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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Calls Infrastructure Deal a "True Bipartisan Effort"; Interview with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki; 1 Dead, Nearly 100 People Unaccounted for in Condo Collapse; Officials: U.S. to Evacuate Afghans who Helped U.S. Military in Afghanistan White They Wait for Visas; Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) is Interviewed About the Afghan Evacuation Plan. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 24, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Well below the national rate of 45 percent. You see the president there having a conversation. I see facing us is the governor there, Roy Cooper, and Michael Reagan, the administrator of the EPA.
All right. Something else I want you to know, I'm excited about this. I want to invite you to celebrate the Fourth of July with CNN. I will be hosting a star-studded event, along with my colleagues, Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Ana Cabrera.
Do not miss the music and fireworks and celebrities starting July 4th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It may be the toughest bridge to build was the one between Democrats and Republicans.
THE LEAD starts right now.
We have a deal, President Biden claims. Mr. Biden announcing the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have come together on an infrastructure plan worth more than a trillion dollars.
Coming up, I'm going to ask the White House press secretary whether beyond the announcement they actually have the votes in the Senate, not to mention the House.
Tragedy in Florida. The search right now after a deadly building collapse there. A boy, one of two people pulled from the rubble alive. One confirmed dead so far. Ninety-nine more Floridians unaccounted for.
Plus, a big development on a life-or-death story that we've been covering for weeks, months, years even on THE LEAD. The White House announcing that Afghan translators who helped U.S. troops will be saved, but how many? Of the 9,000 who have completed the paperwork, how many are we talking about?
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. And we start with breaking news on our politics lead.
President Biden making the official announcement this afternoon. There is a bipartisan deal on infrastructure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a really good meeting. In answer to your direct question, we have a deal. None of us got all that we wanted. I clearly didn't get all that I wanted. They gave more than maybe they were inclined to give in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: There are some significant hurdles ahead of course, including finding a way to get to 60 votes in the Senate to proceed to debating the bill. Some progressive Democrats, in addition, have already complained the deal has been pared down way too much. Some Republicans think that their negotiators ceded important ground, especially surrounding the price tag. But to even reach a bipartisan deal of this size in this era, more than $1 trillion in total spending, well, that's an accomplishment in and of itself, prompting questions as to whether this infrastructure deal might pave the way for other Biden agenda items -- as CNN's Kaitlan Collins now reports.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's finally actually infrastructure week in Washington.
BIDEN: It's hard, but it's necessary and it can get done.
COLLINS: With a smile on his face, President Biden emerged from a 30- minute meeting with a bipartisan group of senators today with this announcement.
BIDEN: In answer to your direct question, we have a deal.
COLLINS: The president officially endorsing a long-sought and hard- fought agreement that features $579 in new spending on roads, bridges, broadband and other traditional infrastructure.
The deal is big but still a fraction of what Biden initially wanted. He made clear today he won't sign it unless Congress also passes a bigger reconciliation package that Democrats want but Republicans oppose.
BIDEN: If they don't come, I'm not signing it. It's real simple. If only one comes to me, I'm not -- if this is the only thing that comes to me, I'm not signing it. It's in tandem.
COLLINS: Passing both will prove to be a heavy lift for the Democratic Party that only has the slimmest of majorities in Congress, with skeptics already emerging.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Could you vote for it.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): For what?
RAJU: The deal.
WARREN: There is no overall deal. There is one deal.
COLLINS: But the president voicing confidence today.
BIDEN: I don't have any guarantee. But what I do have is a pretty good read over the years of how the Congress and the Senate works. My party is divided but my party is also rational.
COLLINS: If Biden succeeds, this plan will be one of the biggest investments in the nation's crumbling infrastructure in history.
BIDEN: Talk about public transit, $49 billion, $49 billion for public transit. When I raised that before, some of you looked at me like where have you been, Biden?
COLLINS: Biden also singling out Democrats who urged him to end talks with Republicans and focus on a bigger deal within his own party.
