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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Dems' Major Concessions on Spending Bill; Biden Backs Away from Raising Corporate Taxes to Pay for Agenda; Florida Authorities' Update on Search for Brian Laundrie; CDC Advisers Meeting on Mix-and-Match Boosters. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 11:00   ET



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: And you would think that if they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, they would vote for the system of checks and balances.

QUESTION: Madam Speaker, do you -- I'm curious if you think a package like this can be completed without rate increases, tax rate increases?

PELOSI: Oh, we changed the subject?


PELOSI: Well, that's one of the options, that's for sure. The last couple of days, just to answer your question, the last couple of days, we've come to narrowing what the possibilities are, as we see what we need to cover, because the bill will be paid for.

And so what are the choices that will be made?

So we met yesterday morning to narrow what needs to be done. And the chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr. Wyden; chairman of Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Neal, have been working to that end.

We had in our House bill, which I was very proud of, an increase in the corporate rate and increase in the capital gains and it was a very well received proposal because it wasn't punitive, it was fair. But we'll see what survives, prevails.

QUESTION: What's your preference?

Do you have a preference?

PELOSI: My preference is to follow the cooperation that the Senate and House come to.

QUESTION: Madam speaker --

PELOSI: The next one is a woman, no matter who.

QUESTION: You said -- yesterday morning you said some of the reporting about what was in and out of the bill was not accurate. Is that because this bill is still in flux?

And does this have to be prebaked with the Senate before you presented it?

Does everything have to be nailed down with the Senate and with Manchin and Sinema?

PELOSI: Whatever it is you think I said, what I was saying is that, instead of covering what is in the bill -- you all seem to be on a jag about a few people -- 96 percent of the House and Senate Democrats support the president's proposal.

You would never know that to see the reporting of it. But that's your work. You do yours, we do ours. You couldn't possibly misrepresent it because it isn't -- it isn't done yet. And it will be, because now we have to narrow the scope. And we are in the process of doing that.

QUESTION: And prebake it with the Senate so that everything is signed off here and everything is finalized -- ?


PELOSI: Our agreement is that we will have an agreement that we will pass both houses.

QUESTION: How critical is it to reach an agreement on a framework by tomorrow?

Leader Schumer says he wants to get this done by the end of the week.

Are you on track to doing that?

PELOSI: We've always been on track for doing that. The House has been on schedule. We have a goal. We have a timetable. We have milestones. And we've met them all. And this is one of them.

QUESTION: On the child tax credit, you talked about the importance of that.

Would a one-year extension be sufficient or acceptable to you?

PELOSI: If that's -- that's what the president has agreed to. Let me just say I want permanent child tax credit. I've wanted it for years. This is the president's big issue. It's called the Biden Child Tax Credit. So if it's acceptable to him in light of the bill, it's acceptable to me.

QUESTION: Madam speaker --

PELOSI: Climate, on climate.

QUESTION: On climate, the Green Energy Performance Plan we're told on the record by other Democrats is now out of the bill.

Does the final bill have to meet those same emission reductions as was in the original House bill in order for you to accept it?

PELOSI: Yes, the point is, is to reach the goals, the emission goals of, I think I said that in my remarks, of the 20 -- reduction to 50 percent by 2030, reduction 100 percent by 2050, maybe even ahead of that.

We have a responsibility to not only meet but to beat the Paris agreement goals. And we also have a responsibility to help poor countries with technology and assistance in order for them to meet their goals.

Those countries are not responsible for very much of the climate crisis. But they are paying a big price because of their vulnerability.

I had the privilege of speaking in Spain right before COVID-19, at the most previous COVID25, to a session on the vulnerables and those countries. And their own presentations show that they pay the price sooner than any of us. And yet they're least responsible for the emissions.

So we have that big responsibility. So it isn't about a particular plan; it's about reaching our goals and how we do it. I feel very satisfied the path we're on to do that.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the corporate tax question, senator Sinema from what we understand has opposed increasing corporate and individual tax rates.

