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Slimmed-Down Stimulus Plan Vote; Suffering without Baseball; Biden Unveils Tax Policy; Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Trials; California has 25 Wildfires Burning. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 09:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a vote tomorrow it looks like on a much more narrow stimulus bill.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Manu Raju is on The Hill.

Manu, given the distance between Republicans and Democrats on this, does this Republican bill go anywhere? And, if not, what are the chances of a deal before the election?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very slim at the moment. The chances of it passing the chamber are virtually nil. This bill is really designed to get Republicans in line. What the Republican leadership is doing behind the scenes is trying to get at least 51 of their members -- of their 53 member Republican conference behind this bill because they want to create an election year argument and say they are for this plan and they're pointing at Democrats for blocking what they believe are consensus items. Of course it requires 60 votes in the Senate to advance.

Now this bill, of course, comes in the aftermath of the Republicans putting forward a $1 trillion plan. Mitch McConnell did in July. That bill didn't even come up for a vote because Republicans revolted. So, behind the scenes, they are offering a plan, toughly $500 billion, half that amount. It includes $300 in weekly jobless benefits. The Democrats, of course, want $600. It includes an extension for the payment -- Paycheck Protection Program, those small business loans.

And it also includes liability protections for businesses, which is a key priority of Mitch McConnell to protect schools, health care workers, et cetera, from lawsuits.

A number of flashpoints with Democrats and, of course, far short of what Democrats want, which is at least $2.2 trillion in the next round of stimulus here, guys.

HARLOW: So, Manu, the fact that we have been -- I mean it has been a month -- over a month, right, since the last round of unemployment topped up unemployment benefits ended and you have so many people struggling and minorities struggling more. This new Goldman Sachs survey showed that black owned small businesses, 43 percent of them say they're going to run out of cash reserves by the end of the year if Congress doesn't act this month.

Do you get the sense that members of Congress understand how dire it is?

RAJU: Yes, members certainly do, but they just don't have any agreement about what should be accomplished. Some Republicans don't think any other stimulus is needed. They think more -- just open up the economy and they can get -- the economy can come roaring back. Others want a significant intervention into the economy. And, of course, you're hearing what the Democrats are pushing as well.

But there's so many things in this bill that are not in this bill that Democrats want. One of the big flash points, of course, $1 trillion that the Democrat wants for state and local governments. The Republican plan essentially silent on that. So a number of issues that they just are unlikely to resolve before November.



SCIUTTO: Well, a shame for a lot of Americans waiting for help.

Manu Raju, thanks very much.

The home of the Little League World Series is, like so many American communities, taking a major economic hit after coronavirus forced officials to cancel the tournament for the first time in nearly 75 years.

HARLOW: Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is expected to lose millions.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more on the huge financial impact on this one town.


GABE SINICROPI, VP OF MARKETING, WILLIAMSPORT CROSSCUTTERS: This is the first year in 95 years that a game of baseball wasn't played in this stadium.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A summer without baseball in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is like ripping the city's identity apart.

SINICROPI: There would be about 40 players here in any given year.

YURKEVICH: But baseball was no match for a pandemic, forcing cancellations of the minor league Crosscutters season, a Major League Baseball game and the Little League World Series, all held in Williamsport.

SINICROPI: It's been a weird summer for those of us in sports where sports take place during those months, but it's been a weird summer for everybody. YURKEVICH: Williamsport is the largest city within a 55 mile radius,

surrounded by rural countryside. There were fewer than 250 confirmed Covid-19 cases among 28,000 residents. But the economy has not escaped unscathed. For the first time in its nearly 75-year history, the Little League World Series was canceled, an estimated $40 million loss to businesses.

STEPHEN KEENER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES INTERNATIONAL: It just kind of broke our hearts to have to -- have to cancel it and knowing that it was going to cause them some additional economic pain as well.


YURKEVICH: And just days after launching a new flight from Williamsport to Charlotte, North Carolina, last month, American Airlines said it was suspending it.

MAYOR DEREK SLAUGHTER (D), WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA: The regional airport, ten counties, about half a million people. So we definitely need that reliable air service if we're going to, you know, come back economically from Covid.

YURKEVICH: Unemployment in this county is now 13.3 percent, higher than the national average. Job losses are everywhere. Four of the Crosscutters six fulltime employees are furloughed and it's worst for seasonal workers.

SINICROPI: Upwards of 90 people don't have those -- didn't have those summer jobs that they usually would depend on during those months.

YURKEVICH: And then there's permanent layoffs. Fifteen teachers now out of a job at Clear Sphere Yoga.


We're down at least a third of our students and so we decided to close.