BIDEN: I know there are some of my party who discouraged me from seeking an agreement with our Republican colleagues, who said that we should go bigger and go alone. To them, I say this: I've already shown in my young presidency that I'm prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward.
COLLINS: The president praising the Republicans who sat down with him.
BIDEN: Mitt Romney has never broken his word to me. People I was with today are people that I trust. I don't agree with them on a lot of things, but I trust them when they say this is a deal, we'll stick in the deal.
COLLINS: Biden relied on his years of congressional experience throughout the negotiations and even became a little nostalgic today.
BIDEN: This reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress. We actually worked. We had bipartisan deals.
COLLINS (on camera): Now, Jake, there is a long way to go from those smiles in front of the West Wing to actually getting this passed through both chambers of Congress. But the president is clearly optimistic not just talking about what this plan if passed would do inside the United States but also on the world stage and the competitive edge he believes it would give the United States against countries like China.
TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, a potentially historic achievement announced today.
Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles who's live on Capitol Hill for us.
And, Ryan, the other part of this puzzle, of course, is what's called a reconciliation package. It's a budget blueprint that Democrats are putting together. It could have a price tag of $6 trillion.
Do we know what's in that?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have a general idea what both the White House and Democratic leaders here on Capitol Hill would like to see in that plan. And we should emphasize, Jake, in order to get that bipartisan infrastructure plan over the finish line, Democrats are insistent that that reconciliation piece be brought up and passed at the same exact time. And that big American families plan as the president calls it, that has a number of human infrastructure pieces associated with it. Expanding health care access, providing for childcare in work programs, job programs, things along those lines and, of course, the permanent expansion of the child tax credit which was a signature part of the original COVID relief package.
And this is a high priority, particularly for the progressive members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Many of them not all that enamored with this bipartisan hard infrastructure plan of which a deal has been struck. So that means that both Republicans and Democrats are going to have a lot of work to do in the month of July to get both of these packages passed and put on President Biden's desk at the same time or else neither one of them will be signed into law -- Jake.
TAPPER: And, Ryan, President Biden said he won't sign the bipartisan infrastructure deal unless it comes to his desk in tandem with this budget reconciliation bill. If it's going to take months for the reconciliation bill to be put together, does that mean we could be waiting months for the infrastructure bill to be signed?
NOBLES: Well, there is optimism they can do it quickly. I just spoke to House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth who told me that he believes that they can get both things done. It won't be easy, but they believe they can do it. But the key here is to have progressive buy-in. There's only a four-seat margin in the House of Representatives and progressives are just not going to be interested at all in that bipartisan package if they don't get the reconciliation package at the same time.
I talked to one of the leaders of the progressive movement here on Capitol Hill, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just a few minutes ago, and this is what she had to say about the negotiations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): They can have their cake and eat it too and negotiate a bipartisan deal and lower the reconciliation package? No, I think that's part of the push and pull here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So essentially what we're dealing with here on Capitol Hill, Jake, is a big tension rod, both sides kind of holding each other up. If either one backs out at any time, the entire thing could blow up -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now to discuss, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki joining us from the North Lawn.
Jen, thanks so much for joining us.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the infrastructure deal right now. Do you have the 60 votes in the Senate necessary to proceed to debate and then, you know, amend the bill, et cetera? Do you have the 60 votes?
PSAKI: Well, look, Jake, there's no question there's hard work ahead. And there were five Republicans and five Democrats who are here today with the president finalizing this deal. There were more Republicans and, of course, more Democrats who were involved in negotiating the deal.
So, we're confident that we have a good path forward, but we also know there's going to be hard work ahead and that's what happens now.
TAPPER: Did the five Republicans that were there tell you the names of five Republicans, five other Republicans who they think they can get?
