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Mcconnell And Mccarthy At Odds Over Deal; Tax And Climate Deal Impacts Americans; Le Roy Torres Is Interviewed About Outrage Over The Burn Pits Vote Failing; China Warns Over Taiwan; DC Mayor Asks For The National Guard. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 06:30   ET



S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The majority, I think, for him is about his own preservation, as well as, you know, the Senate at large and the Republican Party.

But he's aware that he is not untouchable. And especially looking down the pike, we've reportedly heard that Donald Trump wants to pick a fight with both McConnell and McCarthy so that he's the main show on - you know, in 2024 in November.

So, a lot of moving pieces, a lot of chess pieces or tic tac toe.


CUPP: X's and o's.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think that was Kevin McCarthy calling right now - right now.

KEILAR: I know.

BERMAN: Who was calling? Who was calling?

KEILAR: Having some words.

Gee, I wonder if you think, S.E., this new Manchin deal, which, let's just be clear, it doesn't require 60 votes. It's a budget reconciliation process. If they win over Kyrsten Sinema and they have the 50 votes, it's just a party-line vote.

Does that change anything? If Biden gets this big victory with this climate change and this health care package, does that change how some Republicans look at what Mitch McConnell has done as saying, OK, now you've just added to his list of victories?

CUPP: Victories. Yes. I mean that's definitely the concern, not just in the House among Republicans like Kevin McCarthy, but even some Republicans in the Senate are worried about the optics of Biden winning.

I guess the good news for Republicans, if you want to be real crass about it, is that a lot of this stuff won't be felt by voters for some time. So, it's not like they're going to feel it immediately, like a stimulus check, and then run out to the polls in November and vote for Democrats.

It's going to take some time. That's tricky for Democrats who want to be able to sell the wins.

But, sure, Republicans are looking at the politics of all of this, not just the policy.

BERMAN: And, Melanie, I just don't want to leave this hanging out there, for this legislation that McCarthy is upset about, there have been at least ten Republicans every time who voted for it because, presumably, they think it's good for their constituents.

You know, Kevin McCarthy can argue it's not, but these Republicans think this is good legislation they're voting "yes" on.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Oh, clearly. I mean that's part of the calculation here is that, especially McConnell knows this, he's giving cover to his most vulnerable members to be able to support these deals on everything from guns to infrastructure.

These are popular in America. These are popular in suburban battleground districts. But it's interesting that Kevin McCarthy not only opposed some of these deals, but he actively whipped his members to oppose them. So it goes even a step further than just him opposing it himself.

But, nonetheless, some of his members defied him and voted against the whip count anyway and they crossed party lines in the House to join with Democrats in supporting these bills.

But I think, privately, Kevin McCarthy has cut these members some slack. There's not going to be any punishment for crossing them because he knows deep down this is important for all of them to win back the majority.

KEILAR: Melanie, great reporting. S.E., thank you so much for the commentary this morning. Great to see you both.

BERMAN: So, we were just talking about the Joe Manchin/Chuck Schumer deal. It was a deal that sent shock waves across the Capitol this week. How will this bill, which deals with climate change and health care costs, drug prices, how will it affect your life on a daily basis?

Joining us now, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Romans, there's a lot in here.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, they've branded this the inflation reduction act. Price tag, you've heard about it, $739 billion. But what's in it? Here's some of what's supposed to put money back in the pockets of people who need it most. Historic price caps. For the first time ever, allowing Medicare to

limit prescription drug prices. Seniors and people on disability would pay no more than $2,000 a year out of pocket for the prescriptions they buy at a pharmacy. Very big deal.

Obamacare subsidies. People buying into Obamacare would continue getting help paying their premiums. They would pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income, and that's down from almost 10 percent before. Some could get subsidies that eliminate their premiums altogether.

The bill would also help people save money on energy costs. Ten years of tax credits for homeowners for things like rooftop solar panels, electric heating, air conditioning.

And, finally, tax breaks for buying an electric car. Up to $7,500 for a new one, $4,000 for a used EV. That's an extension of the current tax incentive, the income level to take advantage of that would be lowered.

Bottom line, it looks like they're trying to target people who really need it instead of spreading money around to everyone, which was criticized in Covid stimulus, guys.

BERMAN: Yes, all that, plus Larry Summers told us that he thinks this bill fights inflation. And inflation affects everybody.


BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, thank you very much.

Protests this morning at Donald Trump's golf club as he hosts the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour. We will take you there.

KEILAR: And we'll also speak live with a veteran suffering from burn pit exposure, as Jon Stewart and others slam Republicans for voting against a bill to help them.



KEILAR: A bill that would fund medical care for veterans who have health problems because of exposure to burn pits and other toxins during their military service has stalled after 25 Republican senators who had previously supported the bill voted against it on Wednesday.

Now, this infuriated veterans' groups and Jon Stewart, who has championed this issue.

Here's how he reacted yesterday during a news conference on The Hill.


