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Biden: Vote on Build Back Better Bill a "Giant Step Forward"; Dems Celebrate "Big Win" on Build Back Better Bill; House Passes Landmark Social Safety Net Bill; VP Harris Becomes First Woman to Hold Presidential Power While Biden Under Anesthesia for Colonoscopy; Right Now: CDC Advisers Discussing Boosters for All Adults. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody! Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. This big news day includes a giant step forward for the Biden agenda; a package that includes universal preschool, lower drug costs and landmark climate investments clears the House. Yes, Senate passage remains dicey but Democrats today are celebrating.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): On this vote, the yeas are 220, the nays are 213. The Build Back Better is passed.


KING: Plus, a routine physical brings a moment for the history books. Joe Biden gets the first physical of his presidency a day before he turned 79. And while the president is under anesthesia, Kamala Harris is the first woman to assume presidential power.

And breaking today the FDA gives a green light to COVID boosters for all adults. We begin though with that big win for the president and a vote that brings massive changes to your life a big step closer to reality.

Just a short time ago at the House it passed the Build Back Better Act 220 to 213. No Republicans voted yes. One Democrat voted no. The nearly $2 trillion bill now heads to the Senate where it likely will need to be trimmed some to win all 50 Democratic votes.

Yes that Senate debate is dicey and passage is not a sure thing. But today's vote is both a giant win and it is evidence Democrats understand they best figure this out. Look Republicans are going to call them big spending liberals or socialists in next year's campaign regardless.

Democrats see their odds as much better if they can show that that spending from Washington gave you among other things, free Pre-K help with childcare costs and lower drug costs. CNN is covering all the developments this hour at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

We begin at the White House Arlette Saenz a big victory for the president not to the finish line, but he can see it now.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, after a month of cajoling and negotiating this is really a major breakthrough for President Biden's economic agenda. Now President Biden spoke by phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to offer her congratulations.

And they also released a statement - the White House released a statement from the president celebrating this when that statement says today the United States House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act to take another giant step forward in carrying out my economic plan to create jobs, reduce costs, make our country more competitive, and give working people and the middle class a fighting chance.

The White House hopeful that this bill will make good on some of those campaign promises Biden made back in 2020 but they are also keenly aware of the steep climb that this bill will face up in the Senate as there are expected to be major changes made to the bill in order to win a support from people like Senator Joe Manchin, but today it's a moment of victory.

Well, we will see the president a bit later today for pardoning the turkeys the annual tradition, and certainly he's likely to comment as well there.

KING: We could bet on that. We could bet on that. Arlette Saenz thank you. Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill now CNN Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox, Lauren as Arlette notes again, the president can see the finish line but there is still his old hops the United States Senate. What's next?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning House leaders really jubilant. The House Speaker really moving around the house floor as this vote was ongoing, knowing that she was going to be secured a victory that for weeks was outside of her grasp. But what we saw this morning was House leaders really doing a victory lap even while they acknowledge there's more work to do in the Senate.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): It's a big win for the people, for the average working men and women of America, for those who struggle every day and hope that somebody is on their side.

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MS): What an incredible morning, what an incredible vote? What an incredible time for the American people to be seen and heard?

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): The Senate will do what it can do. And we'll come together on behalf of the American people and try to have a coordinated approach as we go off into the future. I'm not feared.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOX: But of course the key question there what will the Senate do specifically? What will Senator Joe Manchin, the moderate, who is much watched from the State of West Virginia? What will he do? He made it clear earlier this week.

He may be comfortable with the bill coming to the floor of the Senate before the Christmas break, but he hasn't made any assurances that he would be a yes on that piece of legislation. He also has major changes he's going to want to see in this bill.

One of them the fact that this legislation that passed the House to includes paid family leave that is a policy that Joe but - that excuse me Joe Manchin has said.


FOX: He supports but not using a Democratic only process like reconciliation John.

KING: More to come after the Thanksgiving holiday. Lauren Fox I appreciate the live report up on the hill. With me in studio on this big day to share the reporting and their insights CNN's Dana Bash, CNN's Ryan Nobles and McClatchy's Francesca Chambers.

Let's before we get to the politics, this is both a legacy of the last campaign. It's what the Democrats ran on in 2018, and 2020. And it will be the defining debate of the next campaign as we move forward. So let's just show what's in the House version of this?