Has she conveyed that to you?

And to follow up, could this be fully paid for, as you have promised, if her view prevails?

PELOSI: The bill will be fully paid for and the matter is in the hands of our chairs of the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

RAJU: Has she conveyed her position to you?

PELOSI: Her position is well known.

QUESTION: Madam Speaker, will there be an infrastructure vote next week?

So far Congress has, in recent years, relied on (INAUDIBLE) referrals and civil suits.

Why continue to outsource enforcement of Congress' own authority to the courts?

Why not advance the Raskin-Lieu bill to enable Congress' inherent contempt authority?

PELOSI: What bill?

QUESTION: The Raskin-Lieu bill, a resolution that would enable --

PELOSI: Well, we have the Protect our Democracy legislation, which we will be advancing and it's being led by Mr. Adam Schiff and Jamie -- all of -- that captures many of those concerns. But we don't take it to court. We subpoena people. They take it to court.

But the fact is that -- that's why we're going to criminal contempt here, because this goes beyond.

QUESTION: That still relies on the discretion of the Justice Department.

PELOSI: That does. That's a system of checks and balances. And again, you will be seeing in November -- I don't have a date that we will be ready to come forward with our Protect our Democracy legislation.

And that captures many of the ideas that members have put forth in that regard. I don't know if the Republicans want to protect our democracy. So far, we haven't seen a lot of evidence of that.

But just in the prospect of, maybe one day they think they'll have a Republican president or -- well, we have a Democratic president now and they want to protect our democracy from --



PELOSI: You know what, I want to tell you something.

Have you read the Protect our Democracy Act?

QUESTION: Yes, ma'am.

PELOSI: Good. Then you know it addresses many of the concerns that you have.

Thank you all.

QUESTION: Madam Speaker, will there be an infrastructure vote next week?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So we've been listening into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, offering -- really trying to strike or is striking an optimistic tone on the state of the negotiations on the massive spending bill.

Let me bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins, live in Baltimore, as this all dovetails at the site of tonight's CNN town hall with President Biden.

One thing you notice, as Speaker Pelosi was talking, is she was doing her level best to not really take a position on any one provision, any one mechanism, for paying for something, any one tax increase, doing her level best to not take a position publicly, kind of a sign of the state of how tenuous the state of negotiations really is.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. She said that they have always been on track when it comes to whether or not they're going to have an agreement by tomorrow.

And that is something that Democratic leaders have been saying; they want to have that framework. That is what the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said. We'll wait to see what plays out.

But she did say several interesting things, including what has been at the main point of the last 24 hours, which is how this bill is going to be paid for, given we know senator Sinema has opposition to increasing taxes on corporations and high earners.

Pelosi said there her position is well known, when Manu Raju asked if Sinema made that position clear to Pelosi. She was talking about what it would look like when they do pay for this bill and what the tax structures will look like.

And that is the situation, an option for them to use, to pay for this, which has been one of the main proponents that President Biden has pushed.

She said that is in the hands of the finance chairs. They are the ones working on that and what this bill looks like in the end. But no clear answers on what the direction is that they're going in when it comes to that.

So she did still say the bill will be fully paid for. That is what Democrats have said all along. It remains to be seen how it will be fully paid for and what senator Sinema does in the end.

Does she change her position or do they change the payfors on this bill and the tax structures?

Which will be a pretty big lift if they want to have a framework by tomorrow and want to have a more substantial framework by the time the president leaves Washington at the end of next week.

I do want to note the other interesting thing that Pelosi said about the child tax credit, which, of course, some Democrats want to make permanent, some want to make it last much longer.

And, of course, we do know that President Biden told Democrats this week it's likely only going to get a year extension. She said there that she still does want it to be a permanent child tax credit. But if the president has agreed to do a one-year extension to come to a compromise, to get an agreement on this deal.