PSAKI: Well, they didn't whisper any names in my ear, Jake, but I can tell you that what they both knew -- what they all knew and what they said when they stood in front of the White House today is that they need to go back and sell this to their caucuses. Make sure their caucuses understand why a historic investment in rail, a historic investment in our nation's infrastructure, making broadband accessible to people across the country, rebuilding our lead pipes so that kids can have access to drinking water is something that Democrats and Republicans in the country agree to -- agree on so they should agree to that in Congress as well.
But that's what they're starting to do, even this afternoon.
TAPPER: And, as you know, there's no guarantee you're going to get all 50 Democratic senators in the Senate. There are a few Democratic senators who today raised concerns, saying that the bill is too small.
Take a listen to Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Way too small, paltry, pathetic. It has to be combined with a second much more robust, adequate package to be deserving of a vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How are you going to get Blumenthal to vote for a bill he called pathetic?
PSAKI: Well, with all due respect to my hometown senator, I think those comments were made even before the details of the deal were put out. It is a historic investment in rail, a historic investment in our nation's infrastructure, something his state, Connecticut, where I grew up definitely needs.
But I also say the president made very clear today, Jake, that he wants these packages to go in tandem. He wants it to happen promptly and he wants a budget reconciliation process that has additional investments in care-giving and child care, universal pre-K to happen at the same time. We're just beginning that process but he made that crystal clear today to the republic.
TAPPER: So what do you say to a Republican who's working with the White House to come up with a bipartisan bill on infrastructure who says you got our help to have this bipartisan bill so you can get 60 votes, and meanwhile, everything we're saying we don't want in this bill, you're just shoving in the budget reconciliation bill and you're going to pass it with 50 votes plus Vice President Harris? How is that good faith?
PSAKI: Well, the president's view is that we should find areas where there's common grounds and areas where we agree, and we should not rule out or eliminate options where we need to move forward on our own. And, look, the budget reconciliation process has a lot of stuff that's hugely popular across bipartisan lines, Democrats and Republicans in the country love -- universal pre-K, making college -- college more affordable, community college more affordable.
These are things that the American people really like. They can make a choice whether they support a final budget reconciliation process or not, but the president has been pretty clear in introducing these plans and believes they should work in tandem and believes that Democrats and Republicans should find areas where they agree and work together on those deponents.
TAPPER: Just to explain for our viewers, reconciliation refers to a process by which budget items can pass the Senate with just 51 votes instead of the 60-vote threshold. That's why we keep -- we all keep using the word reconciliation. It just has to do with the Senate maneuvering, only needing Democratic votes.
So, Jen, President Biden said today he's not going to sign the infrastructure bill unless it comes to his desk with that budget reconciliation bill, as you just mentioned, realistically, of course, all of that could take months, especially the budget reconciliation. We're talking about $6 trillion Bernie Sanders says, the chairman of the Budget Committee.
If infrastructure is so important, why wait for the budget reconciliation process?
PSAKI: Well, first, I'd say, Jake, that the president proposed all these components because he thinks they're all important to the American people and the public. The infrastructure package is -- will create millions of jobs overtime but it's really a long term investment, over the course of eight years. I will say that a lot of Democrats have said today there's urgency.
You've heard Speaker Pelosi and others convey that. There's urgency in moving these components forward. We're going to work closely with them. There's no question there's a lot of important work, hard work ahead, long nights ahead. We're ready for that and we're going to continue to urge -- to urge them to move forward as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: And I just want to make sure, if anybody thought they've misheard me -- no, I actually said $6 trillion. That's the budget committee chairman, Senator Sanders' plan, for the budget reconciliation bill. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says that's way too much money.
How high is President Biden willing to go?
PSAKI: Well, there's going to be a whole process here. The president is going to fight for, stand by his American Families Plan and the key components of that. He's proposed in his budget about $4 trillion of spending. There will be a discussion about it. There will be a negotiation among members of Congress, as you just noted, important for your audience, you need 51 votes. That means you need every Democratic senator to support a final proposal.
But there's going to be a lot of negotiations, conversations ahead about what's going to be in this package. And he's -- we're going to continue to fight for the pieces that are in the president's budget and the American Families Plan.
