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New Day Saturday

House Passes Bident's $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package; Some Conservatives Rally Behind Trump, Election Lies At CPAC; Third Coronavirus Vaccine On Verge Of Emergency Use Authorization; Shortage Of Plumbing Supplies In Texas After Winter Storm; CPAC Speakers Rally Around Trump, Blast Those Who Oppose Him; Some Cities, Businesses Have Already Adjusted To Higher Minimum Wage. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 27, 2021 - 07:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As it can be in a polarized divided America and yet not a single House Republican voted for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody who got the J&J vaccine, no one was hospitalized, and no one died. It's a very good, safe and effective vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything you throw at us about immune is going to be countered by getting people vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do GOP show of support for Donald Trump at the CPAC conference underway in Florida?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump isn't going anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have spoken at CPAC but that was a time when we talked about issues and what we intended to do. This just looks like a whole different day.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: A shot of Capitol Hill there and new this morning, President Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue bill is moving on to the Senate after the House passed it overnight.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: No Republicans voted for the bill. Two Democrats opposed it too. The House package includes 14,000 direct checks to people making less than $75,000 a year, direct aid to small businesses and increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments funding for schools more money for vaccine distribution.

PAUL: Several more steps are in place here obviously, before the bill has to the president: unemployment benefits help from small businesses, they will lapse soon, there's still significant disagreement as well between parties on how much to spend and where that money should go.


STACEY PLASKETT (D), VIRGIN ISLAND DELEGATE: The time for bold and decisive action is now. This American Rescue Plan Act will crush the virus, return children safely to school, support vaccinations, put dollars in families' pockets and put people back to work.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): We are holding our kids back. This bill will actually delay reopening of schools. 95 percent of the school money in this bill can't even be spent until 2022.

REP. TERESA FERNANDEZ (D-NM): We need this package to end the nation suffering. Let's pass this bill. Save lives, save livelihoods, save communities.

REP. JASON SMITH (R-MO): This is clearly a partisan plan. That clearly is the wrong plan at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons.


PAUL: That was what was happening in the House. CNN's Daniel Diaz, Daniela Diaz is with us now. Daniela, so good to have you with us. So, we saw what the House did talk to us about what happens next in the Senate.

DANIELA DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, this just happened a couple of hours ago guys, the votes went really late into the night. The House passed Biden's a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. This is a huge step for the Biden administration as this is their first legislative priority with his, within the beginning of his administration. And as you guys mentioned, only no Republican signed on to this and two Democrats did not vote for this package, Kurt Schrader and Jared Golden.

So, what happens next? Well, this legislation which includes as you guys said, vaccine distribution money, these stimulus checks, more money for state and local governments will now go to the Senate, where they will pass this using budget reconciliation. They, Chuck Schumer needs every single Democratic senator to sign on to this legislation for it to pass. So, every Democratic Senator, 50 votes for this to pass with Vice President Kamala Harris likely being the tie breaking vote. But the clock is ticking, they're trying to pass this before -- millions of Americans are going to lose their unemployment benefits in mid-March, so that's a priority for the administration and they're trying to do that before these benefits expire.

BLACKWELL: Daniela, the House bill also includes the provision raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. We know that the Senate parliamentarian says that it cannot stay in the Senate version under the current rules. So, what's expected to happen now? Right.

DIAZ: Right. So, that happened earlier this week. The Senate parliamentarian who decides these kinds of things ruled that this $15.00 minimum wage increase could not be included in this legislation if it were to pass using budget reconciliation in the Senate, which means every policy in this legislation needs to contribute to the budget, needs to affect the budget.

So, because you ruled against this, this is bad news for progressive Democrats who really wanted to see this legislation, this proposal in this legislation, but that's not stopping them. They're still planning to introduce legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. They're really hoping that they can get this through. And after that, we'll see what happens. But until then, this is not going to be in the final package that goes to Biden's desk in March.

PAUL: Daniela Diaz, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to CNN's White House Reporter Jasmine Wright now. So, again, this past in the middle of the night, but has there been some reaction from the White House?


JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: We haven't yet heard from the White House. We will see President Biden speaking here early later this morning talking about this COVID relief bill. But look, this is really he is one step closer to his first major legislative victory. This $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. President Biden has been clear that he views this bill as a tool necessary to accomplish his one, his first priority in office and that is really defeating the coronavirus pandemic. Now, last night before those votes were cast, we heard from White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, who, when speaking to CNN talked about the prospect of this bill passing. Take a listen.


KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We are extremely hopeful that it is going to pass the house tonight. We believe that it will. In this bill, you've got direct checks, you have $1,400 to finish the job on getting $2,000 checks directly to people who need the most. You have money to get vaccines, to get our vaccination program up and running so that Americans can get shots in arms and we can get this virus under control. So, this is critically important aid that's going to crush the virus.


WRIGHT: So, now as my colleague Daniela said, this bill will go to the Senate where it has likely become easier to pass now that, that controversial minimum wage proposal, it won't be in it. But democrats are on a tight line a tight deadline. They want to pass this before those unemployment benefits run out next month. They want to get it on President Biden's desk to sign before then. But so, this is a major victory for President Biden as he hopes to get this thing passed very quickly. And it really comes at the end of the week, where he faced a few setbacks for his from his Cabinet nominees, including that of Neera Tanden. Christi, Victor. PAUL: All right, Jasmine Wright. We appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: CNN Political Analysts, Julian Zelizer is with us, Historian and Professor at Princeton University. Julian, let's start here, getting closer to the, the President's desk but we've seen this intra-party fright, fight. The, the moderates versus the progressives, specifically over minimum wage. But you believe that the Democrats could come out looking strong after this, how explain that.

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. Even if the minimum wage isn't in the package, which doesn't appear that it will be. This is a huge package, both a stimulus package and a relief package. And the impact will be felt within a few months. And it touches everything from the income of families, eventually to our schools. And I think this will show that the President can deliver, and it will show him responding very quickly and in an aggressive fashion toward the crisis of our times.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about some of the reaction and response from a progressive specifically after the parliamentarian there in the Senate, determined that the increase in the minimum wage could not be included through the budget reconciliation progress process. Some Democrats are calling for the end of the filibuster, essentially needing 60 votes to pass legislation. Senator Padilla of California and the filibuster raised the minimum wage.

Senator Markey abolish the filibuster, raise the minimum wage. Representative Ocasio-Cortez, preserving the filibuster is not worth letting millions of people in this country go hungry sleep in their cars and struggle to afford to buy baby formula. The fight though is not with 10 Republicans, it's with one or two Democrats. Is this really the right justification for ending the filibuster? How do you see this argument?

ZELIZER: Well, I think the argument against the filibuster goes beyond the minimum wage. And I think most progressives would agree that the filibuster makes the Senate dysfunctional. And there are many Democrats, including former President Obama who agree. So, I think this could be a piece of it. And yes, you have the problem of the two democratic moderates whose vote isn't on board with the minimum wage, but without a, with the filibuster, we don't get climate change legislation. We don't get other kinds of economic legislation. It's a permanent barrier toward the Senate acting. I think that's the strongest argument that the opponents have to make.

BLACKWELL: So, now there is this proposal that's being considered in the Senate that would create tax penalties for big corporations that pay their employees below $15.00 an hour. Is that something you expect that that progressives, especially in the house would get behind when they just want a clear, concise $15.00 federal minimum wage?

ZELIZER: They might get behind it, but I think they want the minimum wage. I think there's all kinds of problems with his tax proposal in terms of implementing it. I think many progressives are going to be leery that it will actually be effective, and politically, it's not nearly as effective if you provide working Americans with a significant increase in their wages. That's the kind of populism progressives want to stand for. A tax credit, a tax benefit that has to be implemented is not exactly the kind of thing you can sell on the campaign trail.


BLACKWELL: I want to turn to the Republicans in just a moment. But lastly, on this, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar suggested replacing the parliamentarian after that call that the increase could not be included in a budget reconciliation process in this bill. Is there a precedent for that? And is, does that smack of what we heard Democrats criticize the last administration for?

ZELIZER: I think the problem is the reconciliation process. It's not the parliamentarian. And I'm not sure that's really a great strategy right now. I think Omar and others, if they want to really deal with how this bill has been handled, and some of the problems have to look again, at the filibuster, and how it forces the Senate to deal with reconciliation, to get anything through replacing the parliamentarian. I'm not sure we'd be very effective.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's turn toward a CPAC. The President scheduled to speak there tomorrow afternoon in Orlando. You suggest that with all the red meat that the President is going to throw to his base and the criticism that's coming toward the Biden administration, and you believe that the current president should ignore him now, the consensus after the 2016 campaign was that Trump's opponents, those who were critics of him, did not go aggressively against him soon enough. Why do you think this is the right strategy for President Biden to ignore him?

