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Republicans Who Voted For Bill Face Backlash; Eleven Senate Democrats Call On Biden To Tap Strategic Reserve To Bring High Gas Prices Down; This Week: WH Promises Full Vaccine Rollout For Kids 5- 11. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Some breaking news into CNN, the Biden White House announcing some help is on the way for U.S. ports facing supply chain problems. Specifics of the plan include more flexibility for federal grants, funding a pop up project at Savannah's Port, and other grants for construction and modernization. The White House is touting this is laying the foundation for the infrastructure bill, the President is expected to sign into law any day now.

The President heads to Baltimore tomorrow to kick off a cross country administration roadshow to highlight that new infrastructure law. A trillion dollars is a lot of money, and the projects on the drawing board should create a ton of jobs. Let's take a closer look at what's in the plan.

A trillion dollars in spending includes $550 billion in brand new infrastructure projects, everything from roads and bridges, an upgrade of the electric grid, broadband internet, especially in rural communities, transportation safety measures, electric vehicle support, environmental cleanup, public transit, airports and ports, a lot of money out to things that we all know from your neighborhoods could use some help.

Let's take a closer look, why is this so unnecessary? Zero American airports ranked on the top 25 list of global airports. Zero here at home, 10 million households across the United States of America lacked safe drinking water. That's just frankly a crime. And 25 million of our children breathe polluted air on their way to school. That's why the White House says this infrastructure bill is so critical.

Here's another way to look at it. Our infrastructure is just terrible. C minus from the American Society of Civil Engineers, D for roads, D minus for transit, D plus for aviation, C for bridges, C minus for drinking water, we are failing sorry, those are not passing grades, those are failing grades when it comes to keeping our community safe. Some headlines, usually you pass a big bill like this out and local America, they think this is going to create jobs. This is Pennsylvania, trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. Pennsylvania drivers avoid a tax site. In New York City, a tunnel they need, out in Nevada, in Alaska as well, infrastructure money coming to support jobs. That's why this was a bipartisan bill, the politics are now suddenly complicated. But when it comes to the house, these 13 Republicans voted yes, they voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, 19 Republicans voted for in the Senate as well. Again, we talked a little bit about it before we'll get to it again in a moment, suddenly, it's bad that they want to bring roads and bridges to their districts, somebody who's not apologizing, the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who's back home and says, this is great.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I was delighted that the House finally found a way to pass the M Charter bill last week, and this will be the first time I've come up here and in a quarter of a century when I thought maybe there was a way forward on the Brent Spence Bridge. Kentucky on at least in parts of this, are going to get $4.6 billion dollars and assistance for hard infrastructure.


KING: The panel is back with me now. I want to talk about the potential good for the country and perhaps political good for the Biden administration in a minute, but let's focus there. Mitch McConnell back home, this is great. We have old roads and bridges that need help and Congress finally got its act together and did something about it. That's what you would expect the conversation to be.

But let's come back to these 13 House Republicans. This is some reporting in Punchbowl today that the Freedom Caucus members, the angry conservatives were saying we should strip these people of their committee assignments. The votes here include Representative Don Young. I believe he's the dean of Congress. He's certainly a senior member from Alaska, very powerful member among the House Republicans.

Don Bacon of Nebraska, he's not exactly a flaming liberal. You know, these are Republicans who made, yes, several of these lawmakers voted to impeach Donald Trump and some of the anger comes from that but newly elected a star on "Fox News" from New York State there until now. So what is it that the Republicans can't say, OK, just go home and be happy. Cut the ribbons.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's exactly what House leadership was hoping for. They didn't want any focus on these intra party frustrations. Were they upset that those 13 ended up voting with Democrats? Sure. But no one is saying at least in the conference that this should be as big of a deal. But again, going back to the conversation we had, of course, a number of those Freedom Caucus members are going to make this possibly a problem for those 13.

Mark Meadows actually was talking to Steve Bannon, a couple of hours ago on his own show, saying that those 13 should be stripped of their committee so that kind of momentum isn't going to go away. KING: And again, if you listen to the Trump supporting echo chamber, in right wing media for four years, Donald Trump wanted a big infrastructure bill for four years, for four years, consistency should matter but tune in to "Fox News" and this is horrible.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, no wonder that dim witted anti Trump menace Adam Kinzinger ended up supporting it. John Katko is particularly odious. But what can we expect from a grandstanding blowhard who voted to impeach Trump at least three out of the 13 washout GOP congressmen have already announced their retirement, get out the door.



KING: Congress can't give Biden what Trump wanted, I guess.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, listen. I'm sure Laura Ingraham is rich and famous and doesn't have to worry about clean drinking water or lack of broadband in her neighborhood. But I imagine a lot of "Fox News" viewers, CNN viewers, "MSNBC" viewers, this is going to matter.

