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Congress Has Until Thursday To Prevent Government Shutdown; Trump, With No Evidence, Claims 2020 Was A "Corrupt Election"; Most Of Dems' Legislative Agenda Remains Unfinished; Bipartisan Outrage At Administration Handling Of Haitian Migrants; The Controversy Over COVID Boosters. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired September 26, 2021 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Chaos in Congress. Looming government shutdown and Democrats divided over the Biden agenda.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're at this stalemate at the moment.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is close to a legislative process.
RAJU: Plus, a Trump-backed probe confirms yet again that Joe Biden won Arizona but the former president still spreading his election lies.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I have no doubt that we won and we won big.
RAJU: And horrific images at the bored ore trigger bipartisan outrage.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What is happening in our southern border is wrong. Joe Biden has created this crisis.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): We are following the Trump policy. What the hell are we doing here?
RAJU: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.
RAJU (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju, in today for Abby.
A huge week ahead in my second home on Capitol Hill, beginning with the showdown tomorrow between two wings of Democratic Party over the Biden agenda. Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to bring the trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a vote. This is the plan that invested in roads, mass transit, waterway, pipes
and much more. It would pass easily except that progressives are promising to vote it down, less than even a bigger bill. Biden's Build Back Better plan is ready for passage, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I don't think the speaker is going to bring a bill to the floor that will fail, and we still have -- actually, the number is growing but we have at least 50 people who are not going to vote for the bill.
REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): I hope it wouldn't hold up the president's agenda and 2 million jobs a year and a trillion dollar infrastructure package that's historic that is literally out of the Senate and sitting here waiting for us to consider in the House, you know, that would be horrific obviously for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Yet, somehow Speaker Pelosi in insists she'll bring her caucus together this week around both bills.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I think we're in a very good place. I've always been very calm about this because it's like it always happens the same way. All this bluster and this and that and who is there and who is there, but at the end of the day, we will be unified for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: While that's happening at the House and even more pressing vote will take place tomorrow in the Senate, one to keep a government open and without a deal the government will shut down on Thursday night.
Now, joining me now with their reporting and their insight, Julie Hirschfeld Davis with "The New York Times", CNN's Jeremy Diamond, "Politico's" Burgess Everett, and "The Washington Post's" Seung Min Kim.
Burgess, I want to start from there, where we are in four days, the government shutdown. Potentially, the Senate will vote tomorrow on the spending bill and the Republicans will vote against it in mass because it includes the debt ceiling increase to avoid debt default. What do you think the prospects of a government shutdown are at this point?
BURGESS EVERETT, POLITICO CO-CONGRESSIONAL BUREAU CHIEF: I think they're lower at least this week than a lot of people think, which is I think there is probably a short term deal at the last minute to keep the government open, maybe just for a few weeks, though.
Part of the problem, at least for Democrats is that the debt limit deadline is a little later in October. So, if they want Republicans to feel the heat, they're not feeling it now. What I expect to happen is on Monday, this bill will fail, then there's going to be a mad scramble to keep the government open.
The risk to doing that is Republicans may not change their mind which increases the prospects of a default and hamstring the rest of your agenda if you're constantly doing the short term spending bills to keep the government open.
RAJU: And you go from cliff to cliff. They do punt for a few weeks and a few weeks at risk of default. That could be cataclysmic. Moody's warned that it could trigger such an economic crisis of 6 million jobs, potentially 10,000 point drop in the Dow.
Listen to what Mitch McConnell said about this earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We all agree America must never default. My advice to this Democratic government, the president, the House, and the Senate, don't play Russian roulette with our economy, step up and raise the debt ceiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Of course, the same could be said about him. Democrats say he needs to provide the votes. What do you think the prospects are of a default given this game of chicken the parties are playing?
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think Burgess is right. Clearly, that is not a man who's feeling any heat to do anything right now, particularly anything that would help Democrats out of what is clearly a tight situation. The path to keeping the government open this week I think is a lot clearer than the path to raising the debt ceiling at this point because if they can't get Republicans on board with pairing with the government spending bill, they're going to have to find another way.
