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Senate Vote-a-Rama Underway For The Inflation Reduction Act; Interview With Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL); NYC Mayor Claims Migrants Are Being Forced Onto Buses From Texas; Gaza Death Toll Rises To 43 As Israel And Islamic Jihad Trade Fire; China Conducts Fourth Day Of Live-Fire Military Exercises Near Taiwan; District Grapple With Teacher Shortage As Students Return To School; Heat Alerts In The Northeast, Flood Threat Expanding In The Midwest. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 07, 2022 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Happening right now, live pictures right now from Capitol Hill as the U.S. Senate inches closer to a vote on the sweeping climate and health care bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

The painstaking process started just before midnight in a marathon Vote-a-Rama session. And if passed, it would drive down the cost of some prescription drugs and it promises to make a huge cut to carbon emissions over the next decade. But already some major changes are being made to the bill's final form.

Let's get right to CNN's Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill with all the details. Manu, walk us through the process.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Democrats are trying to get to final passage of this bill after this marathon voting session that started at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time last night. It is still ongoing. There have not been any breaks.

It's still unclear exactly how this is going to play out because there has been some last-minute drama that has affected Senate Democrats' ability to get to final passage. This dealing with the issue of the corporate minimum tax, a 15 percent tax that would be imposed on businesses with more than $1 billion in income. That is a central component in this bill that would help pay for a number of the provisions in here dealing with health care and climate change, energy issues and the like.

But there has been some concerns from Senator Kyrsten Sinema about the 15 percent corporate minimum tax and its impact on some businesses that may make less than $1 billion, specifically companies that are subsidiaries of private equity companies that make more than $1 billion. Sinema is concerned, I'm told, about this language impacting these

subsidiaries. And at the moment she's considering voting for a Republican amendment that could potentially throw a wrench into this process in the late hours here.

One of the amendment offered by Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, would nix this provision dealing with subsidiaries who would be impacted by the corporate minimum tax. And Sinema is considering joining him.

And the problem with that for Democrats is that if she does give Republicans that critical support, this would get added to the bill. But it has a provision that is viewed by some Democrats as a poison pill.

In order to offset the loss, $35 billion or so as a result of the changes that Sinema and John Thune are seeking, they're looking at extending what's known as SALT, state and local tax deductions that northeast Democrats as well as coastal Democrats have been concerned about -- these limitations on the SALT deductions.

Those Democrats want to get rid of that. And from these high tax jurisdictions, in order to -- they have campaigned for some time on repealing those SALT deductions but John Thune and Kyrsten Sinema are proposing to extend the limitation on the SALT deductions, causing a snafu late in the process.

Behind the scenes, Democrats are trying to head this all, trying to find another way to get Sinema satisfied behind any changes to exempt businesses from the 15 percent corporate minimum tax but it's unclear at this hour exactly how they're going to satisfy the concerns of this key Democrat.

And Fred, this is so significant, because all 50 Democrats need to be on board in order to get this bill through because we expect all Republicans to oppose it. And if one Democrat changes their vote on some key issue like over this amendment potentially, it could essentially undercut their ability to get to final passage here.

So even though Democrats have been united through all night long, trying to get this bill through, they're facing this last-minute wrench in the process, throwing some questions into whether they can get across the finish line, how soon they can get it, and if they can get it through here, if this change is made, what would it mean for final passage in the House which had been expected to come on Friday, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And so I wonder, Manu, is there any kind of imposed deadline? Is there a feeling, especially among the Democratic caucus, that they have to assuage, you know, convince Kyrsten Sinema by a certain amount of time in order to save the progress they believe they've made?

RAJU: Well, the thing about the way this is playing out right now in the Senate floor is that there is no time limit for these amendment votes. In fact it is limitless. These amendments can go on for as long as senators continue to have energy to offer an amendment.


RAJU: The concern that Democrats have is that if Sinema gets behind this Republican plan, it could change things, the contours of this bill, this delicately-negotiated compromise among Democrats, and affect the final outcome here.

One of the big concerns that Democrats, Joe Manchin in particular who has been key to this deal, has is to ensure that the bill saves roughly $300 billion in deficit savings over the next decade.

