Return to Transcripts main page
The Lead with Jake Tapper
Senate Vote Delayed Amid Possible Deal To Stop Economic Collapse; Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Is Interviewed About GOP Compromise Offer; New Poll: Biden Approval Sinks To 38 Percent, Lowest Since Taking Office; CNN: Kabul Airport Bomber Released From Prison Days Before Attack; Biden Pledges $1B Investment In At-Home Rapid Testing; Senate Dems Say They Will Accept GOP Compromise. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 06, 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: "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: We'll keep that.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Some rather Trump-esque poll numbers just out for President Biden. And I don't mean that they are huge.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The clock is ticking with millions of jobs and trillions numbers on the line. Right now, Senate Democrats are meeting to discuss a Republican proposal which may stop this economic collapse, but will they take the deal?
And they cannot find a former Trump aid to serve him a subpoena. Why is Dan Scavino apparently ducking the January 6 investigators?
Plus, learning the hard way. The Biden administration now using fear as a motivator in new ads to try and get people vaccinated.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We start with breaking news in our politics lead. Just moments ago, Democrats in the Senate delayed a crucial vote needed to save the United States government from running out of money. That vote had been expected to fail with all 50 Republicans voting no. But now, CNN is learning there are possible compromises brewing between Republicans and Democrats to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its loans for the first time in history.
This afternoon, President Biden trying to step up the pressure on Senate Republicans to cooperate. Biden hosting business leaders and bank CEOs and even the head of the stock market for a last-minute meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our markets are rattled. America's savings are on the line. The American people, your savings, your pocketbook are directly impacted by this stunt. It doesn't have to be this way. My Republican friends need to stop playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's get straight to CNN's teams covering every angle of this breaking news. We're going to start with CNN's Ryan Nobles live on Capitol Hill for us.
And, Ryan, Senate Democrats, you say, are meeting right now to try to decide how to move forward?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Jake. Just down the hall behind me, the Senate Democrats are in a closed door meeting weighing the options presented by the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to try to get over this impasse as it relates to the debt ceiling. You are getting a true sense from both sides of the aisle here that we are entering a phase where this is becoming a reality. If they can't come up with a deal to try and extend the debt ceiling, lift it or suspend it for a certain period of time that the federal government could be in serious danger of defaulting on its credit.
So that's why you see these Democrats huddled in a closed door room trying to weigh these options from the minority leader. Neither of them are a perfect fit for what the Democrats are looking for. That's part of what these negotiations are about. Democrats trying to come to some consensus before they move forward, Jake.
TAPPER: Yeah, walk us through the potential proposal from the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and why he's offering it right now.
NOBLES: Yeah. So the big reason that we're told Mitch McConnell has presented these options to his conference is because he does not want Democrats to use a specific carve-out of the Senate filibuster rules to push through a debt ceiling package without any Republican support. He's worried that that could lead to a slippery slope as it relates to the filibuster.
So, what instead he's offering are two options for Democrats. The first being a clean reconciliation package that wouldn't involve Republicans at all, but with the caveat that Republicans wouldn't try to do anything to get in the way of this process to slow it down. The big area being the vote-a-rama process where they can add a bunch of amendments to the package, slow the process down and force Democrats to take some tough votes.
The other option would be a temporary allowance of bringing this bill to the floor without any type of filibuster or blocking of the legislation but in agreement for just a short-term lifting of the debt ceiling but specifically tied to a number. Now, that could be a dangerous political position because Republicans could use it in the 2022 midterms saying Democrats were willing to raise the debt by a certain amount. So, none of these are perfect options for Democrats but defaulting on the U.S. credit is probably a much bigger problem which is why they are hashing out these options right now -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan, thank you.
Let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins live for us at the White House. Now, Kaitlan, is President Biden open to one of these compromise offers?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So far, Jake, the White House has not said, though we will hear from the press secretary, really, any minute now when she comes out to brief reporters. It seems like the White House is deferring to party leaders right now as they are meeting, like Ryan said, behind closed doors to go over this offer from McConnell and see if they're going to accept it or offer a counteroffer or proceed as they have been earlier in the day. And I think the big questions here that the White House is facing when it comes to this is, is this going to put Democrats in a politically uncomfortable position like Ryan was talking about by setting a number here.
