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Biden Speaks At Critical Moment For Economic Agenda; House Rules Committee Advances Bannon Contempt Resolution Ahead Of Full House Vote Tomorrow; FBI: Apparent Human Remains Found In Florida Nature Reserve Along With Backpack, Notebook Belonging To Brian Laundrie. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 20, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Not afford to sit while other countries pass us by. We're going to breathe new life into the economy and our workforce. Here is the deal, these jobs that we're going to create for people were too often left out and left behind. The vast majority of the jobs in my infrastructure bill don't require a four-year degree. 98 percent don't require a four-year degree. Guess what though, it's the ultimate blue collar, middle class renewal, real, serious work that needs to get done.

And, folks, it isn't enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people, which we always did. We invest it in our people. That's why the second bill is the so- called build back better plan. And here is what it does. It takes education. I said, when America made 12 years of public education standard a century ago, it gave us the best educated, best prepared workforce in the world, and you saw what happened. Think of what had after World War I and how America moved because we were the best educated overall country in the world. And we led in the 20th century.

And as I said earlier, we know that 12 years is not enough any longer to compete in the 21st century. Study after study shows that earlier our children began to learn, the better for themselves, their families and their nation.

You all know the statistics and some of your teachers and husbands used to talk to me about this, and it was really basic, that if you come from a home where the mom or dad have books on the shelves and on the coffee table and read, and you come from a home where mom and dad can't read or has a sixth grade education or has a little difficulty, the child coming from the middle-class heard is going to have heard a million more words spoken, not different words, spoken, spoken, than the child coming from a middle-class home.

And that's because, look, what do you all do, you all know with your children and grandchildren, you start talking to them when they're in the cradle. You engage them. They're the people who sit at the dinner table and still talk. They're engaged. So many homes, mothers or fathers don't have the capacity or inclination to do that. But right now, what are we doing? We're lagging behind. Today, only about half of the three and four-year-olds in America are enrolled in early education at all. Germany, France, the U.K., Latvia, their numbers are over 90 percent of the children.

It's not just early education According to one study, we rank 12th among advanced economies when it comes to percentage of our young people who have attained any sort of post-high school degree. We rank 12th in the world. The build back better plan gets us back on track. We'll make two years of high-quality preschool available to every child in America, every child. And we're going to make -- we'll make investments in education beyond high school, that includes increasing Pell Grants, which nearly 200,000 students in Pennsylvania from low- income families relying to attend college. We're going to increase it by $500, so it becomes $1,900.

The bill invests in our workforce, providing much-needed breathing room for our families. I remember when we moved to Wilmington, we finally were able to, after four years, dad could buy a house. And we lived in, quote, a development. It's a lovely area, a suburban area, but it was a three-bedroom split-level home. And we had four kids and my grandpa who lived with us, or another relative for all those years we lived there.

And my bed was up -- my headboard -- my bed was up against the wall, that was where my dad and mom's bed was up against the wall. I look back, it was great no us having grandpa and relatives there. I don't know how my parents quite did it.

But I remember one night, I'm serious, in high school. I could feel my dad was restless, I could hear it in bed. And I asked the next morning, I asked my mom -- it's a true story -- so, what's the matter with dad, mom? He said, he got bad news, honey. His company just said they're no longer going to pay for health insurance. Well, guess what? My dad used to say, everybody is entitled, all we're looking for is just a little breathing room, just a little bit of extra room, a little breathing room.

How can we compete in the world where millions of American parents, especially moms, can't join the workforce because they can't afford the cost of child care or elder care, or they have to stay home? I heard my colleagues speaking before.


I did hear in Pennsylvania, the average annual cost for child care for your toddler is $11,400. It's higher in other places. So the average two-parent family, two young kids spent 22 percent of their income for child care every year. I was a single dad for five years. I got elected to the Senate, and I got a phone call when I was hiring staff, saying my wife and daughter had just been killed and my two boys were seriously injured. They were hospitalized for a long time. So that's why I eventually started commuting, but I continued to commute, because I could no more afford -- and I was making a lot of money then. Now, granted, I was listed for 36 years as the poorest man in Congress, but I was making $42,000 a year. I didn't think my job was to make money when I was in Congress. This is not a joke. I can't no more afford child care than fly.

