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At This Hour

Biden Concedes on Economic Package for Community College, Child Tax Credit; U.S. to Vaccinate Kids 5-11; House Rules Committee Hearing on Bannon Contempt Charges. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 20, 2021 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Here is what we're watching at this hour.

Ready to make a deal: Democrats inching closer to a final agreement on trillions of dollars in spending but cutting key priorities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks this hour.

Huge developments also in the fight against COVID-19: new guidance on boosters that could impact millions of Americans while the White House prepares for a massive rollout of shots for children as young as 5.

Pleading guilty: the accused shooter of the Parkland School shooting enters his plea but still may face the death penalty. What happened in court this morning.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here everyone. We're following two big developments as we speak. First on the on-again/off-again roller coaster of negotiations among Democrats over President Biden's sweeping economic agenda.

Sources tell CNN the president is prepared to make major concessions to get there and win over moderate senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. The overall price tag is reportedly in the range of $1.75 trillion.

It would be roughly half of the price tag that Democrats, progressive Democrats, were really pushing for. Tuition-free community college is likely out. Paid family leave is likely in, yet getting trimmed.

We're also following breaking news on the pandemic. The White House just unveiled its plan on how it's going to roll out vaccines for younger children. President Biden's COVID response team says the U.S. is ready to start vaccinating kids between the ages of 5 and 11 next month, pending, of course, authorization from the FDA and CDC.

The administration says it has enough vaccines available for all children in that age group. They put the number at about 28 million kids. We'll have much more on that big moment in a second. Let's start with Democrats making moves forward toward actual

agreement on what has seemed like never-ending negotiations over Biden's agenda. CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. And CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us live from the White House.

I don't think we have enough minutes in the show to try to figure it all out, guys, but let's try.

Manu, things are changing. There is movement.

What are you picking up right now from the congressional side?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New optimism, no doubt about it, from all sides of the Democratic caucus, the moderates, progressives, the leadership, that there could be an agreement, at least on the outline of this massive plan.

This was initially proposed at $3.5 trillion; now talking about $2 trillion, up to $1.9 trillion. That's what Joe Biden laid out yesterday. He also indicated a bunch of changes. You mentioned some of them: getting rid of the idea of tuition-free community college, reducing paid family leave from 12 weeks to four weeks.

Climate change not going near the 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, scaling back the child tax credit to just a one-year extension rather than a permanent extension or a five-year extension that a lot of Democrats had pushed.

Still a number of major issues: expansion of Medicare, dealing with universal pre-K as well as a wide range of investments in health care, including to bolstering the Affordable Care Act. A lot of major issues in this bill. Still are haggling over some of the details here, some things such as how to deal with the issue of deducting state and local taxes.

That is a major issue for northeast Democrats, who won't support it without removing caps for people who can deduct those taxes. Some of the finer points still need to be negotiated if they can get the larger agreement done.

But there is hope that they are moving toward getting an agreement on that. And then hanging in the balance, Kate, is the separate infrastructure bill, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, that has not been voted on in the House for months as they're negotiating this larger package.

The hope among the leaders is they can get an agreement on the larger package and a vote on the infrastructure bill next week. Nancy Pelosi thinks the agreement can happen as soon as this week.

BOLDUAN: Jeremy, President Biden talked about one of the items Manu was hitting on, tuition-free community college. He's talked about his desire for this for a long time now. That does now seem to be out.


BOLDUAN: Was that a major White House priority?

What do you think that says?

Why do you think this is on the chopping block?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was a major priority, a major campaign promise that President Biden made during the 2020 campaign. But this is the hard part. This is what we're getting down to now, the White House and congressional Democrats beginning to slash some of their favorite programs because ultimately there's only so much money that senator Joe Manchin and senator Kyrsten Sinema are going to agree to here.

I think one of the reasons why community college was one of the first things that appears to be out the window is something we heard also from Speaker Pelosi recently, which is this idea that what they really want to focus on is the beginning of life and the end of life, where they can provide the most support.

