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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Steps Into Negotiations Over Economic Agenda Bills; U.S. Likely to Recommend Pfizer and Moderna Boosters for 40+; House to Vote on Contempt of Congress Resolution for Bannon Thursday. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 20, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Wednesday, October 20th, 5:00 a.m. in New York. Thanks for getting an early start with us. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett. Welcome to our viewers around the states and around the world.

ROMANS: All right. President Biden trying to close a sweeping bill that would reshape the economy and define his legacy. To make it happen he is ready to spend less, dropping priorities like free college and trimming child tax credits.

JARRETT: Democrats are pushing a framework for the deal by the end of the week. Lawmakers want to iron out all the details and schedule votes on these two big infrastructure bills before the president heads overseas.

One source in the meeting with progressives Tuesday called it, quote, the most forceful case I've heard him make on the need for an agreement on a specific timeline.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill following all of the twists and turns for us for weeks now.

Daniella, what's the latest?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Laura, Christine, it's really crunch time here. You can see why President Joe Biden is now part of these negotiations and, you know, controlling with a heavy hand how these negotiations are playing out.

Now, I want to talk a little about some of the developments that happened yesterday that came from the White House and House progressives during their discussions. President Joe Biden actually informed during these negotiations that the top line is looking like it's $1.9 trillion for this massive economic bill that progressives want that extend the nation's social safety net. Of course, that's bringing it down from $3.5 trillion which was the original number negotiated, and it's closer to what Senator Joe Manchin wanted. He originally proposed a $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion package. He also informed House progressives yesterday that the bill is

expected to drop the tuition-free community college which was a major White House priority. Also, he indicated that the child tax credit, which is another key Democratic priority, would likely be extended for just one additional year, much shorter than what they wanted.

According to some of the sources that talked to us, that talked to CNN. The child tax credit is also likely to be means tested, which is something Senator Joe Manchin pushed for. Now, the president also told progress I have lawmakers that they're weighing reducing the duration of paid leave from four weeks from the proposed 12 weeks.

Now, the president also said that they will keep an expansion of Medicare that includes hearing, dental and vision, which is in line with what progressives wanted.

Now, we heard from some progressives yesterday who discussed that they were optimistic about negotiations. Of course, some of these comments you are about to hear came before the $1.9 trillion top line number came out.

But take a listen to what they said.


REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): This is progress. The fact that Manchin and Sinema are finally talking about their top lines and what they can and cannot live with is a result of a progressive strategy to enact the overwhelming majority of this president's broadly popular economic provisions.

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): I think the next couple days are going to be crucial with a few of those folks over in the Senate that we just talked about. We're ready to celebrate this, what we delivered for the American people. And we want to do it as soon as we possibly can.

So we're hoping that, you know, the few holdout that are still out there. The rest of us are willing together. We want them to pick out what kind of wood they want their oar made out of and we're all together.


DIAZ: Now, still up in the air are some climate provisions that are included in the original $3.5 trillion package.

Senator Joe Manchin who is one of the key negotiators here, they have been pushing for less climate provisions because he's listening to his constituents in his state, a coal state which is West Virginia.

Democrats also just have less than two weeks to finalize these climate provisions because President Joe Biden is set to attend the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow. So, it's a time crunch. They are racing against the clock right now to finalize these things.

Meanwhile, Biden is set to visit his hometown Scranton, Pennsylvania, to push the economic bill and the bipartisan bill stalled in the House because progressives wants the economic bill finalized.

Of course, didn't mention the self-imposed deadline for October 31st to try to pass these two bills through Congress -- Laura, Christine.

ROMANS: Not to mention government has to be funded beyond December 3rd and there's --

JARRETT: Not to mention.


ROMANS: The debt ceiling. So, there's a lot -- obviously a lot going on in the nation's capital.

Daniella, nice to see you this morning. Thank you for laying it out for us. Thank you.

So, why is the climate component to the president's plan is so important? The answer is in a U.N. report, the biggest notice fossil fuel producers are on track to more than double their production beyond a key climate threshold, past 1.5 degree Celsius.


Scientists say the world will see more record-setting fires, heat waves and deadly floods just like in 2021.

