Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Big Victory for Democrats as Senate Passes Climate, Tax, Health Care Bill; Biden, First Lady Heading to Flood-Ravaged Eastern Kentucky; Police Believe Killings of Four Muslim Men Could be Linked. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 10:00   ET


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine, but the whole of Europe because this is the largest nuclear facility of its kind on the European continent.


The head of that agency said what needs to happen is that they need to demilitarize that zone. For months, the Ukrainian engineers have been working under the occupation of Russian military.

Alex, Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: David McKenzie, we appreciate your reporting very much from Kyiv. Thank you.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I am Alex Marquardt in for Jim Sciutto this week.

HARLOW: We're glad to have you. I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us this Monday morning.

After a dramatic round-the-clock marathon of votes all weekend, the Senate handed President Biden a major legislative victory, passing a sweeping health care and climate bill. It is a $750 billion package. It includes the largest climate investment ever in U.S. history. It also notably grants Medicare the power to negotiate some key prescription drug prices.

MARQUARDT: While this is significantly less than the Democrats' original $3.5 trillion Build Back Better pitch, President Biden is calling this a success, adding that Senate Democrats put American families above special interests.

Now, the victory, all the more notable, because it had none, zero Republican support. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives and President Biden could sign it into law as early as Friday.

Let's begin with CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean. She's on Capitol Hill this morning. Jessica, this is a wide-ranging bill. It is designed to reduce inflation. It has billions of dollars in climate and energy incentives. It tackles prescription drugs. Break down for us what is in this multibillion dollar bill. JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a big one. And as you all mentioned, it comes after a true marathon over the weekend here on Capitol Hill for Democratic senators who really pushed this over the finish line. They used that specialized budget process that required only Democratic support. But as we talked about before, getting all Democrats on board is no small feat. And, frankly, it was a surprise to many that they got as big of a bill as they ultimately did.

And just a few weeks ago, we thought would have been much, much narrower, that it wouldn't have had the support of Senator Joe Manchin.

But what did we see? What is in this bill? As you mentioned, there are major climate provisions, some $370 billion in climate provisions. Among them, they're trying to lower carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030. There's a lot of incentives in there for renewable energy, also energy production within the United States. There's health care provisions in there, including extending the Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years and allowing for the first time Medicare to negotiate some, some drug prices.

It will cap the price of insulin for people who are on Medicare, not people on private insurance but on Medicare. Democrats had tried to get that in there but Republicans had that stripped out. The parliamentarian had to strip that out. So, it is just people on Medicare. It caps out-of-pocket expenses for those on Medicare at $2,000.

And then to pay for all of this, there are some new tax provisions, chief among them, a 15 percent minimum tax on the country's largest corporations. So, that is kind of a grand view of what is in this very, very big bill.

The next thing is that it needs to go to the House. And you'll remember, when they were trying to negotiate this much bigger package months ago, the House is where we really started to see the different factions of the Democratic Party, Alex and Poppy. But this time, at least today, it appears to be smoother sailing ahead for this package when it goes to the House. We know that some of the East Coast Democrats have been more open to this and are saying they are going to support it.

So, we do anticipate we see that on Friday. Alex and Poppy?

HARLOW: Jess, just quickly, before you go, one thing they didn't get is finally closing the carried interest loophole. And I know it sounds wonky but it really matters. The White House had really wanted this. There are a number of big names on Wall Street who have also for years had been calling to close this, Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett. Just explain to people how big a deal that would have been and why Senator Sinema didn't want it to happen.

DEAN: Well, that was one of the pay-fors that they were going to use. And you're right, it sounds pretty complicated, but the best way to kind of boil it down is that people who manage money, money managers, hedge fund managers, are able to get some of their money that is taxed at essentially capital gains rate, which is a lower tax rate, than if you were taxing wages. So, they're able to make more money at a lower tax bracket.

And Senator Manchin had wanted that in the bill. As you mentioned, the White House had wanted that in the bill. It would have raised $14 billion, Poppy. Overall, they were trying to raise $350 billion or so.


So, it is a smaller piece of the puzzle. But Sinema has said she looks forward to working with Mark Warner on that, another Democrat, as they move forward.

