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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The Coronavirus Stimulus Deal; Health Care Workers Reuse Masks As Patients Crowd Facilities; Tx Lt Gov: Grandparents Willing To Die To Save The Economy. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 24, 2020 - 12:30   ET



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Nineteen is for the future. But I mean, it's not changing policy, except as it applies here.

So again, many of the provisions in there have been greatly improved because of negation.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me ask you about that because I'm sure you heard the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor today, he's talked about it before saying that what you and the House have been asking for, and maybe even some Democrats in the Senate are, you know, things on your wish list. For example, they say that you asked for imposing new emission standards and carbon offsets on airlines, which is something that is in the Democratic wheelhouse --


BASH: -- that something that you would want in a perfect world, but not appropriate today. What's your response?

PELOSI: Well, I do think that there's a whole concern in our country that if we're giving tens of billions of dollars to the airlines that we could at least have a shared value about what happens to the environment.

But that is a, you know, that is an excuse not a reason for Senator McConnell go forward. Some of the other issues like not fully extending family medically not funding food stamps, I hope that will all change in the next few hours.

But there are issues that are central to the well-being of America's families of children being, the school close, and some kids get their food at school. So we need to beef up what we're doing in food stamps. So far, they have not agreed to that.

But again, let us negotiate this, not on T.V., but in weighing of that for ECS (ph). I say to my colleagues, remember, we are not -- we don't have the White House and we don't have the Senate. But we've made tremendous progress in this legislation much of what we have in our bill is reflected in this supposedly group what we've seen so far. We have more we'd like to do, some of it we can save for another day.

BASH: OK. So it sounds like you're -- I'm you're signaling compromise here on some of those things that you put out there in the list.

PELOSI: Well, no, we're not giving up on them. But one of the most important issues to the American people is the safety of our workers and our first responders and emergency responder that they go into a dangerous situation, an infected situation without the proper personal protective equipment.

We also -- so we have good amount of money in the bill, and all the bills we've done to make sure that that is possible. However, we also want rules, a rule to govern what is expected of a business in this highly content -- whatever you want to call it, infectious atmosphere.

So again, there's not anything that'll go away. But I do think it is reflection that American people's concern that our heroes, our nobility, or our healthcare providers and first responders who are responding to this, really in some cases to the detriment of their own personal safety.

BASH: Madam Speaker, I just want to translate something that you said earlier, you said you want to do this by unanimous consent.

Pelosi: Yes.

BASH: And in a non-congressional terms, am I reading your right to say that what you are hoping is that there is an agreement to the point where you do not have to bring House members back that you can just approve this by voice vote, is that your goal is?

PELOSI: Well, what I'm saying is that we want to do it as soon as possible. The best way to do that as soon as possible is to have agreement on the legislation. We're not just doing you see, to get anything done. We're doing you see, to make the biggest possible difference in the shortest period of time and the most scientifically based way to meet the --

BASH: What your goal is to get to the point where you reach everything you just said. And then the Senate passes the bill in the House, because you all are not -- I mean, you're there in the Capitol, but members are back in their districts, they're not there.

PELOSI: That's right.

BASH: Your goal is given the situation where we are is to avoid members of Congress getting on planes to fly back if that is possible.

PELOSI: Well, if they -- that's not -- the point is getting the job done. If you can't reach unanimous consent, then I would hope we could come to a place where we would have a voice -- a vote that is a voice vote where there's not a recorded vote. If we can't get to that, there are other options that our chairman of the Rules Committee put forth, whether it's pairing, which has some precedent in the House and proxy voting which has precedent only in committees. But to get into -- and then of course, remote voting, which we're not prepared for, but we should use the best advances of technology to see how we can address it. It still has a constitutional challenge because the Constitution says we have to be present in voting in the Capitol.


But again, right now, what we're trying to do is work on the substance of this legislation so that we can quickly come to agreement where we can have unanimous consent. It's a $2 trillion bill. That's a big piece of legislation. And we, again, we want to handle it in recognition of the urgency. But with the care that is required to make sure that it delivers as quickly as possible, whether it's the checks or the benefits to the workers.