YURKEVICH: They're one of the first in the city to go. And with no government funding, they couldn't survive.

ROUP: I think there was a lot of uncertainty in the winter. And without the ability to pay finances here, we just couldn't -- couldn't sustain that.

YURKEVICH: Small businesses are the heartbeat of America, but particularly in small communities around the country like Williamsport.

SLAUGHTER: We have to make sure people are able to sustain their livelihood and that folks aren't losing their homes, their businesses. I know that's the story throughout the country and it's no different here in Williamsport.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YURKEVICH: And this field right behind me is where the Little Leagues World Series was supposed to have been played. Now, Williamsport is unique in the sense that its economy is directly tied to baseball, but it's not unique in the sense that it represents many small towns and cities across America who have had to cancel events, who are losing out on summer tourism that's so critical to their economy.

And, Jim and Poppy, it really illustrates that no matter how rural of a place or how few Covid cases there are, there's almost no where that is except from the economic pain of this coronavirus.

Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: There really isn't and your piece displays that.

Vanessa, thanks a lot for the reporting.

Meantime, Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden has just released his new proposal for promotes American manufacturing and jobs.

SCIUTTO: Yes, a tax plan, series of executive proposals he's proposing.

CNN's MJ Lee joins us now with the details.

MJ, walk us through, what would it mean for average Americans, rich Americans, what does it look like?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today will mark the first time that Joe Biden returns to Michigan really ever since the pandemic slowed down a lot of in-person campaigning and the overarching theme is going to be the economy and particularly the issue of manufacturing. Biden is trying to promote this made in America agenda. And you're right, he is putting out a series of new proposals, including new taxes on American companies that send jobs overseas. This includes an offshoring penalty tax. There's also a tax credit that is offered to companies that create jobs in the United States. So really this is a penalizing and rewarding companies depending on whether they keep jobs in the United States or send them abroad. And he is also proposing a number of executive orders to help the production and purchasing of American products.

Now, all of this comes as we have heard President Trump, over the last couple of weeks, try to paint this very rosy picture of the economic recovery. And what the Biden campaign is betting on is that there are many voters out there who simply do not see that as their reality. So those are the kinds of voters in particular that Joe Biden will try to connect with, particularly in this very important battleground state.

And I will tell you, just speaking to Biden aides the last couple of days, when you ask them about just the state of the 2020 race, they will say, you know, after the Republican Convention and the Democratic Convention, they see the race as being relatively stable and they feel like even though Republicans have tried to turn the focus to law and order, they feel pretty strongly that the economy and the pandemic remain the top issues for a lot of voters out there. Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: We will see.

MJ Lee, thanks so much.

We should note that tomorrow on CNN, Joe Biden will sit down with our colleague, Jake Tapper, for an exclusive interview. Don't miss "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER," 4:00 Eastern Time, right here only on CNN.

HARLOW: Well, critical phase three trials of Russia's coronavirus vaccine, those begin today. Experts around the world still urging caution. Remember, they're allowing people to already take this vaccine before the trials are done. We'll have more ahead.



SCIUTTO: In Russia, phase three clinical trials for that country's coronavirus vaccine begin today. This is where they test it among thousands of people to make sure it's safe.

HARLOW: Right. And what's different here and so interesting is that although the critical phase of trials is just beginning, Russia, as we've reported, has been distributing this vaccine to the general public should they like to take it despite safety concerns and questions.

Let's go to our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He joins us in Moscow this morning.

Matthew, where are you?


I'm actually at a hospital in the center of Moscow. It's called hospital number two. And it's one of the places that's been identified by the Russian authorities as where they're going to start sort of implementing those really crucial phase three human trials.


There are 40,000 people that the Russians say they want to get on board with those trials. So far we've seen one person be vaccinated here this morning. And this is the first day, remember, of those human trials, those third phase human trials getting underway. So they've got a long way to go, 39,999.

We're waiting now for somebody else to come in to get vaccinated as well. But, you know, obviously the timing on this, you know, it's obviously a slow, kind of a bureaucratic process. It's actually taking place at other centers around Moscow and around the country as well. There are big concerns about this Russian vaccine about whether it's

safe, about whether it's effective. And, you know, what's -- that's why you have phase three trials in the first place, of course.

But what's different in Russia is, of course, that this vaccine that Russia is giving people already, even outside of these trials, has been approved before the trials have finished. So front line workers like doctors and teachers are able to get this vaccine as well.

We've spoken to lots of those kinds of people in those kinds of jobs and there's not been a great deal of pickup on the government's initiative to get vaccinated early, to protect them from Covid-19, because the vaccine has been fast tracked. There is a sort of deep sense of mistrust among many people that we've spoken to about whether it's safe enough for them to take.