That's why you're seeing universal pre-K remaining solidly in this piece of legislation, also the child tax credit, even if it is only a shorter term extension, as well as child care and home care for the elderly. So I think that's kind of the sense here.

I think it's also important to note the fact that they are going to make those decisions does suggest they're getting closer and closer to the end game here. Ultimately it reflects the fact that the White House, even though they took a lot of criticism over the last couple weeks for not pressuring more publicly senator Manchin and senator Sinema, it also shows their quiet approach has begun to yield some progress.

That's why you're seeing this increasing sense of urgency and optimism on Capitol Hill that Manu was just talking about.

BOLDUAN: Look, paid family leave, where there has been nothing to this point even though, Manu, it's less than the 12 that they were targeting for; it was zero to this point. That's one of the things to keep in mind as well.

Manu, congressman Ro Khanna, a progressive, spoke this morning about the scaled-back overall price tag. The way he put it, he said progressives say this is progress we can build on. To that point, I want to play what he also said when it came to the child tax credit, which is, like you said, likely to get extended but for a shorter amount of time than progressives would like.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I think the president and many people feel, once we extend this, the Republicans won't be able to take it away. We're going to extend it. But we expect that, once people have it, it will be hard for Republicans to repeal it.


BOLDUAN: Manu, that caught my attention.

What do you think he's getting at here?

RAJU: That's the argument a lot of the progressives have been making, once this is being offered, this is going to be popular among the American public. They can take this and make this a campaign issue: reelect Democrats and we can extent the child tax credit. Elect Republicans and they'll take this away.

This is why they've been pushing to scale back the number of years to reduce the price tag and keep the array of benefits.

The moderates, on the other hand, like Joe Manchin, have been concerned about allowing so many benefits to be allowed to be put in the system because of the concern they'd be extended year after year, which is why they're looking to drop a number of programs rather than simply scale back the years.

But that's a key point here. Watch, also, how they deal with the expansion of Medicare. That it would deal with dental, vision and hearing. How many years do they do that?

And if that becomes expanded for a certain amount of years, of course, that will also be a key campaign issue for Democrats heading into 2022 and 2024.

That is a real key political argument here. But the other side of the equation says you're offering just a half measure, something that is not permanent, something that will be a cliff year after year after year. And that's not the way to govern. That's what Republicans will say, what some moderates will say. But that appears to be the direction they're headed.

BOLDUAN: That seems to be the way Congress just operates always.

Good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

A lot more to come on this. Jeremy, thank you so much. We'll be following this throughout the day.

A quick programming note, President Biden joining Anderson Cooper tomorrow night for a live CNN town hall at 8:00 pm Eastern, right here on CNN.

We also have this breaking news.: the White House just announced the United States is ready to begin vaccinating younger children between the ages of 5 and 11 against coronavirus starting next month.

The plan the White House has begun to roll out today includes, among just having 28 million shots ready to go, they say, securing that, is trying to make it easier for kids and parents by administering shots in places, like pediatricians' offices, local pharmacies and potentially schools.

Joining me is Dr. Lee Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Also with us, Dr. Carlos Del Rio from Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Beers, this is a moment that parents and pediatricians has been waiting for.


BOLDUAN: There's even a younger age group as well. Let's talk about this big moment, 5 to 11. What's your reaction to the White House's announcement today?

DR. LEE BEERS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Well, I think actually we're really encouraged and appreciative. As you point out, pediatricians and parents alike are looking forward to having a safe and effective vaccine to children 5 and over starting in early November.

As pediatricians, we have been partners in responding to COVID and getting kids vaccinated and want to continue to be. I think we're really pleased at this announcement.

It leads heavily on the strong relationships that pediatricians have with their patients and that children's hospitals and health systems have with their patients as well.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I do want to ask you about that.

First, Dr. Del Rio, the White House said it secured 28 million doses and they say that's enough for every kid in this age group from 5 to 11.

