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House to Vote on Inflation Reduction Act; CDC Ends Some Recommendations; Vaccine Maker Has Reservations about Dose Strategy; Warnings over Ukrainian Nuclear Plant; Anne Heche Not Expected to Survive. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this hour, the House is back in session, set to vote on a bill later today that many believed had no chance of passing either chamber of Congress until, well, just a few weeks ago. I'm about -- talking about the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act, a legislative priority for President Biden and the Democrats. It tackles climate change, healthcare, and spending.

Our CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill.

I suppose miracles happen, even if they come in a much smaller package than originally wished for by Democrats.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. And you're exactly correct, this was just something that a lot of people did not see happening, especially on this level. It is much smaller than what they had originally begun talking about roughly, I don't know, a year ago even, months and months and months ago, but it is bigger than what they thought they would get when talks broke down with Senator Joe Manchin earlier this summer.

So, here's how it's going to play out today.

The House is coming back for one day only. They are technically in recess. This is the one thing on their agenda. We expect them to begin debating the bill around 11:00 a.m. and then things are going to flow from there. There's going to be about three hours of debate, and then they will do final passage on this bill.

All indications, all expectations are that it goes very smoothly on the Democratic side. They have got Democrats all lined up. It's not going to be a problem in terms of getting this over the finish line. It is possible that the Republicans do some procedural things to kind of muck things up and slow it down. But, ultimately, Democrats have the votes is what we've been told and this will then pass and go to President Biden's desk.

And this is a giant win for Democrats, for President Biden, especially, as I mentioned, lawmakers on recess, they can now go home. These lawmakers who are running for re-election, they can talk about what has been passed. And that was something they were very keen to do. They wanted to have things to sell to their constituents.

And what's in this, well, it's the biggest investment ever in climate change. Some $369 billion in climate provisions in there.


They also have a number of healthcare provisions, including extending those Affordable Care Act subsidies by another three years, allowing for the first time Medicare to negotiate some drug prices and capping those out of pocket Medicare expenses at $2,000.

And there's also some tax initiatives in here to pay for all of that. Namely a corporate minimum tax of 15 percent that's going to go towards some of the biggest corporations in the country.

But, again, Poppy, by the time this day ends, it appears Democrats are going to have a big victory heading into this August recess.

HARLOW: For sure. Jessica Dean, on The Hill, thanks very much.

We're going to be joined next hour by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to talk about this.

In a major shift overnight, the CDC now is easing Covid-19 guidelines, saying the nation should move away from restrictive measures like quarantines and social distancing, and focus more on reducing severe illness from Covid-19.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me again today.

So, I was standing in line at the pharmacy last night getting yet another prescription for my kids and I was standing on one of the blue dots, six feet away.


HARLOW: No more blue dots.

COHEN: No more blue dots. It really is kind of the end of an era.

Now, a lot of people have gotten away from a lot of these things already. But it is a -- sort of a milestone that the CDC is now saying you can stop some of the things that you've been doing for, you know, the better part of two and a half years.

So, let's take a look at what the CDC is getting rid of and what they're keeping. No more six feet social distancing recommendations. A lot of job openings for people to scrape those off. No more screening in most circumstances. I think schools were using that quite a bit. And they're saying you don't need to screen anymore with tests. And no more quarantine after exposure. So, if you're exposed to Covid-19, you don't need to quarantine. That went away to some extent already, but this is making it more complete. Now, let's take a look at a few things that do stay. The CDC does

actually still recommend indoor masking for most Americans in most parts of the United States, even though no one's -- very few people are really doing that anymore. Also they say if you're infected, you should isolate.

So, this is an acknowledgement really that, first of all, omicron is much milder than the previous variants, but also that so many people have immunity from vaccinations, from previous infection, or both in many cases.

HARLOW: Or getting it, right. Yes.

COHEN: So it's an acknowledgement that things have changed.

I think it's also an acknowledgement that people who are at higher risk, like those who are immune compromised, that they do need to take special measures.


COHEN: They do have instructions for that group to protect them.

HARLOW: That's right.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

HARLOW: So nice to have you in person here, and you are this week.

COHEN: Wonderful to be here.

HARLOW: Thank you, again.

Well, also staying on health news, the maker of the monkeypox vaccine is now raising concerns with the White House about the Biden administration's plan to lessen doses of the vaccine in order to stretch out limited supply. In a letter, vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic said that it has some reservations about this approach and called for further studies before changing the vaccine's strategy.

Let's go to our health reporter, Jacqueline Howard, for more.

Is this - Sanjay was reporting this week with us on this sort of - I'm going to get the medical term wrong, but post dermal or it's right under the skin.


HARLOW: Intradermal injection versus the full into the muscle.


HARLOW: Is that what this is about? HOWARD: That's exactly what this is about. You know, in that company

letter, the vaccine manufacturer's CEO said that he has reservations because we need more data on administering the vaccine using this intradermal route.

And I'll tell you a little bit about that.

So, with this new vaccine strategy from the Biden administration, the FDA authorized for the vaccine to be administered intradermally at a smaller dose. And here's the difference. Subcutaneous injections, right there in the middle, are given in the fatty layer below the skin, where intradermal injections are administered in between the skin layer, as you see there, the epidermis and dermis. And intradermal has been called dose sparing because you can use smaller doses when a vaccine is administered this way. And with monkeypox, the federal government says that a fifth of a dose can be administered intradermally.

But here's why there are some reservations. This intradermal method requires special care and technique. Here's what New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said about that.

Have a listen.


