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Inside Politics

Biden Signs Infrastructure Law, House Passes Broader Economic Bill; Daily COVID Case Count In U.S. Up More Than 25 Percent In Two Weeks; Jury Finds Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty On All Charges; McCarthy Holds Up House Vote With 8-Hr Floor Speech; VP Harris Downplays West Wing Tensions Over Her Role. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 21, 2021 - 08:00   ET





KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST (voice-over): Two big wins for the president. He signs the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law and advances his top domestic priority.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The Build Back Better bill is passed!

COLLINS: But now comes the harder part -- winning over Senator Joe Manchin.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Still looking at everything.


COLLINS: Plus, a jury acquits Kyle Rittenhouse and conservatives make him a folk hero.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Kyle Rittenhouse is an innocent man and the hell that he went through because of the slander, the libel from the left.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: White men feel that they have the right to enforce the law themselves.

COLLINS: And COVID cases spike ahead of Thanksgiving. How rough of a winter is the U.S. in for.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We're about to go yet again over 100,000 new cases a day. We're starting to see now the beginning of that winter wave.

COLLINS: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


COLLINS (on camera): And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Kaitlan Collins, in for Abby Phillip.

President Biden turned 79 yesterday. The Congress gave him two early birthday gifts. on Monday, he signed an historic infrastructure bill into law, the bipartisan group of lawmakers celebrating behind him. And on Friday, the House passed the centerpiece of his domestic agenda, the Build Back Better bill.


PELOSI: This bill is monumental. It's historic. It's transformative. It's bigger than anything we've ever done. We have a lot to be thankful for this thanksgiving and I want to express my gratitude for President Joe Biden.


COLLINS: It includes half a trillion dollars to fight climate change, universal pre-K, paid family leave, extension of the child tax credit expanded Medicare, hundreds of billions of dollars for affordable housing and much more. Republicans say it's socialism.


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. It's a pathway to socialism.


COLLINS: But if Biden gets the bill through the Senate, he will be the president who got decades worth of Democratic priorities over the finish line. That was a big if. As hard as it was to unify moderate and progressive Democrats in the House, winning over Joe Manchin could be more difficult.

Joining me now with their reporting and their insights, Zolan Kanno- Youngs of "The New York Times", Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post", "Politico's" Heather Caygle, and Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post'.

Obviously, this was a very big week for President Biden. What is the mood inside the White House right now?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, they're happy but obviously aware of the challenges ahead. It's particularly in the Senate. Those challenges are significant.

We just talked about Senator Joe Manchin and the obstacle that he poses to getting this across the finish line. He has expressed a number of concerns about the version of the legislation that the House passed on Friday morning. He doesn't like the four weeks of paid leave in that legislation. He also has complained about the tax credits for electric vehicles that are in that legislation.

And there are also procedural issues as well. Immigration could be chopped out. There are concerns about the state and local tax deduction, raising that cap, concerns about perhaps giving a tax break to the wealthy.

So you have a very difficult balancing act by the White House that they have to do over the next couple of weeks. Get Manchin in line, accommodate his needs.

And Senator Kyrsten Sinema, she's not completely yet on board either. I mean, she told us in an interview this past week, about the House bill that that is not the initial framework that President Biden. So, she's making it clear that she's going to have her own demands and her own concerns as well.

COLLINS: And, Zolan, what are you hearing about the White House tactic when it comes to Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, look, when it comes to those two, you've seen even in recent weeks the president get more involved on some of the negotiations, not just sending some of his closest advisers to Congress, but also bringing them to the White House, even bringing them to Delaware as well. So, you would think that's going to continue.

And remember, there's a two-track strategy here because it's not just continuing to focus on the legislation that's still pending and going to the Senate, you also now need to sell infrastructure too.


KANNO-YOUNGS: You need to start selling the legislative packages that been associated with congressional gridlock and try to sell it in a way where it's appealing to voters.


In talking to White House officials, Kaitlan, it seems like they're focused on trying to translate the sprawling packages that are confusing for some voters. And turning it into what it means in terms of jobs and the economy so that for the person who is concerned about the rising price at the grocery store, they can see this as a solution. Can the president do that and be that effective seller? We'll see.

