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Senate Approves Major Bill to Fight Climate Change, Cut Drug Costs; Biden Becomes Legislatively Consequential President; Killings of 4 Muslim Men May Be Linked in NM; Taiwan Foreign Minister; 'We Are Not Scared' of China. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Monday, August 8. I'm Brianna Keilar, alongside John Berman.


So good to have you back.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to be back, mostly.

KEILAR: Mostly.

BERMAN: Mostly. It's early. It turns out it's early.

KEILAR: It is. Not so early on vacation, but we're glad you are back for us.

So we are beginning with a major legislative victory for Democrats in Congress and for the Biden White House. Suddenly, he is one of the most consequential legislative presidents since LBJ in his first two years in office.

The Inflation Reduction Act passing by a party-line vote in the 50/50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie here. The landmark bill now heads to the House. And it represents the largest investment to combat the climate crisis in U.S. history, nearly $370 billion. It also makes major changes to health policies, such as giving Medicare the power to negotiate the prices of some prescription drugs.

President Biden also signed the sweeping $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law in March of last year, intended to bolster the U.S. recovery from the pandemic. Then in November, the bipartisan infrastructure bill became law, enacting a key piece of the domestic spending agenda.

BERMAN: Yes. As you noted, the infrastructure bill bipartisan, as had been a string of key votes this summer. The Senate approved NATO expansion to include Sweden and Finland, a harsh rebuke to Russia.

The first major federal gun safety legislation passed in decades, bipartisan. It includes incentivizing red flag laws. It closes the boyfriend loophole and funds crisis intervention programs including mental health courts.

And tomorrow President Biden is expected to sign the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, boosting U.S. semi-conductor production and the making of cars, household appliances and computers.

Also, this week, he is expected to sign a bipartisan bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

Let's get right to Capitol Hill, though, where they were up all night Saturday into Sunday, a marathon session, but the Senate did pass the Inflation Reduction Act. Jessica Dean is there. Jessica, what is in this big piece of legislation?


Yes, this is a big, big win for Senate Democrats, who frankly, John and Brianna, they didn't know that they were going to get to this point. This almost collapsed many, many times over the last several months.

So to get to yesterday, when this bill actually passed on the Senate floor, there were a lot of cheering. There was a lot of cheering from the Democratic side, a lot of hugs, people very excited to see this legislation passed on the Democratic side of the Senate.

So yes, to get into what's in it, you mentioned those climate provisions. And that's big, because this represents the biggest investment in climate that we have seen come out of the Senate ever: $369 billion.

They're hoping to curb carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030. There's a lot of incentives in there for renewable energy and other provisions.

There's also a number of healthcare provisions, including allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs, extending those Affordable Care Act subsidies for about three more years; and also capping out-of-pocket costs for Medicare at $2,000.

And then to pay for all of this are some new tax provisions, as well, including a 15-percent minimum tax on the country's largest corporations.

So that's a little bit about what's in this bill.

Now, Senate Democrats still waiting on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to get back to them with the final number of how this will affect the deficit. They made some tweaks over the weekend, but previous iterations of this had estimated it would reduce the deficit by about 100 to $200 billion.

In the meantime, we saw this play out all weekend. We're going to continue to hear this, Senate Republicans really hammering against this bill, saying it's going to lead to job losses, to higher taxes, that it is not for the middle class. So that is what we heard from Senate Republicans.

But John and Brianna, the fact is, it is headed over to the House, where key House Democrats have signaled they're going to support it so we do expect to see that happening on Friday. It would then head to President Biden's desk -- John and Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Jessica Dean, thank you so much for that report.

Joining us now is Leigh Ann Caldwell, the author of "The Washington Post's" "Early 202" newsletter; and Ryan Lizza, CNN senior political analyst, as well as chief Washington correspondent for "Politico." He is also a co-author of the "Politico Playbook."

OK, so Ryan, just put this into context for us, what this means, how big this is.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for -- for history, I think it's a pretty big deal. You know, if you add up those seven pieces of legislation, that's a $3.5 trillion agenda that -- that Biden and the Democrats have passed since early last year.

