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Justice Department To Ask Supreme Court To Block TX Abortion Law; TX Teachers Told To Include "Opposing" Views On Holocaust; FDA Advisers Vote Unanimously To Recommend Booster Doses Of J&J Vaccine; Biden Pitches Agenda In Connecticut As Talks Intensify. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: New developments involving that controversial Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The Justice Department is taking its effort to block this law to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue, joins us live.

Ariane, there's been a lot of legal back and forth over this law. Explain this planned move by the Justice Department and where things stand now.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. So now the Department of Justice is going to go back to the Supreme Court here challenging this law.

The legal challenges have been ricocheting through the courts because, remember, first, the abortion providers went to challenge it. They lost at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, on September 1, allowed it to go into effect.

And then the Department of Justice came forward bringing the left of the federal government and it sued and it won briefly at a trial-court level.


But then Texas went to the federal appeals court. That appeals court reversed, allowing the law once again. And it reinforced its decision last night.

So now, we find ourselves going back to the Supreme Court.

Remember, the last time it was there, the justices really bitterly divided on it, 5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the liberals. Justice Sotomayor calling the law flagrantly unconstitutional.

But what's different now is there's a record because that trial judge spent about 134 pages going through how this law, once it was allowed to go into effect, impacted women on the ground.

It showed how doctors felt intimidated and scared. Women with means were able to travel but poor women weren't able to. And neighboring states find themselves overwhelmed with all these Texas patients.

The most important thing to remember, of course, is that this law has no exception for rape or incest.

So the Supreme Court now is going to look at that record, study these lower court opinions, and that could ultimately make a difference.

CABRERA: Right, and the Supreme Court originally didn't rule specifically on the constitutionality of this law.

DE VOGUE: Right.

CABRERA: They rejected it -- rejected the lawsuit or taking a look at it because of the procedures that had been taken to get it before the Supreme Court.

DE VOGUE: Absolutely.

CABRERA: Now they will rule on the constitutionality should they get it again.

Ariane De Vogue, thank you so much.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

CABRERA: A Texas school administrator sets off a firestorm after telling teachers -- get this -- to balance books about the Holocaust with opposing views.

As if there is an opposing view to the systemic slaughter of six million Jews across German-occupied Europe during World War II.

These comments came during a training session for teachers on a new state law, a law designed to restrict how race and history are described in school.

I want you to hear the comment by school administrator, Gina Peddy, which was secretly recorded by a staff member and obtained by CNN. Listen.


GINA PEDDY, TEXAS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR: If you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing -- that has --


UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER: How do you oppose the Holocaust?


CABRERA: After that question, "How do you respond to the Holocaust," Peddy responded, quote, "Believe me, that's come up."

CNN has reached out to Peddy for comment but, so far, we haven't received a response.

Let's discuss this with Cheryl Drazin, vice president of the Anti- Defamation League, Central Division in Texas. She's dealing with the school district on this issue right now.

Cheryl, first, just to your first initial reaction to that comment?


Let's be clear. There are no opposing views to the Holocaust. We call that Holocaust denial, and that is anti-Semitic, and we will not tolerate anti-Semitism in our schools.

CABRERA: And so, you know, the thing that I can't believe is these are educators. The woman who made the comment is a school administrator in charge of curriculum, also in charge of instruction for the district.

I mean, just the fact that this was an example that she's using regarding implementation of very new controversial Texas law, what does that tell you?

DRAZIN: It tells us that we have -- we need to be concerned about the implementation of House bill 3979 because it led to these very dangerous instructions. History cannot be rewritten.

CABRERA: Critics have said that this new law, what's known as House bill 3979, as you point out, is designed to whitewash history.

The superintendent released a statement saying, quote:

"We recognize that there are not two sides of the Holocaust as we continue to work through implementation of H.B.-3979. We also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts."

"As a district, we will work to add clarity to our expectations for teachers. And once again, apologize for any hurt or confusion this has caused."

What's up with this law, that an educator could interpret it in this way?

DRAZIN: That's a great question. While it's good to see the superintendent issue a clarification to make clear that there's no oppose view of the Holocaust, and even to say this is an unintended consequence, it's still a consequence.

We're at a point in time where we're losing last remaining Holocaust survivors. We are obligated to continue to tell their stories when they are no longer here.

We can't allow any law to erase the Holocaust from history. CABRERA: Cheryl Drazin, I appreciate your time. Got to leave it there

today. We have some breaking news that I've got to get to.

A group of FDA vaccine advisers just voted unanimously to recommend booster shots for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Let's get right back to our CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, talk to us about this decision.

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this decision, in many ways, is very similar to the decision that was made for Pfizer and Moderna.


That a booster shot is useful for a set of people, people over 65, people with certain underlying medical conditions and people in certain jobs.

But there's a twist here. There's something that makes this J&J decision different.

