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Interview With Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS); Jobs Report; President Biden Enacts New Protections For National Monuments. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 08, 2021 - 14:00   ET



BRENDA MALLORY, CHAIRWOMAN, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: I can't tell you how exciting it is to be in person on this day and this event.

I want to welcome you to the White House. And I also want to thank you, each and every one of you, from tribal leaders, to business leaders, to conservation leaders, to hunters, anglers, climbers, scientists, educators, and millions and millions of American people.

Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for standing up, and for fighting to keep a simple, but sacred promise, that, in America, when we protect the place as a national monument, it is to be protected for all time for all people.


MALLORY: Let us reflect on the meaning of this moment.

The single largest elimination of protections of lands and waters in U.S. history was met by the single largest mobilization for conservation in U.S. history. Millions and millions of Americans rallied to help tribes defend Bears Ears, to restore Grand Staircase- Escalante, and to safeguard the Atlantic Ocean's first marine national monument.

This fight has galvanized a new and powerful vision for conservation in America, a vision in which we act with urgency and ambition to conserve and restore the lands, waters and wildlife we love and that are disappearing so quickly, a vision in which we -- in which the stewardship traditions and conservation priorities of tribal nations are celebrated and supported in both law and policy, a vision in which every child in America, no matter where they live, has a chance to experience nature's wonders, and the vision in which we harness the power of our forest, and farms and ocean and coasts to keep our climate livable and communities thriving.

This is the vision that President Biden with your help is pursuing. And let me tell you, there is no one better to stand beside as we drive this work forward than our extraordinary secretary of the interior.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) MALLORY: Ladies and gentlemen, my friend and partner in so many things, Secretary Deb Haaland.



Good afternoon, everyone.

Before I start, I just have to say that I have the best team at DOI. And I'm so grateful for all of you. So thank you. Thank you.

And thank you, Brenda.


HAALAND: Thank you for your introduction.

We are here today on the ancestral homelands of the Anacostan and Piscataway people, bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Thank you, Mr. President, for the profound action you're taking today to permanently protect the homelands of our ancestors.

Our songs, our languages, and our cultures are strong, and many people from many Indian tribes have sung and spoken in unison to protect this sacred place. Bears Ears is a living landscape. When I have been there, I have felt the warmth and joy of ancestors who have cared for this special place since time immemorial.

It's a place where you can stand in the doorway of a home, where a family who lived thousands of years ago left behind a legacy of love and conservation for a place that sustained them for countless generations. Stories of existence, celebration, survival and reverence are etched into the sandstone canyon walls. Sacred sites are dotted across the desert mesas cultural, heritage in the form of ancient pots.

Arrowheads, clothing, seeds, and evidence of lives well-lived are as inseparable from Bears Ears as the air we breathe at this moment. Today, children learn and sustain from their parents and elders the songs, traditions and ceremonies that have been passed down from generation to generation at Bears Ears.

This is a place that must be protected in perpetuity for every American and every child of the world.



HAALAND: Today's announcement, it's not just about national monuments. It's about this administration centering the voices of indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations.

The president's actions today writes a new chapter that embraces indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table, and demonstrates that, by working together, we can build a brighter future for all of us.

We have much more good work ahead. Together, we will tell a more complete story of America. Together, we will conserve and protect our lands and ocean for people, for wildlife, for the climate. Together, we will strengthen our economy with healthy resilient natural systems.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for strengthening the nation-to- nation relationship. Thank you on behalf of all Americans who love and value our cultural heritage. Thank you on behalf of the local communities whose economies are continually benefiting from healthy ecosystems on our public lands, national monuments, and parks.

I am so grateful and very proud to serve on your team.

And now it's my distinct honor to introduce you.

Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States of America.




BIDEN: Good afternoon. Please, all, be seated, please.

Madam Secretary, Deb, you have done an incredible job in a short amount of time. And I told you, when I asked you to be secretary of interior, that I understood I was politically raised by Dan Inouye, Indian nations, Indian nations. And I want to thank all the leaders that are here today for your support, your help getting this done.

