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New Day Saturday

Engineer Warned Of "Major Structural Damage" At Florida Condo Complex In 2018, Four Killed, 159 Uncounted for in Deadly Condo Collapse; Families Try to Remain Hopeful After Horrific Condo Collapse; St. Louis Sues to Block Missouri's New Gun Law; Republican Resistance Grows Over Biden's Infrastructure Plans. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 08:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. It's Saturday, June 26th. And I'm Boris Sanchez live in Surfside, Florida, where every moment that passes is precious in a desperate search for any signs of life, as search and rescue crews have not stopped working following a deadly building collapse on Thursday morning.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill, live in New York. Thanks for starting your morning with us. At this hour, families in Surfside are waiting for news, any update on whether there has been a sign of life amidst that rubble. And they're also searching for answers, trying to figure out how this could happen.

SANCHEZ: And breaking overnight, a clearer picture of the state that this building was in before it partially collapsed. These clues finally starting to come to light as to what may have led to this disaster.

CNN has confirmed that an engineer actually raised concerns in 2018 of structural damage at the condo complex. Now, there was no warning of a collapse risk, but managers were urged to make important repairs and that work was actually about to get underway soon before this collapse took place.

The mayor of Miami-Dade told me just moments ago that, "We are going to get to the bottom of what happened." I also spoke to a town commissioner who calls this new context shocking. Listen to this.


CHARLES KESL, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA COMMISSIONER: Seeing that New York Times article, to me that's shocking. This year is the 40 year recertification of that building. So there have been a lot of engineers in there. They've been working with the town. We've been preparing to receive their document of how to move forward with the next 40 years.

I know that that based on what residents had told me there, they've had a $15 million assessment on the owners of the condos in that building, in order to prepare for the repairs. And what I didn't know is that they had ducked possibly based on the New York Times article, known things back in 2018.

But, between the 40-year recertifications, a building has to do maintenance. It has to do regular maintenance based on the - what the conditions on the ground are and I hope they kept up with it.


SANCHEZ: That is Charles Kesl, a Commissioner in Surfside, Florida. In just a short while we're going to be hearing from the mayor of Surfside, so stay tuned for that.

Experts, of course, have cautioned us that it may take months to know for sure what happened here. The focus now remains, though, on finding survivors. 159 people still unaccounted for. We know of at least four that have passed away.

Rescue crews, at this point, carefully sifting through debris. And there are challenges, frequent fires, bad weather and smoky conditions that are complicating their work. And just steps from where we are there's actually a wall honoring the missing, that's been set up, as officials urged families to keep hopes and prayers up.


CHIEF ANDY ALVAREZ, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: You got to have hope, and we're doing everything that we can to bring your family member out alive.


SANCHEZ: Let's go straight to CNN, Rosa Flores. Rosa, you've been here on the scene in Surfside right from the start, what information do we know about where this rescue effort stands right now?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, there's been so many intense moments where rescuers have been going under the rubble and over the rubble to try to find signs of life. And that's exactly what's going on right now and it started at about 1:30 on Thursday morning when rescuers arrived.

We know that at least 35 people were pooled from the actual building, because remember, this is a partial building collapse. Two others were pulled from the rubble. Since then, we haven't learned of anyone else that has been rescued alive. And remember that that was on Thursday morning.

Right now, where it stands. The latest that we heard from one of the fire chiefs yesterday is that they are expanding their search going under the rubble enough to do that. It's a painstaking and dangerous mission for these firefighters. They have to shore up the building.

They have to make sure that it's stable enough for them to go into these crevices, these voids. But that is where they want to go, because that is where individuals, people could be actually having an area, a space with oxygen that they can breathe. And we've learned from experts that even days after an incident like this, there could be life and that is why these firefighters are on a mission to find these voids.

Now, we're also learning from rescuers that they are working on top of the rubble. They are delayering, removing some of those layers of concrete to peel them off, to try to find and also listen for signs of life.

That also gives them an opportunity, an idea of where some of those other voids and crevices are. When it comes to the challenges that these firefighters have been facing, there is a fire that they've been trying to get to, but it is too deep, it is too seated as they described it.


All they can do is pour water into this area. They don't even know exactly what smoldering. That, of course, raises huge concerns, because of the possible chemicals, the possible gases that could be coming out, that complicates the search for these men and women that are risking their lives. Because some of these chemicals, you might be able to smell, others you might not even be able to. And so they they're taking all these cautions and precautions.