And that is for Pfizer and Moderna, you're supposed to wait six months after your original shot and your second shot to get the booster.

This one says, hey, get your booster two months after getting your original Johnson & Johnson.

In other words, you have to be at least two months out to get a Johnson & Johnson booster. Not six months out, two months out.

And so it's not entirely clear why the difference here.

But I think one of the reasons is that, as members of this committee have said to me, is that there have been concerns that the Johnson & Johnson is not as effective as Pfizer and Moderna.

It's about 72 percent effective instead of around 95 percent effective. And there was a feeling that it ought to be boosted.

It needed a second shot sooner so that people could get to a higher -- a place of higher effectiveness to prevent getting sick from COVID-19.

So, again, with Johnson & Johnson, the recommendation is that if you are two months or more out, if you had your Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago, and you're over 65, you have certain underlying medical conditions.

And -- it's a very long list -- if you are a health care worker, if you are, say, in a nursing home, then you should be getting this booster -- Ana?

CABRERA: And we showed the picture of President Biden getting ready to speak. As soon as his remarks begins, we'll take our viewers there live. But he hasn't stepped forward just yet.

Elizabeth, let me ask you a quick follow-up question so our viewers are clear about this.

They shouldn't rush out and go get their Johnson & Johnson booster today because it hasn't cleared all the hurdles before it's a full green light, right?

COHEN: Ana, that is correct. So right now, this is -- this is the vote from a panel of advisers to the FDA. The FDA itself will look at this, most likely agreeing with it.

And the CDC adviser, a panel of CDC advisers, external advisers to the CDC, will look at it next week on Thursday. And then the CDC, the agency itself, will look at the recommendation.

There's a very good chance though that this will -- the final version will be just what we're seeing today. But, still, it would be official until the end of next week.

CABRERA: As far as mixing and matching, that's something else that they are discussing at this meeting today. I know they are not expected to vote on that.

But given what the data has shown, and particularly for people who may have received the J&J vaccine the first time around, is there good reason to pump the brakes on the booster until there's more guidance about mixing and matching and whether that actually will be more beneficial?

COHEN: I don't think so. I think if you got Johnson & Johnson, and the recommendation at the end of next week is, yes, we think Johnson & Johnson folks ought to get a booster two months after the original shot, go with that.

Because it's going to take a while for them to sort out what should Johnson & Johnson folks get eventually. Should they be mixing and matching? Should they get a Pfizer or Moderna shot?

As you alluded, Ana, what this small study found - it was just a study of about 450 people.

What it found was that folks who got Johnson & Johnson were better off getting a Moderna or Pfizer booster. They did better if they got a Moderna or Pfizer booster than if they got a J&J booster.

But it's a relatively small study. The booster with J&J still did quite well.

So you're not hurting yourself by going out there and getting a Johnson & Johnson booster. And you always want to do things in a timely way.


(CROSSTALK) COHEN: Go ahead with what they say and then we can look at the other stuff later.

CABRERA: Thank you so much, Elizabeth Cohen.

Let head to Connecticut and President Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that a lot of people are in desperate need of a facility like this in childcare.

I didn't really appreciate it as a young member of the county council when I was 27 years old.

But when I got elected to the United States Senate when I was 29 -- I wasn't old to be sworn in yet. And between the time I got elected and, between the time I ultimately went to the Congress, I turned the eligible age of 30.

But also, in the meantime, there was an automobile accident that my wife was Christmas shopping and my daughter was killed. My wife was killed. And my two young boys, Beau and Hunter, were very badly injured and hospitalized for a long time.

And so I didn't -- I thought, well, I'll get some help. And I was making a decent salary as a U.S. Senator, $42,000 a year. That was a decent salary and I could not afford the childcare.


Everybody wondered why I commuted every day 265 miles a day to be back and forth with my children. I could afford the train.

It was cheaper to be able to take every day so I could kiss my boys -- it wasn't "Ozzie and Harriet," but we had breakfast in the morning.

And when they got a little older, I'd get them off to school and I'd get on the train in time to -- if I got home in time to have dinner.

It was seldom I would get home in time to have my dinner. And they would save the dessert. And I got see them and kiss them good night and get in bed with them.

So it made me realize how difficult it is for the vast majority of people who need help.

I'm lucky. I had a mother who is nearby, a sister who is my best friend, who quit her job temporarily and moved in with her husband to help me raise my kids. But most people don't have that option.

So I've -- I've been conscious of the concern and the lack of access and the lack of financial ability to have childcare for a long time.

And I -- I want to thank the team here, the Capital Development Center, for welcoming us in today. And I want to thank the excellent leaders you have here.

Ned, you're one of the best governors in the United States of America.


BIDEN: You really are. Because you stand up for what you believe in and you don't back down.