One of the ways they could do it is through reconciliation but that's a complicated and time consuming process and they don't have that long, right? It's not this week but in a few weeks, sometime at the end of the October, beginning of November.
So, they don't have a lot of easy options for doing this. I think they've been through this process before in recent years. The Democrats are not going to allow this debt ceiling to not be raised. They will find a way to do this and Mitch McConnell knows that and that's why he's playing such hardball. They do want to extract maximum pain for the Republicans on the way there to make them look irresponsible and like they're setting a double standard, that Democrats didn't force on Republicans when Republicans controlled the government.
RAJU: Even so, it comes at such a precarious time for the Biden agenda trying to get this massive infrastructure bill. First, infrastructure bill $1.2 trillion, that's a big bill, and then the bigger bill to expand the social safety net, Nancy Pelosi wants to get both bills down this week but they are not on the same page. Is this wishful thinking for the Democrats that they can get both bills out of the House this week?
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In terms of this week, yes. I think the big question now is what happens with the fate of that bipartisan infrastructure bill that Speaker Pelosi promised a vote to moderates on tomorrow, on September 27th. Now, as you saw earlier, progressives are threatening to vote that down if Pelosi votes that down to the floor.
We haven't seen progressives play all hardball on the floor in the past and would be interesting to see if Speaker Pelosi does bring that legislation to the floor whether they're willing to put their votes where their mouth is and really sink a major part of the Biden agenda.
But what you're hearing from progressives, it's the moderates holding up a major piece of President Biden's agenda but not coming to an agreement on this other $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. So, there is a lot, there is actually a really major trust deficit now between two wings of the same caucus, which is causing this entire problem in the first place.
But I did see Speaker Pelosi's dear colleague letter. There is one line that is interesting. She said we must pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 30th. So, she puts a firm deadline on that. For the reconciliation, she says we must stay on schedule. Not as firm there, which I thought was very interesting.
RAJU: The schedule is important. I mean, Joe Manchin, of course, is central to all of this. One of the things Pelosi said, she'd only put the bigger bill on the floor of the house if it has the same price tag the Senate will agree on. They are not anywhere near agreement on what the Senate, particularly because of Joe Manchin, we've all -- the three of us at this table talked to Joe Manchin every single day. It's not there.
Burgess, you wrote about him yesterday. You write, his colleagues hope he'll single out which provisions in the social spending program he wants to act to begin negotiating in earnest but he's in no rush. What's the need? There is no timeline. I want to understand it.
I mean, can Manchin get behind something this week, something Pelosi will put on the floor this week?
EVERETT: I would say almost no chance. He's not feeling the pressure to do that right now and there is more pressure for this bipartisan bill honestly. The September 30th deadline, that's a real thing. The highway programs expire then. You want the highway programs to expire amid the other things we're talking about?
So, I think the centrists feel like they have a stronger hand. Manchin doesn't feel the pressure but you've heard him warm up to this agenda a little bit in the sense he's not saying I want to stop this. He's backing off the strategic pause we talked about and understands that's not playing well. So I think the good news there for Democrats is Joe Manchin does seem like someone who wants to play ball on his own term. RAJU: Jeremy, what is your thinking at the White House about the
possibility one of both bills might collapse? Are they even entertaining that it's even likely?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, I think they're not entertaining it in the long run because they see this as too big to fail to take a turn from another era, another problem, but, you know, they are so adamant about the need to pass this because they know how important it is not only for Biden's presidency, which where he's facing the lowest approval rating of his entire presidency thus far but because they know it's important for the entire Democratic Party heading into the 2022 midterms.
I think that ultimately, the White House hopes those big stakes will bring the party together and bring those different factions of the party together. How exactly they do that they haven't laid out, but we're seeing President Biden get more involved in the last week or so.
So, just think about what having a president with that kind of bully pulpit could do in the coming days.