And it's really, really important. And I want to thank Brenda, Council of Economic Quality -- Environmental Quality, and Gina McCarthy.


BIDEN: If you need any translation, talk to me after.

Gina, you're the best. You're the best.

And I want you to know, although he didn't speak today, I want to thank my buddy Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture, for being here today, because he's about preservation.


BIDEN: And Maria, Senator Cantwell, thank you for your really hard, consistent, unrelenting work on these issues.

And I also want to thank Michael Bennet the same way. He's been in this and never -- from the moment he got elected has been pushing, pushing hard. And, Ruben, I want to thank, Congressman Gallego, for the work you have done and continue to do. I really mean it. This may be the easiest thing I have ever done so far as president.

No, I mean it. I mean it.

I have got to tell you a quick story. When I was running for office -- and I'm embarrassed. I can't remember exactly which state I was in. But a gentleman, and I think it was his wife, and a little girl said, "Could I" -- the little girl said, "Could I talk to you?"

And she had this -- I couldn't understand what she had in her hand. It looked like a teddy bear. And she said: "Can I talk to you, Mr." -- she wasn't sure what to call me, because I wasn't elected yet -- "Mr. President or Mr. Vice President"?

I said: "Sure. What's the matter, honey?"

She said: "I want to give you something. I want to give you something bears' ears."

I looked at her. And she gave me this set of bears ears. She said: "You have got to promise me, you have got to promise me you will protect the Bears Ears."

And I'm thinking, what the heck is...


BIDEN: I mean, at that time. I knew Bears Ears, but I just didn't quite get it.

She said -- and her dad said, a national park. I said, oh, yes.

She said -- and she went and look. She said: "You promise? You promise?"

And I promised. And it's the easiest promise that I have made in a long time.

I'm grateful to the tribal nation leaders, and both those who are here with us today and those who are unable to join us.

Today, I'm proud to announce the protection and expansion of three of the most treasured national monuments, our most treasured, based on powers granted to the president under the Antiquities Act first used more than a century ago by Teddy Roosevelt, first, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.


This is the first national monument in the country to be established at the request of a federally recognized tribes, and a place of healing, as spoken by the secretary, a place of reverence, a sacred homeland to generations of Native peoples.

The last administration reduced the size by 85 percent, leaving vulnerable more than one million acres of cherished landscape. Today, I will shortly be signing a proclamation to fully restore the boundaries of Bears Ears.

Second, I'm restoring Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a place of unique and extraordinary geology, as well as biodiversity, established as a national monument 25 years ago this month. Over the last quarter-century, this land has produced significant scientific discoveries per acre, more than any other national monument, everything from fossils to ancient indigenous artifacts.

And, once again, the last administration cut the size of the monument nearly in half, stripping away more than 800,000 protected acres. Today, I'm signing a proclamation to restore it to its full glory.

Third, off the coast of New England, I'm restoring protection of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, waters teeming with life with underwater canyons as deep as the Grand Canyon and underwater mountains as tall as the Appalachians. There's nothing like it in the world.

Because of its unique biodiversity, marine scientists believe the this is the key to understanding life under the sea. President Obama established it as a national monument five years ago, recognizing its irreplaceable value. Again, my predecessor chipped away at its protections.

The proclamation I will be signing today is going to restore protections established by President Obama when this monument was first created. Excuse me. The protection of public lands must become -- must not become, I should say, a pendulum that swings back and forth depending on who is in public office. It's not a partisan issue.

And I want to thank the members of Congress who have come together to support this important conservation work. And, by the way, I might add, as a matter of courtesy, I spoke with both the senators from Utah. They were -- they didn't agree with what I was doing, but they were gracious and polite about it, and I appreciate that as well.

The truth is, national monuments and parks are part of the identity -- our identity as a people. They are more than natural wonders. They're the birthright we pass from generation to generation, a birthright of every American. Preserving them is the fulfillment of a promise to our children and all those who will come to leave this world a little better than we found it.