TAPPER: All right. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, thanks for your time today. Appreciate it.
PSAKI: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: A desperate search going on right now after a 12-story condo collapses in Florida. It was all caught on tape. We're expecting a live update on the search and rescue efforts in moments. Ninety-nine people are missing right now.
And as many students drown in debt, a new study says Uncle Sam was letting colleges off the hook for a billion dollars.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Breaking news in our national lead. You're looking live at a horrific scene right now in South Florida. At least 99 people are missing after a 12-story condo building collapsed early this morning. We are expecting an update from local officials at any moment. We'll bring that to you.
Witnesses say, quote, everybody was screaming and panicking.
This is the disturbing moment when the building collapsed.
The reason for the collapse remains unknown as of now with the focus entirely on rescuing residents from underneath the rubble.
Let's get right to CNN's Randi Kaye. She's live from Surfside, Florida.
And, Randi, you spoke with the fire marshal about the search and rescue mission. What did he tell you?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His message, Jake, was really one of hope. I spoke to the state fire marshal, Jimmy Patronis, nd he told me earlier today some rescue teams thought they heard a noise in the rubble, possibly someone alive. No word yet that anyone was pulled from the rubble alive, but rescue teams do plan to work here, Jake, through the night.
KAYE (voice-over): A massive search and rescue under way after these terrifying moments in Surfside, Florida. Surveillance video from a nearby building appears to show the moment this 12-story condo partially collapsed. It happened early this morning just a few miles north of Miami Beach.
Miami-Dade fire rescue responded to the collapse at 1:30 in the morning and were able to rescue 35 people. Two were transported to the hospital. One died.
MAYOR CHARLES BUCKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: The problem is the building has literally pancaked. It has gone down -- and I mean there's just feet in between stories where there were 10 feet. That is heartbreaking because it doesn't mean to me that we're going to be successful -- as successful as we would want to be to find people alive.
KAYE: President Joe Biden saying the federal government is ready to help.
BIDEN: We are on top of it. We are ready to move from the federal resources immediately, immediately, if in fact we're asked.
KAYE: About 55 of the building's 136 units collapsed, sending up a thick dust cloud and leaving piles of rubble below. The structure is still unsteady with much of what's left just dangling. Building resident Barry Cohen recalls the horrific moment after it collapsed.
BARRY COHEN, RESIDENT OF PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: I looked down the hallway and it's a very long hallway, probably 100 yards, 75 yards. And there was nothing there. It was just a pile of dust and rubble and paint falling from the ceiling.
KAYE: Nicholas Balboa was out walking his dog when he heard a voice shouting. It was a young boy stuck in the rubble, desperately in need of help.
NICHOLAS BALBOA, HELPED RESCUE PEOPLE FROM PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: I saw an arm sticking out of the wreckage and he was screaming, "Can you see me?" He was just screaming, "Don't leave me, don't leave me."
KAYE: Balboa was able to alert rescue teams who got to the boy and saved his life.
KAYE (on camera): And the concern now, Jake, is that we have only about four hours of daylight left here. Teams do say they will work into the night even after it gets dark. But with 99 people, as many as 99 people, as you said, still missing and unaccounted for, loved ones are very concerned about the darkness coming. There's also a lot of concern that any of those people might still be alive buried under that rubble, which as the officials are describing it, it's a pancaked building and we can see that in the video was well. But certainly, Jake, nobody here giving up hope.
TAPPER: All right. Randi Kaye, thank you so much.
Allies getting a lifeline. New hope today for Afghan translators and others who helped the U.S. military and have begun to live in fear that the Taliban is going to hunt them down any day now. But how many of the 9,000 people who have finished their paperwork to come to the U.S., how many of them will be saved?
