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At This Hour

Thousands of Migrant Cross Texas Border before Title 42 Ends; U.S. Lawmakers Reach Bipartisan Framework to Avert Shutdown; Federal Reserve to Announce Next Interest Rate Hike; U.S. Hospitals Overwhelmed by Flu, COVID-19, RSV. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 11:00   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Senator Murphy again, speaking out moments ago.


HILL: He has repeatedly talked about how Sandy Hook changed him forever, not just as a politician but as a father as well. The CNN special report "Sandy Hook Forever Remembered," hosted by Alisyn Camerota, airs tonight right here on CNN, 10:00 pm Eastern. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, there.

AT THIS HOUR, thousands of migrants crossing the Rio Grande.

Plus hospitalizations skyrocketing still in the United States with a surge of respiratory illnesses that just won't quit. Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us.

And 10 years after Sandy Hook, one woman who survived reflects on what was taken from her and also the lessons she hopes every adult will now learn.

This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

A breakthrough on Capitol Hill is where we're going to begin. Congressional negotiators have reached a bipartisan framework to fund the U.S. government for a year and in doing so would avert a hurtful, harmful, damaging, whatever you want to describe it as, shutdown.

Putting wheels in motion to complete work, to get it all done but the bipartisan work has put Republican leaders McConnell and McCarthy at odds. McCarthy line fighting McConnell and saying McConnell was wrong.

This as thousands of migrants entering the United States each day in recent days. Those numbers are expected to grow even more when a Trump-era border policy expires next week. Lauren Fox is on the Hill on this funding deal, the bipartisan framework.

Major progress, Lauren.

Where are things headed now?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They had an agreement in principle. For the last several weeks, they were at a standstill, a logjam here on Capitol Hill when it came to whether or not they would come up with a new government spending deal for the next year.

They finally do have this agreement but there's still a lot of work to do. There's a lot of hiccups but right now what we expect is lawmakers will give themselves more time to write this bill, pass a short-term spending bill to get past that first deadline.

Then we expect, next week, we will finally see the full legislation on this larger package that they had an agreement in principle on last night. That's when we'll see if they can get out of here by the Christmas holiday.

It's significant that the statement included lawmakers from the Republican and Democrat side in the Senate and the Democrats in the House but not the Republican House. That gives you a bit of foreshadowing.

Kevin McCarthy is not supportive of this omnibus. My colleague said yesterday in a private meeting he told his conference he's a hell no on this bill. We still expect it to pass. There could be a bit of work left to do.

BOLDUAN: Also raising some interesting questions about what work. Good to see you, Lauren.

The Biden administration is sending additional agents to try to help with this latest surge at the border. Title 42 is set to expire next week. Let's go there. Ed Lavandera is live in El Paso with the latest.

What are you seeing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're concerned about the overwhelming surge that has been ongoing, about 2,500 migrants a day for the last several days here.

And many of the migrants we have spoken to tell us that they're not even aware of what is happening with Title 42.

But you know, this is a bus station here in downtown, where many of the migrants who have been processed and have been given paperwork to show up for immigration court dates several months from now, this is the place where they are being taken.

So they continue on to their journey. Many of the migrants we spoke with say they are connecting with family members and other relatives --


LAVANDERA: -- who are already in the U.S. in places like Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York. So they're spending little time here in the border communities but the influx is so intense, shelters are overwhelmed.

And city leaders we have spoken to say more needs to be done to coordinate all these efforts to make sure there is not a humanitarian crisis here on the streets of a city like El Paso.


PETER SVARZBEIN, CITY COUNCIL, EL PASO: What we need to do here is much more than what we're doing at this point. We need people to step up. We need to stop pointing fingers. We need to collaborate and make sure we keep folks passing through our neighborhoods safe, also keeping our communities safe as well.


LAVANDERA: Kate, the Biden administration is estimating there could be thousands each day, twice the number we are seeing right now.

BOLDUAN: Ed, thank you for being there.

Joining me for more, Jeff Zeleny.

Let's start on the border crisis that Ed thankfully is on the ground to cover for us.

How big of an issue does the White House see this as?

This is not new, not a new problem both as a policy, security and humanitarian issue but also in terms of at the politics that are involved here as Title 42 is about to go away.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, inside the White House this being viewed as a five-alarm fire brewing. This is not of the Biden administration's own making, necessarily. But they will have to contend with it.

It's coming as Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives. They've been hammering the president and the White House and really all Democrats, on the border crisis.

This is something the White House is deeply attuned to, focusing on. They are talking about it nearly every day. They say this they do have plans in place to try to ease the asylum seekers. The reality is this is a major problem and likely to consume the president over the holidays and into the early part of the year as well, Kate.

BOLDUAN: The question that has been left unanswered for, well, multiple administrations now and multiple sessions of Congress, of course, is what is the right fix now, if not this pandemic-era policy?

Why is this issue in particular, does it continue to be so hard for Republicans and Democrat to work together on?

What do you see in this?

ZELENY: It's remarkable. The reality is there's the business community and others who would like there to be a serious discussion on immigration reform and immigration debate in Washington.

Kate, we have not seen that really for at least two administrations ago. Of course, there was a serious effort in the Bush administration, a smaller one in the Obama administration. But ever since then it's become a third rail.

The reality is this crisis is growing, not going away. We'll see if it sparks more of a conversation in the divided Congress. I hate to be pessimistic about this but I think it's very unlikely that it will, largely because it's simply used as a political weapon against the party in power.

That is simply what's been happening. But the White House is going to find a way to deal with this.

