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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

High-Pressure Week In D.C.: Shutdown, Default, Infrastructure Vote; New York Governor Set To Declare Emergency As Healthcare Deadline Looms; Costco Placing Purchase Limits On Toilet Paper Again. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Four teens in Pennsylvania have been charged with plotting an attack on their high school for the 25th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Two of the students have been charged as adults. Court documents show police found Molotov cocktails, drawings of pipe bombs, and a list of guns in the home of one student.

ROMANS: Federal investigators on the scene of a deadly Amtrak derailment in Montana that killed three people. Five others remain hospitalized this morning. The train was headed to Seattle from Chicago when it left the tracks Saturday near Joplin, Montana.

Deliberations resume today in the federal trial of R&B singer R. Kelly. Kelly is facing racketeering and sex trafficking charges. If convicted -- if convicted, he faces a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.

JARRETT: All right, a critical week in Washington -- so much on the line. Huge implications for basically everyone.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a vote on a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill for Thursday. Now, that was supposed to happen today, but by extending her own deadline it gives Democrats a little wiggle room here -- a few extra days to make a deal of President Biden's separate $3.5 trillion cradle-to-grave domestic policy package.

ROMANS: Yes, that package paid for by higher taxes on rich people and companies. And we're now less than four days away from a possible government shutdown. Funding runs out very early Friday morning and Republicans are refusing to help raise the debt ceiling to help pay for programs lawmakers have already approved.

So, what happens next in this critical week ahead? Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill for us.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER (on camera): Good morning, Christine and Laura.

We are gearing up for an intense and crucial week of legislating here on Capitol Hill.

First up, a vote in the Senate on a House-passed bill to temporarily fund the government, as well as to suspend the nation's borrowing limit. Now, that bill passed on a party-line vote in the House but it is not expected to pass in the Senate today. It is expected to fail because of Republican opposition. Now, keep in mind, without congressional action the government will shut down Thursday at midnight and the nation will reach its borrowing limit sometime in mid-October.

Look, Democratic leaders have not yet outlined a plan B for what they plan to do. But based on my conversations with sources, I expect that Democratic leaders will essentially decouple those two issues. So, what they will do is put a clean government funding bill on the floor in order to keep the government funded.

Take a listen to what Republican Sen. Pat Toomey had to say about this yesterday on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER."

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): I think Republicans will offer a clean, continuing resolution that funds the government. You know, I've discovered in this -- in this place what is described as a clean bill seldom is actually a clean bill. But the gist of your argument -- the gist of your question about whether Republicans would support a clean continuation of funding -- the answer is there'd be a lot of Republican votes for that.

ZANONA (on camera): So, it's clear here that Democratic leaders do not want a government shutdown. They will do everything they can to prevent that from happening because, of course, that would hamstring their domestic priorities. But, at the same time, it does not solve the answer of the debt limit. They will have to confront that sometime in mid-October.

And all of this is just a reminder that Congress still has to do basic functions of government, let alone tackle some of these other sweeping domestic priorities -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: Melanie, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: All right -- appreciate her laying it all out. It's a lot to digest.

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: OK, it's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in someone who can help us digest it all -- CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. John, good morning. Appreciate you getting up with us.

So much at play here. Walk us through just process, first. What's the state of play? What are you looking for?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it appears that Democrats made a significant amount of progress over the weekend trying to negotiate a -- that larger economic package that we're calling the reconciliation bill because of the budget procedure they're using to pass it. That enabled Pelosi to put off that infrastructure vote until Thursday. They're going to -- they're going to bring up the bill on Monday and vote on it Thursday.

And it looks as if Democrats are on track to passing both parts of President Biden's economic agenda, that's a big deal. You're talking about more than $500 billion over 10 years of new infrastructure -- roads, bridges, broadband -- and then some combination of the domestic programs that he's proposed that he calls -- President Biden calls Build Back Better. Child tax credits, childcare subsidies, community college subsidies, action on climate change, healthcare subsidies.

Don't know what is going to stay in and out of the final package because the $3.5 trillion is going to be cut down some. But it does appear that they're on track to passing both, and that's a significant turnaround for President Biden who has gone through a rough couple of months.


ROMANS: You know -- and John, Laura and I keep saying that this week, in particular -- I mean, every single family -- what happens this week will affect every single family, from the roads you drive on, the maintenance of your car, whether you have quality childcare, whether you have pre-K.


ROMANS: I mean, it's a really sweeping agenda. And Republicans have tied --


ROMANS: -- their opposition to that -- to the debt ceiling, refusing to pay for what Congress has already spent in opposition to how Biden wants to remake the American economy tilted toward families and workers and paid for by -- with companies and rich people.