ZELIZER: Biden has the power of the presidency behind him. And what a president can do is direct the national conversation and focus on issues that the President wants to focus on. So, right now, to move backwards and to become engaged in a debate about disinformation and smear will do nothing for Biden, nor will it do anything for the nation. What Biden can do is keep talking about the stimulus keep talking about the pandemic program, and that ultimately will curtail the impact that the former president can have when he delivers these speeches.

BLACKWELL: Control room, let's see if we can get sought for up. Let me know when you have it, please. After this meeting with President Trump a few weeks ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a statement they're read in part: "Today, President Trump committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022. And listen to this exchange, this is from his news conference yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you gotten a commitment from the former president, not to primary sitting members of Congress? And if not, do you want one?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't have a commitment with that. I worked closely with the President on working on endorsements to win seats in the House.


BLACKWELL: How do they navigate this space? I mean, on one hand, you've got the Minority Leader whose job it is to not only keep the members he adds, but try to grow that into a majority, but also this loyalty bordering on fealty to the former president who's trying to, to replace some of those members and potentially put those seats in jeopardy.

ZELIZER: The fealty is the major part of what you said. And I don't think that goes away. I think McCarthy will work with the former president with everyone allied with the former president's kind of universe to make sure that members hold the line and that they are loyal to what is the Republican agenda? I don't think there's a civil war. I don't think there's great tension between McCarthy and the former President. And I think it will be about maintaining discipline, so that city members don't have to be primary because they're acting as Trumpian as can be.

BLACKWELL: Julian Zelizer always good to have your insight, sir, enjoy the weekend.

ZELIZER: Thank you.


PAUL: A single shot vaccine is creating a major safety hurdle. What you need to know about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The many are calling a game changer here.


BLACKWELL: and President by to travel to Texas as the state recovers from the historic winter storm. We've got the latest on the recovery efforts and the challenges still ahead.


PAUL: So, important stuff going on today. First of all, the FDA could grant emergency authorization from Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. They say they're moving quickly after an advisory committee recommended the shot.

BLACKWELL: Now, once that happens close to four million doses could be sent across the country as early as next week. Right now, almost seven percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Johnson and Johnson single dose shot likely bump that number up significantly. Let's go now to CNN's Polo Sandoval, he's at a mass vaccination, vaccination site in New York. So, the CDC will have of course the final say on the J&J shot scheduled to meet tomorrow. When could we see the distribution, the injection of these Johnson and Johnson vaccines?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to experts, almost immediately after that authorization is finally issued and they received that go ahead to begin those shipments, Victor, across the country, including to this vaccination location here in, in Brooklyn, New York where people are ready lining up ahead of the reopening of it in just about an hour or so. Look, the FDA Advisory Committee saying that this was an easy decision and really stressing the importance of trying to beat this pandemic, especially if this single dose vaccine can meet increasing supplies throughout the country.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Renews every conceivable way to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, the third vaccine to make even more rapid progress --


SANDOVAL (voice-over): With the nation one critical step closer to distributing Johnson and Johnson's newly authorized vaccine, a much needed decline in the nation's new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appears to be stalling. On Friday, the head of the CDC warned the nation's seven-day average of cases is leveling out at about 66,000. That's a number that's still alarmingly high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory.

SANDOVAL: Adding to scientists' fears, the downward slope is ending, a rise in new virus variants threatening to reverse the progress. One such variant was detected in California and another in the Northeast, likely having mutated in New York City says the nation's top infectious disease expert.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: You know, it started off just a cluster in the Washington Heights section up by Columbia Medical Center and then it started to go through the other parts of the city, the other boroughs, and it's something you really want to pay attention to because it has some worrisome mutations in it.

SANDOVAL: The first shots of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine could be delivered and administered as early as next week. In California State officials are expecting the delivery of just over 380,000 doses to begin arriving next week.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): That single dose provides opportunities to bring those doses and vaccines to where people are because those doses don't require the storage that the Maderna and Pfizer doses require.