But, fortunately, I had a hell of a family, those values I talked about. My sister and her husband, after a little bit, they gave up their home. I came home one night and they had moved into my home, to help me raise my kids. Five years later, no man deserves one great love, let alone two, five years later, when I met and married Jill, I came home after the wedding, they had moved out. My brother, Jimmy, my best friend, my mother, they all helped me take care of my kids. I couldn't have done it.

So, I understand how in God's name do people make it? If you look at the world of advanced economics, and those with advanced economies, the countries invest an average of -- each of those countries invest an average of $14,000 per year in state-sponsored child/toddler care. America invests $500, 28 times less than our competitors.

Here is what it's done to our economy. You all know it. 30 years ago, we ranked seventh in the world among advanced economies and the share of women in the workforce. Today in America, we rank 23rd. And women are becoming, not a joke, better educated than men.

If you look at -- and I do, about five college commencements a year, four of those five, the valedictorian out of those classes for the last ten years has been a woman. If you read the data now, we're worried about the number of men attending college.

Once again, our competitors are investing, and we're standing still. My build back better plan is designed to get us moving again. Look, it's going to cut the cost of child care for most Pennsylvania families in half. No middle-income family will pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care under my proposal, 7 percent. It's going to help more people get back to work in the workforce and make ends meet.

It's also going to extend the historic middle-class tax cut for parents. Everybody talks about -- and, by the way, I'm going to say something self-serving, but I got on pretty well in the Senate for all of those years, a lot of Republicans friends as well Democratic friends, for real. Kind of like Bobby, I mean, we're friends. We used to travel together a lot.

And here's the deal though. What I was able to do, we passed the American rescue plan in the first month of my administration, which has allowed us to have all the funding for COVID. And when I started off, there were 2 million people in America that had gotten a vaccine. Well, guess what? We're up to 190 million. That's how we got it paid for.

And here is the, what it meant was that, you know, right now there's a whole new attitude that's out there. How do we not invest? So when that act we passed, we provided for a child tax credit. And you heard my introducer speak to it. Because we were in such dire straits, we were able to put in a position a tax cut for middle-class people That's what it is.

No one has a tax cut where we want to cut their capital gains tax for the wealthy or anybody. No one has a problem when we deal with that. We have over 55 corporations in America, the Fortune 500 don't pay a single solitary penny in taxes, not one cent, not one cent. They make $40 million a year. But when you talk about a tax cut for middle-class people, and that's exactly what it is, by what we did, increasing and making a refundable tax cut, the way it works now, if you made enough money to have -- owe more than $4,000 in taxes and you had two kids, you got to deduct it.


And here's the deal. The fact of the matter is that if you didn't make that kind of money, you didn't get the benefit at all. It wasn't refundable. You didn't get the benefit at all with the tax cut, because you didn't have more than $4,000 in taxes, you know, you still paid. And whether refundable, you didn't get it back.

Well, here is the way we work it. We said, all right, so, temporarily, what we're going to do is make sure there's a child care tax credit. And if you have one kid under seven, you get $3600 a year, and if you have one over 7 to 17, you get $3,000. We upped it from $2,000. Well, guess what, it's cut child poverty in Pennsylvania by 55 percent and the nation by 50 percent. It's a flat-out tax cut for ordinary people. That's what it does. I make no apologies for it.

And, look, folks, there's so many things that we can do to change the way in which we work all of this. And I realize I'm going on here, but the fact is there's so much at stake, so much at stake. Look, the fact is that most of all, what it does is -- you know, we have a sandwich generation that exists. And many of you are part of that generation. You have a mom or dad that needs help when they get older, and you have a child that needs some help if you're going to be in the workforce. And it's hard as hell, hard as hell to make it work. You've got to give these folks a bit of breathing room.

The single greatest champion for elder care in the United States of America is this guy right here, Bobby Casey. Not a joke. Not a joke. The way it works right now, if you qualify for Medicaid, you have to have a lower income to qualify for Medicaid, not Medicare, Medicaid, there are 820,000 seniors or people with disabilities who are on Medicaid, who are on a waiting list to get home care, which they're entitled to.

How many families are living this story? Your parents get older, they need some help getting around the house, making the meals for themselves, don't want to put them in nursing homes, not only because of the cost, but because of a matter of dignity. They do better, they live longer if they can stay in their own home. But you also don't have the time or money to take care of them at home to do it. So, they're just looking for an answer so your parents can keep living independently.

