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CNN This Morning

Biden, McCarthy to Meet as Treasury Warns U.S. Days Away from Default; Feds Tracking Border for Man Accused of Killing 5 Neighbors; Hollywood Writers Go on Strike; Dust Storm Leaves 6 Dead in 70+ Vehicle Pile-Up; DeSantis-Aligned Board to Countersue Disney. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired May 02, 2023 - 06:00   ET




Thanks for joining me this Tuesday morning. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just chatting here. Good morning, everyone. We are so glad you're with us on this Tuesday. Let's get started with "Five Things to Know" for this Tuesday, May the 2nd.

The United States could default on its debt as early as June 1 if the debt limit isn't raised or suspended. That's a new really serious warning from the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen.

Also moments ago, we did learn House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has agreed to go to the White House and meet with the president next week.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Hollywood writers now on strike. It is the first time they've done so in 15 years. It means production will be delayed on some of your favorite television shows. We'll have more for you on that.

Also, at least six people are dead after a huge pileup on I-55 in central Illinois. Police say more than 70 vehicles crashed due to low visibility from a dust storm.

HARLOW: Also new this morning, the surgeon general has a plan to tackle America's epidemic of loneliness and isolation. His six-pillar approach to build our social connections. That's ahead.

And Serena Williams, great news, pregnant with baby No. 2. The tennis superstar made the reveal during last night's Met Gala.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

So I'm so excited about the Serena Williams news.

COLLINS: I know.

HARLOW: For so many reasons. Do you remember when she went on the cover of "Vogue" with the first baby and that amazing article and how open she's been?

COLLINS: Yes. She talked about how she would love to continue playing, but she talked about, like, the physical aspect of growing their family and the toll it took on her and what women have to go through that men don't. It was a really interesting and candid perspective.

And for her to announce it like that was really sweet.

HARLOW: And for her husband through this all has been so candid, not only so supportive, but so outspoken on being a father on the role, an important role of fathers in all of this.


HARLOW: And just like I'm very excited, and she looks amazing.

COLLINS: Yes. It was a cool moment there at the Met Gala last night. Everyone is looking at everyone's outfits and what everyone's wearing. To see that was --

HARLOW: But I think she put out something like the three of us are excited to come.


HARLOW: So it's very exciting.

All right. But to very serious news, we are 30 days, less than a month away, from economic calamity if Congress does not act to raise the debt ceiling.

That is a new and dire warning from the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, in this new letter to lawmakers. She predicts the government could run out of money to pay its bills as early as June the 1st.

Yellen writes not raising the debt ceiling "would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position, and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests."

New this morning, we've just learned that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has accepted President Biden's invitation to meet at the White House on Tuesday. Both sides still refusing to budge so far in this standoff.

Speaker McCarthy is demanding spending cuts that would gut Biden's agenda. The president wants the House to speak a clean debt ceiling bill, without any conditions, just like we saw under President Trump.

Time is running out quickly. If neither side blinks, we could be looking not only at another recession but really at a global economic crisis. Millions of Americans could start losing their jobs, benefits and financial security.

Christine Romans is going to break down the real-world impact of a default in just a moment. But let's begin with the politics. Melanie, the news, yes, still a standstill, but McCarthy is going to meet with Biden.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. They have been invited, all four congressional leaders, to the White House. We've just learned that Kevin McCarthy has accepted that meeting.

And this is a really high-stakes moment. They have not sat down together, McCarthy and President Biden, since February 1. So this is quite a bit of movement. At least the most movement we've seen in a couple months between both those sides.

But despite the fact that we just learned yesterday that the United States could default on its debt as soon as June 1, both sides are actually doubling down on their positions.

Democrats are saying this just shows the urgency of passing a clean debt ceiling hike and that we don't have the luxury of time to do anything else.

And Republicans, meanwhile, some of them are questioning whether that date is even real, and they're also saying that this just shows the importance of actually sitting down and beginning negotiations. Take a listen.


SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): What they're saying is they're going to default on the debt.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So should you guys just find a middle ground between the two?

TESTER: What's the middle ground?

RAJU: A deal with some spending cuts tied to a debt ceiling increase.

TESTER: I think that's -- I think it's a big mistake. I think it's a big mistake.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): This deal has got to be between Biden and McCarthy. Or their respective teams, because it's just -- there's no other way that something gets 60 votes in the Senate.


ZANONA: Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken some early procedural steps to be able to hold a vote on a clean debt ceiling hike. They could also vote on the House-passed GOP debt ceiling bill, which includes a number of spending cuts.


But the fact that the only action so far that is potentially scheduled in the Senate are two bills that have no chance of becoming law. Really just shows how far apart the two sides are.

So all eyes are on this upcoming meeting. And remember, Congress only has a few weeks before -- that they are in session before that June 1 date. So the time is ticking. And they are nowhere closer to a deal, Poppy.