JON STEWART, ADVOCATE FOR VETERANS AFFECTED BY BURN PITS: America's heroes, who fought in our wars, outside, sweating their asses off, with oxygen, battling all kinds of ailments while these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sit in the air-conditioning, walled off from any of it.


KEILAR: Joining us now is the co-founder of Burn Pits 360, Army Veteran Le Roy Torres. He has suffered from health problems caused by his exposure to burn pits during his service in the war in Iraq.

Le Roy, thank you so much for being with us.

I know you couldn't be on The Hill yesterday, and your wife was there in your stead. But just tell us what your reaction was to learning that this has been stalled, delayed?


LE ROY TORRES, CO-FOUNDER, BURN PITS 360: Hi, Brianna. Thanks. Good morning. Thank you for having me on this morning.

You know, it's definitely -- it's heart-wrenching. And I see it as strictly repulsive partisan politics that it's hurting the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.

You know, and I'm totally just -- it's disgusting, you know, to have seen this, been there a few weeks ago at the - at the Senate vote, and just passing with flying colors the vote, the Senate. And then as to what happened here, just a few hours ago, it's just totally unacceptable.

KEILAR: What do you think changed?

TORRES: You know, whatever the -- those 25 Republicans, whatever the reason for their switching their vote, you know, it's like they - they totally forgot that the -- I don't know, they weren't thinking of the oath that they - that they took. But we - we - you know, we took an oath and we fulfilled our mission and we cannot leave deployment.

You know, we cannot return back home until our mission was done. And so we expect for these senators to - you know, be urging them to pass and to switch their vote and to actually, I'm looking at a list of the senators who betrayed me. I would like to name some of them, you know, if I may.

You know, we have Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina. You know, Senator Cornyn from Texas, Senator Cruz from Texas, Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. This is just several of the names that I can mention.

But, you know, we're not going to - we're not going to stop. The pressure is going to stay on. And this one -- I just want to thank those veterans and the families who are out there at the U.S. Capitol, who have been there all night doing the fire watch.

You know, Tim Jensen Grunt Style Foundation, Grunt Style, and Wounded Warrior Project, and just so many veterans. Even members of Congress that stopped by last night, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Klobuchar, that stopped by and even brought food.

And for these veterans that are out there, standing in the gap, for many of us who have been affected by these invisible wounds.

KEILAR: And Le Roy, you also have the support of some Republican veterans as well. Brian Mast of Florida has questioned why his Republican colleagues in the Senate did this. Can you tell us about the burn pit that you were exposed to and what effect that has had on you and your family?

TORRES: Absolutely. You know, and - I mean we are grateful for those that -- who continue to support the PACT Act, but I personally - I was affected by a burn pit when I - while I was deployed to Balad (ph), Iraq, in 2007 to 2008.

You know, I came back -- I was deployed as an Army reservist. Came back to my job as a Texas State trooper. And, subsequently, I was - I was forced to leave my job because of my exposure, after being diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis in 2010.

And then, in 2018, I was diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy, which is a toxic brain injury, which is similar to a CT -- CTE. Like football players. It's affected my cognitive abilities, my short-term memory has been compromised.

Here recently, I couldn't go to, you know, D.C. I've been having a lot of GI issues that they can't resolve. I've been having these bacterial infections for 18 months. Things that my GI specialist here in the Corpus areas cannot resolve.

And it's frustrating because I cannot receive the specialized health care because there's nothing in writing. There's no -- nothing that we can go and say, you know what, I need this specialized health care and we can't receive it. And it's very frustrating and this is why some veterans give up.

And, in 2016, I almost became a statistic. But thank God for my service dog and my wife that I'm still here today, by God's grace.

KEILAR: I know - I know you were desperate in 2016. And there are so many veterans that you represent who breathed in that carcinogenic air for months and months and months and are now paying the price, just like you, Le Roy.

We appreciate you being with us this morning to tell us about this issue.

TORRES: Yes, thank you, Brianna. Thank you again for having me on.

KEILAR: A marathon call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as tensions between the two countries mount over Taiwan. We're going to compare what both sides are saying this morning.

BERMAN: And the White House frustrated over the lack of response from Russia on a proposed prisoner swap. CNN is live in Moscow.


[06:48:47] BERMAN: This morning, different views of one conversation. The two- hour-plus phone call between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, especially over the issue of Taiwan, in the midst of a potential visit there by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Now, the statement from the White House reads, quote, on Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States' policy has not changed and the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Straight.

Now, the Chinese readout is different. This is what the Chinese say. They say, we firmly oppose Taiwan independence separatism and interference by external forces and will never leave any space for Taiwan independence forces of any form.

Adding, quote, public opinion shall not be violated, and if you play with fire, you get burned. I hope the U.S. side can see this clearly. The U.S. side should abide by the one China principle and implement the three China/U.S. joint communiques.

