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CDC Advisers to Meet Tuesday on Pfizer Vaccine for Kids 5-11; Democrats Propose Billionaire's Tax and New Corporate Minimum Tax to Fund Biden's Social Spending Plan; Interview with Rep. Joe Neguse (D- CO), Democrats progress on the Build Back Better Act; Queen to Skip Climate Summit. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Children aged 5 to 11 could be eligible to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by this time next week.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: A recent poll finds though that only a third, about a third of parents plan to actually get their children in line immediately, and a quarter of parents say they have no plans to get their kids a shot at all.

Dr. Ofer Levy is a member of the FDA Advisory Panel and he voted in favor of emergency use for kids 5 to 11. He's also the Director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children's Hospital.

Welcome back, doctor, I want to start here with some of the questions you know you're going to get or you have already gotten about getting kids vaccinated. One of them is the dosage. When you look at a kid, maybe you've got an 11-year-old, I say husky -- that was the section I dropped in at 11.

CAMEROTA: He's husky.

BLACKWELL: A husky 11-year-old, you've got like a small 5-year-old, and you ask yourself, how are they getting the same dosage, what do you tell those parents?

DR. OFER LEVY, MEMBER, FDA ADVISORY PANEL: Well, thank you for that, Victor, and parents are right to ask questions. They should have all of their questions answered.

In the case of the meeting, we had yesterday, as an FDA Advisory Panel, the committee voted in favor of recommending authorization of a Pfizer mRNA vaccine for American children 5 to 11 years of age.

Your viewers should note that the recommended dose is lower than the adult dose. In fact, quite a bit lower. It is one-third the dose that's given to an adult.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but you, I think you've taught us before Dr. Levy, that it's not about weight or huskiness, it's not about weight, it's about age. That an 11 and 1/2-year-old is not seen the same as a 12-year-old regardless of how much they weigh. LEVY: By all means, and of course, there are a range of opinions among

American parents about this development. And Victor summarized them appropriately.

We have to understand -- you know, the questions I get from parents, are listen, doctor, we understand that vaccination is important. However, you know, COVID is rarely severe in 5 to 11-year-olds, so why with are immunizing them, why are exposing them to this new vaccine?

And what I remind people is that we're at a delicate time in this pandemic. Yesterday. More than 50,000 Americans, yesterday alone, were hospitalized due to COVID, another greater than 1,400 Americans died due to COVID yesterday.


We have hundreds of American children, hundreds of American children have died of COVID, including a couple of hundred in that age group of 5 to 11 with thousands being hospitalized or going to ICUs, and many more with symptomatic infection.

And of course, these children can also spread the infection to older individuals, parents, grandparents, teachers. You know, the main concern that was talked in safety is the potential for heart inflammation. We call that myocarditis, but again, the dose is much lower, and that age group appears to be less susceptible to that, we believe, and usually self-resolves.

So overall, the committee made the assessment that the risks are much lower than the benefits. In other words, the benefit outweighs the risk and therefore we voted in favor.

BLACKWELL: Well, there was a member of the panel who had another concern, so let's listen to his reservation and then talk about it.


DR. CODY MEISSNER, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I'm just worried that if we say, yes, that the states are going to mandate administration of this vaccine to children in order to go to school, and I do not agree with that. I think that would be an error at this time.


BLACKWELL: First, would that be an error if it's mandated, and then is it possible to mandate it considering this is just a walk up to an authorization, not a full approval for 5 to 11-year-olds?

LEVY: Thank you for that, Victor, and that's the key question of the day, isn't it? You know, I voted on the advisory panel, we're advisory to FDA. We do not determine mandates on that committee.

It will go on if FDA approves to CDC that we'll start giving guidance and states will make that determination, localities. Myself and other committee members expressed our opposition at this point as a matter of personal opinion, as a matter of personal opinion, our opposition to any mandate in this age range at this point in time, but it's not -- it's not our purview to determine that.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting about how that will play out because so many parents as we say, are still on the fence, they want to wait and see, and obviously we have seen the hue and cry about mandates so we'll see what happens. But Dr. Levy, we really appreciate your expertise in this. Thank you.

LEVY: Thank you. We believe that it was important to make this vaccine available to parents and families who wanted to choose to take it, including children with comorbidities and are at risk. Thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, doctor.

