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Democrats Speak After House Passes $1.9 Trillion Build Back Better Act; Vice President Harris to Become First Woman With Presidential Power While Biden Under Anesthesia For Colonoscopy; House Passes Landmark $1.9 Trillion Build Back Better Act. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired November 19, 2021 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. ROBERT SCOTT (D-VA): And we worked with the Agriculture Committee, as the speaker has indicated, they don't necessarily line up. School lunches, school meals are part of the Agriculture Committee in the Senate and labor in the House, and we've agreed to significantly increase access to school meals. So, there's a lot in the bill and it's pretty much agreed to on the labor side.
REPORTER: Madam speaker?
REPORTER: Madam speaker?
REPORTER: I wanted to ask, first of all, you used to hold the record for the longest floor speech. How do you feel about that being broken, and do you plan to try to take that back?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No. I barely noticed. But that's not what we're here to talk about. This is about serious business here.
REPORTER: May I ask a serious question, ma'am? I do have a serious one.
There will be changes, whether they're small or large, you've got a narrow majority. Are you confident that the biggest hurdles on this bill are in your rearview mirror?
PELOSI: Yes. Let me just say, and I want to hear from some of our other colleagues, this bill is monumental. It's historic. It's transformative. It's bigger than anything we've ever done. We had so agreement within the bill. So there be some disagreement, and by large we had the bill scrubbed, so we are technically, shall we say, eligible for the 51 vote in the Senate. That was what that was about. And then whatever comes out of the Senate, we'll be working together with them so that we have agreement when it comes back. I have absolutely no doubt. The biggest hurdle was to get the bill there. The biggest challenge was to meet the vision of President Biden.
Does anybody have anything they want to say? I don't know if you want to talk about being the chair all night or whatever. One more question. Yes, ma'am? REPORTER: This bill, many of your colleagues in Democratic Party, are counting on it to run on it given its context. As far as you are concerned, upon passing, will you talk about whether or not you're going to run for re-election upon --
PELOSI: This is an important meeting about serious subjects. If anybody has a serious question, I'll be happy to take one more. I'm not here to talk about me. I'm here to talk about building back better for women, for the people, for the children. Yes, ma'am?
REPORTER: Some of the provisions, such as immigration reform, such as paid family leave, are possibly going to drop out in the Senate bill. Do you have plans to address --
PELOSI: We have made our statement today. We have stood the test of the parliamentarian's privilege scrub. We are celebrating that. We are sending it over to the Senate and we are ready to debate for our bill and have a big success.
My colleagues, does anyone want to say anything about any of these things again?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I'll just say this. You know, there's nothing unusual about the House working its will and the Senate working its, and that's why we have conferences. And I think that just because we have done something -- let's take, for instance, the SALT tax. There are several senators that said they've got a version that they feel good about. I have not seen that version. But we think we have got a good deal. They think they can make it better. And let them go at it. And they may make it better. And we will accept better.
So, I don't think that's anything for us to be all that concerned about. We've done what we think we can do. The Senate will do what they think we can do. And we'll come together on behalf of the American people and try to have a coordinated approach as we go off into the future.
PELOSI: It's called the legislative process. And the House does not just write any bill that they think the Senate will pass. We find our common ground but we have our own, shall we say, personality about things. And then we will reconcile whatever changes are needed as we ever strive to Build Back Better. But it's really caused the celebration for us now, and we're not getting bogged down in long speeches or people's careers or what happens if this doesn't happen.
What we're talking about is what has happened, and it's a glorious, glorious, historic, transformative piece of legislation for the people, for women, for the children. Thank you all very much.
And, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. As our distinguished assistant speaker has said, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I want to express my gratitude for President Joe Biden. Thank you all very much.
REPORTER: The president (INAUDIBLE) this passed, have you heard from him?
PELOSI: I have heard from him.
REPORTER: What did he say?
PELOSI: Congratulations. Congratulations. Congratulations to the members. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.
ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: Speaker Pelosi there reacting to the passage of this $1.9 trillion Build Back Better bill.
I want to bring in CNN Political Director David Chalian. David, very clear there the messaging from Democratic leadership. Nancy pelosi wanted very much to focus on this win. One of the things that stood out to me as there were understandable questions about what happens now when it heads to the Senate, but that 90 percent of this, we're told, was done in coordination between the House and Senate and the White House to minimize changes moving forward. How effective -- do we have a sense of how effective that sort of pre-work is going to be?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it was interesting, right, Erica, because we heard Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Progressive Caucus, say something similar, north of 90 percent preconferenced. And she represents the wing -- assuming the bill gets slightly more centrist or moves to the right a touch because of Joe Manchin in the Senate, it's the progressives they have to watch again in the House when it comes back over. And she was suggesting there's such broad agreement here.
I mean, I do think you are right, you're identifying what the takeaway was from that press conference in addition to the celebration they want to have. What Nancy Pelosi wanted to do, in which she was attempting to do there, was just project total confidence that no matter what comes back from the Senate, and even though there's going to be a process over there, she is totally confident that House Democrats will indeed get that then to the president's desk for his signature.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Do you buy that? I mean, never count Nancy Pelosi out. She was counted out many times over the course of the House negotiation here. But do you buy that they have a plan?