And I think, hold here in a second. One of the things that is important, think about this. In order to get into that nursing home, you have got to sell everything you have. You can't have any private property. You have to empty your bank account. You have to do it all to move into a nursing home. I'm not saying nursing homes aren't valuable. They are. They are extremely valuable.

But that's not where -- I remember my uncle was -- moved in with his wife into an assisted living center, and the folks who had built the facilities, the lovely facility in Delaware, asked if I would come and speak on the opening of it. And we're walking out and I said, mom, isn't this beautiful? She looked at me and said -- she was then 76 years old. She said, this is for old people, Joey, not for me.

But think about it. For millions of families, this is the most important issue they're facing. It's personal. It's personal, and Bob Casey gets it. When Bobby fights for something, he never gives up, in case you haven't noticed. So here's what we're going to do. We're going to expand services for seniors, so families can get help with well-trained, well-paid professionals, to help them take care of their parents at home, to cook a meal for them, to get them their groceries when they need their groceries, to help them get around, to just put in railings on their home.

When my mom lived with me, she moved in with me, she finally talked her into doing it. And guess what? My sister takes her up -- you remember this, Jean remembers this, talking about this too, she takes her up to get her prescriptions, drives her back, gets out of the house, and it was this little home off of our home. She wouldn't physically move into the house, even though we had done the whole thing over for her. And she's just standing there, and moves and breaks her hip. She didn't trip or anything, broke her hip.


Well, guess what? Just having a railing, just having a place where she can walk from one room into the other and help them in their own home with the dignity they deserved.

Quite frankly, what we found is that this is more popular than anything else I'm proposing. When you do this individual falling data, this is extremely popular. We all feel that obligation to our parents. We want them to live with dignity but because American people understand the need. It's a matter of dignity. It's a matter of pride.

Look, that's what both these initiatives are all about, and, frankly, there are about more than giving working families a break. They're about positioning our country to compete in the long haul. Economists left, right and center agree. Earlier this year, The Wall Street outfitted Moody's projected that the investments I'm talking about will create for the next 20 years an average 2 million additional jobs per year, good paying jobs. It's transformative.

And we can make these transformation investments and be fiscally responsible. Take the infrastructure bill. All those investments, roads, bridges, high-speed rail, internet, a whole deal, they represent less than one half of 1 percent of our economic growth each year, less than one half of 1 percent. And the cost of the build back better bill in terms of adding deficit is zero, zero, zero, because we're going to pay for it all. And in addition to that, half of it is a tax cut. It's not spending money. It's a tax cut for working-class people.

It's about time, as I said -- and I come from a corporate state of the world -- not a joke, more corporations are registered in my state than every other state in the United States combined. And I represented the state of DuPont, as they used to call it, for 36 years. I'm not anti- business, but I'm about, just begin to pay your fair share.

Look, folks, under this proposal I'm talking about, I guarantee you that no one making under $400,000 a year will see one single penny in tax go up. Not one. In fact, the plan cuts taxes for working people. And, by the way, if you notice, the way you usually pay for infrastructure is by gasoline taxes. I wouldn't allow that because that would tax people making under $400,000. I'm a man of my world. Not one single penny will you pay if you make less than $400,000. So, if there's no reason -- there's no reason why someone making $400 million a year.

And, by the way, you know, during this -- all the crisis we've had with COVID, there's an absolute finite number of billionaires we can count in the tax code. You know how much the billionaires made last year collectively? They're not bad guys, I'm not saying that. They made $1 trillion and increased their collective income, $1 trillion. Just pay your fair share.

If you are a multimillionaire of billionaire, you have a lower tax rate than a family that has a teacher and a firefighter, as a percent of taxes you pay lower. As I said 55 of our largest corporations pay zero in income tax, $40 billion. This needs to change. Working folks understand that. That's why despite the tax misinformation about my plans, they're still overwhelmingly supported by the American people. They understand when families have a little breathing room, America is in a better spot.

And I know this is about dignity and respect about building the economy from the bottom up and the middle down, not from the top down. As I said, name me a time in American history when the middle class has done well, but the wealthy haven't done very well? They made time.

So, let me close with this. For too long, working people in this nation, the middle class in this country, the backbone of the country have been dealt out. It's time to deal them back in. I ran for president saying it was time to rebuild the backbone of the nation. And by that, I was very precise. The middle class has been the backbone of this nation. I couldn't have been any clearer.