RAJU: And we'll talk more about Biden later in the show, but I want to talk about some of the swing state Democrats, some of the swing districts in the House, the pressure they're really feeling of both sides. Take a listen to Iowa -- Cindy Axne of Iowa and what she's hearing on her airwaves back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
AD ANNOUNCER: President Biden and Representative Axne are fighting to lower your costs from health care and prescription drugs to child care and utility bills.
AD ANNOUNCER: These tax hikes would be a body blow to the economy, endangering our recovery and taking more hard-earned money from small businesses and working families.
Tell Representative Axne -- don't knock us out with these massive tax increases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Classic ads, positive --
RAJU: Exactly. What do you think these members ultimately will come down? Do you think they have to get something or feel the pressure to ultimately vote no?
DAVIS: I mean, I think they feel like they have to get this bipartisan infrastructure plan through.
This is a deal that was struck. It was hard to come to it. They all are behind this. And I think one of the reasons you see Nancy Pelosi and we've seen her in this situation a lot of times, she can face really long odds with a very divided caucus and bring them together ultimately and she is a progressive.
The thing that's always guided her in a lot of these negotiations is these front line members. She knows what they need. She knows that they have to be accommodated and not bulldozed over because if they get a deal that is ultimately not acceptable to Cindy Axne's constituents or Abigail Spanberger's constituents or members from front line districts, then it's not going to be good for the party overall.
DAVIS: She wants the agenda but wants to get there in a way that's palatable to everyone, and it will sort of neuter some of those attacks. And that's a really difficult needle to threat.
REALLY: Really difficult. We'll talk more about that on the show.
But up next for us, the review of ballots in Arizona only added to President Biden's total. So why are Republicans seeking similar sham audits in other states?
RAJU: Republican-led effort to recount ballots in Arizona's largest county confirmed what we learned ten moments ago. Joe Biden won Arizona and won the 2020 presidential election. Now, Cyber Ninjas is the group hired by Arizona Republicans to conduct the so-called audit concluded the paper ballots are the best evidence of voter intent and no reliable evidence the paper ballots were altered to any material degree. Now, if you thought that was the end of this, think again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It is clear in Arizona that they must decertify the election, you heard the numbers, and those responsible for wrongdoing must be held accountable. It was a corrupt election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: I mean, this is last night in Georgia. The former president having a rally there. This is ten months ago. He lost the election.
What is the former president trying to do here besides undercutting a pillar of democracy?
DIAMOND: He's playing the only card I think he sees that he has. His biggest ace, which is this idea that he has already convinced so many of the Republican base of these lies that he has been telling for ten moments now, and I think that he's going to continue to do it as long as it's successful. I mean, Donald Trump's political strategy always bases itself on
whatever his supporters believe or whatever he's been able to convince them to believe and continuing to play that out. And when you see a poll numbers this week I think was 78 percent of Republicans who believe, don't believe that Joe Biden legitimately won the presidential election, that shows it's resonating.
So regardless of what the numbers actually say, it's never been about the numbers. Donald Trump and other Republicans that want to be in his mold and image are going to continue to play this out and clearly, it's incredibly dangerous but for Trump, he sees it as incredibly politically advantageous.
RAJU: And, clearly, his voters are listening. Clearly, majority of Republican voters don't think Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
I want you to listen to some of the rallygoers from last night, Trump rally, speaking to our colleague Joe Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE PERRY, BALL GROUND, GEORGIA: I think that the Maricopa audit results yesterday really showed a lot of people that there's something going on.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What's the most compelling evidence that Trump won.
JOHN TOMME, LOCUST GROVE, GEORGIA: All those ballots that were supposedly sat under the tables.
GAIL GALVAN, PEARLAND, TEXAS: The media is lying to everybody. They got the proof and the Supreme Court is going to prove it.
JOHNS: You think it's still an open question?
GALVAN: No, it not an open question. Trump won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: I mean, to the Trump supporters, none of this matters. To the broader electorate, broader Republican voters, does it matter to more mainstream voters, even the ones who may be going is this a legitimate election or not.