TAPPER: In our world lead this afternoon, President Biden made a promise to the Afghans who helped the U.S. military during America's longest war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We've already begun the process. Those who helped us are not going to be left behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's quite a promise. Biden admits he does not know where the Afghan nationals will be sent. The State Department says they'll be evacuated before the U.S. leaves in September. But let's be clear, of the 9,000 Afghans who have completed the
special immigrant visa or SIV paperwork and the 19,000 total who have at least started the process, not to mention all of their family members, we have no idea how many Afghans right now per the Biden administration are going to be evacuated and rescued. Pressure has been mounting on Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose department issues those special immigrant visas.
CNN's Kylie Atwood is traveling with Blinken. He's in Paris with him.
Kylie, is the State Department saying anything more about how they plan to evacuate these Afghans and how many?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, we're still waiting largely on those details. We don't know exactly where these Afghans are going to go. We know it's a third country, not Afghanistan, not the United States. A third country where they can wait for these visas to be processed but we don't know exactly how they're going to get there and we also don't know exactly when this is going to happen.
But it's a short time frame that we're looking at because the state spokesperson has said earlier today that this is going to happen before the complete U.S. withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. That happens in September.
But, Jake, there's been a tremendous amount of internal deliberation over this. Some fears in the administration that this could cause some concerns, some brain drain, but, of course, there has been a tremendous amount of pressure on the administration to move forth and to do this, to relocate these Afghans who have helped the United States over this last decade or more, and that pressure has really been pronounced in recent days.
And we should note that president Biden did make that commitment today, that those who work alongside the United States will not be left behind.
TAPPER: Yeah, but that commitment was a lot broader than the details we've heard as of yet from his administration. Let me ask you, Kylie, does this coronavirus outbreak at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, and we hear it's getting worse. Is that part of the problem? Is that slowing down the process for the approval of these special immigrant visas?
ATWOOD: Well, it's definitely impacted the process, right? A coronavirus outbreak that forced the embassy to shut down isn't a good thing, particularly because earlier this month, it forced all of the interviews for visas to be suspended at the embassy. But the State Department says that a lot of the folks who have applied for these special immigrant visas in Afghanistan aren't actually at the point where they're getting these interviews yet.
So they're working on the first part of the process before the interviews happen. But as you can see, there's a lot to be done before these folks get out of the country and before these visas get processed.
TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood traveling with the secretary of state in Paris, thank you so much. Good to see you.
Joining us now to discuss, Congressman Seth Moulton. He's a Democrat from Massachusetts, a Marine Corps veteran and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, good to see you again.
So, you said this morning, the Biden administration's intent to relocate these Afghanis is, quote, a good day in the story but it is far from the final chapter. The Biden administration has not provided many details at all about they're going to do this, how many Afghans we're talking about, on and on.
Are you confident that everyone who needs to be rescued will be, as President Biden just promised?
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): I'm confident that the president wants to get them out. But I won't be confident as a marine veteran until I see the operational plan. I want to see a detailed operational plan. I want there to be a clear person in charge of this effort responsible for making it happen. And I want the administration to reiterate its commitment to getting it done, to completing this mission no matter how long it takes.
TAPPER: As somebody who served in combat, can you explain to our viewers, the average person watching the show whether in America or anywhere around the world, why does this matter?
MOULTON: It matters for two reasons, Jake. First of all, because we have made a promise, a promise from troops, from marines, from soldiers on the ground, from the United States of America as a nation that we will have the backs of these Afghans who risked their lives not just for their country, but for ours. These are the guys who were side-by-side with us, as translators in important meetings, in firefights where our lives, their lives were on the line.
And we made a promise to them, you risk your life for us to do this mission, we'll make sure you get to safety.
As a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, we have a moral imperative to fulfill that promise.
But there's something else too. We have a moral imperative to fulfill this promise today because of future generations of American troops. Young Americans who in some future conflict will need partners and allies on the ground and they'll make that same promise. They'll say come work with us and we'll have your backs.
If they look back at Afghanistan and see we abandoned our allies, then that's going to impact our national security, our ability to find allies in the future for decades to come.
TAPPER: Well, they can look back at Vietnam in 1975 but I take your point.
