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Pelosi: Still Plan to Vote in Infrastructure Deal Today; CDC Issues "Urgent" Alert for Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired September 30, 2021 - 11:00   ET



You've got a Senate problem on your hands. Joe Manchin said last night that the reconciliation bill is the definition of fiscal insanity. He talked about vengeful taxes.

Does that sound like someone open to further negotiation? And how do you get something --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Yes. Yes. Yes.

REPORTER: And how do you move forward with that on the other side of the Democratic Party?

PELOSI: Well, we are talking about substance. We're not talking about rhetoric. We're not even talking about dollars. We're talking about what is important in the legislation, where can we find our common ground.

I paid attention to everybody's public statements, oh, my goodness, even some that maybe you inadvertently make that are not quite on point, but he said some other things after that, that said I'm for reconciliation. Did you see that --

REPORTER: At this point, is he saying something privately then to you or to the president that gives you more hope that that can move forward?

PELOSI: You think I'm going to talk to you about my conversations with Joe Manchin in here? If you promise not to tell anyone.



PELOSI: Look, I think that Joe Manchin is a great member of the Senate. We're friends. We're Italian-Americans. We get along, Catholic. We have shared values.

I have enormous respect for him. I had one of the joys of my service in Congress was to work with him to make sure we had the health benefits and pension benefits for our mine workers, not that I think clean coal is anything but, you know -- well, nonetheless about that. But I do believe in the workers, their needs, and the rest. And we did

that at the end of last year, working together. So we have our common ground.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF REPORTER: Are you planning on delaying this vote if you don't have enough votes to pass on the floor?

PELOSI: I do not plan on not doing anything. I plan on moving forward in a positive way. Everybody has to think this is the path we're on. It's not a fork in the road like you're making it. It's a path that we're on.

And right now as I've said, we had a great morning, lots of conversations as we come to the end.

Let me just tell you about negotiating, at the end, that's when you really have to weigh in. You cannot tire. You cannot concede. This is the fun part.


RAJU: September 2017 (ph), is that a problem negotiating that September --

PELOSI: No, no, no, no. Look, it's important to note that the reason we could agree to that is because in the bill all the reauthorization for highway programs and the rest of that. Our best interest is served by passing this bill today.

Okay. Okay. What have you got?

Don't take blue as a mistake for the Dodgers. Okay? No.

REPORTER: When you talk about the concerns, and I know they asked you about Senator Manchin, Senator Sanders, well, they will vote on the floor, today, the progressives say they've got 50 votes here. How do you -- what do you say to the left of the caucus and the moderates in your caucus to get them together (INAUDIBLE)?

PELOSI: We're on a path to have something that I can say to my colleagues with integrity and certainty is the path we're on. And in terms of timing and the rest, I wish we had more time. I will say that. In terms of we only found out a week and a half ago, over 95 percent of my caucus supports the $3.5 trillion, as we can have a goal, it was all systems go, $3.5 trillion.

The president, the leader in the Senate. So, we're having to compress a lot of our discussion here. But I can't say anything to them until I have -- we have an agreement. When I say "I," I mean the president, the Senate, we have to have an agreement together. I think that the path we are on is leading to that agreement.


PELOSI: Yes? REPORTER: The follow on that question, are you committed to having a

vote on infrastructure today regardless whether you have the votes or not?

PELOSI: I don't want to even consider any options other than the vote. That's our culture. If you don't understand the culture, you don't understand that culture. That's our culture. We go in to win it. One more.

REPORTER: Yesterday you told us that the Democratic Caucus is not a rubber stamp.

PELOSI: That's right.

REPORTER: But you guys have such a narrow majority, eight-seat majority right now. You could lose four votes on the floor.


You're going to pass the two previous spending bills of this Congress possibly. Have you bit off more than you can chew at this point? Are you confident you can --

PELOSI: No, no. Do you think when we came in with a majority that we have, well, we have to remember we had more, but we had Marcia Fudge, the secretary of HUD, waiting for her replacement to come in in another four weeks. We had Alcee Hasting who passed away, waiting for that replacement.

But what I can infer from what you say is we should have done nothing because we had a clear majority? That's not who we are.


PELOSI: You shouldn't do these things because you have a majority. No.


PELOSI: No, it will be a compromise. But it is -- let's recall our president, President Biden, has put forth the rescue package. For us it was a great victory because it had the essence of the Heroes Act that we tried to get through with the former president and now it's in that package.

