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Corporate America Mandating Shots; Major Companies Require Employees to get Vaccinated; MO DOC: People Fear Backlash from Friends over Vaccines; Bipartisan Deal Survives First Senate Hurdle; Subpoena Fight Looms for 1/6 Committee. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello everybody and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The Coronavirus is changing everything again, companies revising now when and how workers go back to the office. President Biden today tries to break the vaccine impasse for the big change of his own all but requiring the shot for federal workers.

Plus the bipartisan infrastructure deal survives its first hurdle in the Senate. But there are big questions ahead, including this one. Can the president keep the Democratic family from splintering and a member of the Capitol Riots Committee tells us just where this investigation goes next.

But up first for us this hour, a seismic shift in the American workplace toward requiring COVID vaccine, Facebook, Google and Netflix all announcing that all employees returning to the office must be vaccinated. The Wall Street Titans, BlackRock and Morgan Stanley are doing the same and the growing change reaches into every sector of the economy, Saks Fifth Avenue, "The Washington Post", Essential Health and Lyft among the big employees who say, you want to come back to work, you must first get a COVID vaccine.

President Biden today as the federal government to this movement later today, the president will put all federal workers and contractors on notice get a COVID vaccine or face strict protocols including regular testing and masking. CNN's Jeff Zeleny starts us off live from the White House, Jeff, a big shift from the president?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, there's no doubt about it a dramatic shift in tone from President Biden later today, when we do hear him addressing vaccinations and COVID-19.

We're told by administration officials, he feels like he's up against a brick wall having been unable to break through with really almost daily pleadings to the American people. He's cajoled. They've tried incentives, it simply has not worked to the degree that they would like so he is going to now take it a step further, really is the CEO, if you will, of the federal government, some 2 million workers across the government.

He's going to gently require not a firm requirement, but require workers to get a vaccination or submit to routine testing that's designed to be uncomfortable. That's designed to not let people live their lives as they would like so urging vaccinations.

John, we're told several things are behind this one. If the federal government puts a requirement in place, it's easier for private sector companies to do the same. And you just saw the list there of company after company adding their names to that.

The White House the president trying to get ahead of this a Delta variant in many respects, they're very much behind this. But the White House has always resisted using the word mandate. They do not believe it's good politically or good policy.

They simply do not believe it would convince the hesitant to get vaccines, but now they are taking it a dramatic step further even from where they were several days ago by issuing that requirement. I'm told John this speech this afternoon, the president will be having sharp words for the unvaccinated as well as the vaccinated trying to urge others in this country to get that shot, John.

KING: Jeff Zeleny live for us big day at the White House. We'll hear from the president a bit later. Let's walk through some of the numbers behind this big shift right now. Number one, just look at this map just look at the map and look at all the red look at all the deeper gold that's high and substantial Coronavirus, community spread right now.

Only 1 percent of Americans think about that only 1 percent of Americans live now in areas with low community transmission. If you're in high or substantial transmission, the CDC says even if you're vaccinated, you should be putting on a mask when you go inside because the Delta variant is spreading.

Look at all this red in the middle of the country across the south and the south east of the country. On this point, I want to bring in our CNN Medical Contributor, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University.

So Dr. Reiner, you know the numbers better than I do, you know, the state and the nastiness of this Delta variant. The corporate sector, essentially trying to move this debate with these mandates the president doesn't want to call it a mandate, but he is calling it a requirement. Is that necessary at this moment and why?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Look, I think we've been long due a vaccine mandate in the United States. And you know, for viewers, you need to understand that the government cannot force you to get a vaccine.

But there are now consequences for many employers around the country if you choose not to get vaccinated. 600 universities are requiring students and faculty returning next month to be vaccinated. And now we're seeing essentially a tsunami of private industry follow suit. I've been saying for a while that vaccine mandates are pro-business. This is a pro-business initiative. If your workers are sick and if your workers are quarantined or if you're employed - if your customers are at risk, that does not promote growth.

So I think the business community is finally really getting this done. As for the - as for the federal government, the Federal Government needs a vaccine mandate, not a mandate, not a vaccine versus testing. They are not the same.


DR. REINER: A vaccine prevents people from getting sick. A test tells you when you are sick? The federal government should simply mandate vaccines for federal employees.

KING: So not strong enough in your view. I want to go through some of the other the data is - data behind these shifts right now. This is where we are right now. 64,000 new infections reported yesterday, which takes you to a flashback essentially exactly where we were one year ago.

65,000 new infections and this is why businesses, this is why the president, this is why public health professionals and this is why medical professionals like Dr. Reiner are so worried. Here's where we were a year ago, some mitigation was put in place we came down some but not to a low baseline and look what happened.