If Thune succeeds in this, or they strip out this provision that Sinema is concerned about, it could cost the deficit savings by about $35 billion. So these are the kinds of issues that they're trying to sort out with Sinema behind the scenes, trying to see if she can get behind an alternative plan that all Democrats could get behind that can get out of the Senate and eventually out of the House which had showed you the complications that they're facing here in the last minute here.

Even though Democrats are optimistic they'll eventually get there, they're facing some last-minute drama here as they try to get this bill across the finish line.

WHITFIELD: And does it seem, Manu, that Senator Manchin is most potentially influential over, you know, Senator Kyrsten Sinema given that oftentimes they seem to be -- they seem to have the same approach against sometimes working with the Democratic caucus?

RAJU: Reporter: this is actually different than -- they're on different pages here. Manchin wants to get this bill done. He is not on Sinema's side here when it comes to changes to the corporate minimum tax. He has told me today he wants to, quote, "land the plane".

And as one Democrat familiar with the negotiations told me, quote, "this is a Kyrsten Sinema problem." So they're trying to resolve her concerns over the 15 percent minimum tax, her concerns about the impacts on other businesses and whether they can resolve this still remains to be seen as they're trying to figure this out here in this late hour.

WHITFIELD: All right. Manu Raju, keep us posted, thank you so much.

RAJU: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So for President Biden, the Inflation Reduction Act represents a critical piece of his climate and health care agenda, if indeed passed. CNN's Arlette Saenz is with the president as he spent the weekend now in Delaware.

And so Arlette, now some last minute changes, the president not long leaving the White House on his way to Delaware. Is there a feeling from the White House that perhaps he was anticipating this would be easy passage and now there's still work to be done? I think we just lost our signal there with Arlette Saenz. We're going to try and reestablish that as best we can.

All right. Meantime, we'll still continue to talk about all this. I want to bring in now Congresswoman Kathy Castor, she's a Democrat who chairs of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis. Congresswoman, so good to see you.

REP. KATHY CASTOR (D-FL): Nice to see you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. So everybody is closely watching what's taking place. But now, it seems to be, there is a moment happening there on Capitol Hill, further negotiations particularly as it pertains to SALT or this 15 percent corporate minimum tax.

How concerned are you about this and whether this is holding up what you were hoping to be a vote and a passage of this bill?

CASTOR: I think this is very exciting. We are a mere few hours away from passage of the Inflation Reduction Act which will for the first time allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

It will make health coverage more affordable for millions of Americans who go shopping with the Affordable Care Act, 2.7 million Floridians, by the way.

And it's the most historic investment in clean energy and climate action in the history of America. And that comes none too soon as we watch these cascading climate disasters all across America, all across the world.

This is really a people over politics moment. So many of the family, small business focused policies we've been working on for many months, many years, are about to come to fruition.

WHITFIELD: So those seem to be all the things that everyone, or at least your Democratic Caucus, seem to be in agreement on. But right now we're hearing that Senator Kyrsten Sinema is having continued talks about a potential amendment that would involve the 15 percent corporate tax.

So how concerned are you right now that while this morning you woke up thinking you were going to have a vote and all would be on board with what you're on board with, now come to find out there might be some modifications that hold things up.

CASTOR: Well, the tax provisions are very important, because they pay for the bill. This is a bill that is fully paid for. And we wanted to achieve additional savings to pay down the deficit, to pay off some of America's credit card by requiring all corporations to pay some minimum tax.


CASTOR: So it sounds like this is simply a minor wrinkle that they're going to work out. But what cannot be lost is that this time we are on the cusp of finally allowing Medicare to negotiate prices to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, which will also for the first time institute a cap on the amount of money that our older neighbors pay under Medicare at $2,000.

Some of those drugs are so expensive. And the drug companies have had power for way too long. They have been calling the shots. And this is finally, we've reached the point where the people are going to call the shots and get to put some money back into their pockets for a change.

WHITFIELD: As it pertains it the other marquee issue that this, you know, Inflation Reduction Act would be addressing, we're talking about the climate crisis. And as it stands now, the bill provides nearly $370 billion to address that. Multiple independent analyses say that it would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by up to 40 percent by 2030.

So as the chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, you know, in your view does this bill go far enough to try to make a dent?