KIM: Responding to one of the Trump supporters that was interviewed, what the Maricopa County results show was that Joe Biden won to make it clear but I think that the divide between the mainstream Republicans on this who have been very quiet or not vocal enough in condemning President Trump for continuing to spread these lies about the 2020 election and the Trump supporters as vast because we know that Republican leaders as they, you know, continue to not kind of push back on these allegations, they know that they need his political capital, they need the enthusiasm of supporters in order -- in one of the ways in order to be successful in the 2022 elections, and that's why they aren't willing to stand up to President Trump as much. But when -- as this audit spreads to other states like Pennsylvania
and Texas and Wisconsin, it's time to see whether elected leaders in those states, elected leaders in Washington push back because this as you pointed out, this really is risking faith in such a pillar of our democracy, it's really dangerous.
RAJU: And also the question, you try to tell voters, the election is rigged. Come vote for us. It didn't work in Georgia last year. They lost two Senate races, and the Democrats are the majority.
Listen to the former president last night. He's going after enemies and he's even endorsing Democrats. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Stacey Abrams who still has not conceded and that's okay. Stacey, would you like to take its place? It's okay with me.
Having her might be better than having your existing governor if you want to know the truth. It might very well be better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: I mean, he's going after House Republicans who impeached him, voted to impeach him early this year as well. It's same Democrats could be better. This is politics by revenge by the former president, how is that going to play in the midterms for Republicans to ever take back the majority?
EVERETT: I feel like one of the most important races is the Georgia secretary of state. It's unusual for someone to leave Congress, Jody Hice, to run for secretary of state against the current secretary of state, Raffensperger, who Trump obviously loathes, because he certified the election and didn't go along with claims of election fraud.
So, his effect in the primaries is going to be huge and the fact that you have somebody that is leaving as a sitting member of Congress to run in this race, tells you everything you need to know.
RAJU: Yeah, we actually have a showing the former president backing Republican candidates with secretary of state in five swing states. 10 of 15 say the 2020 election was stolen. These are Republican candidates running for secretary of state the former president is backing, these candidates say the election was stolen by Democrats.
He's clearly trying to maybe try to overturn the election in the future? What do you think he's trying to do here?
DAVIS: Well, I think that's a big part of it. He knows that's where key decisions are made.
To your point, making the argument that the entire election was rigged and frankly he's basically saying will be rigged in the future is not the greatest strategy for turning out your voters in a crucial election and as much as the Republicans have a pretty positive outlook at retaking the House if you look at the map and redistricting and everything else, this could be damaging in some of these races.
If Republicans are seen as, you know, the party that's willing to overturn an election or if that's their big theme is that the election is rigged and your vote will never matter, how is that going to help Republicans on the bubble, who have maybe a good chance of taking a Democratic seat in the Senate of the house if people feel like if I vote for this Republican, it's not doing to matter anywhere? And look what happened to President Trump.
DIAMOND: And I think it's going to echo past 2022, all the way up to 2024. You can draw a straight line there and imagine a moment in the debate where Republican primary candidates say was Joe Biden legitimately elected? Raise your hand if you think so and one or two raise their hand, right?
DAVIS: Even that.
DIAMOND: Even if -- and regardless of whether Trump runs or not, that's what we're going to see.
EVERETT: That will be the key question this midterm. Dean Heller, he's questing the results of the election, as he runs for governor of Nevada.
RAJU: It's a big litmus test. Get the Trump endorsement, question results, obviously, major repercussion as well.
Up next for us, as the Democratic agenda faces stalemate, can Joe Biden play dealmaker?
RAJU: President Biden enjoyed a growing economy and a slowing pandemic in the first few months of his presidency. But now, crisis abroad and at home are hurting the White House as it aims to change two pieces of legislation. Biden's approval has fallen to 45 percent, and he says the resurgence in the pandemic is to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Not just members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans frustrated by, you know, I thought this was going to be better. I thought everything was working out. We were moving along on COVID-19, and now, we have all these people who refuse to get a shot, and now look at the people dying. Large numbers of people dying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Hey, look, everything is coming down to the next couple weeks for the agenda. Midterm campaign season soon after and who knows what happens after the midterms. Does he have the political capital to get moderates and progressives to fall in line?
