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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Crucial Vote Planned Today, with Biden's Economic Agenda on the Line; Judge Appoints Temporary Conservator for Britney's Estate; Subpoenas Sent to 11 People Involved in "Stop the Steal" Rally. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 30, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Thursday, September 30th. Welcome to EARLY START.


Let's begin -- you're Laura Jarrett. And we are here together with a story that begins in Washington. A mad dash to salvage a key part of President Biden's economic agenda.

Democrats are furious at other Democrats, can barely reach agreement with Republicans on anything except baseball. So, last night as the nation careens toward a government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans took to the field for their annual match up. The Democrats need a closer right now in the final innings.

JARRETT: That's right. The president is capitalizing on this opportunity off the mound in the dugouts, working with lawmakers and the phones, all to shore up support for his transformative legislation.

Today what should be a home run instead could be a swing and a miss. House progressives and Senate Democrats still can't even get on the same team for Mr. Biden's larger social safety net plan, which means that bipartisan roads and bridges plan set for a floor vote today may be destined for defeat.

So, House Speaker Pelosi spent her time at the ball game last night, look at her, feverishly working her phone.


REPORTER: Is there any chance that you pull the bill tomorrow?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The plan is to bring the bill to the floor.

REPORTER: Are you worried you may not have the votes?

PELOSI: One hour at a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: One hour at a time. Progressives are fuming that the 3 1/2 trillion dollar plan for human infrastructure isn't done. So, they're threatening to sink the bipartisan bill on hard infrastructure.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): If we do have a vote, we'll vote it down and we'll continue the negotiations so that we can actually deliver the entirety of the president's agenda.


ROMANS: Now, progressives' frustration largely directed at two Senate Democrats who have not committed to a clear direction on the larger bill. One of them, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.


REPORTER: What do you say progressives -- progressives are frustrated that they don't know where you are?

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): I'm in the Senate.


ROMANS: Senator Sinema's House colleagues aren't amused.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): All we want to know is what does she want? And there is this one senator from Arizona who is stopping us from really making a difference. We can finally do something in this country for people who don't have child care, for people who can't afford college, for seniors who can't go to a dentist, and we're one senator away literally from doing that, and that's why I hope we'll be able to get this done.


JARRETT: The other senator, the hold up here is West Virginia's Joe Manchin. He says he could be open to a deal on that huge social safety net plan by the end of the year.


REPORTER: Senator, progressives feel you're not dealing in good faith. They felt there was a deal made --

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I never knew about that. Never heard about it.

REPORTER: So, you never -- you were never part of a deal that put this together?

MANCHIN: Never heard about it. Two of them are going to be together?


MANCHIN: Why do you think they worked so hard to separate them?

REPORTER: Is it possible --

MANCHIN: No, it's not possible. No, it's not possible.

REPORTER: Not possible to give any framework?

MANCHIN: What's possible is sit down and have good frank negotiations.


JARRETT: CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us live from Capitol Hill where she is covering it all.

All right. Daniella, today is the day. There's supposed to be a vote on the floor. How is this all going to play out? What's going to happen?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, there is one thing I can tell you, Laura and Christine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will never put a bill on the floor that will fail. So it's to be decided how this is going to play out today. As of now she doesn't have the votes for this bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass.

Now, again, you guys laid it out perfectly, but I do want to make clear there are two bills that were supposed to pass together in the House. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is $1.2 trillion bill that's hard infrastructure, roads, bridges, transportation funding. And then this $3.5 trillion economic bill that would expand the nation's social safety net. That the house will wrote, until Sinema and Manchin decided to, in a lot of progressives' minds, derail the whole time line.

So, this is really tricky for President Joe Biden because these are two bills he wanted to pass together. One bill that bipartisan infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate. And economic bill was supposed to pass the House and the Senate together. It would be passed using a process using budget reconciliation which means they only need Democratic votes.

So, that's the problem here. President Joe Biden needs all Democrats in the Senate to support this, which is why Sinema and Manchin have a lot of leverage. And House Speaker Pelosi can only lose three votes in the house. That is why you saw President Joe Biden last night having these conversations with members that were at this congressional baseball game.