Look what happened. We all live through the winter. Can we get this high again, because of vaccinations maybe not? Do we want to test it definitely not? That is what has people worried including Dr. Reiner listen here.

This is the leader of a major restaurant chain in New York City says not only should employees be vaccinated, but if you want to dine in a restaurant, they will require you to prove you've been vaccinated.


DANNY MEYER, RESTAURANT OWNER, WILL REQUIRE VACCINE FOR EMPLOYEES/INDOOR DINERS: We have a really, really serious responsibility to our staff members and our guests to make sure that it is a safe working environment and a safe place to dine. If you really want to go unvaccinated you can dine somewhere else. And you can also go work somewhere else.


KING: Walk through the importance of this as you know when you mandate things for people, some people say thank you. I appreciate you're trying to keep me safe. And some people do just the opposite.

DR. REINER: Right. But there are people who've been on the fence for a long time who've been waiting for a few things that are waiting to see if these vaccines are safe. And the Pfizer vaccine, for instance, has been administered to a billion people around the world. So people should understand that we know the vaccines are safe. Other people are waiting for a little bit of a sharp fraud and having their employer mandate that they get vaccinated is often enough. My employer at GW will require all healthcare employees by October 1st to be vaccinated.

We're seeing this around the country. Look, we've tried. We tried to carry it, we've tried lotteries. Now, some people just need to be told that as part of your civic responsibility as part of your job requirement, you have to be vaccinated.

KING: And one of the things we watch every day is the numbers to see if anything is changing. Certainly the case count is not changing in a good direction. Let's look at some of the vaccination numbers.

And if you just look now there is a slight uptick, a slight uptick we are nowhere near where we were in April, where you had 2 million people getting vaccinated on a daily basis, but there's been a slight uptick 271,003 weeks ago 382,000 now.

I just want to zoom in on this map. The map here is vaccine hesitancy, the darker the shading, the higher the rate of vaccine hesitancy and it is no coincidence Dr. Reiner that you see a lot of darkness down in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, across the southeast, that's where we see cases going up.

Listen to this doctor in Missouri, who says the fear factor might be playing a role. Missouri's numbers are up a little bit a little bit modestly among vaccinations, a doctor saying people see the cases rising, and some of them quietly, they don't want to tell their friends and neighbors but quietly getting vaccines.


DR. PRISCILLA FRASE, HOSPITALIST & INTERNAL MEDICINE, OZARKS HEALTHCARE: They came to their own decision that they wanted to get a vaccine, and they talked to people and made the decisions themselves. But even though they were able to make that decision themselves, they didn't want to have to deal with the peer pressure or the outburst from other people about them, "Giving in to everything".


KING: I can't wrap my mind around that. People who finally maybe belatedly but finally making the decision to protect themselves, protect their children, protect their families, protect their neighbors protect their co-workers are afraid to tell anybody because they think they will be shamed for getting a vaccine.

DR. REINER: Exactly. Think about it. We have almost 100 members of Congress that won't tell their constituents, whether they've been vaccinated, almost all of them have been. Look, I think by around July 4th, many people in this country thought the pandemic was over.

The United States was averaging, you know, just a little over 10,000 cases per day; hospitals were fairly empty in many areas. But now the virus is back and the people who weren't vaccinated because they thought there was nothing to fear are now starting to get the message. So that's why I think we're starting to see a bit of a tick up in vaccinations. I hope that continues.

KING: Help me with this if you can, and I know part of this - part of this we need more data we can't get through yet. But I just heard a doctor from Alabama on with Kate Bolduan last hour, saying he is worried that as we head into the winter, they could actually exceed where they were last winter.

This is last winter. This is a national perspective. It's not Alabama. But we all live through this. It was horrific. With the vaccination rate I know its way lower than it should be way lower than you want it to be. But with about half of America vaccinated right now, can we get back up this high again? Is that the risk?

DR. REINER: No, no, I don't think we're getting get back to the point where our hospitals all around the country were inundated.


DR. REINER: The big difference between now and last winter is that we now have over just about 90 percent of people over the age of 65 in this country vaccinate and when you look at about 80 percent of the deaths in the United States have come in people over the age of 65.

So we have protected the most vulnerable so and in fact, if you look at our current stats, you know, while cases are up about 150 percent in the last two weeks, deaths are you know, "Only up about 10 percent" because the most vulnerable are protected so I don't think we're going to hit the hard - you know, the horrific levels we saw last year.

KING: But we don't have to go anywhere near them if people would just get vaccinated and protect themselves in their community. Dr. Reiner is always grateful for your candor and your insights, sir, appreciate it today.

Up next for us to politics the Senate bipartisan infrastructure plan is a big deal. But can President Biden answer liberal complaints and get it to the finish line?



