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Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) Discusses Negotiations That Will Resume Today As Biden Agenda In Jeopardy; Schools Beg Biden And FBI For Protection Against Angry Mobs; Police Officer Adopts Little Girl He Consoled While On Duty. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 01, 2021 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:31:49]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, negotiations are resuming as President Biden's economic agenda hangs by a thread. Overnight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after progressives rebelled. Frankly, Joe Manchin and moderates rebelled also in their own way. With the Democrats divided, Pelosi is going to need some Republican members to vote for the bill.

Joining me now is one of those Republicans who said he will vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill -- Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

What was it like for you last night looking at the other side of the aisle?

REP. DON BACON, (R-NE): Well, first of all, good morning, and thank you for having me on.

We were let down. Twice now, Speaker Pelosi has promised to vote. The first one was last Monday and then last night, and both times she's caved to the Progressive Caucus. And I'll tell you, there's a lot of angry moderate Democrats today. I can't use the words that I heard this week as they feel like her word has been crossed.

Now, I think this is a good infrastructure bill. It's popular in our district -- the Farm Bureau, the Chamber, the manufacturers. In fact, it pulls about 70 percent in our district. And I think Americans want a hard infrastructure bill. But it continues to be tied together with this Bernie Sanders $3.5 trillion bill and that is not popular in our district.

So it's been a challenge trying to navigate through this. But most of us want a standalone, separate vote on infrastructure because most Americans want that.

BERMAN: How many of your fellow Republicans, at this point, are on board -- are with you as yeses on the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

BACON: You know, there's a minimum of 10. There would be a lot more, though, if it was clear it was a separate, standalone bill.

But when the Progressive Caucus and Bernie Sanders, and Speaker Pelosi try to say we can't vote for one unless we have the other, that's where it undermines the Republican support because frankly, the $3.5 trillion Bernie Sanders bill is not popular. It's the biggest --

BERMAN: Yes.

BACON: -- tax increases since 1968. And you can look at it different ways but that bill is toxic to Middle America.

BERMAN: Sure, but there will be separate votes, you know.

BACON: Yes.

BERMAN: You know there will be separate votes. They absolutely are.

Ten -- 10 Republicans are yeses in the House. Nineteen Republican senators voted for it --

BACON: Right.

BERMAN: -- when it was in the Senate -- 19. That's two out of five. That's 40 percent.

The corresponding number in the House would be 80 Republican --

BACON: Right.

BERMAN: -- yes votes.

So, Republicans -- if it's so popular, as you say it is, Republicans are letting the people down by not supporting this -- yes?

BACON: Well, I would say it was -- I would -- I would -- that's why I'm going to vote for it. I think it's generally a good bill if it's a standalone bill, but the messaging from Speaker Pelosi and Bernie Sanders says they're linked.

BERMAN: Yes.

BACON: That -- you can't have one without the other. That messaging makes it very hard to navigate through.

BERMAN: I understand.

BACON: I'll tell you that one bill is toxic.

BERMAN: I understand, and you're placing blame on them. But why not place blame on your fellow Republicans, too, because there are --

BACON: Well --

BERMAN: -- by my math, at least 70 of them who should be voting for it along with you if the proportion from the Senate were to hold. BACON: Well, I've committed to vote for it as long as it is two separate votes and I've been communicating that to my team as well as my district.

[07:35:05]

But here again, last night, the speaker decided not to have the vote because she is linking it to the $3.5 trillion bill. So, she is making it a clear linkage between the two.

I'm trying to speak through this myself and I've -- and I've committed to a separate vote. I'm just telling you it's undermined on the Republican side. It's just a fact of life.

BERMAN: Congressman, I do want to ask you -- and you were someone who did not support the big lie. I want to make that clear. You're someone who stood up against it from the beginning.

But the former President of the United States who, as we sit here, is the frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination to be President of the United States again -- he put out a fundraising letter the other day which talked about the so-called 2020 election and spreading lies again about what happened.

He says, "I warned you this would happen, friend. Democrats are getting away with the greatest election hoax in history. A total con job."

What damage does that continue -- repeated message from the former president do to the country?

BACON: Well, I think it cost us two Senate seats in Georgia on certain policy positions. We're going to win the election. We're going to win big in 2022 if it's about Afghanistan, inflation, the border, crime. If it's going to be about the election, it will undermine our ability to retake the House and retake the Senate.

I will tell you, it may be 20 or 30 percent get fired up with this messaging. It does not win in Middle America, it does not win with moderates, it does not win with suburban voters. And you cannot take the House back or the Senate unless you win in suburban areas. And that messaging undermines us in that area.

We've got to stay -- we've got to be focused. This election -- if it's about Afghanistan, if it's about inflation, crime, and the border, we're going to pick up 30 or 40 seats. We're going to send Speaker Pelosi packing out the door. But if it's going to be about election fraud it will undermine our chances to do that.

BERMAN: Isn't it more than just a political problem, though? Isn't it also just --

BACON: Well --

BERMAN: -- wrong is wrong? BACON: It -- I would agree. We have elections. We're the oldest republic -- the oldest democracy in the world. We respect our elections.

Now, I don't -- I think some states could tighten up their processes, but I don't attribute the results of November to election fraud.

The fact is, in my district, a suburban area, we lost about 10 percent of the Republican voters on the presidential ticket. And it wasn't on the policy positions; it was more on the name-calling, the Twitter. It was -- people were just upset at the tone that they were hearing. And I think that was probably true across most suburban areas.

BERMAN: Congressman Don Bacon, we appreciate you being with us --

BACON: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- this morning. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on all this.

BACON: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, let's go and talk about the Democrats now, exclusively. What about the two lawmakers -- senators who are holding much of the Democratic agenda -- the other Democrats' agenda, effectively, hostage.

John Avlon with a reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the rules of politics is that you don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. And that's something that centrists often understand better than their more ideological allies.

But Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been straining patience on Capitol Hill with their drawn-out negotiations. Despite ornate courting rituals with the White House, it's been unclear where they stand on a number of topline issues -- specific priorities within the proposed $3.5 trillion Biden budget.

Senator Sinema didn't help with quips like this. When asked by a reporter about Senate progressives who are frustrated that they don't know where you are on the budget bill, Sinema replied, "I'm clearly right in front of the elevator." It's a funny line. The Marx brothers might applaud. But when an entire party's agenda is hanging in the balance, it also reads a bit callous.

Here's the thing. While Sinema hails from the battleground state of Arizona, she also has a long history of supporting policies just like the ones being offered in the budget bill. After all, she's a former Green Party volunteer who worked on Ralph Nader's disastrous 2000 presidential campaign, which seemed geared towards people who didn't think Al Gore was serious enough about the environment.

And if that's a major motivating issue for her -- well, the budget bill -- $150 billion in grants for electric companies that provide clean energy. It's billions for electric vehicle infrastructure. Modernizing the power grid while pushing towards Biden's goal of an 80 percent clean power by 2030 -- yes, it ought to appeal to her.

Likewise, the strengthening of the social safety net in the form of permanent child tax credits, universal pre-K, free community college, paid family and medical leave would seem tailor-made for Kyrsten Sinema, at least judging by her past policy priorities.

After all, this is the same person who co-sponsored two family leave bills that languished in the Senate, proclaiming that too many parents are forced to choose between losing time with a new child or taking on debt to make up for lost wages. Guess what? There is a budget plan that would solve that problem.

So where are the sticking points that have led to this last-minute brinksmanship? Well, the Sphinx of Phoenix isn't talking. But social media sleuths had a field day surfacing tweets that show some of her past progressive demands don't match her current positions.

[07:40:10]

Now, West Virginia's Joe Manchin has at least been more consistent. He's never been a liberal, as he reminded reporters yesterday. As the sole Democrat is his state's congressional delegation, Manchin's been clear that he'd liked to cut $2 trillion from the proposed budget, which is quite the flex.

In fact, we learned yesterday, courtesy of Politico, that Manchin did offer a detailed outline of his bottom line to Senate Majority Leader Schumer this past July. Basically, it reveals he's a deficit hawk who represents coal country -- new flash. But he said he wants to raise the top tax rate and the (INAUDIBLE) interest loophole, and have a 15 percent domestic corporate minimum income tax.

Manchin's demand that new benefits be means-tested isn't unreasonable. And he's been an advocate for paid family leave. So that offers some common ground as well.

But what a lot of folks are confused about is how his call for up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending just this past January got somehow whittled down to one-quarter of that number during the last round of negotiations where he was, again, a key holdout.

Look, it takes both wings of a party to fly -- and nationally, Democrats are evenly divided between self-identified liberals and moderates. But to have a prayer of staying in power, Democrats are going to need to win more swing states and swing districts.

Progressives are understandably frustrated. These two centrist centers have held out for so long, trust has been strained. But as negotiations begin again today, it's really time for some constructive compromise.

As Democratic mandarin John Podesta warned, you're either going to get both bills or neither, and the prospect of neither is unconscionable. Failure is just not an option. And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: And John, you have a new episode in your wildly successful digital series "REALITY CHECK EXTREMIST BEAT," yes?

AVLON: That's exactly right. The number -- the second episode just posted.

It's a look at the history of anti-vaxxers. You know, when you look at a lot of this anti-vax rhetoric which is a subset of vaccine hesitancy, it's really disproportionately dominated the COVID pandemic we're dealing with. You see that it directly echoes literally century- old anti-vax rhetoric -- these fear-fueled riffs off religion and demonizing doctors.

And we talk to Elle Reeve and Donie O'Sullivan about their reporting in the field to really dig into the roots of the anti-vax impulses in American politics.

BERMAN: Yes.

AVLON: Fascinating stuff.

BERMAN: That loud, not always right.

AVLON: That's right.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

Coming up, school board members sounding the alarm and asking for protection from parents furious about COVID restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to come for everybody that comes at my kid with this stupid, ridiculous mandate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And they are on the frontlines of the pandemic. Why are some healthcare workers resisting the vaccine even if it puts their health and their jobs at risk?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This pandemic, this vaccine, this virus -- the science is constantly changing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: But don't you -- again, with all your knowledge as a nurse, don't you draw a line when it comes to a contagious disease?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[07:47:27]

KEILAR: COVID concerns in school districts across the country are now leading to dangerous situations for school board members. They're worried for their own safety after an increasing number of threats like these.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm down. Calm down. We know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are. You can leave but we can find you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never be allowed in public again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm going to come for everybody that comes at my kid with this stupid, ridiculous mandate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the storm and we are here already. And when this whole thing crumbles to the ground we will be here to hold you accountable for your crimes against humanity.

PARENTS: No more masks! No more masks! No more masks!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, right here. Look, right here. So, as you can see, fists are now flying. All of this on live television. Fists are flying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You, with your snotty little face -- you're allowing it as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So, the National School Boards Association is asking the White House and the Education Department to help ensure the security of its members. And the group's president, Viola Garcia, is joining us now to talk about this. Viola, thank you for being with us this morning.

You wrote a letter to President Biden asking -- because you say you're under immediate threat -- for assistance. For federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with some of what we just saw. Tell us what exactly you think your members need.

VIOLA GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION (via Skype): Well, we need support. We need reinforcement of the sort that the community can give us.

But more importantly, these are real threats, Brianna, that you just saw -- you know, that we all just saw -- and they're occurring with greater frequency. So, we -- our letter to the White House really is indicative of the seriousness of the situation for school members -- but more especially, for students in our public schools.

KEILAR: Tell us more about these threats. What school boards and members are experiencing.

GARCIA: Well, you've seen on the video -- videos here that we, as school board members, have been in communication with our communities for years. School board members really aim to listen to the community.

[07:50:06]

We're respectful of the opinions. We understand that there are various opinions.

School board members have been working during the pandemic -- during this heightened political environment. We've been working for a year and a half during the pandemic.

We've safely gotten students back in school. We know those are the most important things that schools need to be doing now.

And so, school board members are people in the community. They go to the grocery stores. They shop with the neighbors that are around them. And so, our primary --

KEILAR: Are they being threatened when they're grocery shopping? Do they have people coming to their houses? Are there threats against their children?

GARCIA: The greatest incidence of threats that we've seen are the ones that you demonstrated -- the ones via internet connects across state lines. We've seen that the -- many of the messages are very similar.

So we rarely -- I don't know the number of incidents, perhaps in grocery stores, but the greatest number and the biggest concern that we have are the threats of violence -- the coordinated efforts that we seem to see because of the similarities across the state lines.

And so, it gives us pause. It gives us great pause because not only are we charged at school -- at the school board level for the academic viability of our students, but we also are charged with the safety and security not only of the students but of the staff and the community members that come in and out of our buildings. And so, this is -- this is a concern.

KEILAR: Well, Viola -- look, those videos that we see are incredibly scary, so we know that this is increasing and we'll keep an eye on it. Viola Garcia, thank you.

GARCIA: Thank you so much, Brianna.

KEILAR: We do have more on our breaking news. Drugmaker Merck announcing that its experimental COVID pill cuts the risk of hospitalizations and death in half. So, this could be a gamechanger in this pandemic. We'll have Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us live to discuss.

BERMAN: And yes, Tom Brady, you can go home again. Look, you can come to my home if you want. What Brady can expect when he returns to New England on Sunday. We'll ask someone else who knows, ahead.

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[07:56:42]

BERMAN: An Arizona police officer who bonded with an abused child while working on her case has now taken on a new role as her dad.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has their story in this week's "Beyond the Call."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LT. BRIAN ZACH, KINGMAN, ARIZONA POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's 86 days until Christmas (laughing).

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Signs of Christmas --

ZACH: I keep my tree up all year round in my office.

BROADDUS (voice-over): -- decorate Lt. Brian Zach's office.

ZACH: I have a countdown for Christmas the day after Christmas -- all year -- until the next Christmas.

DET. HEATH MOSBY, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: When we were working detectives at the same time, he would start playing Christmas music pretty much around April-May-ish.

BROADDUS (voice-over): But Zach knows --

ZACH: Yes, just let her know that the detective-lieutenant will be calling her.

BROADDUS (voice-over) -- presents aren't always perfectly wrapped under the tree.

Zach met one of life's greatest gifts during a welfare check four years ago in Kingman, Arizona.

ZACH: She had a skull fracture, a brain bleed, and dislocated elbow. And just -- my heart felt for this little girl that was covered in bruises but was just so happy. She had a very strong spirit about her.

BROADDUS (voice-over): She was 2-year-old Kaila, a child abuse victim in need of a new home.

ZACH: The question that changed our life forever was would you actually consider being a placement for Kaila? And I immediately said yes.

BROADDUS (voice-over): But the short-term solution became permanent.

KAILA: Daddy!

BROADDUS (voice-over): That's Kaila running toward the arms of Lt. Zach, now her adoptive father.

ZACH: We played it week by week, month by month, court date by court date, not knowing how long we would really have her.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The family starting creating memories.

ZACH: We took her to Disneyland the first year -- loved it.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Then finally, adoption four years after the initial call that led him to Kaila.

MOSBY: He was a little awestruck when he did that as we'd never really heard of any of our officers or any other officers in our area doing that. When it finally came down to finally, the adoption, it was awesome. It was like, wow -- like holy -- the "C" word -- it's actually happening.

ZACH: She's just so loving that God sent her to me for a reason and I'm very thankful for it.

BROADDUS (voice-over): He says fostering is in his future. Kaila is now soaring and loves Christmas like her dad.

ZACH: She's had a place in my heart since the night I met her.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Kingman, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: You know, you could see the love bursting from both of their faces there. How lovely was that?

KEILAR: Wonderful.

So, if you are a 90s hip-hop fan, a truly memorable lineup of performers has been assembled for the Super Bowl LVI halftime show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: "The One and Only."

EMINEM, RAPPER: "Without Me."

KENDRICK LAMAR, RAPPER: "Humble."

MARY J. BLIGE, RAPPER: "Family Affair."

(END VIDEO CLIP)