CNN "Outfront" - TRANSCRIPT House About To Reconvene With GOP In Disarray After McCarthy Suffers 6 Humiliating Losses, Still No Speaker; House About To Return To Floor, Could Vote For Speaker For 7th Time; Bills: Hamlin Still In Critical Condition, But "Signs Of Improvement"; McCarthy Does Not Want A Vote Tonight, No Deal Yet. Aired 7-8p ET


Date: Jan. 4, 2023


OUTFRONT now, I want to go to the Republican Congressman French Hill who has been designated by McCarthy as one of his emissaries to find a deal with the Republican holdouts.

And I appreciate your time, Congressman.

So, obviously the House is coming back in, in less than an hour, back into session. McCarthy has lost six ballots and we're coming back in tonight. Are you aware of anything that has changed, and do you expect another vote here in the next hour or so?

REP. FRENCH HILL (R-AR): Well, Erin, happy New Year, and it's great to be with you.

Look, Kevin McCarthy has been, as he has been for weeks now, listening to all the members of the Congress, particularly those 20 that are holding out on this issue, listening to their ideas for rules improvements. How do we have a conservative view on budget reform and budget process, and who wants to be playing what role in the new Congress on committees, and what responsibilities are they interested in.

This is the role of a speaker, and it's something that Kevin's been doing mightily on a regular basis and is doing it as we speak tonight. Listening to those members, finding a path forward, looking for those final votes that will give him the majority and let him have the majority of Republicans elect him as the next speaker of the House.

BURNETT: And, OK, you're talking about specific issues. I know, obviously, budget has been one that they have --many of them spoken about exclusively, obviously, the vote to call for a new speakership, right? They want to just have anybody be able to call that, any individual.

Are you, then, talking about specifics that there is a specific list of negotiations and that you're moving forward on that? Or is that way too far ahead of where you are?

HILL: I think -- I think the Speaker designate Kevin McCarthy is having those constructive conversations as we speak with members of the 20 that had not supported him thus far in the previous ballots, and they're looking for a path forward to a yes vote and it's composed around those areas that you noted -- rules, the budget, and budget process issues, and then who's on what committee and having what responsibility in the new Congress.

BURNETT: So, what do you think the other hard nos really want at this point? I guess when I say the hard nos, I would imagine there is a certain group of those people that you're not even going to bother trying to get, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, they're off your list?

HILL: I'm sure there will be some that are going to be no permanently. But Mr. McCarthy's not treating them that way. Everyone is engaged in these meetings and discussions and he's open to hearing from all of them. So, he's not the one who's taking that attitude. He's taking a constructive attitude to listen to everybody's viewpoints, trying to clear the air where there's any misunderstanding of what's happened over the past few days over any particular issue.

And, for example, you mentioned the motion to vacate the chair. He's made a constructive position there to follow Thomas Jefferson's precedent and have five members make that motion.

So, everything is on the table. And, as I say, the best way for me to describe it on what today has brought is a constructive dialogue between those 20 and Mr. McCarthy.

BURNETT: And just to be clear on that one point, though, the five, he's not moving on that. Kevin McCarthy's not moving on that. Is that what you're saying, five is his best offer on that?

HILL: Well, that's his preference because that was the original what was called the Jefferson rule. And so that's what his preference has been.

BURNETT: So one final question to you. Sources have told CNN that rank and file Republicans have begun to talk to Democrats about what it would take to get some of them to say vote present or not be there, right? So you could lower the threshold and Kevin McCarthy could get over the finish line that way.

Have you spoken to any Democrats about that?

HILL: I haven't because my emphasis has been getting uniting our party, uniting house Republicans to support Kevin McCarthy as their new speaker. And, so, all my conversations have been constructive and have been with the members of our party trying to find a path forward towards unity so we can show that contrast between the legislation that we would propose that's being offered by the Biden administration.

BURNETT: Congressman Hill, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

HILL: You bet, Erin. Great to be with you.