And Mr. Mayor, Luke, is a -- is an Afghan War veteran. We were talking about all the work that he's done with the former governor of Delaware, Jack Markel, now who is placing Afghan refugees coming out of Afghanistan. And we're continuing to get people out.

Thank you for what you do. I really mean it.

And Richard Blumenthal who was, back in those days, the attorney general when my son, Beau, was still alive and he was attorney general. Not a joke, but he looked to Richard for help.

And thanks for the way you took him under your wing. I really mean, it. You made a difference. You know what he thought of you.

And -- and Chris Murphy, who has been not only a real soldier but he has stood up and stuck up for me.

And, Chris, you know, it -- it matters. It matters when things are tight to stand up and make the case and I do appreciate it.

And John and I, John Larson and I go back a long way. And -- and, Joe, you can't deny me. There's no way out.


BIDEN: And Rosa DeLauro, I don't have time to keep you, but the first time I came up this way, I was -- my son was going to Yale Law School and her mother -- was it a committee man?

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT): Alderwoman.

BIDEN: Alderwoman.

And I was up on a ladder helping him to pain the place that he had just represented and this knock on the door and this lovely woman says, where's Biden, where's Joe Biden?


BIDEN: I was up on a ladder with paint all over me and I was a sitting U.S. Senator. And it was like, no, where's Biden? Where's Biden?


BIDEN: And she brought the chief of police over to let them know that everything will be taken care of.

But your mother was something else. But that old expression the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Rosie, you've been an incredible leader when it comes to the health

and well-being of children. And we would not have had the legislation that we're trying now to continue if not for you.

And, Jim, you're -- you're the real deal.


BIDEN: As well as, you know, Johanna (ph), my -- the -- the comment I got from Johanna (ph), I get from everybody. Where's Jill?


BIDEN: Where's Jill? I'm Jill Biden's husband.

I think she's now in New Jersey or Virginia, I'm not sure, after teaching 15 credits this week at the community college. And she is out there making a case.

I'm here today to talk about what's fundamentally at stake right now, in my view, for the families, not only of Connecticut because you're ahead of the curve and something that you've done on your own, but for our country.

For a long time, America set the pace across the globe. For most of the 21st century, we literally led the world by a significant margin in investments.

We invested in our own people, in our people. Not only our roads, our highways, our bridges but in our people and in our families.

And we didn't just build the interstate highway system and invest to win the space race. We were also among those to provide access to free education, to getting back, at the turn of the 21st century.

It was a distinction and a direct decision to invest in our children and our families. And it is a major reason why we're able to lead the world in the 21st century.


One of the few nations in the world that has universal education for everyone, beginning at was then first grade.

But somehow along the way, we stopped investing in our people. Our infrastructure has fallen from the best in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum, our infrastructure ranked 13th in the world. Roads, bridges, highway, a whole range of things.

But just as important, the Organization of Economic Opportunity and Cooperation now ranks America 35 out of 37 major countries when it comes to investing in early childhood education and care.

Say another way, the world is catching up and beginning to pass us.

Jill -- has my community college, Dr. Biden, has an expression, "For real."

Any country that out-educated us will out-compete us. Any country that out-educated us will out-compete us. We cannot be competitive in the 21st century in this global economy if we fail to invest.

That is why I proposed two critical pieces of legislation being debated in Washington right now. They're both bills -- they're not about left versus right. They're not about moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits one American against another.

These bills, in my view, are about competitiveness versus complacency, about opportunity versus decay, and about leading the world, or continuing to let the world move by us.

Folks, a lot of folks know what is at stake in the infrastructure bill. It is about rebuilding the arteries of our economy. Putting people to work in good-paying jobs.

Wall Street created up to $16 million jobs over time. Good paying jobs, union jobs, not $5 an hour, $7.50, but $40, $50 an hour, you know, prevailing wage you can raise a family on and live with some dignity and pride.

Bringing our roads and bridges up to speed. Replacing lead water pipes. There's over 40,000 schools across America where you have to be worried when you go to the water fountain whether there's lead in the water and children being poisons.

And turn on the faucets so every place in America, you're sure the water is clean and able to be drunk.

Laying transmission lines for a modern and resilient energy grid. Making high-speed Internet affordable everywhere in America, from urban to suburban, rural.

There are parts of the country left behind and there are parts of the country in states that are economically prosperous that are being left behind.

Meeting the moment on the climate crisis and in the process creating millions of good-paying jobs.

I've had a couple of conferences -- I'm going to COP 26 in Scotland shortly. And what I had -- I guess I had 71 heads of state on the first one I did in the White House.

And I said -- and people are starting to talk about it now, not about me, but about the idea. What I think "climate," I think jobs, good paying jobs, union jobs. This is an opportunity.

We're the only country in the world that has consistently turned difficulty into opportunity.

We've a chance to not only make this world more livable, but to actually create greater opportunity for people.