COLLINS: She said she would back that.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All of this going to be leading to many of the questions that are going to be probably coming at President Biden, when he takes the stage at the CNN town hall tonight. You mentioned Manu Raju asking a question.

Manu, as Kaitlan was getting at, it sounds like we're getting into the weeds once again when we talk about this new idea of how to pay for this package. It might be in the weeds but it might also blow the whole ball game at this point.

Tell people why Biden floating dropping an increase to the corporate tax rate right now, why they're doing it, why it's so important.

RAJU: Yes, this is really significant and it was important here because Nancy Pelosi did not commit to raising taxes on corporations or high earners. This has been the Democratic position for years. This has been what was central to how this bill would be financed in the House proposal.

But just moments ago, when I asked her about it -- and another reporter asked her about this -- she would not commit to that, saying this was going to be a discussion ongoing.

It's all because of one senator, Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat, who has resisted any increase in those rates. She has not been saying that publicly, even though I tried to ask Pelosi about whether she has had conversations or told Sinema about this.

Sinema is having those conversations with the White House, with the president, not with fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill and that has irked a number of Democrats. By taking that position, that could ultimately upset the calculus in passing this bill out of the Senate.

As you know, you need all 50 Democrats to sign on and vote yes. If one were to defect, like Kyrsten Sinema, that's enough to tank the entire agenda. That's why the Democrats are trying to figure out another way to finance that, because Pelosi once again committed that this bill would be fully paid for, which is a central commitment.

How is this paid for?

Who will get hit with tax increases?

They are looking at a billionaires tax, a tax on stock buybacks, a minimum corporate rate tax. Perhaps they think that Sinema could get behind some of those issues. But it's still uncertain how that plays out.

Even though there is optimism in Democratic circles that they could get a deal potentially by the end of this week on just the general outlines, there are still so many issues they need to deal with.

And getting all the members from the most liberal, like Bernie Sanders, to the most moderate --


(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: I've got to jump in. I want to take you to Florida, where the Lee County sheriff is starting an update on the search for Brian Laundrie. Let's listen in.

SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO, LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Sarasota Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, the FBI and all law enforcement agencies that are here today, this is my first time being here.

We have deployed -- Chief Garrison and I have been in constant contact. We deployed assets immediately, resources, deputies, our faro (ph) system, which can analyze a crime scene and save hours and hours of man hours; our drones, the Dragon Fish (ph). Dragon Fish has the capability of flying 67 miles an hour and 18.6 miles away from the operator with a fleer (ph) and all the capabilities of a helicopter.

Today when I walked back there I got to see firsthand the treacherous conditions that they were working in. We're talking about water levels up above almost the chest area, rattlesnakes, moccasins, alligators. And these heroes go out there.

While we can't change the outcome, we can bring justice. And today I'm very, very proud to say that Chief Garrison and our team of law enforcement, which is regional. It doesn't matter what color patch or uniform you wear, we work as one team and one family.

The law enforcement community came together and I'm very proud to be a part of that.

Chief Garrison, would you like to say a few words?

GARRISON: Well, thank you, Sheriff. It means a lot.

As we said yesterday, not one agency can handle all of this. And it's important that we rely on our partners. And Sheriff Carmine Marceno and Sheriff Kurt Hoffman have been huge, huge players in helping this investigation throughout and also with the FBI. So I just want to say thank you.

MARCENO: Thank you. You know, it's challenging times. I know everybody wants to know exactly what's going on every second possible. All of America is watching, OK?

But we'll never, never jeopardize an investigation to give that information out until the time is right. But again, I want to reiterate, this is a difficult business we're in, law enforcement. Things change by the second, by the minute. These are very, very difficult conditions. I mean, you're searching in areas that you just can't walk up and look.


MARCENO: It's not like you're searching a house or a car. These areas are huge and they're covered by water. So I couldn't be more proud of the team.

Once again, Sheriff Hoffman from Sarasota, we're all one family. The sheriff has done a great job. Chief Garrison and our FBI, second to none. They came together from all over. We're talking about different states of communication here.

