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Cuomo Prime Time

Trump's Election Lies Spark Surge As State Legislatures Move To Make It Harder To Vote; CDC Director: Recent Progress On COVID-19 Could Be Wiped Out By Variants, Easing Restrictions; Progressive House Democrats Pressuring VP Harris To Overrule Senate Parliamentarian In Nixing Wage Hike From Relief Bill. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 01, 2021 - 21:00   ET



RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, it's a while off before there'd be electoral consequences for that vote to convict.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it, thanks.

A reminder, don't miss "FULL CIRCLE," our digital news show. You can catch it streaming live, 6 P.M. Eastern,, or watch it there, and on the CNN app, and on-demand anytime.

News continues right now. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, appreciate you, Coop. Thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Before we start tonight, let me say something that I'm sure is very obvious to you, who watch my show. And thank you for that. You're straight with me. I'll be straight with you.

Obviously, I'm aware of what's going on with my brother. And obviously, I cannot cover it, because he is my brother. Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively. And they will continue to do so. I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.

There's a lot of news going on that matters also. So let's get after that.

This Convention, over the weekend, was more like a coven. There were all kinds of wicked notions of how to avenge Trump's loss, notions of how to punish those in the party, who are not already on bended knee. The key to this commitment is changing what happened on January 6.

Now, as I've said here many times, and I know you all agree, January 6th, must forever live in infamy. No one can be allowed to change the reality of it, certainly not for political convenience. And that is what we are seeing on the Right. Five people were killed. Two officers took their lives afterwards. And

more than 140 in law enforcement were injured, even maimed. And there is one reason why. This.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it.




CUOMO: This is a lie. It is the same lie that nearly led to the death of our democracy on January 6th.

Now, Trump will never change. He only knows how to burn things down. This is about who and what remains. And once again, his party sits silent, and the silence supports his sickness.

You heard Mitch McConnell last week, after saying that a criminal prosecution may be an option for Trump's riling up of a mob, and lying to them, that even he will back Trump, if he's the nominee again in 2024.

Now, look, that is McConnell's right. But it is not right for anyone to lie about the worst attack on our democracy, just to make things OK for Trump and his co-conspirators.

Another example, Nikki Haley, remember her, former ambassador to the U.N., maybe the next wave of hope for that party's future?

Remember, a couple of weeks ago, she was quoted saying "Trump went down a path he should not have. We should not have followed him. And we can't let that ever happen again."

Now, since then, we get to CPAC, the coven, and Nikki Haley praises Trump's address that you just heard, and it being littered with dangerous lies. "Strong speech by President Trump," she says "about the winning policies of his administration and what the party needs to unite behind moving forward."

That means that Nikki Haley thinks it is right to unite behind the idea that Trump won the election, and to show no remorse for sending a violent mob, to help him overthrow our democracy.

She also says there's not going to be any GOP Civil War, after hearing Trump literally rattle-off an enemies list for her party to excommunicate because they chose country over him. Listen.


TRUMP: Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey.

And, of course, the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney.

Get rid of them all



CUOMO: And that was the abbreviated list. You know who wasn't on it? The insurrectionists, the extremists, who now radicalize in his name.

The rot on the Right is that January 6, was done by Antifa, Left-wing agitators. Now, a dozen of those charged, in connection with the attack, say Antifa had nothing to do with this. There is no evidence otherwise, that is compelling to any degree.

They are also trying to pin this on Nancy Pelosi, whom some in the mob were hunting to assassinate that day. Even Trump is now blaming Pelosi for a lack of security, over on hate TV, and lying about his actions on that day.


TRUMP: Well, that's incorrect reporting. First of all, I wasn't watching TV. I turned it on later on when I heard about it, and did a lot of moves. You know, we said to the Department of Defense, the top person, days before, we had the rally, because that rally was massive.

And I said that I think he should have 10,000 - I think I gave the number, I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen.