MOULTON: But you know what? We got 130,000 refugees out of Vietnam.
MOULTON: We probably should have gotten more. But we've done this in the past.
That's one of the reasons why we've laid out a clear plan to go to Guam to do this. We know how this works. We know we can do it.
You talked about numbers. We're probably talking about 70,000 if you include their family members. That's half of the refugees we brought out of South Vietnam.
TAPPER: You delivered a detailed plan to the White House outlining how you think it would be good to get these Afghan allies out. The plan stays, quote, the Department of Homeland Security has statutory authority to parole people into U.S. territory for significant public benefit which will allow applicants and their families to travel to and wait safely in Guam while they complete their special immigrant visa processing.
We understand that the leaders of Guam say they are willing to take these Afghan allies in. There is historical precedent for it. But as "The New York Times" reported, Afghan allies will be moved to developing countries while they wait instead during whatever plan were hearing about is being formed right now. Do we know where they will go or if they'll be safe?
MOULTON: We don't know. And I was on the phone with the White House as recently as this weekend. We still don't know the details of the plan. We need to hear these details.
We've laid out Guam. It's what we think as the best option. But, frankly, if the administration has a better option, that's good by us.
We did the groundwork to make sure Guam was onboard with this, which took some effort here in Congress. The delegate to Guam to the House of Representatives said that there was some resistance on the ground there, but he had a relative who served in Afghanistan and, sadly, was killed there.
He said this is what he would want, to take care of our allies. And so he agreed to change the mind of the people of Guam who were opposed to this and make it happen.
The bottom line is we need to evacuate these folks. We need to evacuate them today and that's another important thing for viewers to understand is that we can talk about the special immigrant visa program and how that processing would work.
But, look, a special immigrant visa right now takes on average 800 days to get processed, just one. We have 80 days, actually fewer than 80 days now to our withdrawal. So it's time for an evacuation.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, thank you. And as always, thank you for your service, sir.
MOULTON: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Now there's a variant of the variant. The new risk for unvaccinated Americans. That's next.
TAPPER: In our health lead just moments from now, we're anticipated that president -- anticipating that President Biden will make a last- ditch vaccine pitch in Raleigh, North Carolina, ahead of his likely unreached goal of getting 70 percent of adults in the United States, at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4th.
Joining us now to discuss all this is associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, Dr. Megan Ranney.
Dr. Ranney, always good to see you.
So, let me ask you about this delta variant of the virus that's picking up. This chart, I'm going to show my viewers, it shows over the last three months, the Delta variant has climbed to more than 20 percent of all cases in the U.S. and now, we're hearing about a Delta plus variant abroad.
What is that and how concerned should unvaccinated people be?
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: So unvaccinated people should be quite concerned. But those who are vaccinated, Jake, here's the takeaway: people who are fully vaccinated do not need to worry. Even with this new Delta plus.
We are going to keep hearing about variants. There's Delta, Delta plus. Some day we'll have Epsilon and Gamma. So far, the vaccines have worked against all of these variants, especially the two-dose vaccines. But for those who aren't vaccinated yet, these are worrisome. They make you sicker faster, transmit more easily between people.
And some of the standard treatments that we have like the monoclonal antibodies that the former president got don't seem to work so well against this delta and delta plus. So, go out and get your vaccine before this variant makes itself known in your area.
TAPPER: We're expecting a couple of events coming up. If I have to cut you off, I apologize. We're expecting this press conference out of Florida. We're also expecting President Biden in Raleigh, North Carolina, to address the importance of getting vaccinated.
Actually, now I have to interrupt right now. Here is the Miami-Dade mayor. Let's listen in. MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We're at about
15 hours since this tragic, tragic, devastating emergency. And our people are working around the clock. Our fire rescue team leaving no stone unturned. We're working with the families on reunification as well as those that were dislocated in the neighboring buildings.