How dangerous is this trifling with the debt ceiling?

HARWOOD: Well, it's very dangerous. Republicans are playing a political game. They're trying to exact the political price from Democrats for paying the nation's bills. And if they manage to prevent the debt limit from being raised by withholding their support and Democrats end up, for timing reasons or other logistical reasons, not being able to do it, that's going to generate a financial crisis -- trigger markets, downgrade the nation's debt which is what, of course, happened in 2011.

The Senate's going to vote, as Melanie said in her piece -- is going to vote down the debt limit plus spending extension that is going to be voted on in the Senate today. There's not going to be a government shutdown. That's going to be avoided.

The real question is how do they get out of the debt limit box. Some Democrats want to continue pressing Republicans and force Republicans to take responsibility for this to the point in which Republicans say uncle, and say all right, I will -- we will not crash the world's economy. Others say no, let's just drop back, be safe, go through -- jump through the logistical hoops we have to raise it on our own.

I'm not sure what -- which of those two is going to take place but it is pretty likely I think -- and I think markets are expecting it -- that the debt limit will be raised.


HARWOOD: We just don't know how exactly we're going to get there and when.

JARRETT: Yes, yes. Exactly how we will get there remains to be seen. But as Christine always says, this sort of trifling -- this brinksmanship for the sake of --

ROMANS: Dangerous.

JARRETT: -- partisanship -- if you have an accidental default --

ROMANS: Even a short accidental default.

JARRETT: -- it's -- right. Massive implications.

ROMANS: It's just not good.

JARRETT: While we have you, we also want to ask you John about Congresswoman Liz Cheney. She was on "60 MINUTES" last night. She now says she was wrong to vote against gay marriage back in 2013. Her sister, of course, is gay. Listen to this.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I was wrong. I love my sister very much, I love her family very much, and I was wrong. It's a -- it's a very personal issue and very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right and my sister and I have had that conversation.

This is an issue that we have to recognize as human beings that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state.

We were at an event a few nights ago and there was a young woman who said she doesn't feel safe sometimes because she's transgender. And nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody.


JARRETT: She obviously feels pretty deeply. You can see the emotion there on her face, John. Why do you think she's speaking out against this now? HARWOOD: Well, I think there are a couple of things at play, Laura. One is the very direct close personal family dynamics that she mentioned. The second is any politician grows -- changes over time, especially on social issues like this that have moved so rapidly through the country and overtaken previous attitudes, but it's slower to happen in some of the more conservative places.

And I think the final thing is now that she has taken on Donald Trump and he's trying to unleash his political forces against her, she's looking around and who are my allies. Do I need to play it safe with a conservative congressional district in Wyoming or am I able to come out and do this?

So, I think she's a little bit liberated by the fight that she's in with President Trump, as well as the heartstrings tug of family members and watching this issue evolve, herself.

JARRETT: All right, John Harwood. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate you getting up with us.

ROMANS: Yes, he's going to have to eat his Wheaties all week.

HARWOOD: You bet.

ROMANS: You've got a lot of work to do.

JARRETT: You, too.

ROMANS: Yes, I know. It's going to be a big week. All right, thanks, John.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world to start the trading week, a mixed performance in Asia, and Europe has opened slightly here. Frankfurt up after that election results just about -- just less than one percent. There are -- stock index futures at this hour in the U.S. -- they are trading mixed as well.

Look, there are four trading days left to go in September in what has been a volatile month. There's a pandemic, inflation, a showdown over the debt limit. And in China, the potential implosion of that big real estate firm, Evergrande. Last Monday, stocks suffered their worst sell-off in months, but then bounced back later in the week.


Also, on the mood here, the Federal Reserve will soon begin pulling back its emergency COVID stimulus. And, as you know, this week, a full docket in D.C.

No more free delivery at Whole Foods. Starting next month, Amazon Prime members will be charged $9.95 for every Whole Food delivery order. Whole Foods said the new fee is meant to help cover operating costs so they don't have to raise grocery prices.

The change comes as Americans are paying more for food. Grocery prices rose three percent over the past year. Certain perks like free one- hour grocery pickup will still be free for Prime members. The $10.00 fee goes into effect October 25th.


Scene from "Dear Evan Hansen."


ROMANS: It was a Broadway smash but "Dear Evan Hansen" failed to capture the same spark in the theaters. The film, starring Ben Platt, brought in just $7.5 million at the box office over the weekend.

