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New Day

Moderate Dems Threaten Economic Agenda; Hochul Sworn in as Governor; Justin Senior is Interviewed about Florida's COVID Surge; Northeast Faces High Temperatures. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 24, 2021 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, major breaking news. We just learned that more than 21,000 people were evacuated from the Kabul Airport in the last 24 hours, 12,000 on U.S. planes, about 9,000 by coalition allies. This is a huge number. We're going to have more on this shortly.

Also breaking, "The Washington Post" reports that CIA Director William Burns was in Kabul yesterday meeting with Taliban leaders presumably about this evacuation. This is by far the highest profile meeting between the Biden administration and the Taliban.

CNN reached out to the CIA who told us that they don't comment on the director's travel. We'll also get more information on that throughout the morning.

Also developing right now, President Biden's economic agenda in jeopardy. Negotiations between House Democrats, Democrats to Democrats, ended last night without a key procedural vote on the $3.5 trillion economic package. That's the budget resolution. A group of moderates are demanding a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill first before the House takes up the vote on the broader budget resolution.

Joining us now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and CNN political analyst and managing editor at "Axios," Margaret Talev.

Just to try to make this clear, there is the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure that nine moderates want to vote on right away. Then there's this broader Democrat-only plan for about $3.5 trillion in spending that a lot of other Democrats want to see voted on first.

Margaret, the key thing is, if Nancy Pelosi had the votes to push this through right now, she would have done it already.


BERMAN: So they went to bed last night with no deal. So as we wake up this morning, this is all up in the air.

TALEV: John, good morning.


And it is up in the air. Of course, House Democrats go back as a caucus into talks around 9:00. There's going to be a lot of movement and pressure on this today. But if you're an average American at home watching this, you're like, what on earth is going on? I thought the Senate passed an infrastructure deal. Why isn't the House voting on it?

And I think it's that messaging concern that has Pelosi so concerned because the average American is not thinking -- if they're thinking about infrastructure at all right now, they're not thinking about the procedural differences or how amendable a bill is or what's going to happen on the floor or how reconciliation works. They're thinking, are we getting the roads and bridges and high speed broadband or not.

And -- but this is also a moment of strength or power for those not -- it was nine centrists holdouts. It's now 10 holdouts inside the Democratic caucus because if nothing else, they get to wake up with that headline that they pushed back for moderation and for the bill to move forward. And that's what they all want to take home to their swing districts.

I still think this is probably going to be resolved because it's the central core agenda issue that actually could be going well for Biden. He's got Afghanistan in the other hand. This is what they want to run on in the midterms.

BERMAN: You know, in general, you bet on Nancy Pelosi, right? She knows how to count votes better than anyone. She knows how to get votes better than anyone. But, again, if she could have done it last night, she would have.


BERMAN: So, John, this morning, if I'm waking up in the White House and I'm President Biden, I'm like, geez, I mean this bipartisan infrastructure bill was really or could be one of the major achievements of a first year of a first term and I don't know where it stands this morning.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, John, the -- it -- this is not about the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That's going to become law. It's already passed the Senate. It will, at some point, pass the House of Representatives. Joe Biden's not going to walk away from that.

This is about the reality that with margins this narrow, with zero margin for error in the Senate, and just a few votes of a margin in the House, any small number of Democrats can take down the Biden agenda if they choose to do so. So they, ultimately, have to decide, you're right, Nancy Pelosi has a track record of success.

I'm reminded of when the Obama administration, when the Democrats lost their ability to pass health care with 60 votes in the Senate, and they needed to make some changes and she figured out a way to do that. The House passing the Senate bill and some complicated maneuvers. So you would have to assume that she will be able to do this. But, you're right, she went to bed without having those votes.

These moderates have expressed concern about getting infrastructure into law. The real concern is with the bigger bill, the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. They -- they have concerns about tax portions. They want tax cuts for their upper income constituents because of some provisions that were in the Trump tax bill. Josh Gottheimer, the leader of this group, has expressed some unease with the corporate tax increase, suggested maybe get rid of the corporate tax increase on the reconciliation bill. So there are many things in play. It is not, though, about the infrastructure bill.

BERMAN: Right.

HARWOOD: That's going to happen, period.

BERMAN: The question is when.


BERMAN: The question is when and how. And as it stands this morning, it is, frankly, uncertain.

Stand by for news on that when Nancy Pelosi gets up. Maybe she'll tell us more.

Margaret Talev, John Harwood, thank you both very much.

So, this morning, New York has a new governor. A look at the challenges facing the state's first female chief executive and the parting message from Andrew Cuomo, next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: So shortly after the stroke of midnight, Kathy Hochul sworn in as the first female governor of New York, replacing Andrew Cuomo, who resigned after the state attorney general report found that he had sexually harassed 11 women.

Athena Jones is live for us in Albany.

And, Athena, this is an historic moment for this state, but Hochul certainly will be inheriting some real challenges here.


That's exactly right, Kathy Hochul sworn in as New York's 57th governor, making history as the first woman to hold that position. A native of Buffalo, she had served as Andrew Cuomo's lieutenant governor since 2015 and has held elected office for 27 years, at one point serving in the U.S. Congress. She has a lot of challenges ahead. She said her first focus on day one

will be fighting COVID. She'll also be focused on the state's economic recovery from COVID. She has tapped two women as her top aides and has promised to uphold the highest ethical standards in her administration, saying that no one will, quote, ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.

Now, yesterday, Andrew Cuomo gave his final address where he continued to defend himself and to condemn what he called a rush to judgment after the state attorney general's report. He's some of what he had to say.


ANDREW CUOMO (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: A firecracker can start a stampede, but at one point everyone looks around and says, why are we running?

The attorney general's report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic. And it worked. There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will out in time.