SANDOVAL: Across the country, public health experts are urging the public get this new version of the vaccine one cent if they're given a chance. They point to FDA analysis of trial data showing about 66 percent efficacy globally against moderate to severe illness. And as high as 86 percent protection in the U.S. everybody who got the J&J vaccine, no one was hospitalized, and no one died. I know we're so used to the 95 percent number with Madonna and Pfizer. But people should not think that this is a second-class vaccine. It's a very good, safe and effective vaccine. You research in the U.K.

about Pfizer's double dose vaccine suggests that even a single shot of that vaccine could offer those who have had COVID strong protection, basically serving as a booster for those who have already been infected and develop some level of immunity. Though the US National Institutes of Health is encouraged by these findings. The agency maintains a single dose approach for all could lead to unforeseen consequences.


SANDOVAL: So, we mentioned those J&J, single doses could start going into arms possibly as early as next week. After that green light from the CDC has issued, let's get to some exact numbers coming from, or at least some approximate numbers coming from the experts this morning, who expect close to four million doses of that new vaccine potentially become available immediately. As for what that means for states Christi, they can expect their allotment to increase by about 25 percent. At first, certainly good news for those states, especially those that are struggling to keep up with demand this morning.

PAUL: Yes, no doubt about it. Polo Sandoval, great wrap for us. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: With us now is Dr. Colleen Kelley, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Kelly, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, let's start here on these J&J vaccines. Your guidance, general guidance from medical experts and the CDC is that if you can get a vaccine, regardless of which one it is, take that one. But you said that there is some sense in considering this would be best for specific populations. Let's start there. Explain that?

KELLEY: Well, I mean, I think that's a conversation that's ongoing, and we await recommendations from CDC about different populations. Right now, we don't have enough vaccine at all, even for the populations. Right now, we don't have enough vaccine at all even from the early phases of the rollout. So elderly people in most states' teachers in some places' essential workers. So, what we need to do is increase our supply and this Johnson and Johnson vaccine will help us do that. So, I don't think at this point in time, we'll see recommendations for specific populations by vaccine type.

BLACKWELL: So, Johnson and Johnson is single dose. I think people by now know that Pfizer and Madonna are two dose vaccines of Pfizer announced this week that it is studying the safety and efficacy of adding a third dose and another booster. The CEO told NBC that he thinks the booster would increase efficacy 10 to 20-fold. Now based on what we know, and maybe we don't know the answer to this, but do we expect that it would be more effective against the variants that are growing in number. KELLEY: The booster doses, it's hard to say at this point in time whether the boosters will be necessary to protect against the variants or not. We just need that data and that's why there's clinical trials are ongoing with both Pfizer, Moderna as well as the other companies are planning to either boost their vaccines or maybe ship their vaccine design a little bit to see if they can get better coverage. Those variants that we're seeing. At this point in time though it's all good news. All the vaccine news has been great news, and we just need to wait and see what comes in the future, both with the clinical trials as well as the continued vaccine rollout. And the reduction in rates that we're seeing.


BLACKWELL: You told one of my producers, that you're looking forward to the pan vaccines, a term that we don't discuss often at all. Explain what it is and how that could be, an overused phrase here a game changer in the fight against COVID-19.

KELLEY: Absolutely. So, we're hopeful that vaccines could be developed that will cover all coronaviruses, all the variants, and even potentially future outbreaks. If we can build immunity to all coronaviruses with vaccines, there's the potential that we would not see future coronavirus outbreaks. So, in the past, we've had SARS, we've had MERS, and now we have the SARS COVID or COVID-19 pandemic that we're experiencing right now. The possibility is there for a vaccine to prevent future outbreaks as well, and that would be just absolutely amazing. We're ways off from that, but I think the potential is there.

BLACKWELL: Would that require a booster every year, or a shot every year like we treat the, the flu?

KELLEY: Really unclear at this point in time. It's a possibility. But we have to wait and see.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's put up the latest chart of new cases, new daily cases we see an encouraging trend, the dramatic drop, but then there at the end, there's a bit of a plateau between 60, and 75, 80,000 new cases per day. If they climb those, those cases, climbed, the members of the White House Task Force said that their hope is that the hospitalizations and the deaths do not follow. Is that hope against history? I mean, for the last year, we've been told that hospitalizations and deaths follow new cases. Is that which what we should expect again, should we expect a fourth peak?