HARLOW: Well, at least they're sitting down, right? Baby steps. Melanie Zanona, thank you -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: This is not just drama that is happening in Washington on Capitol Hill. This is a default that could impact you, impact your wallet.

Our chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here.


COLLINS: And we're basically in full-blown crisis mode.


COLLINS: Because we had already reached the extraordinary measures they were using to move money around. And now we have this new warning from Yellen that, because of the tax receipts they got, what that looks like, it's June 1 is the deadline.

ROMANS: And the deadline has really passed. It was January 19th. That's when we hit the debt ceiling.


ROMANS: And so already, the Treasury Department has been moving money around, and delaying some investments so they have enough money to pay all the bills.

And what Yellen is saying is that by June 1, there won't be enough money to pay everything.

So what happens? Well, Goldman Sachs estimates about a tenth of economic activity just stops. A tenth of the economy just stops, when you're not able to borrow more money to continue to pay.

So then what happens? Well, for sure you go into a recession. That would happen pretty quickly. You would risk Social Security, Medicare. You wouldn't be able to pay all of it, right?

So you'd maybe give IOUs to senior citizens, saying you're not going to get a direct deposit in your month this month, but maybe next month we'll have some money we can pay you.

COLLINS: And a lot of these people, that's all they get every month.

ROMANS: Yes. Veterans benefits.

Think also about all of the big contractors that work for the American government who then wouldn't, maybe, be paid. So, maybe you would have furloughs for the federal government workers.

No doubt you'd have a stock market that would fall here. Borrowing costs would increase, which ironically would make it more expensive to service the debt that they're fighting about. That would be one of those outlooks.

You would have 401(k)s would plummet, a jump in unemployment. You know, look, it's all just really bad stuff.

And there's a lot of debate about whether June 1 is the number. Maybe you could go two or three more days.

This is a discussion that, in the United States of America, the fact that we're even having this discussion is completely ludicrous. These are bills we have already paid. Congress has already authorized. They're fighting about future spending.

Put the politics aside. If they don't get this figured out quickly, this is American living standards that will be smaller. I'm going to say that again. American living standards will go back in time if they can't figure this out.

COLLINS: And the thing is now they're saying, OK, next week, May 9, a week from today, we will go and sit down and meet. But they haven't even started having these discussions about what this is looking like. And it seems that letter from Yellen kind of just hardened everyone's positions.

But if you're -- if you've got a home loan, you know, what is this going to do to someone like that?

ROMANS: So something like -- we would see higher rates across the board. And we've already had higher rates. But the cost to borrow would get even more expensive because of this treasury crisis.

Treasuries are the cornerstone. Our borrowing is the cornerstone of the financial system, right?

You would see knock-on effects. The dollar would probably tumble. You'd have emerging markets that could go into crisis.

And how -- one way you can look at that is you can look at typical home loan in the United States, you'd add $130,000 to the cost of financing a typical home loan. That's just one sort of real-world example. All of them are very bad examples.

And we lived through this in 2011. They even raised the debt ceiling in 2011 after going right to the wire, and still we lost our credit rating, and still stock markets fell. And still, we added billions of dollars to the cost of financing our debt.

COLLINS: Just being on the brink itself. It says something that, as McCarthy is in Israel, this is, like, the main thing he is being asked about.


COLLINS: Real impacts. Christine Romans will be tracking all of them here this morning. Of course, they're very concerning.

Also later this hour, we're going to be joined in studio by California Congressman Ro Khanna. What he thinks could and should be done soon to avoid a default.

HARLOW: And new overnight, a Texas sheriff's office released this wanted poster for the man suspected of killing five people, including a little boy.

Hundreds of officers and agents are looking for Francisco Oropesa. They say he's armed, dangerous and on the run. He's accused of opening fire on his neighbors after a father asked him to stop shooting his gun at night in his front yard, because his baby was trying to sleep.

A law enforcement source tells CNN officers are on the lookout near the Southern border in case he tries to escape to Mexico. He is a Mexican national. He has been deported four times after entering the United States illegally.

Ed Lavandera is following this story again for us this morning in Cleveland, Texas. I mean, Ed, that was a really stunning development in the last 24 hours. That four times over, like, almost two decades they have deported him, and he has come back.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And it's the kind of details, Poppy, that can complicate investigations like this, because investigators here know that the very likelihood of depending on undocumented immigrants here in the United States could be the very segment of people that help them also capture this suspect.


So, clearly, I think investigators behind the scenes are interested in keeping those lines of communication. There's obviously a great deal of nervousness among that population in the U.S. about coming forward and -- and offering information to law enforcement. So that's one of those undercurrents that's playing in this story.