They took that number, from what I understand. They gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi, and I heard they rejected it, because they didn't think it would look good.


CUOMO: It's just BS. He resisted desperate pleas for help, even from his own guy in the House, Kevin McCarthy.

You saw the reporting from other Republicans who heard the call, who said that McCarthy said, "Look, these are your guys. You got to call them off." And he said, "Well, I guess they care more about the election than you, Kevin."

He was rooting for the rioters. He told them he loved them. And he was still attacking his own vice president, while the mob were hunting him. And the proof that the Right is all in on this ruin is that they echoed Trump's calls to really rig elections going forward.

They want no more mail-in voting, rules that must be changed, to suppress the vote, a staggering 253 bills in states all across the country, designed to make it harder to vote. Compare that to 35 such bills this time last year. Today, it was Georgia, trying to make it harder to even get a ballot.

They're even trying to crack down in places that they won, like Iowa, trying to reduce hours that polls are open fewer days to vote early.

So, we may have a new president now. But these problems are our future, if we don't keep exposing them now, and if there isn't something done to change them.

Let's turn to better minds, Laura Coates, and Michael Smerconish, politics and then legal implications. Thank you both.

Michael, the play here to try to sanitize January 6th, is this going to work, this idea of minimizing the reality to maximize the future?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, in some quarters, it will, because 73 percent of Republicans, according to a Quinnipiac survey, from last month, believe that there was widespread fraud.

I mean, we had record high turnout in this election, 66.8 percent of those eligible. And many of us celebrate that. We think that's a wonderful thing that so many participated. But others shudder at the idea of participation from so many Americans.

And so, now you've got this Rorschach Test. Is it ballot security? Or is it ballot suppression? But as you pointed out, it's directly tied to the events of January 6th, and Republicans are seeking to capitalize on it now, going forward.

CUOMO: Laura, the 253 some odd bills, you've had the Republicans be very effective, winning state legislatures and governorships over the years. This is the fruit of that, right, is that they control states? What do we know about these bills? Let's start there.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, SIRIUSXM HOST, "THE LAURA COATES SHOW," FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, what we know about majority of these bills is, as what Mike was talking about, the idea of understanding what formula works.

If you are in a position of power, and you want to retain power, well one of the ways you can do that is to disenfranchise people, to make sure that they don't have access to the polls, to engage in things that are voter suppressive, like, including voter IDs that really don't get to the heart of addressing some phantom widespread fraud that never existed.


The idea of trying to perpetuate the big lie and the myth by insinuating that fraud is so extensive, and the only way to solve it is to disenfranchise along racial lines, and to go as far as to make sure, with the case of North Carolina, for example, a few years ago, with surgical precision, that you're able to identify those areas or patterns of voting and practices that will lead to disenfranchisement and going precisely that route.

CUOMO: Legally, quick follow to you, Laura, what is the line about where measures might fail on federal review?

COATES: Well, technically, the Supreme Court has not been very kind, in terms of recognizing the idea of voter suppression, as of late.

We know the Shelby County case, where they decided to gut the formula that provided for preclearance, meaning that the Justice Department, given the history of discrimination in certain areas, whether you had less than half of voter turnout in the 1964 election, or you had a literacy test, or voting test, on record, around that same time, they were able to get the - they had to get the pre-authorization for making any election-related change.

But when that went away, even that same day, some jurisdiction said, "You know what? Then let me - let me begin the process of doing all the things I could not have gotten away with, had I had to get the expressed consent of the Department of Justice," because we, I was a member of the voting team there, would have seen right through the actions taken to try to suppress the vote.

It's really not rocket science, what's happening here. It is the idea of using innuendo, using and promoting a false lie of election integrity, to try to do the very things that they did before the Voting Rights Act was ever in existence.

CUOMO: Couple of quick things, Michael? Early voting usually is over- weighted Republican. Now that changed during the Pandemic. But, you can't blame Republicans for not coming out to vote early, when the President kept telling them not to. So, what is the play here, in terms of disenfranchising their own?

