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Northeast Braces For More Flooding As It Recovers From Ida; Blinken Meets With Afghan Refugees In Germany; 100-Plus Afghan Children Have Arrived In U.S., Majority Reunited With Family; Driver Shortage Plagues School Districts, Ridesharing Companies; Labor Secretary Marty Walsh Discusses Delta Variant Plaguing Economy & Infrastructure Bill. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 14:30   ET



TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It will move into Washington, D.C., around 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 maybe even the midnight hour more toward northern New Jersey and New York. Boston will have it for tomorrow morning's rush.

But this is going to be like a conveyor belt. That means one storm system after another moves through in the same region.

Therefore, even though the forecast is for a couple of inches, we have this flood watch that's in effect that's going to play mind games with a lot of people who just went through hell with this.

The good news is some of this rainfall along this cold front will keep our monster hurricane out by Bermuda, away from the U.S., getting dangerously close to Bermuda.

It's just going to be a problem with big waves. There's 80-to-100-foot waves with this.

Good news, that cold front will steer this system away but be careful of flash flooding this evening.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, I guess that's a silver lining.

Tom Sater, thank you for explaining all of that.

There's disturbing new video shedding light on what life is like now under Taliban rule and how women and children are being treated.



CAMEROTA: Despite promises made by Taliban leadership that women would play a prominent role in their new government, they have announced a hardline male-only interim governor.

And today, as women protested in Kabul, the Taliban went after them with whips and sticks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



CAMEROTA: One protester said the Taliban have proved that they cannot change.

Human rights groups and nations around the world are expressing concern and outrage over this Taliban government.

Just a short time ago, Secretary of State Tony Blinken reaffirmed America's support of those charter flights out of Afghanistan.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground.

We made clear to all parties, we made clear to the Taliban that these charters need to be able to depart. And we continue every day, virtually every hour to work on that.


CAMEROTA: CNN's Kylie Atwood and Priscilla Alvarez join me now.

Kylie, let me start with you.

Tell me more about Secretary Blinken's meeting with some of the refugees.

KYLIE ATWOOD, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He was able to meet with some on the ground in Germany at that air base there.

Just to give you a picture, there are 34,000 Afghans that have been processed there. About 20,000 of them, a little more, have already departed from Ramstein Air Base and 11,000 are still there.

So there's a tremendous number of people on the ground. There's also 15 Afghans who have given birth at this air base.

So it's really a lot of humanity there, a lot of work going on to screen these Afghans before they come to the United States. Interagency screening happening there.

But one thing that the secretary focused on is this confusion that there has been surrounding these flights that are on the ground in Afghanistan and have not been able to leave.

The question has been, why haven't they been able to leave? And he very bluntly said it's because of the Taliban. The Taliban are preventing them from leaving.

He said that's because they said that some of the people don't have their proper documentation. But he pressed that the State Department will do everything that they can to make sure that these flights leave.

And of course, that is something that lawmakers and private individuals who have been involved in these efforts are really pushing the State Department to do, because these flights have been on the ground for days now.

CAMEROTA: And then meanwhile, Priscilla, more than a hundred Afghan children have arrived in the U.S. without their parents. So what will happen to them?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Alisyn, we have guidance that shows the administration will adjust its processing indicating that it's possible that they get more Afghan minors arriving at the United States.

What they're doing is allowing those minors to stay with the adult who they traveled with, who is their caregiver.

Here's why this is significant. Generally, when a child arrives to the United States without a parent or legal guardian, they are referred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under HHS.

There, they go through a process to eventually be reunified with a sponsor in the United States.

But what the Office of Refugee Resettlement is saying here is that these children don't have to go through that process. They can stay with that adult who they traveled with who they consider their caregiver.

Now, in a statement to CNN, an HHS spokesperson told me the following. They said the administration will, quote, "continue to work with our government partners to provide care for all the children referred to us."

As you mentioned, they note that there are more than 100 Afghan minors who have arrived and many of them have already been reunited with their family.

But the process here changing in anticipation of what could be more minors arriving to the United States.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kylie Atwood, Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for the reporting.

There's been a demand for school bus and truck drivers. One county is so desperate, they're offering a $3,000 bonus for new hires. We'll show you how the shortage is impacting life across the country.


And a food delivery driver goes above and beyond after spotting a 2- year-old wandering a busy street at night. We show you his lightning- fast reaction, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The COVID pandemic is driving Americans away from driving jobs, impacting everything from Uber drivers to delivery men and women to school bus drivers.

