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U.S. to Ease COVID Travel Restrictions; Shatner in Space; Biden Targets Supply Chain Issues; Interview With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D- WA). Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us on NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota.


We are watching several developing stories this hour. Minutes from now, President Biden will address the nation about another side effect of the pandemic, the tangled, clogged global supply chain. It's driving up prices ahead of the holiday shopping season and slowing the economic recovery.

CAMEROTA: And this is a crucial week for the January 6 select committee. The first round of in person depositions is scheduled to take place for some former President Trump's closest allies. More documents are due today.

And committee members warn that those who do not comply may face criminal contempt charges.

Plus, Captain Kirk goes where no other "Star Trek" character has ever gone before; 90-year-old William Shatner becomes the oldest person to travel beyond the Earth's atmosphere. And he returns with some emotional, profound insights.


WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: What you have given me is the most profound experience. I can't -- I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just -- it's extraordinary, extraordinary.

I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it.


CAMEROTA: Oh, that's really moving. And we will talk more about that in a moment.

BLACKWELL: It was really good to hear.

CAMEROTA: But first to another mission of global proportions.

President Biden will try today to fix the broken global supply chain. Starting today, the Port of Los Angeles will unload ships 24 hours a day seven days a week. And there's also an effort to get more licenses for truck drivers.

BLACKWELL: A new CNN poll shows Americans are divided on how Biden is doing as president. He has a 50 percent job approval rating, 49 percent disapproval. And those numbers have not changed much over the last couple of months, despite the slew of crises that the White House is facing.

Let's go down to CNN's chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

So, Kaitlan, add the supply chain to the list that the president is going to talk about today. Let's talk about this growing sense of urgency within the administration to try to tackle these challenges they're up against.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And they're certainly not easy challenges for them to tackle.

And White House officials are already acknowledging pretty bluntly that, yes, what they are doing today is to try to ease some of those logjams that you are seeing in the global supply chain, and the shortages that are being fueled by that and the inflation that's also being caused by it

But they know that this isn't going to be some overnight fix, or that's something that's going to change thing and change things in the next several weeks. Because experts are predicting this is only an issue that is going to get worse. And it's going to extend for the next several months, potentially longer, depending on how this is addressed and how things change, as they try to get back to this pre- pandemic normal.

And so what you will see President Biden come out and announce, one of the biggest and most significant moves is making that Port of Los Angeles operating at a 24/7 basis. So that is around the clock that they are going to be working to try to ease some of these shortages that, of course, are driving up prices, causing all of these shortages that are happening.

But it's a multistep process. And it's also a global issue. And so White House officials are pretty aware of realistically what the president has in his grasp to do when it comes to this.

But the other issues that are facing them are caused by this, because you saw that consumer price index number earlier today, how high it jumped, over 5 percent in the month of September. So these are all issues that are connected for this White House, all issues that they are dealing with. And, of course, it is having a drag on the president's public approval ratings from the United States.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, let's dig into more of that new CNN polling. So how are Americans feeling about those two big economic bills, the

infrastructure, the social safety net bills that are stalled in Congress at the moment?

COLLINS: So these are really fascinating numbers, because this is something, of course, that the White House is still dealing with as they are trying to unite Democrats over the president's agenda, that much broader package.

And if you look at these numbers, you see what people think should be the next pursuit here. When it comes to including all of the proposals, you have got 41 percent there, but it's 30 percent this idea that has been floating around among Democrats as they have been divided, which is fewer proposals for less cost, basically a smaller package with not everything that was included in that initial $3.5 trillion proposal.

If you look at the number of Democrats, though, when they talk about the preference for this bill and what their support behind it is, you see 75 percent want them to enact all of the proposals.


That seems something to fly in the face of what this argument is that you're seeing on Capitol Hill, where there are some Democrats who are wanting to slim down and narrow this bill. Of course, that is what they have been disputing and fighting over, over the last several weeks and something they still have not come to agreement on how to proceed.