SMERCONISH: Well, take a look at my home state of Pennsylvania. We've been living in the Stone Age until the last two years. I never thought that I would see absentee balloting in Pennsylvania without cause.

But as you well know, Chris, what happened on the election, and thereafter, it appeared that the Republicans were ahead, and then all of a sudden here came those ballots that had been cast by mail.

There's now a challenge afoot to take back the right that we Pennsylvanians were given, so that we could vote absentee without cause. It's a great illustration of what we're talking about.

And if I could just piggyback, for a moment, on what Laura said, tomorrow, in the United States Supreme Court, there'll be argument on litigation, from Arizona, that may at least set the parameters as to how these cases are to be evaluated going forward.

And my hope is that there'll be some clear instruction, because I fear what's coming in 2022 and 2024 is a result of what you're raising tonight.

CUOMO: And you know what? This also plays into the politics of the filibuster.

The only way that you will have any federal legislation that opposes these kinds of measures or set some other kind of bar, of course, subject to federal legal review, as well, would be if they get rid of that filibuster. It'll never happen otherwise.

Michael Smerconish, Laura Coates, thank you both very much. Appreciate you.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

COATES: So look, the job is to expose lies, right? So you know when people are falling for lies, because now you can recognize them as a lie, so you think about that when you see this woman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my hope that President Trump comes back as the 19th President.


CUOMO: Now, obviously, she's mistaken. But she did not misspeak. There is a new element. That's why I call it "The rot on the Right," not just because it's alliterative, but it's instructive.

Donie O'Sullivan, this is not a one-off QAnon lady, who found her way into Congress. Conspiracies are becoming a part of conservative orthodoxy, at a fever pitch, leading them to believe that something's supposed to happen this week.

What and why, and the risk, Donie's got it, next.










DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER (on camera): What were your thoughts on the violent insurrection incited by Trump at the Capitol?

"BETH": Oh, my god, that's all such a lie. That was all the Left. We have all the proof. There's tons of proof.

LEIANNE JENKINS FORTMEYER: January 6th was a plan that was pre-planned by the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew that it was pre-organized by Antifa. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): What did you think of what happened on the 6th?

MARK SAVALLA: On the 6th?

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): 6th of January, the violent insurrection?

SAVALLA: Oh, that?

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): What did you think of that?

SAVALLA: That's what you guys call it, "The Insurrection?"

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): What would you call it?

SAVALLA: Well, I call it a movement by the communists to make it look like Trumpers did it. That's what I call it.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): So many Trump supporters arrested on this.

SAVALLA: Well, that's what you guys say. I don't believe that. You prove it to me.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): I mean there's all the indictments.

SAVALLA: I mean, whatever you guys say, I don't believe any of it.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Right.

SAVALLA: To tell you the truth.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): These Trump supporters are in denial about what happened on January 6th, and some believe in QAnon.


CUOMO: It's only getting worse. Trump supporters are still in denial. And in fact, the denial is growing about the election, and the January 6th Insurrection. Just think about that, how wicked that is, to try to use January 6th, to advance a lie.

The conspiracies are wild. But they don't stop where you just heard. Many of the same people believe the former president will come again that he will come back in power in the near future.


Turn to the man you just saw, being brave enough to ask those questions, to people, who aren't always happy to answer them, or to treat the person asking them, in any kind of good way, Donie O'Sullivan.

Good to have you, sir.

O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: You're in strange waters here. The efforts in that Conspiracy community to push the big lie about the election, what do we know now?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, look, QAnon believers are obsessed with this idea that the military is somehow on former president Trump's side. We saw that in the lead up to the Inauguration, when they were convinced that martial law was going to be declared.

And we've seen it now in this - there's a whole idea that Trump might come back on Thursday, on March 4th, and get inaugurated. Some QAnon followers we've been speaking to, are getting the sense of reality that March 4 isn't going to happen, are now pushing it forward to another date.