KIM: That's the hope of the White House and Democratic leaders. As poll numbers have dropped, we haven't seen Democrats distance themselves from the president as we often do when a person in the White House and their public approval drops. But this legislation, the infrastructure legislation and reconciliation legislation is a test of President Biden as deal maker and we saw that this week when he inserted himself in negotiations but the thing is coming out of the meetings, there wasn't that much forward movement. We saw that people --
RAJU: A lot of happy talk.
KIM: Well, a lot of happy talk. People said it was good for everyone to kind of get on the same page, stop squabbling in that respect. One sources told us that President Biden gave the moderates, give me a number. Give me a number you can live with. Moderates refuse to do that because they're not willing to coalesce around a number. So, on that kind of simple ask, President Biden wasn't able to get that right away.
So, it will be interesting to see how much more he exerts power into the negotiations and how effective he is down the road.
RAJU: And listen to how he's trying to talk about what the numbers are of this $3.5 trillion plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We talk about price tags. It is zero price tag on the debt, repaying, pay for everything we spend. So it's not, you know, people understandably -- well, you know, I started off at 6 trillion and now 3.5 trillion and will it will 2.9? It's going to be zero. Zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: He's trying to make the argument it won't impact the debt. Can moderates do you think be persuaded by this argument by the White House?
DIAMOND: I think what the reason why we heard the president say that and make that case so forcefully is that there was a recognition at the White House this week that talk of a top line number was out of hand and got outside of their control. And so, this was a clear attempt to kind of refocus, reshape the debate around not a top line number but instead, around what this bill will actually do.
And you heard the president say that when he said this is about child tax credits, this is about paid family leave, right?
So, you know, we'll see if he's successful in actually being able to reshape that debate, but it was a clear recognition this was getting out of hand and that they needed to reframe it. And I think part of the previous framing was largely because of people like Joe Manchin who was talking about well, I can't support $3.5 trillion. He's trying to reshape it around priorities and not numbers.
But at the end of the day, we're still seeing those numbers by the day --
RAJU: Yes, the numbers --
DAVIS: Look at the difference between what he says in public and what he said in those meetings, right.
He says -- the public message and this is Nancy Pelosi's message, this week, last week was, you know, it doesn't matter what the numbers are. It's about values. It's about the programs that are in there. We're repaying.
RAJU: It does matter what the numbers are.
DAVIS: But in the room with Joe Manchin it does matter what the numbers are and that's what Biden told him and said, you know, you have to let us know what your bottom line is because yes, it is true they are talking about paying for this whole package but the scope of the package does matter.
They're trying to do all these really, really ambitious programs and the more programs they do, the more, you know, things that they expand and add to what is already the (INAUDIBLE), the more they're going to have to pay for with tax increases and other measures.
So it does matter and they know that very well. And as much -- as much happy talk as we were hearing coming out of those meetings last week, the squabbling did not stop. It actually got, I think worse by the end of the week where moderates and progressives were really hostile toward each other, angry at each other and they're not willing to meet each other half way at this point. So that's what Biden needs to figure out how to do.
RAJU: He kind of campaigned as a deal maker, as senator of 36 years someone who knows how to navigate Capitol Hill. Just look at just some of the things that have happened over in the Hill, over the last -- this past -- his term in his office -- his legislative priority.
He had the COVID relief package that was passed. That was passed along straight party lines. The Democrats got that done almost $2 trillion. The infrastructure package -- it was a bipartisan deal -- got out of the Senate. 19 Republican votes waiting action in the House. Huge vote tomorrow. Will that get done?
This big social safety net plan will go straight party lines. Voting rights legislation, not going to happen. Background check on gun sales, not going to happen. DACA, also not going to happen in this Congress. Burgess, what do you think this means for the party kind of in the midterms going forward this moment getting these bills done and their chances to hold on to one or both chambers next year?
EVERETT: It puts a ton of pressure on the reconciliation bill and the infrastructure bill. You've seen these other priorities sort of gradually slip away.