Now the other challenge has been the rain. It rains shortly after this incident happened and it hasn't stopped raining in different pockets of time. Now, this is the rainy season in South Florida, so that's expected. But that, of course, makes it - makes this search more difficult, because as rain falls, it makes that structure, it makes that rubble heavier, it adds weight.

It also adds layers of complication. Some of the areas where some of these firefighters were looking for signs of life was the garage, Boris, that was underground. And in some of the video that was released by Miami-Dade, you can see that there are in several feet of water.

It's a very complicated, a very dangerous mission. But these men and women continue to risk their lives to make sure that they can do everything they can to try to get to anybody who is still alive under the rubble. Boris?

SANCHEZ: And Rosa, as you were speaking, we were showing aerial footage of the effort that's ongoing right now. It appeared that a crane was helping sift through rubble as we saw smoke coming up from the debris in what appears to be water being splashed onto that smoke.

Again, you're looking at a heap of rubble, that used to be homes, where people lived, where their families found shelter. Rosa Flores, thank you so much for that report.

Joining us now to discuss all the latest developments is the Mayor of Surfside Florida, Charles Burkett. Charles, thank you so much for being with us this morning.


SANCHEZ: It's unfortunate that we have to meet under these circumstances. First, I want to get your impressions of this report that there were structural issues underneath the pool deck of the building. Cracks in certain columns that needed to be addressed and were apparently going to be addressed before this collapse happened.

BURKETT: Yes, I'm just hearing about that this morning. I understand from our building official that it was in the form of a 2018 e-mail that came from an engineer regarding those cracks. Obviously, this commission did not - was not aware that this building - our building official was not aware of it. But as they went back through the records and started looking, they found that e-mail, that's number one.

So, number two is that the 40-year report had not been submitted yet. We had indications that it was on the way, because it needed to be submitted within this year. That was - it was due this year. So, it had not been submitted. And it's unclear right now exactly what was going on in that building, and what steps the building was taking to address those cracks, if any.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I want to be clear, that report also indicated that the engineer found no sign of immediate danger.

BURKETT: OK. Well, again, I can't speak to that, because I haven't seen that. I'm going to get a copy of that this morning and take a look at it, so I can give out accurate information regarding that. But as far as I'm concerned, like I've always said, the buildings in America, like I've said in the past two days, I shouldn't say always.


BURKETT: Buildings in America do not fall down like this. There is a very serious problem here with this property. And I've also said you know, we have an identical property, one building to the north. This is the Champlain South. We have a Champlain North. And I've talked to Senator Scott and Mayor Kaba about this.

That building is - has the same name. It had the same developer. It probably had the same materials. They probably had the same plans. And people are asking me is the building safe? And I can't tell them it is safe. I can't tell them that.

So, I've recommended that that building be evacuated. Pending a thorough structural investigation, just in an abundance of caution, because I don't think people need to live with the possibility or the even the thought that their building had a one in a million chance of coming down.

Buildings just don't come down.


BURKETT: I mean, it's a third world phenomenon. It's not a first world phenomenon. Something very, very bad is going on. At least was going on with that building and we need to rule out that it's going on with any other buildings that may have been built the same way by the same developer at the same time. SANCHEZ: You held, as a town commission, an emergency meeting last night.



SANCHEZ: Walk us through what that conversation was like.

BURKETT: That was a pro forma meeting in order to check the box. We needed to pass a resolution that basically created an emergency declaration to go part and parcel with the emergency declaration the state has done and maybe the county is doing. So that that sort of unlocks some funding, so that we can pay for the infrastructure - not the infrastructure, but the support that we're getting here.

SANCHEZ: And I want to ask you about that, because there are certain families that have expressed frustration to our colleagues that they feel not enough is being done. They feel like the process is too slow.

BURKETT: Well, listen, I was - I'm on my way to the center where the families are right now, and I was there yesterday. And I heard one thing, number one, they said there's not enough being done. Number two, they said they don't want to hear from politicians about what's going on at the site. They want to hear from the guys doing the work.

So, I walked over, I asked the county Mayor Kaba, if she would provide the chief-in-charge of the logistics at the site. And in 10 minutes she did. And that chief came out and he gave everybody an update on exactly what was happening. And he further committed to do it every four hours for the families.