And the end result is one team, one family, working to bring closure. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and this tragedy. Thank you.


QUESTION: Do you think the Laundries would have cooperated sooner, that you would have found him sooner?

BOLDUAN: So this is an update from the local sheriff. But it doesn't seem like there's much of an update that they are ready to give at this moment, which is fascinating, as they set that up.

Clearly the reporters on the ground are wondering the same, as I heard one of them say, Chief, is this even a press conference?

Let me bring in CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. More on this.

Chief, I have to ask, would you set up a press conference -- what do you think the point of this press conference was?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't know. I thought we'd get some information. We really didn't, just a description of how difficult it was to search. Granted, it was a very difficult area to search. I can certainly appreciate all that. But they didn't provide any real information.

Were the remains found Brian Laundrie's?

What about this dry bag, what was inside it?

Anything that was legible that was written, if it was underwater for a period of time, obviously things could have gotten destroyed.

You know, who found the bag?

My understanding is, it's the father of Brian Laundrie. And in my opinion, he never should have been involved in the search.


RAMSEY: He can take you there and point you in a direction. But he should not be physically involved in the search. So there's a lot of unanswered questions.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you, Chief, before this press conference came. But after a month of searching in this preserve -- and, yes, it is a huge area and it's also covered in water in large part.

The day that they reopened the reserve, Brian Laundrie's parents go in and essentially, it seems, go right to locating items linked to Brian. I mean how is that, even trying to not just jump to conclusions?

RAMSEY: Well, it's odd to say the least. Again, there's a lot of gaps that need to be filled in.

The parents perhaps can do that, as long as they don't incriminate themselves. So don't think that all of a sudden, should these remains turn out to be Brian's, that all of a sudden now they're going to be open and honest and talking about everything that took place.

It depends on their role. It depends on what actually took place in terms of their interactions with Brian after he returned home without Gabby. So they still are vulnerable, depending on what it is that they may have been involved in.

BOLDUAN: And, Joey, this kind of dovetails, maybe off the strange appearance that the sheriff and police chief just made, because the family -- Brian Laundrie's family attorney was on with Chris Cuomo last night and speaking out.

The way that the family attorney seemed to speak of what happened, when the parents went into the reserve yesterday, is that -- the way he said it is, the parents assumed that the experts, the FBI, all of the tracking teams, would be able to locate Brian, based upon the information that they had provided, including these specific areas and trails.

The FBI said that this area was previously under water.

But do you think that this family's attorney is trying to suggest that investigators were doing a shoddy job or something?

Why would he do that?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Kate, good morning to you.

Good morning to you, Chief.

The first thing that comes to mind is it really seems a bit at odds and strange to me. You have the preeminent law enforcement, really agency in the world, in the FBI. They're searching the area for weeks upon end, bringing all the resources to bear, the manpower and technology.

And the person who finds something belonging to Brian Laundrie happens to be the dad. You know, that's a head scratcher to me, quite frankly.

And it really -- you know, you don't believe in coincidences; this perhaps is another reason not to. I have no information; I'd be speculating like anyone else. But it really leaves you with just the wonder of how is it, that of all the people who were looking and searching, it happens to be you. And so that's problematic to me.

Number two, we know that the family had not been cooperative from the outset. Certainly, if they wanted to cooperate -- I get and understand -- and as an attorney I give the same advice, don't talk to anyone. But you certainly through your lawyer can provide information that can facilitate and otherwise move the matter forward.


JACKSON: The last thing as relates to this press conference, also a head scratcher -- it's very nice that law enforcement is cooperating with each other. That's what they need to do, should do to bring matters to justice.

But beyond that, you would think that there would be some scintilla of information that might satisfy our curiosity with respect to the many questions, as the chief has noted, that need to be answered and to this point have not been answered. The family certainly has those answers. Whether they provide them is another matter.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and this just kind of adds to what we've seen all along, which is just the strange, curious nature of how this has all unfolded, all with still questions lingering out there of who killed Gabby Petito.