Not a surprise that voting rights isn't going to happen. It just stalled out -- stalled out for a while. Not a surprise necessarily that police reform isn't going to happen. That's also been stalled out a while. But as these -- as it becomes clearer and clearer, these things are not going to happen in these narrow democratic majorities, there is a ton of pressure to finish the jobs and families plan. They need to do that.
It will be a big deal if they're able to do that. They will be able to say they've had a successful congress. If those things fall apart, they have the American Rescue Plan but that will have been way in the rearview mirror. They're going to need things to sell to the voters next year.
The child tax credit, if they let that expire at the end of the year and they can't have a deal on the reconciliation bill, they're losing one of their primary things to say we did this and we helped you.
And the other thing I would say is don't have a government shutdown. That wasn't on the checklist there but that has to be in Joe Biden's head this week. He needs to make sure that does not happen.
RAJU: Yes. And just selling to the Democratic caucus reminds me so much of 2009, 2010 they had Affordable Care Act done. They were saying pass this bill. This will help us politically but come 2020, they lost the House.
Will that happen next year? We shall see.
Now, next for us. Worse than slavery, that's what one top Democrat said about these pictures from the Texas border as he slams the Biden administration.
RAJU: A migrant camp under a bridge along the Texas border that once held nearly 15,000 people is now empty. Chaotic scenes at the border became international news last week especially because of pictures like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was horrible what you see, as you saw, to see people treated like they're dead horses running over people being strapped. It's outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. (END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But leaders of both parties blame the administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): It was straight cause and effect. The word went out that the Biden administration is not going to enforce the law.
REP.MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): We are following the Trump policy. What the hell are we doing here? What we witnessed takes us back hundreds of years. What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed in slavery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: CNN reporter Priscilla Alvarez now joins the conversation. Priscilla, talk to us about what's actually happening, the facts on the ground.
You hear the Republicans, Democrats -- each saying different things here. The migrant encampment had been cleared out. There were 15,000 people at the high point at one point.
What actually happened?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: So we've been reporting about this growing number of migrants that are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border and this has been the story for the better part of the year.
But it really reached a fever pitch in this moment. There was this unprecedented movement where 15,000 people congregated under this bridge. They were dropped off by the human smugglers that led them there. And over the course of the week, the administration was scrambling to empty out this camp which frankly have squalid conditions for families, children, adults.
And so people fell into three buckets. They were released into the United States if they met a vulnerability, for example if they were pregnant or met some other vulnerability determination.
They went back to Mexico because they saw that they would be deported to Haiti and many of them haven't been to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake when they went to South America. And then they were also expelled to Haiti.
And that is where you got that criticism from Democrats who argued why should these people who go back to a country that they're less familiar with than when they left and that has been rattled by an earthquake and an assassination of a president.
RAJU: And Julie, you wrote a book about the immigration and you heard Maxine Waters here saying the administration is following the Trump policy. Is that right?
DAVIS: No, it's not right, not exactly. But there are some policies and there are some policies that were in place when President Biden took office that they have maintained and that's part of why we're seeing this approach that they are using just like President Trump used and frankly just like President Barack Obama before him used.
This has been a consistent theme as a flood of migrants has come north, consistently year after year after year. There is seasonal, you know, push of people.
DAVIS: Clearly, it was bigger this year in part because of conditions but in part also it was a change in administration and it was very clear -- President Biden made it very clear that he was going to change the approach.
So, you know, all of those push factors are certainly there but Title 42, this public health rule that President Trump put in place to basically hold back migrants because of COVID, that was the stated reason, is still there.
The remain in Mexico program that allowed them to basically say to would-be asylum seekers, you have to stay in Mexico until we're ready to hear your claim. That is still in place because of court rulings.
So yes, there are some elements of the Trump policy that are still there and that's why you're hearing all of this vitriol from Democrats.
The interesting thing to me is that, you know, clearly the approach of President Trump and President Biden are completely different. President Biden is projecting this very humane welcoming approach. President Trump projected just the opposite.
But the big difference here is that President Trump's base was so much with him on this issue, they trusted him no matter what he did. Any policy he put in place, the Republican base, conservative base that wanted people to not come into the country was going to be happy.