Because we're only here for one reason, and one reason only, pull those people out of the rubble. That's all we're doing. We're not doing anything else. We're not focusing on anything else. We're just doing that. Our secondary - the secondary thing we're doing is to support the families. That's all we do.

SANCHEZ: From a perspective of desperation, they're eager for answers, which is part of the reason that they expressed such frustration. What message of hope do you have for them?

BURKETT: My message is, is we're not stopping until we're done. We're not stopping today, tomorrow or the next day. We're not stopping until everybody is pulled out of there. So that's, that's what we're doing. We're moving heaven and earth to do that.

We don't have a resource problem. We have a look problem. We've got a little bit of a fire, which is really complicating this rescue effort. But it's being dealt with. So, you know that they're aware of that, but it - we've got the best in the world. Our teams here in Miami go all over the world to help people out of collapsed buildings.

So, we've got the home team here. They got waves of men that are coming in. We got - they're standing by. There's a group working at the site right now. And another group standing by and another group standing by. So they just go in waves. We never stop.

SANCHEZ: We're eagerly awaiting any sign that any one of those 159 who are unaccounted for may still be there. Have you gotten any new information from rescue officials since --

BURKETT: No, that - the most important information that I can convey right now is that we're doing everything that we need to do to pull those people out. We're fighting fire. We're dealing with the weather. Like right now, Thank God, we don't have the storms that are blowing through yesterday. But our focus is strictly on that.

SANCHEZ: Mayor, again, I wish we'd met under different circumstances, but we do appreciate your time.

BURKETT: My pleasure.

SANCHEZ: And getting that message of hope out there. Please let us know if there's any way that we can contribute to the effort.

BURKETT: I will do.

SANCHEZ: And obviously to the public as well.

BURKETT: There you go.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, mayor.

BURKETT: You're welcome. Bye, bye.

SANCHEZ: Appreciate it. It is anxious anticipation, what these families are feeling. Eager for any news about their loved ones. Hours have gone by without any news of survivors and families of the missing are leaning on each other for hope and support in what must be an agonizing time.

We're going to have more on the recovery efforts after a quick break. Stay with CNN.



SANCHEZ: Right now, crews are working tirelessly, searching for survivors in that mass you see, that debris you see in front of you after a deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. In amidst of this tragedy, the families of 159 missing people are still holding on to hope for their safe return.

We want to focus now on their stories. So, let's turn to CNN is Nick Valencia. He's near the family reunification center. Nick, we're not only seeing heroes here on the ground, on the debris field, combing through, trying to find survivors, we're seeing a major show of support in the community for people who need it right now. What are you seeing?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. People who have actually been on vacation and chosen to come here on their vacation time to help those that they don't even know - strangers. That outpouring of support here at doing anything that they can to try to bring some levity here to what is a very grave situation as the hours tick by, as there is a lack of information.

And there's really a range of emotions that are being felt right now in this community among those family and friends who are still waiting to hear news about their unaccounted loved ones. People are hopeful. They're going through fear. Some have told me they're going through denial, not wanting to believe that their loved one could still be buried alive under that rubble.

And, of course, there is frustration that is bordering on just downright outrage. I spoke to Sariah Cohen (ph) who says that she believes that her husband and brother in law who were on the 11th floor of that Surfside high rise, she believes that there's still buried alive under there and she's holding out hope. But she's also angry, because she says she believes there are more resources that could be dedicated.

And now we do want to talk about this, because we did speak to the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, they assure us that they're doing all they can. But first we - well, want to get to that sound here. We just got that sound in. Just take a listen to what Maggie Castro had to say when asked about those frustrations being expressed by those family and friends of those loved ones still unaccounted for.



MAGGIE CASTRO, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: We understand what these family members are going through, sitting here, feeling like there's nothing that they can do. But we want to assure them that we are working as quickly as we can, as diligently as we can.

We know that it may not seem that way at times, because they don't see a ton of people on the pile, but we can't put a ton of people on the pile. It's not that we don't have enough personnel. It's that we have to be careful when we're working on this unstable pile.


VALENCIA: And Boris, we talk about the range of emotions being felt here, that is not something that the first responders are immune from. Maggie Castro went on to tell me off camera that it has been demoralizing to them to be digging and digging through this debris, and not finding anyone.