CASTOR: It makes a huge dent. You have to admit, Fredricka, that the newsreels from the summer are playing out like a scary disaster movie, whether it's the floods in Kentucky, just yesterday in Death Valley thousands of people being stranded because of a strange monsoon event, wildfires in the west, drought, so drinking water supplies are at risk.

So the world's top scientists tell us that we have a rapidly closing window. We have got to act now. We're out of time when it comes to transitioning to clean energy.

And that's what the Inflation Reduction Act does. It makes investments to help lower the cost of energy, whether it's putting solar panels on your roof, energy efficient appliances that will help you put money into your pocket, making electric vehicles more affordable, and breaking our addiction to fossil fuels that are fueling these costly climate disasters.

Last year in America we paid out over $150 billion because of climate- fueled disasters. Why don't we take some of those funds and begin to prepare and make the transition to lower cost, clean energy? Because clean energy is cheaper energy.

WHITFIELD: Ok, back to health care related issues, you know. As you know, Republicans successfully removed a key provision that would have capped private insulin sales to just $35 a month. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 2 million Floridians have been -- have diagnosed diabetes requiring insulin.

So in your view, will there be another opportunity to give your constituents more help as it pertains to insulin?

CASTOR: Yes, I was so sorry to see Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, our senators from Florida, vote against the $35 cap on insulin. Like I said before, the drug companies have had us over a barrel for a long time and consumers need relief.

And insulin hasn't really changed over time. What has changed are the enormous profits that the drug companies and CEOs are making. So this would have been a very modest effort. It was good to get some Republican votes so that gives me hope that we're going to continue to work on it.

But insulin saves lives. And the fact that the Republicans oppose the cap on it means that people are going to -- they're probably going to reduce the insulin they take and it's going to hurt their health and it may cost lives in the end.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, thanks so much for being with us today. Appreciate it.

CASTRON: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Now I think we have reestablished our connection now with Arlette Saenz. There you are. We see you now in Delaware, traveling with the president.


WHITFIELD: Ok. So earlier I was talking about, so now there is this moment taking place on Capitol Hill as it pertains to the votes on this Inflation Reduction Act. And the president has left the White House, now he's there in Delaware.

Was there a feeling before he departed that all the votes would be in? But now there is a hang-up or further negotiations involving Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

SAENZ: Well Fred, President Biden expressed confidence that this bill will be passing the Senate later today as he was leaving the White House. He told reporters that he thought it would be passing.

He is now closely watching along with his White House aides these latest developments regarding this sweeping health care and climate bill that Democrats are trying to get across the finish line.

But President Biden is now here in Rehoboth Beach, east Delaware at his vacation home which marks the first time that he has left the White House in 18 days.


SAENZ: Earlier today, his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said that the president is fully clear to resume his travel and be out of isolation after receiving two negative tests for COVID-19. The president has been cooped up at the White House for the better part of two and a half weeks at this point.

So now he is spending the weekend or Sunday, at least, here with his family in Rehoboth, east Delaware. We're also monitoring these developments over in the Senate. And tomorrow, the president is scheduled to travel to Kentucky to see first hand the damage and devastation wrought by the flooding in the eastern part of the state. He'll be visiting with the state's governor as well as families and victims who have been affected by the flood, really marking President Biden's return to the road after spending so long at the White House due to COVID-19.

But certainly the White House today is very closely watching these votes related to that bill. They are hoping that some of the president's key items in his domestic agenda could potentially be signed into law if the house passes this as well which could happen later in the week.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead, buses full of migrants from the southern border arriving in New York City this weekend fueling a political feud between the city's mayor and the Texas governor. Details next.

Plus tensions on the rise in Gaza as the Israeli military launches more air strikes in a third day of attacks against Islamic jihad. We're live in Israel straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: A suspect wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of four people near Dayton, Ohio is now in police custody. Police say Steven Marlowe was captured overnight more than 600 miles away in Lawrence, Kansas. Marlowe is suspected of shooting and killing people at multiple crime scenes Friday. A motive for the shootings still unclear.

And just south of there in Cincinnati, nine people have been injured in a mass shooting overnight. Police say at least two suspects fired multiple shots into a crowd downtown at about 2:00 a.m. It happened in a neighborhood where police have recently ramped up their presence over an increase in gun violence. Police have yet to name any suspects.

