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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Signs Bill To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday; Interview With Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA); Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare For The Third Time; Right-Wing Media, GOP Lawmakers Peddle Baseless Theory The FBI Was Behind January 6th Insurrection; Major Banks Tell Staff To Be Back At Work By September; New Hope For Voting Rights Legislation After Key Democratic Swing Vote, Senator Joe Manchin, Proposed Compromise. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 17, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's what it's about. So let's make this very Juneteenth, tomorrow, the first that our nation will celebrate all together as one nation. A Juneteenth of action on many fronts.
One of those is vaccinations. Tomorrow, the vice president will be in Atlanta on a bus tour, helping to spread the word like all of you have been doing on life-saving vaccines. And across the country this weekend, including here in Washington, people will be canvassing and hosting events in their communities going door to door encouraging vaccinations. We built equity into the heart of the vaccination program, from day one.
But we still have more to do to close the racial gap in vaccination rates. The more we can do that, the more we can save lives.
Today also marks the sixth anniversary of the tragic deaths of -- at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A killer motivated by hate intending to start a race war in South Carolina. He joined his victims in a Bible study class and he took their lives in the house of worship.
It's a reminder that our work to root out hate never ends, because hate only hides. It never fully goes away. It hides. And when you breathe oxygen under that rock, it comes out.
That's what we must understand that Juneteenth represents not only the commemoration, but the end of slavery in America more than 150 years ago, but the ongoing work to have to bring true equity and racial justice into American society which we can do. In short, this day doesn't just celebrate the past. It calls for action today.
I wish all Americans a happy Juneteenth. I'm shortly going to, in a moment, going to sign into law making it a federal holiday. And I have to say to you, I've only been president for several months, but I think this will go down for me as one of the greatest honors I would have had as president. Not because I did it, you did it, Democrats and Republicans. But it's an enormous, enormous honor.
Thank you for what you've done -- and by the way, typical of most of us in Congress and the Senate, I went down the other end of the hall first and thanked your staffs because I know who does the hard work.
No, they're down there. They're at the other end. I thanked them as well.
And God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
I'd like to invite up while I sign Senator Tina Smith, Senator Ed Markey, Senator Raphael Warnock, Senator John Cornyn, Whip John Clyburn, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Danny Davis, Chair Joyce Beatty, and Sheila Jackson Lee and Ms. Opal.
BIDEN: You should have my chair.
BIDEN: Okay. All right.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ms. Opal first? Yeah.
BIDEN: I don't understand how Barack did this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did it too.
BIDEN: Got to make sure.
There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.
BIDEN: Thank you.
I've got three more I've got to make more of my name.
Did anybody else not --
HARRIS: Yes, Representative Dan --
BIDEN: I'm sorry, man.
HARRIS: Congressman Davis.
BIDEN: Thank you, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BIDEN: All right.
REPORTER: Is election day next, Mr. President? Is election day next?
BIDEN: More than you love me.
REPORTER: Mr. President, is election day next? Is the plan to sign Election Day a national holiday?
BIDEN: All right. Well, thank you, everybody. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.
And you have been watching President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House. As you saw there, he just signed a bill that makes Juneteenth a federal holiday.
This is the first new federal holiday in nearly 40 years, and it commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. Since June 19th this year is on a Saturday, tomorrow is now suddenly the new holiday.
Let's bring in CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly.
Phil, he used this as an opportunity, really, to bring up his key priorities, like voting rights.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, like votes rights and I think just equity generally. That sounds like a broad concept out of hand, but when you talk to administration officials, when you pay close attention, Pamela, to their policy agenda, not just on issues necessarily like voting rights but whether it's on housing or federal contracting, even on climate, that equity is built in to how they've structured many of their proposals with a very good reason.
And I think the president underscored a couple of things as he signed this legislation. One, obviously, he reflected on the meaning of it reflected on the moment and what brought them to this moment, but also said explicitly this he viewed not just as a federal holiday, not just recognition, but as a call to action. I think that action on a legislative front very clearly is under way on equity.
Right now, the largest, the pieces of President Biden's domestic agenda items are very much kind of hanging in the balance at the moment on Capitol Hill. You know, voting rights, obviously, there's no clear path forward to the sweeping votes rights measure that Democrats have put on the table or more the scaled back version. Neither of them have 60 vote in the Senate.