HARLOW: All right. Jessica Dean, thanks very much.

MARQUARDT: And for more on this, let's bring in CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, great to see you.


MARQUARDT: As we noted at the top of the show, this is obviously far less than the Build Back Better plan. It's $750 billion versus $3.5 trillion, but Democrats clearly seeing this as a major victory. So, going forward, especially into the midterms, how do they turn this from a legislative victory into a political victory?

BASH: By talking about it nonstop and messaging it in a way that we're already starting to see Democrats try to do to boil it down to how it will affect people's pocketbooks. Jessica was just talking about Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. That's a really big deal.

Things that have to do with the climate are probably more -- are definitely more of a long-term investment than things like drug prices or things like expanding the tax credits when it comes to health care, but that is the key.

The challenge, talk to any Democrat and they will admit this, the challenge is, as big of a victory as this is, and it is a huge legislative victory for the president and for Democrats, it is kind of akin to Obamacare was back in 2009, which is, it's a victory that people can't feel yet and this is a time when people are feeling very pessimistic about their economic situation. You just look at the polls -- you don't even have to. You just talk to people. You look at the price of food, you look at the price of gasoline.

So, it's that juxtaposition and that challenge with how people are actually feeling in their everyday lives versus what Democrats can say is to come because of this legislation.

HARLOW: So, Dana, for anyone who missed it yesterday, you were anchoring your show, State of the Union, and you -- I stopped when I saw it pop up on the television because there you had a Democratic senator and a Republican senator sitting together, Senator Blumenthal and Senator Lindsey Graham talking about working together. Now, there were a lot of things they disagreed on, but they each made their points in a cordial, respectful way. And it was just a rare sight in Washington and it also speaks to the fact that we have seen Congress pass a number of key pieces of legislation in the last, you know, several weeks on a bipartisan basis. It just made me wonder is Washington changing.

BASH: I wish I could say the answer is yes, but one of the reasons we wanted to do this is because there is a lot of bipartisan discussion, bipartisan work that goes on behind the scenes every single day, and bipartisan relationships.

You mention that the bill we were just talking about that passed the Senate, it was being debated real-time when we were talking, and they don't agree on pretty much anything having to do with the economic policies in that bill. They each talked about it disagreeing without being disagreeable, but there were a lot of things they worked on together.

And it got to the point where Senator Graham talked about his friend, Senator Blumenthal, who is on the ballot. Listen to that part.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): They sign things that made sense. I mean, the infrastructure bill, you're on that, we worked together. The gun thing, we've been working on this for years. We sort of found the sweet spot. We did that together.

I mean, he's in cycle, I hate to say this, but I like him.

BASH: Him?

GRAHAM: Yes. I mean, I don't to want ruin his life here, but we have found common ground on foreign policy, domestic issues.

I just want the country to know that all is not lost in Washington.


BASH: And it's true, they have worked on all the issues Senator Graham talked about. Again, they have very deep differences, philosophically, ideologically, but this is an example of areas where -- and even Senator Graham admitted, President Biden ran on this. He ran on his ability to bring people together and there have been things that have drawn people apart, but there have been a list of bipartisan accomplishments that both President Biden and members of Congress, obviously bipartisan, has to be both sides of the aisle, have come together on over the past 18 months or so.


MARQUARDT: And, Dana, alongside this there's been this growing conversation/debate about whether President Biden should be running again. The New York Times calling this worrying doubt, made the case that like a good athlete, he should leave on top. I want to read you part of what she wrote in her column. His inner circle irritated about stories about concerns over his age and unpopularity will say this winning streak gives Biden the impetus to run again.


The opposite is true. It should give him the confidence to leave, secure in the knowledge that he has made his mark.

So, do you think that he is more or less likely to run in 2024 as a result of this?

BASH: We don't know. But it is really interesting to see the way that his friends and colleagues and supporters answer the question in very different ways. Senator Blumenthal said, I'm going to be blunt. I'm on the ballot in 2022, like in November, and I'm not going to even think about that. When I pressed him, he said that if Joe Biden runs, he would support him and wouldn't go further than that, except to say he thinks the president will really decide whether he'll run again after he sees the midterm results.