You saw House Speaker Pelosi on the phone. There is a lot of frustration toward these two lawmakers, Sinema and Manchin, for not getting behind this bill and waiting to voice their opposition so late, even after the House wrote this bill. So that is part of it. And it's not just Democratic leaders who are

frustrated at these members. It's also other senators, other House members, progressives voicing their opposition, voicing their frustration. Take a listen to what Senator Dick Durbin said last night on our air. This is what he said on "THE SITUATION ROOM" voicing his frustration toward these two members.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I think we've shown a lot of respect to our colleagues who obviously have a different point of view when it comes to reconciliation. There's been meaningful negotiation that's gone on for weeks. The president has been involved personally. I've never seen a president engage this way since Barack Obama's days with the Affordable Care Act. So we're all in, all aboard.

Now it's time I would say for both senators, make your mark and close the deal. What is it that you want? What is your final goal? It's time to stop talking around it and speak directly to it.

Everything is tied to it. The future bipartisan infrastructure bill is tied to it. I think the future of the debt ceiling is tied to it. It is time for us to make a decision and do our job.

I would say to both of them, their point of view is different than mine, but it's been respected. It's been negotiated, and now it's time to close the deal.


DIAZ: Now, there are several things I want to make clear in this. President Joe Biden has been communicating with Manchin and Sinema many times. They have actually visited the White House several times this week. He's been on the phone with them.

This is not a new relationship he's built with them. They've been talking all year since he entered office. So he's continuing to work that relationship.

House Speaker Pelosi is also dealing with navigating relationships in her own caucus because she can only lose three votes. Parts of the problem here is that I did not mention earlier is that progressives will not support the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the House floor until there is a commitment from Manchin and Sinema on what the top line number is going to be on the economic bill because they are opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag.

So, House Speaker Pelosi is trying to navigate these relationships with progressives because she wants their vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is supposed to be on the floor today.

Again, I do want to make that point that House Speaker Pelosi is not going to put a bill on the floor that would fail. She is not going to do that. That is not how she operates. She has a lot of experience. She has a heavy hand with her caucus. It would be surprising if she did that today. So, but -- again, lots

of question marks. We know how it's going to play out. And in just a matter of hours, you know, these hallways will be filled with these lawmakers and we'll get a sense of what the day brings.

JARRETT: Lots of question marks, for sure. Bu that's the big question. Is she going to go through with this vote today or not? I mean, we know you'll be watching it all for us. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Now, about that price tag, a frenzied push for Joe Biden's legacy defining remake of the American economy, top Democrats claim the $3 trillion build back better plan isn't the spending spree his opponents deride. In fact, it won't cost a penny. They are echoing their boss who Sunday tweeted: My Build Back Better agenda costs zero dollars and add zero dollars to the national debt.

These are closing arguments meant to take the sting out of the claims that Build Back Better is a tax and spend frenzy. The president, of course, wants to reshape the economy with lower costs for child care, health care, improved home care, raising the corporate tax rate and higher taxes for rich people. On paper those tax increases and economic growth that goes along with tilting benefits to the middle class that would pay for it.

But, big but here. The spending bill is still a work in progress. Meaning there is nothing for the Congressional Budget Office to score. It's a framework. There is always a risk in Washington if you water down the tax increases, it could add to the deficit.

As the fact checkers at "PolitiFact" note, the plan could add zero dollars to the country's national debt if it does balance new spending with new revenues. I mean, new spending paid for by those taxes.

There is a reason why the so-called pay-fors are often scrutiny when talking about spending, by the way. Recall the 2017 Trump tax cuts? Its supporters promised to be paid for by the ensuing economic growth, they were not.

JARRETT: Well, in just a matter of hours, the Senate is expected to vote on a stopgap bill to keep the government open through at least early December. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announcing Republicans are on board. But if the measure doesn't pass here, guys, that means furloughs, furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers in the middle of this national health crisis.

We're talking parts of the CDC, FDA, Pentagon, even the national parks will come to a stand still if there is a shutdown. And for all the talk from lawmakers, they're not the ones who would feel the brunt of this pain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the businesses around town also rely on tourists and tourism from the skyline drive and the parkway.

[05:10:03] So definitely missing that business, it's definitely impactful. It hurts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been through that a couple times at the food bank. It's not something we want to experience again if we can avoid it.


JARRETT: According to Senator Schumer, the stopgap spending bill also includes emergency funding for national disaster relief and to help resettle Afghan refugees.

ROMANS: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is facing a conflict of interest review. The state attorney general looking into a meeting in July last year with Noem's daughter Cassidy and state labor officials. The issue. this meeting took place at the time Cassidy was applying to become a real estate appraiser for that same department, first reported by "The Associated Press". Cassidy Noem received her certification after completing some additional requirements. Governor Noem said she never asked for special treatment for her daughter and none was given.

