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WHEN: Today, Tuesday, September 24th
WHERE: CNBC's "The Kudlow Report"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Senator Kelly Ayotte on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" tonight. Following is a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000201654.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
LARRY KUDLOW: Joining us now, New Hampshire Republican Senator and Budget Committee Member-- Kelly Ayotte. Senator Ayotte, as always, welcome back to The Kudlow Report.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Thank you, Larry.
LARRY KUDLOW: How-- how will you vote tomorrow? Will you vote to-- close down debate?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: I will vote to proceed tomorrow. And then the following vote will be on whether to close down debate. And I will-- vote to-- to proceed, at that point. Because Larry, listen-- what's happening right now is we would be voting against the bill that Senator Cruz wanted, which defunds Obamacare and also-- can take-- keeps the government going.
So-- what he's asking is for us to filibuster the bill passed by the House. And I think at the end of the day-- the big winner from that, which would-- the government would shut down, would be President Obama. And let's face it, things have not been going well for him lately-- with what happened in Syria-- with obviously many of his priorities that he's not able to push forward. And why would we give him a lifeline, at this point, on a law that is falling on its own weight?
LARRY KUDLOW: Well--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: I can tell you in my own state of New Hampshire, it's a disaster right now, with only one provider on the exchange. And 10 of our 20-- 10 out of 26 hospitals aren't even in the exchange.
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, those are all great reasons to repeal Obamacare or do something, delay Obamacare. I'm just curious, why is everybody pickin' up on-- pickin' on Senator Ted Cruz? He's doin' his job. He-- he ran to repeal Obamacare. He's doin' the best he can. These legislative tactics notwithstanding. He-- isn't he just tryin' to do his job?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Yeah, no, you know, listen, I think we can always disagree on tactics. And so I just simply disagree with him. I don't think that shutting the government down is going to allow us to succeed here, when we have one third of the government. I am all for defunding Obamacare. I'm all for repealing this law. But at the end of the day, you know, I think as-- as Charles Krauthammer rightly said, "I-- I don't support suicide, because it's permanent." And we know who's gonna win if the government gets shutdown. And it's not Republicans.
And so I think this is not a good winning strategy. So it's not a matter of anything about Senator Cruz. I respect Senator Cruz. It's just a disagreement on strategy. And I believe we should do-- be doing things like trying to delay the individual mandate. We should be trying to repeal the medical device tax. Things that will put Democrats in a really tough spot.
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, where are those? Look, I happen to agree with you. That-- my first choice was repeal-- was delay the individual mandate, absolutely. What-- I guess what I'm asking you is where are those things? Because as I see it, you're gonna close down debate. You're gonna make these procedural votes. And then Friday-- I mean, correct me if I'm wrong. But people say on Friday you're gonna vote.
51 votes and Senator Reid is allowed to remove the-- Obamacare defunding. I don't see what Republicans get out of that. I don't see any-- anything-- he's gonna get his wish, a clean C.R. In fact, it's even more than that. He's cut back on the date. He's putting it to November 15th. It'll close down a month earlier than what the House wanted to give higher spending possibilities. What's the GOP gaining from all this?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, that's why I think when you have a strategy, you need an endgame. And there wasn't a good endgame from this from the beginning. But at this point, what we need to do is get this vote done, get it back to the House, let them attach something like the delay of the individual mandate, so then it comes back to the Senate. And let Democrats vote on that. Or the repeal of the medical device tax. An issue that want-- that they've been on the record on already. Imagine them voting against that? That puts them in a very different position than where we are now.
LARRY KUDLOW: So they can send the bill back, this-- the House could send the bill back. It could be done this weekend. Monday is the endgame. You'd still have time to do a deal.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, absolutely. But the problem I think we are right now is that-- you-- all the time that's being extended in the Senate right now-- you know, I think that we should get these votes done. Let the house work and make their decisions. And at the end of the day, listen, Larry. This thing's falling of its own weight, Obamacare. Look at what's been happening around the country. In my own state, I talked about it.
Premiums are going through the roof. People can't afford it. People are being dropped from their plans. That whole notion that you could keep your doctor. It's not true. And so actually within the public sphere, we're winning this argument. The one thing that could really hurt it for us is to shut the government down. So I think we continue this fight, but continue it in-- a way that we can win and a strategy that--
LARRY KUDLOW: But you--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: --will be successful.
