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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Congress Stalled On Four Crucial Bills As Deadlines Loom; China's Growing Power Crunch Threatens More Global Supply Chaos; LeBron James Confirms He Has Received COVID-19 Vaccine. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 29, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett. It's 30 minutes past the hour and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

Chaos on Capitol Hill. Progressives furious over a plan to separate the hard infrastructure plan and the social safety net plan before a planned vote tomorrow. Meantime, the government is on the verge of a shutdown unless there's a funding bill, and there is no agreement on lifting the debt ceiling to avoid a government default. More on all of this ahead.

ROMANS: A rare show of bipartisanship. The House voting overwhelmingly in favor of the Equal Act. The bill would eliminate sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine that have disproportionately imprisoned Black Americans. The measure now goes before the Senate.

JARRETT: Later today, a judge in Los Angeles will take up Britney Spears' request to remove her father as conservator of her estate. The pop star's lawyer is calling for an investigation to determine whether Jamie Spears planted recording devices in his daughter's home and monitored her cell phone.

ROMANS: Lori Loughlin making a return to acting for the first time since that college admissions scandal broke in 2019. She will guest star in season two of the Hallmark T.V. series "When Hope Calls." Loughlin was released from prison last December after serving a two- month sentence in the college bribery scheme.

JARRETT: Air traffic controllers in the nation's busiest airports will begin using NASA technology to reduce flight delays and save millions of gallons of fuel. The FAA is rolling out the new software in Atlanta, New York, Washington, D.C., and 23 other airports.



ROMANS: More than 11 years after NBC pulled the plug on the original "LAW & ORDER," the Emmy-winning series is coming back for a 21st season. No announcement on cast members yet, although the producers are said to be talking to several former stars about reprising their roles.

JARRETT: No more iconic music than that dun, dun.

ROMANS: Dun, dun.

JARRETT: All right -- 48 hours, four big issues, and no clear answers here. Congress barreling towards a mid-October deadline to raise the national debt limit. The parties locked in a stalemate. Democrats want to avoid using this budget maneuver to raise it alone but there is no other clear way to get to the finish line. And the government could still shut down if no spending bill is passed by tomorrow night.

ROMANS: Yes. A lot of Washington processes sausage-making that matters to your family budget. Democrats are wrestling over decoupling that spending bill from the debt limit, and also over separating the two big economic packages -- hard and human infrastructure.

The two moderate senators who could decide the fate of all this -- they remain tightlipped. Patience, even among the Democrats, is waning with Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin over one basic question -- what is it that they even want?

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning, Christine and Laura.

Despite those two meetings that President Biden had at the White House on Tuesday with those two moderate Democratic senators who were at the center of these intense negotiations over the path forward for his agenda, there is still no clear agreement between the two sides. And they are still deeply divided over what that path forward should look like even though they are running up against some timelines, including that vote that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said they will have on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan on Thursday.

That's now something that a lot of House progressives are threatening to vote no on because they don't say that they have a firm enough commitment from Manchin, from Sinema, from those moderate Democrats on what that price tag is going to look like for the bigger reconciliation package. That's the one that's expected to be the social policy bill that also addresses climate change that Democrats have been arguing about for several months. But now, the timelines are creeping in and they're essentially becoming more intense by the hour.

And so, President Biden feeling the need to cancel his trip to Chicago today, which was expected to be a pretty brief trip on vaccines, so he can stay back in Washington and shepherd these negotiations. And whether or not that includes a trip to Capitol Hill remains to be seen.

But this is something that they are arguing about because you saw Sen. Manchin emerge from that meeting -- that 90-minute meeting that he had with President Biden at the White House -- saying they had not agreed on a topline number -- essentially, a price tag for that bigger reconciliation package. And also saying he had not made any agreements to a timeline over how this is going to proceed.


Senator Sinema returned to the Hill. She also was pretty quiet on what her talks with the White House looked like.

But this comes as you are hearing House progressives become increasingly louder about the fact that they're unhappy that they have no firm commitments on that yet.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


ROMANS: Thanks, Kaitlan.

JARRETT: Kaitlan, thank you so much.

All right, it's time for three questions in three minutes, so let's bring in CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast.


JARRETT: Someone who knows a lot about Capitol Hill sausage-making, which is, sadly, what we need right now.

OK, Jackie, so let's start with infrastructure first. We've got to take this in pieces --


JARRETT: -- and try to go slow here. On infrastructure, it seemed like the plan all along from progressives was to have some sort of leverage here.


JARRETT: That now seems to be slipping away if they go ahead with hard infrastructure before human infrastructure.