$273 billion for child care; $205 billion for paid leave that's a big question mark, as Lauren just noted in the Senate? Universal Pre-K, electricity, tax credits, home health care help, Obamacare subsidies, and even more, yes, there's a lot of politics to talk about.

But in terms of policy Dana, the challenge for Democrats now is to tell the American people look, we're doing what you like, the Republicans have said big spending your liberals, you're socialists, if you go through those individual items; most of them are very popular.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And the challenge that they have is what people if they've been tuning in, they've heard is Democrats fighting one another reconciliation? What does that mean to me? They have no idea, trillions of dollars and the fight over the price tag, not the specifics.

And that is because of the nature of the sausage being made. I cannot tell you how many Democrats I've spoken to, I'm sure you have as well, on Capitol Hill who have said explicitly, we need to do better about messaging, which is going to be the whole ballgame over the next few weeks, they're going to be home for Thanksgiving break.

They're going to be doing whatever it takes to explain the things that are in this bill that really will affect their lives. And the question is whether or not it's too late, because Republicans have already tried to and in some ways successfully defined it as a big liberal spending bill.

I talked to some moderate Democrats actually, what with Josh Gottheimer back home to New Jersey, and he insists it's not because there are some things in there like the Northeastern Democrats especially they can say we're going to lower your taxes, if that goes well.

KING: Well, that's one of the big debates as we move forward to the Senate. The one House Democrat who voted no Jared Golden of Maine, he tends to be a more conservative or centrist Democrat anyway, he says he doesn't like this state and local tax deduction that was wiped out in the Trump tax cuts.

That, you know, if you live in a state with high taxes, you get to deduct some of that from your federal tax return. That is a huge issue for Bernie Sanders when we get over to the Senate. He says why are we giving tax breaks to wealthy Americans? Is that one of the things likely to be changed?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I thought was interesting was Sanders' first response to the passage of the Build Back Better Bill? He said that he welcomed it, but that the Senate was going to strengthen the bill.

So what you know defined strengthen for? For Bernie Sanders, it would be getting rid of the SALT deduction, because he believes that it benefits the 1 percent as he describes it. But I do think that what you've seen from Sanders here is a different posture in his position than the majority of his career in the Senate.

In the past, he's been the guy that's like, the purist; I only want this if it's the most progressive policy ever. But here we see a man in the sunset of his career, the head of the Budget Committee, the Sherpa, if you will, of this bill in the Senate; he wants to get something done.

So will he concede on something like this, because at the end of the day, he sees $1.9 trillion in spending for a lot of issues that he's cared about over the bulk of his career? He's already made a lot of concessions. But I think at the end of the day, he's probably willing to come to the table and allow something like --

KING: And I think part of that and then the question becomes if the progressives like Sanders who are willing to do that, what about Sinema and Manchin on the centrist side? If you talk to them, they more and more there, they may not be completely there yet, but they understand in the next campaign Republicans is going to be just like this.

This is the House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy, no matter what the Democrats do, if this bill passes, or if this bill collapse, Republicans are going to say this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Speaker Pelosi has crammed even more radical policies into a partisan bill that costs trillions in dollars we don't have. For government run programs that nobody wants what we had before as isn't a social spending bill. It's a pathway to socialism.


KING: Now, it's not a pathway to socialism. It simply is not. And a lot of it is popular. But that's the Republican framing of the campaign, which is why Nancy Pelosi says actually, if we pass this bill, we can go to the American people and say this.


PELOSI: We had Build Back Better Bill that is historic, transformative and larger than anything we have ever done before. If you're a parent, a senior a child, a worker, if you are an American, this bill, this bill is for you. And it is better.


KING: And that's the president's challenge now on the Senate side to tell Democrats look, we need to campaign on this if we don't have this to campaign on we're done.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And two key policy changes that we've touched on here look on paid family and medical leave advocates are arguing that it's very popular and it should be encouraged. But Senator Manchin does not believe that this bill is the place for paid family leave.


CHAMBERS: He hasn't changed his position on that and continues to believe that it could give bipartisan support potentially as a standalone bill at some point in the future. When you talk about the state and local tax deduction and compromises that could - that could be made on that one, pathway for that's being talked about is having anyone who makes under $400,000 a year by lifting the cap on that for them.

The White House, where are they out on this? They're a little agnostic to be honest. They've been saying that this isn't something that the president ever wanted in the first place, but understands that in order to get this bill passed, that that might need to be within a final version of the bill. So can they come together around something like that? $400,000 obviously, being the number that the president has, has typically put forward as well.