And also, if they proceed with this, it would take away the argument that you've heard from the White House and Democrats which is that there's not enough time to raise the debt ceiling by doing that reconciliation process.
That's, of course, the much more complicated and cumbersome process that would take some time. But the president himself said yesterday that they were losing days to be able to go with that. And I think when you talk about, why did McConnell make this offer, you also have to look at what President Biden told me last night, which is that it is a high possibility that they would consider changing the rules to the Senate filibuster in order to raise the nation's borrowing limit. That would be incredibly significant and seems to be playing a factor into McConnell's thinking here.
TAPPER: Kaitlan, tell us about this meeting president Biden convened with bank leaders and top CEOs. What was their message to him?
COLLINS: Well, essentially, the reason this was designed by the White House was to put more pressure on Republicans to-out here and stop blocking Democrats and their efforts so far to raise the debt limit. So, you saw the president meeting with the top executives at the White House. A meeting they put together in 36 hours or so and they were saying that they wanted Mitch McConnell to let this pass. Several of them weighing in and making that argument there. And so, whether or not it actually works, Jake, is another question because it's clear from Republicans they are not going to do this the way that has been done in previous years and as was done under Trump which is where Republicans and Democrats voted together to raise the debt ceiling.
But the president's argument was essentially, just let Democrats raise it with just Democrats and that is something that, of course, Republicans were expected to block this afternoon. So, we'll see what the White House says in a few moments. I think they are waiting to see what the Senate majority leader himself decides.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
Let's discuss this all with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of the great state of Wisconsin. She's on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator -- let me ask you. You heard these compromise offers being made by the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, are either of them acceptable to you?
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): Well, in terms of a temporary lifting of the debt ceiling through close the end of this year. We view that as a victory. We view it as a temporary victory with more work to do. And he cannot dictate the process we use in order to do this.
As was just noted, traditionally, this is something that Democrats and Republicans do together and what we have been very clear is we understand we don't have any Republican votes to do the responsible thing and save our economy from calamity. But then just get out of the way and let us do it ourselves with 50 votes plus the vice president.
Now, the other reason I believe that Mitch McConnell is trying to steer into this reconciliation process is because it takes us away from the main Biden Build Back Better agenda. We are working, as you know, day and night, on the Build Back Better budget. And we want to pass that hand in hand with the bipartisan infrastructure package. We want to get moving on that, wrap it up by the end of this month.
And I think that this is just an effort to try to trip us up and not let that happen. So we intend to take this temporary victory and then try to work with the Republicans to do this on a longer-term basis and, frankly, we're one of the few countries that has Congress act on the debt limit anyways. The full faith, you know, the full faith and credit of our nation is at stake. We pay our bills. And let's stop this sort of crazy way of doing it.
TAPPER: So you have talked to senator Schumer? This is what the Democrats are going to do? You'll accept this temporary measure to just extend -- to delay this vote and raise the debt limit just a bit right now until something else can be worked out more long term?
BALDWIN: Yeah. So I believe that's what we're going to do. I did have to step out of caucus a little early in order to talk with you and your viewers. But I think the only trip up would be if Mitch McConnell in any way tries to dictate the process that Democrats used to get this done.
That's a nonstarter for us. We will not take our eyes off the prize and do reconciliation that could take well over two weeks depending on how expeditiously we can get it bouncing back between the House and the Senate and back to the House and back to the Senate.
TAPPER: Right. BALDWIN: This is a very time consuming process and we want to be working on the Build Back Better budget and the bipartisan infrastructure bill and get those across the finish line also.
TAPPER: Well, with all due respect, Senator, I don't think you guys are ready for a vote on the Build Back Better agenda yet. You were supposed to vote on it days ago. So I don't know what a two-week delay in terms of the -- so our viewers understand, there's different processes by which a bill can be introduced in the Senate. The normal process requires 60 votes, so as to stave off a filibuster. Republicans are saying they're not going to provide any votes so the only other way that the Democrats could even have a proceeding on this is by using what's called reconciliation.
And McConnell saying you can use reconciliation. It would take a couple of weeks and the senator is objecting to that because that's two weeks you want to be spending on the Build Back Better agenda. But you guys aren't ready for a vote on that.
