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Schumer Strong-Arms Negotiators on Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal; Biden Holds Oval Office Meeting with Germany's Angela Merkel; Millions of Families Receive 1st Child Tax Credit Payments; Britany Spears Scores Rare Court Victory, Granted Own Lawyer. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 14:30   ET



DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: But I think, at this point, the whole world is witnessing this rapid emergence of Delta and I think it is going to be a real challenge.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Michael Osterholm, it is always good to have your insight.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: All right. On Capitol Hill, Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, strong arming the bipartisan negotiators to get an infrastructure deal done. What is the deal with the deal?



BLACKWELL: Right now, the Senators who drafted a bipartisan infrastructure deal are meeting to see if they can resolve their differences, but time is running out.

Earlier today, majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said that he wants a vote on the package by next Wednesday.

Now, this is a strong-arm tactic aimed at moving President Biden's domestic agenda forward before the August recess.

Let's bring in from Capitol Hill CNN's Manu Raju.

Manu, is it likely it's going to happen by next Wednesday?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, next Wednesday is the deadline. That's putting a lot of pressure on these bipartisan negotiators to come up with some sort of deal.

They've not been able to finalize roughly $500 billion in new spending for hard infrastructure.

One of the Senators, Rob Portman, a key negotiator, told me earlier today he would not vote to move forward if they did not finalize the agreement by Wednesday.


RAJU: What do you think of Schumer's move to set up a Wednesday vote on your bipartisan bill that has not even been written yet?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): We're going to get it right. So we want to move as quickly as possible.

And, you know, we think there's an opening now to get it done, but we're not going to shortchange the process because it is important to get it right.

RAJU: Will you vote yes on cloture on Wednesday?

PORTMAN: We'll see. I'm not going to vote yes when I don't know the product.

RAJU: If the bill is not done, you won't vote yes?

PORTMAN: Yes, we're going to get it right.


RAJU: Guy, so much is riding on Biden's agenda in the next few days here. It will require a lot of cooperation and deals to be cut. Those deals have not been cut yet -- guys?


Manu, thank you very much.

Here is President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sitting down for their meeting.

As we said, this is her meeting -- she has worked with four presidents and I think it is like her 34th trip to Washington.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We know this will be a working meeting, a workshop for the two of them.

Let's listen to the president.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chancellor Merkel back into the White House where she has been in the Oval Office many times.

She has been a great friend, I consider a personal friend, as well as a great friend to the United States.

We saw each other at the G-7 and then we saw each other again at the NATO meeting.

And today, we're talking about further advancing strong U.S./German relationships, which has been strong and is getting stronger.

We have a full agenda ahead of us, and we're going to be meeting alone for a while, and then we're going to bring in some of our key staff.

One of the things that I want to talk about is the enduring friendship that the chancellor has been so responsible for nailing down and making sure it continues. We're ready to dive in.

The cooperation between the United States and Germany has been strong and we hope to continue that. And I'm confident we will.


(through translation): Well, thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much for the invitation. I'm delighted to be here.

We met, that is true, at the G-7, also at the NATO meeting. And now we have an opportunity to talk more about our bilateral relationship, about the relationship between Germany and America, obviously, always in the context of European matters.

We can also talk about and address matters that relate to immediate neighbors' geopolitical issues. That will be on our agenda.

I would like to say here how much I value the friendship with the United States of America.

I'm more than aware of the contribution of America to a free and democratic Germany.

So I'm very much looking forward to a deepening of our relations yet again through our talks today and I think we will be able to elaborate more on that as we go on.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.


BIDEN: We're going to have plenty of time on answer your questions in a few moments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys. Let's go. Thank you. Thank you, guys. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Let's go.


BLACKWELL: All right. You so you heard from President Biden and German Chanceler Angela Merkel there in the Oval Office, reaffirming the special relationship they say between the U.S. and Germany.

This will likely be her final visit to the White House, to Washington before she leaves office this year.

[14:40:03] CAMEROTA: I feel like the press had more questions there.

BLACKWELL: Just a few.

CAMEROTA: I don't know how I got that impression.

But they said they will be talking about COVID, climate change and Russian cyberattacks, among other things.