CAMEROTA: OK, in her latest attack on democracy, the freshman Republican from Georgia has a new angle on the deadly insurrection.



BLACKWELL: Democrats are on the verge of missing another self-imposed deadline to reach a deal on President Biden's social safety net plan. At least 40 members of the progressive caucus say they would vote against the infrastructure bill if leadership only has a framework on the larger deal.

Now let's talk about that. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado, he is a vice chair of the Progressive Caucus. Congressman, thanks for being with me, are you one of those 40?

REP JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): It's good to be with you, Victor. Thanks for having me on.

Look, first, I think it's important to take a step back and just kind of recognize where we are. The Speaker, I think as you may know, has asked the rules community to hold a hearing tomorrow on the Build Back Better plan.

We're making substantial progress in our negotiations. I still fully anticipate that we're going to get it done, that we will get the infrastructure bill and the President's Build Back Better Act across the finish line. And both bills will be transformative in terms of the benefits that provided to working families, lowering costs, tax cuts for working families, creating millions of jobs and so much more.

So, we're committed to getting it done, I think as you know, Victor, having covered these issues for quite some time, we have a diverse Democratic caucus, with the robust exchange of views --

BLACKWELL: Understood. NEGUSE: -- that the American people expect in terms of debate about various priorities that folks have. But I'm convinced that we'll land this plan.

BLACKWELL: I got it. But Congressman, the first question, are you one of the 40 who will vote against the infrastructure bill if leadership comes to you with only a framework?

NEGUSE: No, what I have said very clearly, Victor, is I think we need to reach an agreement with respect to the framework and see some legislative text in terms of what we actually will be voting on, and I suspect that that's going to happen.

BLACKWELL: So, is that a, yes?

NEGUSE: I hope tomorrow during the rules committee proceeding.

BLACKWELL: There are three options here, Congressman, you will vote for the infrastructure bill if you get a framework, you will vote against it or you haven't decided, which one of those is it?

NEGUSE: Yes, I guess what I'm saying to you, Victor, I don't think it's a binary question. I think what I'm saying to you very clearly is I am prepared to support the infrastructure bill provided we reach a deal only on the Build Back Better Act, and I believe that we're --

BLACKWELL: All right.

NEGUSE: -- fairly close to getting there. I would like to be able to see the legislative text around the various programs that we are going to be putting into law, and I think a lot of members feel that way as well. But at the end of the day, I'm confident we're going to be able to reach a resolution. And I suspect we'll be able to do that in short order.

BLACKWELL: All right, I tried three times on that one. Let me move on to how you pay for it. There is now the proposal of the billionaire's tax, taxing those who make more or report income of more than 100 million for three consecutive years or have a billion or more in assets to pay for this plan. Do you support that?

NEGUSE: I do support that. I think there are a number of different revenue options on the table. Ultimately, they all collectively will achieve one principle in mind, which is ultimately making sure that folks are paying their fair share, right. And at the end of the day, the investments that are made this in this bill will be paid for and don't add to the deficit.

I also think it's important about that we talk a little bit, Victor, about what this bill will actually do for the American people, right. The programs that we are talking about investing, the revenue streams, for example, the billionaire's tax that will be used to pay for things like universal Pre-K.

[15:45:00] I have a 3-year-old daughter, Victor, like many parents in this country, I know how important preschool education is for her, and I believe that every single 3 and 4-year-old in our country should have access to those educational opportunities.

That is -- very well could be the reality that we create by virtue of the Build Back Better investments in addition to expansions for health care, climate investments and so much more.


NEGUSE: Really transformative investments across the board.

BLACKWELL: But let me ask you, you probably know this by now, Senator Manchin is against the potential billionaire's tax. Let's play what he told Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, are you supportive of the billionaire's tax? Are you supporting the billionaire's tax?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm supporting basically that we do -- everyone should pay their fair share, and not just try to think of it-- I don't like it. I don't like the connotation that we're targeting different people.


BLACKWELL: If he's against it, it goes nowhere as everyone knows now, you need all 50 Senators to vote to support it.

So, if that's out, taxing people who make less than $400,000 a year is out, gas taxes are out, a lot of the regressive tax is because they hit people at the bottom, at the middle, we have got now the billionaire's tax at the top that's out.

Sinema is against the corporate tax increase. How do you pay for this if all of those elements, those options are off the table?