Bernie Sanders weighing in here for a lot of progressives. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We have to pass the reconciliation bill. And my fear is that if the dual-track agreement is broken and we only pass the infrastructure bill in the House, I suspect we will never get to reconciliation or that'll be significantly watered down. If the infrastructure bill is passed alone in the House, we lose whatever leverage we now have, and that would be a big mistake.


JARRETT: OK, so you heard him right there -- leverage.


JARRETT: How do they get out of this mess?

KUCINICH: That is an excellent question. I think it has to do with -- no, I think -- I think we're waiting to see the answer to that question.

But we have a story in The Daily Beast today how a lot of lawmakers are taking the kind of YOLO approach to these negotiations. It's you only live once, you only legislate once because they know that the midterms are not looking great. They might not be able to have the numbers to pass any of this come next year.

So the fact that they are -- as Bernie Sanders, we might never get to this -- that might be -- it's not only a time game, it's a numbers game that they only -- they might only have the stars aligned with the House, the Senate, and the White House for so long.

So there's a lot riding on this where you have moderates saying let's just take the "w" so we have something run on. We know we have the numbers to pass this bipartisan infrastructure bill -- let's just do it -- and progressives are not willing to give up yet. We'll have to see.

I wouldn't count Nancy Pelosi out. A lot of us -- all of us here, I think covered the Affordable Care Act and the rabbits that were pulled out of the hat at the last minutes in that particular debate. We'll have to see. Don't count Nancy Pelosi out.


KUCINICH: But man, it is -- it is going to be a tough couple of days here --

ROMANS: It really is.

KUCINICH: -- particularly, as we're looking at -- we're looking at this Thursday vote on the infrastructure bill if that's not pushed.

ROMANS: And then there's the debt ceiling, right, and we know that is --

KUCINICH: Yes. ROMANS: -- looming and incredibly important. Senate Democrats are going to need to raise it alone, I guess, if Republicans will not help. And pressuring the GOP does not seem to be working.

So how do they get that across the finish line?

KUCINICH: It's another great question. I'm sorry I'm not -- I'm not coming up with a lot of answers. One thing they don't want to --

ROMANS: You're being honest. There's deep uncertainty. I've never -- I don't remember --


ROMANS: -- so much deep uncertainty about a legislative outlook.

KUCINICH: No, it's so true, Christine, because one of the things they don't want to do is use reconciliation to do this because that's going to cost time. That'll be a very lengthy, arcane process, too, that involves the House and the Senate, and the parliamentarian, and everyone working close together. They don't want to use that process to raise the debt ceiling.

And, Mitch McConnell is trying to exact as much pound of flesh as he can from Democrats and cause as much political pain as humanly possible. And they're just kind of -- Republicans are sort of just watching Democrats toil in this and saying they'll figure it out -- they'll get it done. Whereas Democrats are saying we want your help and they're trying to use the hypocrisy and the shame tactics, and it's just not going to work.

JARRETT: You know, for a lot of folks at home, I think this may seem like a lot of process. A lot of just --


JARRETT: -- political wrangling.


JARRETT: But the infighting actually does have a direct effect on the lives of everyone, as we've tried to point out here.


JARRETT: If Congress can't get this all done -- can't actually do their jobs -- what's at stake for everyone at home?

KUCINICH: Oh, man. I mean -- so we didn't even talk about a potential government shutdown, which we're looking at if they don't pass a continuing --


KUCINICH: -- resolution to keep the government funded, which we all covered just a couple of years ago where federal workers were missing paychecks. And that has a cascading effect. The stock market tanking -- that has a cascading effect.

We're looking at a real financial crisis if this doesn't get done. You heard Janet Yellen testify to that fact just yesterday.


So, really, we're kind of all at the edge of our seats as Washington gets -- tries to get its act together, which frankly --

ROMANS: I know.

KUCINICH: -- isn't in a great position.

ROMANS: And at the core of all this really is what is the Democratic agenda, right -- which is the biggest social --


ROMANS: -- reform since LBJ's Great Society or maybe even FDR's New Deal. And Democrats say look, this is the biggest chance we've had to really --


ROMANS: -- remake the American economy tilted toward workers and families, and that's almost exactly what the Republicans say. This is the first biggest chance they've had to actually shift -- you know, they both -- they both love and hate that moniker.

JARRETT: They don't want to lose their shot.

ROMANS: Right.

Jackie Kucinich --


ROMANS: -- nice to see you -- CNN political analyst. Thanks.

JARRETT: Thanks, Jackie.

ROMANS: Also in Washington yesterday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- did you see this -- sharply criticizing the Fed chief Jerome Powell, saying she will not support his renomination.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Your record gives me grave concern. Over and over, you have acted to make our banking system less safe, and that makes you a dangerous man to head up the Fed.