Do they take a path where they narrow and scale back the bill and include everything in it? Or do they cut some things and include their initial proposals at those costs, but get rid of some of the other aspects? Those are big choices that are facing this White House. And, of course, it's something they're hoping to come to an agreement on, sooner, rather than later.

CAMEROTA: All right, we're going to try to get some answers to those right now.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Kaitlan.

CAMEROTA: And let's talk more about the Biden agenda with the chair of the Progressive Caucus, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Congresswoman, great to have you.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Great to see you, Alisyn, yet again.

CAMEROTA: You as well.

So let's get some answers to that.

First of all, I just heard you say on a different news network that you had had conversations with Senator Kyrsten Sinema. And can you just tell us about what those conversations were and if you got Senator Sinema to detail any of what her demands are?

JAYAPAL: I don't want to overplay it at all. I had one conversation with her. And it was a little while ago, just maybe a week-and-a-half or two ago.

And I'm not going to reveal what we said in that conversation. But I think she's very clear. She's negotiating with the White House. And I think that's important, because, obviously, this is the president's agenda, and we are going to make sure that we enact it.

But he's an important person in this to really bring along those two people that are still holdouts.

CAMEROTA: Well, the reason that I asked you about this is because I had heard you say that you hadn't gotten counterproposals from the two moderates, the moderate Democrats Senators Sinema and Manchin.

And why haven't you gotten those yet?

JAYAPAL: Well, Alisyn, they don't -- from what I have heard, they don't agree with each other on everything either; 98 percent of us do agree. And so we're waiting for the two of them to agree with each other and then to submit a counterproposal.

And I'm not sure why it's taking so long. But, obviously, this is a moment where we're all in agreement. So, if somebody else has a different proposal, they should put it on the table.

But it doesn't make sense for us to continue to negotiate against ourselves. All of that said, we have gone back through. And we have prioritized, as the Progressive Caucus, five months ago. We said these are the five things that we want in this bill. So we didn't have a list of 100 things. There are a lot more than these five that are in the bill.

We are prioritizing these five. And we have said this is what we need to see. And we will take a shorter number of years for exactly the reason that probably 70 percent of Democrats feel that way as well, because how do you pick child care against paid leave? How do you pit pre-K against housing? How do you pit climate change against any of those things?

So that's why we think it makes sense. If you look at our five priorities, we would be willing to cut down the years a little bit. But we do need to have all of those priorities in the bill.

CAMEROTA: OK, so, in other words, you do not agree with Speaker Pelosi, who had said her conclusion was that you will have to do fewer things well. You don't want to do fewer things well. You want to do the same amount of things for a shorter amount of time?

JAYAPAL: Well, it was a little confusing what the speaker said, but she did clarify the next day and walked that back and said, actually, there are some things that we will cut out, but when you look at these five priorities, and because she was asked specifically about most of the things that are in our priority list, she said we would likely do those for a shorter period of time.

So what she might be saying is, there are some things that are in here that we would love to do, but they will probably be cut out. However, the things that the Progressive Caucus prioritized, the filters we used for that, Alisyn, were will it be transformative, can benefits accrue immediately to people across this country, and will they be universal in terms of how they affect people?

And I think that's how we came to our five. And that's why I don't think that those five will be cut out of this package. I think they will be in there, but perhaps for a shorter period of time. And that's what we have been saying.

CAMEROTA: And do you -- is it your impression that the speaker walked that back after talking to you, that it was because of a conversation that you both had where that was clarified?

JAYAPAL: I did not have a conversation with her, but a lot of our members texted me that night and said that they were texting her. And so I think she clarified what she meant by that.

We do have -- we will be sending a letter on behalf of the Progressive Caucus that kind of details exactly where we are on this. And, hopefully, that will be helpful to make sure that everybody is very clear on where the majority of our caucus is.


CAMEROTA: Do you worry that the protracted back-and-forth between the progressives and the moderates about these spending bills for the past two months is hurting other Democrats in their state races? And I mean Terry McAuliffe, who, as you know, is running for governor in Virginia and Governor Phil Murphy in New Jersey, because it sounded like Terry McAuliffe thinks it is.

So let me just play for you what he said this weekend.