That's why I wrote both of these bills in the first place and took them to the people. I campaigned on them. The American people spoke. They have no doubt about what I ran on. Both these bills were all what I talked about.


But guess what? 81 million people voted for me, more people voted than any time in American history. And their voices deserve to be heard, not to be denied, or worse, be ignored. Because here is what I know, if we make the investments, there's going to be no stopping America in the remainder of the 21st century. I've long said, and I mean this to every world leader I've know, and I've now spoken to over 60 of them, and I've known them many before that. I tell them, it's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America, never, never, never. Which means it's always a good bet to bet on America. That's what these initiatives do. They bet on America. It's about believing in the American people, about believing, about believing.

Just look at the history of the journey of this nation. What becomes clear is this, given half a chance, half a chance, the American people have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down, just a fighting chance. No guarantees, just a chance. That's what this is all about. And it does not increase the debt. When you talk about the number, we shouldn't even talk about the numbers because it's all paid for, written in the same piece of legislation. So, you pass the spending, you're also passing the tax cuts and you're passing taxes that are going to be increased.

Scranton, thanks for always treating me so nicely. I really mean it. God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: I'm Wolf Blitzer, here in The Situation Room. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

We've been listening for the past 40 minutes or so to President Biden promoting his economic agenda. He's been speaking in Pennsylvania, as he works to finally close the deal with fellow Democrats. Lots to assess right now.

I want to get some analysis and some reporting. Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is with us. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is with us.

Phil, the president seemed to be upbeat, potentially very optimistic that his two pieces of legislation will passed. He looked at the journalists who were standing, said you guys have been predicting failure, and then he said, but I think we're going to surprise them. What is the assessment right now?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it was the second part of the sentence that immediately followed that that stuck out most to me, in which he said, I believe people are beginning to realize what is at stake. And I think to some degree, that maybe was the broader public. Obviously, this is the public push, something that White House officials have been planning and hoping to get the president more to do in the coming weeks, but also the behind-the- scenes push, where the president has been intensely focused over the course of the last several weeks, to a degree where most people didn't know the details of those negotiations with two critical moderate senators until yesterday. They just started to leak out during the Oval Office meetings with a series of House members.

But what is at stake is a reflection of what we're hearing more and more from rank and file Democrats on Capitol Hill, a recognition that, yes, there are disagreements, yes, this package will absolutely be scaled down in order to secure the requisite numbers of votes to get through the House and the Senate.

But this pretty the be all and end all. This is the endgame. This is what Democrats campaigned on. This is the, really, only opportunity that Democrats have to pass these two significant pieces of legislation, in total, more than $3 to nearly $4 trillion between the infrastructure plan and the climate and economic plan. And the recognition of those stakes, which the president has really focused on a lot over the course of the last several months really seems to be settling in with those on Capitol Hill and is in large part driving some of the momentum we very clearly seen come to the forefront over the course of the last couple of days, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And, Dana, as you know, Scranton, Pennsylvania, a very meaningful place for the president, he was born there. How effective was this speech as he tries to get this plan across the finish line through in the next few days?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this kind of speech, talking not about the numbers, not about the top lines, not about intraparty fighting, but what exactly is in this extremely large package that they hope will finally come to fruition in the coming weeks. And a lot of Democrats I talked to admit that has happened lost. The reality of the policies that the president campaigned on, that Democrats in Congress campaigned on have not been addressed in an aggressive enough way by all of them, from the White House over to Capitol Hill. And that is in part because, for some of these policies, it has been unclear what's going to stay in and what's going to stay out.


But what the president tried to focus on today were some of the fundamentals that he knows are absolutely going to be in, like the idea of putting money out there for the first time, in an aggressive way, to help people take care of people in their households who need it, whether it's their parent, whether it's their child, and they come out of the workforce to do that, things like universal pre-K.

So, he obviously went to Scranton to try to connect himself, his middle-class roots, his struggles that he's talked about for decades, to what he wants to do here. And, again, it's something we're obviously going to hear him talk about in his town hall here on CNN tomorrow night, and he's starting to do it more aggressively as some of the specifics finally come together as the differences begin to abate inside the party.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see how he does. It's a critical moment indeed. He is going to need all 50 senators to support this compromise, including Senator Sinema of Arizona, who has already said she opposes a lot of these tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. If she continues to hold that position, 49 to 51 with Republicans, that would be the end. We'll see what happens. They're really word about Senator Sinema right now, even if Senator Manchin goes ahead and supports this compromise. Guys, I want you to stand by. I know, as you can see, President Joe Biden will be participating in a CNN town hall, an exclusive CNN town hall tomorrow night. Anderson Cooper will be the moderator. The president will be answering questions from the American people. It all begins tomorrow night 8:00 P.M. Eastern only here on CNN.