We will hear more from them at a joint press conference later this afternoon after they have that private meeting that President Biden was just talking about.

Meanwhile, millions of families are seeing the child tax credit hit their bank accounts today. So we'll explain how much everyone will get and how long the payments will keep coming.



CAMEROTA: Tens of millions of parents will get their first child tax credit payment today.

If you file your taxes electronically, that money will be directly deposited into your account. If you mail in your return, you should get a check within the next several days.

President Biden touting this piece of his American Rescue Plan.


BIDEN: This has the potential to reduce child poverty in the same way that the Social Security reduced poverty for the elderly.

Millions of children and their families starting today, their lives are about to change for the better. Our country will be better off for it as well.

This is a really good day.


BLACKWELL: Let's get into some of the specifics, how much, for how long.

CNN's business lead writer, Matt Egan, has the details.

The president in that speech today talked about not just how it helps middle class but how it hits child poverty specifically.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEADER WRITER: Right. President Biden is pitching this as a major tax for middle-class Americans but as a transformative way to fight child poverty.

Here is the deal. Many Americans are going to get a nice surprise when they check their bank account today, free money from the federal government. It will show up as a deposit labeled "Child CTC."

Roughly 39 million families are eligible for this tax credit.

Families can get a total up to $3,600 for each child under 6 and up to $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17.

CAMEROTA: For the year?

EGAN: That's right. That's for the year.

The way it is going to work is they will get half of their credit each month through the end of the year. They can then claim the other half when they file taxes for 2021.

You probably wonder who is eligible for this.


EGAN: Families will get the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a married couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent. Above those levels, the credit will begin to phase out.

This is a rare example of the real-world impact of the political battles in Washington because this tax credit was part of that $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that got through Congress in March.

The debate in Washington now is whether to make these enhanced tax credits permanent. That fight is still paying out.

CAMEROTA: In other words, when do this sunset?

EGAN: Otherwise, they sunset at the end of the year.

CAMEROTA: OK, you're right. It is a big deal for people, who I'm sure are checking their statements, checking their accounts to see when it hits.

BLACKWELL: Exactly, yes.

And some people didn't know it was coming. It was a surprise for some people?

EGAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: A very nice surprise. It is Christmas.

Meanwhile, can you tell us about the sunscreen recall? Johnson & Johnson is recalling, I guess, a couple of brands because they have this aerosol ingredient that might have traces of benzene?

EGAN: Yes, that's right. Johnson & Johnson issuing a voluntary recall for certain sunscreens in the United States after it discovered what it described as low levels of benzene.

Now, benzene is a carcinogen. Meaning, it can potentially cause cancer depending upon the exposure. On the screen, you will see the four Neutrogena sunscreens and the one

Aveeno sunscreen that are impacted by the recall. It is important to note they're all aerosol sprays.

Johnson & Johnson is telling customers who brought the sunscreens to stop using them and immediately throw them away. The company says it will give consumers a refund.

One other point here is that J&J says benzene is not an ingredient in its company and the company is investigating what caused its presence.

If you have these sunscreens, throw them out.


In the middle of summer now there's a recall on sunscreen.

They're on your screen so you can see which specifically --

CAMEROTA: I know I have these. I have these sitting near my door because we spray it right on as we go out to the beach. So this is interesting.

Also, it is sketchy they say benzene is not an ingredient. How did it get in there?

EGAN: We don't know. They said they will be investigating it and hopefully we will find out soon.

Again, if you have them, throw them away.

BLACKWELL: All right, Matt Egan, thank you.

EGAN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: In a rare court victory, Britney Spears' request to hire her own attorney in the conservatorship battle has been granted.

The ruling by the Los Angeles judge follows Spears' appearance at a hearing last month.

At that hearing, she alleged the conservator and her father, Jamie Spears, forced her to perform, take lithium and remain on birth control against her will.

Spears's new lawyer echoed her witnesses outside the courthouse yesterday.


MATHEW ROSENGART, NEWLY APPOINTED ATTORNEY TO BRITNEY SPEARS: We will be moving promptly and aggressively for his removal. The question remains, why is he involved.