And tensions are running high between Texas and New York, with asylum seekers caught right in the middle. Dozens of migrants arrived in New York City by bus this weekend after the Texas governor's office designated New York as a drop-off location for migrants. New York City's mayor claims that some of the migrants are being forced onto buses.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joining us with more detail on this. So Polo, walk us through what's happening.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I reached out to Texas Governor Greg Abbott's office for a response to this claim that we heard from New York City Mayor Eric Adams that some of these migrants are at least being forced -- to use the mayor's word -- onto these buses here. Because this really has become a war of words between the Texas

governor who is currently running for reelection, and New York City's mayor. This war of words continues to escalate. On Friday Governor Abbott, announced that this plan that many of the governor's critics have described as a political stunt, has now expanded to included buses to be sent here to New York City with migrants who have volunteered after turning themselves into authorities at the southern border, being processed and released, volunteered to be able to ride on some of these chartered buses by the -- by the state of Texas and then head north to cities like Washington D.C. and now New York City.

Mayor Eric Adams has really been highly critical of this, calling it not just cruel but also unimaginable. And as you're about to hear, also calling this effort by the Texas governor, calling it uncoordinated.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: That's why it's really important that the governor of Texas is coordinating. They're not letting us know what time the buses are leaving. they're not letting us know what are the needs of the people on the bus. They're not giving us any information.

So we're unable to really provide and service the people en route. We would like to get that information. There's only 14, around 14 that got off, some of them thought they were going to another location.


SANDOVAL: Those 14 added to roughly 50 asylum seekers that arrived here in the city on a Texas chartered bus on Friday. So we need to be clear with viewers that even though there's roughly 60 or some 55 who have arrived here, we've seen already many asylum seekers here for the last several month, the city saying 4,000 asylum seekers have entered the city's shelter system, just since May and that adding really a strain here Fred, for the city that's already scrambling to find a place to stay for homeless New Yorkers. And now you have additional asylum seekers here.

And really what we're hearing from the city is yes, they can come here but it's just a matter of coordinating with the state of Texas and Governor Greg Abbott.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much, in New York.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. More than 40 people have been killed in Gaza as tensions mount between Israel and Islamic jihad militants. A live report from the region, next.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

At least 43 Palestinians have been killed since Friday in the ongoing escalation between Israel and Islamic jihad militants, that's according to the Palestinian health authority.

Israeli officials say most of those killed were Islamic jihad militants. Israel also says Islamic jihadis have fired 935 rockets toward Israel since Friday.

CNN's Hadas Gold is in Ashdod, Israel. Hadas, give us the latest.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So just in the last couple of hours, Fred, there was a volley of rockets fired towards Tel Aviv, including towards the airport causing people at the airport to be rushed into shelters.

Here in Ashdod, we are close to the border with Gaza and all day we have been hearing the sort of exchange of fire, we've heard the rockets being launched, the booms of the t interceptions, as well as Israeli jets buzzing overhead on their way to conduct air strikes in Gaza.

The Israeli military saying that they've effectively wiped out the Palestinian Islamic jihad's top security brass, saying they targeted at least 140 sites, things like rocket launchers and tunnels.

The Palestinian ministry of health though saying, as you noted, more than 40 people have been killed and more than 300 have been injured as a result of this violence.


GOLD: Now, the Israeli military is saying that at least four of those children were killed in a rocket launch gone wrong. This is essentially a rocket that lost its power and fell short.

Now, of course all eyes are on a possible cease-fire. We've been seeing various reports all day long about Egyptian mediators trying to bring a cease-fire together between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic jihad militants. Initially it was reported it was going to happen at 8:00 p.m., now there are reports it's going to happen at 11:30 p.m. But with all cease-fires in these sorts of situations, you don't believe it until there is quiet and there is also often a last-minute sort of volley of violence going in both ways trying to potentially sort of put on a final show before this is over.

An important note that's different this time than what happened last May in that 11-day war. It's Hamas. Hamas, the main militant group that runs Gaza, has so far stayed on the sidelines, Fred. And that has kept this from escalating into something even bigger.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. Hadas Gold in Israel, thank you so much. Keep us posted. All right. Today Chinese forces continued military drills in the

waters around Taiwan that focused on land attacks and long range missile capabilities. Taiwan says it has detected 66 Chinese war planes and 14 vessels around the Taiwan Strait.