COLLINS: And part of the problem is we don't actually know what the final bill is going to look like. We know what the House passed. But the Senate version could look a lot different.

And we heard Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is telling "The New York Times" in an interview, if those promises don't follow through, it's going to be a very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward. She says the trust is already so delicate, it will have been broken and what really dampens turnout is when Democrats make promises they can't keep.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CO-CONGRESSIONAL BUREAU CHIEF, POLITICO: Right. So what the House did was a big deal. But what I call the easiest of the hard things, because as you said and Seung Min said, Joe Manchin wants to strip a lot out of this bill. Kyrsten Sinema has her own ideas. And the Senate parliamentarian is not on board with some other things like immigration.

So, this bill is very likely going to look a lot different. Pelosi has a three-vote margin. So, she can only afford to lose three Democrats and still pass this.

So, there is a lot of questions about how they will get there, and, you know what they can do to appease these progressives and these moderates who are uncomfortable with things that they'll be losing in the senate.

COLLINS: And we're hearing from the White House, they're saying this bill is not going to make inflation worse, that's been a concern you've seen from some senators like Senator Joe Manchin about more federal spending at a time when there is inflation. The White House seems to be trying to tamp down that criticism.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is one of the agencies said, I quote, the bills do not add inflation pressures. Let me repeat that, do not add inflation pressures.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Economists across the board will say this will actually help reduce inflation, address inflation over the long-term.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): The message really is if you care about inflation, pass the Build Back Better Act.


COLLINS: Is that message breaking through, not with Senator Joe Manchin but also with voters who are worried about what they're paying now?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, it is a hard message to make for voters going to the grocery still and the gas station and seeing the higher cost of gas. It is hard to explain that all of these various pieces of this bill is going to make it better when people don't necessarily connect the dots between child care or, you know, the fact that people will be able to send their kids to pre-K for free and inflation and some of the most popular parts of this bill don't necessarily have that inflation component, and they're talking about economists say this, economists say that.

It's harder for, you know, their average American to really see how this exact bill is going to help them and their pocketbooks when it comes to inflation. They see other parts of the bill that is popular when it comes to taking care of their families, making sure they have money for child care tax credit, but a lot of their problems that we've had with inflation, you hear Republicans say that it because we pumped so much money into people's pockets, because we pump so much government money into the economy, and it's hard for the White House and officials who are supporting this bill to counter that because people are seeing those prices go up and inflation is at a 30-year high.

COLLINS: Yeah. And so, what does the White House -- what messaging are they trying to use when it comes to Joe Manchin specifically who made it clear this is a concern he hears when he goes to the gas station in West Virginia, people say are you as mad as we are about this and he said yes?

KANNO-YOUNGS: I think to that concern there, you have noticed, remember when we first start to hear these packages introduced, you would hear them sell by touting, climate change, the sweeping proposals, racial equity. Just in that clip alone, you're starting to see them really tap into -- no, no, no, we understand, this is inflation. This will combat inflation, this will create jobs, when it comes to certain provisions they see might have bipartisan appeal, I was speaking to the White House official who said, look, one example of something that we can talk a lot about is Medicare negotiating down prescription drug prices.

They see that as something that can appeal to the sort of, you know, bipartisan base in a way that can appeal to the suburban white voter, that can appeal to the rural voter as well. Doing things like that, they're hoping can start to sway someone like Joe Manchin.

COLLINS: One big issue is that the president sold this as a boost for the middle class. That's been what they have talked about time and time again. But there is a provision that is getting some -- having some issues with Senator Bernie Sanders, this state and local tax deduction and the cap included on this, which the White House says is necessary because they need to get those moderate Democrats who say it must be included on board.

Senator Bernie Sanders does not agree.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think it is bad politics, it is bad policy, the Democrats correctly have campaigned on the understanding that amidst massive income and wealth inequality, we have to demand the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, not give them more tax breaks.



COLLINS: Is Bernie Sanders right?