I mean, we drive on roads, we drive across bridges. This is something that for decades, as you pointed out, hasn't been something that bipartisan folks wanted to happen. But it couldn't happen because the pay force and all sorts of arguments that just made it not happen in D.C.

What will be interesting is whether or not any of these Republicans who voted against it actually trying to take credit for this in the end, because we've seen that in some instances.

KING: Yes, we have.

HENDERSON: There will be a big bill. They vote against it. But then when it comes to their neighborhoods, and all of these, you know, this money will come to their neighborhoods. Let's see if they try to take credit for it.

KING: Right. Flint, Michigan is a global embarrassment. I don't care whether you're a Democrat or Republican, a power grid that goes down, you know, even mild weather is an embarrassment. I don't care whether you're Democrat or Republican. The President believes this can be part of a building block for him starting as he goes on the road and his team goes on the road.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I don't think there's any question about it. And I think for a couple reasons. One, people will see it, right? People will see when projects are being built.

When Mitch McConnell talks about the Brent Spence Bridge that has been something that they've been trying to fix a very, very problematic bridge for years on end, that's Mitch McConnell, the appropriator, that's Mitch McConnell the legislator, that's Mitch McConnell who understands what his constituents need and the value of bringing actual things back to his constituents.

I can't wait for the press releases that don't go out to the national press, but do go out to the local press from all of those Republicans who voted against this that are all of a sudden getting grant money for roads and bridges and for water systems. I would also note, if you think you're going to take away Don Young's ranking member, pack a lunch pal.

I'm not sure how many of you have dealt with this. But I think to the broader point, from the White House perspective, this is real, tangible money. This is really something that multiple administrations have tried to do and failed.

This is something that delivers on two campaign promises from the President. It is bipartisan in a very major way, particularly in the Senate, and it is infrastructure, it is delivering, which is what a lot of Democrats have been very worried is not been -- what they've been doing over the course of the last several months. This is that. It's not everything. Obviously, there's still a long way to go on the second piece. But it's a big deal and isolation.

HENDERSON: It is jobs, right? It's jobs for those working class Americans that the Republican Party likes to claim it's so dedicated to in the voice of. So the idea that they're out there saying this is a bad idea to give folks who work with their hands jobs, it's incredible.

KING: There's a stupidity to it, forgive me, in the sense that it undermines a perfectly good common sense argument for Republicans. When the President does things we think are smart, we will be with him. When he spends too much we will be against him. That's an argument you could sell to some voters out there not. Oh, you know, we can't give Biden what Trump wanted.

SOTOMAYOR: Right. And, you know, I was able to talk to Congressman Tom Reid was one of those 13. And he said, you know, if I do get invited by the White House to attend this signing ceremony, of course, I'm going to go, you know, there is a chance, there's still at least in his point of view, you know, the ability to come together and just applaud that we were able to cross the aisle and just work in a bipartisan manner. But of course, that is just such a slimming point of view in the Republican conference.

KING: That said, you put it that way that we can't have American moments anymore, everything has to be a D and R moment.


Coming up for us, higher gas prices just as more Americans hit the road again. Is there anything the President can do about it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: A good news, bad news scenario for American families this Thanksgiving. Triple A predicts travel will look almost like it did before the pandemic meaning, busy, 53.4 million people expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

That's up 13 percent increase from last year. But drivers will see and feel pain at the pump, the national average price of gasoline rose to $3.42 a gallon on Monday. That's up from $2.11 just a year ago. Let's bring in CNN business reporter Matt Egan. Matt, you see rising prices everywhere. Some senators say President Biden do something about it, can he?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, John, the reality is presidents have vast powers. But they don't get to control the price of gasoline. President Biden does not have a magic wand to make a $3 gas, $2 gas. And trust me if he did, he would use it because these high gas prices are exactly what the American people don't want to see. There's a long history of voters punishing whoever's in the White House for high gas prices, fair or not.

And now President Biden is under pressure from lawmakers in his own party senators, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and others put out this letter calling on Biden to use all of his available tools to lower gas prices. They floated two specific options. One is banning oil exports. Now the industry experts that I talked to, they say that would actually be counterproductive because oil is a globally traded commodity.

And if you cut off U.S. barrels from the rest of the world, global prices would go higher. And that means gas prices at the pump would also go higher, not lower. The other idea that was floated here was tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which is the nation's emergency stockpile of oil. And we could see action on that very soon. It's not going to get to the underlying problem.


One thing to look for is will President Biden tap the SPR but also get other countries to do the same, that could be used as a bargaining tool to get OPEC to act.