They to, she says, are hoping for a miracle, hoping to find somebody alive buried under that rubble. She says she hears the frustrations. She understands it. You know, in an ordinary routine call, she says, when they arrive in five minutes, she hears from family members who say what took you so long.

So she understands in this very - in this situation that has so much more gravity behind it with all those unaccounted for, why people may feel that they're frustrated. But she assures us that everything is being done within their power to help out here.

We do understand that there is a briefing, so family here at this what has become the reunification site here at this hotel behind me, are expected to be getting a briefing soon from officials. We'll give you that information when we have it, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Nick, as you're speaking, we're watching live images of the work that's being done right now. And it is staggering, the scale of this catastrophe. And for the families that are waiting for news of their loved ones, it's got to be difficult to watch. We're glad that they are keeping hope and that you were there to tell their stories. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

As the families of the missing are still holding out hope that their loved ones will be found safe, we are hearing more and more harrowing accounts from those who were actually able to get out of the building in the fateful minutes before it came crashing down.

I want you to listen to Albert and Janette Aguero who were actually sleeping along with their kids when everything took place. They described the situation to Chris Cuomo.


ALBERT AGUERO, SURVIVED CONDO BUILDING COLLAPSE: We're asleep, and we hear this loud, thunderous sound. Don't know what it is. My initial gut was a loud clap of thunder, the power went out. I thought the building was struck by lightning. That's honestly what happened - I mean, what I thought happened.

She jumped out of bed, checks on the kids, right? Kids are fine. They say what is going on? But then she realizes that the chandelier and the lights in the apartment all swinging back and forth. So we know it's something more than just the storm. We've lived through Hurricane Sandy. It wasn't that.

Now, we don't know what it is. I see the fire trucks approach. They were great, they got here immediately. We now don't know what it is. I see a gray cloud outside of the - outside of the apartment building. I think it's smoke, because I still think it's lightning.

When I open to go yell to the fire department, I realize it's not smoke, because there's no smell to it and it's sticking to my fingers. So it's the concrete dust. And now I know that a building fell down. I still don't think it's ours, because we're intact.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Just so you know, if we if we go wide for a second, Jerry. It's right over here. Right? It's just out of--

AGUERO: Yes, that's two white chairs on the balcony - I don't know second or top floor.

CUOMO: So literally the T, you're on - they're on this part of the T and the other part is what had collapsed.

Now Janette, when you open the door and you get out there, when did you realize?

JANETTE AGUERO, SURVIVED CONDO BUILDING COLLAPSE: Fortunately for me, I wasn't the first one to open the door. They came out first. And I think since we had no idea what was going on at the moment, and we were still contemplating whether we were leaving, you know, we really at that moment thought, should we go back to bed and is it just--

AGUERO: Are we safer in the apartment.

J. AGUERO: And I hear them say oh, maybe we should have thought about leaving a lot faster. Maybe we're not so safe. And they had taken a look to the left. I still hadn't reached. When I get there and I see what they're looking at, it's - the whole building is sheared off. We can literally see the roof caved in. And just darkness. So now we're - it's just a mad dash to get down.

CUOMO: How many floors?

J. AGUERO: 11.

AGUERO: We live on the 11th floor.

CUOMO: So 12 storey building, so you're on the second and last floor.

AGUERO: Yes, only the penthouse was above--

CUOMO: How long did it take you to get down?

AGUERO: Pretty quick. I know it was pitch dark. We were just yelling back to our kids are all still there. I had the lead and she was in the back. And it was, are you guys still there? Are we all OK?

CUOMO: What are you thinking as you're coming down?

AGUERO: I'm thinking we're racing against the clock, because the rest of the building is going to come down. I realized that when I opened the door, and then what I'm thinking is, if I start to feel something come down, how do I jump on and my daughter is safer?



SANCHEZ: There are a lot of people that are going to need help, not just right now, but into the future and you can assist them - the collapse victims and their families. Head over to We have links there to charitable organizations that have been vetted and verified by CNN. You could find a way to contribute. Again, that's

Erica, just listening to that story that those residents shared with Chris, it sort of underscores the danger that is still at this site, because they were in a portion of the building that didn't collapse, but is in a very precarious position right now. There's so much debris on the ground, and there are still more pieces of the building that could come down.

