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Senate Begins Process To Vote On Dems' Climate-Economic Bill; Taiwan Says China's Military Drills May Be "Simulated Attack"; Jury Orders Jones To Pay $45.2M Over Lies About Sandy Hook; U.S. Economy Defies Recession Fears With Strong July Jobs Report; Eastern Kentucky Under Flood Watch Until This Evening. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired August 06, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour on Capitol Hill where senators right now are preparing for what could be a marathon session set to start in an hour. Democrats are inching closer to passage of a major economic and climate bill, critical to President Biden's agenda.
The bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, would be the largest investment in energy and climate programs in U.S. history. And For the first time it would give Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices, cap Medicare out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 and extend expiring health care subsidies for three years.
But before any of that happens, it must get approval from the Senate parliamentarian to proceed with a filibuster-proof reconciliation process, allowing Democrats to pass the bill with just 50 votes.
CNN's Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill for us. So Jessica, where does this bill stand right now?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, now we are sitting around and waiting for it to make its way through this very complex budget procedure that you just kind of outlined there, Fredricka.
But what we are anticipating is that the Senate will gavel in in about an hour around noon. Now from there, they're going to -- they have to kind of get through all of these procedures.
So what we've learned in the last couple of hours, the parliamentarian -- because they're using a specific budget process that requires only a Democratic vote, all 50 Democrats have to be on board, it has to go through the Senate parliamentarian.
So we are now getting approvals from her. They have to go through and kind of, you know, make their case that these provisions belong in this bill, and we have learned just in the last couple of hours that they will be allowed to proceed forward with the part that would allow Medicare for the first time to negotiate some drug prices. We also heard in the last hour that some key climate provisions will be allowed to proceed forward.
Now all of this is important because Senate Democrats want to wait until the parliamentarian has ruled on everything. So if there's any changes they need to make, they can make those before they proceed forward with the next step, which would be a motion to proceed. It would just be a vote forward. It requires a simple majority.
And once that happens, it kind of kicks off this very long process with up to 20 hours of debate for both sides. Then they're going to go into what is called a vote-a-rama where they can vote on a number of amendments. That can take hours and hours and hours. And then they would finally vote on final passage.
But when they will start that actual process is very much in flux. Again, they're waiting on the parliamentarian for their rulings. They're waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to get back with some scores on just how much some of these things are going to cost, how it might affect the deficit.
And all of that means this is very in flux. So we kind of just wait until we get all of that information, and we're just going to have to follow along.
Again, the Senate Democrats and the whole Senate, Fred, are simply waiting on a lot of this to happen as well. So we will keep our eye on it, but we do know that they will be convening in about an hour. And from there we will just have to see how it goes.
WHITFIELD: All right. A long day, long procedure --
DEAN: That's right.
WHITFIELD: -- right around the corner. All right.
WHITFIELD: Jessica, keep us posted. Thank you so much.
So President Biden watching today's vote and process in isolation as he recovers from COVID-19. The White House is celebrating a string of victories this week, despite the president's physical condition.
CNN's Kevin Liptak is live for us at the White House. So Kevin, several wins on multiple fronts. How is the White House responding?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, certainly they're going into this weekend feeling pretty good after this string of victories. There's a sense of momentum that you haven't seen really around this White House for the last 12 months or so. It has been a brutal year really as the president's poll numbers plummet. But now there is this attempt to regain the initiative.
And I mean you just ticked through kind of what the president has accomplished this week. He came out on Monday and announced the death of the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The intelligence community have been sort of poring over his movements for months. The president approved that strike a few weeks ago and it finally went through on Saturday night. And the president certainly very happy to tout that accomplishment from here at the White House.
LIPTAK: Then on Tuesday, Democrats received some positive news in elections in Kansas where voters rejected new restrictions on abortion. The White House and Democrats really hope that that means that Democrats will be galvanized by this issue in November.