KING: And Matt as we watch that play out. It's not just gas, but we're just raising gas prices, you would kind of grin and bear it but Americans are seeing inflation everywhere.

EGAN: Yes, that's right. The cost of living is way up by some metrics. Inflation is at a 30 year high. Let me give you a few examples, meet up more than 12 percent over the last year, home heating up 30 percent, gas 42 percent. These price spikes hit low income families the hardest.

For months, we heard from officials and experts in Washington and on Wall Street, that inflation was just going to be a temporary problem. But there's a growing realization that high prices are probably going to be sticking around. Goldman Sachs put out this report this week warning that inflation is probably going to get worse before it gets better. John, that is not what everyday Americans want to hear and it's not what they want to hear in the White House either.

KING: I know. Politicians don't like that part of our continuing COVID fog if you will, Matt Egan grateful of the important reporting. We'll stay on top of it.

Up next for us, the latest numbers as younger children are added to the coronavirus vaccine rollout. Plus, the COVID conspiracy challenge, a new study finds a big percentage of Americans believe at least one myth.



KING: The Biden COVID team making a big push this week to accelerate the vaccine rollout among younger children those is age five to 11. The vaccine for that age group only been available a few days, more than 361,000 just shy of 362,000 doses administered so far.

That's less than 1 percent of the eligible population, 28 million children in that age group. Well, why is it important to get them vaccines? Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics tells us more than 107,000 COVID cases among children reported.

Last week, that's up 6 percent from the prior week and the 13th consecutive week cases among children over 100,000. That's one reason to gets kids vaccinated. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has another.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Children are really the demographic where numbers have continued to go up. And that's the concern. They are increasingly a source of transmission and increasingly a source of new cases in this country.


KING: Let's bring in to share her expertise and insights the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen, grateful for your time, add your voice. This is your wheelhouse caring for children about why it's so important for this age group to get vaccinated. As I say that in the context, you can see the plateau right now, our case count had calmed down quite a bit. But we're plateaued right now in the mid 70,000 new infections a day.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, 70,000 new daily infections is really high. And we know that children as the group that by and large, are not vaccinated, they are really susceptible to getting ill. And unfortunately, we know that children can become very sick and a minority of children.

But still some children can get hospitalized and die. Also, there are so many kids that have put off their activities, extracurricular activities, sports, even going to school and seeing friends. And so getting vaccinated allows our kids to regain so much normalcy that they've been missing. And I think we really need to be lifting up the stories of the early

adopters, the kids that have already gotten the vaccine, the parents that have made this decision, because I think those stories will help to convince those other parents who are currently in the wait and see category to go ahead and do this because it protects their kids, but also allows the entire family to get back to pre pandemic life.

KING: Right. My 10-year-old got his Friday night, played baseball Saturday. He's doing great as we go forward. One of the things, Dr. Wen, you've helped us fight in recent months is this misinformation matters now, especially as parents make a difficult decision. They may have legitimate questions about whether to get a young kid vaccinated.

Kaiser Family Foundation did a survey where 78 percent of U.S. adults, 78 percent, nearly eight and 10 Americans are unsure or believe some of the COVID falsehoods like if you get your kid a vaccine, they will have fertility issues. How? Help me. How do we fight this?

WEN: Yes. Disinformation no doubt is a public health crisis in and of itself, because it is preventing people from doing what's best for themselves and their families. I think we need to acknowledge all of our roles in this because in public health, we talk about the credible messenger, that the messenger is often more important than the message itself.

Well to someone in our lives, we are the most trusted messenger. It might be a cousin, it might be a childhood friend, it might be a colleague. And I think it's important that when we hear things like this infertility myth, or when we hear about people who are concerned about things that just aren't true, that we're compassionate, that we meet them where they are, and also talk to them, answer their questions and recognize that we are trusted to someone and can make a difference in that person's life.

KING: Dr. Wen, as always, grateful for your very important insights and for your warrior campaign against disinformation. We'll talk again I'm sure.


Up next for us, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, she likes to show up early. He's in New Hampshire today.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Paris meeting with American and French scientists working on COVID-19 preparedness around the world. The White House hopes the VP's trip to help prepare U.S.-French relations after that big dust up over U.S. submarine deal with Australia.

Liz Cheney is on a big trip today too, not to Paris or to Glasgow, but to Manchester, New Hampshire. The Wyoming Republican is delivering a big speech at the Saint Anselm College Institute of Politics. New Hampshire of course holds the kickoff presidential primary. In an early stop at Saint A's, this considered part of the potential candidate playbook.

A big decision today with big impact on who will control the United States Senate Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire says he will not run against New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan in next year's midterm. Sununu was the GOP top recruit. Instead, Sununu says he plans to run for a fourth term as governor.


Appreciate your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere, Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a great day.