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New Day

Los Angeles School District to Require COVID Vaccinations for Students 12 and Older Who Attend In-Person Classes; President Biden Demanding Resignations of Appointees from Trump Administration; Taliban Allowing 200 People Including Americans to Leave Afghanistan. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired September 09, 2021 - 08:00   ET


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They ran toward danger to help other people, people they didn't know. They ran into the fire, showing a selfless commitment to the common good in a time of crisis. I've always resisted calling the attacks of 9/11 a tragedy. It was an act of war. Tragedies are self-inflicted.

But that brings me to a final sickening twist. It's always been a given that our nation could unite in a time of crisis, but we can no longer take that for granted now. That's something we've done to ourselves. But it's not something we have to accept as inevitable. I still believe that the character of our country has not changed. That's why we need to learn from history and honor the examples of the heroes of 9/11 now more than ever, channeling their commitment to the common good toward defending our shared democracy. That's the defining challenge of our times now.

And that's your Reality Check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We had a national tragedy. We had COVID. We know for a fact that there are those unwilling to come together. I'm not sure it's equal blame on all sides.

AVLON: It's not.

BERMAN: In this case, but it is notable. John Avlon, thank you.

AVLON: Thank you.

BERMAN: You can join Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, and Paula Reid as we remember 9/11, September 11th. Live coverage begins Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. on CNN. And NEW DAY continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, September 9th, and I am Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman on this NEW DAY.

We are beginning with breaking news and what could soon be the most consequential mandate in the country. The nation's second largest school district, Los Angeles, set to require COVID vaccinations for students who are 12 and older who attend in-person classes. The board of education is meeting later today, and one member tells NEW DAY that the measure is expected to pass. It would be the most sweeping and aggressive safety measure instituted anywhere in America.

BERMAN: Children represent about one in four new coronavirus cases in the U.S. We do want to note, among all groups hospitalizations are now back up to more than 101,000. That number had dropped, but now it is rising again.

President Biden delivers what the White House is calling a major speech on COVID tonight. He is expected to layout a new six-part plan which will include an emphasis on extending certain vaccine requirements.

Joining us now is one of the members of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, Tanya Ortiz Franklin. Thank you so much for being with us. Tell us what you are expected to pass today.

TANYA ORTIZ FRANKLIN, MEMBER, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION: Good morning and thank you for having me. Yes, the board this afternoon will look at a resolution where superintendent, interim superintendent Megan Reilly is asking us to approve a vaccine mandate for all eligible students without a legal exemption 12 and up. So we imagine by second semester, our middle school and high school campuses will be absolutely even safer than they are today.

BERMAN: Why are you making this decision?

FRANKLIN: As you mentioned, cases are on the rise and children are at risk from the Delta variant in ways we didn't see last semester. And our responsibility to children and our communities is their safety and well-being. We have done air filtration upgrades. We have done masking. We're doing weekly testing. We're doing all we possibly can up and until the vaccine.

After today I anticipate, and I join -- I hope my colleagues will join me, that we will have the safest standards with all of our students and staff. Actually, the staff vaccine was already passed by the board. So by October 15th, staff will be vaccinated. So I just believe that our colleagues, our school board here in Los Angeles, we're trying to do everything we possibly can to keep our schools safe.

BERMAN: The vaccines are still under emergency use authorization for 12 to 16-year-olds, the full FDA approval for 16 and up. Does that play into it at all for you in terms of timing?

FRANKLIN: It's not. We have had our school doctors, our partnerships with UCLA and other medical experts really bringing the board along around the science for the last several months. And once we got the authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, which we've been giving at our school campuses to our students, staff, and families, we understand that the benefits far outweigh the risks, and so the emergency use authorization really isn't weighing into our decision here. It is about the access and that we can provide it in this country to our children. And we want to do that as quickly as possible.

BERMAN: What happens with students or, I imagine, parents of students who do not want their children vaccinated?

FRANKLIN: Understandably so, for students who don't get the vaccine, who don't have a medical exemption by the spring semester, they will enroll in our independent study program.


We have about 15,000 of our over 600,000 students right now currently enrolled in independent study for a variety of decisions and needs of students and families. And if families choose to do that, that's their choice. But on campus, our decision is that students and community members will be as safe as possible. So independent study is the option for folks who don't get the vaccine.

BERMAN: How many of you need to get vaccinated at this point to meet your goals? Where are you in terms of vaccinating 12 to 16-year-olds? How many more do you need to get the shots?

FRANKLIN: Our team has done all the number crunching. We anticipate just based on what we're hearing so far, and we have a great system where students and staff are letting us know their vaccination rates. We have a ways to go. We have quite a ways to go.

We anticipate at least 150,000 vaccine doses needing to be administered, potentially more, depending on the information we're getting from our students and families. But we have the doses in L.A. County, and we have the staff capacity and the time and a week-by-week plan working with our school staff and our community partners to get this done by the end of first semester.