But some of the people you saw there, I was speaking to, some of them brought up Myanmar, when I spoke to them, last week, in California, and they said, "You know? See what's happening in Myanmar. There's a military coup. That might happen here."

They were cheering on a military coup, which 18 people were killed yesterday, in Myanmar. And they were cheering that on, and wanting to see it happen here in the United States of America. And these are the people - these are the Trump supporters who call themselves "American Patriots."

CUOMO: Yes, I bet they didn't bring up what happened in France with former President Sarkozy, where he was sentenced to jail, for the kind of power-meddling that he was doing.

March 4th, why March 4th? I could see them going with the Ides of March, right, which has already made history in Caesarean lore. But what is that date about?

O'SULLIVAN: So I'll try - I'll try and summarize this crazy for you.

Basically, they believe that the last legitimate U.S. President was Ulysses S. Grant, who was inaugurated on March 4th, his first Inauguration took place. So, some of them believe that Trump is going to come back as the 19th President, the president after Ulysses S. Grant.

Now, don't even ask them did they think Trump's last term was legitimate? That is too much rationale to bring into the situation. So, they've - they've been obsessed with this date for some time.

A lot of QAnon followers haven't bought into this March 4th stuff, but they still believe that Trump is going to come back in some way. And look, I think that's an important point to make is that not all Trump supporters are QAnon followers.

And the people we've spoken to, since the elections, since January 6th, over the past week here, at CPAC, over the weekend, in California, even though they're not - might not be QAnon followers, pretty much everybody has bought into the big lie, the conspiracy theory that the former president continues to perpetuate that he in some way, did not lose the election.

And that big lie, then gives license to so much other ugly stuff, like what we saw on January 6th. And obviously, Chris, you see those people in that piece there. They're talking really nonsense, but they really believe this stuff.

CUOMO: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: And, maybe before January 6th, we would have said, "Ah! That's just rhetoric. That's just stupid." But we can see now that this sort of talk does sometimes lead to violence that leads to action.

CUOMO: Well, we certainly saw it on January 6th!

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you for braving that situation to help us, the rest of us at least take note of it.

All right, a third vaccine is going to start going into arms this week. That is progress. That is good. But along with it, a big warning tonight from the Director of the CDC, on what is threatening to wipe out all the recent gains. What it is and what we can do about it?

An original player, in the Biden plan, to stop COVID, next.









CUOMO: Things are moving in the right direction. Nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated.

Now, when you get the J&J Vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson's single shot, that doesn't have to be kept as cold, when that starts getting delivered, as early as tomorrow morning, the numbers will get higher, faster. Light at the end of the tunnel, true, and that light is no longer the train.

But you can't let up. The case trend speaks for itself. Take a look. Now, for weeks, we've had tumbling cases, why? Well, we were at a peak because of what we did over the holidays.

New infections are on the rise again, about 2 percent more this past week, compared to the previous. Why? The CDC Director spoke to that, and gave a warning, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths. Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.


CUOMO: All right, so you have fatigue, nonchalance.

You also have concerns over vaccine equity, especially with this one- shot wonder, giving it to harder-to-reach communities makes sense, because you only need one shot, so you can get better penetration into those communities. But does it drive the perception of a two-tiered vaccine system?

Let's bring in Bioethicist, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, also Author of "Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?" which is a really good read.

It's good to see you, Doc.


CUOMO: Let's go a little Socratic here.

"You want to send the J&J to the poor communities because it's not as effective. And it's risky then for, for the people you really want to help, so you've given it to the poor communities, and that's what they're afraid of, and they're not going to take it."

EMANUEL: Absolutely false. If I were offered J&J vaccine, I would take it in a heartbeat.


As a matter of fact, this weekend, a friend of mine, from college, emailed me, and says, "I've got to go back into the classroom. I've got a scheduled appointment. If they offer me the J&J vaccine, should I take it?" And I said "Absolutely. Take whatever vaccine they offer."