Making landmark investment in public transit and rail and increasing efficiency, reducing emissions.

You know, there's millions of kids getting out of school, getting on school buses and inhaling air and getting asthma. They should be electric buses. Electric buses.


BIDEN: So look, I know have a tendency to say more than I need to say because you all understand it.

The bottom line is I wanted to come here today because too many folks in Washington still don't realize it is not tough to invest in our physical infrastructure.

We also have to invest in our people. That is what the second bill does, Build Back Better initiative.

Seeing children and educators here at this center is a perfect reminder of what our families need and our economy needs so badly to be able to thrive.

You know, you all know the statistics of the teachers here. A child coming out a single-parent house where there's real difficulty will hear a million fewer words spoken -- not different words -- spoken than the child coming out of a middle-class household.

And so no matter what you say, you start them at the same age, age 6 or 7, in school, they're already behind the curve. Already behind the curve.

How could we compete in a world when millions of Americans parents, especially moms, can't be part of the work force because they can't afford the cost of childcare or elder care, I might add, elder care.

They are the sandwich generation getting crushed.

Here in Connecticut, the annual average to bring your toddler to a quality childcare center is about $16,000 a year. That is around the country. Some places more, some places a little less.


A lot of money. That is $16,000 after taxes. After you pay your taxes.

So the average two-parent family, with two young kids spends 26 percent of their income on childcare every year.

My Build Back Better plan will change that. It is going to cut the cost of childcare for most Connecticut families in half.

No middle-class family will pay more than 7 percent of their income on childcare.


BIDEN: And that is going to help transition back into the work force and make ends meet or maybe care for that -- I'm not going to talk about it today, but the other piece of it you all know deals with elder care.

We have 80,000 people waiting to qualify under Medicaid and there's no spaces. We could afford to do that.

But at any rate, we have to provide businesses with tax credits to build on-site child centers.

Look, you, in the legislatures, we're way ahead of the curve. We decided for people working in the legislature, there should be a place for their children.

Well, you know, what we want to do is make sure that we encourage businesses to do the same. To get a significant tax cut to be able if they have an on-site facility to take care of their workers' children when they show up.

So you go to work with your child and you have a serious facility on site.

Well, studies show that when you have on-site care, for children's center, businesses, businesses and the business itself have less employee turnover, less absenteeism and higher productivity.

We'll show you all of the studies. It is real.

We can't afford to lag behind other countries when they are in vesting.

When America made 12 years of education universal more than a century ago, it gave the best educated and best prepared work force in the world to the rest of the world.

But if we're designing public education today, all of a sudden, we had none, and we said, OK, what are we going to do? We need free public education.

Does anybody think 12 years was enough? In the second quarter of the 21st century?

The fact is, today, only about half of three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in childhood education like you're doing here.

In Germany, France and the U.K., even Latvia, the number of children in those countries enrolled is 90 percent, 90 percent.

My plan gets us back on track. It provides two years of high-quality preschool for every child in America.

It also makes investments into higher education, by increasing Pell Grants.

I don't know that I can get it done but I also had proposed free community college, like you've done here in the state of Connecticut, to help students from lower-income families attend community college and four-year schools.

And invest in historically black colleges and universities to make sure young people from every neighborhood have a shot at good-paying jobs in the future.

We also extend -- this lady's child tax credit.



BIDEN: Which -- which is finally a tax cut for the middle class.


BIDEN: Now look, my friends on the other side never had any problem adding $2 trillion in tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Look, I don't think you shouldn't be able to make a million or a billion dollars. I'm a capitalist. But guess what? I'm also listed for 36 years the poorest man in Congress.


BIDEN: But I make big money now. I'm a president.


BIDEN: But all kidding aside, I don't think we should punish anybody. But just pay your fair share. Just pay your fair share.


BIDEN: You know, the issue that has been championed by Rosa for years, in the past, if you paid your taxes and had an income high enough that you were able to take the $2,000 per child deduction, you could actually write it off your taxes.

But how many families do you know, of cops and firefighters and schoolteachers, that don't have that much in tax because -- they pay a tax but there's nothing -- you say you are going to get $4,000 back for your kids.

Well, you know, it is not refundable. It comes off your tax bill or you couldn't get it at all.

The American Rescue Plan -- that this people voted for and I'm very proud of this-- is a real game changer, it started our economy moving again -- recognize that people with lower incomes don't get the benefit of the tax break because they don't have that much to deduct.

So we make it refundable. Make it permanently refundable. So you get that back over the years.

[13:59:52] So if you didn't have -- if you only had a thousand dollars in taxes and you had three kids, you end up in a situation where you get $5,000 refundable to you. They would pay you. The government would pay you.

We increased that amount in the near term to $3,600 for every child under the age of 6 and $3,000 for dependents for the ages of 6 through 17.