That's the more general response you're getting from Democrats. Colin Allred, Democrat from Texas, who was used to be swing district because of redistricting, it's a little but more safe for him, he said, I do support President Biden and I want him to run. But the fact that this conversation is happening is quite interesting and it does speak to the reality that President Biden has really low approval ratings. And it goes back to what we started this conversation about. It's connected to the way people are feeling about this country and it is a reality for any president that the two are always connected.

HARLOW: Dana Bash, thank you. And masterful interview yesterday.

BASH: You're the best.

HARLOW: Let's hope we see -- it's great to see, right? They can work together. Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Thanks.

HARLOW: All right. So, this major $750 billion piece of legislation is officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act, or the IRA. It includes an investment of more than $300 billion in clean energy and climate reform. It is the largest federal clean energy investment ever in U.S. history.

MARQUARDT: And joining us now to share his perspective is CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir.

Bill, the numbers are eye-popping. As we've noted, they were less than what had originally been pitched by the Biden administration. But in the grand scheme of things, how big are these dollar amounts that are being contributed to these incentives?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, considering that U.S. climate action was dead, you know, in the hearse on the way to the cemetery, this is miraculous. It's about maybe 60, 70 percent of Biden's initial climate piece than this big castle he built that he was trying to get passed, but it has so many juicy carrots for so many parts of industry, and for consumers for buying electric vehicles or stoves or heat pumps, but it also sends these insane market signals to investors and entrepreneurs. You have got ten-year tax incentives built into any kind of clean energy. So, if you want to get into next generation nuclear, if you want to get into green hydrogen, this is your time.

I mean, solar and wind have come down 90 percent in the last ten years. A big reason is because in the Obama stimulus bill, during the recession, he put those early investments in there and now they're paying off. Well, this bill is four times bigger --

HARLOW: Four times bigger.

WEIR: -- in terms of the money that goes into these programs.

HARLOW: We were joking with you in the commercial break that, I said, Bill Weir's finally happy. Like, usually, you're on with us and you're saying, the world is burning, literally, and it is, and warning. But, finally, this came through.

And I just wonder, to your point about big business and where all this private capital goes, you were tweeting about that this weekend. There's a big hope here that the carrots work.

WEIR: So, the last time they tried this in '09, it was more sticks, it was more punitive stuff. It didn't work as well, right? This time, they're going to try incentives.

So, let me give you an example. Let me show you the most successful American carbon capture and storage facility company going today. This is outside of San Francisco. That's it. Not the building, that truck right there. That one semi-truck takes farm waste, turns it into bio- oil, which they then inject back down into old oil wells.

Think of the challenge as this. We have created trillion-ton monster, sea in the sky, and we have got to pull it down and lock back in the Earth. This is a company Ebb. They're next door to the place where Elon Musk built the first Tesla. They're using chemistry to pull carbon dioxide out of seawater.

And there're companies, say, for example, over in Iceland, that are taking this carbon, tons of it, and injecting it back into the Earth where it turns into rock and stored for thousands of years.

This will be a multitrillion dollar industry in our children's lifetimes that nobody is even talking about right now. This bill increases early funding for that by about 15 times. So, there are all these folks in that space that are hugely encouraged that the market now knows that this is where the United States is going. But there are also some heartburn from those who see the leasing obligations for oil and gas that are in the bill on national land.

HARLOW: It's both, so they could get something done.

WEIR: Yes, they had to get something in there to get it past Manchin.

HARLOW: Thank you, Bill.

MARQUARDT: Well, as Poppy is saying, it's a good day when we see a smile on Bill Weir's face.

WEIR: I hate being the buzz kill but there's something -- something there.


HARLOW: Saving the world for future generations. That's all he does every day. Thank you, Bill.

WEIR: Thanks, guys.

MARQUARDT: Well, ahead this hour, President Biden will soon land in Kentucky to take a look at the devastation from flooding. We'll speak live with the man leading relief efforts there for World Central Kitchen.

Plus, officials in New Mexico are investigating the recent killings of four Muslim men. They are looking into whether there's a link between these killings.