CNN's Pete Muntean has the details.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): School Bus Driver Nick Rocca (ph) understands why some of his friends are retiring from the routes they've run for years.

The return to in-person learning shifted pandemic fears into high gear, and a changing economy is providing other options.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have more people leaving than we do people coming in.

MUNTEAN: It is a problem also plaguing Uber and Lyft, which say, shortages are hiking rates and wait times.

D.C.'s metro bus system says it is having a more difficult time recruiting candidates.

But the issue is especially acute for kids going back to class. The Fairfax County, Virginia School System, just outside Washington, is trying to fill three times its normal driver openings.


FRANCINE FURBY, TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR OF FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: It's always been something that we battle with, but this is the worst that we've seen it.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Those with commercial licenses are so in demand, that here, in Fairfax County, new school bus drivers are being offered a $3,000 sign-on bonus. The district is also raising their hourly pay.

(voice-over): In nearby Stafford County, Virginia, parents say kids are arriving hours late due to driver shortages.

NICHOLE DULIN, PARENT IN STAFFORD VIRGINIA: I think the answer is probably more money. Like if you pay them more, you'll get better people, you'll get more people.

MUNTEAN: Poor pay and poor working conditions are why trucking trade associations say many are turning their backs on the profession.

Todd Spencer, who represents independent truck drivers, says the pandemic has forced a years' long problem to come to a head and not enough is being done to keep drivers from quitting.

TODD SPENCER, PRESIDENT, OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION: Good people can find better jobs, better places, in lots of places that don't have many of the drawbacks that trucking does. So, they look around and they take advantage of those opportunities.

MUNTEAN: For school bus drivers, the incentives are increasing across the country. Fairfax County has even won a few retirees back.

The nation's tenth-largest school district wants this to be just a bump in the road to getting students back in school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're definitely looking forward to having more kids come in. And with that, we need more drivers coming in.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Pete Muntean.

So in addition to infecting thousands of Americans every day, the Delta variant is also plaguing the economy.

Goldman Sachs this week lowered its economic growth forecast for the U.S. for the second time in a month, citing the Delta variant as a big factor.

That follows last week's disappointing jobs report. But President Biden remains optimistic.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, in the economy my administration is building, instead of workers competing with each other for the jobs that are scarce, everybody is mad at me because now, guess what, employers are competing to attract workers. Having to raise pay.

I'm serious, think about it. That kind of competition in the market helps workers earn higher wages. Worker power is essential to building our economy back better than before.


CAMEROTA: And labor secretary, Marty Walsh, was with the president during that speech and he joins us now.

Secretary Walsh, thanks so much for being here.

Just help us understand the math here of the job market. There are right now 10.9 million job openings, 8.4 million people actively looking for work. What's the disconnect?

MARTY WALSH, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I think there's a lot going on. If you look at the president's economic plan from the day he took over as president through the month of July, he added 4.5 million jobs to the economy and people getting back to work.

Then you had a month of August that quite honestly a lot of people got concerned with the Delta variant.

I'm just going high again. I think it did impact our job numbers and job performance for that month.

What we're doing now is the president is focused on his message to make sure people are getting vaccinated and more people get vaccinated.

In saying that, a lot of parents didn't have childcare, adequate childcare. Schools are starting now. People are out of the workforce, they're afraid of their health. I think that has an impact on it.

Seeing these numbers of the Delta variant going up isn't helping things.

But the president, I think, in the next few days, will talk a little more about how we'll take the next steps and move forward.

But the biggest issue is we have to defeat the Delta variant. With the job openings, I think there's a few other things here.

I think that some people don't want to go back to the job they were in for whatever reason it was, and they're looking to find new careers.

That's why we need to make investments in job training for the jobs that are open right now.

CAMEROTA: On that note, I do want to ask you about that because "The Washington Post" calls it the great reassessment of workers.

They have an op-ed. "At heart, there's a massive reallocation under way in the economy that's triggering a great reassessment of work in America from both the employer and employee perspectives. Workers are shifting where they want to work and how."

"For some, this is a personal choice. The pandemic and all of the anxieties, lockdowns and time at home have changed. Some people want to work remotely forever. Others want to spend more time with family. Others want a more flexible or meaningful career path. It's the 'you only live once' mentality on steroids."

I don't know what you do about that.