But, today, our children are three times more likely to see climate disasters uproot and unsettle their lives than their grandparents' generation. We have to come together and understand why this work is so critical.

When we're protecting care for our forests, we're not just preserving the majesty of nature. We're safeguarding water sources and lessening the impact of fires -- excuse me -- impact of fires. We're protecting wetlands.

We're not only saving birds and fish and the livelihoods of people who depend on them. We're also shoring up the natural defenses to absorb the fury of hurricanes and superstorms. Nearly one in three Americans live in a community that has been struck by weather disasters just in the last few months, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, heat waves.

Both the Build Back Better plan and my bipartisan infrastructure agreement are going to make critical investments, significantly increasing the resilience of these devastating effects on the climate crisis. It includes creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, similar to President Franklin Roosevelt's Conservation Corps.

It's going to be put diverse groups of Americans to work doing everything from restoring wetlands to protecting clean water to making forests more resilient against wildfires. My plan also puts Americans on a course to achieve 50 to 52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions no later than 2050.

You know, achieving these ambitious goals is going to require that nature itself play a role. Scientists estimate that the protection and restoration of national lands and waters can provide nearly 40 percent of the solutions to climate change.


That's why I'm signing these proclamations today. It's an additional reason. It's also why I'm restoring protections for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, which I have had the great honor to visit.


BIDEN: As a matter of fact, when I was meeting with -- back in the days when the senator from Alaska -- I was with him after the oil spill on the North Slope.

And we stopped in the Tongass Forest. And he sat me at a table in this magnificent restaurant in the middle of the Tongass Forest, which has tree trunks as big as those trees holding up the whole building. It's magnificent.

And he sat me with what I kid and call Hoss Cartwright and his family, four big guys, really big, big guys. And they were -- had a lumber company that they were foresting in the area, and they wanted me to support paying for roads into the national forest, so they could forest.

And we started the conversation. To make a long story short, when I made it clear I wasn't going to do that, the father turned to his son and looked like that program and Hoss Cart -- big fellow.

And he: "I will bet" -- I won't use the exact language. He turned to me I'm across the table. He's got he and his three sons. And he said: "I will bet this so and so," referring to me, and expletive deleted, "doesn't realize, he's closer to Lexington, Kentucky, today than he was when he just flew off the North Slope."

And it made the point to me Alaska's pretty big. There's an awful lot we need to protect. But that's why I'm working to protect Bristol Bay from mining operations that would threaten one of the world's largest salmon runs.


BIDEN: That's why I'm refusing to sell out the Arctic National Wildlife reserve to oil and gas drilling.


BIDEN: These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future, one where we strengthen our economy and pass on a healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren.

Let me close with this. Edward Abbey, a writer who once worked as a Ranger at Arches National Park in Utah wrote -- and I quote -- "This is the most beautiful place on Earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary" -- end of quote.

Folks, that's the United States of America. That's America, a country we all share together, a country that we must protect together. And this is just one more step in doing what other presidents have done, starting with Teddy Roosevelt.

And I'm now going to sign these proclamations. And thank you all. Thank you all for your support. Thank you.


BIDEN: All right, first one, I'm signing is Grand Staircase.



BIDEN: All right.

The second one I'm signing is the Bears Ears. I wish I could remember that little girl's name. I hope she's watching. I hope she's watching.


BIDEN: All right, there we go. I'm going to get you all a pen.


BIDEN: And the third one I'm signing is the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.




BIDEN: Here's one. Somebody grab one who doesn't have one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.


BIDEN: Next one. Next one.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, the president there signing the executive orders to restore protections for several national monuments.

Thank you for joining me. I'm Victor Blackwell. You have been listening to the president there doing what environmentalists and conservationists have been waiting for, restoring these policies for three national monuments.

Let's go to the White House now. CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is there.