It was of course imbued with vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations, which made a difference. And we had a couple hundred million vaccinations in people's arms. People are back to work, children back to school, money in people's pockets because of that deal. State and local governments reinforced to do their job, honoring our heroes who work and provide our health care, food service, our transportation, police and fire, our teachers, teachers, teachers.

Would we not do that because we only had a few votes? No. We definitely do. And then to go to a legislation now, the BIF, which has the bipartisan support in the Senate, I don't know if we'll have bipartisan support in the House. They say there may be a few. I understand that some dynamic is going on on the other side. So I can't speak it to, but maybe we'll have some Republican votes. I hope so.

Then we go to the Reconciliation Act, which is the Build Back Better, Build Back Better with women, just build back better and address what many of our concerns have, they say every time people build, our people suffer in our neighborhood. That's exactly what President Biden wants to change, and we will. It's not too ambitious because we're meeting the needs of the American people, and what that is is what our agenda would be. Oh, you.


PELOSI: I didn't recognize you without your mask.

REPORTER: I took it off so you could hear me better. You said this is the culmination of your time in Congress.


REPORTER: You try -- culmination means the end of an experience.

PELOSI: The end. Of course it's more of a -- I take some proprietary interest, but in terms of finally seeing a time in a large way about our children, our people with disabilities, our moms.

My mom had five children. When I was young and was raising my children, people don't know, this is a challenging job, even one child or two. I didn't wash my face some days, but I liked it that way.

But the fact is that we have to -- if we're going to be really building back better, we have to give women the opportunity to work in the workplace, and there's about child care, home health care, universal pre-k, family medical leave, and like that. And other countries, most other countries have that. We don't. We will.

And that is -- each one of those is something we fought over the years for and now it's coming together in a way that is transformative, not incremental, but transformative to what we're doing on the infrastructure side of things. They go together very well.

And then when we talk about the planet, when I was speaker the first time, it was my flagship issue when I came in and President Bush was president, and we did not -- with him we passed the biggest energy bill in the history of our country, the energy bill of 2007. He wanted nuclear. I wanted renewables. We had a big celebration to sign the bill, and President Obama used the authorities in that bill for some of his executive orders.

So we take it to this place now in this legislation, it's about jobs.

[11:10:00] We have good green jobs pre-eminent in the world and green technologies, addressing the health issues of clean air, clean water for our children, the issues as I've said before about national security, security globally, where migrations occur because of drought and famine and natural disasters. So, people with competing for habitat and resources, and of course our moral responsibility for our children.

So it has so much about that. And health care, as I've said, the Affordable Care Act, I take great pride in courage of the House Democrats and Senate for passing that legislation, and we will strengthen it in this bill. And part of the Affordable Care Act was the expansion of Medicaid, which will happen still.

So, this is -- I mean, it's so much, and that's why I said that. Yeah.

We're done?

Thank you all very much. It will be an eventful day. Perhaps I'll see you along the way.

Hi. Thank you. Think positively.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Okay. I'm Kate Bolduan.

We've been listening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. One concrete thing we have heard from the speaker announcing that a government shutdown will be averted, it will happen today, meaning they will pass a funding bill. But unclear what happens with the entirety of President Biden's economic agenda beyond that as it is hanging in the balance.

Let me bring in CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, as well as CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash for more on this.

Lauren, the speaker said I do not plan on not doing anything.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clear as mud, Kate. I mean, look, at this press conference, she is really trying to show that she is working the votes, that she is still trying to find a way to bring this bill to the floor. She said that is still currently the plan, but she also said we are on a path to win the vote, I don't want to even consider any options other than that.

So clearly not completely ruling out that there would be other options but making clear she is still trying to work this vote. She met with her leadership team before she went to that press conference for about an hour. She was in her office talking with them.

And she did make it clear in her press conference that the whole entirety of Biden's package, both that $1.2 trillion infrastructure package as well as the bigger plan that the White House is calling Build Back Better, that that is really the culmination of the work that she has done on Capitol Hill, that this is a bill she really views as cementing the president's legacy as well as members of Congress who have been working on these issues for many years.

She is really trying to impress upon her members that this is an important moment. She's not ready to throw in the towel at 11:00 a.m. to say we're just going to pull the vote and don't have the votes at this point. She still wants to work this. I expect that over the next several hours there's going to be a lot of activity outside of her office. Again, telling folks that is still her plan as of now and she doesn't want to consider any other options at this moment.

BOLDUAN: But Jake Sherman got at something, Dana, that I think matters. You're talking about it, Lauren. The culmination of my time in Congress is this reconciliation bill.

