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Congress to Take Up Sandy Relief Bill, Gun Control Measures

Aired January 7, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET



CROWD: This is Mrs. Lauther`s (ph) U.S. History class from Zaffer (ph), Kansas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, here is Carl to present us with CNN STUDENT NEWS.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Nice. We appreciate the intro and the pun from Mrs. Lauther`s (ph) class. I am Carl Azuz, presenting your commercial free news on this Monday, January 7th.

First up today, some help is on the way for victims of what came to be known as super storm Sandy. The critics say that help is not enough. On Friday, one day after getting to work, the 113th U.S. Congress passed a bill worth $9 billion. The money from the federal government will be put in an insurance program that will help cover costs for this, this incredible damage we keep seeing from the October storm that was 1,000 miles wide.

The money won`t do much to help businesses, though. More than 200,000 had some kind of damage, or were otherwise impacted by Sandy. And that`s why some of them and many lawmakers are calling for more government aid. Congress is scheduled to take up another bill worth $51 billion in business relief, but not until January 15.

Another issue Congress is looking at - guns. The goal is to find a way to prevent more tragic shootings in the U.S. But there are a lot of ideas about how to do that, so many that in the U.S. House of Representatives alone, almost 12 bills were introduced last week that had something to do with gun violence. So is the answer more restrictions on guns or the people who can buy them, or more guns in more places? Congress, surprise, surprise, will have to find some middle ground on this to get something through both Houses and signed by the president.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As students in Sandy Hook elementary returned to class, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, nearly killed in a mass shooting two years ago, visited Newtown, Connecticut. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers arrived to begin a new session of Congress, with members in both chambers taking aim at guns.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIFORNIA: This is a fight that the American people are going to have to stand up and stiffen their spine.

JONES: California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein plans to introduce a bill to ban more 100 assault weapons, 8 years after the old ban she championed expired.

Another Senate bill would ban high-capacity magazines, and among nearly a dozen gun bills introduced on day one in the House are efforts to ban online sales of ammunition, and to require background checks for all firearm sales, including at gun shows. Two bills from freshmen Republican congressmen would allow more guns around schools, echoing the position of the National Rifle Association.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NRA: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are better than 32 more gun murders every day.

JONES: Pro gun control groups plan to keep pressing for action, but what are the prospects for their success?

JOHN GRAMLICH, CQ ROLL CALL: If you`re talking about stuff around the edges, like maybe banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, that might be possible. The NRA is the big issue, but I wouldn`t say it`s necessarily on the Republican side only, it`s on the Democratic side also. You have fully half of your new Senate has an either A+, A, or an A- rating from the NRA. So if you want anything to happen on gun control, you`re going to have to have at least half the Senate upsetting the NRA, and so that`s a very difficult proposition.

FEINSTEIN: There is no more uphill fight than this. The question is do we fight or do we knuckle under?

JONES: President Obama says he wants action on gun legislation this year. He`s asked Vice President Biden to lead a task force to come up with recommendations on gun policy. They are expected this month.

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m a U.S. Government agency. I`m part of the Department of Health and Human Services. I`m responsible for protecting the health of people and animals, and I oversee everything from medicines to food to cosmetics.

I`m the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

AZUZ: Chances are you`ve gotten food poisoning at some point. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, one of every six Americans gets sick from something they eat. Part of the Food and Drug Administration`s job is to try to cut down on that as much as possible, so it proposed two new rules Friday that it says could prevent more than a million foodborne illnesses each year. One would be new safety standards for farmers and the fruits and vegetable they grow. For example, they`d have to make sure their water is clean and that animals are kept out of their fields.

The other rule would require companies to have a plan in place to make sure their foods don`t make people sick, and for dealing with outbreaks if they do happen. There is a downside here, costs for farmers and businesses could go up, and that could mean higher food prices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes to Mr. Lund`s classes at Wallace Junior Senior High School in Wallace, Idaho.

Which of these countries has the lowest literacy rate among women? If you think you know it, then shout it out. Is it Pakistan, Kenya, Jamaica or Saudi Arabia? You`ve got 3 seconds, go.

In Pakistan, an estimated 40 percent of women know how to read and write, by far the lowest percentage of those countries. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: Malala Yousafzai is a 15-year-old who wants to change that. You heard us talk about her last year when she was attacked for promoting girls education rights in Pakistan. On Friday, Malala went home, a temporary home in the United Kingdom, where she`s been in the hospital. She has her family there with her, and doctors say she`s doing better, though after wounds to her head and neck, she has a long road ahead, and more surgery scheduled within the next month. Malala`s work and survival have already gotten international attention centered on women`s education rights in Pakistan. The country`s government says it will protect her if she decides to go back.

Until a few years ago, you wouldn`t have found a woman serving aboard a U.S. Navy submarine. It just wasn`t allowed. The rule changed in 2009 and some of the first women who were chosen to do it said it wasn`t tougher because they were women; it was tougher because of the training. We`re going to dive a little deeper on what it`s like to serve the country underwater.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s a new frontier for female sailors. Submerged for months, no sun, no space, no sleep.

LT. JG MARQUETTE LEVEQUE, U.S. NAVY: (inaudible) dive.

LAWRENCE: Lieutenant Junior Grade Marquette Leveque is one of the first women to qualify for submarine duty.

(on camera): Was it everything you expected?

LEVEQUE: I got a lot less sleep than I imagined I would.

LAWRENCE (voice over): We met Leveque a few years ago when she went by her maiden name, Reid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marquette Jay Reid (ph)

LAWRENCE: She was a cadet at the naval academy when the Pentagon opened sub duty to women.

LEVEQUE: At the time, I was flying. I was a pilot. Selected to be a pilot after graduation.

LAWRENCE: Leveque decided her future was under the water, not soaring above it. And she wasn`t afraid of breaking a barrier.

LEVEQUE: I see us being just like our male counterparts, and I think that we`ll be accepted the same way.

LAWRENCE: Leveque earned her dolphin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, great job.

LAWRENCE: A gold chest device that means she`s mastered submarine operations.


LEVEQUE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been a long time coming, right?


LAWRENCE: It took a year of nuclear training, three more months at submarine officer school.

LEVEQUE: Dive (inaudible) two five zero feet.

LAWRENCE: And then her first sea tour.

LEVEQUE: It`s a huge honor to finally really feel like I`m a part of the submarine community.

LAWRENCE: In fact, Leveque is one of only three women to qualify as unrestricted line officers. That`s big, because it means down the road she would be eligible to one day assume command of a nuclear powered sub. And it`s pretty clear that whenever war is waged under water, women are going to be a part of that fight.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


AZUZ: You folks in band might like this. Before we go, if your washing machine is rocking, it`s usually a sign that the clothes in it are unbalanced. This one just rocks.


AZUZ: What do you say about this? He`s 10 years old, has a great sense of rhythm, and totally rocked YouTube by making his washing machine his drum kit. No hum-drum performance there. I played drums in middle and high school. He would have totally taken me to the cleaners. It`s not that I washed out, it would just be hard to keep up rhythm. CNN STUDENT NEWS will tap back into the news cycle tomorrow. Hope to see you then.