Later in the week Democrat support consolidating around that climate and taxation package that now appears to be heading towards passage.
And then yesterday there's that massive new jobs report, 528,000 new jobs created in July. The unemployment rate ticking down to 3.5 percent, that's a 50-year low. The president came out to the Blue Room balcony here at the White House to tout that victory, but he also acknowledged that not all Americans might be feeling it. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know people will hear today's extraordinary jobs report and say they don't see it, they don't feel it in their own lives. I know how hard it is. I know it is hard to feel good about job creation when you already have a job and you are dealing with rising prices, food and gas and so much more. I get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIPTAK: So the president really there encapsulating what has been really the dilemma for this White House, is how do you sell all of thinks accomplishments when so many Americans are still feeling a lot of economic pain from inflation and other things. That will really be his task in the months coming ahead, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Kevin Liptak, thanks so much, at the White House.
All right. Let's bring in now Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin. She is a member of the Senate Democrat Special Committee on the Climate Crisis and a member of the Appropriations Committee. Senator, welcome.
SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): It is a delight to join you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. So let's start with this massive $369 billion investment in climate and energy programs over the next ten years. How impactful in your view might this measure be?
BALDWIN: In -- this is a measure that will reduce inflation, which is, as was just pointed out, one of the most pressing issues on people's minds right now as they see the price at the pump and the price at the grocery store.
And it has a deflationary impact in part because almost half of the revenue in this act is used to pay down the deficit, but it will also lower prices in very specific areas. Now that we will finally allow Medicare to negotiate with the big pharmaceutical companies for lower prices for prescription drugs. This will not only benefit people on Medicare but it will have a ripple effect to others.
We also extend subsidies for premium support. These are subsidies that were added in the American Rescue Plan but about to expire. We've extended them three years. So these are very specific areas where people will see lower prices.
And then the investments in reducing our carbon emissions, including specifically bringing production of alternative and renewable energy sources back to the U.S. This is expected to save people probably over $300 a year according to one estimate in their energy costs. So overall this really is going to help where people are feeling pinched right now.
WHITFIELD: So all day long there will be a lot of motions for changes before there is a motion to ultimately proceed. How do you kind of truncate this for the American people? How do you help them understand what they need to know about this bill?
BALDWIN: You know, it is pretty simple. It is called the Inflation Reduction Act, and it is estimated by all the leading economists to have that impact. But it really has two major focuses.
One, of course, is to finally enact historic climate change legislation, legislation that will reduce our carbon emissions in the United States by 40 percent in the next eight years.
This is long overdue but really critically important. And the fact that it reduces our energy costs is just such an incredibly important added bonus.
And then it focuses, of course, on these health care issues, the high cost of prescription drugs. I can't go a day without hearing from constituents who are cutting pills in half or going without something that is -- you know, that is beneficial for their health because they simply can't afford it.
And so this is, you know, probably the most significant health care- related policy since the Affordable Care Act was passed back in 2010.
WHITFIELD: And I think a lot of people can understand the possibilities of lower prescription drugs.
But when it comes down to making a real impact on emissions, carbon emissions, does this mean this package will include more incentives for people to buy, you know, electric cars or, you know, getting solar panel -- solar panels on their homes?
I mean help people understand, how do those savings -- how does that impact on the environment possibly directly impact them at home?
BALDWIN: Yes. So, indeed, there are incentives to have the most energy efficient appliances as well as vehicles. If you think about these purchases, these are things that you buy perhaps, you know, every 20 years, and so you're not going to replace an energy inefficient appliance typically that still works unless you have the appropriate incentives, and we want to -- and in this legislation we do align those incentives.
WHITFIELD: The Senate is, you know, attempting to use reconciliation, a process that would allow Democrats to pass it with just 50 votes. But recent polling shows that there is broad support for many of the inflation reduction act provisions. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows 77 percent of Americans support caps on prescription drug prices. 73 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs. 56 percent support extending subsidies of the Affordable Care Act and there's more. I mean 54 percent agree with the investments in climate and energy.