CUOMO: "But it's only in the 60 percents of efficacy, 66 percent. The other ones were in the 90s."

EMANUEL: That's a - that's not actually the right statistic to look at. You can't compare those studies head-to-head for a whole variety of reasons, one of which is that the J&J vaccine was done during a different time with that variant in South Africa.

I prefer to look at the really important question, why do we want a vaccine? We want a vaccine to prevent us from getting severe illness, hospitalization and death.

And if you look at the study by Johnson & Johnson, no one who got the vaccine died, or was hospitalized, after 28 days. Out of 38,000 people, five people in the placebo arm were hospitalized or died. Now that is very important.

And as a matter of fact, in none of the vaccine studies that anyone who got a vaccine died. Those are the important endpoints that you really care about. And many fewer people in the - who got the Johnson & Johnson had severe COVID, even severe enough to be laid out, but not necessarily hospitalized.


EMANUEL: So, these are important results. And it's - it's those results, I think, people should focus on.

CUOMO: All right, another category of what to believe. So the cases are supposedly coming down, the vaccines are going up, states are starting to open up, everybody's making it a little bit easier to get out there, and live your life, and get the economy going.

Now we hear about this spring surge. And the CDC Director is saying "This is no time to abandon or loosen anything up." Which is it? Everything seems to be going the other way. Now you tell us to be worried about that. What are people supposed to believe?

EMANUEL: Well, last week, some of my colleagues, on the Biden Transition Advisory Board, and I, wrote an Op-Ed in "The New York Times," saying "We should not let up."

We agree with Dr. Walensky, we should not ease-up, allow indoor dining, big groups of more than 25, getting rid of mask mandates. We have to hold on for another two months or three months in this condition.

Remember, we hit the peak - just January 21st was the peak of deaths. And we are down. But we're still having on average 2,000 deaths a day. We cannot become inured to that.

And if we ease up too early, those curves are just going to reverse and go up. And as you pointed out, in your lead-in, they've already begun to sneak up. Why? Because we are relaxing, we're celebrating how good we are.

But having 65,000 cases a day and 2,000 deaths a day is good because we're on the downward part of the curve. But it's not great. It's worse than it was last April.

CUOMO: But do you think that maybe the science has now lost to the social pressure, and the balancing of equities, in the regard of "It's going down. The vaccines are coming up. Only a small fraction die.

The cases seem to be getting better now, because people are having less viral load from mask way, or whatever other myth they believe. And we've had enough. We're not going back. We're only going to go forward."

EMANUEL: Chris, if we were asking people to hang on for another year, right, "Next March! Next March!" I would understand that. But that's not what is that issue.

What is that issue is another couple or three months until we have enough people vaccinated that we can safely phase in more normal life and, by the end of September/October, have a real return to normalcy. That's not too much to ask.

And really what's at stake here, by taking off that mask, by dining indoors, is really thousands of people's lives. That just doesn't seem like a very big burden to save other people's lives and maybe even your own life, if you happen to get COVID and react badly.

CUOMO: What is your chance of selling that message, in a country where 70 percent of 70 million people, who voted for president - former president Trump, believe the election was rigged?

And he was the same one telling them not to wear masks, and they are the ones who see any kind of compliance as weakness, what's the chance of selling this message?

EMANUEL: Chris, that's a good question. But I prefer to see the glass as half full.

If you poll Republicans, they support President Biden's American Rescue Plan. They understand that the country is hurting. They understand that the country needs to get back to full economic production and normalcy.


And the best way to get there, the fastest way to get there, is to adhere to these public health measures, just a couple or three or four more months, so that we don't have to have more severe measures because, again, the virus has gotten out of control.

And I do think a lot of those people who voted for Trump have, you know, they've responded to President Biden's message, to Dr. Walensky's message, to Dr. Fauci's message. And I think they are wearing masks. They are social distancing. They understand the importance.