The Democratic base does not trust Joe Biden on this issue. They didn't trust him as much during the campaign as some of the other candidates. They don't trust him now.
And so we're seeing the effects of that when they don't trust that he is willing to do what needs to be done to really change the policies, which in the end is a very difficult thing to do.
RAJU: And this is what Beto O'Rourke who's running -- might run for governor of Texas, former congressman, former presidential candidate, former senate candidate, too.
He wrote -- he said we need to hold accountable those who would treat immigrants as less than human and whether they were separated from their families and placed in cages under Trump or corralled like cattle as they brought food to their families under Biden.
How big of a problem is this for Biden on the left? SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: It is a
significant problem because it's actually on immigration where we've seen Democratic leaders, members of the democratic base like Julia mentioned really criticize and be willing to President Biden.
I think one of the more significant developments we saw this week on the political level was Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, obviously the most powerful Democrat in the senate said he opposed the administration's using that title 42 policy and he urged the Biden administration to end that policy.
Another immigration issue this week, we saw that the Biden administration announced their refugee admissions level for the next coming year. Now, that is the level that these advocates, the Biden administration had promised President Joe Biden was a candidate.
But remember that backlash earlier this year, back in April when President Biden announced that he was going to keep the Trump era refugee levels and there was such a furious backlash from advocates and they actually reversed themselves that same day.
So we see how immigration, the issue of migration this tough crisis going on the boarder has really been a struggle for President Biden both on a humanitarian level and on a political level.
DIAMOND: And here is what is so interesting to me about those images politically of these border patrol agents on horseback appearing to use their reins swinging them in the direction of these Haitian immigrants.
It served two purposes. First of all, it actually kind of brought this issue to the fore -- brought this policy this, Title 42 policy, brought the treatment of these Haitian migrants to the fore in a way that only an image captured, you know, speaking a thousand words can do.
But on the other hand, it also kind of gave President Biden an out. And that is on Friday, what you hear him talking about was not the Title 42 policy, wasn't the policy to deport these Haitians back to what the Haitians, the U.S. special envoy for Haiti called a collapsed state. It was these images.
And you heard the president be very forceful in that way and that kind of gave him a little bit of breathing room from these progressives who were assailing his policy but you didn't hear him actually address whether he's going to make --
RAJU: Very quickly, what do you think about Kamala Harris? She's supposed to be out front. I mean this is -- she has not been. What's your take right now?
ALVAREZ: Well interestingly, they released a readout this week between her and a member of the cabinet, Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and they talked about the incident of the border patrol on horseback who aggressively confronted that Haitian migrants. So it's -- it was an example of the White House showing she was connected to the issue in some way but she has repeatedly said that she's focusing on the root cause of the migration and that the border is a separate matter. What we're learning and seeing in real time is that you really can't separate the two.
RAJU: Yes. Really cannot. This has been a problem from the beginning of this administration. Thank you, panel.
Ahead for us, the controversy over booster shots and the Biden administration.
RAJU: This past week the CDC director diverged from the recommendations to the agency to allow vaccine boosters for people who are at increased risk from COVID because of where they work. The commander in chief praised the step and said no politics was involved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: In this week as planned, we took a key step in protecting the vaccinated with booster shots. And I've made clear all along the decision of which booster shot to give, when to start the shot, and who will get them is left to the scientists and the doctors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But Dr. Megan Ranney and Dr. Jeremy Faust disagreed saying "Unfortunately some of the new federal recommendations go well beyond the data and foist the decision of appropriateness on to individuals and their doctors. And by expanding booster eligibility to a huge swath of the population, the Biden administration risks undermining confidence in vaccines.
RAJU: Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a CNN medical analyst. Dr. Reiner, this was a somewhat chaotic rollout of the boosters but you agreed with this decision by the CDC director to overturn what the advisers had recommended. Why?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I do. First of all, the goal of vaccines is not simply to prevent people from dying, which they do, incredibly well.