Just today, Pamela, Senator Joe Manchin put a counterproposal on the table and met behind closed doors with Senate Democrats hoping to find some way forward on voting rights. That's one issue that's going on, but also the broader equity pieces of this that are in his infrastructure package, in his social safety net and families package. All of those right now are sitting out there as Democrats try to figure out a way to move forward on that, and if there's a possibility to do it in a bipartisan manner.
Pamela, this bill, the bill announcing establishing this as a federal holiday, passed the U.S. Senate in unanimous fashion. The agenda the president has ahead, it certainly won't pass unanimously and still has major roadblocks.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Fresh off a geopolitical face-off with the highest of stakes --
BIDEN: I did what I came to do.
MATTINGLY: -- President Biden now staring down an even more complex and intransigent figure -- the United States Congress.
BIDEN: I know that my chief of staff thinks there's some room that there may be a means by which to get this done, and I know that Schumer and Nancy have moved forward on a reconciliation provision as well. So I'm still hoping we can put together the two bookends here.
MATTINGLY: Biden now briefed on and weighing a bipartisan infrastructure proposal with $579 billion in new spending, officials say. A draft laying out $312 billion for core infrastructure, like roads, bridges and airports, as well as billions to update the power grid and expand broadband access.
The proposal proposes no tax increases but instead lays out a list of options to pay for it, and it is all endorsed by a group of 20 bipartisan senators.
Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer launching a parallel budget process to unlock the vehicle to pass a Democrat-only proposal.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Today, we're going to start moving the trains down the second track.
MATTINGLY: As push back from progressives weary of losing key components of Biden's sweeping agenda growing more fierce by the day.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): That's the central concern that if we pass this kind of bipartisan package on just a wish and a dream, are they just going to cut and run?
MATTINGLY: Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving Biden and senators space, for now.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We hope that we can have bipartisan infrastructure bill. However, if that doesn't mean that we will abandon how we see infrastructure for the future.
MATTINGLY: All as the White House says that at least for the moment they have been encouraged about what they have been briefed on.
MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Pamela, I just want to underscore a point here in talking with sources on Capitol Hill and the White House. You know, there's a lot of talk from progressives on just leaving the bipartisan talks behind, moving forward on Democrat-only legislation, but it's an incredibly complicated balance even moving forward on that.
Obviously, moderates have made clear, they want bipartisan talks. But today, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Budget Committee chairman, saying he's considering a budget at $6 trillion, really, not just what the president has put on the table on his agenda but going further on issues like Medicare expansion, potentially even immigration as well, all coming into that single bill.
That is something that will not fly with moderate Democrats. Again, this is going to be a back and forth that's very complicated over the next several weeks and is absolutely crucial to President Biden's agenda -- Pamela.
BROWN: It certainly is. All right. Thanks so much, Phil Mattingly.
Let's discuss now with Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California.
Great to have you on the show, Congressman Lieu.
So, let's talk about this infrastructure deal, this bipartisan deal that includes $312 billion for transportation, including $110 billion for roads, bridges and other projects. Is this something that you could get behind?
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Pamela, for your question.
There's two processes right now. There's a bipartisan proposal for infrastructure, and then there's going to be a reconciliation bill that would only require 51 votes. So I'm going to look at both of them and then make a decision. None of them are put in stone yet, and I think it's important to compare the two before making decisions.
BROWN: Of course, on reconciliation you would need, as you pointed out, those 51 votes. That is the second possible infrastructure deal. But it would need Democratic votes like from Joe Manchin, right, Kyrsten Sinema.
Joe Manchin, for example, hasn't said if he'll support that route. What is your message to him?
LIEU: Senator Manchin has said he does support the current two-track process. So I think we need to have some time to let this play out and again, be able to compare the two proposals. If there's not climate change put into the bipartisan bill or there's not a lot of funding for core priorities, then I'm not sure the House will be able to support that, so let's see what the two proposals ultimately look like at the end of the day.
BROWN: And just to be clear, he has not committed to reconciliation. He says he needs to see what's in the bill. So while he's supportive of the two-track process, on reconciliation, he is not committed to that.
I want to ask you about your colleague, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She said that she will not commit to the bipartisan plan if Manchin won't commit to a reconciliation package. Would you do the same?