What we have to do is not have governors quickly say, "Oh, it's getting better. Let's ease up." It's getting better, but it's not where it needs to be. We really need to have the number of cases very, very low, not 65,000 a day.

CUOMO: I appreciate the straight talk. Dr. Zeke Emanuel, thank you very much and be well.

EMANUEL: Thank you. Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

EMANUEL: Terrific night.

CUOMO: Always.

Big week in the Senate, COVID relief package is going to move there. What's going to happen with the minimum wage fight?

For a lot of Democrats, they believe this is how Biden, this is how they got elected. Now, it may seem pointless for Democrats to keep trying to get a pay hike attached to this bill. But what do the numbers show? Are they making the case to the people enough here?

The Wizard of Odds says he's got a story to tell you, next.









CUOMO: You can make the case that Democrats and even Republicans would be smart to keep their focus on the minimum wage issue.

"Why? It's a Lefty issue, isn't it?" No. Voters on the Left and Right, are struggling, and are desperate, and are now hungry. And you see it in the polls. They support it more than they supported Biden, or Trump in the election.

To prove it, The Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, for a look at the numbers.

Good to see you, my friend. Sell me, who says that the minimum wage is popular?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Look, you saw the polls. But forget the polls for a second. I know a lot of you folks don't necessarily trust the polls.

But look at Florida, in this past election, right? There was a $15 minimum wage on the ballot. It got 61 percent of the vote. That was more than either Trump or Biden. And you saw it doing well across the state. In places like Miami-Dade, it got 70 percent of the vote, for instance, a place where Joe Biden struggled for a Democrat.

So, we see it in the actual election results. This is not just some artifact of the polling. We see it in a swing state like Florida, Democrats will be really, really smart to keep pushing a $15 an hour minimum wage.


ENTEN: Why? I'll give you two reasons why. Here are two reasons why. Number one, look at Republicans. I think that this gives you a very good understanding of where their support is for the minimum wage versus where their support is for Joe Biden, look at this.

32 percent of Republicans in a Quinnipiac University poll support a $15 an hour minimum wage. Just 11 percent of them actually approved of Joe Biden's job performance.

How about non-college white voters? Democrats really, really want to make inroads with them. Look at this. Just 33 percent of them approved of Biden in that poll. But 47 percent approved of a $15 minimum wage.

If Democrats actually want to make real divisions in the Republican ranks, and really want to grab those non-college white voters that they've desperately been trying to get back, over the last few election cycles, to me, a $15 minimum wage is the type of issue that I would really be pushing hard, if I were the Democrats in the Senate.

CUOMO: And you know, for you at home, who are just trying to figure this out, and like, "Well, why not $10? Why not $11 and these other," do the numbers on $15 an hour for yourself.

$15 an hour times 40, you know, it'll give you the week, do your 50 weeks, and then you start reducing it by about a 10 percent cut in taxes, and you start netting it down about how you live your life, and look how little money we're talking about here.

And yet, you see a division within the Republican Party because those Florida numbers don't match up with some of the national numbers. What do we know about Republicans on this issue? Are they all of one voice?

ENTEN: No, they're not Chris. And, look, when you look at the United States, and you see so few Senate Republicans supporting it, I have to, you know, I have to wonder whether or not it's because most of the United States senators are wealthier, right?

And what we see among Republican voters, or Republicans nationwide, is it really does depend on their family income. A Pew University - the Pew Research Center put out a poll a few years ago on this, and it really sort of tells you the story, right?

If your family income is $75,000, or more, just 34 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents support a $15 an hour minimum wage.

You jump then down one bracket to $40,000 to $74,000 per year family income, you see the minimum wage, the $15 minimum wage, you see support increase to 41 percent.

Then you go to family incomes less than $40,000 a year, and look at this, a clear majority, 56 percent of Republican and Republican- leaning independents within that group support a $15 an hour minimum wage.