There's really nothing like that in terms of that scale. You're going to go back to -- I think, depending on how you define these things -- to LBJ. And I think -- so for history, Biden -- I don't think there's much debate any more, he is an enormously consequential president. And just judging him by his legislative agenda, you know, he's sort of in that modern pantheon now.

The short term is a different question. You know, will this translate into an improved political environment for Democrats?

I interviewed the president's campaign pollster, John Anzalone, yesterday; and in April, Anzalone was saying that this was the worst political environment for Democrats that he had seen in 30 years in the business. He's completely changed his tune on that now, and because of this legislative agenda that Democrats can now run on, you know, he thinks they have a -- a fighting chance to hold their losses in the House and as a lot of analysts believe, actually keep the Senate.

BERMAN: So Leigh Ann, there are two separate related questions, right? No. 1, what does this all mean for the American people? but that very much relates to what does this mean for Democrats, as Ryan was just saying, heading into the midterm election? What are you hearing about whether or not Democrats do feel emboldened now?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, "THE EARLY 202" AUTHOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, well, just like what Ryan said, talking to the president's pollster, when I'm talking to Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill, they have the same perception.

I was speaking with Senator Gary Peters, the senator from Michigan, who runs the Democrats' campaign committee, and he told me that there is a shift in momentum for Democrats.

[06:05:10] He said they started to see this in poll numbers over the past few weeks but really in the past ten days or so, five to ten days, he said. There has just been a marked shift. And that is really good for Democrats as they head home to their districts, to their states right now and get really deep into this campaign cycle and as they go to talk to voters.

And even though voters might not feel the impacts of this legislation before November, what they do have is they have a spate of good headlines for -- for Democrats and for President Biden.

And it's not just legislative wins, either. It's the fact that a lot of this legislation, now not this partisan bill that was just passed over the weekend, but a lot of other legislation has passed on a bipartisan basis. And that's some of the frustration that voters have with Washington, is they feel that it's broken.

But the fact that they could pass legislation with Republicans and Democrats, Democrats can go home and say, Look, we are not partisan politicians only. We are able to get things done and deliver results to the American people.

So Democrats are feeling really good after this summer.

KEILAR: Yes. The headlines, you can't deny them, Leigh Ann. I mean, they have been productive.

It just -- I wonder if this is something that is going to look so good for President Biden's legacy. Of course, it is going to. And at the same time maybe not overcome that challenge of inflation. That in the end maybe this narrows that net negative a little bit, but can't really close it at all. What do you think?

CALDWELL: Yes, we'll have to wait and see. I mean, gas prices have been down for the past eight weeks, so that's good. I mean, they're still very high, but the fact that they're dropping and not increasing.

You know, food costs are still really high, but the jobs numbers are really low. And if they still keep getting those good economic indicators up until November, we'll have to see. It might just come to an individual decision on voters and how they personally are feeling regarding the economy.

But there's also polling that shows that voters are also really frustrated, too. And it's not just Republican voters who are tending to be more critical, of course, of Democrats and of President Biden. But Democratic voters are frustrated, too, and that is over things like the decision over Roe v. Wade.

And that -- but we have seen, especially in Kansas, that voters are angry about that and turned out to the polls.

And so the combination of the legislation; the combination of some of the good economic indicators; and the anger among many voters about Roe v. Wade being overturned, Democrats think that this is just good news for them. But we're still three months away, and we know how news cycles change so fast. And so we'll see what happens.

BERMAN: Ryan, have you thought at all about how this happened? Is this something that the White House started doing differently to get this string of successes this summer? Or was this always just the tortoise and the hare, Joe Biden always being Joe Biden, and eventually, it worked out well for him.

LIZZA: That's a great question. I mean, a couple of these bills really were not that controversial, were always bipartisan, for instance, the burn pit bill. That probably would have just sailed through the Senate without a lot of coverage, frankly, if Republicans hadn't, you know, switched their votes, voted against it. And there was an enormous amount of drama. And people like Jon Stewart, who are big champions of this bill, really making a commotion about it.

So I think that's sort of like been added to his list of -- of victories in a way that sometimes, you know, small pieces of legislation that pass in a bipartisan basis and don't get a lot of press attention don't make a big impact.