JARRETT: To COVID now, CNN has learned booster shots for adults 40 and up could be available very soon. Just last month, the FDA authorized Moderna and Pfizer boosters for people 65 and older.

So why the change so soon?

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has some answers.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, U.S. health officials will likely be recommending booster shots to people starting at age 40 or possibly 50 who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Now, that's younger than the current recommendation which is age 65.

Now, these are folks who are six months past their second shot of either Pfizer or Moderna. The health officials say that new data is showing that people in their 40s or 50s are sometimes ending up in the hospital, even when they're fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna.

Right now, people under the age of 65 who got Pfizer can get a booster, but they have to be in certain categories. For example, they have to have certain medical conditions or work in a risky profession such as be a doctor or nurse.

But a source telling CNN that this will change, that anyone who got Pfizer or Moderna will be able to get a booster starting at age 40 or possibly age 50 as long as they're at least six months past their second shot -- Laura, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Elizabeth, thank you so much for that.

A possible reprieve for a Los Angeles City employees who are still unvaccinated. Hours before a mandate was set to take effect, the City Council announcing a proposal to delay that deadline to December 18th, calling it their last best and final offer. The L.A. Council said all city employees who do not get the vaccine will face termination. The LAPD's latest data shows 66 percent of its employees have received the vaccine, about 75 percent of the fire department.

JARRETT: In Chicago, 21 police officers who have not entered their vaccination status into the city's portal have been put on no-pay status. Today, there is going to be a hearing in a case filed by the Chicago Police Union against the city over its vaccine mandate.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOTM, CHICAGO: What we've seen from the fraternal order of police, particularly leadership is a lot of misinformation, a lot of half truths and frankly flat-out lies in order to induce an insurrection. And we're not having that. And so, we want to make it very, very clear that the law is on our side. We feel very confident about it.


JARRETT: Meantime, Southwest Airlines says it no longer plans to immediately put employees who request a vaccination exemption on unpaid leave. Instead the airline said those applicants will continue to work with mask and distancing guidelines.

ROMANS: All right. Cargo gridlock, ship congestion at a new high at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on Tuesday, 100 ships awaiting along the coast. The problem isn't just congestion at the ports. There just aren't enough truck drivers to get products to the stores. The industry is short a record 80,000 drivers. That's a 30 percent increase from before the pandemic.

If you're looking for discounts to start your holiday shopping, tough luck. Many stores won't be able to get the products in time. They risk running out of stock so they're not running promotions because they won't be able to meet the demand.

All this means stores have less incentive to offer deals to shoppers. Walmart has joined Amazon, Target and Best Buy, they are offering Black Friday deals early ahead of shipping issues. Broken supply chain means higher prices. Gas prices up 42 percent the past year. The biggest rise in new car prices since 1980. Food, shoes, electronics all rising along with many other products.

Items in your medicine cabinet may be getting more expensive. CNN obtained an email from Procter & Gamble on plans to raise prices on Olay, Crest and Oral B. That is to combat higher prices. If retailers decide to pass on those prices, they will likely start hitting shoppers' wallets.

I got to say that my husband's aunt actually sent the kids Christmas gifts, they came yesterday. She said, I've been watching the news and I thought maybe I should send these gifts well ahead of Christmas to make sure they're on time.

JARRETT: She's smart. She's on top of it. I like it. I like planning.

All right. Still ahead for you, "all hell is going to break loose", those words from Steve Bannon to have the attention of the January 6 committee. What happens now that the committee has approved holding him in criminal contempt?



JARRETT: The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. capitol voted unanimously Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying its subpoena. Bannon, who was once the chief strategist to Donald Trump, has not only refused to tell the committee about his conversations with the former president in the days and the weeks leading up to the riots on January 6, but lawmakers are also focused on this meeting that he and others held at a war room at the Willard Hotel the day before the riots as Trump's allies tried to persuade members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day.

The committee has also zeroed in on something else Bannon said on his radio show on January 5th.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISOR: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, okay. It's going to be quite extraordinarily different and all I can say is strap in.


JARRETT: The case now moves to the full house for a vote, and then it will be in the hands of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more on Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, there wasn't really that much drama on Tuesday night.


The House Select Committee met. They voted 9-0 in unanimous fashion to report out this criminal contempt referral against Trump ally Steve Bannon. And this begins the process of them trying to get him to comply with their committee.