Meanwhile, there's other important news we're following tonight. The former Trump strategist, Steve Bannon, is a step closer to being held in contempt of Congress with a full House vote of the resolution scheduled for tomorrow.

CNN Senior Legal Affairs Analyst Paula Reid has details.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice over): Lawmakers investigating the deadly Capitol riot urged fellow representatives today to find Trump Adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We're not asking to talk to Steve Bannon on a whim. We believe he has firsthand specific knowledge that the Congress needs to have to conduct our investigation.

REID: CNN has learned the GOP leaders are recommending a no vote on the referral and Trump allies, saying the investigation is an attempt to distract from Biden's failures.

REP. JIM JORDAN (I-OH): You can't talk about inflation, real wages gone down.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): Give me a break. If this is a political theater, I don't know what is.

REID: But fellow Republican and Committee Vice-Chair Representative Liz Cheney reminded lawmakers why they need to talk to Trump allies.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): They believe what Donald Trump said, that the election was stolen and that they needed to take action.

REID: She specifically referenced comments Bannon made on January 5th.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL ADVISER: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen.

CHENEY: And he was right. Ask the over 140 Capitol police officers who fought for hours and were injured. And there is no doubt that Steve Bannon knows far more than he says on that video.

REID: Late Tuesday, the January 6th committee voted unanimously to advance criminal contempt proceedings to the House floor. Of the dozens of witnesses contacted by the committee so far, Bannon is the only one to completely refuse to cooperate.

THOMPSON: Left unaddressed, this defiance may encourage others to follow Mr. Bannon down the same path.

REID: Trump also seeking to block the committee, filing a late-night request Tuesday, seeking an injunction to stop the National Archives from turning over some of his White House records.

CHENEY: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th.

REID: A vote by the full House is scheduled Thursday. If it succeeds, the matter will be referred to the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. But the decision on whether to proceed with prosecution ultimately lies with Attorney General Merrick Garland. And it's not clear which way he will go.


REID (on camera): It's also not clear if these efforts to hold Bannon in contempt are having the intended deterrent effect. Today, a lawyer for Dan Scavino, another Trump associate who was subpoenaed, told CNN at this point, his client is not ready to cooperate. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Paula, thank you very much, Paula Reid reporting for us.

Let's discuss what's going on with one of two Republicans on the January 6th select committee, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.


Congressman, thanks as usual for joining us.

Why is Bannon's testimony so important to your select committee you're willing to go all the way to Justice Department, potentially, with a criminal referral?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (I-IL): Well, I think all you have to do is look at the history of Steve Bannon with Donald Trump. He's been there from the beginning. You see obviously his comments the day before, and there's a lot of other information out there.

But I think the key is this. You know, you can't resist a subpoena from Congress. Congress has the same authority, in essence, as a court, and that you can't resist a subpoena from court. But while we're going to continue to push, and we hope and expect that the Justice Department will take up the contempt, when we send it.

The bottom line is there's a lot of people out there that know pieces of this, some of which have already willingly testified in front of us, giving us information, some that will and some that will not resist subpoenas to this level. It's very costly to do that, as it should be, because Congress -- this isn't the January 6th committee or even the Congress. It's the American people demanding transparency and accountability.

BLITZER: A lot of your Republican colleagues in the House are going to vote against this criminal referral. You know that. KINZINGER: Yes. Sadly, it's not surprising. And I hope it's not just two of us voting for it. I hope there's more. I think you can look back at a lot of statements from when the House, including me, voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt. It will be interesting to compare some of the people's speeches from that today to today when we talk about contempt. And this is a direct assault on the U.S. democracy and the Capitol.

BLITZER: You Republican colleague, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, even suggested that Bannon might have been, in her words, personally involved in planning the attack on the U.S. Capitol back on January 6th. Is there any evidence he was directly responsible?