So do you wish more Republicans were on board? How is it they -- many will be able to argue not being in step with what the majority of Americans seem to want?
BALDWIN: Well, to answer that question, of course, I wish more Republicans were joining us for these historic measures and steps forward for the American people. And it seems like if nothing else the American people who are strongly behind are taking strong climate action and lowering the cost of prescription drugs and health care insurance.
You know, the Republicans seem so out of step with that. In fact, my senior senator is calling for making social security and Medicare discretionary so that each year they would be up for cuts.
That is just the opposite direction that the American people would like to see us go. And so this will be very revealing, and I hope as we approach the mid terms that people will be watching closely who is delivering, who is attuned to the fact that Americans are facing these rising prices at the grocery store and the pump and other places and doing something about it. And this is -- this bill will reveal that.
WHITFIELD: Senator Tammy Baldwin, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. It will be a very long day on Capitol Hill.
BALDWIN: Yes, it is.
WHITFIELD: All right.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
All right. Late last night Indiana became the first state in the country to pass a law banning most abortions since Roe v. Wade was overturned. It provides exceptions only when the life of the mother is at risk and for fatal fetal anomalies. It also allows exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.
On Thursday, the Indiana House rejected Republican-sponsored amendments that would have removed many of those exceptions.
Protesters filled the halls of Indiana state Capitol as lawmakers voted on the measure. The new law will go into effect on September 15th.
Still ahead, escalating tensions between China and the U.S. A Chinese embassy official going so far as to say the Taiwan issue could push the two countries into war.
Plus, a week of twists in the Alex Jones trial. A jury decides the Infowars conspiracy theorist needs to pay tens of millions of dollars to parents of a Sandy Hook victim. Why that amount might change, straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
The Israeli military launching more deadly strikes against what it calls Islamic jihad targets in multiple locations including Gaza and the West Bank. It says earlier attacks targeted a military training complex and a weapons warehouse in southern Gaza, a campaign it says was aimed at stopping a future attack.
Palestinian health authorities report 13 people were killed in the airstrikes including a 5-year-old girl. Israel says most of the fatalities were militants and in overnight raids in the West Bank. Israel says it detained 19 suspected militants.
CNN has learned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has returned to the U.S. following her trip to Asia, including a controversial stop in Taiwan. China condemned the trip and has been conducting military drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan, an action Taiwan says could be a possible simulated attack.
China also announced it is suspending cooperation with the U.S. on a range of diplomatic issues. And China's ambassador is rejecting any U.S. condemnation of its military action.
CNN's Selina Wang has more on China's escalating retaliations.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rockets from China launched towards the Taiwan Strait. Chinese fighter jets approached the island. Beijing ramps up its intimidation of Taiwan over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit.
China says it's staging a blockade around the island. On Thursday Chinese state media reported missiles flew over Taiwan for the first time before falling into nearby waters. Beijing then announced it is suspending cooperation with the U.S. on key issues including talks between defense leaders and coordination over immigration, international crime, illegal drugs and climate talks.
JUDE BLANCHETTE, FREEMAN CHAIR IN CHINESE STUDIES AT CSIS: As China is lobbing missiles all around Taiwan, they've decided that they're going to cut off communications with the U.S., which just adds to the possibility of a miscommunication by either side.
WANG: The U.S. and China are blaming each other.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: China has chosen to overreact and use Speaker Pelosi's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity. There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response.
HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): The U.S. and some of its lackeys jumped out to accuse China of overreacting. If they really worry about the regional peace and stability, why didn't they send out earlier to prevent Pelosi from paying the provocative visit to Taiwan?
WANG: China flew an unprecedented number of fighter jets across the median line of the Taiwan Strait. PLA pilots said they were excited to get so close to the island.