The other thing is because Joe Manchin pulled the plug on negotiations, that freed Republicans like Mitch McConnell from cooperating with the White House and Democrats on the CHIPS Bill, right? Remember, McConnell said, if you guys pursue this partisan reconciliation bill, I'm not -- I'm not giving you the votes for the CHIPS Bill.

Well, the reconciliation bill was moved to the side for a little bit. They went forward. They got the CHIPS Bill done. It's a pretty -- it's a pretty meaty bill. And then lo and behold, Joe Manchin came out and said, Oh, I'm back -- I'm back in on this reconciliation deal, and that led to the big breakthrough that the Senate passed yesterday.

So I think those two -- so those are just chance things.

The final thing is the White House completely changed its legislative strategy, starting last December when Manchin ended negotiations. They really pulled the president back from the day-to-day negotiations.


Eventually, when Manchin came forward and said he wanted to work on a bill again, it really became Schumer and Manchin together with not a whole lot of high-level engagement, certainly by the president, but even by the president's top aides.

Steve Ricchetti worked with Manchin a bit. Ron Klain was on the phone with Schumer a lot. But it really was a Senate deal, and that was a big change.

KEILAR: Yes. Future presidents will be looking at that, as they looked at Obamacare and as they looked at previous failures, as well as the successes.

Ryan, Leigh Anna, good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us. LIZZA: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. This morning the urgent search for a killer, or killers. An entire community on edge in New Mexico.

Four men, all Muslim, shot and killed since November, three of them in the past two weeks. A mosque spokesman tells CNN one of the men attended a funeral for two of the other victims on Friday, and then became a victim himself just hours later.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Albuquerque this morning with the latest. This just has to be terrifying for that community, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question, John, these murders have sent a chilling reaction throughout the Muslim community here in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

And it's a small community. We're told it's about 3,000 to 4,000 Muslims that live here in the Albuquerque area.

But there's a great deal of concern emerging now, because there's just so little information as to exactly what is going on. But we can walk you through the time line of events here.

The first murder happened back in November of last year, so about ten months ago. That is when the first person was killed.

Then now in the last two weeks, we have seen a string of three other murders. One on July 26, another one on August 1, and then, as you mentioned, the latest victim was a man who had attended the funeral services of the two previous victims.

And it was Friday afternoon. He was in the mosque behind me, talking to people, asking questions about what was going on, concerned about what was going on. And then a few hours later he was killed, as well. And what one thing that Albuquerque police here believe is they are all connected at this point. They have -- they say they have reason to believe that that is the case.

The one thing tying all of the men together is that they are Muslim. There doesn't appear to have been any robbery or any -- any other aspects of the crime that went down that would suggest that it was something other than the men being Muslim.

And because of that, the president of the mosque here was telling us last night that there is a great deal of fear running through the community here in Albuquerque.

BERMAN: Ed, what are Muslim leaders --


LAVANDERA: People are terrified.

AHMAD ASSED, PRESIDENT, ISLAMIC CENTER OF NEW MEXICO: Incredibly terrified, panicked. Some people want to move from the state until this thing is over. Some people have moved from the state.

Businesses are closing. They're closing businesses early. Students won't leave their homes. People are not -- it's affecting people from coming over to the mosque to conduct their services, their prayers.

So in every aspect of daily life that we're used to or accustomed to following, it's been -- it's impacted it in every way possible.

But I get in the car, and I'm watching every which way possible. I'm watching my side mirror. I'm looking in the back. I'm looking out for any sign that -- of anything out of the ordinary.

LAVANDERA: It's hard -- it's hard to live like that.

ASSED: Well, I mean, at the end of the day, it is -- we don't have an alternative.


LAVANDERA: And, John, yesterday afternoon Albuquerque police released a picture of a gray what they believe to be either a Volkswagen Jetta or Passat. They say it is a vehicle of interest that is possibly connected to the areas where one of the people were killed. So that is a picture that they want out there.

And hopefully, they believe that that could lead them to some important clues in figuring out what is going on here.