FMR. GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA): We have got frustration with Washington. Why haven't we passed this Infrastructure bill? It passed the U.S. Senate with 69 votes two months ago. I have been very straight on television. We're tired of the chitty chat up in Washington. Get in a room and get this figured out.


CAMEROTA: Congresswoman, do you worry that it's hurting other Democrats?

JAYAPAL: Look, I think that Democrats who are running right now should be running on the fact that Democrats in Congress cut child poverty in half with the American Rescue Plan. Democrats got shots in arms and got more Americans vaccinated than we

have seen -- than we could have imagined when President Biden first came in. Democrats got money to small businesses and states like Virginia so that they could continue through COVID. Democrats held up state and local government.

That's what these candidates should be talking about. It does take time to negotiate. Certainly, Terry McAuliffe, as a consummate politician, understands that. And the reality is, I think everybody should be supporting the fact that we need to get the entirety of the president's Build Back Better agenda to his desk.

And this is the way we do it, by linking the two bills together.

CAMEROTA: Well, it sounds like there is actually a messaging problem. And I basing this on this new CNN poll that was just released that asked Americans -- when asked, if Congress were to pass both these bills, the ones that you and I are talking about, infrastructure and social safety net, only a quarter of Americans say that it would help them.

Basically, 25 percent say that the impact of the infrastructure and economic bill would make them better off; 32 percent say worse off, and 43 percent say about the same. So what's that about?

JAYAPAL: You know what that's about, Alisyn? I'm going to throw it back to you in the media.

Everybody wants to focus on the top-line number. But we have been trying over and over again to say what is in the bill, because it is overwhelmingly popular when people know what's in the bill. Can you imagine the impact for people if they had 12 weeks of paid family leave?

And I wish we could go through and talk about each element and spend 10 minutes on each element, so that people would actually understand what is in the bill. So, I agree there is a messaging problem. And we keep trying to move it right back to, what are the elements that we are talking about?

Child care, universal child care, so that no family has to pay more than 7 percent of their income. Family leave for 12 weeks, so that you can take care of your loved ones when you're sick. The housing, so that the unhoused can actually have housing across this country, making sure that we are getting dental, vision and hearing benefits to seniors who are on Medicare, expanding that, and negotiating prescription drug prices, so no American will have to pay more for prescription drugs than in any other country, and of course, lifting up our immigrants.

Those are the things that are in this. And the minute you tell somebody that that's what's in there, they go, oh, well, that would make a transformative difference for me. And so I -- we definitely need help from all of you to make sure we're not just talking about some random top number, but that we're actually talking about the details. And that's been probably, for me, one of the best parts of these TV

appearances, is I get to talk about some of those things.


And that is helpful. And we're glad to give you a conduit to be able to talk about those things. But I think that part of the reason that we sometimes get hung up on the top-line number is because it seems like that's where Democrats are hung up. I mean, it seems like that that is where sometimes the battle is between Joe Manchin and the progressives.

And so just humor me with one top-line number here. If you want to shorten the timeline for when the benefits are available, does that affect the top-line number? And is that now about $2 trillion? Is that what it's come down to?


JAYAPAL: You're good, Alisyn. You're really good.

It definitely affects the top-line number. As I have always said, the number comes out of the programs and the way in which it's structured. And so does it get us to $2 trillion? I don't know. I'm not even sure that $2 trillion is the number that's on the table. What if the number was $2.5 trillion, and if we structure the programs the way we wanted, it came out to 2.6?

I mean, I just think that it makes no sense to talk about the number until we really identify the elements of it and how it's structured. I could see a situation, Alisyn, where you could say, OK, well, a $2.9 trillion package, but has none of our priorities or has them structured in a way that leaves out the majority of the country, and I would be less in favor of that than I would a program -- a package that's $2.7 trillion, but has all of our priorities structured in a way that we want.


That's the reason I think it doesn't make sense to look at the top- line number. But you're very good, very, very good trying to get to that.


CAMEROTA: I will take that.