We've talked about the weather, we've talked about the fires, we've talked about the potential for toxic chemicals or components that could endanger these rescuers. And yet they are still out here, holding out hope, and doing this to save lives.

HILL: Yes. They are. And it is - it is remarkable every time that there is a tragedy of this magnitude, to see the expertise, the care that they have, the intense training they've gone through and to see that put to work so methodically, with this painstaking care.

Knowing that, as you point out, they are at the very same time risking their lives. It is nothing short of remarkable. Understandable that this feels painstakingly slow for the families. But as we know, that's what's needed to ensure their safety as well.

SANCHEZ: Yes, definitely. And as we're focused on what's happening here in Surfside, there is plenty of news. No shortage of important information to get out there that I know you are aptly covering.

HILL: Yes, a number of other headlines were following this morning, Boris, including a new law in Missouri that seeks to invalidate federal gun laws in that state. Well, it's now facing its first legal challenge. We'll discuss, next.



HILL: A new law that seeks to invalidate federal gun laws in Missouri is facing its first legal challenge. Last week, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County jointly filed a lawsuit, asking a state court to find the Second Amendment Preservation Act unconstitutional.

Under the new law, citizens have the right to sue cities whose law enforcement officials try to enforce federal gun restrictions. If it's determined any officer or entity violates the Second Amendment rights, they could be fined up to $50,000.

Joining us now is Missouri Republican State Representative Jered Taylor, who've sponsored the bill. Representative, good to have you with us this morning. This lawsuit filed on Monday seeks to block that law, as we said.

The DOJ has expressed concern, saying it unconstitutionally interferes with federal law enforcement. And I know the acting assistant AG also expressed a number of concerns. But you're confident this will hold up, why?

STATE REP. JERED TAYLOR (R-MO): Yes, I am, because it's founded on a constitutional principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, which is been upheld multiple times by the United States Supreme Court, saying that, federal officials can't commandeer or utilize state resources without their permission. We're telling our law enforcement in the State of Missouri that they are going to enforce federal gun laws, that they will still enforce Missouri laws. I believe that we as state representatives, state officials know better what Missourians want than some congressman from California, or Illinois or even from Texas.

HILL: So it's also my understanding that part of this and what I've seen in interviews with you is, it's really more of a preemptive strike over concerns that there could be more legislation passed at the federal level.

I have to say, though, I don't see a lot happening in Washington. I mean, despite even - if we look at background checks, for example. Despite broad support in recent polling among the American people, if we can put have a recent Pew report, 81 percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, support expanded background checks for private and gun show sales. That is still solid in Washington, nothing is happening.

TAYLOR: Yes. And to be clear, this policy that we enacted in the State of Missouri is gun policy agnostic. We aren't saying what the gun policy in the State of Missouri should or shouldn't be, we're just saying that we're going to enforce Missouri law and let us decide what that policy should be.

You spoke earlier about that it's going to infringe or hurt federal law enforcement. Well, we're not trying to tell federal law enforcement, what they can and can't do. We're not violating the supremacy clause, we're just telling our law enforcement, they're not going to help with federal enforcement.

HILL: So some of the concern - I believe, some was expressed by the Missouri Sheriffs Association, was about though if there are joint investigations or what will happen, right, in terms of federal investigations involving the state of Missouri? Is that a concern for you?

TAYLOR: No, after working with law enforcement, many, many hours over the last several months, the Missouri Sheriffs Association ended up being neutral on the bill. We had multiple law enforcement agencies, sheriffs, guys on the street, the men and women who were the boots on the ground came out in support of this legislation. Because - I mean, they don't want to be put in harm's way.

Anytime law enforcement goes into someone's house to enforce something specifically gun laws, it's a danger. So we want to protect our law enforcement in Missouri, while also protecting Second Amendment rights.

HILL: So this is going to start winding its way through the courts. I do want to ask you about something else. So, as you know, concerns have been raised that this could create a loophole when it comes to domestic violence. So just want to give our viewers at home a little background on this.

[08:35:00] The concern being that, in 2016, when concealed carry was expanded in Missouri, some language was accidentally - is my understanding or inadvertently stripped out. And I'm just reading it to make sure I get it correct, "which would prevent individuals who are convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or respondent of a full order of protection from possessing firearms."