And I really do wonder whether or not this is a situation, where we don't necessarily seeing the minimum wage breaking strictly along partisan lines. And maybe it's the case that a lot of those Republican senators, who are not willing to support that, are not necessarily representing their voters, who, large part make significantly less money than they do.

CUOMO: So, and the proof of your supposition would be in what areas of the country would a raise in the minimum wage, do the most? Bernie Sanders likes to say it's 32 million workers that are affected by this. But where are they?

ENTEN: A lot of them are in the Southern United States. A lot of them are. And we--

CUOMO: More Red states or more Blue states?

ENTEN: More Red states. I mean, if you know, the Southern United States, it's a lot of Red states. And a lot of those voters aren't necessarily Republicans. But just take a look at two states that I really think sort of sell the picture.

Look at Arkansas and look at Missouri, right? What you saw in both of those states, you had ballot measures, back in 2018, for higher minimum wages. They weren't $15. But in Arkansas, for example, they passed an $11 minimum wage. 68 percent of the voters there supported that.


Their senator, Tom Cotton, now just wants a $10 an hour minimum wage federally. I mean that's - that's craziness, right? You saw with the voters in his own state overwhelmingly support it, a very deep Red state like Arkansas, and you do see this split within the Republican ranks, right?

Josh Hawley is actually supporting a $15 minimum wage for big business. And that's another state right, where you saw a $12 minimum wage per hour pass with 62 percent, back in 2018.

So, we see, in a lot of these Red states, right, you saw it in Florida, you see it in Arkansas, you see it in Missouri, when it's put to the voters, they do support higher minimum wages.

Yet, it seems that the senators, these Republican senators, from the same states, do not. And I, you know, I just have to think that they're going more along their partisan lines than necessarily listening to what the voters in their states want.

And the voters in those states overwhelmingly want we've seen it over and over and over again, that a higher minimum wage than we have right now is quite, quite popular. And that's why I, from the Democrats, I keep going at it, even if, in fact, it can't pass, because it simply put is good politics, even if it's not good policy.

CUOMO: And you know there's no finesse on this issue.

Nobody talks about different rates for different states in different regions, or maybe one rate for big businesses and another one for smaller businesses. It's very interesting, especially when it's something that is so important to so many.

Harry Enten, thank you for making it clear during this segment with the numbers. That's why you're "The Wiz." All right so--

ENTEN: I try my best.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CUOMO: In fact, I'm going to take some of Harry's ideas, and use them with a big player, in the minimum wage fight. A Democrat keeps pushing this administration to help muscle this through.

Congresswoman Jayapal will be here to make the case right back.









CUOMO: Now, I hope you Democrats are paying attention to the politics of this relief bill, because I think it's a big instruction for you about what it's going to take for you to get enough things done, to keep the very slim numbers of margin you have right now, in the midterms.

So the Senate moves to pass its own version of Biden's nearly $2 trillion COVID relief bill. But the pressure is very much on, why?

The minimum wage, it's a key sticking point. The Senate Parliamentarian has already ruled it has to be nixed. But the Left flank of the party is in the House, remember, they're not buying it, even after the White House said publicly, "Ah, we have to respect the ruling."

So what does this mean? What's next? But then, what's really next for the party? Let's bring in the woman, who's spearheading the effort, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Good to have you.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Great to see you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, you're in the House, strong voice, growing in influence. The Senate, different story.

The White House comes forward and says, basically "Pramila, I hear you. We'll get it done. We'll find another way. Not on this one. It's not going to happen. Can't rock the boat, probably can't get 50 votes to rock the boat," which you would need to overturn the Parliamentarian. Is that good enough for you?

JAYAPAL: No, I mean, Chris, Harry made the point on the show with you just now. This is an incredibly popular and populist policy. And it's not true that we can't get it done.