This is all coming, of course, as House Republicans are threatening to impeach the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, who is charged with dealing with this. So a lot of politics here, not many solutions in terms of policy.

BOLDUAN: And when you say you don't want to be pessimistic but when it comes to this, history has taught up pessimism is realism. I was reminding myself even though Schumer was a member of the Gang of Eight, it's hard to see the revival of that in the current state of affairs.

Also on the spending bill, because there is major progress, what do you think of the McConnell and McCarthy dynamic playing out now?

ZELENY: Senator McConnell is focused on one thing: governing, getting the spending package out the door and approved before the holidays.

Kevin McCarthy is focusing on the job of speakership. So he is going to, of course, oppose the spending. He argues that House Republicans, of course, just winning a narrow majority, they should have control over what is in the spending package. Most Republicans would agree with that.


ZELENY: But McConnell has a lot of members, some of whom are retiring. They want to stop kicking this can down the road, which they have done time and time again. So it's a foreshadowing of what we'll see in the next year, where McConnell will be used as a weapon, if you will, a pawn in these discussions that House Republicans are having.

BOLDUAN: We know that Mitch McConnell is good at playing political chess, so we'll be watching that play out. Jeff, thank you.

Millions of Americans are facing the threat of severe weather yet again today. A major storm has been moving across the country and it's fueling an outbreak of tornadoes in the South.


BOLDUAN: We're hours away from learning what the new interest rate hike will be. What it could mean for you, is next.





BOLDUAN: In just hours, interest rates expected to increase once again. But already the focus appears to be on what's next after this one. Let's go to Matt Egan, who is tracking this for us from Washington.

Matt, what is the expectation here today?

What's the analysis that you're getting?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR WRITER: It's a safe bet that the Fed will raise rates by 50 basis points. That's what Wall Street is expecting. The Fed does not like to surprise investors.

This would be a significant shift after raising rates by 75 basis points in the prior four meetings, although it's funny, because at any other point in recent history, a 50 basis-point rate hike would be massive.

Today, it indicates a kinder, gentler Fed. I think it shows how aggressive the Fed has been trying to get inflation under control. This is going to lift benchmark interest rates to the highest level since 2007 just before the Great Recession.

That means higher borrowing costs, mortgage rates, credit cards, car loans and more pressure on this economy. If the Fed does indeed slow the rate hikes, that would show that officials are pleased with the recent trends for inflation.

Cost of living, of course, is not low; prices are still going up but not as rapidly as they have. Yesterday's inflation report showed that annual consumer prices going up at the slowest pace all year. Kate, we should expect to hear from Jerome Powell today.


EGAN: He will say that the Fed still has more work to do next year, trying to get inflation back to healthy levels.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll wait to hear first what the Fed decides and also what Jerome Powell projects. Good to see you. Thank you, Matt.

After decades in public health and public service, Dr. Anthony Fauci is days away from moving on. He joins us to talk about the current health challenges and his biggest hope and concern as he's leaving government.





BOLDUAN: All across the country, hospitalizations are rising due to COVID, the flu and RSV. Those numbers are expected to continue to increase even more as people are gathering together.

So what is driving it all?

Just before air, I talked to Dr. Anthony Fauci about this, as well as his imminent retirement.


BOLDUAN: And Dr. Fauci, we now have these three respiratory viruses overwhelming hospitals. I've heard many say, quite frankly, what we're looking at is unprecedented.

When do you think we close this gap?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: No, it doesn't have to be the new normal, Kate. We have to get people vaccinated to protect them, their family and society. We have a vaccine for flu and we're having a pretty bad and early flu season. It's almost a vertical line upward.

But we have a flu vaccine that is matched well to the circulating strain. There's no reason at all not to get a flu vaccine. The same holds true for the COVID booster; that is the updated vaccine that's available.

Unfortunately, only about 13 percent of the eligible people in this country have received that. RSV is a different story. We don't yet have a vaccine for RSV but with regard to respiratory hygiene and wearing masks appropriately at an indoor setting -- I'm not talking about mandating but the common sense of when you go into a congregate setting.

And one of the encouraging things, as bad as RSV is, we have peaked there. Let's hope it continues to have a trajectory downward, so we don't have a challenge with RSV as much as the past four weeks.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see there's at least some hope there.

One thing I wanted to ask you about, I've been long interested, the NIH has been studying the phenomenon of long COVID. The CDC put out a report that long COVID has played a part in the deaths of more than 3,500 people so far. It's a first official attempt to quantify the number of long COVID-19 deaths.

What is your biggest question?

FAUCI: It is a post-acute viral syndrome that is real. It can be mild in the sense of having people have a lingering fatigue. But in some individuals, it can be rather incapacitating. Even as you said, rarely but leading to a serious disease.

But rather than the mortality of it, the thing we are concerned about is, if you look at the fraction of people -- and the fraction varies, depends on what you look at regarding criteria, can be anywhere from 5 percent to up to 15 percent or more.

Giving the sheer volume and quantitative nature of the number of people who are infected, even if a small, small percentage of them get long COVID, that's a lot of people whose lives actually will be impacted in a negative way by the persistence of these symptoms.

It's estimated about 1 million people in this country cannot work, go back to their former employment because of the post-COVID, long COVID syndrome. It's something, you're right, it's a bit mysterious, we don't know the precise pathogenic mechanism.

If you want to do something about it, you have to understand what the underlying mechanisms are. We are making some progress but we still don't fully understand it.

BOLDUAN: No other virus in history has become so politicized as COVID-19.