KING: The bipartisan infrastructure deal lives and that's a big deal after clearing its first Senate hurdle last night but important, but still a very long road ahead both in the Senate and then in the House.

Progressives promise they won't give a green light to the bipartisan plan without first knowing for sure that Democrats can pass a separate more expensive plan with climate health and other party agenda items in it. Still, the first step is a big one. And to those involved, it is proof Washington can work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): At a time when Washington seems broken. This group of members behind me came together, along with others, and decided we were going to do something great for our country.

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): The word in this town and all across this country from the naysayers is that bipartisanship is dead, that it doesn't work anymore. And that government is broken. And we are here to say, no it works.


KING: With us in studio to share their reporting and their insights Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast", Sabrina Siddiqui with "The Wall Street Journal", Cleve Wootson of "The Washington Post" and Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times".

So it is - it's Washington has not worked yet. It worked for a day. So this is not to the finish line. But it's a big deal that they got the car on the track. Here's what's in it. There's money for roads and bridges. There's money for energy infrastructure, there's money for railroads.

So you can see there there's clean water in here. There's electric car vehicle incentives, it goes across the board in terms of physical infrastructure that most people out in America would say A, creates jobs B, addresses needs in my community.

However, a Senate bipartisan deal to get to open debate is not a law the president can sign. There are a lot of hurdles to go.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: --even text. We should be clear.

KING: Right, there's not even text.

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: First though credit word does this is a vindication for Biden ism. Biden ism, at least for a day has triumphed. He got heckled by his own party, a lot of naysayers in 2019/2020. You're living in the past.

You can't get bipartisan support for a big bill. Those days are over Mitch McConnell is no obstructionist is hopeless. Don't bother. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer voting for the same bill, the Idaho Delegation, North Dakota Delegation and joining with the California and New York Delegation.

Are they really going to abandon the final passage of this bill? It looks like you're on track for 70 votes in the Senate. Joe Biden said I can make Washington work again, at least on this at least in the Senate. He's been proven right. Now to your point--

KING: In the Senate.

MARTIN: House is the big question.

KING: It's a participation trophy so far. It's not a championship trophy.

MARTIN: It's the first half. It's the first half of the game.

KUCINICH: OK. OK. We're taken out of the stadium; bring it back to the Congress. I mean, Biden invested a ton into this. I mean, Steve Ricchetti has basically taken up residence in with Rob Portman on the Hill. But--

MARTIN: The Ohioans.

KUCINICH: Yes, exactly. Meeting at the Ohio minds--

MARTIN: You're favorite--

KUCINICH: But and they've invested the Biden Administration has invested a lot of political capital into making inroads with the Progressive Caucus, whether it's enough. I mean, they - we've been told multiple times that they have an open line with Ron Klain that the White House Chief of Staff.

But will it be enough to let to make them vote for this to swallow this because this that majority is definitely not guaranteed.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's one of the key questions moving forward. Can House Speaker Nancy Pelosi keep Democrats in line especially as you have seen some progressives already out the gate, criticize this agreement and signal their reservations?

Can they move it through the House without making any significant changes that will then kick it to the Senate and jeopardize the whole deal? And then separately, of course, there is this dual track that President Biden has said he will pursue for what Democrats are referring to as human infrastructure, other key domestic priorities like child care, paid family leave, expanding Medicare, that's a $3.5 trillion package that will also need to have support from every Democrat in the Senate to pass it through reconciliations.

All eyes will also be on Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema since we are talking about two parallel pieces of legislative.

KING: But that's where it's important. So on this day, where it is a big deal, and you would think all of Washington would say, OK, long way to go. But let's celebrate the fact that if we actually all talk to each other, we can do things that matter to people out in the country, no matter where we live.

But on that very day you mentioned Senator Sinema. The progressives in the House especially say we will not do this plan unless we get that bigger human infrastructure plan. She said right away. I've told Senate leadership and President Biden, I support many of the goals in that plan.

But here's the key part. I've also made clear that while I support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that cost 3.5 trillion. Well, that 3.5 trillion is already way below what House progressives want.

So you'd be asking House progressive to eat therapies at $3.5 trillion. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the liberal Congresswoman from New York immediately jumps in good luck tanking your own party's investment and you can read on childcare and so on.


KING: So again, immediately back to a family feud that the president is going to have to referee and it's not going to be easy.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I do think that you have some of the president's advisors going out today sort of laying the groundwork for their defense.

You know, you have Cedric Richmond, you know, Chris Coons going out saying, you know, these are all of the things that this bill would bring. And if you're going to vote against these things, these are the things you're voting against, like getting, you know, lead out of schools and all of that stuff so there's already somewhat of a small defense going on, on from the White House.