But so far, this has been a slow-moving investigation in terms of being able to find this suspect. It's now been more than 72 hours since Francisco Oropesa is suspected of entering the house you see behind me and killing five people in an argument that erupted here on Friday night.

So, it's not exactly clear where this suspect might be. Investigators were very quiet about what has been unfolding. They dis not speak with reporters yesterday.

They -- the last time we spoke officially with investigators here, Poppy, they said, you know, that they believe the suspect could be anywhere.

So it's not exactly clear if he's still in the area and hasn't been able to get away. Or, as you mentioned, the alerts going out between here and the U.S. Southern border because this suspect is a Mexican national. So there is that concern that he might try to slip back South of the border --


LAVANDERA: -- in hopes of being able to escape the law here. But we'll see how this plays out in the coming days.

HARLOW: Wow. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

COLLINS: Also new overnight. We're tracking this. Hollywood writers headed for the picket line.

They are on strike for the first time in 15 years, saying they're not being paid fairly for their work.

The board of directors for the Writer's Guild of America tweeted that they voted unanimously to call a strike, effective this morning. The walk-out means that some of your favorite TV shows could come to a grinding halt, including late-night television, as they're expected to start airing reruns tonight.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Everybody including myself hopes both sides reach a deal. But I also think that the writer's demands are not unreasonable.

I'm a member of the guild. I support collective bargaining. This nation owes so much to unions. They're the reason -- [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]. Unions -- this is true. Unions are the reason we have weekends. And by extension, why we have TGI Fridays.


COLLINS: We're seeing a lot of the late-night hosts make jokes. Our CNN business and politics correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich is live outside Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan. That is where Stephen Colbert, of course, does his late-night show.

Vanessa, I mean, we've been talking about this, and you're seeing this is pitting these TV and screen writers against the major studios. What are the major sticking points that led to this strike?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, it's going to be re-runs of late-night TV. This is going to impact soap operas. This is going to impact "Saturday Night Live." It's going to impact the production of TV shows and movies.

But the Writer's Guild of America says that the proposal that was offered by the studios was wholly insufficient.

Now the studios saying that they offered a very aggressive compensation package. They increased residuals on streaming, which was a key sticking point, but ultimately the studio said they could not budge anymore because of the requests from the Writers Guild to increase the size of the writer's room and commit writers to production for a certain period of time, whether or not the writers were needed on that production.

So, ultimately no deal last night. That's why we're going to see 11,000 writers strike today. Later today, we should see some people on the picket lines with signs.

But the studios, who are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, are streamers and media companies, like Disney, Apple, Amazon, including CNN's parent company Warner Brothers Discovery.

And these companies have had to make -- make cost-cutting measures recently. They've also gone through layoffs.

But on the other hand, you have the writers who say that they can't support themselves on writing alone because of this massive shift from broadcast to streaming, especially over the pandemic.

The last strike we saw was in 2007. That lasted 100 days. And the economic impact was aggressive. We saw about $2 billion in economic losses over the course of those 100 days.

Adjusted for inflation, Kaitlan, that's about 3 billion today.

You know, we'll see how this plays out. It could be a couple days. It could stretch months. It's unclear. But today, a strike is happening -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. And of course, if it stretches months, it goes into the production of the shows that everyone loves to watch. Not just late- night, which we expect it to affect immediately.

Vanessa Yurkevich, keep us updated as you're watching the strike start today. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Also ahead, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a new death penalty bill into law that could set up a Supreme Court showdown.


COLLINS: We'll also take you live to Illinois, where at least six people are dead after a huge, fiery pileup on the interstate, involving more than 70 cars and trucks. What led to this, next.


HARLOW: This morning at least six people are dead, 37 are injured after a rare and blinding dust storm caused a 72-car pileup along a major highway in central Illinois.

Authorities say it was difficult to even rescue people from their vehicles. Some were engulfed in flames.

Our Adrienne Broaddus is live there with more. Adrienne, good morning to you. Terrible. Seventy-two-car pileup. We see them trying to clean up behind you, and six people dead this morning. ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The cleanup continued throughout

the night, Poppy. And investigators are saying excessive winds, mixed with loose soil from nearby farmland, caused those blinding conditions.


BROADDUS (voice-over): A deadly dust storm. Causing a massive wreck on a major highway in central Illinois Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds like due to the low visibility, the high winds, everything. Everything just came together unfortunately in this particular stretch of I-55. And it was -- my heart goes out to them.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Six people were killed, including 88-year-old Shirley Harper from Franklin, Wisconsin. That's according to the Illinois state police.

At least 37 people were sent to the hospital with injuries, ranging from minor to life-threatening. Their ages span from 2 years old to 80, according to state police.

FRANK HORRELL, TRAVELER: I've never seen so many fire engines, police cars and ambulances. The smoke was just incredible, blowing over for a long time.