BASH: I understand that. I want to ask you about some signals that the President has been sending both yesterday at his briefing and today on Twitter, that he's hearing clearly from some Conservatives saying, that the cure cannot be worse than the problem, meaning, the signal is that he could start to open up the economy again because there is a lot of pressure on him to do that.

The flip side, I'm sure you've seen, Liz Cheney, a top Republican in the House, has tweeted effectively that that's not a good idea. Where do you stand? And more importantly, what is your message to the President about the timeframe here and what should lead here the economy or health care?

PELOSI: Well, there doesn't have to be a contradiction there. Our economy will thrive when our people are well and able to go back to work in groups and collaborate on the enthusiasms that they have in their entrepreneurial spirit or in the workplace that they thrive and our children can go back to school. But central to all of that is stopping the spread of the disease -- of the coronavirus.

It's central to that. So I don't have time to follow people's tweets, Twitter's whatever, tweets, so don't expect me to comment on them.

BASH: Well, even beyond Twitter, the President of the United States --

PELOSI: I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. You know what, I don't care.

BASH: What is your opinion on that?

PELOSI: My opinion is that it is not scientific base. And so his notion mongering as he does almost every day. So rather than waste any time or commenting on the President, I would rather spend our time focusing on the fact that any president or anybody with responsibility should be scientifically inclined evidence-based data, what is going to make the difference?

I think the cure is the biggest message of hope that is out there. We have the best minds in the country 24/7, all hands on deck trying to find a path here. And that is what will be the light at the end of the tunnel. But the President is suggesting is that light at the end of the tunnel could be a train coming at us if people are out and about in a way that spreads the disease further.

But I'm not here to pick a fight with a President. We're here to get a job done with this legislation. And don't want to waste any energy on his tweets. I mean, I think that if he listened to the scientists, if he listened in the beginning to the gravity of the problem instead of minimizing it, if he if he hadn't fired that people at national -- well, you know, there's so many what ifs.

Let's save that for later. Right now we have to focus on getting the job done for the American people. And with all due respect to the fact that he's the President of United States and I respect the office he holds. I just, I'm too busy to be bothered about his tweets. And that's just the way it is.

BASH: I understand. Madam Speaker, I know that you have worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci for many years. He has advised Congress. He's advised presidents of both parties for a long time. He wasn't at the press conference yesterday, and there is some concern among some that he -- although the President had been listening to him very intently that that might be changing for whatever reason. What is your view on that especially given how well you know, Dr. Fauci?

PELOSI: Well, Dr. Fauci, has been a tremendous scientific and intellectual resource to the country, to the Congress for sure. President George Herbert Walker Bush said, he was a hero. I agree with that. I've had him on a pedestal for a long time.

I was concerned at the beginning of this dilemma of that the President was either not hearing from the scientist or wasn't listening to the scientist. And now that Dr. Fauci is more vocal, I understand has been more vocal, I can't talk about the dynamic in the White House.

But I can say this, scientists and doctors around the country are saying there is a way to stop this and you cannot be communal. You'll have to stay in and for the President to make light of that is if it's like, well so what, some people will die, but the economy will grow. No, you hurt the economy if more people are sick.


And so again, we always advocated for -- and I don't want this to be in any way partisan, it shouldn't be. We offer -- we advocated for government wide, science-based, evidence-based approach to this. Again, it's about science and knowledge and evidence. It's not about notion mongering about a notion that doesn't even rise to the level of an idea.

So again, let's not -- we have plenty of time later to do an after action review about what should have happened when if only, if only, if only. My own granddaughter said to me, why do you keep talking about if only, let's just talk about what you're doing next. And she's 10 years old. So we want to talk about what we do next.

But what we do next cannot be complicated by some more, if only is coming out of the White House. But again, we are in Congress working in a bipartisan way to get this job done in a way that, again, has immediate relief, a relief to the workers and families in the rest of all affected, but also in a way that grows the economy, because that's in everyone's interest as well.