HOU HANG, PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY AIR FORCE PILOT (through translator): When I overlook the coastline of the Taiwan Island, my determination to safeguard the territorial integrity of the motherland became more firm.
WANG: All of this rage just over a two-day visit. Pelosi's presence in Taiwan a slap in the face to Beijing, which insists the self-governed island is a rebel Chinese province. Pelosi is out of Taiwan but left a crisis behind her. Pelosi is out of Taiwan but left a crisis behind her. Many in the region fear that Beijing's retaliation is just getting started.
Selina Wang, CNN -- Beijing.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in Gary Locke who's the U.S. Ambassador to China and a former commerce secretary. Good to see you, Secretary and Ambassador. Taiwan says --
GARY LOCKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Thank you very much, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Very good. Taiwan says China's military drills could amount to a simulated attack. Are those your fears?
LOCKE: Well, obviously China has been preparing a whole host of contingencies in the event of armed military hostilities, but what I really worry about is how Beijing has taken these military incursions of flying closer to the Taiwan territory, the firing of missiles over the island, that that will represent a new benchmark for future monitoring and their military activities, which as the other people on the show indicated that could cause an unintended consequence, a conflict that no one really wants but happens because let's say two pilots are flying next to each other and nobody wants to give way or two ships come too close to each other and they have a collision, which then really will dump the entire U.S./China, Taiwan/China relations into open hostilities.
WHITFIELD: How do you calculate or assess the gains from the House Speaker's visit to Taiwan?
LOCKE: Well, obviously, Beijing and President Xi Jinping are very sensitive to her visit, only because it comes so close to the meeting of the Communist Party where he will be anointed for an unprecedented third term and basically rule for life.
So he had to show a lot of muscle, a strong response. But really they could have downplayed this whole thing because Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan several decades ago and just within the last several months, high-ranking members of the U.S. Senate visited Taiwan.
So they could have downplayed this. They could have just said, hey, you know, she is just the Speaker of the House, although a very influential person in U.S. politics, but they could have said she is just a member of Congress and they could have issued their strong rhetoric to reinforce his image as he into this so-called midterm election.
WHITFIELD: So China has said it is suspending cooperation with the U.S. on a host of issues including a defense meeting on climate change talks particularly as a consequence of her visit. How much damage do you see that this may have really caused?
LOCKE: Well, that's really unfortunate because both sides benefit from these activities of cooperation, whether it is the joint military exercises in preparation for possible humanitarian relief in case there's a natural disaster in the region, to even cooperation on drug trade.
China very much wants to keep drugs out of China -- out of China, but we also are concerned about the export of illegal drugs and precursors for illegal drugs coming into the United States.
And we also have cooperation between the two countries in terms of international fugitives and criminals. And so both sides will lose if we halt these cooperation agreements and meetings.
But I think that they will eventually restart because it is in the economic and political self-interest of both countries to have these talks such as climate change. Climate change is very important and a huge issue to the Chinese people with all f the pollution and the use of coal, and China is the largest emitter of green house gases in the entire world. We emit more per person than any other country in the world, and so both sides have to work together.
WHITFIELD: The "New York Times" also reporting last week that there are real concerns within the Biden administration that China will block the Taiwan Strait at some point within possibly even a year. Are those concerns you share?
LOCKE: Well, those are all scenarios and contingencies that our military must always prepare for and strategize over. I think you will see a continuation of U.S. ships going through the Strait and the ships of other large countries, powerful countries, influential countries also doing the same, just to reiterate the position of the rest of the world that these are international waters.
WHITFIELD: Secretary Gary Locke, thank you so much.