A couple of factors here. Of course, the movie industry is still recovering from the pandemic and the film, itself, was widely panned by critics. Movie musicals are hit or miss at the box office. Two thousand eight's "Mamma Mia!" had $27 million in its opening weekend, while this summer's "In the Heights" only saw $11 million.

JARRETT: It has been so long since I went to the movies, as we have talked about. I'm much more into streaming right now.

ROMANS: You have a little -- your kid is too little to be going to the movies.


We'll be right back.



ROMANS: New York's governor says she is ready to call in the National Guard -- not for a hurricane. Instead, to cover serious staff shortages at hospitals.

A vaccine mandate kicks in today. About 84 percent of all hospital employees in the state are fully vaccinated, yet tens of thousands of healthcare workers still aren't. And a vaccine mandate for New York City teachers also set to take effect today. It's now on temporary hold.

CNN's Alison Kosik has more for us.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Christine and Laura.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says she's ready to declare a state of emergency, if needed, to prevent staff shortages caused by healthcare workers who don't get their COVID-19 vaccine before the state's vaccine mandate, which begins today. Among what the state of emergency will allow -- healthcare professionals from other states or countries, recent graduates, and retired professionals to practice in New York. Also in New York, a federal appeals court has issued an injunction

against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for New York City educators that's set to go into effect Monday at midnight. That injunction blocks enforcement of the mandate while the case goes to a three-judge circuit court panel for review.

The mandate requires all New York City Department of Education employees to provide proof they've got at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by todays' midnight deadline.

The motion is on the appellate calendar for Wednesday -- Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: Alison Kosik, thank you for that.

Some signs of improvement on the state of the pandemic here in the United States. There are still about 2,000 deaths per day -- now that is staggering -- but there are indications that may have peaked. Hospitalizations are at their lowest in six weeks.

And the former head of the FDA says we are starting to put the Delta variant behind us.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FDA: I think the big question mark is whether the northeast is going to see its own surge of infection. There's a presumption that because it has high vaccination rates and high prior exposure from previous waves of infection that it's somewhat impervious to a big wave of infection.

I think that you're still going to see a wave of infections sweep across the northeast as kids go back to school and they become sources of community spread, and people return to work. The weather gets cold and people move indoors.

But I think by Thanksgiving, you'll have seen this move its way through the country.


ROMANS: The CEO of Pfizer says within days, the company will ask the FDA for authorization to give the vaccine to children ages five to 11. If approved, that will hopefully keep more kids in classrooms this year.

But another problem could get in the way. In Connecticut, hundreds of bus drivers may not show up for work when vaccine mandates begin today. Firefighters in McKeesport, Pennsylvania are volunteering to drive kids to school due to the bus driver shortage there.

JARRETT: And get this. In Minnesota, the superintendent of Saint Francis Schools got her own bus license to help out.


BETH GIESE, SUPERINTENDENT, SAINT FRANCIS SCHOOLS: I thought this was something really small that I could do. I could give you hundreds of examples of people in education, right now, stepping up to the plate. I can't have kids that don't have a ride home or a ride to school. There is nothing worse than making that call and saying we can't come get your children today.


JARRETT: And did you go to Costco this weekend? You might have seen a lot of people stocking up to the max. Costco is, once again, capping purchases on some key items here, like toilet paper, bottled water, and cleaning supplies. Demand is high right now and supply is low.

ROMANS: And sometimes that's a self-fulfilling thing. People hear about the limits, then they go and they buy to the max.

JARRETT: Buy everything up.

ROMANS: Laura, that's because the global supply chain is still badly tangled and delays are actually getting worse. Cargo piling up at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest ports in the nation. Forty percent of all containerized cargo entering the U.S. move through those ports every year. And delays, up to three weeks long.

Last week, officials at the Port of Long Beach said they try to work 24/7, Monday through Thursday, at least, to help ease delays. At the same time, there aren't enough truckers and warehouse workers to move the goods. Supply chain headaches mean longer delays, limited supply, and higher prices for consumers.

Adidas, Crocs, and Hasbro have already warned about disruptions. Nike says it doesn't have enough sneakers. And the price of artificial Christmas trees has skyrocketed.

JARRETT: I'm glad I invested in a fake tree last year.

All right, Aaron Rodgers leads the Packers to a stunning last-second win over the 49ers on "SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL."

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.



You know, down one at your own 25-yard line, 37 seconds left, no timeouts. Chances are you're not going to win that game unless you are Aaron Rodgers because he did it again. Rodgers is going to find Davante Adams right here. Good for 25 yards. Packers run up the field and spike it -- 20 seconds left.