KIM: It is a tough messaging situation for Democrats certainly. And that's why I think when the bill does go over to the Senate, you try to see senators such as Bernie Sanders and other people try to lower the cap that the House dramatically raised from that 2017 tax law and how much of your state and local taxes you can deduct. But at the same time, this is the reality of such narrow majorities in the House and the Senate. You have to get almost everyone happy to be on board.

The White House was very tepid all along when you ask them about this SALT deduction, even months ago when we asked about it, well, it is not in his plan, but if that's what you need to get it through Congress, then sure, then we'll deal with it. And it is what they needed, at least in the House. You had a bunch of Democrats from the very expensive high cost of living Northeast areas saying we need us to get this done.

So the big question is, if it does get adjusted, notably in the Senate, do the Tom Souzzis and the Josh Gottheimers still stand for it? And that's going to be a big question.

COLLINS: Yeah, and the White House also is not saying whether or not they support that income threshold on this either. We'll wait to see how that plays out in the Senate.

Up next, though, the first day of Thanksgiving air travel has broken pandemic records. But could the U.S. be heading toward another winter wave?



COLLINS: Some of the deadliest months of the pandemic were last winter as the weather was getting colder, people were going indoors and vaccines weren't widely yet available. Public health experts are hoping this winter will be different and here's why. You see nearly 60 percent of the country is fully vaccinated now at this point. About 69.2 percent are partially vaccinated and the White House says about half a million people are getting a first shot every single day.

The FDA and the CDC approved booster shots to give people more protection ahead of the holidays, but there is a reason for their concern. If you look at the U.S., you can see there are states where people are going indoors, it is getting colder and cases are rising. Especially in the Northeast, you can see the states turning orange, some of them borderline red here.

And, of course, this comes as we're still having about a thousand deaths a day. Health experts in the U.S. and inside the White House and federal government are also watching Europe, seeing what is happening in Austria, the seven-day average of new cases is skyrocketing.

You're seeing the same thing in Germany as well, this is leading to new restrictions. In Germany, right now, you cannot ride public transit unless you've been vaccinated at a COVID -- had COVID-19 or tested negative.

In Austria, a ten-day lockdown and mandatory vaccination program for all adults, that's the only western democracy so far.

Here's how the Austrian chancellor is explaining his decision.


ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR: We have decided now to initiate the nationwide compulsory vaccination very quickly. This is from February 1st, 2022. Sustainably increasing vaccination rates I think we all agreed on this is our only way to get out of this vicious circle of virus waves and lockdown discussions once and for all.


COLLINS: Dr. Ranney is joining us now. She's an ER doctor in Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Ranney, thanks for getting up with us this morning. As you saw the numbers in Europe, do you think that is a warning sign for what is potentially to come in the United States?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATE DEAN: I do think it is a warning sign, Kaitlan. I and other public health experts have been seeing for months that as we start going indoors in northern states, we are going to see surges, particularly in those states with lower vaccination rates that are slower to what was experienced in the south this summer. I think we are heading for higher cases, higher hospitalizations, but here's the important caveat, it is still going to be different from last winter.

Even in the states with the lowest vaccination rates, those who are vaccinated are largely protected from severe disease, hospitalization and death, so even the worst surges should be a little bit better than what we had in the horrible winter of 2020 and early 2021.

COLLINS: Yeah, and cases where you are in Rhode Island have more than doubled over the last three weeks. You are one of the most vaccinated states in the country as you were just talking about those that aren't well vaccinated, 72 percent in Rhode Island is fully vaccinated, including 83 percent of adult.

So, you've been working in the ER this weekend. What are you seeing?

RANNEY: So the good news is I did spend the weekend working in my emergency department, and over my two shifts I admitted not a single critically ill COVID patient. The patients that were admitted over the weekend were entirely unvaccinated, those vaccines work to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Now, might we see a surge in a couple of weeks? We know there is always a delay between cases and hospitalizations. It's possible. But I'm hopeful that although cases are going up, we're going to avoid the overwhelming, the need for field hospitals, the triage criteria, because our ERs are at a breaking point for other reasons. ERs across the country, Kaitlan, are just overwhelmed with patients who are sick, with other things, that they put off unfortunately during the COVID pandemic.