Are you concerned that this somehow becomes the "Hunger Games" once again, how it felt when it was approved for adults, there's this rush at the beginning to try to get an appointment, try to get a shot?

Do you fear that is what we could be setting up for once again?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATION DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: Hopefully that's not the case. We have a lot of experience vaccinating kids. We really didn't have any experience vaccinating adults. Parents know how to take their kids to the pediatrician, take their kids to get vaccinated.

Hopefully there's a more orderly approach to getting the vaccines. Again, there will be plenty of vaccines for the kids who need it. We need to be sure we don't rush and we do it appropriately.

As I tell people, you need to walk to the vaccine; you don't need to run to the vaccine.

BOLDUAN: I assure you there are definitely some runners in my household when it comes to this vaccine.

Dr. Beers, the White House in its announcement also said the rollout will include 25,000 pediatricians' offices to administer shots, which is different from what we saw with the adult rollout. They say it's critical in making parents and children feel comfortable as well. Speak to me a little more about it.

Do you think pediatricians' offices are ready for this?

If you look across the country, so many are already facing staffing shortages.

BEERS: I think these are really important questions. Actually, one thing I want to point out is many, many pediatricians' offices are already offering the COVID vaccine to their patients and some even to their patients' families.

We've seen pediatricians step up so they can be partners in this vaccination effort. I think when we look at surveys and when we talk to parents, one of the things we've learned is that, the younger your child is, the more likely you are to really want to get this vaccine in your pediatricians' office.

I think it emphasizes the importance of making the vaccine available to pediatricians. I want to echo: pediatricians are very, very busy. We're vaccinating adolescents, taking care of sick kids, taking care of kids for their well visits.

But we're ready to do it. We ask for your patience and your partnership as we work together to make sure we can help take care of your kids and get them vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Beers, just one quick one for you again. A huge part of this next phase is the message. I want to read for you how the White House has put part of it, which is a national public education campaign to reach parents and guardians with accurate and culturally responsive information about the vaccine and the risk that COVID-19 poses to children.

When it comes to that message, what do you think that needs to look like, Dr. Beers?

BEERS: I think exactly that. What's most important is to have real conversations between patients and people who they trust. The pediatricians, local pediatricians, pediatricians in your community are some of the best people to do that.

I'm a parent as well of two teenagers. I understand, as a parent, you want your questions answered and want to be able to dialogue with somebody. I think what it looks like is good honest conversations between patients and pediatricians and other trusted health professionals.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Del Rio, switching gears to other big news coming, with regard to fighting the pandemic, CNN is reporting that the FDA could soon be recommending booster shots for people as young as 40 who received Pfizer or Moderna.

What do you think the impact of this could be as we continue to track waning immunity and what that means for hospitalizations and breakthrough cases?


DEL RIO: Kate, I think we're learning each time more about the vaccines and the pandemic and the protection. A lot of the waning immunity we saw was actually related to the Delta virus. I think as Delta goes away, we'll have better protection. Vaccines are going to do much better when we have less community transmission.

I still think giving boosters down to the age of 40 makes sense. When you're talking about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the FDA has already said that anybody who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster two months after they received their initial vaccination.

So I think boosters make sense. But at the end of the day, really what we need to do is to vaccinate the 65 million or so unvaccinated Americans. The reality is, the booster I need is for those unvaccinated to get vaccinated. That's how we protect the community.

BOLDUAN: I actually really like the way you put that. That's a good way of framing it from here on out. Thank you Dr. Del Rio.

And thank you, Dr. Beers. I really appreciate it.

As Dr. Carlos Del Rio was just talking about, with boosters and more, this is all important.

But getting more American adults to get their first dose of the vaccine continues to be a challenge. And now a sports legend is weighing in. NBA analyst and basketball great Charles Barkley praised the Brooklyn Nets for suspending their star player, Kyrie Irving, over his refusal to get vaccinated.

Irving, as we've all learned, is now not allowed to play or practice with the team until he gets the shot. But the Nets are still paying him during his suspension. I want to play for you what Charles Barkley had to say about that.


CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA ANALYST: I got vaccinated. I can't wait to get the booster. You don't get vaccinated just for yourself. Like Adam said, you get vaccinated for your family first. You get vaccinated for your teammates second, things like that.

That's what bothered me about this whole thing. I think everybody should get vaccinated. I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down, for saying we're not going to deal with this half on/half off.

The only thing that bugged me, he's still going to make $17 million sitting at home. If he wants to go on this thing -- people say he's like Ali. First of all, don't compare anybody to Ali. Ali went three years without boxing, the highest paid athlete in the world.

This guy is going to make $17 million for sitting at home. But to every person out there, you don't get vaccinated just for yourself. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Irving is defending his decision by saying no one should be forced to do anything with their bodies that they don't want to. But as Charles Barkley is pointing out, it's not about any one of us; it's about all of us together.

Breaking news: the man who confessed to carrying out the Parkland massacre just pleaded guilty to killing those 17 people in that horrific attack. What happened in court. We'll bring that to you next.





BOLDUAN: -- Capitol Hill, where this is the House Rules Committee ahead of the House vote on the criminal contempt of Congress charge against Steve Bannon. Liz Cheney is testifying before the committee.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The election was still a couple weeks off. We all knew that it would be a tight race. But none of us, I imagine, anticipated that president Trump or any president, frankly, would simply reject the outcome of that vote.

Of course, president Trump had the right to challenge the outcome in our state and federal courts, which have an appropriate and constitutional role in resolving election claims. But what he did thereafter had no precedent in our history.

He rejected the courts' rulings in dozens of cases, including the rulings of judges president Trump himself appointment.


CHENEY: He rejected what his own Department of Justice officials told him over and over again, that they found no evidence of widespread fraud sufficient to overcome the election results.

He rejected the conclusions of both the Department of Justice and the intelligence community when they told him that the Dominion voting machines had not secretly changed the outcome of the election.

President Trump had no factual or constitutional basis for his claims. And the lawyers he found, who would carry his fraud claims forward, have paid the consequences.

Rudy Giuliani's license to practice law has been suspended. And Sidney Powell has been sanctioned by a federal judge.

But Donald Trump persisted, attempting through every manner he could imagine to try to change the outcome. And we all saw what happened. The people who attacked this building told us, continue to tell us, on

video, on social media and now before the federal courts, exactly what motivated them. They believed what Donald Trump said, that the election was stolen and that they needed to take action.

The Select Committee has critical work to do to get all of the details. And today we're here to address one witness, Steve Bannon. I urge you all to watch what Steve Bannon said on his podcast on January 5th. The chairman just quoted parts of it and it is shocking.

He said, "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. We are coming in right over the target. This is the point of attack we have always wanted."

He said, "All hell would break loose" on January 6th and he was right. Ask the 140 Capitol Police officers, who fought for hours and were injured. And there is no doubt that Steve Bannon knows far more than he says on that video.

The American people deserve to know what happened. They deserve to hear him answer these questions. Mr. Bannon has written to us, suggesting he's relying on the fact that president Trump wishes to assert executive privilege for his communications with Bannon, regarding the planning for January 6th.

We do not believe any such privilege claims are appropriate and even if such privilege existed, it is still not absolute or unqualified. We are confident that we will prevail on these privilege issues.

There's a more important and more fundamental point here. The vast majority of what we need from Mr. Bannon is not even conceivably subject to an executive privilege claim. Mr. Bannon is using privilege as a pretext for not appearing at all and for producing absolutely no documents of any kind.

That puts this institution's authority at significant risk, not just here and now but in all future investigations. Criminal contempt is the appropriate response in these circumstances.

At this moment, it is not just the institution of Congress' authority that is at stake. The potential harm to the foundation of our republic is far more significant.

In the past week president Trump has openly urged millions of Republican voters not to vote in 2022 or 2024. He's urging them to abandon our democratic system.