I want to give you a top number, very encouraging: 102 people have been accounted for. That's double what we were able to report last time. So 102 people from the towers, their locations are known and they are safe. We still have at least 99 who are unaccounted for. And right now at our family reunification center, up at the Surfside community center, the families are being briefed so that they know which are the ones that are accounted for.
So they have been seeking that information and for those family members of 102, we've been able to provide some good news. For anybody who has information or seeking information, we urge you to use our hotline, 305-614-1819, 305-614-1819.
We also have assembled a tremendous support system. We have food, we have hotel rooms, we have social services, medicine assistance, chaplains and the Coral Gables community foundation and the Key Biscayne Foundation have joined forces to create a special emergency fund which is available at supportsurfside.org.
So we are here. And then to say most importantly, I believe is that I have just signed an emergency order. The governor has on his desk his emergency order.
With that we will get the support from the federal agency, FEMA. The president has pledged that support and so shortly these orders will go forward and we will be able to bring in addition FEMA, federal assistance to this site and to the families who are suffering.
So we are all praying. We are all crying. We are all here with the suffering families. And we urge everyone to join us in prayers and in hopes that we can still continue. We are continuing for our search and rescue effort.
TAPPER: Miami -- while Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava continues to speak in Spanish, let's get a reaction from Randi Kaye who's covering this horrible story out of Surfside, Florida, where a condo collapsed in the early morning, 99 people are still missing.
Randi, some news there and some good news in terms of Federal Emergency Management Agency monies coming their way.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That's really what this community could use right now is good news. Certainly there with her saying, the mayor saying that 102 people have been accounted for, we've been here much of the day and families have been waiting and wondering for their loved ones. We're not far from the community center where those families have
gathered. The media has been giving them space. We know there are about 130 units in that building and about half of them are now destroyed so certainly a lot of questions about who did survive. But that is good news, not only about FEMA coming in and the emergency order that we will get here in Florida so they will be able to assist with the search and rescue.
That is what they do. They'll be able to --
TAPPER: OK, Randi, I'm sorry to interrupt.
KAYE: Certainly for a hundred families getting goo news.
TAPPER: I'm sorry to interrupt. Let's listen in.
JOSE DIAZ, CHAIRMAN, MIAMI-DADE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: This is also a day that we could see this community could come together and provide the very best in support of a very bad and ugly situation. I want to thank the firefighters that since 1:48 in the morning have not stopped in trying to rescue as many people as possible. I want to thank the mayor for all her work and what has taken place.
This is very sad when you're dealing with people that don't know the outcome of their family. They're very worried. They are desperate in the sense that they want to know what's actually taken place.
But we continue to try to rescue. We continue to try to find more people. And the number doubled, as the mayor said, was great news. We want to keep going on that.
And I know that the chief fire has more figures as do the director of police as to stats. All I can say is I am incredibly proud of this community and all its residents and the outpour of support and what they're doing. Thank you to call and the prayers. That is extremely important what's taken place.
So to us please continue. Our men and women are doing the very best that they can. They're the very best in the world in what they do and hopefully we'll continue to get good results out of such a tragic situation.
TAPPER: Randi, we were just listening to the head of the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners, Jose Diaz.
It's just a grim day, obviously, no matter what kind of spin people put on it in terms of the good news here and there -- 102 families have been able to -- the families of 102 individuals who live there have gotten good news but there's still 99 people unaccounted for.
KAYE: Right. When I spoke with the state fire marshal earlier, he said that the firefighters, the seven and rescue teams, they are so focused, Jake, on this mission. They try not to get emotional, even though it's very difficult. I told you earlier that they heard someone they think who might have been alive making a noise.
They said at times like this, people will grab anything to make noise underground so somebody can hear them under that rubble. But he says they will remain focused and work through the night. They are doing it, Jake, for these families. They are putting their own lives at risk. This building right now doesn't appear to be structurally safe. They send the dogs in ahead of them but then they go in with them, the search and rescue teams, and it's really, Jake, all for these families to try to bring them some good news hopefully at the end of this.