LIEU: I think, right now, it's important to just let the two parallel tracks play out and to continue to keep going. They're still exchanging language. They're still looking at a different pay-fors.
So this is still early. Let's just see what the final proposals look like, and then both the House and Senate can make a decision.
BROWN: I want to ask you about what we just saw, Joe Biden signing the Juneteenth bill into law. Fourteen Republican House members voted against the bill, which the president just signed. Again, you see it right here in this video.
Have you talked with any of them, any of those Republicans?
LIEU: I have not, but I did read some of their rationales and I believe those Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for not supporting the end of slavery. This is something we should celebrate as a nation. This was bipartisan coming out of the Senate, and it's something that we simply need to teach our children.
We can't wish away slavery. It happened. We have to teach it, and we can't whitewash it.
BROWN: Let's turn to the meeting, the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin, since you sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Today, "The Washington Post" editorial board wrote a piece titled: Biden offered Putin the benefit of the doubt.
He should know better.
Do you think Biden walked away from the summit too optimistic?
LIEU: I think President Biden did a great job at the summit. First of all, he strategically made sure that he worked with our NATO allies, strengthened NATO, and got the entire commitment of the NATO before he walked into this meeting with Putin, and then he stood toe-to-toe with Vladimir Putin, challenged him on human rights, cybersecurity, and a range of other issues.
This is in stark contrast to the former president who went to Helsinki and basically bent a knee to Vladimir Putin.
I thought President Biden was strong and was simply going to have to stand up against the aggression that Russia has shown and continues to show the United States.
BROWN: What do you say to Kevin McCarthy who has come out and criticized Biden saying he was weak on Putin in light of what you just mentioned about Helsinki?
LIEU: Kevin McCarthy is just wrong. President Biden was very strong in standing up to Vladimir Putin. He told him that if Mr. Navalny died or suffered any serious harm, there'd be serious consequences for Russia. We have very strong human rights. And under President Biden's leadership, America is back and respected once again on the world stage.
BROWN: I want to get your response to what we heard from Alexander Vindman, the former director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, who testified, as you'll recall, during Trump's first impeachment. He says, Russia is coming away with a public relations win, while the U.S. has little to show from the summit in terms of tangible improvements to national security.
What do you think about that view?
LIEU: Russia has state-run media, so whatever happens they're going to spin it in favor of Putin.
President Biden, again, stood up to Vladimir Putin, made a number of very strong assertions and challenges to Vladimir Putin. And Vladimir Putin also praised President Biden, saying, essentially, nothing gets past him, that President Biden really understands what he's doing.
And so, we're going to have to manage this relationship, and Russia does cooperate with the U.S. on a variety of different issues. On other issues, we do have differences of opinion and the best way is to solve those diplomatically. BROWN: Well, time will tell how successful that summit was.
Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much.
LIEU: Thank you, Pamela.
BROWN: Obamacare gets another shot in the arm from the Supreme Court. The move from the high court today, up next.
Plus, the outlandish new conspiracy theory being picked up by Republican lawmakers about who was involved in the insurrection.
BROWN: In our politics lead, the White House is celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to throw out a challenge to Obamacare, leaving the Affordable Care Act intact. The vote 7-2 with Trump appointees, Justices Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett, as well as long time conservative Clarence Thomas voting with the liberal wing.
CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins us now.
Wow, Joan, this is the third time the court heard the significant challenge to the law. Once again it is saving the Affordable Care Act. Were you surprised the way that this came down?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: I was surprised at some of the dimensions, not the overall ruling. I thought for sure the Affordable Care Act would stand for the third time. Chief Justice John Roberts had ensured that back in 2012, in 2015. I thought it was not going down.
But the way they survived, the way it survived was so interesting with the conservative justices joining the liberals, and with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the decision. In the past, the chief had kept the decision for himself. This time, he gave it to the senior liberal justice to write, and then having those conservatives on it, two of the three President Trump appointees, it's a signal that n this is the end of the line for these challenges to a law that was passed in 2010. If you want changes, the court is saying, go to Congress, go to your elected officials. Stop coming to the Supreme Court.
BROWN: And you are one of the foremost experts when it comes to the Chief Justice John Roberts. What do you make of his role and given his history with it?