And, Kaitlan, the president said this is the easiest thing he's ever done, rolling back some of the policies of his predecessor.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it seems easy, especially compared to what's been happening in Congress lately.


COLLINS: The president's trying to get the other parts of his domestic agenda through Congress right now.

But, yes, this is something that President Biden had made clear was a priority to him on day one when he was in office. And, of course, we saw him sign several executive orders then. One was a review of these steps that were taken by the former president when it came to these monuments and downsizing them, because one of these, the Bears Ears in Utah, that was something that the former president, President Trump, had reduced by about 85 percent, the size of it, because he had been requested to do so by ranchers, by farmers, by even some Republicans.

And that was something that you saw a lot of environmentalists push back on, paleontologists push back on it as well, given what and just how fossil rich this area is. And so this is one of three that the president is working to restore today using his executive authority.

That's what he was signing there, of course, and you saw him surrounded by the interior secretary and others who have pushed to make this happen. And so it's two things. It's, one, the president undoing some of the steps that his predecessor had taken when it came to Bears Ears, and Grand Staircase and a third monument that was, of course, off the coast of New England, but also he's making these steps.

And, of course, the question is, is this a part of his legacy going forward when it comes to this effort? And so that is something that the president was saying there, that, when it came to two of these monuments, which we should note are in Utah, he said he did get pushback from the state's two Republican senators, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee.

But he said they were polite, Victor, about their disagreement over -- with the steps that he just took a few moments ago.

BLACKWELL: All right, the event has ended. This is the second event in just the last few hours, after which the president did not take any questions. We know he often takes a few questions, not today.

This is also the day that we got those disappointing jobs numbers; 194,000 jobs were added in September, far fewer than economists projected, unemployment rate now at 4.8 percent, second straight month of disappointing numbers for the administration.

How is the White House reacting, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Well, the president is choosing to focus on that second number there, the unemployment rate falling below 5 percent, of course, the first time since he's been in office that it's been below that, but also the bigger question about what it looks like in the wake of the pandemic, and what this American recovery is looking like.

And these numbers are -- obviously, this is a roadblock. And so what you saw with those just 194,000 jobs added to the economy, that is something that is very tough for any president to sell. And it was tough for President Biden today, as he was saying that it's a sign that progress is being made, but he was pinning a lot of this on the Delta variant.

And one thing that he was saying that White House officials are hoping that comes to fruition in the next jobs report is that this last one was taken in September. Of course, that is when the Delta variant was hitting the United States very hard. You're seeing medical and health officials say that they hoped that they are turning the corner on, that case numbers are going down. They're hoping vaccinations continue to go up.

But it's a very difficult number, because the thing about the unemployment rate even falling below 5 percent, in part, that's because people are leaving the work force entirely. And that is a big question that is still facing this White House. When you're saying the president didn't take any questions today, a big one is on the labor shortage and what the path forward for that is going to look like and how long the president's top economists think that that's going to last Victor.

Because you even heard the labor secretary saying earlier there had been this line of thinking that come September, when schools were reopening and parents could send their kids back to school, when those jobless benefits, the enhanced ones, were coming to an end, that $300 a month, that people would start entering the work force en masse, there would be a surge in these numbers.

And we did not see that. Instead, the work force is shrinking actually. And, of course, that is a deep concern that is facing the White House, alongside those concerns about inflation, alongside oil and gas prices being at their highest levels since 2014.

So a lot of questions about what this actually means for the recovery, if it's a small moment or if it's a larger reflection of how long this is going to take.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kaitlan Collins for us there at the White House.

Kaitlan, thank you very much.

Let's take a closer look at the U.S. jobs report.

CNN's Matt Egan is with me now to break down the numbers.

What do they tell us about this pandemic economy and the effort to recover now? It falls short. The expectation was, what, 500,000 -- 194,000. What is the big takeaway?


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Victor, at first blush, this jobs report looked pretty terrible.

Like, if you were going to give it a letter grade, it might be a D.