CHALIAN: I certainly buy that they think there's a lot of agreement here. We know. We covered it, guys, right? How much coordination between the Senate and the House Democrats was occurring over the last several months? But we have to see what happens in the Senate now. Joe Manchin is not signed on to what just passed the House. That does not have 51 Democratic votes yet. And so the Senate is going to work here.
Now, you heard Clyburn say they think they can make certain aspects of it better. We'll take better. Of course, who defines what better means here? So, we have to see what happens in the Senate to see if indeed it upends any of bit of this applecart that passed the House today.
SCIUTTO: Build Back Better better. David Chalian, we'll be watching, see if it comes down the pipeline. Thanks very much. Still to come this hour, lots of news. We are one step closer to all adults getting the green light for COVID-19 booster shots. What the FDA's authorization means for you and me, coming up.
HILL: Plus, Vice President Kamala Harris will become the first woman with presidential power today as President Biden is under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy. Stay with us.
SCIUTTO: Breaking this morning, President Biden is at Walter Reed Medical Center. Well, he will undergo his first routine, we should note, annual physical exam while in office, just a day before his 79th birthday.
HILL: And as he undergoes this physical, Biden will temporarily transfer power to Vice President Harris. Interesting historical note here, this makes her the first woman in history with presidential power.
CNN's John Harwood is at the White House. Dr. Sanjay Gupta back with us as well. So, John, this is, you know, fairly standard, but there is this historical note to it today because of who the vice president is in terms of this transfer of power today, John.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. I think it is significant, Erica. Obviously, we've never had a woman vice president before, and, therefore, for this kind of a routine transfer of power, we've never had a woman exercise presidential power. We don't know how much of it she's going to actually exercise. She'll be working in her west wing office.
But this is something that's quite standard. Ronald Reagan had intestinal surgery in 1985, transferred power to George H.W. Bush for a short period time. George W. Bush, 2002, had a colonoscopy, transferred power to the Dick Cheney, then the vice president, for a short period of time. It's routine for presidents except that is for former President Donald Trump, who was so resistant to the idea of transferring power to Mike Pence that he underwent in 2019 a colonoscopy without anesthesia. I don't want to ever find out what that's like, but that tells you something about how strongly Donald Trump felt about holding those powers to himself. Joe Biden clearly has a different frame of mind and so we're going to see that happen today.
SCIUTTO: Sanjay, it's the eve of Biden's 79th birthday. These are, of course, routine medical exams for all sitting presidents.
What do doctors look out for just in general but also for his particular medical history?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, the biggest part of the procedure would probably be this colonoscopy, as John was just describing. But, you know, he is going to be 79 years old. He does have a past medical history, which, you know, we know about, and I think it's going to sort of target some of what the routine physical is going to focus on.
We'd show you some of that, but he has this history of atrial fibrillation. We know that his heart will be examined as part of this routine physical, looking at this irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. He has a history of high cholesterol. I'm sure they will be checking that.
The biggest part of his past history is probably his brain aneurysms that he had back in the late '80s, had an operation to treat those. They subsequently have been checked with imaging up until 2014, no recurrence of those an aneurysm. So it's going to be primarily things like that.
As far as the colonoscopy goes, typically, you know, the procedure itself is, you know, usually under half an hour or so normal time, but there is sedation involved, typically. And the sedation, you know, may be an hour or so total between the time someone is given the sedation and they sort of fully recover. So, it's sort of that time period in particular we're talking about for the transfer of power.
SCIUTTO: You wake up groggy for that. I had it last week for knee surgery. It takes a little time.
HILL: Yes, it does a little bit. Also I just want your take on this, Sanjay. We know the FDA has now authorized COVID booster shots for all adults. We still need the CDC to weigh, in although a number of states have moved forward on their own. How important do you think this is in terms of the fight against the pandemic to make every adult eligible for a booster in the country?
GUPTA: Well, you know, if you look at what is currently available, most adults are already eligible for boosters because it allows people 65 and older, it's other adults, as well, who have pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk. And when you look at all these conditions as we have and then look at the country, about 90 percent roughly of the country does have one of these qualifying conditions.
So, it's not going to add a lot more people overall eligible, but I think the communication is just going to be a lot clearer because I think a lot of people have been masking. Am I eligible, am I not, should I get it? Hopefully after we hear from the CDC today, that's going to be clear.
But let me show you two parts of the story that I think are really important. What is going on with people who are vaccinated versus unvaccinated when it comes to actually getting sick, getting sick enough to end up in the hospital. The red line is the unvaccinated. The green line is the vaccinated. So, it's very different in terms of likelihood of getting sick enough to end up in the hospital. But that goes until sort of the end of August. What happened over the last few months I think is what really the FDA and the CDC are looking at. And let me show you something that came out of Israel. I think this was data that they've been focused on. This is data that goes up to November 1st. And, again, I think the graph that you're seeing is going to tell a very important story. I don't know if we have that graph. But, basically, you look at the unvaccinated per 100,000, 53.8, that's people who developed severe COVID. If you're vaccinated, it's much, much better, right, down to 9.6 per 100,000. If you've also had the booster, you reduce that significantly again.