LARRY KUDLOW: It-- it's the shut the government down-- you've got days. I mean, today's Tuesday. You've got days, okay? You're gonna take Ted Cruz out of play tomorrow. All right. Whether that's right or wrong, that's what's gonna happen. But you--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, actually, it can be extended into Saturday, the way the timing of the Senate works right now, Harry-- Larry. Unfortunately, where we're going.
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, but no matter what you do, you're-- see, if the House puts something back, we have no assurances the House will accept the new-- bill. What if they put-- what if they say-- "We want to-- we-- we want to-- delay the personal mandate for a year." What if they say, "We don't want Congress to be exempt from-- Obamacare"? What if they say, "We will not do this without verification of the subsidies"? You know, things that really matter to voters. What if they come back and say that? They'll say it-- I don't know, Friday afternoon, Friday night, Saturday. You're still gonna run into the same deadline problem.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: We are gonna run into it. But if-- giving them more time, I think, is important to allow them to pass that type of legislation on things that the American people do support. You just outlined them, Larry. And I think that-- to the extent we can do that, then we should do that in the Senate to give the House that opportunity.
But at the end of the day-- I think you and I both agree that who wins if the government shuts down? I don't think it's Republicans. Unfortunately, I think it's President Obama, whether we like it or not. And we all know that this law is flawed. I think it's a much tougher vote for the Democrats on-- a delay for a year. I think it's a much-- for individuals, a much tougher vote of the medical device tax repeal. And again, they're the ones that should own this law. Right now, the debate has been focused on the GOP--
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, that's right--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Why aren't we focusing in on the people who actually voted for this law?
LARRY KUDLOW: See, I agree with that. And-- and that's why I still don't understand what the Republicans are gonna get from this thing, except no shutdown. But you've got days not to shut down. I mean, for example, what if you-- what-- what if you put in-- you can go back to December 15th on the C.R. Why is that being taken out?
What if you put in one of the things that you mentioned. Let's say the individual mandate...the individual mandate pass to get 51 votes. You've got a lot of senators running, Democrat senators, as you well know-- people like Begich and Pryor and-- Miss Landrieu from Louisiana, you know, they're in red states. Aren't they in trouble? 51 votes isn't that much. You could win something.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Well, no, I agree. I think this is a tough vote-- for the Democrats at the end of the day. Because they have to reaffirm their support for Obamacare at a time where it's falling on its own weight. It's not goin' well out there in the States. And I do think that we will attempt to amend this. So any attempts that we can make, yes, we should do that in the interim.
But where we're left at the end of the day, we just have to make sure-- that we continue to keep the government going. And I agree with you, Larry. I don't want to support a C.R. that only goes till November. I mean, that's absurd. I mean, this short term funding is obviously not a way to run anything.
LARRY KUDLOW: I agree. I mean-- we'll leave it there. I-- I just fret, all right? I-- I don't-- I look at this, to me, this is a Democratic victory. And you're backin' off. And whether it's Ted Cruz's fault or who's fault it is, I don't know. Cruz I think is just--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: No, we're backin' off. I mean, I--
LARRY KUDLOW: --doin' his job.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: I mean, I want just want to make clear, Larry. We're not backin' off on our--
LARRY KUDLOW: But there's not a single Republican--
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: --opposition to Obamacare.
LARRY KUDLOW: --initiative in this C.R. There's not a single Republican initiative in this C.R. That's the way I see it. I think a lot of people are gonna see it that way.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: That's why we need to have a winning strategy. You're right. I-- no way am I backing off on my fight against Obamacare, 'cause I've already seen what's happened in New Hampshire and that people are being dropped-- from hospitals that they want to go to, physicians that they want to go to, if they have to get on this exchange. And then premiums are going up. So this thing is gonna fall on its own weight. But yes, we need to be smarter about what we're doing on the issues that you've already raised. And you hit on the right issues, Larry.
LARRY KUDLOW: I'm tryin'. Anyway, Senator Kelly-- as always, it's great to see you.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE: Great to be with you.
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