BERMAN: Talk to people in different generations. They remember showing up at their schools and lining up to get polio vaccines in the gym. It wasn't at all controversial at that point. It's become clearly more so.

Tanya Ortiz Franklin, thank you for being with us this morning.

FRANKLIN: Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Today President Biden is facing the hard truths about the coronavirus as he outlines the latest roadmap in a major speech geared toward ending the pandemic. The White House promising specific goals that will be laid out as part of a six-point plan.

And joining us now to talk about this is Kasie Hunt, CNN anchor and chief national affairs analyst. Welcome, Kasie. I'm so excited I'm the first one who gets to say that and introduce you here on air. I've known you for years and I'm just thrilled that you're with us now.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I'm so thrilled to be here, Brianna. And I also can't believe I get to do this with you. It makes it so much more fun.

BERMAN: I'm sitting right here.

KEILAR: Oh, sorry.

BERMAN: I'm sitting right here.


HUNT: John and I have also known each other for a long time. I've been watching the early mornings for so long, John. It's great to finally be actually on with you.

BERMAN: Thank you very much. Sorry, I'll go away now. Ignore me.

KEILAR: I played softball with her. Whatever, Berman.

OK, but let's get down to business, all right. So, there's this -- the president has a plan he's putting out, he's giving a big speech. What are you zeroing in on here?

HUNT: I think the reality here for the White House is that they have to demonstrate that they have a plan to deal with this. Looking at these worldwide maps of COVID, you can see very clearly in color just how difficult of a time we're having here in the United States in battling this virus, even though we have better vaccine access than almost anyone else.

So I think the president knows, and his team has said since he stepped into office that the number one thing he's going to be judged on is the job that he is doing fighting this pandemic. And right now, people are taking their kids back to school. They're worried about closures. They're nervous about mask mandates. It does not feel if you are living here like we are past this pandemic. And if we're not, that's something Biden is going to have to answer for in the midterms, and eventually a potential reelection bid.

KEILAR: Sanjay said to us yesterday, Kasie, he said if you had told him a year ago that we would have this hospitalization number that we have, 101,000 hospitalized just after Labor Day, he would have said, oh, it must mean the vaccine didn't exist, or they didn't come up with a vaccine.

But we did, and there's still 101,000 people hospitalized. Jen Psaki was on a few minutes ago, and I asked about the L.A. school district vaccine mandates likely to pass today, and she said good for them. I am wondering if the White House is going to lean in more, you think, to this idea of requiring vaccinations.

HUNT: They've talked a lot about businesses being able to mandate vaccines. And we've seen this fight playing out in Florida because I think there is a sense among a lot of politicians, certainly people that I talk to on Capitol Hill, that the more big companies essentially say to Americans, hey, you want to come to work today, you have got to get a vaccine, the more success the country as a whole will have in getting that vaccination rate up.

We've already seen some companies go to war, essentially, with governors who are saying, no, you're not allowed to do that. Just look at the cruise lines with Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. So I think you're going to see the White House trying to walk a careful line here.

They know that in some places where they have to win some of these tougher elections in the midterms coming up, this is a difficult topic in some cases, but on the other hand, they also know that the reality demands that we get this rate up and these case rates down, both, of course, for the health and safety of all Americans, but also for the political reasons we were just walking through.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that's kind of popping today, which is President Biden has demanded the resignations of a number of appointees. These are political appointees to service academies, so West Point or to the Naval Academy. These are -- you look at a lot of these names, and obviously they're very politically aligned with the president, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer.


I wonder what you think about this, if this is something that actually -- is there going to be any blowback, do you think?

HUNT: Well, this is one of those tricky situations, Brianna, where there are definitely some names on this list where if you're the Biden administration, you're President Biden's national security team, you're thinking about Sean Spicer, the role he played in the administration, Kellyanne Conway. That's a lot different from some of the other names on the list, which includes General H.R. McMaster and some others who served for many, many years in the national security community.

I think one thing that might be worth pointing out is that what is the precedent here? The precedent is typically that these people do serve out their terms, and oftentimes the outgoing administration will make these appointments at the end so that their influence continues. Were the Trump administration still in office and was doing this, I think we might be focused on what is the precedent here. Now, that said, of course, President Trump broke all of these norms, and we know that many of these people he put on these boards don't necessarily bring that expertise to the table.

KEILAR: It is unprecedented who he put on the boards, yes.

HUNT: Exactly. Exactly. So I think clearly there's going to be some blow back here. But at the end of the day, the president is able to demand these resignations, is able to fire these people, it seems, although obviously the push is for these folks to insist that, no, we're not going to do it, we're not going to resign voluntarily.