KELLEY: Well, we may see an increase in cases. But remember, we have vaccinated the vast majority of our elderly population as well as our population that are in nursing homes or assisted living. Those are the people that were most highly affected by deaths. And so, if we can continue to roll out these vaccines very, very quickly to the people who are most likely to experience hospitalizations and deaths, we may be able to prevent that four surge of hospitalizations and deaths, even in the setting of a surge of new infections.

So, we are in a race against time. I know that's what we've all been saying over and over again. But really, this is what we're seeing. And so, this plateau while very, very concerning, if we can continue to roll these vaccines out very quickly to the populations most in need. We may see success.

BLACKWELL: Well. It's good to have be on the brink, potentially of a third emergency use authorization to get those millions of doses to the states that have been asking for increased supply. Dr. Colleen Kelly, thank you so much.

KELLEY: Thank you.

PAUL: So, President Biden, visits Texas. As you know, the state is struggling to recover from those winter storms recently. What is going to make Texas's recovery so difficult?



PAUL: Well, during his first post-disaster trip as commander in chief, President Biden went to Houston and made a promise to support Texans, saying, "We're in it for the long haul."

This was after that severe winter storm left millions of people without power or heat of water.

BLACKWELL: The president toured the Harris County Emergency Operation Center with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, other state officials were there as well.

He later met with volunteers at the Houston Food Bank, where First Lady Jill Biden packaged food and water for the people who were there and needed it.

PAUL: And right now, there's a demand for plumbers across Texas. Those demands continuing to grow right now because hundreds of people need help with broken pipes and damaged water heaters.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Miguel Marquez has more on the shortage of supplies and the shortage of food in Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas plumbing supply used to be just for the pros, plumbers, now, it's everyone scouring stores everywhere for parts to get the water flowing.

ALFRED WEBSTER, HOME HAS MULTIPLE LEAKS: I'm so tired of running the places trying to find the pieces, you know. That's the thing about doing the job. You got to go here, there, there. They have to find just one piece.

And if you go in a Lowe's right now at home depot, I'm telling them him that didn't she have other ways, the other thing, they get nothing in here. Nobody got nothing.

MARQUEZ: Alfred Webster works nights and he spent the last four days trying to fix busted pipes.

MARQUEZ: You fix one leak, and then you find another one over there --

WEBSTER: Oh, man, I' am talking about five leaks.

MARQUEZ: Five leaks, so far.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): More than a week after a Texas-size chill brought two days plus of subfreezing temperatures and widespread blackouts, the hard reality of no running water, pipes shattered, and ruptured across the Lone Star State.

GLENN FULLER, OWNER, TEXAS PLUMBING SUPPLY: In five days, on some items, we sold more in five days than we sold the entire year last year.

MARQUEZ: Really.

FULLER: In five days on certain items.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Modern plumbing company has filled 7,000 inquiries on 800 jobs and has another 500 on the books. There are 14 crews working 24/7.

JOSH HOLLUB: SUPERVISOR, MODERN PLUMBING COMPANY: We have a very strong network of plumbers. And they're proud people, and they're working hard. And a lot of people are going through, and pulling the same strings that we are.



HOLLUB: Trying to get things done for folks. And I'm proud to be a part of that.

MARQUEZ: And it's not just plumbers and plumbing supplies running short. The need for water and food growing.

TOMEKA BREWSTER, BIBLE WAY AND HOUSTON FOOD BANK: There has been so many families that have come through still not -- they don't have water. They don't have -- some families might not have lights. It's been a great, great need since this winter storm.


MARQUEZ: The Houston Food Bank on some days serving up more than 1 million pounds of food and water.

With the pandemic, with the storm, how tough has it been?


MARQUEZ: Why? What are you out of? What are you missing?

ROUGEAU: I think it's water, you know, and bread, and luncheon meat, or bacon something to besides -- you know, this, and can goods. Everything.

MARQUEZ: The cold weather and storm, long gone. The aftermath? Only now, coming into sharp focus.

Miguel Marquez, CNN Houston, Texas.


PAUL: We'll keep you apprised of what's going on there.

Also, ahead, a former President Trump's speech at CPAC, top House Republicans are fighting over the direction of the GOP. What kind of role does Trump play in the party's future? We're talking about that next.



PAUL: So, Republicans are in Florida this weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC as it's called. Former President Trump is scheduled to address the annual meeting of right-wing politicians and activists tomorrow, but not everyone in the party agrees that he should.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe President Trump should be speaking or former President Trump should be speaking at CPAC this weekend?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, he should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman Cheney?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That's up to CPAC. I've been clear my views about President Trump and the extent to which following -- extent to which following January 6th. I don't -- I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.