BROADDUS (voice-over): More than 70 vehicles crashed on a two-mile stretch of I-55 when 45 mile-per-hour winds swept through nearby farms and fields, picking up dirt, soil and other debris, blinding drivers.

One driver described the scene to local affiliate KSDK, saying the crashes happened one by one, all around them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The closer we approached it, the visibility just continually got worse. And then all of a sudden it was just a complete blackout. Air bags were deploying all around us.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Another traveler driving in the area at the time described the conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You couldn't see -- like somebody put a brown blanket in front of your windshield. You couldn't see nothing, you know.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Multiple commercial vehicles and tractor trailers were involved in the pileup, including two semi-trucks that caught fire.

KEVIN SCHOTT, DIRECTOR, MONTGOMERY COUNTY EMA: We had multiple vehicles involved. Some were on fire. So we had vehicle fires to extinguish. We had to search every vehicle, whether they were involved in the accident or just pulled over to check for -- for injuries.


BROADDUS (on camera): And Poppy, all of the cars that were piled up here are now gone. As you can see behind me, they're still cleaning up the remnants left behind and the debris.

Meanwhile, this portion of 55 is still shut down in both directions -- Poppy.

HARLOW: A real tragedy. Adrienne, we appreciate the reporting there this morning. Thank you.

COLLINS: In just a couple of hours, two women are expected to take the stand in E. Jean Carroll's battery and defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump. What to expect today after days of tough cross-examination.




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): All they're trying to do is uphold the will of the people in terms of what we did to make sure that nobody's governing themselves as a major corporation.


COLLINS: That's Florida Governor Ron DeSantis again, talking about a new lawsuit against Disney. The board that he appointed to oversee Disney's special tax district in Florida has voted to countersue the company yesterday.

The fight comes after Disney filed its own lawsuit against the board, which voted last week to nullify Disney's past agreements with the board.

These dueling suits are just the latest moves in this ongoing feud between the Republican governor and Disney in his home state. CNN's Steve Contorno joins us live from Florida.

Steve, of course, we're seeing all this play out, the lawsuits, the countersuits. It's easy to kind of get lost in the details of all of this. But what is the big picture here of what is happening now between DeSantis and Disney?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, this has been going on for more than a year now. In fact, this started in response to a bill that DeSantis signed that restricts the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, something opponents have called the "Don't Say Gay Bill."

And now we have gotten to this point where you have Disney, one of the largest companies in the state, with its iconic theme parks that have drawn millions of visitors to the state each year, now suing DeSantis and this board, while the board yesterday voting to sue Disney.

And let's go back to sort of how we got here, because it's really interesting. You know, DeSantis signed this bill into law. Disney responded with a rather short statement, just saying, Look, we oppose this. We're going to work with lawmakers and opponents to overturn it.

That's when DeSantis decided to target Disney's special taxing district. This is a district that was created more than half a century ago when Central Florida was just swampland, and Disney had bought it and said, We want to build a theme park here.

The state said sure. There's nothing here. Here's a government we'll create so that you guys can control and build all the infrastructure needed to make your theme parks operate.

And for most of the last half century, that agreement has stood and allowed Disney to grow into this booming tourist attraction and the state to become a tourism leader.

But DeSantis decided to put his own people in charge of that board as retaliation for Disney speaking out. Disney snuck in at the last minute and sort of stripped the power from that board before DeSantis's members were sat. And now here we are with these lawsuits that have all resulted from this.

COLLINS: And as we're also tracking that, yesterday, the governor signed a bill that would make child rapists eligible for the death penalty. Basically setting him up for a clash with the Supreme Court, after they ruled in 2008 that a Louisiana law that would make a child rapist eligible for the death penalty was unconstitutional.

What happens next here? It still goes into effect despite that?

CONTORNO: Yes, I think we're going to see a legal battle here. We're also seeing another legal battle over another death penalty bill he signed this year. This one would lower the threshold for a jury to convict someone and send them to the death -- to Death Row from -- from 12 to 8. And that would be the lowest threshold in the entire country.

Most states that have a death penalty require someone to -- require a unanimous jury. But Florida would lower that to 8.

And Florida, you know, as he does this, has a pretty sordid history with the death penalty. It has -- lead the country in number of people on death row who have been wrongfully accused and exonerated.

So that's really one of the problems that people see with this legislation and why they're concerned that DeSantis has signed it.

COLLINS: Yes, and he said he's prepared for it to go before the Supreme Court again for consideration.

Steve Contorno, thank you.

HARLOW: That's going to be really interesting, because it would go against the 1977 precedent, right, that said that that was excessive punishment. And what he just mentioned, a more recent decision, Louisiana v. -- Kennedy v. Louisiana.

COLLINS: That's right. HARLOW: But it's going to be one to watch, for sure.