BALDWIN: Yes, but if we spend two weeks doing the reconciliation process on the debt limit, it will be two weeks that we're not able to make the sort of progress we need to on this Build Back Better budget, which is, you know, that is responsive to the very considerable challenges that our country is facing. It goes hand in glove with the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And we have some new parameters that became clear last week in terms of how to do it. But we want to go full speed ahead.
TAPPER: Senator Baldwin, don't go anywhere because I want to get reaction to what I'm about to say right now because this afternoon we're getting a new look at how the American people think Joe Biden is doing as president. And these new poll numbers, frankly, are brutal for the president in this brand-new Quinnipiac poll. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling his job compared to 53 percent who disapprove. That's the lowest approval rating Biden has had since taking office.
Another striking number, only 39 percent of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the economy, 55 percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing on the economy. When asked, is Joe Biden an honest president? Forty-four percent of Americans say yes, 50 percent, a plurality, say no.
And one of the most damning results of all, more than half of the American people, 55 percent, say the Biden administration is not competent in running the government, 42 percent says the administration is.
Now, I'm going to bring back Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Senator Baldwin, this is a sugarcoating. These numbers are awful for President Biden. Do you understand why Americans are growing increasingly frustrated, at least according to this and other polls? BALDWIN: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we
have yet to deliver the Build Back Better legislation and agenda in the Congress, granted we did an incredible job in passing and compiling the American rescue plan which has gotten shots in arms and given stimulus. But we need to go from stimulus to investment -- investment in infrastructure, investment in our workers, investment in lowering the costs so working families are exposed to and lowering middle class and working class taxes by extending the child tax credit and paying for it all --
BALDWIN: -- by raising taxes on the billionaires and profitable corporations that are getting away without paying taxes or paying not close to their fair share.
And that's what will change this around.
TAPPER: But I'm sure that you think that, and -- but, you know, you guys control the House. You control the Senate. You control the White House. This is Democratic infighting preventing the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda from coming up for a vote in the Senate. And, frankly, it's the Senate more than it is the House, although the House is I guess, the House progressives are holding the infrastructure bill captive.
In any case, this is your party that's preventing this from happening?
BALDWIN: Look, it's going to happen. We believe that failure is not an option. They say if you like sausage and you like laws, don't watch either one of them get made. It's going to be messy. I promise you. But I believe we're going to get the job done.
TAPPER: Do you worry at all that these numbers could signal how much trouble Democrats could be in, not just this November with, for instance, the governors race in Virginia but in 2020 when a bunch of Democratic senators are up for re-election, as I don't need to remind you, and the midterms are there? And ultimately -- do you think the people who are the 10 or 12 Democrats in the House who are -- or I guess it's more than that. 50 or 60 Democrats in the House and Senate that are not willing to compromise as of now, do you think you keep doing more of this, you're not going to control anything?
BALDWIN: Well, again, that's why we want to have our eye on the prize during the month of October which is just beginning. We get the Build Back Better budget through both houses in the bipartisan infrastructure. Let me add in you seek the innovation and competitiveness bill. We want to get all of those on the president's desk, and I think things will turn around a lot when that happens.
TAPPER: But do you think Manchin and Sinema and Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar and --
BALDWIN: Yeah. TAPPER: -- and Congressman Pocan, do you think they're all going to
come on board eventually?
BALDWIN: I do.
TAPPER: All right. Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of the great state of Wisconsin, thank you so much. Good to see you.
BALDWIN: Good to see you. Thank you.
TAPPER: The House Committee investigating January 6th cannot find a former Trump aide to serve him his subpoena. Where oh, where is Dan Scavino?
Also, Canada has a new travel requirement for children. What is it? Could the U.S. be next?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, tomorrow is the deadline for some former Trump administration insiders to turn over documents to the House committee that is investigating the January 6th insurrection. They issued subpoenas last month to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former White House and Pentagon aide Kash Patel.
However, multiple sources say the committee has not been able to physically serve the subpoena to Scavino.
Let's bring in CNN's Whitney Wild.