CNN's Blake Essig has more.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): For the fourth day in a row China conducted live fire military exercises in airspace and waters surrounding Taiwan. These drills were announced just about 30 minutes after the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan earlier this week and started the day after she left.

Throughout the day on Sunday, the Chinese military says their drills focused on land strikes and long range airstrike capabilities. Taiwan's Ministry of Defense says they spotted 14 military vessels and 66 war planes operating around the Taiwan Strait, 12 of them crossing the median line. The Defense Ministry describes the activity they saw on Sunday as a simulated attack against the mainland of Taiwan and Taiwan's naval vessels.

In response to the drills, Taiwan's premier accuses China of disrupting regional peace and stability by flexing its military muscle. And as a result of China's military activities, the White House summoned China's ambassador to condemn its actions. And U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the drills provocative and said that Beijing is trying to change the status quo with Taiwan.

And while China's live fire drills were expected to wrap up on Sunday it seems changes to the status quo are likely. According to Chinese state media, from now on China will conduct regular military drills east of the Taiwan Strait median line, that's closer to Taiwan. The median line that separates China and Taiwan had been respected for decades. And although we don't know what China will do next, it's fair to say that things likely won't go back to normal now that the drills are supposed to be over, and those heightened tensions and aggressive maneuvering by China's military could be the new normal.

Blake Essig, CNN, Taipei.


WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, America is facing a catastrophic teacher shortage leaving school officials everywhere scrambling to fill classrooms. Next I'll talk to the superintendent of one district with currently over a thousand job openings and their school year begins tomorrow.



WHITFIELD: School districts nationwide are getting ready to welcome students back tomorrow and some classes aren't even fully staffed. As a teacher shortage in America hits crisis levels, some states are scrambling, trying to find creative ways to bring educators into its classrooms.

My next guest leads one of those school districts. Jesus Jara is the superintendent for Nevada's Clark County School District which serves over 320,000 students.

So good to see you.

JESUS JARA, SUPERINTENDENT, NEVADA'S CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: It's good to see you, Fredricka. Thank you for the opportunity.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely. And all this on the eve of school getting started in your school district. And I understand that right now your school district, you have over 1400 vacancies, including teaching vacancies, according to the Web site. So what's your plan? How are you going to carry on given you're missing so many employees?

JARA: Yes. Thank you. And you know, we're at 92 percent staffing in our classrooms, so that means that, you know, we have close to approximately 1300. So our entire team, as a matter of fact, just, you know, every licensed educator that's in the central office is going to be in our schools. You know, we're looking at administrators that are also in central office and helping our classroom teachers in our buildings.

You know, one of the things that my board did about a month ago, and a couple of months ago, we really changed the salary and collapsed and columns to increase the pay. We were able to do that and really trying to bring in and recruit teachers using our ARP funding as well, you know, from the administration that we have to relocation packages as well. Still trying all different efforts to try to get our classrooms.

Because what we're seeing, as you're talking about, the crisis that we're seeing in our classroom, what we're also calling here is really a crisis of inequalities. Because I do have quite a few of our schools that are fully staffed. In my urban core where I have my neediest children is where we're seeing now the biggest gaps and our priority is really to be able to fill those vacancies.

WHITFIELD: So while you're offering incentives to try and fill some of those vacancies, in the meantime you've got kids who are going to show up tomorrow. And I'm wondering what kind of modifications you're making, might it be in classroom sizes to make up for, you know, teachers that you're still looking to fill positions, but then you've still got a lot of kids to teach. So does this mean in some cases class sizes are bigger because you're consolidating?


JARA: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, we already had a large class size here in Nevada. One of the things we're also offering, you know, where our teachers will give up their planning periods, take on an extra load, principals are combining classrooms. We also increased the salary for our substitutes, as well, to try to get adults in front of our kids. So trying all efforts. But, you know what, one of the things that I believe that we're very proud of the work that our principals are doing and our staff that's here.