KING: But that is the small defense, can the small defense be convincing enough? To convince house progressive--

KUCINICH: He said it's going to be both of the bill, or neither. So they're still there? I mean, you've got to start a negotiation somewhere. I don't know if it'll stay there.

MARTIN: But the Coons of the world have to say that to keep the progressivism in the family. And the question now let's say that the Senate does move this bill final pass, it gets whatever 70 votes 69. But the question then becomes what does Pelosi say when her moderates come to her but the problem solvers, Jackie, coming to her and say, we can't wait forever for the Senate to move on another large bill.

We've got to take the burden hand; we have to vote right now, because we're facing a tough midterm. And we have to give folks a victory to go home to have this.

KING: --or what does she say the flip side of that conversation is the next meeting is with the progressives who say we want to change it, even if you keep it at this price tag--

MARTIN: Right.

KING: --you put back up on the screen all the things it does, even if you keep it at that price tag, many of them will say we want to spend more, but let's change some things. And if you change anything in this and send it back to the Senate--

MARTIN: You're going to lose them.

KING: --isn't the likelihood that those 17 Republicans who voted for this that most of them will say, adios. SIDDIQUI: Right, Republicans expect that they'll be able to continue to support this legislation, if it very much stays within the contours that we've seen so far. And so any significant changes to this compromise really do imperil its chances?

And that's a real question now for Democrats is, are they going to threaten what will be President Biden's first major bipartisan legislative agreement because of course, Democrats did pass the COVID relief package that fell along party lines.

And so this would really, I think, be the test to Jonathan's point of really the premise of his candidacy that he is uniquely positioned to unite Washington. When was the last time we talked about a major legislative compromise won by partisan lines that was not emergency relief or something that must pass legislation.

KING: Right, it would be a huge deal. Again, part of the complication is Sinema says that price tag is too high. Listen here to Joe Manchin talking to our Manu Raju today saying, I'm not sure but I'm not ready yet.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Don't keep an open mind looking at everything.


MANCHIN: I'm not seeing where I can or I can't, I'm looking at everything out of respect for my colleagues.

RAJU: Do you support moving forward with the budget resolution?

MANCHIN: We should move forward the budget resolution because you got to get on the bill to work. But there are no guarantees.


KING: Truer words have not been spoken. There are no guarantees. But again, it falls on the president who has to manage his friends in the Senate. He knows Joe Manchin well, and these newer progressives in the House, many of whom have never worked with a Democratic President have never had to sit in the room and say, OK, will I take?

Will I take a third? There are only about 85 House Democrats left who've ever been in this situation. Now, will you take - will you essentially how much are you willing to compromise for the good of the family, as opposed to what you ran on?

WOOTSON: Well, and many of them who got elected to, you know, push the establishment to do big things to not accept compromise, and for whom, sitting, sitting down with Republicans and having a compromise conversation just doesn't work.

So the question is, you know who is Joe Biden in the Progressive Caucus going to lean on or talk to or have a conversation with to try to sway them a little bit?

KING: The car is on the track. That's a good deal, you just say quick--

MARTIN: Just real fast. There are a few more bitter pills for a house member to swallow than taking a Senate Bill. And just casting a vote on it with no I mean, like - right the old joke in the houses, the other party is it isn't your enemy, the Senate the real enemy, and that's a tough deal for them. But they don't have to.

KING: That's complicated on you here in Washington and we'll follow it through every bit. Next for us, remember the January 6th Committee on the subpoenas ahead? Will Donald Trump beyond that list?



KING: The Chairman of the January 6th Select Committee says he wants to get straight to subpoenas for key witnesses and key documents. And a decision by the Justice Department this week could help clear a path for some Former Trump officials to cooperate. So who should be on that initial witness list?

California Democrats Zoe Lofgren is a member of the select committee Congresswoman grateful for your time today and for the work of the committee. I'm going to put up on the screen just a list of some potential witnesses. They include the Former Acting Attorney General at the end of the Trump Presidency, Jeff Rosen.

His boss before that the Attorney General Bill Barr, the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, several of your colleagues, including the Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks could be among the witnesses.

In "The Washington Post" today some interesting reporting about Rosen again, he was Attorney General at the end of the Trump Administration. On the day this all played out he was Attorney General, President Donald Trump called his Acting Attorney General nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud and alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election.

We know that Mr. Rosen smartly ignored the president because he knew there was no serious fraud, but in your view, who should be in the chair first before the committee and why?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I hope you'll forgive me for not saying who should be first but we will be issuing a series of subpoenas. We will - I'm sure first be interviewing the potential witnesses in a deposition type setting--