Whitney, why can they not find Dan Scavino? I would think that would not be that difficult?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, it's the big question because he's out there on social media tweeting away. But the bigger question here is when are they going to find him? Because as you point out, there's this deadline for October 7th. That was when all of these people were supposed to supply the committee with relevant documents. Then he was supposed to come in on October 15th for a deposition -- I should say virtually or in person.
And that date is by design. He was one of the last people they wanted to speak with. So other people that were subpoenaed were to come in on the 14th. So, what the committee is trying to do is get all the information first and then ask these relevant questions later. This is making this timeline a little stickier for them because they need, in theory, to have these informed questions. They want the documents first and also want to know for sure that people know they've been subpoenaed. It's hard to believe he wouldn't know that with all of the media coverage but you never know. And so, now, we're at this point where if he starts blowing past these
deadlines, the committee has made clear they are willing to basically go to the bank with this. That they're willing to explore a list of options to compel people to give them the information they want but what they're looking for from Dan Scavino is what he knows about Trump's intentions leading up to January 6th but also, and this is really interesting, what was going on with the communications within the White House? What was going on with that video he put out that day, for example, where he said that everybody was very special.
Specifically the committee wants the outtakes from that. So they want to know every detail of what happened that day and the think Dan Scavino knows it, Jake.
TAPPER: Scavino in charge of all the social media for Donald Trump.
Whitney, it's been weeks since the committee held any hearings. What are they doing?
WILD: Well, they are sending out lists of subpoenas. There are people who have already cooperated -- or have indicated they're going to cooperate. For example, people who were part of the rally organization have indicated to CNN they plan to cooperate and at least one case said on the record they plan to cooperate.
So, no, it's about trying to get the information from people who will cooperate to develop this strategy and move forward and perhaps trying to compel other people who are less interested in cooperating to actually give them information they need. So still relative to the length of this, they're in the earlier stages of information collection but they're moving forward with trying to figure out what happened that day from the very people who were there.
TAPPER: All right, Whitney, thank you so much.
Also in our politics lead today, new insider details about the Democrats' effort to bring Donald Trump to justice from one of Trump's most dogged and hated opponents. They are in an upcoming book called "Midnight in Washington" by California Congressman Adam Schiff. He's, of course, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was the lead manager for Trump's first impeachment trial.
Let's go to CNN's Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill.
Jessica, in the book, Schiff admits making some mistakes during the impeachment fight especially, he says, when it comes to Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he gets very candid in his book talking about Mueller's testimony. You remember that was like blockbuster testimony to bring Robert Mueller in to testify in front of the committee that Schiff chaired. He talked about how he had written this handwritten letter asking him to come in and answer questions.
Well, here's what he had to say about Mueller's testimony. He writes in the book, had I known how much he had changed, I would not have pursued his testimony with such vigor. In fact, I would not have pursued it at all.
And he writes it was heartbreaking to see Mueller struggling to answer questions. In fact, Schiff writes that he instructed the committee on the back half of their day to restructure their strategy around questioning him, that they shouldn't be asking him long, complicated questions, that there couldn't be long narrative structure within those, that they needed to be pretty simple questions.
And again, Jake, to hear Schiff who doesn't speak like this often, so candid about this is really something in this book.
TAPPER: Schiff does not hold back his scorn for some of his Republican colleagues. Sometimes well earned, such as Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy?
DEAN: Right. And so, he talks about an exchange that he and McCarthy had on a plane ride back. They are both from California. They were flying back and he was talking to McCarthy about something McCarthy had said about him in the press.
Here was the exchange. It's short but telling. Schiff says, you know, I said the exact opposite of what you told the press to which he says McCarthy replied, I know, Adam, but you know how it goes. Simply revealing how McCarthy operates and he certainly got so very frustrated about that that McCarthy knew the truth but was telling something else entirely to the press for political gain.
And, Jake, interesting to hear him say that he found that the Republican Party was an anti-democratic cult under former president Trump and he writes about how he's afraid the forces that allowed Trump to take power are still at play as we look toward 2024 -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill for us -- thank you so much.
Brand-new CNN reporting: the ISIS bomber who killed 13 U.S. service members had just been released from prison days before. The details, next.