We've had Hubert Humphrey, who overruled the Parliamentarian. It is an advisory opinion from the Parliamentarian. It doesn't have to be rule. And Hubert Humphrey overruled the Parliamentarian twice in 1967 and in 1969. Roosevelt, as Vice President, overruled the Parliamentarian in 1975.

We can do it. We must do it. It is popular. It will lift 32 million people out of poverty, including a lot of those Republican states. And we have to be able to go back to voters and deliver, Chris.

CUOMO: I hear you. I mean, it is - well I'm not taking a position on the minimum wage, although I really do think it's sad. I said in the last segment, I say it almost every time we talk about this, do the math in your own head of what--

JAYAPAL: That's right.

CUOMO: --$15 an hour times 40 times 50 is, and then you take out 10 percent for taxes, 12 food, all the different things, look what how much money we're talking about the people should have.

Now, what they'll say is, "Yes, but we don't pick winners and losers." The hell we don't! We do all kinds of things for that.

This is what I'm saying, though, Representative. The President just told you, "No, this is over. I'm not going to do what you want." So what does that mean for the Left flank in the House?

JAYAPAL: Well, what we're saying is we are going to have to deliver on this promise that we ran on.

And we told voters, "You deliver us the House, the Senate, and the White House, and we will give you a raise that you haven't gotten in 12 years. We'll lift 1.3 million out of poverty. We'll lift the wages of 32 million." That's what we promised.

So, if we are not going to do it, in the reconciliation bill, then we will have to reform the filibuster. Those are the only two ways.

Because you heard Harry, even in states where this is popular, where people want it, Republican senators are not, for the vast majority of them, are not going for it.

CUOMO: What if you offer them--

JAYAPAL: So, the idea that you're going to get 60 votes is crazy.

CUOMO: What if you offer them a hybrid model on the minimum wage, where you take a look at regions, states, affordability, and then different size businesses?

And so, it's not just as simple a sell as one number? Maybe the top is $20 an hour? And maybe the bottom is $10, depending on the state, the region, the requirements of that nature, and the types of businesses, and what their margins are? Has anybody ever thought of doing it that way?

JAYAPAL: Yes, it's been proposed over and over.

I'm from Washington State. We were the first state in the country to tie minimum wage to inflation. That was in 1998. And there were a lot of questions about regional minimum wages, how were we going to compete with states next door?

It came up then when Seattle became the first major city in the country to pass a $15 minimum wage in 2014. And we talked about it again there.

Regional minimum wages really don't work because there are - you can't even do it by regions, right? There are differences all along the way. But look, we already have a minimum wage, that's going to be different, because in Seattle, we're already at $15.


So this just raises the floor. The ceiling doesn't fall in when you raise the minimum wage. We've seen that over and over again. The floor lifts for the bottom-most - most vulnerable low-wage workers in the country.

CUOMO: You said - '75 - Hubert Humphrey was in the late 60s. '75 was Rockefeller, obviously not Roosevelt, you know that.

JAYAPAL: Oh, I said Roosevelt.

CUOMO: Roosevelt, yes, no. Roosevelt was early.

JAYAPAL: Sorry, I meant Rockefeller. Yes, thank you.

CUOMO: But you know why he's in your mind. We've never had as many hungry people in this country, as we've had since Roosevelt--

JAYAPAL: Well that's it.

CUOMO: --in the Great Depression.

JAYAPAL: That's right.

CUOMO: But you know what it'll be interesting? And I've said to you before, and I hope you think I'm making good on the promise to have you back to discuss these issues. I want to hear what the politics are the next time you come on, of saying to them, "You tell us how you get it done in a separate bill, or you promise us to get rid of the filibuster."

I got to go right now, though, but you're welcome back Representative, to discuss this, as always.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

We'll be right back.








CUOMO: All right, important topics is - it's good to have it on once, but you really don't make change unless you talk about things repeatedly, and we will do that on the minimum wage. We will do that on the economics that are affecting the biggest part of this country. It will be a rolling conversation.

But now, a very special moment, right?