It still remains out there and seems, at least after that press conference, we're no closer to learning that today.

Chief, thank you.

Joey, thank you as always.

Really appreciate it, guys.

Coming up next for us, mixing and matching booster shots is being discussed at a meeting of CDC advisers today, as millions more are eligible for a third vaccine dose. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to talk about that, next.





BOLDUAN: We are following some new developments on the fight against the pandemic this hour. CDC vaccine advisers are meeting to discuss mixing and matching booster shots of all three authorized COVID vaccines today.

Just yesterday, the FDA authorized booster shots for tens of millions of recipients who got Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, something CDC advisers will also vote on this afternoon.

More authorizations, which also mean more questions; joining me right now is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for more on this.


BOLDUAN: Sanjay, can you explain this all to us, who qualifies and who can get which vaccine at this point?

GUPTA: Yes, sure. So this is going to sound familiar, because this is basically the same pattern that Pfizer followed with their authorization of the boosters and then the CDC recommendation.

So if we look at Moderna, for example, what they're going to say is, who are the people most likely to develop a significant breakthrough infection, one that leads to severe illness?

Those are the people that may most benefit from a booster: people over the age of 65, any adult who has some sort of risk factor, which is a lot -- heart disease, diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma. You're talking 150 million to 170 million people fall into that category of severe risk.

Finally, people with high risk of exposure, getting lots of exposure due to health care work or frontline work, whatever it may be. That's sort of the same sort of pattern that we saw with Pfizer. They say wait at least six months after that first dose, that first series of doses.

With Johnson & Johnson, it's a little bit different. What they are saying is all adults 18 and older should be eligible for a booster. Again, we've got to wait for CDC to weigh in on this. The big difference there, two months after that initial shot, so that's the specific.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I find that really interesting because, with that, saying you can get -- I'm going to use air quotes now, "the booster," if you've had Johnson & Johnson after two months, you're looking at other shots at least six months.

So can we consider the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a two-dose regimen now?

GUPTA: I think you possibly could think of it that way. It's interesting; even if you go back and look at the original Pfizer and Moderna, what you hear from people like Peter Hotez is there's always likely to be some boost at an interval.

The first two shots together were just together to prime the immune system. You needed two together to prime the immune system. So the idea that you would need a boost later on was not that surprising to people who work on these vaccines.

For Johnson & Johnson, you're right; you could consider this a second shot. There's a difference in the terminology, which most people don't use, but the boost is something to boost the immune system; whereas another shot, like a third shot, could be in people who did not respond to the vaccine well in the first place, like someone who has a weakened immune system, for example.

But yes, two months at least for the Johnson & Johnson interval.

BOLDUAN: There's one thing that I'm curious about when it comes to Moderna and Pfizer and their kind of vaccine regimen here. You know, the guidance is, the booster can come at least six months later.

GUPTA: Six months.

BOLDUAN: If the Moderna booster is half the dose of the initial shot, that's different.

Is that significant?

GUPTA: I think that's really interesting that you picked up on that and I think it is significant but maybe for the exact opposite reason people think.

I think what they do in these situations, they basically try and figure out what is the lowest dose we can use to get a significant antibody response.

Even with Pfizer early on, you may remember they had some high doses they used that were causing some significant side effects. And they just gradually settled in on the dose that they used for the Pfizer vaccine, which is 30 micrograms.

For Moderna, it was 100 micrograms; so a higher dose, much higher. Now they're saying 50 micrograms is enough for the boost. It's based on the data that they're collecting, trying to figure out the lowest dose to get the best response.

BOLDUAN: It's all so fascinating. Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next for us, House lawmakers, all of them will be voting in just hours on holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, just as the attorney general, who decides what to do with that charge, is testifying on Capitol Hill. We have it all covered for you, next.