KING: Right. The new Fox News Poll accentuates the challenge for the Democrats to get this done. And then try to tell people that it looks - this is good for you. That is the Biden Administration focused on the right issues with the wrong things.

54 percent right now say the wrong things. 40 percent say the right issues, the challenge for the president is to sign this and then to be able to go out and campaign and say actually, free Pre-K expanded childcare options land mark investments in climates, that's the right thing.

BASH: That's it. It's all about communication. It's all about messaging right now. And it's the sound-bites that you just played Nancy Pelosi explaining what's in it beyond Build Back Better, because it's a nice slogan, but nobody knows really what it means versus Kevin McCarthy claiming socialism.

KING: It's what I do and I trashed the Legos and have to put them back together --. Up next for us, we just heard just now from the White House, President Biden is in good spirits after getting his first physical as President of the United States.



KING: I told just moments ago from the White House; the President of United States has resumed his full duties. President Biden though does remain at Walter Reed after his physical this morning. He underwent a routine colonoscopy, and that procedure did require anesthesia this morning.

Right now, we're not sure exactly how long the president was under? But we do know that when he was under anesthesia, he transferred power temporarily to the Vice President of United States and that is history. We'll get to that in a moment. Our Medical Analysts and Cardiologist to the Former Vice President Dick Cheney, Dr. Jonathan Reiner joins our panel to discuss.

Let's focus on that you have a long history, you understand how the White House medical unit works? President turns 79 tomorrow, what is a physical for the president and in terms of this colonoscopy routine you're out for 20 minutes or so?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, about that. So first of all, a presidential physical is a big endeavor. Typically, the president would might see as many as a dozen consultants; the medical care of the president gets is the same care that you'll get.

But they do it in an incredibly compressed manner with an elaborate kind of kabuki theater coordination, so that you can see you can have a colonoscopy, and you can see a cardiologist and have your eyes checked and your ears check and maybe see an EMT doctor. And you can do that not in six or seven weeks. But you can do that in three or four hours.

So this takes weeks to schedule. And Kevin O'Connor, the president's physician is very experienced at doing this. He's he has a long history has been with the vice president since he was vice president. And this would have taken weeks of preparation.

The colonoscopy requires unconscious sedation for just about everybody, typically, including a medicine called "Propofol" and maybe something like "Fentanyl", which gives you a good sleep for about a half hour. And during that period of time the president would be impaired and it isn't completely - it's completely appropriate to transfer the power to the vice president under section three of the 25th amendment.

KING: It happened during the Bush Administration - President Bush did to Vice President Cheney, I think twice?


KING: Yes.

DR. REINER: So that should always be done when the president would be incapable of making an important decision immediately.

KING: Now we're waiting. We're waiting to get the details of this physical from the White House. And we'll see there's a briefing scheduled in about 10 minutes or so. We do know when he has last physical, then Vice President Biden or he was Former Vice President Biden at that point in Public Life.

178 pounds, body mass index 24.38 being treated at that point for non- valvular atrial fibrillation, gas reflux, seasonal allergies, pretty routine, right - pretty routine stuff, what are you looking for now?

DR. REINER: Well, we're looking for changes. Has the president developed something that he didn't have, when we last saw his comprehensive report of prior to his taking - taken office? We're looking at his vital signs; we're looking at his weight.

You know, by my eye, it looks like the president has put on a couple of pounds. And I think that's actually a good thing. I thought he looked too thin. I'd like to see what his lipid panel is? He's 79 years old, 79 year old folks get a vascular disease. So let's see what the president's cholesterol is. Let's see what his blood pressure is.

If they do something like a comprehensive cardiac exam, they might do an echocardiogram today. Let's see what his heart function is like? And then obviously, if he had colonoscopy, we want to know whether the team found any polyps or anything that they needed to biopsy?

KING: And as we - I want to come back to you on a couple questions about the president, but I just want to remark this moment in history, we're now told by the White House, the president had transferred his powers to Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States for 1 hour and 25 minutes.

So for 1 hour and 25 minutes, the United States had for the first time in its history, a woman and a woman of color who had presidential power. That's a big deal.

CHAMBERS: Yes. And the vice president, we now expect her to go to Ohio later on today with the president. He's going to have to pardon those turkeys later. And I also had a question how would you be feeling after that? You're going to want to get up and give a really big speech after you've went through all that today?