PAUL: Joining me now, CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, resident scholar at the University of Virginia, Center for Politics. And Alice Stewart, a CNN political commentator, Republican strategist, and former director of communications for Senator Ted Cruz.

Ladies, it's so good to have you here. Thank you for being, being up with us.


ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Christi. PAUL: Good morning, to you.


STEWART: Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: Tara, talk to me about what we just saw there. This is a party that is fractured. What is being done at CPAC, if anything, to try to work beyond the base.

SETMAYER: Absolutely nothing. That was one of the most politically awkward moments within party leadership I've seen in my political career.

The body language is clear that Liz Cheney is not -- is not part of the -- of the Trump boys club within the GOP, and nor should she be. She took -- she took her heroic stance against her own party in favor of protecting the constitution and our democratic process.

What's happening at CPAC, there is absolutely nothing being done beyond the base. They have decided that this is the Trump party. And anyone who says otherwise is not paying attention. It was clear, speech after speech that it was about Trump. They might as well call it Trump PAC because that's what it's about.

When we saw a USA Today poll this week that showed that 46 percent of Republicans would leave the Republican Party to follow Trump if he started a new one. And 54 percent said that they should be more loyal -- the party should be more loyal to Trump than it is now. That's all you need to know.

These people are dumb -- are doubling down on a -- on a president who is twice impeached, pro-insurrection, and anti-democracy. And if that's the party -- the direction the party wants to go in, well, we'll see how that works out for them in the polls.

PAUL: So, Alice, I want to ask you because there, there are several discussions at CPAC, as we understand it on the agenda that focus specifically on the 2020 election. There's one panel, in fact, that is titled, Other Culprits: How Judges and Media Refused to Look at the Evidence.

And listen to something that Don Jr. said this week.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: They just rather lose gracefully, I guess, that's not really a plan that I would go with, but it's what they have done. Donald Trump has shown that you don't have to do that. You can actually push back.


PAUL: So, is pushing back questioning the integrity of an election if you didn't win? What does -- what does the pushback look like here Alice? STEWART: Well, it's -- we shouldn't be pushing back at all. First of all, I will say that we have free and fair elections. And questioning the integrity of the elections is not a winning formula.

And Republicans should be focusing not on the election that Donald Trump lost in November, but how Republicans are going to win elections moving forward .And any moment spent on questioning our free and fair elections is a minute wasted on winning the House in 2022, as well as pushing back against Joe Biden's progressive agenda.

But, as much as my friend, Tara, hates to admit it, Donald Trump is the de-facto head of the Republican Party. He is certainly a strong voice or the leading voice within CPAC, and they are a big part of the grassroots efforts of the Republican Party.

And we cannot throw the big baby out with the bathwater because if we did that, then the Republican Party would be circling the drainpipe. It is important to keep Donald Trump engaged to the degree that he keeps the party on board, but it would be important and helpful if we found someone with a much more civil and Reagan-like demeanor to lead the party in the -- in the future.

PAUL: So, you have to keep him engaged, but the question is, you know, you've got leaders there this week that are talking Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Governor Ron DeSantis. There are people looking ahead to 2024 and thinking who is there besides Donald Trump? Is it possible that the former president can have some sort of center in the Republican Party without being president, Tara?


SETMAYER: Listen, there should be no engagement of Donald Trump in the Republican Party. Let's be honest about what we're talking about here. We cannot ignore what Donald Trump has been in a party to.

He put forward a big lie that the -- that our presidential election was not free and fair. That it was that -- it was illegitimate. That Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. He incited and a deadly insurrection at our Capitol where people were chanting to hang Mike Pence -- his own vice president.

He has not -- he's not loyal to the party. He doesn't care what happens to Republicans. He only cares about himself. So, why in God's name would the Republican Party want to continue to hitch their wagon to someone who is the most failed president in history, and who stands for nothing that they do?

I think that, that is a self-reflection issue that Republicans need to think about for themselves. That this is what they're willing to continue to go down. So, if they want to keep him engaged, well, then, they will continue to shrink as a party. They will not win national elections, and Democrats should be smart and force them to explain why they have become a party of pro-insurrection, pro-sedition, and anti- Democratic values.