TAPPER: And, Randi, what is it like for the survivors of this? I don't know if you've had a chance to speak with any of them or if any of them have even spoken publicly since being rescued from the rubble.
Hold on one second, Randi. We're going to listen in to someone else. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, I just have to implore everybody, just pray. Look, having seen that building from the other side, we have to all pray.
The county, the mayor, the firefighters, the first responders, we're going to all continue to work, but we need everybody to continue to pray because -- and not just for the people who are in those buildings but for their families who are desperately hoping that they're safe. For the firefighters and first responders who are going in trying to save their lives, for this community we have to pray. And we're going to pray and we're going to work. We're going to pray and we're going to work. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Vice Chair.
We're going to follow our Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Thank you very much. Mayor Levine Cava, to the members of the county commission, I woke up this morning in Washington, D.C., to the horror of seeing a building that had collapsed in Surfside, which is entirely included in my congressional district. I spent the morning before I got on the plane to come down here speaking with Mayor Burkett and the officials in the city of Surfside who have done a remarkable job of mobilizing along with Mayor Levine Cava and her team.
This is -- it is essential that we have a whole of government effort here. And so my responsibility as a member of Congress that represents this community is to make sure that we can have there be no daylight between the federal, state and local governments and ensuring that we have the assistance of the federal government to make sure that our community has the resources they need, to make sure that not only the unexpected, unanticipated expenses that come with this kind of disaster are accounted for, but also there will be need for federal housing assistance that only comes with a disaster declaration that we've been working with the White House since this morning to make sure is declared.
Once the governor makes that declaration now that the mayor has sent hers up, I spoke with the chief of staff at the White House, Ron Klain, before I got on the plane and they were already preparing to make sure everything is in place for when they receive the emergency disaster declaration from the governor.
So everyone is ready. It's all hands on deck. I will tell you that I have been getting outreach from constituents who had family members or people they knew in the building and they are among the unaccounted for.
We do all need to pray. I just had a chance to view the site up close and I mean the humanity that you see, the daily lives -- the evidence of just people living their daily lives and that everything, everything evaporated in an instant. It's just -- it's enormously devastating.
And so, we really need to make sure and we will. I'm thankful that President Biden made it very clear that they are prepared to mobilize everything that this community needs. I'll be working with my fellow elected officials to ensure that. So please, please know that this entire day since the news of this tragedy began, we have all been working very closely and we'll keep this community close and everyone in our prayers. Thank you so much.
TAPPER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to be right back with much more on our breaking news. At least 99 people missing outside a condo collapse just outside Miami, Florida. Florida's lieutenant governor will join us live, next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're following breaking news out of Surfside, Florida, which is just outside of Miami. Officials moments ago confirmed that at least 99 people are missing after a condominium building in the area collapsed. Search and rescue efforts are still under way right now. Dozens of firefighters are searching for any possible survivors.
Let's go right to CNN's Rosa Flores who is live for us from Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach.
And, Rosa, it's been more than 12 hours since the building collapsed. Do we have any idea what happened? And what is the status of the rescue efforts?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's still very early in the investigation, but firefighters right now during a press conference were just saying that the focus right now is search and rescue. They were actually just battling a fire that happened as they were trying to search this building.
You've got to think about it this way. This is a very delicate dance. These firefighters are in a very dangerous situation. They have to figure out ways to shore up this building to allow for tunnels, for them to build tunnels to get into the building to try to rescue people that could be under the rubble.
The latest information here from local officials is that 102 individuals have been identified, accounted for. Their family members have been given the good news at the reunification center that their loved ones are okay.
Ninety-nine families, 99 individuals still have not heard if their loved one is okay or not. Those are the prayers that we were hearing just now from local officials, talking about and asking for prayers because really what firefighters are doing right now and the time that it takes them to get to these locations under the rubble is the difference between life and death for some of these individuals. And they know that. That's why they say that even into the night they will continue to do this so long as it is safe.