DR. REINER: He probably will; if you've ever had "Propofol" it's about 30 minutes of the best sleep you've ever had. You might look quite rested in the life.

KING: But - I lost my dad to colon cancer many years ago. So I'm a routine colonoscopy. And you're right, you get the best sleep in the world and you're up and at it. But you're up at it pretty quick as you go through it.

Again, this it's a routine physical, it's a moment that but it was a moment it will be noted in the history books that America for an hour, 25 minutes, had a Woman Commander in Chief?

BASH: I just went down went to my phone to look at the date, November 19th, 2021 it is the first time that a woman a woman of color, had presidential power. It was brief, but it happened and it is a moment to mark in history. Some point, maybe in our lifetimes, there will be a woman who is elected to the highest office in the land.

NOBLES: I would say it's disappointing that this is - we get to - this is how we get to this point?

BASH: Through a colonoscopy?

NOBLES: Through a colonoscopy and this far into the history of this country and many other nations of America's ilk have already taken this step and given women this power at this level. So it's --

BASH: Well said.

NOBLES: Yes, and but I would say it is significant. We should not underplay the fact that we've gotten to this point. And you know, it is significant, but perhaps it comes in a more now.

KING: There was - Dr. Reiner, there was a significant backslide during the Trump Presidency on the question of transparency from our leaders about everything, but especially including the president himself. Joe Biden is the oldest man ever elected first term president.

There are some out there on the Republican slash conservative side who routinely question his ability to conduct his office. I don't want to wander you into the politics, but from a transparency point of view, A, what should any president whether that president is in his 40s, or in his 70s make available to the American people?

And should there be a different standard, even a more demand for full transparency, when you have a president who's about to hit 80 or 79 and then 80?

DR. REINER: I think the transparency requirements should apply to candidates and presidents of all ages. Look, there are - the public has a right to know anything that might be reasonably considered to interfere with the ability of the president to perform in office, whether it's a physical challenge, whether it's a psychological psychiatric problem.

Anything - whether it's a medication the president has to take because of an illness, anything that might reasonably interfere with the performance of the president should be publicly known. Now, there are - there are very few things that should I think, prohibit someone from running for office.

I do think there are some mental illnesses that can and should prohibit someone from running for office. But whatever a person's medical history contains the public has a right to know when they elect the most powerful person on the planet.

And I think we saw with the prior administration, what happens when there is no transparency when there is opacity, and the public knows nothing about the health of a candidate. We know nothing about the health of the prior candidate.

And I think there are serious questions to be made about the prior candidates, psychiatric, the prior president's psychiatric health, and the public has a right to know these issues.

KING: Well, certainly we'll see what the Biden White House puts out for us? Moments ago from the briefing and we'll carry on conversation there. But I think the key point about transparency is a very important one we should keep for this president and as we move forward.

When we come back booster Blitz, we're one step now, one step closer to all adults in the United States being eligible for COVID-19 booster shots. What the FDA authorization means for you, that's next?



KING: There's more huge news on this very busy Friday. A CDC panel is meeting right now and by day's end, it is likely the government will recommend booster shots for all adults who received the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky makes the final call after that advisors meeting that is happening right now. The FDA gave its green light to boosters for all adults earlier today. Let's bring into share his expertise and insights Dr. Paul Offit.

He's a member of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee and the Director for Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital Philadelphia Dr. Offit grateful to see you on this day. I just want to bring up the screen for our viewers right now 195.7 so 196 million Americans are fully vaccinated by the government's definition of that about 17 percent of them 32.5 million have received boosters already.

Now that we expect by the end of the day, the government will green light boosters for all adults do we have to change our definition of fully vaccinated? This fully vaccinated now means you have a booster if you're six months after that second dose?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER: Well, that depends on what we expect from this vaccine. If we expect this vaccine to protect against serious illness, meaning the kind of illness that caused you to seek medical care, go to the doctor's office, go to the hospital go to the ICU. These vaccines are doing that they've consistently been doing that with the possible exception recently of people who are over 65 years of age who arguably people over 50 who have a high risk medical condition in which case then you could reasonably argue for a booster doses for those groups, because you want to make sure that you still have a high level of protection against serious illness.

On the other hand, and the reason that's true is because all you need for protection against serious illness is immunological memory cells so called Memory B Cells and they are apparently induced at fairly high frequency.