Based on what every one of us knows are false claims about systemic fraud and Dominion voting machines, let me address my Republican colleagues specifically.

I've heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say they, quote, "just don't want this target on their back." They're just trying to keep their heads down. They don't want to anger Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who has been especially active in attempting to block the investigation of the events of January 6th, despite the fact that he clearly called for such a commission the week after the attack.

I ask each one of you to step back from the brink. I urge you to do what you know is right, to think of the long arc of history. We are told that it bends toward justice. But it does so only because of the actions of men and women in positions of public trust.


CHENEY: In many nations, democracy has failed because those with authority would not act to protect it because they sat in silence. History will judge those of us in positions of public trust.

Remember that as you cast your votes, as you think about how you will answer when history asks, what did you do when Congress was attacked, when a mob provoked by a president tried to use violence to stop us from carrying out our constitutional duty to count electoral votes, when a mob, provoked by a president, tried to overturn the results of an election?

Will you be able to say you did everything possible to ensure Americans got the truth about those events or did you look away?

Did you make partisan excuses and accept the unacceptable?

This contempt citation is crucial to our investigation. Witnesses cannot simply ignore congressional subpoenas when they prefer not to attend. We must do everything possible to understand that dark day in our history and to ensure, through potential legislative and other actions, that such a thing never happens again.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Vice Chair Cheney.

BOLDUAN: We've been listening to the House Rules Committee ahead of the full House vote, which will be happening tomorrow on holding Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress. Let me bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles, who has been watching this hearing, to explain more about this.

As we all know, these committee hearings are often overlooked, right, Ryan?

The Rules Committee sets the terms of debate for a vote. That's really not even what we need to focus on here. It's hearing from Liz Cheney herself testifying before this committee and what she's saying about Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're exactly right, Kate. For the most part, these Rules Committee hearings are where Republicans and Democrats hash out their differences on a specific piece of legislation.

And what is unique here is that you have Liz Cheney, as a Republican, basically pleading with her Republican colleagues to go along with Democrats and support this criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon. What you didn't see before both Cheney's and Bennie Thompson's

remarks, Tom Cole of Oklahoma calling the select committee a partisan group, doing Nancy Pelosi's bidding, that they aren't interested in seeking the truth.

It's clear where Republicans stand. To see Cheney go before this committee and talk in such stark terms about what she believes is at stake and why it's necessary for the committee to get this information and specifically the testimony of Steve Bannon, is so stark.

I want to play a clip of Steve Bannon himself on his podcast, talking about January 6th. It's something both Thompson and Cheney cited numerous times. Let's play that clip quickly.


STEVE BANNON, ADVISER TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, OK?

It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is strap in. The war room posse, you have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day. So strap in.


NOBLES: The committee has talked about this often and why they believe it is so important to hear what Bannon knew about the planning leading to January 6th, what was going on in the war room that they established at the Willard hotel that was meeting on January 5th and January 6th.

That's why they believe it is so important for him to come before the committee to answer these questions. Kate.

What we'll see play out in the Rules Committee in a few minutes and, tomorrow, on the floor of the House, is a divided Congress, with Republicans siding with Bannon and Trump trying to block this contempt claim and Democrats pushing it forward.

The big question is, will there be any Republicans that vote with Democrats to assert the authority of Congress under the Constitution to enforce their subpoenas?

It's about a bigger thing than just Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. But as we've seen many times over and over again, Kate, when given that choice, Republicans tend to side with the former president.

BOLDUAN: I think we shouldn't get lost in the back and forth is what Liz Cheney is laying out. She says, fundamentally, what they are charged with and have the authority to get, is information from people.

They subpoenaed Steve Bannon. She said the vast majority of what we need from Steve Bannon isn't even subject to the privilege claim that he's trying to wash over anything to prevent him from speaking. It's really interesting. We'll keep an eye on this. Ryan Nobles is on it.

Ryan, thank you for that.

Still ahead for us as well, President Biden will be making a pitch for his economic agenda in his hometown today.