PAUL: So, when -- (CROSSTALK)

STEWART: Christi --

PAUL: Alice, I'm sorry. Let me ask you real quickly, and I want to let you get your point in as well, but -- make your point, but then, please answer the question here about, once Sunday is over, the confetti has been swept away, everybody's gone home, will there be more clarity about what the Republican Party looks like?

STEWART: First, I'll say, Republican leaders are not hitching their wagon as much to Donald Trump as the 74 million voters that voted for him in November. And they're listening to their constituents back at home, and they appreciate the fact like it or not in terms of his tone, but they appreciate the fact Donald Trump is still fighting for them on the issues.

But more than anything, but the Republican Party needs to do coming out of CPAC as the -- as the dust settles, is making sure that we are united on the policies that CPAC and Republican stand for which is conservatism, the constitution, individual liberty, reduce federal government. Those were the key principles.

And we need to be united on, as I have said, pushing back on the Biden-progressive Democrat agenda. And focusing priority number one on winning Republicans in the next election. And that's should be the goal coming out.

PAUL: All righty. Well --


SETMAYER: That's always we hear though.

PAUL: Well, with all of the conversation --yes, with all of the conversations that are going to be had about the election and looking back, the question is what are we going to be left with -- what is -- what is America going to be left looking at a Republican Party as of tomorrow night.

Tara Setmayer, Alice Stewart, I appreciate both of you so much. Thank you for being here.

STEWART: Thank you, Christi.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

PAUL: Of course.

BLACKWELL: All right, as Congress continues to look at raising the federal minimum wage, we're going to hear the personal story of a man who says that a living wage changed his life.


[07:52:38] BLACKWELL: A federal minimum wage increase will not make it through the Senate as part of the latest COVID relief bill. Several states have already implemented raises on their own.

PAUL: Yes, some advocates say $15 an hour isn't enough. Some small businesses say it's too much.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, explains.


NISHAD SAYEM, EMPLOYEE, WELLL-PAID MAIDS: I used to work two jobs a day. I had to support my family.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Nishad Sayem used to make $10 an hour. Working from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to scrape by. Now, he makes $18 an hour cleaning homes. That allows him to not only cover his bills but take time to care for his disabled father.

SAYEM: I work only 35 to 40 hours a week. and I'm making more than two jobs. And now, I can give some time to my family. I can help my dad when he wakes up.

YURKEVICH: The federal minimum wage has been stuck at 7.25 for over a decade. But 29 states in Washington, D.C. Pay more than that. D.C., where Sayem works is the highest at $15. The same city where Congress is currently debating, raising the federal wage to that same level.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.

YURKEVICH: President Biden wants that sweeping move to be part of his COVID-19 relief plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did it here in D.C. We were like the first major jurisdiction to get it done. Federally is the way to go about it to do it the quickest to the most people a $15 minimum wage by 2025 would lift nearly one million people out of poverty, but could also cost 1.4 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

ANGELA FRANCO: INTERIM PRESIDENT, D.C. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Small businesses, and especially the ones that have the hourly rate. Some they handle like lower margin. And at the end, they have to transfer that cost, so they have either to cut hours, right? Or cut employees or increase prices.

YURKEVICH: But some small businesses like Little Sesame in D.C. have made the math work. The restaurant paid employees 13.25 an hour when it opened in 2018. But quickly pivoted to the new $15 minimum when it took effect this past summer.

NICK WISEMAN, CO-FOUNDER, LITTLE SESAME: We knew that this $15 mark was coming, and we made sure that the model supported that. That, that was an integral part of our business.

It was, you know, is the right thing to do and it was a good thing for us as a business.


YURKEVICH: But during the pandemic, more than 400,000 small businesses had closed by September. At the same time, support for workers has grown. 67 percent of Americans backed raising the minimum wage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just under a year ago, we decided to kind of these people to be essential. I think the right thing to do is to pay them $15 an hour, a living wage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maisha (PH), give me.

YURKEVICH: A living wage means a world of difference for Sayem he's saving money for the first time. He has plans to go back to school for a career in I.T. and for a reunion from Bangladesh, a year in the making.

SAYEM: I'm saving because future and I just got married one year ago. So --

YURKEVICH: Congratulations.

SAYEM: Thank you, and my wife is coming soon. Hopefully, by 2022, she will be here.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Washington.


PAUL: Wishing them the best. And stay with us. The next hour of your NEW DAY continues in just a moment.