He should step down voluntarily as that is in the best interest of Britney Spears. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, Britney celebrated in an Instagram post saying she is blessed. She also wrote the #freebritney.

CAMEROTA: How does she do those cartwheels?

Megan Radford is a Free Britney advocate and joins us now.


Megan, thank you for being here.

Were you surprised by what happened in court?

MEGAN RADFORD, "FREE BRITANY" ADVOCATE: I was a little surprised just because Britney has been denied her constitutional and civil rights for so long.

I was obviously hopeful that that Rosengart would be instated as her attorney, but genuinely very happy to see it take place in court yesterday.

BLACKWELL: This is the new lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, that's representing Britney now. Do you believe this makes the end of this conservatorship likely?

RADFORD: I hope so. She had a court-appointed attorney for 13 years who wasn't advocating for her wishes.

I hope that Rosengarten can quickly files a petition to terminate the conservatorship.

CAMEROTA: Megan, Britney again talked about her experience. Most of us, maybe you have known this, but for the rest of us, it is stunning to hear her say things like she believes the people in her conservatorship, including her own father, are, quote, "trying to kill her and if this is not abuse, I don't know what is."

It sound like, from perspective, it's been a living hell. What do you want to happen to her father?

RADFORD: I would love for her father to end up in jail, as Britney would, too. I think he is one of the players in this conservatorship.

There's more than one player who orchestrated this and put it in place and has been responsible for the abuse Britney has endured over the last 13 years.

We need to hold these people accountable for what they did to this woman.

BLACKWELL: This has been going on for 13 years, but since that last hearing, it seems as if there's been a lot that's happened pretty quickly, a list of resignations.

I've been reading your Twitter account. You are really frustrated with this process and how long it is taking to come to a simple decision.

Talk more about that.

RADFORD: It seems like at this point -- I mean, on June 23rd and again yesterday, we had a woman who described in detail the abuse she's endured, and nothing changed for her.

She hung up the phone on June 23rd and again yesterday and went right back to the abusive situation she has been living in for 13 years.

I'm really frustrated with the process because the process is obviously broken. The system is broken.

That's why as a member of the Free Britney movement, we also advocate for probate court reform and to end conserve conservatorship abuse.

BLACKWELL: You've been on the forefront on this. Britney herself in court admitted she's been faking it. She's been putting on a good front to try to continue to be the Britney Spears that the public wants her to be.

How were you all so ahead of everybody else's awareness on this?

RADFORD: It just seemed so unfair. There was an anonymous voice on a podcast where a paralegal alleged she'd been being held against her will, which Britney described yesterday and on June 23rd when she talked about how her whole family was in Destin but she was locked up in a facility.

I think in our heart of hearts we just knew it was right. So we started digging.

As a movement, we have lawyers and activists and all these different professions that have come together to dig and find the story and find what's happening here.

We were disregarded as conspiracy theorists for so long. To hear Britney say those words in court was so validating and vindicating and we're so happy we were able to get her to where she is now.

CAMEROTA: You guys did this. You are the people.


CAMEROTA: If there's been progress, it's because of you and your colleagues in the Free Britney movement. She thanked you all.

Obviously, Megan, we'll continue to follow this.

Thank you so much for being here.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Megan.

RADFORD: Thank you.

[14:54:41] We have some more excerpts from that explosive new book, "I Alone Can Fix It." New details about Vice President Pence's refusal to leave the capitol during the January 6 riot and what he was trying to do behind the scenes.


CAMEROTA: Now to this story. The Supreme Court's most senior liberal member, Justice Stephan Breyer, says he has not decided when he will retire.

The 82-year-old justice facing pressure to leave from liberals who want President Biden to pick a replacement while Democrats still hold a narrow majority in the Senate.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN's Joan Biskupic, Breyer brushed aside questions of that timing. Instead, he says the decision will be focused on two things for him, his health and the court.


First of all, it's incredible that Joan was able to get that exclusive interview with him. As you know, they're famously tight-lipped.


CAMEROTA: It sounds like he does not feel he needs to go anywhere. His health is in good condition.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It's a lifetime appointment and he still has a lifetime.