TAPPER: In our world lead, new details about the ISIS-K suicide bomber who killed 13 U.S. service members and about 170 Afghan citizens near Kabul's airport in August. Three U.S. officials tell CNN the terrorist had been released from a prison just days earlier, a prison next to Bagram Air Base, the same base the U.S. abandoned in early July.
This new revelation underscores the chaos around the final days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and as CNN's Oren Liebermann reports, the struggle that U.S. troops had in their need to rely on the Taliban for security in the area. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT ( voice-over): Just hours before the Taliban took control of Kabul, they emptied out two major prisons around the capital of Afghanistan. Thousands of prisoners released into a city in disarray. The Taliban's supreme leader called the prisoners political detainees. But they were members of the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS-K.
One of those prisoners was Abdul Rahman, two U.S. officials say, an ISIS-K member. Eleven days later, it was Rahman who carried out the suicide bombing at Kabul International Airport's Abbey Gate, killing 13 U.S. service members and about 170 Afghans.
Officials say he had been released from the prison near Bagram Air Base under U.S. control until it was given to the Afghan military this summer and then fell to the Taliban. The Afghans have run the prison since 2013.
The attack underscores the chaotic final days of the end of America's longest war and the risk of a terror threat emerging from Afghanistan once again.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It's a real possibility in the not too distant future, 6, 12, 18, 24, 34 months, that kind of timeframe, for reconstitution of al Qaeda or ISIS.
LIEBERMANN: The Biden administration faced criticism for its decision to abandon Bagram, the heart of U.S. military operations for two decades. The White House has made clear no one will be fired over how America's longest war ended.
John Sopko, the special inspector general who monitors U.S. efforts in Afghanistan is not surprised.
JOHN SOPKO, SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION: All of the reports we've done, no one in the government has been held accountable. I always joke that the only person who is ever going to get fired over Afghanistan is probably going to be me, nobody else. Not the generals who came up and spun and spun and spun and the ambassadors and aide administrators who gave bogus data to you. None of them have been held accountable.
LIEBERMANN: In a House oversight hearing, Sopko pointed out years of bad strategy and wasteful spending that led to this ending and one brutal conclusion.
SOPKO: There were successes, but overall, there were a lot of failures.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Twenty years of war in Afghanistan is now, of course, over but there are still questions about why it ended as it ended. The special inspector general says he's been tasked by the Oversight Committee to look at why the Afghan military and government collapsed as quickly as they did.
Jake, one of the points is that one of the biggest pieces of fraud he saw in his time looking at Afghanistan is what's known as ghost soldiers or ghost police officers. That's soldiers or police the U.S. pays for as well as their equipment that simply didn't exist. As for the question of accountability, will that get an answer? The special inspector general will be very skeptical on that.
TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.
A vaccine in order to travel. Coming up next, the move our neighbor to the north is implementing. Could that happen in the U.S.?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRELL, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: Been in the hospital for 76 days, and by the grace of God, I'm still here. I highly recommend everybody to get the vaccines and really protect themselves because this is no joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That message part of a new ad campaign from the Department of Health and Human Services takes a fear-based approach to try to change the minds of the unvaccinated in the United States.
This shift comes as the new Quinnipiac poll shows half of all Americans disapprove of how President Biden is handling the pandemic.
But as CNN's Amara Walker reports for us now, the CDC is forecasting some better news on the horizon.
TERRELL: I died three times. They gave me a 5 percent chance of living.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Real-life, near-death stories from the unvaccinated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got COVID. I was intubated and in a coma for 11 days.
WALKER: The Department of Health and Human Services taking on a striking shift in tone with a series of new ads, using firsthand accounts to get the vaccine hesitant to realize the dangers of COVID- 19.
TERRELL: We take advantage of like simple things in life, like going to the bathroom and brushing your teeth. I have trouble doing all that now.
WALKER: The ads are part of a $250 million campaign focused on the nearly 1 in 4 eligible Americans who are not yet vaccinated. So far, 56 percent of the total U.S. population, more than 186 million people, have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC. And over 6 million people have gotten a booster shot.
And for the second consecutive week, the CDC's ensemble forecast predict news covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations are likely to continue going down over the next four weeks.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: God willing, I think we're just about to begin to turn the corner again on the pandemic.
