Face the Nation transcripts October 13, 2013: Schumer, McCain, Ayotte, Huelskamp

The latest on the standoff over the government shutdown and debt ceiling. Plus, a panel of experts
The latest on the standoff over the governmen... 47:05

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on October 13, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., John McCain, R-Ariz., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., plus a panel featuring former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Dee Dee Myers, Dan Balz, and Kimberley Strassel.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, it is day 13 of this shutdown. The debt limit's set to expire in just four days. We're going to start this morning with New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. We'll hear next from Arizona Republican John McCain. Senator Schumer, I want to start with you because yesterday -- I mean, you were in all the meetings. You met with both the president and the Senate Democratic leadership, the Senate and Republican leaders. You were there to talk to Mitch McConnell on the Republican side. Where are we?

SCHUMER: Well, Bob, I'm cautiously hopeful, optimistic, that we can come to an agreement and open up the government and avoid default based on the bipartisan meetings that are going on.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what's the sticking point?

SCHUMER: Well, at those meetings -- I said just the good stuff -- is that Senator McConnell and Senator Reid both understood the gravity of default and how we had to avoid it. And while I don't want to get into details, the frameworks they each had were not that far apart, a lot closer than, say, House Republicans and the president. It's also very good that there are bipartisan groups meeting. I really respect what Susan Collins is doing. And that will -- that will help bring things about. So here's what I'd say. With the president, with Senate Democrats, with Senate Republicans, there's a will. We now have to find a way. We know the House won't find that way, so the whole -- all of it rests on our shoulders. But finding that way is hard, but we're not out of the ballpark in any way.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what about this undoing the sequester? I keep hearing that's the most important thing to the Democrats. What does that mean?

SCHUMER: That's one of the sticking points. Look, neither Democrats nor Republicans like the sequester. And one of the strongest voices against it has been ?Senator McCain, correctly, because of what it would do to defense, which he defends so dearly. The dispute has been how to undo sequester. Republicans want to do it with entitlement cuts -- in other words, take entitlement cuts and then put that money into undoing at least part of sequester. Democrats want to do it with a mix of mandatory cuts, some entitlement, and revenues. And so how do you overcome that dilemma? We're not going to overcome it in the next day or two. But if we were to open up the government for a period of time that concluded before the sequester took place, which is January 15th, we could have a whole bunch of discussions. And I am more optimistic than most we could come to an agreement. That was one place where the House Republicans and the president were not, you know, at total loggerheads. And a lot of it depends on how you define revenues and how you define entitlement cuts. So the plan would be open up the government immediately for a period of time before the sequester hits and then have serious discussions where we might be able to undo the sequester. I'm optimistic that could work.

SCHIEFFER: Aren't you going to have to find something that you can give to Speaker Boehner that he can take to those on the right side of his party and -- and -- to bring them along? I mean, I'm not sure what that is, but...

SCHUMER: Yeah, well, that's -- you hit -- you hit the nail on the head. No one's sure what will bring those people along. I think there's a feeling among Senate Republicans, whether it be Senator McConnell, Senator McCain, Senator Collins, that if we can get a broad, bipartisan majority to pass something in the next few days, it may help crack the logjam in the House. And of course Speaker Boehner wouldn't get the 40 or so people on the hard right to go along but could get a lot of his mainstream Republicans. I'd say this. I think these mainstream Republicans are getting fed up with the Tea Party and Ted Cruz. They see where it's leading them, to very low poll numbers. This idea that, unless I get my way, I'm going to do huge damage to our credit rating, to millions of people who depend on the government, isn't working. And I think there probably is a new mode in the House, Speaker Boehner can't lead, but if the Senate leads, I believe he could follow our lead.

SCHIEFFER: Because, I mean, the reason I brought that up is I hear Republicans saying to me, "Look, you may not like Speaker Boehner. You may have all kind of differences with Speaker Boehner. But if he is toppled" -- and some of them are saying to me he could be toppled this weekend if things don't go exactly right -- that "what you'd get after Boehner would be worse to deal with than trying to strike a deal with Speaker Boehner."

SCHUMER: Well, John and Kelly would know, and Tim would know this better than me, but my view is, when your party is doing as poorly as it has, mainly because they've let Ted Cruz and the Tea Party-type thinking lead them around, you break from that. And you may not have the ability to put together your own plan and move forward, but you might have the ability to follow a bipartisan plan, such as we're trying to come up, Senator McConnell, Senator Reid, Senator Collins and all of us in the Senate.

SCHIEFFER: Let me tell you the other side of that. I heard from people -- nobody will say this on camera -- but I was told that you were very close to a deal Thursday night, or maybe early Friday morning, and then that Wall Street Journal/NBC poll hit and showed that the public was overwhelmingly blaming Republicans, and it gave some on the left, to the far left, more backbone. And they said, "Hey, we've got the Republicans down. What we need to do now is put our boot on their throat and break 'em." Is that right?

SCHUMER: I don't think -- no, I don't think we were close to a deal is the problem. The issue that you brought up of -- of...

SCHIEFFER: But you don't disagree that you heard people say that?

SCHUMER: We have one other issue that's very seriously out there where there's a disagreement, and that is how long the debt ceiling should go. We think it should go for as long a period of time as possible so you don't go through this every few months. And the plans that have been brought to us either have it in January or even earlier. That's not good enough. So there are real issues, but they're overcomeable.