What do you do with that? Are we, like, right here announcing retirement?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. She knew what he was getting at which is very careful in how she answered it. But it speaks to the big picture here, Kate, which is that Nancy Pelosi is a tactician, but she's a progressive.

And she has been in Congress a long time, and now she has, even though she has disagreements with a lot of the very large progressive section of her caucus on an approach and so on and so forth, she virtually agrees with them on the fundamental policies that they believe should be in place, a social safety net, whether it is universal pre-k or the child care tax credit making that permanent, and it goes on and on and on. So, it is -- now is the time. And she sees that.

She also understands as a leader and also earlier as a rank-and-file member how many times the people who were pushing these issues were told let's just wait, now is not the time. We have to negotiate. We have to come up with a deal and let's just run on it and focus on it the next time around. That's not where they are right now.

And one of the reasons I just want to add that that's not just getting through, even though there is this large progressive wing of the party, particularly in the House, is because there is a very deep philosophical divide inside the Democratic Party, because you still have moderates like Joe Manchin, who represents a ruby red state, and some moderates in the House who say, wait, we're not ready to do that big social safety net piece until we are really clear about what exactly is in there, who it's going to, and how we're going to pay for it.


BOLDUAN: But on Manchin's statement, Dana, when you look at what he's saying in that lengthy statement, I read it and thought one thing. When Manchin asked for a strategic pause on the negotiations in August, it looks like he was not joking, and it looks like a lot of people thought that he was.

BASH: Right. And that's really the key here, is that this deadline and the reason why we're up against the clock and there's such urgency and so forth, it's a deadline that Nancy Pelosi put in place as a negotiating tactic to bridge the two sides of her caucus, the progressives and the moderates, because, again, just to remind people, because it gets confusing, what they have on the table right now is an actual traditional infrastructure package, bipartisan, passed the Senate, and the question is whether it comes up for a vote today, and the progressives saying we won't vote for that for the bigger piece.

What Joe Manchin said then and is saying now is I'm not ready to support that. I have my leverage, too, and I'm going to use it. But, again, it is going to be very -- not impossible but very difficult to bridge this gap because they are different points of view. Joe Manchin represents people, and he is not dissimilar to them, who don't necessarily believe in a bigger entitlement system in the government having so much of a role in programs that will be hard to take back.

And the Democrats on the other side of that divide think that that's exactly what the government's role should be. And therein lies the question of how to bridge that philosophical, ideological divide within the Democratic Party.

BOLDUAN: All right, guys. A lot more to come. Thank you very much.

Let's dig into this and get more on perspective on what today is going to bring.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill from New Jersey.

Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

You want to see a vote on infrastructure today. Speaker Pelosi did not give a clear answer if it was going to happen. Do you think you will be voting on the infrastructure bill today?

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Well, I certainly hope so because, you know, I'm hearing from home how critical this is to so many families across the nation.

People in New Jersey don't really care about the process or the procedure here in Washington. They want to make sure we're making the investments that are going to bring jobs to New Jersey, making sure we're going to have clean drinking water, and remediate lead pipes, we have old water infrastructure, making sure we invest in infrastructure resilience.

We just had a horrible flood from hurricane Ida, the worst our districts ever seen, fatalities in the district. They want to make sure that we are going to invest in the Gateway Tunnel Project, something I've been fighting for since before I got into Congress.

So, these are critical needs and issues. On top of that, we are trying desperately to continue our recovery from COVID. And it's a rocky recovery especially with the delta variant, but we are seeing better and better results. And this infrastructure bill will help continue us on that path.

BOLDUAN: One thing, but it is -- in terms of happening today or happening tomorrow, would bit your -- or later in terms of these votes, is it your preference to have to have the vote and see if it fails because progressives will vote against it, or would you prefer to delay the vote a second time?

SHERRILL: I'm really hoping we can come together and pass this piece of legislation, because make no mistake, this is what the president --


BOLDUAN: Right. Of course -- I totally understand that it's your preference and it's the preference of many members of Congress. But in terms of what you're faced with today, what do you do? Would you rather see a vote and see it fail or would you rather see a delay?

SHERRILL: Well, that's a tough question. I'd love to know how close we are because we know we're getting down to some tight numbers and we could see this pass. That's why we still have it on the calendar and it hasn't been pulled. If that's today or tomorrow, I feel confident in my ability to go home, talk to people about the Gateway Tunnel Project, see the results we have, and move on to passing our reconciliation bill, which make no mistake the majority of the members of the House, I think the speaker said 95 percent of the house is there. We need that reconciliation bill as well and want to get to work on that.