ROMANS: Warren is now the highest-profile lawmaker to oppose his renomination. Powell, remember, was appointed by the former President Trump. Warren argued Powell's renomination would mean gambling the next five years with a Republican chair who has voted to deregulate Wall Street, and that deregulation raises the risk of repeating the Great Recession.

The White House has not said whether President Biden will move to renominate Powell. His term ends in February.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right, to China now where there's a growing power supply crunch triggering blackouts for households and forcing factories to cut production. This has big implications for global supply chains, which are already really stretched.

CNN's Steven Jiang live in Beijing with more.

Watching what's been happening over the past weeks and months has been fascinating. These power supply issues -- they will have implications for the global supply chain, no doubt. They're also part of President Xi's broader strategy, right, for controlling and remaking the Chinese economy.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Christine, but it's also attracting growing attention here because it's starting to affect people's daily life and livelihood with the reports of elevators and traffic lights stopped working in some cities, and skyrocketing sales of candles in many places.

This is really the result of a perfect storm. On one hand, you have soaring demand because of the country's economic recovery driven by export and industries. So a lot of power-hungry manufacturing and construction.

On the supply side, you have many power plants really generating less power than usual because of a coal shortage, thanks to soaring prices not helped by the government's import ban on Australian coal because of geopolitical tensions.

Then you have local authorities launching these political campaign- style efforts to cut energy consumption towards the end -- towards the year-end to meet the annual emissions reduction targets because President Xi Jinping has made this a political top priority.

So all those factors combined really leading to this almost unthinkable scenario of the world's emerging superpower seemingly running out of power.

As you said, it's going to put further strain on the global supply chain, already really facing a shipping crisis. So that is because a lot of factories making everything from gadgets to clothes, being halt -- being forced to halt production several days a week. So that is potentially going to -- going to translate into a shortage

of consumer goods in the U.S. So if you're looking for an iPhone 13 for Christmas, you may be in for a disappointment, Christine.

ROMANS: I think Christmas shopping lists -- we can draw a direct line from what's happening there to Christmas shopping lists, no question.

And we know -- I've read that President Xi wants blue skies over Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, so that might be a factor here as well in terms of those targets.

He's really tightening his grip on most aspects of the Chinese economy, right, Steven, from big business to cartoons -- which kinds of cartoons are appropriate -- to video game time for children.

A new phase here I think for businesses who had thought that capitalism was going to open up China. But it seems as though the communist regime is really using business to clamp down.

JIANG: That's right. You hit the nail on the head here because all those recent crackdowns on a growing number of industries -- it's not just piecemeal policy changes. It's really a reflection of this paradigm shift.

You know, this phrase is sometimes overused but I think it's actually truly the case in this instance because for too long, people think of China as a capitalist society ruled by a bunch of people who happen to call themselves communists.

I think Xi Jinping's increasingly proving them wrong. He's proving to be a true believer of, at least, his brand of communism -- really going back to the Maoist roots in many ways, trying to say this is a political system -- an economic model not only fitting for China but also superior to the Western alternatives. That's why you see the party here reasserting itself to play a dominant role in every aspect of economy and society.

In the process, of course, as you say, cracking down the private sector that have been driving its innovation and growth, but also rolling back a lot of personal freedoms people have been enjoying for decades. Not just limiting children's video game playtime, which I know you may support, but also, for example, dictating how men should behave and look in public because now one of their main targets is this so-called sickly aesthetics of a feminine male.

So all of those strands (ph) put together is really a reflection of Xi Jinping trying to rewrite rules for everything in this country and trying to reshape people's minds according to his worldview -- Christine.

ROMANS: That's amazing. And about the video games -- in the democracy that is my household, I've been outvoted. We still are playing some video games during the week. I only have one vote in the five.

Steven, really nice to see you. Thank you so much. Let's talk about it again soon. Common prosperity -- that's what

they're calling it and that's what his mission is. We're going to be hearing a lot about this in the days and months ahead.

Thank you, Steven.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, you can see -- you can see a mixed performance, really, in Asia. Tokyo fell two percent there. Europe has opened up here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour -- they are also leaning higher.

You know, it was a -- it was a choppy day -- trading day for investors. There are inflation concerns, the debt ceiling that's rattling the market. The Dow closed more than 550 points lower. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also down.

Natural gas prices, by the way -- watching those. They're going to be ugly for people who heat their homes with gas. Prices have surged more than 180 percent over the past year. This also feeds into this inflation story we've been following. Natural gas hasn't been this expensive since February 2014.


Supply just can catch up with the demand, and a shortage of truck drivers only making things worse.