JARRETT: Still ahead for you, a big step forward for Britney Spears towards her freedom. The judge's ruling and Spears' reaction, that's next.




MATHEW ROSENGART, BRITNEY SPEARS' ATTORNEY: I'm proud. Britney's proud. I think she's got a great future ahead of her. Her future in terms of if and when she performs again is a decision Britney and only Britney will make.


ROMANS: Wow. This morning, Britney Spears is a step closer in her fight to gain control of her life. The singer's father no longer conservator of her estate.

CNN's Chloe Melas is there in Los Angeles with more.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, a major legal victory for Britney Spears in court on Wednesday when Judge Brenda Penny moving to suspend Jamie Spears for the first time in 13 years. He is no longer the conservator of his daughter's $60 million estate.

Now, Britney Spears was not in court. We didn't hear from her virtually either, but her Attorney Mathew Rosengart, he said that he -- that Britney deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father being the conservator, that she doesn't want her father to be conservator for one more day. He also called Jamie Spears a cruel and toxic and an abusive man.

Now, Jamie Spears' attorney has maintained that Jamie loves his daughter. That everything he has done over the last decade-plus has been in her best interest. But here's the thing. Mathew Rosengart also raising this issue, that perhaps Jamie Spears filed a petition to actually terminate this conservatorship earlier this month in an effort to not have to turnover the legal documentation, the accounting that he now has to do because there is a new conservator that has been appointed by the judge.

It's a temporary conservator. His name is John Zabel. He's a certified public accountant. For now, he's going to be overseeing Britney's fortune. But there is another date on the docket where the judge will terminate this once and for all.

A lot of moving parts, but one thing is for sure, Britney has taken to Instagram to tell her fans she is on cloud nine.

Back to you.


JARRETT: All right, Chloe, thank you for that. Big day in court for her.


JARRETT: All right, a fresh batch of subpoenas from the committee investigating the insurrection. Who they want to speak with and why?



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Planners of the pro-Trump rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection now targeted by the House Committee investigating the January 6th attack.

The panel issuing nearly a dozen subpoenas. The key question here, why did organizers draw all these people to Washington in the first place?

CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill for us.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Christine, the January 6 Select Committee announcing another round of subpoenas. This time, 11 different individuals who were specifically involved in the Stop the Steal rally. That was the event that took place outside the White House that in many ways served as the prelude to the insurrection. So, this group of people, they event planners for the most part, the people that have been connected to the former President Donald Trump either through the White House or through his campaign for sometime.

Now, I caught up with one of the members of the select committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, to ask what they're hoping to learn by getting information from this group of people.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We're trying to reconstruct the entire chain of events that led to the most violent assault on the U.S. Capitol since the war of 1812, and 1814. So, it's important for us to figure out exactly what the relationships were between the official rally organizers and the White House and the violent insurrectionists who launched the violence on that day.

NOBLES: And so, one of the big things the committee is trying to zero in on is, was there some level of coordination leading up to the insurrection? And does it have any specific connection to the former President Donald Trump?

The committee has said that they will use every resource they have at their disposal to force these people to comply with their subpoenas. Remember, they have already requested subpoenas for four different individuals that were part of the Trump administration. They have yet to say whether or not those individuals are complying -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Ryan. Thank you so much for that.

A gold medal Olympic winning swimmer the latest to reach a plea deal in his role in the Capitol riot. Klete Keller stood out in the crowd wearing his Team USA jacket in the insurrection. He's pleading guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. He has agreed to cooperate with the government in the prosecution of others involved in the attack in order to have some of his charges dismissed.

JARRETT: All right. A little progress to show so far, but President Biden is sticking with his time-tested strategy. Can he get Democrats on the same page to pass two sweeping bills and save his agenda?



ROMANS: The death toll rising in a prison massacre in Ecuador. At least 116 people have been killed, 84 more in clashes between rival prison gangs that erupted Tuesday. Ecuador's president says the prison has not been entirely secured.

Authorities say several inmates were beheaded. Ecuador has declared a state of emergency across its entire prison system.

EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday -- is it Thursday?

JARRETT: I think so. It's hard to know. It's still hell week.

I'm Laura Jarrett, 29 minutes past the hour. Time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

A vote on President Biden's infrastructure bill still planned for today despite House progressives' vow to bring it down.