BERMAN: Yes. And we're putting the picture up so people can see it right now. Obviously, if you have any information about this, please let the authorities know in Albuquerque.

What are Muslim leaders there telling people? What are they advising the community to do to protect themselves?

LAVANDERA: Well, you can imagine the fear that this has instilled in so many people. Because a lot of -- police say a lot of these victims were essentially ambushed, surprised as they were going about their lives doing mundane things.

One man had walked out of the back of the grocery store that he ran. He was taking a break when he was shot and killed. Another person was walking along the sidewalk.

So Muslim leaders here are telling people to travel around the city, use a buddy system to keep tabs on each other, to not stay out at night if they don't have to. But really just keeping tabs on each other. Do not travel alone and always be aware of their surroundings because they believe so many of these victims had simply just been surprised and ambushed.

BERMAN: All right. Ed Lavandera in Albuquerque. Ed, thank you for being there for us. Please keep us posted.

KEILAR: And Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is going to be joining us live here on NEW DAY shortly. [06:15:00]

A fragile ceasefire holding in the Middle East after nearly three days of fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza. CNN is live on the ground.

And a warning from the U.N. secretary-general in response to Russia's shelling around a Ukrainian nuclear plant. He calls it suicidal.

BERMAN: A CNN exclusive: Taiwan's foreign minister says Taiwan is not scared as China escalates its military exercises around the island.


BERMAN: This morning developments in crisis zones around the world. In Ukraine, the United Nations warns that fighting around the Zaporizhzhia power plant risks a, quote, "nuclear disaster." Concerns mount this weekend after shelling damaged a plant and forced one of the reactors to stop operating.

No radioactive leak has been detected.

Tension also between China and Taiwan as the Chinese are conducting four straight days of live-fire drills around Taiwan including land and air exercises. It comes after House speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to the island.


And in the Middle East, a tenuous cease-fire after three days of fighting in Israel and Gaza. On Friday, Israel fired missiles at Gaza to stop what they said was an imminent Palestinian attack.

Islamic Jihad, a militant group in Gaza, has fired at least 1,100 rockets into Israel since then.

The fighting left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children, and more than 300 wounded. That is according to Palestinian officials.

Let's go to CNN's Hadas Gold, who's live near the Gaza border this morning. Hadas, this ceasefire, how is it holding?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I'm in an Israeli town not far from the border with Gaza that, until last night was under regular rocket fire.

But as you can see now, life is slowly returning to normal. And that's after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire has reached last night around 11:30 p.m.

Israel has now reopened the border between Gaza and Israel, and this is so important, because the already precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza was reaching a critical point.

And that's because their only power plant was running out of fuel and that meant they were getting four hours of electricity a day. That can, of course, be so important, so deadly for hospitals in the region, especially as they were going through these air strikes. So many people there injured.

Now there is -- now the fuel trucks are now going again, and life is starting to return back to normal on both sides, although the assessment and the cleanup is beginning.

In Gaza as you noted, 44 people have been killed according to the Palestinian ministry of health including 15 children.

More than 300 have been injured. That's according to the ministry of health there.

Now, Israel says most of those killed were militants and they also said that some of those killed were also as a result of rocket launches gone wrong.

In Israel more than 1,100 rockets were fired towards Israeli communities. There were about several dozen light injuries, but nobody was killed in Israel.

Now everyone is waiting to see what will happen in the aftermath and whether this ceasefire will hold and what will happen afterwards.

Israel says that they completed what they said was essentially eliminating -- eliminating the top security brass of the Palestinian- Islamic Jihad. Now there is this fragile ceasefire, everybody will be waiting to see how much it will hold and what will happen in the coming days -- John.

BERMAN: So Hadas, Islamic Jihad doesn't run things in Gaza. Hamas does. What has Hamas done during all of this?

GOLD: That's -- yes, that's the really interesting part. Hamas does run things in Gaza. And while they are aligned with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in some of their approaches, and sometimes they team up in rocket launches and things like that.

It was really interesting that Hamas stayed out this conflict. They expressed support for what the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was doing, but they didn't fire any rockets and didn't get involved.

And I think that's why this conflict stayed rather short.