DR. ASHWIN VASAN, COMMISSIONER, NYC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE: It requires real thoughtfulness with respect to the technical issues around it, the safety issues around it, the feasibility, the training, and staffing needed to dose the vaccine reliably, the storage conditions, all the supply chain management issues around it. So those are all real things which we're wrestling with as we speak and trying to figure out the best way to potentially roll this out.


HOWARD: So, we heard there, Poppy, in New York, Dr. Vasan said that they are wrestling with this.


I've heard from other local health officials who also say they're wrestling with this. But, again, the FDA, on the federal level, stands by its decision as using this method to really stretch the vaccine supply.


HARLOW: Jacqueline Howard, thanks very much for that really important update given the limited supply of these vaccines.

Still ahead for us, a U.N. watchdog is calling for an immediate inspection of one of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine after days of strikes around the facility. We'll take you live to the ground in Ukraine, next.



HARLOW: New this morning, the United Nations nuclear watchdog group says an alarming situation is unfolding at a Russian-occupied power plant in southeastern Ukraine. So, Ukraine has accused Russia of attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again yesterday. And the United Nations is again calling for an immediate inspection of that facility due to the risk of potential radiation leaks.

Our senior international correspondent David McKenzie joins me live from Kyiv.

And, David, you have a local Russian official in occupied Ukraine suggesting the power plant may be, quote, mothballed. So, what does that mean and what is really happening there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, you can't just turn off a nuclear site or a reactor. You have to continue cooling those six reactors to stop the potential of a fallout, frankly. So you have to take that statement for what it is. But it does point to the generally very dangerous situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site to the south of where I'm standing. This vast site was occupied by the Russians back in March. And you've had accusations and counteraccusations about artillery and rocket strikes on the site, which is very alarming to everyone here in Ukraine and across the region.

You know, I want to take you to the U.N. Security Council to illustrate just how different the opposing views are on this.

Here's first the Ukrainian ambassador.


SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Ukrainian AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Dear colleagues, none of us can stop the wind if it carries radiation. But together we are capable of stopping a terrorist state.


MCKENZIE: And if you look at the Russian ambassador to the security council, they've been saying pretty much the same thing, but blaming the Ukrainians.


VASSILY NEBENZIA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS (through translator): We've repeatedly warned our western colleagues that if they didn't talk some sense into the Kyiv regime, then it would take the most monstrous and irrational steps.


MCKENZIE: Well, what we know is the Russian side has been spinning and outright lying several times, of course, during this conflict about their aims and what's happening on the ground, Poppy. But it is very murky as to who's responsible for this shelling near the site. What is perhaps more important is that it happened at all.

The IAEA is saying there's no immediate danger, in their words, of an accident or a fallout at this time, but that could change at any moment.

What people are really asking for, including the U.S. government, is for a demilitarized zone around that large site. But that would be very difficult because it's right on the front lines of Ukrainian and Russians to the north there are Ukrainian positions, right across the river there are Ukrainian positions. And for weeks now the Russians have been, if not directed from inside that complex, certainly, according to officials, very close to it, shelling Ukrainian positions. So, right now it continues to be a very dangerous scenario indeed.


HARLOW: David McKenzie, thank you for that critical update from Kyiv.

Well, still ahead, actress Anne Heche's family gives a heart breaking update after the fiery car crash. We'll have the latest on her condition ahead.



HARLOW: We do have some sad news to share with you about actress Anne Heche. Her family has announced she is not expected to survive the injuries that she sustained after she crashed her car into a home in Los Angeles a week ago.

Our Chloe Melas has been following this story very closely.

Her family and friends sharing this statement as an update.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes, so they're staying that she's still in a coma and that she suffered an anoxic (ph) brain injury. So she didn't have enough oxygen to her brain. And, you know, we do know that it took about 30 minutes to get her out of the car. And it took over 50 firefighters at the scene of the fiery blaze when her car barreled into that woman's home. And they also say in the statement that they are keeping her alive to examine her organs to see which ones are viable to be donated because it was always her wish to be an organ donor.

So, I've reached out to her representatives for comment this morning. I haven't heard anything back. But it is, obviously, a very touch-and- go situation right now.

HARLOW: And she's a mother, right? Two children.

MELAS: She's the mother of two sons. You know, and this all comes just hours after the LAPD told CNN that they upgraded the investigation, Poppy, from a misdemeanor DUI to a felony DUI. This is all based on a blood draw. When she went to the hospital on Friday, they took her blood to see perhaps if there was anything in her system that led to this crash. Remember, she was going over 90 miles an hour. It was, you know, in the morning, the middle of the day. And they said that there were narcotics and substances in her system, but that they also don't know -- they need to look more into this to see, what did the hospital give her, right, to kind of determine that.

HARLOW: Right.

MELAS: So, again, she hasn't been charged with anything, but that was news that broke right before the statement from her family.

HARLOW: It's a real tragedy.

Chloe, thank you for the update very much.

Well, still ahead, extraordinary new details on why the DOJ carried out that search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago property on Monday, and what we could see in the search warrant if a judge agrees to unseal it today.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. So glad you're with me. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim has today off.

Just remarkable developments overnight after an extraordinary public statement from Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday. And right now former President Trump's legal team has about five hours to decide if they will formally agree to a motion from the attorney general's office to unseal documents related to the FBI's search at his Mar-a- Lago property.

Now, overnight, the former president said in a statement that he was fine with it and encouraged the warrant to be released with the other documents. Well, the question this morning is, will his attorneys agree.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced yesterday the DOJ had moved to have those documents unsealed, which is not a normal course of action here, but it speaks to how unique this situation is.