BISKUPIC: Well, I can tell you, back in 2012 when he cast the deciding vote, it was a 5-4 ruling back in 2012 to uphold it. He got so much grief from fellow conservatives for doing that, and it really strained relations at the court for several months if not years after that. And then in 2015 there was a little bit of un -- well, I shouldn't say a little bit, Justice Antonin Scalia said, the way you're rewriting this law, instead of calling it Obamacare, you ought to call it SCOTUS care, like Supreme Court of the United States. BROWN: Right.
BISKUPIC: So, you know, both those times, there were closer votes. He played a larger role. But this time, he decided to -- first of all, it's such a good move for him in terms of integrity of the court, the institutionalism to have both sides coming together more fully than they did in 2012 and 2015.
I also think it shows his leadership at a time when we were wondering how much control he would have on this bench. Now that it's a 6-3 conservative-liberal court. He's no longer the swing vote. But, clearly, he was able to persuade Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh to go that way, and even in small measure, Clarence Thomas.
Clarence Thomas didn't subscribe to the whole thing, but enough to get the job done.
BROWN: You often don't see that group together, right?
BISKUPIC: And on something so big, this was what we were all waiting for.
BROWN: Right. This is all we're waiting for. And I'm with you. I did not expect -- I expected the same ruling but I didn't expect it to come down this way.
Biden famously said, as we all remember, Obamacare was a big F-ing deal. What is he saying today?
BISKUPIC: Well, he's just as happy today. This ensures the Obama legacy. You know, he was vice president then. And then for his own administration, it means he will not be fighting this battle. He can expand this law that has already given health care to 20 million more Americans. He can turn his domestic agenda in another direction and stop worrying about the Affordable Care Act.
BROWN: All right. Joan Biskupic, that sums it up. Thank you so much.
BISKUPIC: Thank you.
BROWN: And up next, the family of one Republican congressman calling him a pathological liar for the conspiracy theories he's e spreading about the January 6th insurrection. That story, up next.
BROWN: In our politics lead, a possible new low for right wing media and some Republicans who keep trying to whitewash the Capitol attack on January 6th that we've seen with our own eyes. Their new theory, the FBI did it.
But even though we all know they didn't, CNN's Tom Foreman reports that is not stopping some lawmakers from standing inside the same building that was attacked and spewing this new insane lie.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as new video shows more of the raw violence at the Capitol, a new conspiracy theory is raging on the right but they were not Trump supporters but FBI agents.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The government knows who these people are but has refused to charge them with crimes. Why is that? Federal law enforcement appeared a role in what happened that way.
FOREMAN: The right wing Web site "Revolver News" launched the notion with an article suggesting undercover agents might have been hiding in the mob encouraging the assault. Legal analysts say that's a laughably bad misunderstanding of court documents which in no way confirm such a claim.
But Arizona Republican Paul Gosar ran with it any way.
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): I would like to ask for a unanimous consent to enter into the record a report from "Revolver News".
FOREMAN: Yeah, he's the same congressman who says Capitol police executed rioter Ashli Babbitt, the same lawmaker whose own siblings are rejecting him.
DAVID GOSAR, REP. PAUL GOSAR'S BROTHER: We apologize on behalf of our family to him for his despicable comments and disgraceful conduct.
FOREMAN: That plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Rep. Louie Gohmert has falsely implicated federal agents in that, and he's all over this utterly unfounded theory, too.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): We need to know how much participation did any of our federal friends either at DOJ, FBI, or any of the intel community, what kind of role were they playing?
FOREMAN: It all comes as 21 Republican lawmakers voted against honoring the Capitol police who defended them that day.
As Officer Michael Fanone says he tried to shake hands with one of them, Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia.
OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, WASHINGTON DC METROPOLITAN POLICE: I explained to him the injuries I suffered as a result of that. He just stared at me, turned away.
FOREMAN (on camera): Clyde's office yet to say anything to CNN about that, but make no mistake, millions of people heard this unfounded theory and it's just the latest example of Trump defenders embracing wild, unhinged ideas to explain what happened that day and to shield the former president from the blame that most Americans in polls say he deserves -- Pam.
BROWN: Shaking my head.
Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
We have a panel of wonderful ladies to discuss all of this.