LOCKE: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, a jury ordered Alex Jones to pay nearly $50 million to parents of a Sandy Hook victim, but how much the Infowars conspiracy theorist -- how much will he actually be forced to pay? We'll explain.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
A Texas jury has ordered right-wing conspiracy theorists Alex Jones to pay more than $45 million in punitive damages over his lies about the Sandy Hook School shooting. Although Texas law may cap that award at a lesser amount, Jones faces other defamation lawsuits not to mention questions about the trove of text messages mistakenly turned over by his own legal team.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest now. So Polo, so let's start with the punitive damages -- $42.5 million. How much could that be reduced under Texas law?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You're about to hear from a legal analyst that really does kind of break down why that may present the next set of challenges for the family of Jesse Lewis.
But before we get to that, just a quick reminder for our viewers as to how we actually got to the amount as part of the civil trial this week.
Let's break down that number for our viewers. $49.3 million, this was the total that was awarded. It's a combination of both the compensatory damages -- which is basically what it is, compensation for injury claimed by a plaintiff -- added to the punitive damages that we saw awarded yesterday, which is the punishment for a defendant, in this case conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. So that's how we got to this. This was awarded to the parents of Jesse Lewis, one of the families of the Sandy Hook victims here. Now in terms of actually seeing that compensation -- you are about to
hear from legal analyst Joey Jackson, that may present a whole different set of challenges because of the law in the state of Texas that caps the amounts that are awarded to victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Although the jury awarded that amount in punitive damages, there is a statutory cap, Amara, in Texas. And that statutory cap limits the damages to $750,000 per, right, plaintiff. And so ultimately it will be $1.5 million.
This is not the end of the road. This is one particular case. There are other cases pending in Connecticut, and those families certainly deserve relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Elie Honig, one of our other legal analysts, is also bringing up a very important point as far as what could potentially happen next after Alex Jones' attorneys file an objection to this final outcome here from the jury.
Elie basically saying here that what could come next is counterargument that the state law in Texas, it basically goes against their constitutional right for the plaintiffs to be able to go to trial and have no limits in the amount that is awarded. And this is an argument that has succeeded in other states, Fred.
In this particular case it could potentially end up at the Texas Supreme Court, which may perhaps not look favorable on this particular case, but at the end of the day what you have here is Alex Jones now not only facing the family of Jesse Lewis who they made very clear have been tormented by his lies for so many years, but also facing his lies finally and admitting that basically his lies that he spread to his many, many viewers.
So the fight is not over for these families and also those who are still taking him to court in Texas and also in the state of Connecticut.
WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, a blockbuster jobs report that carries with it a double-edged sword. It decreases recession fears for now, but what impact on inflation? And does it put more pressure on the Fed?
WHITFIELD: All right. New evidence that the economy may be doing just fine despite persistent fears of a recession. Friday's jobs report far exceeded what economists expected.
CNN's Matt Egan breaks down what the jobs report means. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The American economy just hit a huge milestone, one that should quiet those recession fears, for now at least.
In a huge surprise, hiring ramped up to 528,000 jobs in July. Not only is that double the consensus estimate, it is 200,000 jobs stronger than even the most optimistic forecaster was predicting.
And after this blockbuster growth, payrolls have now returned to their February 2020 levels. That means all jobs lost during COVID have now been recovered.
EGAN: And the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent. To get a lower figure you got to go back to 1969 when Richard Nixon was in the White House.
Now, these numbers seriously undercut the argument that the U.S. economy is already in recession. Yes, GDP contracted in back-to-back quarters at the start of this year, but no, economies that are in recession don't add half a million jobs in a single month. That doesn't mean there aren't obstacles ahead.
Remember, the economy doesn't have a jobs problem. It has an inflation problem, and there's nothing about the July jobs report that changes the fact that consumer prices are rising at the fastest pace in 40 years.
In fact, this unexpected surge of hiring will only make it harder for the Federal Reserve to tame inflation. The Fed has been trying to slow the jobs market down to a more sustainable pace. Instead, the exact opposite has happened.
All of this suggests the Fed may need to continue to aggressively raise interest rates in the months ahead. And the more the Fed does, the greater the risk it eventually slows the economy into a recession.