BASH: Madam Speaker, I know how busy you are. I really appreciate your time today, bringing us all up to speed. And we all wish you, your fellow Republicans, everybody they're locked and helping guide us through this. Thank you so much.

PELOSI: Thank you so much. Thank you.

BASH: And, John, I'm going to toss it back to you.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Notion mongering. That's a new one. I haven't heard that before from the Speaker of the House as he tries to work through this. Dana Bash, appreciate that very much.

BASH: Thank you.

KING: Fantastic time with the Speaker there. We'll watch as it plays out.

Up next for us here, as the New York Governor says, he has 26,000 ventilators short, we get another sober look for medical professional out there on the frontlines across America.



KING: More science today of the dire situation for hospitals across the United States, many pleading for donations, medical supplies, and you see donations, people responding, sending in gear, gowns, masks, volunteers are sewing them together. It's amazing. It's remarkable to see. They say it's a small way to say thanks to those on the frontlines of this crisis. Among those showing gratitude is the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This is the governor short time ago.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: They are doing God's work. Can you imagine the nurses who leave their homes in the morning, who kiss their children goodbye, go to a hospital, put on gowns, deal with people who have the coronavirus? They're thinking all day long, oh my god, I hope I don't get this. Oh my god, I hope I don't get this and bring this home to my children. You want to talk about extraordinary individuals.


KING: Let's have a conversation now with Rick Lucas. He's a rapid response nurse at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center also president of the Ohio State University Nurses Organization. Rick, Ohio stopped elective surgeries, your hospitals restricted visitors like so other many other facilities. Tell us about today on the frontlines and especially in terms of the supply lines of your protective gear is today better than yesterday and last week or things getting worse? RICK LUCAS, RAPID RESPONSE RN, OHIO STATE WEXNER MEDICAL CENTER: You know nurses here are definitely worried about the shortage PPE. We're at a point now where we're signing out one mask a day. And we have to keep that same mask all day, unless it's soiled with blood or something else and then we can go sign out another mask.

The shortage of PPE and the reuse is a major concern for nurses here. There are many changes on the supply chain that may make people feel very uneasy and actually sometimes delay the delivery of PPE to nurses on the frontline.

KING: But to help somebody who doesn't understand your professions watching, understand what that means, if you get one mask a day, how many patients are you encountering and how many in a perfect world if you had a full supply and you weren't worried about next week or next month, how many would you go through?

LUCAS: So most nurses have two to three patients depending on the acuity of the patient. And so each time they would go in and out of a room, they would discard the mask and get a clean mask. And they're reusing the same mask patient to patient. And then the nurses actually help each other. So you could be wearing the same mask into the same room for six or seven different patients.

KING: And that's putting your health at risk, correct?

LUCAS: Right. These masks are designed for a single use. And so reusing them over and over is, it puts everyone at risk.

KING: And what are you being told by your supervisors about, is -- that going to continue for days, weeks, maybe longer, do they know?

LUCAS: And definitely, as far as we know, we're hearing from the state government that there's a shortage of supply from the federal government that everybody's vying for the same PPE. So there's definitely a shortage.

KING: What does that do to morale at work obviously, and you are, let me say it straight up, you are the heroes of this pandemic, people who are leaving their own families behind with considerable stress, I'm guessing at home and their friends as well and going into work every day, now with a shortage of mask to protect you and we need you in this fight as long as you can be in this fight. What does that do to morale at work?


LUCAS: So what the CDC announcing that, you know, in a shortage where there are no masks for staff to wear bandanas and we have people in the community making homemade mask, which is -- which really means a lot to us, that's not PPE. Those devices are unknown, what level of protection they provide for folks.

So what we would rather see is everyone to put down your sewing machines, and call our elected officials and put pressure on them to get us the PPE we need now. KING: And lastly, so to that point, call your elected officials. When you hear the President, the people at the White House say we don't need to use our full authorities, we don't need to use the Defense Production Act which most Americans probably doesn't know exist, wartime power to order a factory to produce this many masks, do this as quickly as you can because colleagues companies they say are coming forward and volunteering. Are you confident that will work?