COLLINS: Yeah, and that comes on the heels of concerns of waning immunity and what that looks like for the broader United States. And so, the FDA and the CDC have just approved booster shots for all adults six months after their second shot. This does fulfill a pledge that President Biden made in August talking about making this widely available. But just because people can get booster shots, does that mean they should?

RANNEY: So here's who absolutely should get a booster shot. It is folks who are older, age 50 or 60 and up, and people who are immuno- suppressed, who are taking any of the hosts of medications that make your immune system a little bit less effective.


Those are people who should be running out and getting the booster shot. For the rest of us, what does the booster do, it saves us from having to miss a few days of work, it may help decrease community spread, although those breakthrough cases seem to be a little bit less transmissible. You know, there are plenty of doses available. It doesn't hurt for most of us to go out and get them. It is the older folks and immuno-suppressed for whom it is essential.

COLLINS: Yeah, and, we know the White House is using this as an opportunity to try to clear messaging when it comes to booster shots. But I also want to ask you about the new study last week that came out from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It founded a political party you belong to is probably the biggest predictor of whether or not you're vaccinated. There is new data about other shots in there, for instance saying 68 percent of Democrats say they have gotten or very likely to get a flu shot, only 44 percent of Republicans have said the same.

And, of course, you know, the flu is one thing, but are you concerned about this kind of partisan split when it comes to vaccine, carrying over to other things like measles, mumps, hepatitis?

RANNEY: I am tremendously concerned. As a physician, who has been in the emergency department for almost 20 years at this point, I see what vaccines do to protect us. I have seen changes in childhood disease patterns, thanks to new vaccines. I've also seen what happens when people come who have not been vaccinated.

As you say, measles, whooping cough, many other diseases that have been largely disappeared from U.S. thanks to universal vaccination of kids.

Vaccines like most of health, I think, should not be a political issue. And what really makes me upset is not the individuals who are afraid about vaccines, but it is the purveyors of misinformation, disinformation and lies, who are using this political moment to make themselves money or get themselves attention.

They are hurting people by spreading these untruths about vaccines and by dividing us according to political lines.

COLLINS: And there are disagreements over that. We are coming up on Thanksgiving.

I do want to ask you about not disagreements at Thanksgiving that we know everyone has in their families, but what are your plans for this Thanksgiving? Because it is a lot different than last year. There are vaccines that are widely available, a lot of people are now vaccinated.

So what is your advice for people who want to celebrate Thanksgiving and get back to that normal kind of holiday celebration?

RANNEY: Well, let me tell you what I'm doing. I'm getting together with multiple different parts of my family, my parents who are a little older and boosted, aunts and uncles, cousins, my own family. Remember, my littlest kid has only gotten his first shot of the vaccine. So, he's not fully vaccinated yet. And my kids are in school full time. A bunch of us are out and working. It's a little bit of a riskier group. We

have all gotten vaccinated except for that youngest kid. The older adults have gotten their boosters. And we will all be rapid testing the day off to make sure none of us is infectious with a breakthrough case. That's a way to insure that we're all safe.

In addition, if you're in a family with more unvaccinated people, I really recommend spending a lot of time thinking about ventilation, open windows, air filters, maybe even considering taking the celebration outside if you have a high number of unvaccinated people, or if you have a lot of people all getting together for the holidays.

COLLINS: Those are all good tips. Dr. Ranney, thank you for joining us this morning. We hope you have a great thanksgiving.

RANNEY: Thank you. You, too, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Up next, conservatives are celebrating Kyle Rittenhouse's acquittal as a victory for self-defense and gun rights in America.



COLLINS: A not guilty verdict in a Wisconsin courtroom on Friday became the latest flashpoint in the country's debate over inequality and gun rights.

A jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse after he was accused of fatally shooting two people in Kenosha last summer. The left labeled it as a failure in the criminal justice system. And Vice President Kamala Harris called the verdict, quote, disappointing.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The verdict really speaks for itself. As many of you know, I spent a majority of my career working to make the criminal justice system more equitable and clearly there is a lot more work to do. Thanks.


COLLINS: Kyle Rittenhouse, and a Tucker Carlson produced documentary on the trial says he acted in self-defense.


KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: The jury reached the correct verdict, self-defense is not illegal. And I believe they came to the correct verdict and I'm glad that everything went well.


COLLINS: Toluse, you're writing a book on George Floyd's life. Obviously, there are critical differences in those two situations. But as you watched this, as this was something that the eyes of the nation were watching this trial, what did you take away from it?

OLORUNNIPA: There was a period over last summer where we started to think that maybe the country was going to come together on issues of violence, of justice, of criminal justice, after George Floyd's death and it did seem like people of all different persuasions, of all different political backgrounds were coming on to the streets and deciding they're not going to stand for what happened to George Floyd. But we quickly saw the backlash to that.


We saw people go back to their camps and now we see people like Kyle Rittenhouse who was involved in one of the protests as a sort of vigilante in a way and said he ended up having to use self-defense, we're now seeing him become sort of a cause celebre on the right as someone who was willing to fight against the mob, fight against the riots and we see people like former President Trump sort of embracing that kind of ethos.

We're seeing people like the McCloskeys in St. Louis become top people on the -- in the Republican Party and speakers at the Republican convention last year, in part because there is this mood that the Black Lives Matter movement has gone too far.

There needs to be pushback. In some cases there needs to be a violence pushback against that kind of sentiment. And now that is really showing how far apart we are as a country when at a time last summer we thought maybe we would be able to come together over these issues. We're very far from that now.

COLLINS: Yes. It's been a complete embrace from conservatives and on the right of Kyle Rittenhouse in the wake of this. Not just former President Trump but several other lawmakers as well.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a great decision. I was surprised it had to go this far. Somebody should have ended it earlier.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): It was a good day for freedom. A good day for the process. A good day for America. REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my

friend. You have a right to defend yourself. Be armed. Be dangerous. And be moral.


COLLINS: Do you expect to see more of that from the right?

KANNO-YOUNGS: I think we can probably expect to see more of that. I mean the members at this point are going to, as you were saying Toluse, they're going to look at this case and try and galvanize (INAUDIBLE), try and relate it to gun rights, try and relate it to limiting this trial to specifically about self-defense even though when you talk to many legal experts, when you talk to as well grassroots organizations, people that have been monitoring this trial, they would say this case also did expose some fault lines in the self- defense argument and what it means to defend yourself, who has the privilege to defend yourself as well when who we see as a threat in this country is in part shaped by race as well.

And look, it's also going to raise questions for the Biden administration. You know, as we were saying, there was momentum building up, especially after last summer, for things like police accountability but also for gun reform. and those are issues that have been side lined as this administration has focused on the social spending package as well as infrastructure as well.

So there will be questions after these cases as well of what is the administration going to do to make it harder to purchase a semi- automatic rifle that somebody can go to a protest or what have you and just carry out in public.

COLLINS: And people are watching President Biden's reaction to this closely because you saw from progressive Democrats like Cori Bush who were very upset about this verdict. This was President Biden's initial reaction when he was asked about the verdict.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it.


COLLINS: So that's what he told reporters. The White House did later issue a written statement from him that said, "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and confused, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."

What do you think is the difference in those two statements from the White House?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, in the written statement particularly you see how carefully the White House is really trying to appeal to everyone in this debate because you're trying to first of all and what you saw with President Biden's immediate reaction when he spoke to reporters, he's acknowledging that look we have a jury system in this country. We have to respect the outcome of the jury.

But he's also tapping and sympathizing with the many people who are really outraged by the verdict by saying he himself is angry and concerned. Do you see how careful the White House was trying to be with his rhetoric here? Because this White House, this president knows how much presidential rhetoric and presidential tone matter?

It's quite the contrast in the last administration when President Trump inflamed so much of this through his tone and through his rhetoric.

COLLINS: Yes. And what are you hearing on the hill, Heather? Because of course, you know, there were these efforts that had a lot of momentum behind them from Democrats last year. That seems to have completely all but faded essentially.

So is this something that is kind of breathing new life into that or what are you hearing from lawmakers?

HEATHER CAYGLE, CO-CONGRESSIONAL BUREAU CHIEF, POLITICO: No, I would say the opposite. I think this shows how polarized not just the country is but everyone on the Hill.