After an incompletion, Rodgers then finds Adams again, this time for 17 yards. They run up and spike it with three seconds left. Rodgers is (INAUDIBLE). Mason Crosby then comes out and nails a 51-yarder as Rodgers and the Packers stun the 49ers 30 to 28.

We also had some high drama in Detroit. Baltimore down one, final seconds. Instead of a hail Mary they bring out Justin Tucker to go an NFL record 66-yard field goal. It bounces off the crossbar and goes in. Tucker's teammates mob him. Lions just stunned.

Tucker was the hero, and he was pumped the record-setting kick won his team the game.


JUSTIN TUCKER, KICKER, BALTIMORE RAVENS: As soon as it left my foot, I knew it was going to have a chance. But I was short from 65 in pre- game both ways. For whatever reason, I just couldn't -- I just like couldn't get the ball to just go. And thankfully, we found an -- we found an extra yard and a half that I didn't have three hours before and I'm grateful for that.


SCHOLES: All right.

We also saw the longest touchdown in NFL history yesterday. Cardinals trying to kick a 68-yard field goal before halftime. It was well short and fielded by the Jaguars' Jamal Agnew. And he would break some tackles and take it back 109 yards for the touchdown. You can't score any longer than that. The Cardinals, however -- they would go on to win that game 31 to 19.

Tom Brady playing in his first game ever in Los Angeles yesterday against the Rams, but it would be Matt Stafford starring in this one. He threw for four touchdowns. And L.A. will remain undefeated, winning 34 to 24.

The first loss for the Bucs since last November. Brady now going to make his much-anticipated return to New England on Sunday to face the Patriots.

The Dolphins hoping to get lucky in Vegas yesterday. Jacoby Brissett scoring for Miami on the final play in the fourth quarter. And after a two-point conversion, the game would go to overtime. But, Derek Carr able to lead the Raiders on two scoring drives in the extra period. Raiders win 31-28. They're now 3-0 for the first time since 2002.

All right, in golf, the U.S. celebrating a dominant wire-to-wire win in the Ryder Cup. They won 19 to nine -- biggest blowout the tournament has seen since it went to its current format back in 1979.

Everyone was feeling so good about the win. Rivals Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau there, even sharing a nice hug. How about that?

All right. And finally, to baseball. Red Sox up a run in the eighth against the Yankees. Aaron Judge coming through with an RBI double to left. Two runs going to come in to score to give New York the lead.

The next batter is Giancarlo Stanton, and look at that. Two-run shot that goes out of Fenway Park. Then three homers in the series -- the first Yankee ever to drive in 10 runs in a series at Fenway. The Yankees win 6-3.

They now have a one-game lead over the Red Sox for that top American League wildcard spot. The Blue Jays one back of the Red Sox for the second one, guys.

And I'll tell you what -- it is going to be one exciting final week of the baseball season. Yankees playing the Blue Jays in a series starting tomorrow. It's going to be fun to watch.

ROMANS: You know, a lot of screaming at my house yesterday. What was most impressive? That record field goal or that home run by Stanton?

SCHOLES: Oh my God. I mean, Stanton has a lot of impressive home runs.

I've got to go with the field goal, though, guys because 66 yards and he had just enough. The fact that it bounced off the crossbar, went up in the air, and it went over added even more drama to it. So, you've got to go with that field goal. I mean, sometimes they try these field goals like we see before halftime.


SCHOLES: To do it to win a game and the way they did it, just so awesome.

JARRETT: Well -- and he was --


JARRETT: -- so humble about it. He said he couldn't even get it done in the pre-game. It was -- he was so -- he was clearly so happy about it.

SCHOLES: And that's even cool, right, that he said --


SCHOLES: -- couldn't make 65, and then he hit 66 --


SCHOLES: -- in the -- in the game to win it.

ROMANS: Oh, there's a lot -- a lot of good sports yesterday. Thanks for wrapping up for us. Nice to see you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: Thanks, Andy.

ROMANS: All right.

The FBI looking for Brian Laundrie's DNA. What that means for the Gabby Petito investigation. And history will be made one way or another this week in Washington with the president's agenda on the line.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: One way or another --


JARRETT: -- is the key phrase there.

I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman on this new day.

And the manhunt for the fiance of Gabby Petito is entering its third week as the FBI pays another visit to Brian Laundrie's home in Florida.

It's a critical week as well on Capitol Hill. Can Congress find a way to advance President Biden's agenda while keeping the government from shutting down?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump returns to the rally stage blasting Republican leaders in Georgia and offering some surprising praise for one prominent Democrat.

And, teenagers arrested in a chilling plot planned for the 25th anniversary of Columbine.