. If the Republicans try to filibuster this, and so far I think there’s only one Republican Senator that has said he’s ready to go along with you on this. Do you have the votes to block a filibuster on this?

SENATOR HARRY REID: It seems to me that here we have a bipartisan bill. We have one of the liberal members of the Senate, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and one of the conservative members to Senate, Dean Heller from Nevada. They say we should extend these unemployment benefits. And they’re right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But that’s the only Republican, am I not?

SENATOR HARRY REID: Well, remember--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Am I wrong about that.

SENATOR HARRY REID: --there’s fifty-five of us and there’s forty-five of them. It would seem to me that five Republicans in the Senate should agree with the Republicans around the country. Republicans around America want us to do something to extend these benefits. Why? Because it's good for the economy, it’s good for the country. Every one of these people that's long-term unemployed they get one of these checks they spend the money, they don’t put it in the bank. It helps small business. That’s why small business favor this. The same reason they favor doing something about minimum wage. They know it’s good for the economy. And so Republicans in Congress have to get away from being Republicans in Congress. Background checks, ninety percent of the Americans want that. Republicans in Congress oppose it. Extending unemployment benefits, seventy-five percent of Americans want that done, Republicans in Congress oppose it.