If Congress was going to get anything done on police reform, it would have been last year. That's when the pressure was really on. Those talks fizzled, as you said, and then they came back together this summer after the conviction of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd's murder but, again, they really struggled to get somewhere.

And then in September both Cory Booker and Tim Scott who were the main negotiators walked away. And that was after Democrats gave up a lot on the policies that they had been demanding including changes to qualified immunity which says, you know, you can't sue a police officer for wrongdoing and things like that.

So I think this and how the right has been mobilized shows more than ever that Republicans will not want to wade into this debate.

COLLINS: And Van Jones did a notable job of really kind of connecting everything that we're seeing on a national level in the wake of the Rittenhouse verdict.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We've got a pattern now where white men feel that they have the right to enforce the law themselves. When you look at Ahmaud Arbery, when you look at this case, when you look at Trayvon Martin, when you look at the white mob that attacked the capitol. That somehow there is a group of people that think that they have the right to take the law into their own hands. That is a big problem.



COLLINS: Does he have a point?

OLORUNNIPA: There is an important point there especially when it comes to the politics of this. The Biden administration is putting a lot of money into social issues, into making sure people have enough money to pay their bills and take care of their families.

But there is also the social issue of is my family going to be able to be alive? Is my family going to be able to be safe? Are we going to be equal? Are we going to suffer from discrimination in this country? And that's something that with the Biden administration's agenda really being focused on infrastructure and economic policy, and not having as much cache when it comes to things like voting rights, when it comes to things like police reform.

It makes it harder for Biden who really benefitted from a lot of black voters to be able to go to those voters and say, I dealt with the issues that you are concerned with. I made sure that your families feel safe and secure in this country and feel equal in this country.

And that is an issue that when we see these cases, when we see these acquittals, it makes it harder for the administration to say that things are getting better.

COLLINS: Yes. And there are other trials playing out. We've got the Ahmaud Arbery trial this week, the closing arguments are expected. So we'll see what the White House reaction to that is.

Up next though, we're going to talk about Kevin McCarthy's epic record breaking speech but was it all for an audience of one?



COLLINS: For 8 hours and 32 minutes on Thursday night, top House Republican Kevin McCarthy stood on the House floor and delivered a wide ranging speech, railing against Democratic policies, saying that he wished he was there to knock down the Berlin wall, wished he owned a Tesla and explained where baby carrots come from.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: This is the single most reckless and irresponsible spending bill in our nation's history.

We cannot become a socialist country. They have all failed.

The "Schoolhouse Rock", didn't you love that? "Conjunction, junction, what's your function? Hooking up phrases and cars and assumptions."

Or the preamble. "We the people, in order to form to a more perfect union."

But my favorite was "I'm just a bill on Capitol Hill." (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: That speech to rally the Republican Party and burnish his own bid to be speaker of the House if Republicans do gain control next year. Although some in his party are discussing an alternative.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: I would love to see the gavel go from Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump. She would go from tearing up a speech to having to give the gavel to Donald Trump? Oh, she would go crazy.


COLLINS: Obviously he had eight hours and 32 minutes to fill that's why that speech was so wide-ranging. But it was -- it did have a real attempt at the heart of it, which was to rally the party around him. He wants to be speaker of the house next year.

I mean this idea of Trump being floated, it seems pretty unlikely.

KIM: It seems a little ridiculous just to be clear. So leaders in Congress -- leaders in the House have used their so-called magic minute at times to really rally their own party behind them.

You have John Boehner's speech back in 2009 over the energy tax credit to obviously Speaker Pelosi. Now Speaker Pelosi's eight hour speech on dreamers a couple of years ago, and now McCarthy has broken that record. There is that effect of energizing your conference behind you when you are a leader and you do that. and it comes at a point when McCarthy really needed to get his party together. The House Republicans were besieged this week obviously the controversy Congressman Gosar and a lot of internal conflicts within their conference.

So this is a chance for Kevin McCarthy, even in his own meandering way, to bring their party together at least for this moment.