JONES: Now, later this morning, Governor Hochul will have a ceremonial swearing in followed by a meeting with top legislative leaders and an address in the afternoon to the people of New York.


KEILAR: All right, we'll certainly be watching for that.

Athena Jones, live for us in Albany. Appreciate it.

Florida is setting records for COVID hospitalizations and deaths.


We're going to talk to a doctor about how they're coping with the surge.

BERMAN: And major, breaking news this morning from Afghanistan. CNN has learned the U.S. and its allies evacuated more than 21,000 people from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours. That is a remarkable number. "The Washington Post" reports this morning that the CIA director has been in Kabul meeting with Taliban leaders. What was that about?

We're all over the breaking news. Stay with our special coverage, next.


KEILAR: This morning, Florida remains the epicenter of the latest coronavirus surge in the United States. Deaths in the state right now are at an all-time high. More than 17,000 Floridians are currently hospitalized, 90 percent of those patients are unvaccinated, that's according to hospital officials, and the majority are between the ages of 30 and 50.


Joining me now is Justin Senior, he is the CEO of the Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance.

Justin, thank you so much for being with us.

You know, one of the statistics here that is really jumping out is that more than 9 out of 10 of those who are in the hospital battling COVID are unvaccinated between the age of 30 and 50.

Is that what you're seeing where you are?

JUSTIN SENIOR, CEO, FLORIDA SAFETY NET HOSPITAL ALLIANCE: Yes, we have -- we have 14 systems that are -- that are a part of our group. And they run from Pensacola down to Miami and everywhere in between. And that's really a consistent theme that we're seeing in every one of our locations. Between 90, 95 percent of the patients generally are unvaccinated and they are -- it's an adult population, often in their 30s, 40s and 50s, which is significantly younger than the population that we were seeing last year when we saw peaks, you know, in July, as well as earlier this year in January.

KEILAR: So, I mean, that comes up against what was sort of long accepted by many people, which was that they are not at risk of severe disease if they are not the elderly.

What is this telling you, and how are patients responding to this?

SENIOR: So, you know, what this -- what this tells us is that the delta variant that's going around is quite a bit different than some of the prior variants that we were dealing with. I mean it really does get to a younger population.

If there's a silver lining to it, I think that it also, it really provides strong evidence and strong data that the vaccines are highly effective. If you look at the population of Florida, the 65 and over population is by far the most vaccinated group among the age bands and so they have been pulled to safety, if you will, and they are -- they are less likely, significantly less likely now to be hospitalized.

The 30, 40 and 50-year-olds, they're not as vaccinated as -- as age bands, and so they're -- the unvaccinated populations there have definitely shown up. And it's actually shown up in the data as you look at the -- as you look at the situation statewide. You call Florida an epicenter. Well, Florida has its own epicenters. And this really started in Jacksonville. That was really the most -- the hardest hit. And Jacksonville, at the start in July, really only had about 49 percent vaccination rate in its adult population. Miami-Dade, on the other hand, had -- had well over 70 percent and it's currently right around 85 -- 85 percent. And so they haven't been hit as hard.


SENIOR: And it's just real strong evidence that the vaccines do -- do really good work.

KEILAR: And, you know, you don't have this kind of influx of patients without having an effect on your staff. I understand that you have the PPE you need --


KEILAR: But it's really the staff is so taxed here. We've actually seen a group of south Florida doctors who staged a walkout to protest against the surge in hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. That's not your hospitals, but it seems like the problem is the same in your system.

SENIOR: Yes, I think they were really trying to send a message of the importance of vaccinations here. So, no, it was not one of our systems, but I certainly understand the message. Our hospitals are seeing that from the panhandle down to Miami.

The vaccines definitely work, and I think that it really is something, if you -- if you want to do something to help staff, then it's a matter of going out and getting the vaccine.

And as you said, staffing is really the issue right now. These patients require so much work, so much dawning and doffing of personal protective equipment, it changes the intake process. It's just a really labor intensive and draining process for employees. And so managing your staff and trying to keep your moral high is really the challenge all hospitals are facing right now.

We've been working with state officials for the last year and a half. They did a great job last year of helping us get personal protective equipment and getting laboratory supplies and equipment when they were in short supply around the world last year.

Last year, with a really frail elderly population, it was hard to discharge them because you couldn't -- they -- they no longer needed to be in the hospital but they still were testing positive for COVID. So you had to find a place for them outside the hospital so you could free up the bed but you couldn't send them back to a nursing home. So we had a lot of coordination and collaboration with emergency management officials to try to work through that logistically.

Now, this population is in its 30s, 40s, and 50s. They're not that hard to discharge. There aren't any challenges there. Supplies are there. It really comes down to trying not to wear out your staff.

KEILAR: Yes, definitely.

Look, we all need to do what we can do to keep you all doing your job.

So, Justin, really appreciate you being with us this morning.

SENIOR: Yes, I appreciate it, thank you.

KEILAR: We are following right now some major breaking news out of Afghanistan. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul here in the last 24-hour period.

Plus, a new report about a high profile meeting between the head of the CIA and the Taliban.


BERMAN: And, President Biden's economic agenda in the balance this morning. All of a sudden, overnight, things on hold. Does Speaker Pelosi have the votes to get the infrastructure bill over the finish line? Democrats infighting.


BERMAN: This morning, dangerous heat headed for the Northeast after all that rain from Henri.

Let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, what gives?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What happens when the sun comes out, there's water on the ground? It gets muggy. And that's what we're going to see.

Finally, though, Henri is out of here.

This weather brought to you by Servpro, helping make fire and water damage like it never even happened.

So, yes, the feels like temperature across parts of New Jersey will be 100 degrees today.


Now that's really nothing like we're going to see down across the deep south, where that number is 115.