The concern being that, if the federal law is taken out, that then this creates this loophole. Now, at the time, lawmakers said that they're going to fix that the following year. It's my understanding that still hasn't been fixed. You've said in other interviews, I read that, this can be fixed. So is it a concern for you? And is it then a priority to get that language fixed?

TAYLOR: Yes, to be clear, nothing in the legislation back in 2016 changed Missouri law. We still had domestic violence off for misdemeanor. And we in Missouri don't believe that a misdemeanor conviction of any type is a reason you lose your Second Amendment rights. We believe that it should be a violent felony that is the reason you lose your rights.

And if we want to change that, then it should be a felony. We shouldn't be saying that a misdemeanor is a reason you lose your rights - any rights for that fact. So if we want to change that in Missouri, let's change that in Missouri. I've offered suggestions on how to make some changes.

But, again, leave that up to Missouri. We shouldn't be enforcing something that we as Missouri, don't agree with.

HILL: We will be watching for developments, both as this winds its way through the courts and also to see if any changes are made in the State of Missouri, as you point out, for domestic violence. Representative Jered Taylor, thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

HILL: So does he or doesn't he? President Biden says he's got a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but not everyone agrees. We'll discuss, next.



HILL: President Biden declared we have a deal. But there's a big but at this point in terms of that statement. And now we turn to Republican opposition to this bipartisan infrastructure bill which appears to be growing ever since that announcement of a deal.

The president announced the framework after a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators this week, and then threatened to veto the bill unless a second larger spending package was passed as well. That measure would cover a list of Democratic priorities like clean energy and childcare.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is live with us. So Kevin, where is the White House on this, this morning?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, there's still a lot of confidence here in the White House about this deal. But there are some new questions about the durability of this package. And you remember, it was only 48 hours ago that President Biden and those bipartisan group of senators came out right here at the White House to declare essentially that bipartisanship was back in Washington.

Now, Republican opposition to that deal seems to be hardening somewhat. And what they oppose is this so called two track path to progress on this deal. Well, President Biden said he would not sign the deal unless he also got that Democrat only package that contains the rest of his family and jobs agenda.

Now, Republicans yesterday held a conference call with each other, venting frustration about the two track plan. To be clear, it was always part of these discussions that the president would seek both of these bills passed together. But what they're opposed to is this ultimatum that the president seemed to put out, saying that he wouldn't sign one without the other.

There are also some signs that Democrats may need some more cultivating on this. The White House put out a readout of a phone call that the president held yesterday with Kyrsten Sinema, the centrist Arizona Democrat, saying that he wants to see the bills advance through the legislative process as quickly as possible, pass as quickly as possible and be presented to him for signing as quickly as possible.

Now, the White House is essentially daring Republicans to oppose this bipartisan infrastructure plan. Listen to what press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is up to Republicans, many of whom are the ones who have conveyed that, I think - if I'm accurate here - to decide if they are going to vote against a historic investment in infrastructure that's going to rebuild roads and railways and bridges in their communities simply because they don't like the mechanics of the process.

That's a pretty absurd argument for them to make. Good luck on the political front on that argument.


LIPTAK: Now, what you didn't hear Jen Psaki say in that briefing yesterday, was a repetition of the president's vow not to sign one bill without the other.

Now, we're told yesterday, the same White House aides who helped negotiate this bill to begin with, got back on the phone with that bipartisan group, attempted to reassure them that the president still was firmly behind this plan, that he plans to go out and sell it in the country. But what you're seeing here is the huge amount of time between now and when these bills come to the president's desk leaves plenty of opportunity for pitfalls like this to pop up. So while we have an infrastructure deal here, it's certainly not a done deal. In the end, Erica.

HILL: Kevin Liptak with the latest for us. Kevin, thank you.

Joining me now Rachael Bade, CNN Political Analyst and Co-Author of " POLITICO Playbook." Rachael, good to see you this morning. I mean, look, as Kevin just said there, a lot can change as we know and the deal isn't done until it's done. Does it look like this strategy is going to work in the end?


RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, look, this thing is falling apart, basically, as quickly as it came together this week. I think the new issue that Republicans have on this is an issue of timing.

Basically, this new strategy that President Biden has laid out would require this deal to sort of be put on ice - put on hold for the next month and a half, even though it's struck right now, and passed alongside a massive other Democrats-only bill that could top as much as $6 trillion.