COLLINS: And what does this mean for Gosar? Because he was censured this wee, after he tweeted out that video that showed violence against Congresswoman AOC and President Biden of course. And then he retweeted it I believe, after he had been censured by the House. What does his standing in the party look like right now?

CAYGLE: I think there are a lot of Republicans who are frankly uncomfortable with Paul Gosar. He has ties to white nationalism. This was not the first controversy that he has engaged in. And that really makes him uncomfortable but the interesting thing this week is McCarthy was mostly able to keep Republicans together on this.

Only the two that we've seen be very outspoken, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger voted to support the censure. And so I think that in and of itself was a big moment because he was able to unite these two factions of his party. He did say on Thursday that he expected to reinstate Paul Gosar to committee if and when he is the speaker as well as Marjorie Taylor Greene.

So he is playing both sides of the fences here trying to appease centrists by letting them vote on the infrastructure bill and telling his members not to attack them afterwards. And then also saying but these more controversial members, I will give you plumb committee spots if I'm speaker.

KANNO-YOUNGS: It really does show just how mainstream -- just how in the mainstream the right wing -- the GOP -- the House GOP really is in embracing, you know, some of that violent language and at times extremist views, too.

Just the fact that you have Kevin McCarthy around right now, who is very conscious, you can tell, of the fact that, you know, they could retake the majority in the midterms going forward.

He wants that leadership position and you're seeing him appeal to not just moderates but also folks on the far right that embrace these fringe views.

And what that means going forward, whether or not we continue to see a normalization and a real embrace and honestly acceptance of some of those views, there's a question of that's the future of the House GOP at this point.

COLLINS: What is the future of the House GOP? Because not even just the House GOP, just the GOP generally. Because you saw this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill in Brandon, Florida. Obviously Brandon has been this code, let's go, Brandon. This vulgar code for something about President Biden.

You also saw the conservative conference CPAC tweeting out that they are banning Big Bird from their conference, disinviting him because of the whole vaccine push from them.

You know, what is the future of the Republican Party? What are they running on? What is this looking like for them?

OLORUNNIPA: This is a party that has been completely molded in the mold of Donald Trump. He has been known to be sort of antivaccine, or at least in terms of personal freedom, you know, freedom of choice and not liking mandates. He has been known to sort of embrace some of this vulgar language that we're seeing. He puts it out on his former social media.


And you know, we talked about whether or not he should get the gavel for leading the House. He may not need it. He may just really be able to show that he has the control of the House. He has the control of people like Leader McCarthy who spent eight hours speaking and got, you know, a favorable statement from the former president while Mitch McConnell on the other side of the aisle, on the other side of the chamber gets all kinds of mean, nasty grams from Trump.

So you know, this is a Trump party that's the party that is very much embracing his mold of politics and has left an open lane for him as he wants to run again for president in 2024.

COLLINS: Yes. And Trump who had been unhappy with McCarthy was very happy, we were told, after those eight hours and 32 minutes.

Up next, President Biden's first physical marked another historic first.

And the president also pardoned his first Thanksgiving turkeys. How did he stack up in the presidential puns department.


BIDEN: Peanut Butter and Jelly were selected based on their temperament, appearance and I suspect vaccination status. Yes, instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted.

Secretary Buttigieg couldn't be here today but I'm sorry for Pete and Chasten. Peanut Butter and Jelly are now the new Indiana power couple.




COLLINS: On Friday, President Biden had his first physical since taking office. And for the 85 minutes that he was under anesthesia for his colonoscopy there was another much more historic first.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: As he undergoes his physical, Biden will temporarily transfer power to Vice President Harris. Interesting historical note here, this makes her the first woman in history with presidential power.


COLLINS: Heather, obviously this was temporary, just 85 minutes but it was still significant and it's the first time we've seen a woman actually have the power of those presidential duties even if it was just for 85 minutes. What do you think this really meant?

CAYGLE: I think on Friday, regardless of your political leanings, I think everyone can stop and take a pause and be like well, that's cool that we finally broke those barriers.

And then I as a woman thought to myself, wow this country is 245 years old and we finally just broke those barriers. So it was a little bit of a mixed bag. I do think she was probably happy for the headlines after a slew of negative ones.