To pandemic burnout. The COVID crisis has been tough on workers across the board, a new study finds, especially for women. Forty-two percent of women say they were often or almost always burned out this year compared to 35 percent of men. That's according to a new report from McKinsey & Company and

More concerning, one in three women have considered leaving the workforce or scaling back their careers.

JARRETT: Data backing up what we already knew was --


JARRETT: -- true there based on just anecdotal reports.

All right. Finally, NBA superstar LeBron James confirms that he has been vaccinated against COVID-19 after initially having reservations about it.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report.

Andy, I asked you about this yesterday --


JARRETT: -- and what do you know, he responds.

SCHOLES: Yes, it was -- you did it, Laura. You got him to finally give out his answer. But, you know, this was going to be a hot topic --


SCHOLES: -- at media day yesterday for the Lakers.

And for months, LeBron was asked if he was going to get the vaccine and he had said it was a private matter. But during media day yesterday for the Lakers, the four-time MVP finally said he is vaccinated after deciding it was best for him and his family. But LeBron added he doesn't feel comfortable trying to convince anyone else to try to get it.


LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: We're talking about individuals' bodies, you know. We're not talking about something else political or racism or police brutality and things of that nature. We're talking about, like, people's bodies and well-beings.

So I don't feel like for me personally that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods. Because it would be talking about somebody that they should take this job or not. Listen, you have to do what's best for you and your family.


SCHOLES: Now, Lakers G.M. Rob Pelinka says that the team's entire roster will be fully vaccinated by the time the season tips off on October 19th. Around 90 percent of NBA players are said to be vaccinated.

The Lakers open their preseason on Sunday against the Nets.

All right, to baseball. Will the St. Louis Cardinals ever lose again? The team winning their 17th straight yesterday and, in the process, clinched the National League's second wildcard spot. Just an incredible run. And the Cardinals celebrating with a party in the clubhouse after beating the Brewers 6-2.

St. Louis will face either the Dodgers or Giants in the National League wildcard game a week from today.

All right. For months now, everyone's been talking about the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays fighting for the two American League wildcard spots. Well, look out because after nine of their last 10, the Seattle Mariners are now just a half-game behind the Red Sox for that second wildcard. Seattle beating the A's 4-2 last night.

They have the longest active postseason drought. Nineteen years since they've made it. And with the Red Sox losing to the last-place Orioles last night -- I mean, this race couldn't be any closer.

Baltimore hosts Boston again tonight, with the Blue Jays hosting the Yankees. And the Yankees catching fire again at the right time. Giancarlo

Stanton homering for a fourth-straight game last night against the Jays. Aaron Judge also leaving The Yard in the 7-2 win. The Yankees' magic number to clinch a wildcard spot is three, with five games to go.

The Yankees have not lost, winning seven in a row, since the team got a turtle. That's right -- they got a turtle. Pitcher Nestor Cortes adopted Bronxie last week and he's been roaming around the clubhouse. He seems to be a good luck charm. He didn't make the trip to Toronto, guys, and manager Aaron Boone says Bronxie is with them in spirit. And we all know baseball players are very superstitious so I imagine Bronxie is going to be around as long as the team keeps winning.

You know what? We should get an EARLY START turtle.

JARRETT: A lucky turtle.

SCHOLES: Maybe call him coffee. Just have him crawl across the desk all newscast long.


ROMANS: A turtle? I don't know about a turtle. They kind of smell a little bit, right?

JARRETT: It's kind of messy, yes. I don't -- we are going to veto you on that, Andy -- sorry.

Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

All right. Finally, a New York couple refusing to let COVID-19 travel restrictions ruin their wedding plans. Karen Mahoney and Brian Ray got married at the U.S.-Canada border so that the bride's family, who lives in Canada, could see them tie the knot.


KAREN MAHONEY, BRIDE: Our fingers, toes, everything was crossed in August -- August 21st -- and then they announced that it was closed. We knew we had to do something to have mom, dad, and Ann here.

BRIAN RAY, GROOM: To have them here to be part of it meant everything to her and to me.


JARRETT: So cool. The couple says a friend who works for the border patrol helped to arrange the makeshift ceremony.

You know, having a U.S.-Canadian alliance in my own household, I very much appreciate that story. ROMANS: I know. I love it when love prevails -- and love prevailed.

All right, 54 minutes past the hour.

The president canceled a trip to Chicago to push his transformative agenda over the finish line. We have a critical 48 hours ahead.

Thanks for joining us today. I'm Christine Romans.


JARRETT: So much at play this week. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.

ROMANS: A turtle.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

On this new day, the clock is ticking on Capitol Hill. Federal funding set to run out. And where does it land? On the backs of millions of hardworking Americans.

The manhunt continues for Brian Laundrie. What we are now learning about a camping trip he went on with his parents before he disappeared.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the nation's top --