Speaker Pelosi has said that the new deadline, I guess her deadline is October 31. Is that realistic?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, I think we're trying to work as fast as we can. But we're waiting on two people to tell us what they agree on and what they want.

So the Build Back Better act is written, by the way. It's already written. It's gone through committees in the House. We have agreement from 96 percent of us and the president and the American people. So, as soon as they tell us, we can start figuring out and negotiating the details of it.

Obviously, what they say may not be enough for us, and then that's going to be a negotiation. We have had 29 extensions, short-term extensions of the surface transportation reauthorization money. And we can certainly do that again.


JAYAPAL: Would we like to get it done by October 31? Of course, but what we want more is to get it done, get it done right, pass both bills, and get them to the president's desk.

CAMEROTA: While I have you, and while you and I talk about the nuances of this level of spending, the January 6 committee is trying to figure out how to stop something like that from happening again.

And at the same time, there appears to be a whitewashing of what happened on January 6 from the Republican side. And, of course, we all remember the video and pictures of you having to hide that day, as did so many of your colleagues, and how frightened everyone was for their lives.

So, when you hear now -- well, first of all, I mean, all signs suggest that Donald Trump will be running again in 2024. And all signs suggest that Republicans are on board with that and even encourage it.

This congressman in Georgia says: "He didn't have anything to do with January 6." He means Trump. "I think that's a far-fetched idea." That's from Loudermilk in Georgia.

This Republican in Missouri, Jason Smith, says: "To see where our country is right now, I miss him, absolutely miss him. And I would support him."

And then there's senator Chuck Grassley, who had said that what Donald Trump had done that day was irresponsible and dangerous, and now he's standing smiling side by side with him.

What are we to make of what is about to happen if Donald Trump gets into the race?

JAYAPAL: Alisyn, it is so dangerous, what's happening.

And I think, out of all of those that you quoted, the fact that Chuck Grassley is there, after saying what he did post-January 6, the fact that Steve Scalise, the number two Republican in the House, could not even say on FOX News, when he was being questioned, that Joe Biden legitimately won the election, I just -- I can't tell you how deeply distressing and dangerous this is for our country to have Republicans make a very political choice that they are going to go along with the big lie, go along with Donald Trump, because they're afraid of telling the truth.

They're afraid that, by telling the truth, they might lose their seats. What good is it to have your seat if you don't have a democracy? I mean, I just feel so strongly about this. And I think that it is a sad day in our country where this is happening and where we have so few Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have the courage to stand up and say, this is wrong.

It is extremely dangerous, and I worry for our democracy, and I worry for the message that it sends out to the rest of the world about democracy and whether it can work.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you for your time. We always appreciate talking to you.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Alisyn. It's always great to be with you.

BLACKWELL: Mission complete. William Shatner and his New Shepard crew successfully reentered the Earth's atmosphere, landed in Texas this morning.

It marked the second civilian launch for Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. Here's the moment of takeoff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minus 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four -- command engines start -- two, one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) has cleared the tower. She is on her space with the second human spaceflight crew.


BLACKWELL: At its peak, the Blue Origin space capsule traveled nearly 350,000 feet above ground level, reaching speeds upwards of 2,000 miles per hour.

In total, the mission lasted a little more than 10 minutes. The crew experienced about three minutes of weightlessness at the top of the their path before capsule deployed parachutes to slow their descent.


CAMEROTA: And once they touched down back on Earth, William Shatner was overcome with emotion. He recounted his experience to Jeff Bezos.


SHATNER: it's so much larger than the me and life. And it hasn't got anything to do with the little green planet, the blue orb and the -- it has nothing to do with that.

It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.

JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: And you shoot through -- what you were saying about shooting it through so fast.

SHATNER: So quickly, 50 miles, and you're...

BEZOS: Then you're just in blackness.

SHATNER: And you're in death.

The moment...

BEZOS: This is life.

SHATNER: This is life, and that's death. And it's -- in an instant, you go, whoa, that's death. That's what I saw.

BEZOS: That's amazing.


CAMEROTA: OK, that's deep.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It was a short flight. He got a lot out of it.