Nevertheless, these trials are going ahead. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is the sovereign wealth fund in this country, which has been financially backing the vaccine research, has announced this morning that Mexico has ordered 32 million doses of Sputnik V (ph), the Russian vaccine as they've -- as they've dubbed it, and the RDIF says that they're expecting lots more orders to come in from around the world in the days and in the weeks ahead.

Poppy and Jim, back to you.

SCIUTTO: Matthew chance there as they're giving it out in Russia.

Well, more than 2 million acres have been scorched across California and just one of the recent 25 wildfires in the states is now burning an area roughly the size of Central Park in New York City every 30 minutes. The scale is amazing. We'll get a view from the ground.



SCIUTTO: Well, dozens of wildfires are burning up and down the West Coast. I'm sure you've seen some of the pictures. It's just harrowing. At least 25 ravaging parts of California, north and south. Extreme heat and strong winds continue to fuel them. At least 2.2 million acres. So many homes have burned across the state.

HARLOW: Well, the Creek Fire in central California is burning an area roughly the size of Central Park right here in New York City every 30 minutes just to give you some perspective on this.

Colonel Jesse Miller from the California National Guard joins us to discuss this morning.

Thank you for being here, but to you and your entire team for the effort that you guys are putting in around the clock. We know you are.

You look at the rate that that fire is burning. You look at the North Complex Fire in northern California burning about 1,000 acres every 30 seconds. Can you talk about what is making it so difficult this year in particular to get a handle on these?

COL. JESSE MILLER, CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD: Yes. Well, thank you, Poppy and Jim, for having us this morning.

Well, it's -- Mother Nature has brought a lot to bear here in California this year. The combination of temperatures, record temperatures, high temperatures, low humidity, dynamic wind conditions and the drought that had been present in northern California for the last year have all combined to make this one of the most challenging, perhaps the most challenging wildfire season California's ever seen.


SCIUTTO: So put this into context so folks know because I think folks who don't live there say, well, I see this happen every year. It seems to be getting worse.

I mean do we know what is making every year seem to break the previous years' records, right? I mean is climate change a factor? What can we learn from this?

MILLER: Well, certainly, and my our -- my commander in chief here in California, Governor Newsom, has spoken about the deleterious effects of climate change on our state and it's a real factor here. Obviously, human migration and patterns in the state are factors, as well. It's a populous state, lots of visitors, lots of activity. So there is a cost and things we need to be careful of to make sure that California's safe.


HARLOW: We have -- we have seen, Colonel, the harrowing videos this week of people being rescued, some by boat, some airlifted, completely trapped and surrounded by flames in places and at moments they certainly did not expect that this could happen.

What is your message to anyone who may be going out -- a lot of them have been campers, for example -- so that they can be safe and protected and not -- not get stuck in a situation like this?

MILLER: Well, it's important that all of us maintain situational awareness and think about where we're traveling, where we're conducting recreation. The sheriff's department in Fresno and Madera County and Fresno P.D. are also part of the team that helped save all those campers in that area because they actually hiked out and moved out into the wilderness to warn folks, but we would just like to encourage folks to, you know, think before you travel. Plan ahead and make sure you leave plenty of time because the highway networks are impacted.


Smoke quality, visibility conditions. You just need to be careful out there.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Are you getting the help you need from the federal government here? I've seen a lot of accounts of a shortage, for instance, of firefighters, right? But are you getting the money and support you need nationally it fight these fires?

MILLER: Well, the National Guard rite large has tremendous capability and resources and California has reached outside of its network to its partner states and is receiving enormous help already and from National Guard Bureau. So, for example, Idaho and Utah have had providing bucket aircraft to support us in the wildland firefighting operation. In some sense, California, as a military and National Guard, has been more ready than ever because of our Covid mitigation efforts. And we've been on mission since late March and the federal government has been helping fund our military operations under the control of Governor Newsom.

So we've kind of had the help from both sides, funding from the federal government for our personnel and Covid mitigation efforts and now from our sister and brother states across the country providing us aircraft and pilots and personnel to help in the fight against the fires.

I'm sure we'll need more help. This is a historic fire season. But so far it's been really heartwarming, the support that we've been given from the other national guards across the country.

SCIUTTO: Listen, we send you best wishes and just thanks for the hard work you do. And we know you're working through the night here and a lot of folks working for you, risking their lives to do so. Keep it up. We're thinking about you.

MILLER: Thank you so much for having me.

SCIUTTO: Colonel Jesse Miller.

And we'll be right back.