WALKER: Meantime, there's a long overdue renewed focus on coronavirus testing.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We've also received commitments from two manufacturers, Quidel and OraSure, to further expand manufacturing to speed up their production of rapid tests, taking months off their timelines and adding tens of millions of tests per month to their production capacity.
WALKER: The Biden administration just announcing a $1 billion investment to ramp up supplies of at-home rapid test kits.
ZIENTS: We'll have available supply of 200 million rapid at-home test per month starting in December, with supplies of tens of millions of additional tests coming on the market across the next few weeks.
WALKER: And, Jake, supplies of these at-home COVID-19 tests are badly needed. In fact, demand has been so high, it's left some store shelves empty. Also some positive or false positive results have prompted one of the makers of a COVID-19 at home test to announce a voluntary recall on Friday. We're also hearing from the former CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, who led the agency under President Trump, and he acknowledged in a SiriusXM radio interview that the Trump administration could have done more, should have done more to build up testing capacity in the United States in the first few months of the pandemic -- Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, Amara. Appreciate it.
Let's bring in CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner.
So much to respond to and unpack in Amara's reporting there. But let's start with Canada's new vaccine travel mandate.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: By the end of November, if you are 12 or older and want to fly or take the train, you'll have to be fully vaccinated, as will staff. Testing will no longer be an option before boarding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jeff Zients, the COVID response coordinator was just asked if the U.S. would ever take such a step. And he said the administration is already taking, quote, strong action.
Do you think what Biden is doing is strong enough?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: No, and many of us have been asking the administration to do just what Canada has done for the last several months. The holiday season is upon us. But we still have time to impact the potential, really horrible, deleterious effects of unvaccinated Americans traveling around the country over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.
This administration should immediately institute a plan to mandate vaccination for everyone traveling, I'd say, by the middle of November. So that gives us six weeks to get shots in arms, give people warning if they want to fly or take the train, or even a bus, they need to be vaccinated for the holidays.
TAPPER: I know a college that implemented a vaccine mandate and 98 percent of the students at that college are vaccinated, 98 percent.
REINER: Right. You know, 99.5 percent of United's employees are vaccinated. We see this over and over again. When you tell the public they have to get vaccinated or they won't be able to keep their job or do something, go to a restaurant in New York, people step up and will do that. Now is the time to do it.
Canada is already doing it. No reason for the United States not to follow suit.
TAPPER: Now, of course, breakthrough infections are still a possibility, even if one is vaccinated, although they're far less dangerous, just still the existence of the virus. We heard them announce a boost to this rapid at-home testing.
But we also learned that one at-home test kit is being recalled because of a prevalence of false positives. False positives are better than false negatives, I suppose, but do you think at-home tests are a key to unlocking the door here?
REINER: Yeah. It's the key to keeping schools open. So, imagine if your unvaccinated children right now were tested twice a week at home. That's the way you keep schools open. If the child tests positive, they stay home. The school stays open. It's the way you keep your businesses open.
And it also adds confidence to the public. Imagine if you own a large restaurant and the public knows that not only are your employees vaccinated but they are tested twice a week. People want to come to your business. It gives a huge sense of confidence.
And we're way behind the curve here. We've had the technology to do this for over a year and the FDA took a very long time to approve these tests. They were concerned that they weren't sensitive enough.
But the truth about these tests is that they are very good at identifying people who are infectious. People with low level of virus who are likely not infectious, sometimes there can be a false negative. False positives are actually quite rare with this technology.
But what we really want these tests to do is identify people who can spread the virus. And the tests can do it very well and they should be essentially free in the United States. Every home should have dozens of these so that we can keep our businesses and schools open.
TAPPER: So let me just ask you. You saw the new HHS ads in Amara's piece in which people who almost died are talking about, I almost died.
This is serious. Get vaccinated. You think it's going to work? People are saying it's fear tactics.
REINER: Well, I think it worked when HHS did this with tobacco years ago when they started showing images of folks with tracheotomies, et cetera, explaining what happened to them after smoking.
I think the public needs to understand the truth about COVID, which is that young people can get sick. Young people can die. Pregnant women can die and leave their babies, you know, orphaned, and the only way to do that is to tell these stories. Health care workers around the country are overwhelmingly vaccinated because we've seen these stories.