COLLINS: Yes, I like how a lot of people also pointed out it was on International Men's Day no less, for the two men here.


COLLINS: But you're right, this does come amid some headlines about her job and some tensions between her office and the West Wing. She was actually asked about this on "Good Morning America" if she feels like she's misused in her portfolio.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Even your close friends and allies like Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis have expressed some frustration because they think you can be more helpful than you've been asked to be.

Do you share that frustration? What do you say to your friends who are frustrated?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a good week. And this week, when we got this bipartisan infrastructure act passed and signed by the president makes the statement about all of the hard work that has gone into it month after month after month. We're getting things done and we're doing it together.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't feel misused or underused?

HARRIS: No, I don't. I am very, very excited about the work that we have accomplished. But I am also absolutely, absolutely clear-eyed that there is a lot more to do and we're going to get it done.


COLLINS: Is that what you're hearing from people inside the White House, that that's how she views her portfolio?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, look, I mean when you talk to the VP's camp as well as the White House they say look, she's focused on these crucial issues going overseas. They say she's a crucial part of, you know, the administration's plan for some of these packages.

When you talk to her early supporters like I have, when you've been talking to donors and backers for her early the campaign or the presidential campaign as well, there's definitely concern that she has been tasked not just with agenda items that are crucial to the administration but rather agenda items that cannot really have a political return for her future at this point.

And that's throughout really the time of this administration starting with her first trip to central America where the headline coming back was an interview with Lester Holt where she talks about whether or not she's going to visit to the border and she has the Europe comment, the "do not come" comment as well.

You know, with her camp, she's overseas doing these productive trips to Southeast Asia, to Paris as well to try and mend that diplomatic relationship with France but there is concern when you talk to early supporters that she is not being set up with the kind of agenda item that can get that political return going forward.

COLLINS: And I think this also comes as you're seeing another Democratic rising star, the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg really have a big platform with this infrastructure bill that's been passed and now they're working on the implementation and the "Washington Post" had a headline this week saying, you know, he's been handed billions of dollars, gained influence with the opportunity to shape national infrastructure priorities. So how do you see these two together?

KIM: I mean talk about being handed a portfolio that's actually good and something that you can promote. He's been traveling all over the country already promoting this very popular infrastructure law. He will continue to do so.

And what he gets to do within the Department of Transportation is crucial because a lot of things -- he gets a lot of money, a lot of grants and one of the missions is to promote racial equity in how transportation is built.

And he was actually talking about that when he made his appearance on the White House briefing room. So it is in terms of policy -- it is quite the contrast with what you see with Vice President Harris, because she gets the very difficult issues that don't have an immediate answer, such as the issues on the border, the root causes of migration; such as voting rights, which is something that she asked for but still a very difficult issue.

OLORUNNIPA: And it's obviously way too early to be talking about 2024 but I'm going to talk about it anyways.


COLLINS: Let's do it.


OLORUNNIPA: These two are candidates that are really competing behind the scenes in a way for the stewardship of the party going forward. We had a couple of our colleagues report that, you know, Joe Biden the president has been talking about running again in 2024 but there's a lot of questions about whether he's actually going to run.

He did have his medical checkup over the past few days and it shows that he is vigorous and he's healthy and all of the buzzwords you normally hear from the medical doctors but he is 79 years old.

If he's going to run for office again, he'd be the oldest person running for a second term. And there's a lot of question about whether he'd be up to it and whether he might want to be that transitional figure that he said he would be and hand the baton over to another Democrat.

Will that Democrat be his vice president who has this tough portfolio or would it be maybe his transportation secretary who has been given, you know, this very nice portfolio to go around the country, talking about the various things that Biden is doing and talk about the bipartisanship that the country has been looking for and didn't have under the past president.

That's what he campaigned for when he was running for president and now has an opportunity to sort of campaign in a way going across the country to support this bill.

COLLINS: Yes. He gets that platform but maybe it won't matter if Biden does run for re-election and this conversation gets extended for another four years.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern and the weekday show as well at Noon eastern.

Up next is "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. And today Dana's guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Virginia Lieutenant Governor-Elect Winsome Sears.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.