Also, the Israeli army made clear that they were only targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They didn't want to go after Hamas. And it really felt as though neither Hamas nor the Israeli side wanted things to escalate beyond where it was going.

Because if Hamas had gotten involved, then it would have reached a really serious new point. And then you would have likely seen more of a similar level of violence and conflict to what we saw last year during that really destructive 11-day war last May -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Hadas Gold near the border there. Please keep us posted. Thank you very much.

KEILAR: In a CNN exclusive, Taiwan's foreign minister says that Taiwan is not scared of Chinese threats, even as China conducts a new round of large-scale military exercises around the island,, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit.

Joining us now is CNN senior international correspondent Will Ripley with the latest on this. Will, tell us more about what he said.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no indication, Brianna, that these exercises are going to stop anytime soon.

And we also have learned that Taiwan pretty much had no input about the timing of this visit, which comes just months before a highly- sensitive political gathering in Beijing.

However, the foreign minister told me that he has no regrets and would welcome Nancy Pelosi all over again.


RIPLEY (voice-over): As Taiwan was lighting up landmarks for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China was lighting up the skies and seas around the self-governing democracy, a democracy in danger of a Chinese takeover if Beijing's communist rulers get their way.

Pelosi was in Taiwan less than 24 hours, leaving behind a crisis some say she helped create.

RIPLEY: Was there any concern here in Taipei about the timing of this and whether it might provoke some sort of reaction from China?

JOSEPH WU, TAIWAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER: We knew that China always reacted badly whenever we have good friends coming to visit us. The Chinese government cannot dictate who can come and who cannot come. And they cannot dictate Taiwan who can be our friends or who we should make friends with.


RIPLEY: But what if China goes further as a result of this visit or using this visit as an excuse? Do the benefits outweigh the risks Taiwan?

WU: One, what is China is doing is unwarranted. And what it is doing is upsetting the peace and stability in the Western Pacific. And it's something that should not be welcomed by the international community.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, tells CNN China's war games are aimed at isolating this island. Pelosi, the most powerful politician to visit in 25 years.

RIPLEY: Is Taiwan in more danger today than it was before Nancy Pelosi's visit? WU: China has always been threatening Taiwan for years. And it's

getting more serious in the last few years. And it's always been that way. Whether speaker Pelosi visit Taiwan or not, the Chinese military threat against Taiwan has always been there.

RIPLEY: What do you believe China's motivation is? And do you think that their timeline has changed?

WU: China's motivation, as I said a little it earlier, is not going to end at Taiwan. They claim the East China Sea. They claim South China Sea. They work very hard to go into the Pacific.

They're influencing South Asia and Africa, even in Latin America. It's unprecedented, this space (ph). And therefore, it has a global ambition.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Ambition driven by China's most powerful leader since Mao: Xi Jinping, on track to become president for life with a burning desire to unify with Taiwan, by force if necessary.

RIPLEY: Has Taiwan's democratic system ever been in more danger than it is today?

WU: I can tell you that Taiwan is more resilient than before. Look at Taiwan these days. You know, China is trying to impose trade sanctions against Taiwan, trying to attack Taiwan from military or nonmilitary aspect, but the way -- the life goes on here in Taiwan.

RIPLEY: Should people in Taiwan be more worried?

WU: If you ask me, I worry a little bit.

RIPLEY: What do you worry about?

WU: I worry that China may really launch a war against Taiwan, but what it is doing right now is trying to scare us. And the best way to deal with it, to show that China that we are not scared.


RIPLEY (on camera): China is defending its actions as legitimate, justified, because they claim that Taiwan is a part of China, even though the communist rulers in Beijing have never once over the last 70-plus years controlled this island, which has its own democratically-elected government, a government that Beijing seems intent on delegitimizing, trying to ice them out on the global stage.

So Taiwan says they need to welcome people like Nancy Pelosi and other world leaders to see the situation here on the ground and, if the time came, help Taiwan if China made a move -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Will, thank you so much for sharing that interview with us.

There's a new report revealing 2022 just saw one of the hottest Julys on record as this year's extreme summer intensifies.

BERMAN: And frightening new video showing just how quickly a flash flood can turn deadly.