So, you know, you look at this graph and it tells a couple stories. The problem is still the unvaccinated primarily in terms of severe illness. But you also see the impact of boosters on those that have already been vaccinated. So, it's important for people who have never been vaccinated to get vaccinated, but now some emerging data on the value of boosters for those who have already been vaccinated.
SCIUTTO: And the clearer message, right, that vaccination saves lives and hospitalizations. The numbers couldn't be clearer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much, John Harwood at the White House as well.
Back now to our breaking news this hour, House Democrats have just passed a key part of President Biden's economic and social agenda. All but one Democrat voted for the sweeping $1.9 trillion bill that would do a whole bunch of things, dramatically expand the social safety net, address the climate crisis, increase health care access as well.
HILL: Joining us so discuss, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, who serves in Democratic leadership as senior whip. Good to have you with us this morning.
We just heard from the speaker and a number of leadership there a short time ago talking about how excited they are about this day. We know that there are some hurdles ahead. But give us a sense. We're hearing 90 percent of this bill ready to go, essentially, written together between the House, the Senate, and the White House. How confident are you that this can get to the Senate, get back to the House before Christmas?
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I think that everybody is determined to make that happen. We even saw Senator Manchin this week say, hey, if we can get this done by Christmas, I think the president is going to continue to work very closely with the two senators.
When I flew with him to Michigan this week, he talked about how many hours he had already spent this year. It is close to 100 hours with Senator Manchin. He's determined to get it across the finish line. All of us are.
None of us thought that we would have as strong a vote as we did today. We did. A lot of talking to each other, a lot of listening, negotiating, compromising, but this is a bill that's going to help the American people and we have just a little ways to go in order to get there and get it across the finish line. SCIUTTO: I'm curious about that remain remaining 10 percent requiring agreement here. What do you believe you, House Democrats, will have to give up to get this through the Senate? What are you willing to give up? Is it little pieces of a lot of things, or is it one -- you know, eliminating an entire piece of this?
DINGELL: No, I do not. I think that the programs that are -- first of all, you know things that were added back in after some negotiation back and forth, and a lot of people -- paid family leave will probably be discussed and negotiated. But most of the programs in there have been very finely tuned negotiated already.
There is no -- take, for instance, we are going to lower the cost of prescription drugs for millions of people across this country. We're going to expand access to health care. Those are going to stay. Those have been negotiated. They're exactly there, as it should be.
I'm very proud of the fact that Bob Casey and I have a bill on long- term care that's finally going to get almost a million seniors there on waiting lists and people with disability for home community-based care. That's been negotiated. That can go no place other than where it is right now.
So, most of the programs in there will be as we know it and they'll be -- there will probably be some discussion on taxes, paid family leave. But I think the bill, as we see it, will be close to what we see across the finish line.
HILL: In terms of paid family leave, we've heard that there are ongoing discussions with Senator Gillibrand, continued discussions with their Republican counterparts in the Senate, that there is a real chance if this is stripped out, it could perhaps end up on its own. Do you think, ultimately, that that will happen? And if so, could the paid family leave then be stronger in the end if it's bipartisan?
DINGELL: I think we're going to have to have a lot of discussions about that. I am somebody of the Joe Biden school that likes it when we come together and we're all working together on plans. The American people want paid family leave. We are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have paid family leave. And, quite frankly, it -- not only does it place a burden on families, but companies are competing in a global marketplace with other companies that aren't having to deal with that in an economic way.
And we just -- we need to get it done. So, how do we get it done? I think everybody is so tired right now that we need to take a deep breath, be thankful for Thanksgiving, and go back at it in December. But I do believe that I think in this session of Congress, we will get something done on paid family leave.
SCIUTTO: As you know well, a lot of the parts of Build Back Better are popular. But polling consistently shows that either people don't know what's in this or they don't think it's a priority right now. They're more focused on inflation, for instance. How do you sell this, right? You have got midterms coming up and you're way behind. DINGELL: First of all, I'm not going to lie about that. We do know that we have got to do a better job of telling people what's in this bill. They only know it as Build Back Better or the word reconciliation and what is that. We are in the House going to do a thousand events in the next few weeks to tell the story and let people know what is in there and how it's going to impact their lives.
And as you begin to see the infrastructure bill, which has now signed, there are things that are going to address resiliency supply change when we start to address some of the issues that are causing this inflation right now. I believe in some areas, you're not going to see it in all areas. You are going to start to see prices go down. And as you saw this week, even Target and Walmart say that their shelves are full. You're seeing some of the prices go down now. And I hope that's a trend we're going to see again over the next few months.
HILL: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, I appreciate you joining us this morning.
DINGELL: Thank you.
HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us on a rather quiet Friday, once again. They're always busy on this day.
SCIUTTO: Thankfully, the weekend is coming. I'm Jim Sciutto.
At This Hour with Kate Bolduan will starts right after a quick break.
Before we go, here is a look at what else to watch for today.