You know, Dana, I remember, we were watching this play out on January 6th. Jake Tapper said remember when you're seeing because some Republicans are going to try to whitewash this. It is getting more and more ludicrous how they are whitewashing it on the floor of the Capitol building in which they were fleeing for their lives on January 6th and protected by capitol police and other law enforcement.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the end of shame. There's no shame that these lawmakers that we're talking about have in doing this. The reason is because they have so many that attaboys coming at them for the way that they're lying, from the conservative media that they and the people who they care about watch and therefore from the people who the small sliver of people who they need to keep electing them, particularly these members who are from really, really not just conservative districts but, you know, very specific districts to their brand of lawmaker, never mind their part of the party.
I mean, you remember we were covering Capitol Hill at a time where the Louie Gohmerts of the world existed but nobody paid attention to them because they had the luxury of not paying attention to them because their lies weren't amplified on conservative media, never mind by the former president of the United States.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And so, it's really not helpful particularly when Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are retweeting some of this crazy stuff. It's not helpful to the rest of the party as they try to get ready for the midterm elections and get people to focus on what their message against the Biden administration and the Democrats because they're having to debate over and over again these kind of crazy conspiracy theories.
And that is not going to be helpful to them in midterms when they are constantly having to answer for what the fringe of the party is doing, the fringe that continues to be encouraged by former Pesident Trump.
BROWN: The fringe of the party but they are now becoming the party and why isn't GOP leadership then, to your point, Maeve, coming out and saying this is unacceptable. This is where our focus is?
AYESHA RASCOE, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Because it really doesn't seem to be the fringe anymore. It seems or the fringe is leading the party because the fringe is whatever Donald Trump wants them to say and whatever will defend him, they'll go to that. Now, you have them talking about the FBI. Before it was Antifa, before it was, you know, the socialists, and next, it will be the communists.
This is a playbook of saying the country has been infiltrated. They are bad actors stirring up things. What that does is to deny the very truth that you see with your eyes. Don't look at what's happening with your eyes. That's not true. It's these bad actors.
The thing is yesterday when you had Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was saying things that was very similar to what you are hearing from some of these Republicans, that these were protesters on January 6th and that this woman was shot and she was just a protester. So how can you talk about me and what I do in Russia?
That is what is happening in this country is the same type of propaganda that's coming out of the Russian president coming out of some Republicans.
BROWN: And now family members of some of these Republicans, at least one I should say, are speaking out. Take a listen to the sister of a congressman who is peddling this conspiracy explained how she thinks her brother doesn't actually believe what he's saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER GOSAR, SISTER OF GOP REP. PAUL GOSAR: Does he believe it all? I think he probably doesn't but it's so convenient and he keeps telling himself that that he's able to find the anger and fuel his rhetoric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: This goes to what you were saying, Dana, for some of these Republicans to stay alive in politics, they have to push this. But how many of them actually believe it, you think?
BASH: It's so hard to know the answer to that. To have the sister of one of these lawmakers come out on national, international television and say that is truly remarkable. And it really goes -- I mean, I said the end of shame. There are some people like his siblings who do have shame.
And it's -- again, I think it's really important to say this is not about ideology. This isn't about whether or not there should be big government or small government. This isn't about whether it should be high taxes or low taxes.
This is about whether something happened, as you said, before your eyes, an attack on the United States government from within and on the day that a very important move was made to continue the continuity of government. It's as fundamental as it gets and these are not policy disagreements.
BROWN: That's the thing. That's why I feel comfortable, you feel comfortable, sharing such a strong view of this. It's not policy. It's fact versus fiction, right?
And to your point, if this country, if lawmakers can't agree on this basic truth, Maeve, of what happened on January 6th, what is the future going to look like? I mean, big picture, how does democracy survive in this state?
RESTON: It's incredibly dangerous and I think that disinformation is going to be a huge theme that we are all paying attention to throughout the midterms but one Democrats are worried about because these kind of theories especially in places like Florida, south Florida, Democrats are worried about the ways in which these theories are flying around and affecting the mindset of voters and their distrust of democratic institutions and we see that over and over again with voting rights legislation that we see across the country, this assault on democracy.
So, it's a really toxic brew and I don't think we know how the story ends at this point and it's really scary.
BROWN: Maeve, Ayesha, Dana, thank you so much. So much more to discuss. Really appreciate it.
And for more new details about what happened on January 6th, tune into CNN on Sunday night for a special report "Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump's Insurrection."
That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Well, so long to working from your couch, the push from major companies to get workers back to the office fast.