WHITFIELD: Matt Egan, thanks so much.
All right. Joining us right now is CNN global economic analyst, Rana Foroohar. She is also the global business columnist and associate editor at the "Financial Times". So good to see you.
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Great to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, it sounds, you know, glass half full, right? I mean a lot of jobs were added in the service industry, in particular, which took the biggest hit during the pandemic.
So, you know, jobs lost during the pandemic are all back. I mean is there any other way to look at this than it is pretty glowing? FOROOHAR: It is pretty glowing. You know, it really is hard to find
anything bad news in this report. I was a little surprised, frankly. I expected that there would be plenty of service jobs being created, probably a lot in travel and tourism. You know, we have seen that travel, summer travel is back, even despite, you know, rising energy prices but gas has come down a little bit, that's helped.
But what surprised me was that this was a strong report across the board. Every sector, every industry is seeing an uptick. And it is important to remember that jobs numbers are a trailing indicator, right. It is not something that is showing us the future. In some ways it is showing us the past or maybe where we thought we are.
So it is possible this could be just the peak of something that is going to, you know, trail off a bit from here, but again, hard to not be rosy about this report.
WHITFIELD: Right. As Matt just said, you know, however, inflation is still up. So that along with this impressive, you know, jobs -- the jobs report, does that still threaten a potential recession?
FOROOHAR: So it is really interesting. When we talk about recession, and Matt kind of pointed this out, we tend to get very technical, right. A technical recession is two quarters of negative growth.
But let's face it, Fredricka, people don't feel growth the same way all over the country. You know, in some rich areas growth has felt pretty great for the last decade. In some other areas, not so much. A lot of people really haven't felt a recovery cycle in a decade or more.
So recession, we can talk about the technicals but let's talk about how people feel. Now, the job market is strong, that's definitely making people feel good about the possibilities of being able to, you know, to get a job, earn a living wage, but inflation is still high.
And when inflation is rising in the double digits and the things that make you feel middle class, you know, housing, health care, education, not to mention the fact that food prices are still up and fuel, even though it has come down a bit, is still relatively high, that makes people feel a little concerned about where the economy is and potentially less likely to spend.
So that's what I'm going to be watching. Are people continuing to button up their wallets going into the fall? Are we going to see people feeling confident? I would want to see another two or three good jobs reports to feel really certain about that.
WHITFIELD: So what, if anything, can the Fed do?
FOROOHAR: Well, the Fed, you know, in some ways their path is made both more easy and more difficult -- easier and more difficult by these numbers. They definitely have to keep hiking, no question because, you know, we are seeing strong inflation, we are seeing that in wages, which is something that, you know, we want more money in people's pockets but you also don't want an overheated labor market. So they're going to be hiking. That, in turn, could bring the stock market down. Now, more individuals are invested in the stock market today than they have been in the past. So as the market comes down what is that going to do to the wealth effect, to how people feel about how wealthy they are?
That's that kind of very, very careful, thin needle that has to be threaded by the Fed right now.
WHITFIELD: All right. So for the many who have jobs, who are gainfully employed now, but to keep up with the rising inflation is now a good time for them to go into their management office and ask for a raise?
FOROOHAR: I say yes. You know, I have been doing this for over 30 years, Fredricka, and I don't think there's ever been a time in my memory where labor had as much power as it does now. So I say go for it, you know, particularly if you are in a service industry, if you are in travel and tourism, now is absolutely the time to ask for a raise.
WHITFIELD: All right. We started rosy and we're ending rosy. There we go.
FOROOHAR: Yes. Good thing. (INAUDIBLE)
WHITFIELD: Rana Foroohar -- fantastic, Thank you so much. Good to see you.
FOROOHAR: Thank you.
All right. Already ravaged by historic floods, eastern Kentucky is yet again bracing for more rain and meteorologists say only a couple of inches could trigger more floods. The latest forecast next.