The full house has already scheduled this, a vote on the criminal contempt for a vote on Thursday. It will then go to the department of justice who will begin the prosecution phase of this, all in an attempt to get Bannon to comply. We did learn a lot, though, in this short meeting. It only took about 30 minutes, about the investigation strategy of the select committee.

Listen to what Liz Cheney, the vice chair of this committee and a Republican, what she said about what they're hoping to learn about both Steve Bannon and the former president Donald Trump.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th, and likely had an important role in formulating those plans. Mr. Bannon was in the war room at the Willard on January 6th. He also appears to have detailed knowledge regarding the president's efforts to sell millions of Americans the fraud that the election was stolen.

Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.

NOBLES: And there was also something they made pretty clear in this meeting on Tuesday night, and that is that they want to send a message to the other people that they have subpoenaed, more than a dozen or so people that they're trying to get information from, and for the people that they are reaching out to, to get them to cooperate with the committee voluntarily.

They are willing to take whatever step is necessary to get people to cooperate with this committee so that they can get the information that they're looking for. The longer this process plays out, the more difficult it's going to be for the committee to finish their work. They probably need to be all done by the midterm elections of next year -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: Ryan, thank you so much for that.

Now, new details this morning on several close calls and threats before American missionaries were kidnapped in Haiti. CNN is live in Port-au-Prince next.



ROMANS: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

New overnight, Brazilian senators will no longer charge the country's right-wing populist president with murder. Those charges first appeared in a leaked 1,200-page report accused President Jair Bolsonaro of deliberately allowing COVID-19 to spread like wildfire. Brazil has the second highest COVID death toll in the world after the U.S. Bolsonaro will still have to answer questions of allegations of crimes against humanity among other things.

CNN's Rafael Romo reports from Mexico City.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Christine and Laura, Jair Bolsonaro is a president who last year called COVID-19 a little flu. Last December, he joked about possible side effects of the vaccine, saying a lady could get a beard or a person could turn into an alligator, and more recently he boasted in interviews that he doesn't get a coronavirus shot because his immunity levels are through the roof.

Brazil is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world, and these statements have made many people very angry, including congressional leaders in his country.

CNN Brazil received leaked excerpts of a congressional investigation from a representative of the Brazilian Senate pandemic parliamentary inquiry, which claims Bolsonaro and officials in his government intentionally let COVID-19 surge through the country, which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

One of the points of the draft report is that the president and his allies didn't promote sanitary measures because they wanted Brazil to reach herd immunity so the economy would go back to normal faster. The 1200-page report claims Bolsonaro's policies caused more than 300,000 people to die, roughly half of Brazil's death toll.

The report is expected to be discussed in the Brazilian Senate Wednesday and voted on next week. If approved by the Senate commission, it would then be up to the attorney general to decide within 30 days if any charges are made, although he is not expected to since he is an ally of the president's.

CNN has asked President Bolsonaro's office for comment, but we did not receive an immediate response. However, both the president and his supporters have previously criticized the Senate's investigation as politically motivated.

Christine and Laura, back to you.


ROMANS: Rafael, thank you for that reporting.

Build Back Better or maybe build bike light. Free community college now out. Paid leave slashed from 12 to only four weeks as the president compromises on his sweeping agenda of the American economy, he's going to take questions from the American people in a CNN exclusive town hall. Anderson Cooper will moderate tomorrow night at 8:00, only on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JARRETT: FBI agents are now on the ground in Haiti to help free 17 kidnapped missionaries, protests on the streets there yesterday where the missionaries were headed when abducted.

Joe Johns live from Port-au-Prince for us this morning.

Joe, good morning.

CNN has learned about series of threats and close calls in Haiti even after before this kidnapping happened. What do we know about that?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right, it does sound like it's been a very harrowing adventure for that group of missionaries that's been on the ground here in Haiti. We were also told that they had been working to try to help people whose homes were destroyed during the last earthquake back in August. And in the midst of all of that, apparently they came into contact with individuals who were threatening them and trying to do harm. And, of course, then we had the kidnapping just on Saturday.

Last night I talked to Father Rick Frechette, a Catholic priest and American --