TAPPER: And it's not -- I mean, it's just a fact. More than 700,000 Americans have died from COVID. And that's just a tragedy. If a terrorist had done that, imagine what the response would be.
TAPPER: Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much.
Officials believe they now know what caused that massive oil spill in California as we get a new look at the devastation. That's part of our "Earth Matters" series, and it's next.
TAPPER: In today's "Earth Matters" series, the Coast Guard gave CNN an up close look at its response to the massive oil spill off the coast of southern California. This after the discovery of a gash in the pipeline. The pipeline dragged more than 100 feet, bent like a wire.
That evidence backing up the leading theory that a ship's anchor likely hit the pipeline causing it to spew 144,000 gallons of crude oil, putting wildlife and beachgoers in danger.
CNN's Camila Bernal is live for us at Huntington Beach where much of the cleanup is happening.
And a new report you say shows when warning systems started going off and how long it took the pipeline operator to shut down the pipeline. Tell us what happened.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. This preliminary report shows that the operating company got a warning of low pressure in the pipeline at around 2:30 in the morning. But they did not shut it down until about 6:00 in the morning. That's about three hours that that oil kept spilling.
And so the question is, why did they wait so long? At the moment we do not know but we'll keep asking that question, Jake.
TAPPER: And there's also questions about when this leak started. The pipeline operator reported an issue Saturday morning. The local authorities were getting reports of seeing oil sheens much earlier than that.
BERNAL: Yeah, the Coast Guard says they got those reports of oil sheen on Friday but they say these are common and needed to wait until Saturday to investigate. The oil company announcing this around 9:00 in the morning. So, a lot of frustration as to why, again, this took them so long.
I spoke to a surfer who came out covered in oil. He tried dish soap. That didn't work. Had to go home and use alcohol. So, anger and frustration and demands for accountability.
TAPPER: Volunteers have joined in the cleanup along the beach but so much of the oil spilled out in the water. Do crews believe they'll be able to recover most of it even?
BERNAL: It's unlikely. I want to show you our CNN drone at the moment. Those cleanup efforts continue. And they actually even added more crews here on the beach today, but experts really say it's almost impossible to completely clean up this mess. It's going to be difficult and it's going to be a long process.
And unfortunately, Jake, it's also going to take a long time to really know the extent of the damage here. That's what's really sad in this entire situation.
TAPPER: Yeah, Camila Bernal, thank you so much.
Breaking news in our politics lead: it appears there's a deal on Capitol Hill to keep the U.S. from an economic collapse. Details next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:58:01]
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD.
Brand-new poll numbers, the most dismal yet for President Biden. Numbers on the economy and whether his administration is perceived as competent. Those numbers tanking.
And -- hate bubbling up where the wounds of the Holocaust are still the most visible. A musician in Germany says he was told to hide his star of David.
But, first, leading this hour, breaking news out of Capitol Hill. Some Senate Democrats announcing they will accept a compromise deal offered up by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a deal which will temporarily keep the United States and, frankly, the entire global economy from collapsing in the immediate future.
Our teams at the capitol and White House are covering these breaking details. Let's start with CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
And, Manu, Senate Democrats just wrapped up their meeting. You are hearing this deal is done but Democratic leaders say they haven't even seen a deal yet?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's still a lot details that still need to be seen here, exactly how this would work. But what Democrats are signaling is they'll accept what Mitch McConnell is proposing which is a short-term increase of the national debt ceiling, probably getting them through the end of November into December, essentially a punt, dealing with this again some time in the fall.
What they are not accepting is how Mitch McConnell wants to deal with this in the long term. He's telling them they have to use what's known as the budget reconciliation process. That's a process that would allow them to advance an increase in the national debt ceiling by just Democratic votes alone.
But Democrats don't like that process. They believe it essentially opens them up to a lot of politically charged amendment votes on the floor. They'd have to specify how much to raise the national debt which is approaching $29 trillion at the moment, how to deal with that -- those are issues some Democrats don't want to take.
So, at the moment, Jake, what they're signaling we'll avert this crisis in the short term. But in the long term, a major question and almost certainly will be back debating this in a couple of months once they sign off on the details of how the short-term agreement will work.