NEGUSE: Victor, I can assure you it will be paid for, and I think that the conundrum that you're describing is precisely what we have some of our brightest minds in the caucus, both in the House and Democratic Senate caucuses working on at this moment in Congress junction with the White House negotiating the finer points.

I suspect that we will ultimately craft a package that includes the relevant revenue streams that will pay for the investments I've described. I think that it is very clear the President has been very clear that we will not raise taxes on any family in the United States making under $400,000. That's an ironclad commitment and one we intend to honor.

Again, I think as I said before, it is reflective of the fact that we have a very diverse Democratic caucus. We're a big tent party and I think the richness and diversity of those views --

BLACKWELL: We have certainly --

NEGUSE: -- should be respected at the end of the day, we'll come together on the vision that has President has laid out.

BLACKWELL: We are certainly seeing the big tent. I know that the climate element is especially important to you, and you propose legislation to make sure as we're watching the fires out West that firefighters get an increase in pay, and something we don't talk about enough. Mental health support as well. Tell us about it.

NEGUSE: Well, you're precisely right, as you know, Victor, I represent northwestern Colorado, central Colorado and northwestern Colorado, a district that's bigger than the state of New Jersey. And last year we had two of the largest wildfires in the history of Colorado, both happened in my Congressional district. And we rely on federal wild land firefighters to ultimately keep us safe, to protect human life and protect our communities.

And I think it's important for Congress to step up to the plate and realize that we are pushing our federal wild land firefighters to a breaking point. The wildfires in the West only going to grow more pervasive and intense as a byproduct of climate change, and as a result, I think we've got to invest more in compensating our firefighters. They are woefully under compensated, as you know, earlier this year, the President issued an executive order to raise the pay to $15 an hour. That was an important step but it was a first step.

We've introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Representative Liz Cheney, and Democratic Representative Katie Porter out of California and Wyoming respectively to raise firefighter pay to guarantee housing and to also, as you've said, ensure the provision of health and mental health benefits, the suicide rate amongst federal wild land firefighters is alarmingly high.

I believe that we have got to make these investments. We've got to do them now, and that's why we've introduced a bill on precisely that topic, and we hope to get that done in short order.

BLACKWELL: Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado, thank you so much for your time, sir.

NEGUSE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to an update on Queen Elizabeth. She's cancelled a key appearance just days after a hospital stay. What we know about her health, next.



CAMEROTA: Just days after an overnight hospital stay, Queen Elizabeth has now pulled out of next week's key global climate summit in Glasgow on the advice of her doctor.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Max Foster has the details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Concerns about the Queen's health were raised earlier this month when she arrived at an engagement with a walking stick or cane, which is rare to see in public.

The last time we saw her in person at an event was last Tuesday, meeting business leaders at Windsor Castle. She looked well, but the next day she canceled a visit to Northern Ireland on the advice of her doctors.

In a statement, the palace insisted she was in good spirits and separately, we were told she'd be resting for a few days at Windsor Castle.


The next day, however, a British tabloid revealed that not to be true. The palace was forced to confirm she had in fact, spent the night in hospital for some preliminary investigations. We haven't been told what those investigations were for.

The Queen has continued light duties this week in the palace's words. Virtual engagements from are the desk at Windsor. But then another announcement this week that she had regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend COP26. Where she was due to host world leaders at the summit. She will instead send a video message.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Moving forward, especially to move into the winter with COVID, we will see the Queen doing more Zoom calls, less in-person meetings. But I think that as soon as the winter is over, she'll be keen to get back on her feet, back out there meeting people. It's just whether or not the doctors are going to agree with it.

FOSTER (voice over): But a CNN analysis shows the Queen traveled at least a 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles this month even before she canceled her trips to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Prince Charles will now step up for her at COP26, something he's increasingly having to do, though there's no suggestion from anyone in Royal circles that the Queen would ever give up her role completely.


FOSTER (on camera): I'm told by my sources the Queen very reluctantly gave up these recent events so it wasn't her choice. She's effectively been ordered to stay home by the doctors and take her foot off the pedal which is probably pretty good advice at the age of 95 -- Alisyn and Victor.

CAMEROTA: Yes, well, we certainly wish her well and a speedy recovery. Maybe she does just need some rest at 95 years old. Max Foster, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Max.

CAMEROTA: And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after this quick break.