WALSH: First of all, I agree with everything you read. I didn't see the op-ed and I'll have to get a copy of that. I agree with the excerpt of it you read.

I think that we're going through some sort of, you know, change here in the United States of America when it comes to workers and employers and how we move forward.


I think as we continue to move down here, everything will down what we need to do is move our economy forward. We need to continue to get back in the workplace.

We can't afford a shutdown like we had a year ago or year and a half ago this time. I was in a different area. I was the mayor of Boston back then. We

shut down the city, it was devastating to so many businesses. We need to continue to move one step in front of the other.

The president has a plan. He will continue on his plan. Start, for most parts, doing great, every day. There's confidence there.

I think we have never lived through times like this. We never had to recover from pandemic like there. I think it's all going to be new for us for a little while. It will be up and down for a little bit.

When I say that, maybe job numbers next month could be up. It will all work itself out. Since the president been in office, we have never seen job growth like that.

CAMEROTA: There's practical problems presenting itself. The debt ceiling, the U.S. is hitting its debt ceiling in October.

Last month, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said they will have to do that without any Republican help.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): So let me make something perfectly clear. If they don't need or want our input, they won't get our help. They won't get our help with the debt limit increase that recklessly, that these reckless plans will require.

I could not be more clear. They have the ability. They control the White House. They control the House. They control the Senate. They can raise the debt ceiling.


CAMEROTA: What do you say to that, Secretary?

WALSH: What I heard there was McConnell saying he wanted a seat at the table. That's what I took out of what he said.

I think the president showed clearly in the bipartisan infrastructure bill he's willing to sit down and work towards agreements with both parties and both sides. I think we have to put the country first.

I think that whether it comes to the debt ceiling or whether it comes to the infrastructure bills that are going to the Congress now, we have to remember we are all representing the American people and need to do what's right on behalf of the American people.

CAMEROTA: What will you do about Senator Joe Manchin? We've been reporting that he is not comfortable with going above 1.5 trillion for the president's infrastructure budget plan.

WALSH: Again, I think that the conversations we'll have with the Senate are evolving every day. I think we need to cooperate to have those conversations. There's no final vote set yet for the bill. This is a process. It's

not an easy one. We'll get to where we need to get to as we move forward here and continue to work with all the Senators and all the Congress people.

CAMEROTA: Is Senator Joe Manchin, a particular, thorn in your side on this one?

WALSH: I don't know if I call him a thorn. I had chance to spend some time with him in Miami a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed his company. We had a good chat.

We talked about where we are in the country. I think he understands the importance of investing in job training, investing in the cares committee economy and our kids.

I think as we continue to move forward, he'll take this a step at a time, a day at a time.

CAMEROTA: He seems like he's not budging on the number, the $3.5 trillion. Is that your understanding?

WALSH: I think Senator Manchin, a couple of weeks ago, wanted to postpone the bill for a while. We have to continue dialogue and conservations and move forward.

Usually, when you look at any major piece of legislation there's a Senator or someone against the bill. At the end of the day, you try to get yes.

That's what we'll do take it day at time and get it to yes with as many people as possible.

CAMEROTA: Do you they will happen this month?

WALSH: I hope so. I think it's really important.

You think about, how you started the show with, I think you said ten million jobs in this country. Five million people out of work. Some of those folks need job training. Some need day care. Some need a whole bunch of things.

We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us now with the bipartisan infrastructure Build Back Better bill. Really make investments in the livelihoods of Americans.


And 70 percent of American people like the idea of investing in their future. That's what we want to do is invest in the future.

CAMEROTA: Just be clear of numbers, we have from the latest, 10.9 million job openings, 8.4 million unemployed.

As we talked about, there are a lot of complications between childcare and this new feeling about work. It's hard to know if they are going to go back to work.

One more thing, do you agree with Goldman that the economic growth for the rest of the year is not --


WALSH: I'm not sure. Again, as we think about moving forward here, we had, I would argue we had probably not the greatest month in August and a whole bunch of different manners. Probably as the Delta variant, I think the report states that.

It really depends on how we move forward and how much September, October, November there is -- we need vaccinated.

I need to make a plea to let people know, if you get vaccinated, if you decided not to, I'm asking you to re-evaluate. Your health depends upon it. Your family health's depend upon it. And the economy depends upon it.

CAMEROTA: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, we really appreciate you being on. Thank you.

WALSH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We have more on COVID and the disturbing trend that health officials are seeing with children. Stay with us for those details.