CAMEROTA: He had an existential experience. And I guess so many people do.

BLACKWELL: That's what we hear from these astronauts. And some people would put an asterisk behind them because of how high they go.

But that, once you see the Earth, you see how fragile it really is, that it's life-changing. Of course it is.

CAMEROTA: And also I didn't -- I had never heard it described the way that William Shatner described it, which was blue, blue, blue, beautiful blue, and then you're in blackness.

BLACKWELL: In black, yes.

CAMEROTA: And he said, as you just heard him, that that was the difference between life and death. I'd never heard it described that way.

He also was very candid about how anxiety-producing it was...

BLACKWELL: Understandably.

CAMEROTA: ... and wondering if they were going to make it back. OK.


It was great to experience this through William Shatner, because the way he phrased that experience -- and he's also funny.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and he's also 90.

BLACKWELL: That's true, yes.

CAMEROTA: That man is 90 years old. So he's obviously done something right on Earth. BLACKWELL: Oldest person to get to that point.

CAMEROTA: So, listen, it only costs $28 million for that ride.

BLACKWELL: Cheap. Cheap. Sofa money. That's sofa cushion cash.

CAMEROTA: So, I guess lots of people will be lining up.

So, remember when the guy paid $28 million, and then he had a scheduling conflict and couldn't make it?

BLACKWELL: Yes. What -- is this a dental appointment? Is there a graduation that you can't miss? Twenty-eight million.

CAMEROTA: All right, moving on.

After 18 long months of this COVID pandemic, the U.S. will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from Canada and Mexico.

BLACKWELL: And you see the images, these epic port congestion problems, a severe shortage of truck drivers too.

The president will talk about the global supply chain crisis and what this means for you, for your family. It's coming up in minutes.



BLACKWELL: In a few weeks, COVID travel restrictions that have been in place for more than a year-and-a-half will be relaxed.

In the first phase, fully vaccinated visitors traveling for nonessential reasons will be able to cross U.S. land borders of Canada and Mexico.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Los Angeles with more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After more than 18 months, the land borders with Mexico and Canada will reopen for nonessential travel early November, but just for the fully vaccinated.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: It's important news for our country, for our economy. We're talking about land ports of entry with two of our key trading partners.

WATT: Here in the U.S., five states have now fully vaccinated more than two-thirds of their populations. Thing is, they're all in New England. These 15 states are yet to even reach the halfway mark. In September alone, apparently, about 49,000 deaths could have been prevented if more people had gotten vaccinated, says one new study.

Boeing just issued a vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees. In Boston, more than 800 city employees now on unpaid leave because they won't get the shots or take the tests.

ROB DUSTON, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: They may not want to do it, but they will end up going ahead and complying eventually.

WATT: The governors of Texas and Florida both fighting the prevailing mandates' wind. Congresswoman Jim Jordan agrees. The White House does not.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Governor Abbott's executive order banning mandates, and I would also note announcement by Governor DeSantis essentially banning the implementation of mandates, fit a familiar pattern that we have seen of putting politics ahead of public health.

WATT: Some big corporations say they will ignore the governor of Texas and still insist their staff get vaccinated.

COVID-19 is, was and will always be contentious. A survey of over 300 scientists who have spoken publicly about it found 15 percent received death threats and 22 percent received threats of physical or sexual violence.

Meantime, the big picture?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Still, we are in some aspects in the pandemic phase of the outbreak. However, we are seeing now a decline in acceleration and the turnaround of cases.

WATT: And the CDC predicts hospitalizations and deaths will continue to fall over the coming month.


WATT: But there are still more than 66 million eligible Americans who haven't gotten their first shot yet. But pointing out that they might have made a bad decision apparently will not help, according to a new report out today.

The authors say that you should give the hesitant a new piece of information and say this, that maybe they would want to take this into account now, as any good decision-maker like you would.

So, basically, they're saying flatter these people and also allow them to change their minds without -- really while they're still saving face -- guys.

CAMEROTA: Yes, criticizing people doesn't usually help win them over.


CAMEROTA: That's a great insight.