It's also -- the vaccines are also designed to prevent people from getting sick. And America's health care workers may be the biggest group affected by the CDC director's decision to include people at occupational risk, were vaccinated largely almost nine months ago.
And we have very robust data that shows that the efficacy of these vaccines declines significantly after about six months. And with the virus surging throughout the United States, the health care workers in this country remain at risk of breakthrough infections, which can be troubling long-term, in terms of long COVID symptoms or disruptive to the system in terms of our really very strained workforce being out for at least ten days.
And also personally at home for people, you know, who may have children at home, who are not yet vaccinated, or other people at risk of significant consequences from COVID so I think it was the right decision.
RAJU: How much do you think the boosters are going to matter to the overall trajectory of the virus? Have we reached the peak? Is it going to make much of a difference or not much at all?
DR. REINER: I think boosters will help. First of all, they'll help prevent people over the age of 65 from becoming ill enough to be hospitalized. It will also prevent -- also prevent some deaths so I think it will stabilize hospitalizations. And I think what we'll see over the next few months, as the boosters were allowed to the people at greatest risk, we'll see only people, the only people hospitalized will be people who are unvaccinated. So we're going to see a stark difference.
So I think boosters will help. But look, I agree with, you know, Drs. Ranney and Faust that the biggest impact will be to vaccinate the unvaccinated. And I still think we need to make a major push to do that.
RAJU: And of course, that comes -- vaccine mandates are coming in, the president pushing vaccine mandates. We're trying to see what kind of impact that has. You can see from the seven-day average of vaccinations here.
It appears to be a little bit of a decline towards the end of September. But more employees are now getting mandated by vaccines from their employers. You can see from this Gallup poll it mandates, you know, about 9 percent in July employers were requiring vaccines up to 29 percent in September.
What kind of impact are these mandates having or is it simply would early to tell?
DR. REINER: They will have an impact. First of all, the biggest impact we'll see when the federal workers, the millions of federal workers start to get their vaccines. The federal mandate doesn't require people to be vaccinated until the end of November, so I don't think we've seen the full impact of that.
The other federal guidelines for businesses with more than 100 employees to start vaccinating their workers, you know, OSHA hasn't written the rule yet. And when OSHA does that and OSHA issues the rule, we'll start to see private industry mandate vaccines for their employees and then again, we'll see a big impact of that.
So I think we have yet to see the numbers change because of the present proposed rule. RAJU: And I want you to listen to former FDA director Scott Gottlieb,
as well as Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about the politics of the pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA DIRECTOR: I think the sort of intensity of the debate about what we should and shouldn't be doing and the fact this has become a very political discussion is going to erode over time. People will move on to other ways to define political ideas and not do it around how they respond to a pandemic.
And there will be certain things that we just kind of accept and become more institutionalized as a part of a routine life to reduce risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: I mean do you agree that the politics are going to subside on this issue?
DR. REINER: Well, I certainly hope so. What we've learned is that something that we thought would be a gift to the American public, you know. This magic vaccine created in almost an impossibly short amount of time can be politicized through misinformation.
And I think we really need to take a hard look at how we educate the public and how misinformation is garnered. I had a conversation with a patient and their family about vaccines in the last week or so.
DR. REINER: And the patient's wife was not vaccinated and she told me that she acquired her information from America's Front Line Doctors, which is this fringe group that has specialized in misinformation to the public.
And a lot of people have gotten their wrong information from a relatively small group of people that have gone out of the way to fill people's minds with just falsehoods about vaccines, so we're going to need to really rethink how America's physicians and our scientific community educate people about important scientific matters in this country, because I don't think we've gotten it right over the last 18 months.
RAJU: Yes. It's been such a huge part of dealing with the pandemic, the disinformation coming out.
Dr. Reiner, thank you for waking up and joining us.
That's it for "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY". Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern and the weekdays show at noon Eastern as well.
Up next for us, "STATE OF THE UNION with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jakes' guest include Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. See you next time.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All on the line. The balancing act over President Biden's priorities comes to a head tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have at least 50 people who are not going to vote for that bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all agreed to vote on this bill --
TAPPER: Will Democrats come to an agreement.