So, CNN's Will Ripley is in Taiwan with their reaction to the current tensions.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Taiwan trains for a Chinese attack.


Air raid sirens in Taipei. Fighter jets scramble. Helicopters hunt submarines. Destroyers open fire.

China's refusal to publicly condemn Russia's war on Ukraine adding urgency of island's annual military drills, fueling fears of a cross straight conflict. Taiwan tensions dominated a more than two-hour call Thursday. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping trading warnings on Taiwan.

Chinese state media quoting Xi. Those who play with fire will perish by it. The ominous warning amid growing speculation U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be planning a trip to Taiwan. A plan discouraged by Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military thinks it's not a good idea right now.

RIPLEY: Pelosi won't talk about her travel plans for security reasons. It would be the highest-level U.S. visit in 25 years.

BRIAN HIOE, TAIWANESE-American LIVING IN TAIPEI: There could have been more dialogue between Taiwan and the Biden administration rather than have this confusing mixed signals presented out there openly in the public, in a way that now China has noticed and will respond in some way. RIPLEY: A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group is back in the South

China Sea, citing routine operations ahead of Pelosi's possible visit.

HIOE: Who would be caught in the crossfire of a conflict between the U.S. and China? I would be Taiwan, which is right there next to China.

RIPLEY: Beijing promises firm and resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty. Chinese passports show Taiwan as a mainland province, even though it has its own military and government for more than seven decades.

WANG TING-YU, TAIWANESE MP FROM DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY: Taiwan is a country. Taiwan is our home. We are not part of anyone. Not Chinese. Not Americans.

RIPLEY: China considers U.S./Taiwan diplomacy a red line. Beijing won't rule out using force to prevent the island's formal independence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will show our willing to defend ourself.

RIPLEY: Defending against China's massive military would be a herculean task. Taiwan is counting on friends, like the U.S., to defend their democracy from what they call a growing threat.


RIPLEY: In recent days, Chinese drones have been conducting surveillance near Taiwan. And from the Taiwanese government perspective, even though they were briefed on that call between Xi and Biden, certainly, publicly, they're saying that they welcome Nancy Pelosi.

But there is a debate on the ground here about whether such a high- profile U.S. visit right now is helping or hurting Taiwan's long-term position when it comes to their relationship with China and trying to keep the peace, John.

BERMAN: Will Ripley in Taipei for us this morning. Will, it's great to have you there. Thank you so much for your reporting.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., requesting help from the National Guard. Why she says the city is at a tipping point.

KEILAR: And new reporting from "The Washington Post" that text messages surrounding January 6th, more of them have gone missing. This time from top officials within Trump's Department of Homeland Security.



KEILAR: This morning, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is warning that her city is at a tipping point. She is requesting the National Guard to help with thousands of migrants being bused to the city from Texas and Arizona.

CNN's Whitney Wild has this story for us.

Whitney, tell us what the major is saying here.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, Mayor Bowser is criticizing other politicians who are sending migrants to Washington, saying that this is a political statement that is, frankly, straining the resources here.

In a letter to the D.C. National Guard, Bowser said the pace of arriving buses and the volume of arrivals has reached a tipping point.

The governors of Texas and Arizona are making a political statement to the federal government and instead their actions are having direct impacts on city and regional resources in ways that are unsustainable.

According to the requests to the D.C. National Guard, more than 4,000 migrants have arrived in Washington, D.C., in nearly four months on nearly 200 buses.

The city has facilitated the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a $1 million grant.

In addition to more people to help, the mayor's office is also asking to convert the D.C. Armory, Joint Base Bolling, Ft. McNair, or suggesting another suitable federal location in the national capital region, asking the D.C. National Guard if that's possible to turn those areas into processing centers.

A Defense Department spokesman told CNN, we can confirm that the secretary of defense received a request from the office of the mayor of D.C., but as this is a pending request, we're not prepared to comment on the specifics of the request at this time.

Meanwhile, Bri, Governor Greg Abbott's press secretary responded to Mayor Bowser in a statement saying to CNN, Washington, D.C., finally understands what Texans have been dealing with every single day as our communities are overrun and overwhelmed by thousands of illegal immigrants thanks to President Biden's open border policies.

If the mayor wants a solution to this crisis, she should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border, something he has failed to do.

So, certainly a challenge here in Washington, Brianna, and Mayor Bowser taking that concern directly to the D.C. National Guard.

KEILAR: All right, Whitney, we know you will continue to follow this. Whitney Wild in D.C., thank you.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman, with Brianna Keilar.

The Justice Department prepares a case to force Trump advisers to testify in the January 6th investigation. Biden administration officials, frustrated at Moscow's lack of a response to the proposed U.S. prisoner swap.

KEILAR: And members of the controversial Saudi-backed golf league are actually teeing off at Trump's New Jersey golf course. September 11th families are also going to be there, and they are not happy.

And conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito breaking his silence on overturning Roe v. Wade.


Why he's calling out Prince Harry.