You know, our teachers are tired but they show up every day. You know, this is not the private sector. We can't cancel flights. We can't cancel. We will teach the children when they show up to school tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: In fact that underscores, I mean, this is adding new stressors, you know, to your educators who already feel pretty stressed out. So what are they telling you about, you know, what they need?

JARA: Yes, one of the things that, you know, yesterday I met with the board of our teachers union and the conversation is that they need time, they need resources. It's how do we partner to really address the working conditions. And I think one of the things that we need to have a national conversation, so really appreciate you taking the lead on this, because we need to have a national conversation about our teacher working conditions, our pay, and what we really believe in America, in our public schools, and in our educators.

You know, when we closed for the pandemic, our teachers really didn't go home and not work. Our teachers just shifted, but added extra load, to do something online, which is not what they're trained for. So I am so proud of our 18,000 educators that we met our kids' needs to the best of our ability. But really looking at how do we then address this ongoing, because for us, the problem is not going away.

So, you know, we need to look at how we get more young adults into our schools of education so they can become teachers and really change lives.

WHITFIELD: All right. So you don't see the problem going away, so what do you largely blame as to why there is this teacher shortage?

JARA: Well, I think what we're looking at here, you know, I can tell you in the state of Nevada, there's only about 900, you know, graduates that graduate out of the school of education. We're not seeing folks going into education. And this has been going when I was in --

WHITFIELD: And why is that, you think?

JARA: Well, I think it's the rhetoric, when you really look at what the public, you know, and the conversations that are nationally across public education. I can tell you, you know, we graduate -- the beauty of our public education is that we graduate kids from all walks of life. And we educate them. You know, last year, we had over $240 million in scholarships, kids going to the top universities in the country, to the kids that are, you know, making it out the door that we're pushing.

So we teach the entire community. We're not selective. And I think the calculation needs to be about what do we believe in this country, what do we believe in Nevada around our public schools, and our most precious asset in this community, which is our children.


JARA: And I think that, that and how do we value our hardworking educators. You know, you're seeing -- and I think, you know, we had a kid that here in three months ago, was homeless, was one of our high school seniors, and went back into the classroom. And he is starting at one of our schools tomorrow and he came back to give back to this community.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

JARA: Give back to the school system that gave so much to him. And that, we need to continue to celebrate the great work that our teachers are doing in our schools.

WHITFIELD: That is tremendous.

JARA: Because this is not just Clark County. I mean, I see it with urban districts across America.


JARA: And more often, it's all happening there, it's happening with my colleagues in our local communities here in Nevada as well.

WHITFIELD: All right.

JARA: So this is a bigger (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: It is. It is indeed. Well, we're going to leave it there for now. All the best on the first day of school tomorrow and of course for the rest of the school year.

Clark County, Nevada, superintendent Jesus Jara, thank you so much.

JARA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: W. Kamau Bell is back with an all-new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA." And tonight Kamau talks to members of the Asian American community about they've been impacted by the recent rise in hate crimes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Jackson Heights, Queens. We've talked about you bringing me here for a long time.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": We had talked about you bringing me here for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My schedule is free. (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This part of Jackson Heights is Little India. It's really little South Asian now. So many diverse cultures. One thing they have in common is they love gold. You'll see lots of sari shops, like silk saris. Obviously lots of restaurants. Basically, spice, gold, silk.


This is what commerce was looking for. It was Jackson Heights.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining us right now is the host of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," W. Kamau Bell. He's also the director of the Emmy- nominated series "We Need to Talk About Cosby." Congrats again. And the co-author of the new book, "Do the Work: An Anti-Racist Activity Book" which is available now. Congrats to that, too. I think I told you that last time, but hey, continue to congrats because that's awesome.

So, Kamau, in this episode, you talked to a very diverse collection of people within the Asian American community. Chinese, Korean, Indian, kids, comedians, politicians. Did you find that there was kind of a common thread about the experiences that they wanted to share with you?

BELL: Yes, I mean I think that 2020 was this sort of a line in the sand for many of us, and particularly with the Asian American community and the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and ways in which it looked like on social media that black people were attacking Asian Americans at some high level, that it was just the black versus Asian thing happening.