KEILAR: All right, Kasie, you have to stick around for us because we --

HUNT: Happy to.

KEILAR: We have not gotten enough of you here on your debut on CNN. We do have some breaking news. CNN has learned that the Taliban is

allowing 200 people -- this includes many Americans -- to leave Afghanistan on a flight. Let's talk about this now with Sam Kiley. Sam, what can you tell us about this? Do we know who is on this plane?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know from Qatari officials, and it's a Qatari commercial airliner that is currently on the ground in Kabul, due to fly back here to Doha, effectively a charter rather than a scheduled airliner. There were 200 foreigners on it. We understand some of them are Americans. Some of them are other coalition partners from the past. We don't know if any Afghan nationals are on this flight or whether it's restricted entirely to foreigners who want to leave the country.

But it is part of these efforts led by Qatar to reopen Kabul international airport, part of the attempts to normalize Afghanistan's place in the world in order to try to encourage the Taliban government to take a more moderate line, although after the all-male, almost entirely culturally and religiously homogeneous new government announced by the Taliban, a lot of those hopes have been not quite dashed, but certainly waning fast.

So this, however, a significant step forward. We don't know yet whether there will be a return to actual commercial flights, but it is clear that the Taliban making good, it seems, on their promise to allow foreign nationals, at any rate, to leave the country, Brianna.

KEILAR: Sam Kiley live for us from Doha. Thank you so much for that report.

Ahead, the capitol is on alert because next week there is going to be a rightwing rally. So see which lawmakers are declining invitations to it.

BERMAN: Plus, anti-mask parents caught on camera laughing and heckling a student while he talked about his grandmother's coronavirus death at a school board meeting. He joins us ahead.

KEILAR: And RFK's widow rejecting the release of his assassin. Ethel Kennedy's explanation ahead.



KEILAR: Congress is about to return with a crowded and busy month ahead, and it's not just the Biden agenda that's at stake.

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox is here at the magic wall to explain to us.

So, you know, just give us a sense of what Congress has on its plate.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think busy doesn't even begin to describe what Congress has ahead, Brianna. They have a slew of deadlines. They're going to be working really around the clock.

Look, the Senate comes back next week followed by the House the following week after that. But they are already very busy doing some of their work and that's because the house has imposed this September 15th deadline. That's when they want to be finished writing this Democratic-only bill known as the reconciliation bill.

It's really going to re-imagine health care in the country, family paid leave and rewrite the tax code. Some of those important markups are going to begin today, like in the House Ways and Means Committee. That is one piece of the Democratic agenda. This is a $3.5 trillion bill that is already experiencing a lot of headaches over in the U.S. Senate because Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat over there, is arguing that that price tag is simply too high.

So, Brianna, expect a lot of negotiations because Pelosi wants to bring the bills to the floor relatively close together, and she has already given her moderates a promise to bring that big bipartisan bill that already passed the Senate on infrastructure to the floor of the House by September 27.

So that doesn't give them much time. And we should just note also that the government runs out of funding on September 30th. So on October 1st, you'd have a government shutdown if Democrats and Republicans can't agree to fund the government. So, that's a lot stacking up in just the next couple of weeks.

KEILAR: Lots of deadlines. There's also some open-ended issues that are going to keep Congress busy.

FOX: That's exactly right. I mean, look, we expected the president is going to speak today about what his plan is on coronavirus. That could be a major and important feature of what Congress might need to be looking at. We also know that Congress wants to do some oversight about what happened in Afghanistan.

Do they need to do more on the visa front? Do they need to do more in terms of congressional hearings to understand what went wrong as the U.S. exited from that country in its 20-year war?


Expect that's going to be a focus for a lot of members. So, it's not just the fiscal deadlines. It's also the fact that they have to deal with those other issues.

We also have an important deadline of the debt ceiling, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a note to Congress yesterday saying that she didn't know an exact date for when that needed to be raised, but the anticipation is it's going to come sometime in mid- October and that is going to be a bruising fight for Republicans and Democrats because Democrats are arguing Republicans need to help them out with that. Republicans are arguing Democrats just need to go it alone on the debt ceiling, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, the debt ceiling, okay. Come on, people, it's not like you say I'm not going to pay the credit card. You have to address the spending if that's what you want to do. You don't just say, I'm not paying.

Lauren Fox, thank you so much for that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to bring back Kasie Hunt for her second-ever appearance on CNN. The first was roughly 17 minutes ago. So it's great to have you back, Kasie.


BERMAN: Can't emphasize how important this moment is for Joe Biden and the Biden administration. On the one hand you have COVID which we just spoke about, the president speaking later today and White House officials will tell you everything politically and policy wise depends on getting COVID under control.

But then you have the specific legislative agenda which very much hangs in the balance this month. Yes, the bipartisan infrastructure, but then this overall reconciliation plan, $3.5 trillion over ten years. And Joe Manchin says, I ain't going that high. Right now, I'm only willing to go $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion. How does this book end, Kasie?

HUNT: Well, John, I think it's important this think about this in the big picture, because for the Biden administration, I don't think there is a more critical time for the Biden presidency. This is the next few months their only shot to actually get this definitive legislative agenda, which is really a sweeping change. I mean, one member of Congress described it to me when I was chatting with him yesterday as the best chance since FDR's New Deal to remake the social safety net.

So it is make or break. All of those deadlines, of course, are going to be pressure points around this. But I think what we need to be focusing in on there is a lot of nervous nuts nervousness on Capitol Hill. They're taking the temperature to reassure them, yes, they have their priorities in mind and to feel them out. Okay, what are your issues here? Because not only do they have to worry about Joe Manchin. Obviously, they need every single vote, Democratic vote in the Senate. They also have to worry about the House of Representatives where they have a lot of Democrats who are really nervous about losing their seats come the midterm elections.

And they're going to have to do a lot of work to keep that incredibly narrow majority in the House together to get this done. I think the overall sense here, and I know you all have touched on this, but my reporting suggests that the White House strongly believes that at the end of the day they're going to get it done. They're going to get the sweeping plan done because they have to because the alternative is simply too difficult for them to wrap their heads around. It would be such a disaster for them to fail to get this across the finish line, that that pressure would be enough to get everybody together.

But I think as you point out, we've got a really long way to go here, and a lot of potential places for the White House and Democrats in Congress to trip up.

BERMAN: All right. Because this is your first day with us, we want to make it as painful as possible.

So, we're not going to let you get through this without a little bit of word association so that everyone in the NEW DAY family can get to know you a little better.

So, I'm going to start, 4:00 a.m.

HUNT: I'm late if it's 4:00 a.m. and I'm late for something. We'll see if that holds.

KEILAR: Okay, the trail. What would you say about the trail?

HUNT: Barbecue. Pick your favorite food, one of my favorite things about the campaign trail.

BERMAN: All right. The Hill?

HUNT: Marble hallways. I once made a mistake -- and, Brianna, I know, I think you did, too, of wearing high heels on those marble floors. Absolutely not, never, any aspiring journalist, just go straight to the sneakers.

KEILAR: Or clogs.

HUNT: Brianna used to wear clogs.

KEILAR: Rubber sole clogs. So attractive.

What's your pet peeve?

HUNT: Ooh, my pet peeve, that is a great question. I don't think I can actually say it in public for fear that my husband will not speak to me again.

BERMAN: Wow. That's intriguing. We have to have you back for sure after that.

All right, favorite team.

HUNT: The Baltimore Orioles. Let's go, O's. It's -- I've been a fan for my whole life. My dad grew up in the Baltimore area. It's been a long road, but we're lifelong fans, or I am for better or worse.

KEILAR: Long road but loyal.

Okay, Mars.

HUNT: Mars is the name of my son. Also, it's a planet. I didn't realize when we named him Mars, I would be saying that on the phone. How do you spell that? Mars, like the planet, but we love him very much.

BERMAN: Wolf Blitzer. HUNT: Wolf Blitzer, a legend. I always think about that -- his --

Tiananmen Square, and the story of how he came to be here.


I'm just -- I mean, I can't believe I'm on the same news team now as Wolf.

KEILAR: It's a fun one. You're going to be part of the Wolf pack. And if he asked you how you're doing, there's only one answer and it's strong.

BERMAN: Strong.

KEILAR: Bad news.

HUNT: Babes.

And for those of you out there who don't know, this is -- the Bad News Babes are the press softball team, we play with women members of Congress every year. And the throw down has begun. We are out practicing on the field.

And let me tell you, ladies of Congress, we are looking pretty good.

KEILAR: I have to -- okay, John, Kasie is the ringer. I can't even tell you. This one year we played and she actually sprained her ankle in warm ups for the game. Did we lose that year?

HUNT: I don't remember if we lost that year.

KEILAR: I'm just saying we were very worried.

HUNT: I do remember that we won so many times that basically members of Congress threatened to stop playing against us unless the rules were tweaked to make it apparently more fair.

So you think reporters are competitive. Wait until you meet members of Congress. Never forget that. They don't like to lose.

BERMAN: Kasie Hunt, it's great to have you. Let's do it all again. Hopefully we didn't scare you too much.

HUNT: Absolutely not. Cheers.

KEILAR: Yeah, love having you, Kasie.

Coming up, anti-mask parents seen laughing at a high school student as he is discussing his grandmother's COVID death during a school mask debate. We're going to have that student joining us live next.

BERMAN: Plus, Governor Gavin Newsom pulling out all the Democrats' heavy hitters to try to battle the California recall effort. Will it be enough to sway voters in this fight for his political life?