HARLOW: Also, New York's Mayor Eric Adams accusing the state of Texas of forcing some migrants to board buses to the city. Texas is saying they all come willingly. What happens when they arrive in New York? That's coming up.



HARLOW: President Biden and the first lady will touchdown in Eastern Kentucky. They are going there, obviously, an area that has been devastated by flooding in the last week. Floods ripped through those towns, caused catastrophic damage and death.

The president and the first lady will meet with families today hit very hard by this devastation.

MARQUARDT: And it is there where we find CNN's Joe Johns. He is in Perry County, Kentucky.

This visit following the president expanding federal disaster assistance to Kentucky, Joe. What is the president going to be seeing and doing today?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Alex, behind me here is the north fork of the Kentucky River, which authorities are keeping a close eye on because of torrential rains that blew through the area just last night. The president is expected to head out to the Lost Creek area, which is 20 to 30 miles from where I'm standing. I drove through there just last night, and I can tell you along a state road, you see a huge debris field, where many people lost their homes. I'm told also a few lost their lives.

The president is expected to meet with Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear, also meet with some of the families affected by the flooding. He's going to visit an elementary school in the flood zone and also talk with FEMA officials.

Things have gotten measurably better in Eastern Kentucky since the flooding about 10, 11 days ago. However, the fact of the matter remains, at least three dozen people have lost their lives and counting. Authorities say there could be more people found as they get up into the hollows and some of the hard-to-reach places along these creeks and streams that flooded just 11 days ago. Back to you.

MARQUARDT: And, Joe, what are local authorities and citizens who you've spoken with saying that they need the most right now? We understand that some of that assistance coming from the federal government is to help remove debris, but what is needed most?

JOHNS: When I've talked to people here on the ground, I have been told that the thing they need the most is the infrastructure restored. They've lost telephone communications. Some people have lost gas, they've lost electricity, they've lost water. Water, of course, is a huge issue on the ground here because there is an order for people not to drink the water because it could be contaminated. So, all of those things are the first order of priority. Alex?

HARLOW: Joe Johns, thank you very much for being there as we wait are to the president and the first lady to arrive.

Take a look at this. This is the devastating scene from inside of a local grocery store. This is in Isom, Kentucky, completely shut down, all of its inventory lost, aisles filled with mud and debris.

Well, the World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian powerhouse that provides meals to people in need in disaster areas around the world, is now using that same grocery store, the only one in a 20-mile radius, as a distribution center for the community until it's back up and running. Listen to this.


SAM BLOCH, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY RESPONSE, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Until that grocery store gets up and going, the whole community can come get something to eat. We've got four teams in the region, a lot of smaller townships like this pretty spread out in the Appalachia Mountains here that have all been really badly affected. So, we've got a team a little farther up north and Hazard is the name of the town. And they're setting up a whole large-scale production kitchen up there.


HARLOW: So, you were just hearing from one of the representatives from World Central Kitchen that is on the ground helping. We're going to speak with Dan Abrams running relief operations for World Central Kitchen right after this.

MARQUARDT: And they are a terrific organization, I saw a lot of their great work in Ukraine. They are all over the place.

All right, well, four Muslim men have been shot and killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, over the past few months, three of them in just the past two weeks. Now, officials are looking into a possible connection between these killings. We'll bring you more on that investigation. That's coming up next.



MARQUARDT: Albuquerque, New Mexico, is on edge after the killing of four Muslim men, fatal shootings that officials say could be linked. Now, Albuquerque police are looking for information on what they call a vehicle of interest, you can see it right there. That car is described as a dark silver sedan-style Volkswagen Jetta or Passat. It has tinted windows, according to the authorities.

HARLOW: Naeem Hussain is the most recent shooting victim in Albuquerque. His body was found on Friday. His family says he had just gotten U.S. citizenship a month ago. They talked about how excited he was about that and how much he was looking forward to bringing his wife to the United States. They spoke about the hopes and dreams that he had at just 25 years old.

Two other men, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein were also killed in the past few weeks in Albuquerque. Muhammad Hussain had a master degree in community planning and work for the city of Espanola. The mayor there says he was passionate about improving conditions for minorities. And the fourth victim, Mohammed Ahmadi, was shot to death in Albuquerque back in November.