Now, I also want to see the Democratic Party moving forward together to deliver for the American people.


I -- you know, is there a possibility that we pass it, bring it to the floor and push people to get on board? That's a possibility. We're seeing all of that play out right now.

But I would reiterate for the American people that we're working hard to deliver on the critical needs of this country. And we're talking about key issues as to how we do that. And I know there's frustration. I'm frustrated. I wanted to come back here and vote in august to pass this infrastructure bill. I wanted to get shovels in the ground right away, and we're working to do that.

But make no mistake: these are critical policy issues on the path forward for our economy versus, quite frankly, Republicans who are talking about how to sweep January 6th under the rug. So that's what we're doing right now. We're talking act how we're going to deliver for the American people.

BOLDUAN: So, you see it as critical getting through this reconciliation bill. Through the way speaker Pelosi just described the reconciliation bill in her view is that it is the culmination of her time in Congress.

How do you read it? How do you read that statement?

SHERRILL: I read that as trying desperately to bring everyone to the table to get this bipartisan bill passed today and with an assurance that this is not something then that's going to go away, the reconciliation bill, that this is what she sees as critical piece of legislation, not just for the next ten years and investments in things like child care, because we know coronavirus has been devastating to women in our economy, investing in the path forward for our economy and jobs but also a culmination of her career.

And when somebody says that, when somebody looks at you and says that, then you know they're not going to let that drop.

BOLDUAN: One part of this, really, if you cut down to it, is a lack of trust within the party. Progressives say they're not going to vote for the infrastructure deal unless they get commitments on this bigger spending bill.

Honestly, you have to read that at least in part as they do not trust you or at least they do not trust some of your moderate colleagues when you say you support it and will eventually vote for a bigger bill. What do you say to that?

SHERRILL: Well, I think we have a lot of trust in the House. There is a sense that the House will pass the reconciliation bill. I think this is a concern with, you know, worries about where the Senate is headed.

And so I would suggest that today passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, delivering for the American people, talking about how critical those needs are, and then talking about what we need to do in the reconciliation bill to continue our recovery, to continue to address jobs and our economy and women in the economy and the jobs that they need to return to in our economy so we can fully recover. I would say that puts us on incredibly strong ground to do just that.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you very much for your time today.

SHERRILL: Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the CDC is urging pregnant women to get vaccinated, a very clear and urgent message. Why they say it is more urgent than ever that they get the shot, next.



BOLDUAN: An urgent message now from the CDC to pregnant women and those who have recently given birth -- get a coronavirus vaccine.

Right now, only 31 percent of pregnant women in the United States are vaccinated and the agency warns that those who are unvaccinated face double the risk of needing ICU care if they get COVID and a 70 percent increased risk of death if they get the infection.

Joining me now is Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's the executive associate dean of Emory University's School of Medicine at Brady Health System.

It's good to see you, doctor. This urgent recommendation coming from the CDC, do you see any reason why a pregnant person should not be vaccinated?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Absolutely not, Kate. We've vaccinated a lot of pregnant women. Pregnant women are recommended to be vaccinated, not only against COVID, but we've done this with flu, with tetanus, with multiple other vaccines. It's not only good for the mother but actually benefits the baby.

BOLDUAN: Only 31 percent of pregnant women are vaccinated, though. The risks to pregnant women, severe COVID disease are so much greater as we've been learning throughout the pandemic. What do you think is behind this low vaccination rate or among pregnant women still?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, I want to stress what you said. I mean, we have seen about 125,000 pregnant women with COVID, 22,000 of them have ended up in the hospital and 161 have died. We should not have that happen. We can avoid that.

And you're absolutely right, only 31 percent of pregnant women have received their COVID vaccine.

You know, pregnant women are always concerned about putting something strange into their bodies that may damage the baby, but they need to understand by getting the COVID vaccine, they're not damaging their baby, they're protecting their health and the health of their baby. By not receiving the COVID vaccine, they're putting themselves and their babies at risk.

BOLDUAN: Can we dig into that just a little bit? What is it about, you know, pregnancy and everything that happens with our bodies in pregnancy that make us so much more at risk for severe disease and death from COVID?

DEL RIO: It's not only COVID, Kate. We've known this for a long time with influenza. Pregnant women that get the flu are at a significantly high risk of dying from flu and end up in the ICU. So, this is not new. This is not a COVID thing. Pregnancy can confer certain degree of immune deficiency.