LUCAS: We've heard reports of a few companies stepping up. And we're very thankful for that. Implementing the Defense Protection Act without trigger production is like downloading a food delivery app on your phone and patting yourself on the back for solving world hunger. We need to see real action now. And we can't wait until we're in the midst of a crisis and not have what we need.

KING: Rick Lucas, I want to thank you for joining us today. But most importantly, I want to thank you for what you're doing every day in Ohio to help people get through these trying times. I really appreciate your perspective and your good cheer. Come back and see us as we go through this. And hopefully that situation gets better for you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir.

The Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick also raising eyebrows after saying he's willing to risk his own health and others of his own age by lifting social distancing rules to boost the teetering economy. Patrick, who turns 70 years old next week is of course among the high risk population that could be most affected by coronavirus. Seniors face a higher risk of severe illness from this virus. But the Texas Republican says grandparents like himself, a lot of them would be willing to risk their lives to protect the economy.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that's the exchange, I'm all in.

My message is that, let's get back to work. Let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it. And those of us who are 70 plus, we'll take care of ourselves, but don't sacrifice the country.


KING: Ron Nierenberg is the mayor of San Antonio, Texas and joins us now. Mayor, you have a stay at home work safe order for the 1.5 million people in your city to slow the spread of the virus. When you hear the Lieutenant Governor say things like that. What's your reaction?

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG (I- SAN ANTONIO, TX): Good to be with you John. And you know, it's easy for someone of power and privilege to say something so careless. But what Dan Patrick is coming to learn is something that most Americans have known for a long time, which is that a single health event can become catastrophic.

I would tell you as Mayor of San Antonio, I'm not willing to sacrifice any one of my residents, let alone those workers who are on the frontlines of this battle, the healthcare workers, or the hundred thousand plus veterans in this community who are older Americans who have served this country. It's time that we step up and serve them.

KING: Does it make it harder when you say you need to stay at home order in place in your city, when you have others in authority, we see sometimes this in Washington where the President of the United States says something, then the public health professionals have to come forward and contradict the President maybe politely or maybe carefully. But the President says one thing and they have to say another.

When you're a mayor, trying to convince your residents social distance, only God side if you need to, please stay at home, please help me and you have other public officials people in authority in your own state giving a more relaxed message. Does that hurt?

NIRENBERG: You know, it certainly sends a mixed message. But what I will tell you is that San Antonio residents like urban Texas residents are compassionate. They understand the importance of service. They know what the frontline folks on the healthcare side and the first responders are dealing with. And we want to cooperate. And they see what's happening in other parts of the country and across the world when we don't work together.

So I've been working with the mayors and the county judges in other parts of the state to make sure that in the event of inaction from our state or federal government, we're going to make sure that we protect our residents.

KING: And you're a smaller city, obviously, we're watching New York City, the epicenter right now, the governor of New York saying today they're the canary in the coal mine. What are you seeing, and I know it's too early to have science behind this, are you certain, are you convinced that your stay at home restrictions will work, and what are you seeing in the ground, your hospitals there?

NIRENBERG: Well, we are, you know, we're in good shape right now in terms of where we are with hospital capacity. But the reason why we want to have an early preventative action, like the other major cities in Texas is because, you know, our community spread has just begun.


And we know early action is best. We want to preserve the hospital capacity, the healthcare workers who need the PPE. And we expect the numbers to go up because Texas has just begun to start rolling tests. And that's critically important to get an assessment of where we are with this disease.

But we expect to be aggressive to remain swift with the action. And we're going to do everything we can to get through this as quickly and as effectively as possible.

KING: Mr. Mayor, grateful for your time and we wish you the best of luck in the days and weeks and months ahead as everyone tries to wrap their arms around this. Appreciate your joining us today. I know you're busy.

NIRENBERG: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you, sir. Take care.

Up next for us as the White House considers options that would send people back to work. The New York Governor there says, the curve is not flattening, the caseload getting higher. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage after a quick break. Have a good day.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar and this is CNN's continuing special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.


A dire projection in New York today delivered by Governor Andrew Cuomo saying, his cases are doubling every three days. He says, the curve is getting --