BROWN: Turning to the help lead, so long Zoom and sweatpants. As more Americans are vaccinated and life returns to normal, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley telling employees they need to be at back to work in person by September.
Morgan Stanley CEO adding, if they can go to a restaurant in New York City, they can come to the office -- as CNN's Nick Watt reports.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Cases and deaths are down more than 90 percent since the president took office on January 20th.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's great but maybe 10 percent of new cases are that more contagious Delta variant.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL: If you are vaccinated, you are protected. If you are not, the threat of variance is real and growing.
WATT: More than 142 million adults are fully vaccinated, about 115 million are not.
ZIENTS: Too many communities remain at risk because of low vaccination levels.
WATT: Mid April on average, over 3 million shots going into arms every day. Now, just a little over 1 million, ways lower but steady.
The government is recruiting students as young as 16 to promote vaccination.
XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: You're going to have a far better chance of getting them to listen to you than maybe to some of us.
WATT: As shots in arms rise, restrictions fall.
Ohio's COVID-19 emergency declaration ends tomorrow.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Getting vaccinated gets us back to normal.
WATT: Last summer, the stands empty for the U.S. open tennis tournament. Just announced this summer, they can be full 100 percent.
So might offices also be full come the fall?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office and we want you in the office.
WATT (on camera): So, this morning, Jeff Zients, the White House coordinator, was asked will the administration meet its goal of 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by July 4th? He wouldn't give a straight answer. Now, listen, some states are going to meet that but our data shows that the country pretty unlikely -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right. Nick, thanks so much.
Let's bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Good to see you as always, Sanjay.
What do you make of the CEO --
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pamela.
BROWN: -- telling his employees if you can go to a restaurant, you can come into the office. Medically speaking, is he right?
GUPTA: Yeah. You know, I think if you're vaccinated, I think both those situations are pretty safe. I mean, we know how effective these vaccines are as we've talked so many times. I mean, strictly speaking, a restaurant may be slightly more dangerous because it's an unknown environment. It's unknown people, people from lots of different places obviously coming to that place.
But the workplace -- you know, he also talked about the fact that 90 percent plus of the employees are vaccinated. It's a more controlled space, ventilation and things like that. He also talked about the fact that there are places around the world like India, they wouldn't go back in. So, there's that flexibility. But, yes. I think overall, scientifically, it's accurate.
BROWN: So, people are going back to work amid this Delta variant, right? Dr. Fauci says he's not concerned about that variant for people who are fully vaccinated, but how can he be sure? This virus keeps mutating, these strains are more and more severe.
GUPTA: Yeah, that's a really good question, Pamela. First of all, we can see what's happening with the Delta variant in this country. It is sort of becoming increasingly a larger percentage of the overall numbers. It's doubling roughly every two weeks. So, it will become the dominant variant.
We also know to the first part of your question that vaccines work well. We know that you do see drop-off with the Pfizer vaccine with this particular variant, but it still works really well.
What happens to the second part of your question is that as the virus spreads more and more, one of the issues will be that it will mutate more and eventually the concern is will one of those mutation escape the immunity of the vaccines. That's not happened yet, to be clear. But that's why you want to reduce the spread of the virus, period, for everybody, vaccinated and unvaccinated.
BROWN: So health experts say the way to combat these variants as you point out is to do that, is to get enough people vaccinated. But vaccination numbers are dropping. I mean, is there anything that can be done medically to combat these variants if herd immunity is out of the question?
GUPTA: Yeah. You know, I think at that point if we simply say we're not going to get there where we get 70 percent of the country vaccinated, then, you know, I think one of the things critical is to be a step ahead of these variants. We've really got to be testing and understand when the variants start to emerge, see, in the laboratory if the vaccines still work and if you're seeing that they're not working as well, start thinking about boosters.
Again, I'm not suggesting that we're there, or that we will necessarily get to that point. But that is what we have to be doing, so we're not sort of caught flat-footed.
BROWN: But bottom line is, we're much better positioned if there's a variant that evades the vaccine than when the pandemic first emerge and we had to basically start from scratch, right?
GUPTA: Yeah. So, there will be some immunity still, you know, regardless, even though if immunity drops, it doesn't go to zero percent. There will be some immunity. So, that's good.