And I think they realized that those who are in positions of power and authority and privilege have to stand up and really be clear what side of history they want to be on and they have to stand up for their community. And I've seen that happen in a lot of different ways. And many of those are friends of mine.

WHITFIELD: And you -- and how difficult was it to get people to really open up? I mean, clearly not the -- you know, the many who are very good friends with you, but was it a delicate topic?

BELL: No. I think that the ones we talked to really understand that the time is now. We talked to Julie Won, who is a politician in New York City. We talked to the Dragon Kids, who are a bunch of Chinese Americans in elementary school, they have a podcast. And they all understand that this time is now. And the kids, I think the only time they know is now, but it's not really hard to talk right now because they see how critical it is to stand up for their communities.

WHITFIELD: And then you also talk about the role of representation and how, you know, it plays a significant, you know, part of all of this, of trying to get progress going. And what did you learn? BELL: Well, I mean, you think about it, we have "Shang-Chi," which

each one of those Dragon Kids were super excited about the movie "Shang-Chi" because they were seeing people who look like them on screen in a Marvel movie being heroes and being spectacular. If you look at the origins of Shang-Chi, it was not invented by Asian American comic book creators. And if you look at the first issues back in the day, there's some pretty -- there's some racism in there just because they weren't really being careful about how they portrayed Shang-Chi. And so they understand that representative is important but it's got to be right and it's got to be put in the hands of people who know what they're talking about.

WHITFIELD: Something else you talked about is that, you know, occurrence dynamic of, you know, minorities being pitted against one another. What did you -- what did you find was revealed?

BELL: Well, you know, we talk a lot about the myth of the model of minority, which is the idea that's been put forth post-World War II idea of Asian American community being the model of minority and that they are high achievers. They're framed as being high achievers, as not fighting back, as sort of being quiet, and keeping their heads down and just achieving their way out of racism.

And what that does, first of all, that's not necessarily true. And also what it does is it ends up pitting the Asian American community against the black community and making us think that we're not on the same side of this racism discussion. And it is done as a way to divide and separate us. So we talk about that a lot.

WHITFIELD: W. Kamau Bell, thank you so much. Always thought provoking. We can't wait to watch yet another episode tonight. Be sure to tune in, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" with W. Kamau Bell, airing at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

All right. Coming up, the end is near? Major developments on Capitol Hill right now as the U.S. Senate moves closer to a final vote on a comprehensive climate and health care bill.



WHITFIELD: All right. While more than 70 million Americans are dealing with heat alerts across the nation, torrential rain is expected in other parts of the country.

Let's get to meteorologist Tom Sater. So, Tom, first, this heat. When might there be some relief?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Maybe in November, Fredricka.


SATER: The way this summer is going. You know, it's the haves and the have-nots. We've talked about this rain, too. The record-breaking rain, the tragedies from Kentucky to St. Louis. Dallas hasn't had a drop of rain since June 3rd. But the heat still the central of the country. Advisories are issued for a reason. We've got it in the Pacific northwest, Southern California, a little bit there in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana, and the northeast.

Where in New York City you got up to 92 degrees before a thunderstorm moved in. We now have a severe thunderstorm warning for Staten Island, Jersey City, Newark. We've had up to 2,000 flight delays. And so again, with the heat building this week, even though it gets better by Wednesday in Boston dropping from the low 90s to the mid-60s, you can still see it in areas of the Pacific northwest.

Not so much Seattle, but inland. Portland, Medford, triple-digits. And that heat in the Pacific northwest, Fredricka, just kind of slides into the middle of the country. We've been seeing this heat dome just kind of making its way across all the lower 48. So everybody is getting in on this summer heat. But we also have the heavy rain. When you have really high temperatures and you have thunderstorms move in, we've got a flash flood warning south side of Chicago.

Still have those watches, though, for eastern Kentucky. We're up to the north, already thunderstorms with these flight delays in Chicago have dropped three to six inches of rainfall. And it's not over with yet. So get ready, Detroit. Get ready, Cleveland. We'll have more rain on the way. Mainly the northern tier states. So if you look at the forecast models, how it kind of just makes its way from west to east across the Great Lakes, Cleveland, Chicago, another round by morn for you.

And unfortunately, that means when this drapes southward, Fredricka, we'll have another problem in parts of eastern Kentucky.