EGAN: But I think, when you really dig into it, it's not really as bad as it looked. It might get a C-plus or a B-minus.

Here's why. The big negative, of course, is 194,000 jobs were added, as you mentioned, less than half of what economists were expecting. This is actually the weakest job growth of the entire year. Now, as far as why, let's look at the sectors. The big negative was schools. Local school employment alone fell by 144,000 jobs last month.

That's a big deal, because, normally, there's a lot of jobs coming on from teachers and staff that was taken off the payroll during the summer. The fact that hiring did not pick up there...

BLACKWELL: In September of all months, yes.

EGAN: ... in September is very, very interesting.

And it suggests that they might have had a hard time finding the workers, particularly women. The other weaknesses, we saw hotel jobs barely grew, health care jobs fell. Bar and restaurants didn't really grow all that much. But there were some positives here too.

Job gains in July and August, they were revised higher. That's good news. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent. That is a pandemic low. It is a huge improvement from nearly 15 percent in April of 2020. Black unemployment is below 8 percent. Also, wages are growing. They're growing at the fastest pace in seven months. That suggests that there is some real demand for workers.

So I think, if you take a step back, this shows that COVID is continuing to distort the labor market and creating some mismatches in the labor supply.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And the president also pointed out that when this was taken, the new cases were 150,000 or so per day. They're now just south of 100,000 per day, so expecting some improved numbers moving forward.

EGAN: Yes, I hope so.

I think that when you zoom out, you have to look at kind of where we are right now.


EGAN: The good news is that the job market has recovered three- quarters of the jobs that were lost during COVID.

The bad news is, that last quarter is proving to be very difficult to recover. We're still five million jobs down during the pandemic. At the current pace, it would take two years to fully recover. So we're chipping away, but we're not there yet. No one said this would be easy.

BLACKWELL: In the right direction, just not moving as quick as some would like.

Matt Egan, thanks so much.

EGAN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right.

For more on this, let's bring in our Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids of Kansas. She's also the vice chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. So, of course, we're going to talk about that.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for your time.

I want to start with this jobs report, 194,000 jobs created. Certainly, the Delta variant played a role. But the case that we heard from Gina McCarthy was that passing these two big pieces of legislation, if they get through Congress, that's going to bring hundreds of thousands of jobs on and speed up this recovery.

So is this intraparty fight that's happening with the Democrats slowing down this country's recovery?

REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): Well, I think -- I mean, I think it's absolutely right, that once we get through the next couple pieces of legislation that we're working on, particularly the infrastructure bill, we are talking about creating so many great-paying jobs that are going to get us to a thriving economy. When we're talking about the infrastructure, particularly the

infrastructure bill, here in the Kansas Third, we're a major infrastructure and transportation hub. So I'm really looking forward to us getting those bills across the finish line, so that we can -- so we can see the job growth and the -- also the issues around tackling climate change.

And we heard a little bit about that earlier in your program.


Congresswoman, I know that you and several other Democrats are now -- have launched this campaign to boost support to try to push the infrastructure bill specifically forward.

It's passed the Senate. It really is not the point of conflict within the party. Are you -- do you believe that it is in jeopardy?

DAVIDS: No, I think what we're seeing right now is the -- is progress on the negotiations of getting not just the infrastructure bill across the finish line, but both bills.

And I think that when -- I'm glad you brought up the work I'm doing here in the Kansas Third. I'm making sure that folks can really feel and see the specifics around how this infrastructure bill is going to benefit our area.

And I just had the chance yesterday to put out a report on the bridges and the state of the systems here in Kansas.


DAVIDS: And I think that a lot of folks recognize how important this is.

BLACKWELL: And, certainly, we know that what standing in the way of getting that infrastructure bill passed is the largest safety net bill, was at $3.5 trillion. Senator Joe Manchin says that he wants that to come closer to $1.5 trillion, his ceiling.

There was a suggestion from Congressman Ro Khanna on a call with the president that -- to get Senator Manchin and the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders, in a room together