But also, I mean, you know, we talk about these vaccines a lot. What they tell me is that within, you know, a few months you could create one of these boosters and have it out there. So, think about how the rapid response from a vaccine standpoint that is possible. BROWN: There's still so much to learn also about, you know, how it can
impact kids under 12 who aren't vaccinated.
Unfortunately, we have to go. But, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
GUPTA: Pamela, thank you.
BROWN: A surprising step toward compromise on Capitol Hill that Mitch McConnell is already blasting.
Then so much for Mexico paying for it. The Texas governor's PayPal- like plan to keep building the border wall.
BROWN: In our politics lead, new hope for voting rights legislation on a federal level, after the key Democratic swing vote, Senator Joe Manchin, proposed a compromise that is even getting a nod from voting rights activist -- Stacey Abrams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Absolutely. What Senator Manchin is putting forward are basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is assessable no matter your geography.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us on the Hill.
So, Ryan, what are some of the key parts of Manchin's compromise?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no doubt, Pam, that this is a significant development and these changes that Manchin has offered was something that many Democrats seemed to be in line with it. Among the provisions he's talking about is making Election Day a federal holiday.
He also wants to mandate 15 days of early vote nothing matter what state you live in and he also wants to make it permanent automatic voter registration through state DMVs. Now, these provisions that happen in some states but not in all, the purpose of the federal bill would make it nationalize so every state would have these provisions.
Now, Democrats like what he is proposing but they're not happy with all of it. He suggesting that ID laws also become an important part of voter registration processes across the state. That has some Democrats concerned. But this is a negotiation. They had a caucus meeting about it today and Democrats feel as though they're headed in the right direction, Pam.
BROWN: And you have Senator McConnell who is now throwing cold water on this compromise. NOBLES: Yeah. So, that's the big problem here, right? Bringing Joe
Manchin on board was only part of the equation for Democrats. Manchin is also standing in the way of breaking up the filibuster in order to get this legislation passed and that would mean he would need ten Republican votes in the Senate to make it happen.
And we sound like a broken record on Capitol Hill because we talk about a pieces of legislation under this lens but this is not different and Mitch McConnell said today there's no way Republicans will support this version of voter rights or election reform so Manchin would have to bust up the filibuster.
Today, again, Pam, he reiterated that he's not interested in doing that. So, that means even though Democrats like the changes he's proposed, unless he's willing to break up the filibuster, this legislation isn't going anywhere -- Pam.
BROWN: All right. Ryan Nobles, live for us on Capitol Hill, thanks so much, Ryan.
And turning to the national lead, Texas always the reliable wing man for Trump, taking matters into its own hands now, with the governor announcing plans to finish the border wall and he might hit up your Venmo to get it finished.
CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us in Texas.
So, Rosa, the governor says some of this funding will be crowd sourced?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Pamela. According to Governor Abbott, you can send a check to a P.O. box or you can make a donation online. Governor Greg Abbott announcing yesterday, the allocation of $250 million to build the Texas border wall, according to the governor, the first step will be the hiring of a project manager to oversee the construction of this wall and also to talk to land owners, to convince them to donate their property for the construction of this wall.
Now, Governor Abbott is not specifying how many miles he plans to build or how much it's all going to cost, but he does say that it's going to cost more than $250 million and that's why he's asking for donations. But, you know, this is so much more than just building of a wall. According to Governor Abbott, this wall will be the basis for the arrest of migrants at the border and the damage to this wall will be proof that they trespassed into the state of Texas.
This is, of course, not sitting well with a lot of the residents along the border. In Hidalgo County, people going to their county commissioners telling them they oppose this and telling their commissioners that to them, this is a replay of the Trump era zero tolerance policy that separated children from their families. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTO LOPEZ, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: In the Trump vacuum, Governor Abbott has eased the opportunity to be the demonizer in chief. And that is why we're here to ask you to stand at best in active opposition against the governor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do feel sorry for the children but the parents to me if it were me I would be arrested if I would turn my children loose and sent them over alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: And earlier today, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announcing that they are beginning to move inmates out of a prison to other places around the state and, Pamela, that is to make room, according to this agency, for the migrants that Governor Abbott plans to arrest at the border under some state statute of trespassing -- Pamela.
BROWN: OK. Rosa Flores live from Houston, thanks so much, Rosa.
And I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper today. Follow me on Twitter @PamelaBrownCNN or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN.
Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM."