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President Biden To Meet With Pope Francis At The Vatican; Build Back Better Bill: What's In And What's Out; Supply Chain Crunch Could Mean More People Going Hungry. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 29, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're getting close. President Biden's motorcade is going to depart his hotel and head over to where we are, the Vatican -- and he will meet with Pope Francis and some barking dogs. This is a very big day for both men personally and professionally.

Let's bring in Father Dave Dwyer, host of "The Busted Halo Show With Father Dave" -- call-in radio talk show on Sirius XM radio. It's good to see you, Father --


CUOMO: -- as always.

DWYER: Good morning.

CUOMO: So, in terms of the perspective on this, could say -- and I have been saying -- only the second Catholic --

DWYER: Right.

CUOMO: -- president.

DWYER: Sure.

CUOMO: -- only the second, therefore, to meet with a sitting Pope. But it is a first, in a way. Is it not?

DWYER: It is. Popes have met with U.S. presidents 31 times over the years since Dwight D. Eisenhower, but formalized diplomatic relations with the Holy See and the United States only happened in 1984. So, he's really the first sitting U.S. Catholic president to meet with the Pope since that has happened.

And, of course, Vatican City, as a state -- we know it's the smallest country in the world. Only about 800 people are residents of it so you wouldn't say well, why is this all that significant. But there are 1.2 billion Catholics around the world and the Pope is the leader of them as well. So, it does carry a little more weight than meeting with some other head of state of some small country, I would say.

CUOMO: And you do have two men who are both battling for control of their flocks, right?

DWYER: Right.

CUOMO: Biden's political problems are obvious. There was tons of spin on the show just a segment ago about what's happening within the Democrats, and it's all -- it's all OK. This is what family does. No, it isn't -- it's a mess.

DWYER: Right.

CUOMO: Similarly, Pope Francis --


CUOMO: -- is trying to find the line through where he can unite the most Catholics. What will that manifest --

DWYER: Sure.

CUOMO: -- in -- between these two men?

DWYER: Well, there's certain -- back home in the United States there's a spin on this meeting that probably the rest of the world is not taking.

Whether or not the U.S. bishops can talk about a eucharistic document that might manifest itself in denying some politicians communion is not on the agenda of these heads of state. It's not -- quite frankly, it's not on the Pope's mind. They will very likely, in their less than an hour together, not bring up the topic of abortion at all. Communion, maybe in the sense that

President Biden is a devout Catholic. I mean, he's a very devout Catholic. He goes to mass all the time. And Pope Francis is --

CUOMO: I agree with you, but right now it depends who you ask, Father, right?

DWYER: In terms of what devout is, yes.

CUOMO: That's right.

DWYER: Yes. I mean, I would say devout in terms of practice --

CUOMO: Yes, me, too.

DWYER: -- and it's -- I find it interesting that President Biden really, for most of his political career on the issue of abortion, has said well, I personally oppose it and yet I can't oppose the -- I'm an elected leader so I can't oppose my Catholic faith on the rest of the constituency.

And yet, recently he actually did say -- it was right after the Texas abortion law and there was a press conference. He said that he disagreed that life begins at conception. So, there are significant differences between Pope Francis, who will be sitting across from him, and President Biden on that issue.

But what we -- as far as we can tell from all the experts that are giving us what might happen in that room, they're going to be talking about the things on which they agree.

They're going to be talking about climate change, which is obviously coming up with the summit in Glasgow. They're going to be talking about the pandemic -- ending the pandemic and developed countries being able to help out less developed countries. That's what Pope Francis is really going to go to bat for. And the poor, in general, around the world.

CUOMO: Yes. I mean, look, this Pope has been very ecumenical, let's say, in terms of speaking the world. He says here is the main Catholic construction. Love mercy. Are you doing that? Focus on that. Don't focus on these other battles that you guys are having in politics.

Now, that doesn't resonate as well in the United States, but the Catholic -- you know, thinking of it as a world organization --

DWYER: Right.

CUOMO: -- and presence --

DWYER: Right.

CUOMO: -- is about suffrage.

You know, I was mentioning earlier it's weird. Here we are in Vatican City, such a wealthy potentate. They have homeless people sleeping right in front of the press office.


CUOMO: So, the problems of poverty are real.


CUOMO: This Pope sees the manifestation of suffrage in a way that he wants to communicate to Biden how?

DWYER: Well, I mean, he has already started to do it in a lot of ways to all of us, and has written two major encyclicals since he has been pontiff -- both about how we are all in this together, both with creation and the planet in Laudato si' and with one another in his most encyclical Fratelli tutti, which means that we are all brothers and sisters all created by God.


And given that, those of us who have more have a responsibility to take care of those who have less. And also, stewardship of the great gifts that we've been given in terms of the planet. And he is strong on those.

CUOMO: Pope Francis, a very big presence. Father, thank you.

DWYER: No, sure. Sure -- yes.

CUOMO: It's good to have you here.

DWYER: Yes, sure.

CUOMO: Very big, especially within Europe, and it's going to send a signal to the G20 that the President of the United States got off the plane, came and met with the Pope and was well-received. It's going to make a big difference here just in terms of setting the stage -- John, Brianna.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, no question. And I think a lot of people will be watching exactly how they interact -- to the extent that we're allowed to see it -- and the type of way they talk to and about each other, to be sure.

All right, Chris, back with you in just a moment.

Senator Richard Burr under investigation for selling more than $1 million in stock right before the coronavirus market crash. The latest in the SEC insider trading probe, ahead.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, another day of intense negotiations. What's in, what's out of President Biden's social safety net legislation.



BERMAN: President Biden about to leave for the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis. This comes on the heels of announcing that he reached a historic framework with Democrats for his social spending plan.

Christine Romans, CNN chief business correspondent, joins us to explain what's in and what's out for now.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": For now, a big disappointment, actually, about the paid leave part of this. More than three-quarters of Americans have no paid family leave and that's not about to change. Paid family leave out of Biden's Build Back Better plan.

Ditching paid family leave and medical leave is a really big deal. It would have provided new parents with paid time off to care for newborns. It would have helped families cope with illnesses without risking their financial security. It would have helped businesses keep workers from leaving and keep them productive.

In the middle of a health crisis and worker shortage, many economists thought that passing paid leave was a simple morality and intelligence test for Congress. The average paid maternity leave around the world is 29 weeks, but not

here. America is one of eight without national material leave and one of just six countries without any form of national paid leave. And it's the only wealthy on that very short list.

Still, even without that critical program and that big disappointment for working families, this still is a once-in-a-generation upgrade for working people. Here is what families get.

Universal pre-K. The child tax credit is still in but only for one more year, critical for low-income families to pay for things like diapers and food. There is child and elderly care, and the expansion of Medicare.

Also, Build Back Better has a historic investment in addressing the climate crisis. That Medicare expansion, though, is not what many had wanted at the outset, which would have been dental, hearing, and eye care for seniors. It's a slimmed-down version of that.

BERMAN: The climate investment turns out to be the single biggest block of money --

ROMANS: Yes (ph).

BERMAN: -- and more than I think some people thought it would be based on where these negotiations were headed.

ROMANS: That's right. And there are a lot of different components of it that are pretty interesting to watch, including how to reinvest when you bounce back from some sort of natural disaster. So there are investments in there that I think that moderate Democrats could be on board with and sell back home in coal country, for example.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, great to see you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo charged in a sexual misconduct complaint. What type of legal jeopardy is he now facing? We have no reporting ahead.

KEILAR: Plus, empty shelves and food shortages. The impact that the supply chain crunch is having on the most vulnerable Americans.



KEILAR: As President Biden meets with the Pope in Rome, labor shortages, rising inflation, and supply chain problems could mean more people going hungry in the U.S. Food banks and school cafeterias are struggling to get what they need.

CNN's Gabe Cohen is showing us how Americans are coping. And welcome, Gabe.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good morning.

Look, so many Americans across the country are dealing with impacts right now from the congested supply chain, from items you can't get to delivery delays, price hikes, and even now the threat of Christmas presents not arriving. But what we're talking about here is a particularly urgent acute problem, and that is putting food on the tables of families that need it the most.


COHEN (voice-over): From a wide angle, it's just one of the countless endpoints of the U.S. supply chain.



COHEN (voice-over): But this food delivery is a lifeline for Beth Greenlee.

BETH GREENLEE, MANNA FOOD RECIPIENT: God only knows how thankful I am for the meals.

COHEN (voice-over): She has stage four endometrial cancer and little income.

GREENLEE: I almost want to cry because it was truly manna from above.

COHEN (voice-over): She's referring to MANNA, a non-profit that cooks and delivers free meals to more than 1,200 of the sickest people in Philadelphia. Now, they have a problem. The price of their ingredients is skyrocketing, up 40 percent.

SUE DAUGHERTY, CEO, MANNA: That's a lot to our bottom line. What could happen is that starting with December we may have to say not to clients. So we'll literally have to turn clients away.

COHEN (voice-over): The issue is the snarled supply chain. Experts say there's plenty of food out there but with cargo ships backed up, manufacturers are missing materials. And a shortage of labor and truckers is making it harder and more expensive to package food products and get them where they need to go.

Food banks are feeling the effects with donations down across the country. At El Pasoans Fighting Hunger demand has quadrupled since the pandemic started. And now, truckloads of food just aren't showing up to their desert community.

SUSAN GOODELL, CEO, EL PASOANS FIGHTING HUNGER FOOD BANK: So, we are struggling every day to find adequate supply and I've never seen anything like this.

COHEN (voice-over): A September survey found 23 percent of Americans experienced food challenges in the past year, with 37 percent receiving food assistance from non-profits or the government.

At the Mission House in South Philadelphia, Annette Glover is concerned about Thanksgiving.

ANNETTE GLOVER, MISSION HOUSE FOOD BANK: The biggest fear is that we have enough food to feed the people.


COHEN (voice-over): She's seen the price of turkeys spike and donations stall.

GLOVER: If they don't happen to come in, I will use my money to buy them turkeys and have a good Christmas -- Thanksgiving and a Christmas.

COHEN (voice-over): Supply problems have hit schools, too, with food deliveries delayed or canceled constantly. In June, the grocery vendor for Philadelphia Public Schools abandoned them, citing a worker shortage. Their orders have been unpredictable all year.

AMY VIRUS, FOOD SERVICES MANAGER, PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL DISTRICT: We have a 5-week lead time, but then we'll find out two days before that it's not coming in.

COHEN (voice-over): It's a different item every week. Right now, they're running out of trays. They're making daily menu changes, even with their food staff down more than 20 percent.

COHEN (on camera): How much of a scramble has this been for your staff?

VIRUS: It has been constant. We really are trying in every way to make sure that we're providing that reimbursable meal. I will say that we're not shorting any of the food.

COHEN (voice-over): They're not alone. Cincinnati Public Schools are down close to 20 food items each week. Schools in Denver can't find enough milk, and Dallas Schools are adding more finger foods because they can't get enough utensils.

In Prince George's County, Maryland, the district canceled take-home suppers.

COHEN (on camera): How has that affected your family?

OSCAR RIVERA, PARENT, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND (through translator): We can no longer say we're going out to have fun because we need to buy food first.

COHEN (voice-over): Oscar Rivera has two sons in the district. His family is now spending more on groceries and turning to food banks to put dinner on the table.

RIVERA (through translator): Food is the most important thing there can be in a home. Toys don't matter, going out doesn't matter, but food does matter.


COHEN: So, right now, the USDA is providing some financial assistance for schools, but districts are still seeing their food budgets go up right now. In some cases, it's drastic. And it's hard to say what the long-term impacts of all of this could be but, really, across the food supply issue there is a lot of concern, Brianna, for the months ahead.

KEILAR: Such a great report, Gabe. You're really revealing the problem here and showing us who it's affecting. And I also just want to welcome you to the CNN and the "NEW DAY" family. Of course, we will see so much more of you. So, thanks for being on this morning.

COHEN: Thanks -- excited to be with you.

KEILAR: All right, Gabe Cohen.

So, we are standing by for President Biden to depart from his hotel ahead of a meeting with the Pope at the Vatican. We are live in Rome, next.




CUOMO: Now I got you.

All right, here we are at the Vatican. I'm Chris Cuomo. And here is the President of the United States. I'm here with Delia Gallagher, who was saying nobody has this show of force when they show up, even at the Vatican, as the United States president. We just saw President Biden coming in in his vehicle known as the Beast. There are two of them.

So, let me introduce you to who we are here with now for this big occasion. CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. CNN Vatican correspondent, as I mentioned, Delia Gallagher. And we have CNN religion expert -- he better be -- he's a priest -- Father Dave Dwyer, host of Sirius XM's "The Busted Halo Show." And, CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck. I couldn't ask for better.

So, this is a big show here in the Eternal City. It's still going on probably -- I don't know, Delia, what do you think -- two dozen vehicles here.

Let's first get an idea of what this moment means in the Eternal City and then we'll talk about the politics of it -- Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT: All right, look -- so what we're seeing now is the motorcade going through the Arch of the Bells. He's got to go right into the Vatican up to the courtyard, which we will also see that first greeting. And then, unfortunately, afterwards we won't have the live pictures but we'll get you an idea of what he'll be doing, walking up to those imposing marble halls, going down to the papal library to meet Pope Francis.

As we were saying -- you know, I've seen, for 20 years, heads of state come to meet the Pope. But when the U.S. comes with all their security it's always a major show of force. And, of course, once you get out it's President Biden on his own there with Pope Francis, and that's always a really emotional meeting.

CUOMO: What do we expect to see and not see? That's been a little bit of a point of contention.

GALLAGHER: So, the Vatican, yesterday, surprisingly decided we're not going to see the live broadcast of the meet and greet. We wouldn't see, obviously, the private meeting anyway. That's private behind closed doors. But usually, we get to see him walking through the corridors and shaking the Pope's hand.

They've decided that it's COVID. They don't want to have too many people in there. They're not going to do lives but they are going to give us the video afterward.

So we're going to just see the president get out of his car and meet the regent of the papal household who will take him inside. And once he goes inside then they've told us we won't have the live pictures right away -- we'll have the tape afterwards, shortly.

CUOMO: Kaitlan Collins, the first impression is, of course, the entrance. Literally dozens of vehicles here. Interestingly, the President of the United States was in one of the first few. There have been like two dozen since.

In terms of what this meeting means for the White House, Kaitlan, what are you hearing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are going to be a few more dozen of those. I think it's about 80 cars in this motorcade, Chris.

But, of course, when it comes to the actual substance of this meeting, it is going to be deeply symbolic for this president. Of course, he is only the second U.S. Catholic president and he is someone who is deeply religious and goes to mass almost every single Saturday at a church in Georgetown.

And the president is someone who does know the Pope very well. He met Pope Francis several years ago. They've met several times before and they have a very close relationship.

And he has talked about conversations they had after his son, Beau, died and what that meant for him. And how Pope Francis was in the United States in 2015, actually, when that happened. And they talked about the moment that they had when they were seeing Pope Francis off at the airport in Philadelphia. They talked about that.

And President Biden has often said those moments meant more to him than he thinks the Pope can even -- can even realize of what that meant to him as he was dealing with that and grieving in the aftermath of losing his son.

But Chris, what's different about this visit is that it does have a more formal tone to it because, of course, this is the first time that they have met since Biden has taken office. They spoke during the transition after he won the presidency in the election in November, but they have not actually met in person since then.

And so, it's not just going to be that personal meeting between the two of them -- though, certainly, that is going to be a major aspect of it. But also, the White House says that they have plans to discuss issues like climate change, immigration. Of course, COVID-19 and the aftermath of the pandemic as the Pope had talked -- has talked about the role that he believes nations have in the wake of the pandemic and the effect that had worldwide.

And so, it is going to be a little bit of both when they do get behind closed doors. But, of course, we are not going to see much of this meeting because of how they've curtailed the press coverage of this, even though typically you would be able to see them.