And in the meantime, the Democrats in Washington are actually going to have to raise the debt ceiling, which is currently $28 trillion. So, basically, what you're looking at is a series of votes, where Republicans could support this very narrow infrastructure bill, which is about a $1 trillion for infrastructure.

But by going along with this, I think there's a fear of Republicans that their own base is going to say they're giving a blessing to this new round of spending. That's going to be a lot of money at a time when people are going to be talking about the debt and raising the debt ceiling.

And so their political position on this has sort of changed and that, they did want this deal. But now that it's linked, the timing is going to be sensitive, and it's going to put this - them in this pickle. I mean, Jen Psaki was right, when she said specifically in the clip you just played, good luck voting against a bill that has priorities for your state. So that also is going to be tricky.

I mean, look, there's just a lot of feeling, I think, from the Republicans, we've talked to over the past 24 hours that they were sort of duped. And we'll just have to see if they can sort of pick up the pieces on this. Right now it's not looking good.

HILL: In terms of feeling duped, as Kevin pointed out, one thing that struck me is, I understand the frustration, right, that we're hearing from them. Sort of not realizing that President Biden was going to say it out loud, but the fact that these two were going to be linked, that was not a secret. BADE: So Democrats have been saying yes, for weeks that there's going to be potentially two processes. There would be this bipartisan infrastructure bill that's much more narrow. And then they would go along Democrats-only massive bill that will take care of anything from climate to family leave sort of items to, corporate tax hikes.

The difference is that, President Biden saying he's got - these two things have to pass together, and one will not pass without the other. That was never articulated. And I think a lot of these Republicans thought, OK, we're going to pass this narrow bill.

And then the moderate Democrats who are with us on this bill, are going to vote against Biden's larger reconciliation bill, so it won't pass. And so a lot of them actually saw this as a potential strategy for delaying the Biden agenda.

Now, perhaps that was short sighted on their part. But, it's interesting, because these moderate Democrats they've been negotiating with, there's been a lot of discussion behind the scenes about where will they come down on Biden's bigger Democratic reconciliation bill, this larger $6 trillion package?

I think a lot of the Republicans were hoping that they could convince these Democrats to Yes, put the steel together, but then vote against the rest of Biden's agenda and sort of kill it in the cradle, I guess. So, clearly, that strategy and hope on their part is not going to work under this strategy articulated by President Biden.

HILL: Rachel Bade, always good to see you. Thank you.

BADE: Thanks for having me on, Erica.

HILL: A quick programming note for you. Tomorrow night, be sure to catch an all-new CNN Film "Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story" It is all about sex, power, and feminism. Here's a quick preview.


JACKIE COLLINS, NOVELIST: Hi, I'm Jackie Collins. I write novels.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She put female sexuality at the center of the world and people lost their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was very shy. I never really asked what she was writing, but she was always scribbling away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: she wrote about strength and strong women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jackie was the first author to write about women who behaved like men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She broke ground for all us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So with that quickly made her very controversial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God forbid a woman should be writing about sex. COLLINS: I'm not claiming to be a literal genius. I'm claiming to be a terrific storyteller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a little tea

COLLINS Probably will, of the wine. Girls can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girls can do anything that was her motto.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the boss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was like a character from one of her books.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, we all love that end line, justice for all females.




SANCHEZ: We're live here in Surfside, Florida, where it is a desperate search for any signs of life right now. 159 people still unaccounted for, four confirmed dead, dozens of families, eagerly awaiting answers as rescuers bravely go against a number of challenges to their own lives, potentially to the lives of any survivors that are caught in this heap of rubble that used to be their home here in Surfside.

Sadly, not much news to report at this point in the way of breaking information when it comes to any sign that there may be survivors caught in pockets underneath that rubble. But we are waiting to hear back from officials who are currently in a briefing, hearing from crews that are out there on the scene.

It is hard to see these images and have hope. But the rescuers have hope and they are asking all of us to pray and give relief to these families in a time of very, very painful agony. Erica.


HILL: There has been such an outpouring. And I'm sure your view, it is so much different there on the ground. But even from here, this outpouring of support and this clearly tight knit community. And I hope that they are finding the strength that they appear to be in one another as they hold out hope together.

Thanks to all of you for joining us this morning. We will be back one hour from now with the very latest on the collapse and the search for survivors. Smerconish is up next.