WHITFIELD: A lightning strike near the White House Thursday has now claimed the lives of three people. D.C. Police confirmed the third victim, a 29-year-old male, died from his injuries Friday afternoon. Police are withholding his identification pending family notification.
This comes after authorities announced a couple visiting from Wisconsin died Thursday from their injuries. They're niece tells WISC that James and Donna Mueller were celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary. A fourth individual was also struck and critically injured.
In California, about a thousand people are trapped in Death Valley National Park due to extreme flooding. The park near the California- Nevada border received 1.46 inches, that is nearly 75 percent of all the rain it gets in a year. The National Park Service says floodwaters left 500 visitors and 500 staff unable to exit the park. Rangers say dozens of cars are buried in several feet of debris. Thankfully no injures have been reported.
And as Kentucky recovers from last week's deadly floods, it now faces the threat of more rain and flash flooding. A flood watch is in effect for much of eastern Kentucky through this evening. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear confirming Friday that the death toll remains 37 across five counties.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is following this from the Weather Center. How much rain? It just seems unrelenting.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it does. Unfortunately the last thing me need is more rain but that is what they're getting in some of the areas of Kentucky. We've already had one to two inches, it's already falling. And it is still raining over those same spots.
That is why you have a lot of these flood warnings and even flash flood warnings for several counties here. A couple of different waves of the rain starting to mover through but it's so slow-moving so it is been able to dump -- one, two, even three inches of rain in some of these spots already.
But that line is moving off to the east so a lot of the other counties an expect to see similar numbers in the coming hours. That's why you've got the flood watch not only for eastern Kentucky but some of the other surrounding states as well.
That first round moves through, maybe a little bit of a break overnight tonight and early tomorrow morning before another round continues late tomorrow morning and through the afternoon hours.
So again, you're not talking a very long break. Flooding isn't just a concern there. But also across areas of the Midwest. Minnesota, Wisconsin, even Iowa also have the potential to get four to six inches of rain total Fred over just the next couple of days.
WHITFIELD: And then -- I mean more than half of the lower 48 states are in a drought right now.
CHINCHAR: Yes, again the areas where you need the rain the most, we're not getting it. If you if you take a look at this map, 51 percent of the lower 48 is in some level of a drought. That's the fourth consecutive week where we've had that number above 50 percent.
But it is two different types of droughts here. You've got what's called a flash drought, that's been the focus across the northeastern portion of the United States, weather based, more short-term, you have that rapid onset and intensification really in a matter of weeks.
Then you have a mega drought. That is where the focus has really been in the western portion of the country. The more long-term, the one that can last decades even.
But the unfortunate part is when you look going forward, the areas where you see the brown and yellow, it is the three areas, the north east Texas and the west where we already have terrible drought conditions but in the next month we expect that to persist or even worsen Fred, in the terms of the amount of rain or lack thereof that they're expecting to get.
WHITFIELD: Wow. That is incredible. All right. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: And then later on today, I'll be speaking with a former NFL quarterback Tim Couch (ph), you'll hear how he is helping with relief efforts in his part of Kentucky. Stay tuned for that.
On this week's episode of "PATAGONIA", we visit its ancient woodlands, home to miraculous creatures many of which are found nowhere else on earth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A (INAUDIBLE) parakeet, the southern most species of parrot on earth. A restless bunch, they flit from tree to free in flocks of up to 15 birds. When they find a good feeding spot, numbers can swell to over 100.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their preferred way to fatten up for the winter, gorging on monkey puzzle pine nuts. In return, the birds spread the seeds far and wide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow. so beautiful and before takeoff, I mean they just blend right in. All right. Join CNN as we explore Patagonia magical and ancient forest. "PATAGONIA: LIFE ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD", Tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. On CNN.
And at any moment now, senators are set to take up marquee parts of President Biden's agenda, the sweeping health care and climate bill now known as the Inflation Reduction Act. Live to Capitol Hill next.