KINZINGER: I don't want to get into the evidence that we have or don't have under wraps. Obviously, we're going to continue to find out what we can know, what we need to find out. But, look, you played the sound bite of Steve Bannon saying, look, tomorrow is going to be wild. It's not going to go down how you'd expect. Either he was clairvoyant or he knew something.

A lot of what's predicted, violence, I predicted violence on January 6th a week or two prior, but I never expected that it would be to this level, that they would sack the Capitol. Steve Bannon seemed to know something, and we wanted to know what he knew.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Cheney also accused the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, of disrupting your investigation, the select committee's investigation. Do you agree?

KINZINGER: Well, look, I mean, we have an opportunity to have a nonpartisan commission made up of former members, so you take the politics out of it, and then he had an opportunity to seat Republicans and he pulled them. So, certainly, I wouldn't say that's cooperating. And I think if they're whipping against, as I've heard they are, against this vote for contempt, yes.

I mean, look, the day after the insurrection, Kevin McCarthy said that Donald Trump holds the responsibility for this. Two weeks later, he went down and resurrected his political life when he met with him in Mar-a-Lago. And since then, he's been doing nothing but Donald Trump's bidding and bringing him back to political life.

Look, people have to stand up and say this is wrong. We've got to -- of you think about the heroics on Flight 93 that saved the Capitol on 2001, it wasn't Todd Beamer alone. It was everybody standing up and saying, we've had enough, we're going to sacrifice ourselves to do this. And right now, we need more Republicans to stand up, and lead your people, lead your people. Tell them the truth. You know the truth. Tell them the truth

BLITZER: We'll see if that happens. Is there any chance, Congressman, that this criminal referral will actually prompt Bannon to start cooperating with the select committee?

KINZINGER: I think it's certainly the case, particularly if you see real movement in the Justice Department. So, after tomorrow, it will be out of our hands. I hope the attorney general does the right thing. I hope the Justice Department does the right things.

We have other tools in our tool kit, but our focus right now is on this and making it clear that others will be subpoenaed don't resist Congress. You don't have a right to resist Congress because this is the by the people, of the people, for the people governance of this country.

BLITZER: Congressman Kinzinger, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

KINZINGER: Any time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, I'll ask the chair of the congressional progressive caucus about President Biden's plans to make major concessions to moderates, as he tries to find a deal for his domestic agenda. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, there you see her, she is standing by, she's at Statuary Hall up on Capitol Hill. We'll discuss right after this.



BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, President Biden speaking moments ago in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, trying to sell his sweeping agenda to working-class voters, as congressional Democrats appear closer and closer to reaching at least some compromise.

Let's discuss with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the congressional progressive caucus. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. I know you've been talking extensively with President Biden. It now looks like he's ready to make some major concession to try to get both of these pieces of legislation approved. But some of the concessions include no free community college, two years of community college, apparently gone, as far as no payment is concerned, parental leave cut in half, scaled-back climate measures.


Do you think the progressive caucus is going to back these compromised proposals in order to get the deal?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Wolf, thanks for having me. You're right, we have been in deep conversation with the president around the five priorities that the progressive caucus put out five months ago. And what I'm very happy to say is that all five of those are still on the table in a significant way.

What we said to the president when we realized that even though we have 98 percent of Democrats in the House, the Senate and the president with us on the build back better act that we had marked up in the House of Representatives, the reality is that's not enough. We need to get everybody on board.

And so with the two senators, one of the things we had to do was cut back the price tag. The way that we wanted to do that, which the president agreed with and has included, is to just shorten the timeframe for some of these investments. And so that is where we are. All of our priorities are included.

And let me just say, Wolf, what that is. It means that we would provide child care for every family in the United States so that no family provides more than -- pays more than 7 percent of income in child care, pre-K across the country, universal pre-K, making sure that we're investing in care for our seniors with home and community- based care, making sure we're taking on the climate crisis.

This, of course, is tricky. We're trying to figure out how we can cut our carbon emissions. There isn't one single way to do that. So, we're looking at the different ways that we could do that and still keep all 50 senators on board, and then, of course, investing on housing and taking on immigration and Medicare expansion. All of those things are on the table, Wolf, and I think it will mean a tremendous amount to every family across the United States when we pass this thing.

BLITZER: A hypothetical question, it's a serious one, though, and I'm curious to get your thoughts. Say Democrats don't have the 50 votes they need in the Senate to pass it, the vice president, president of the Senate, would cast the breaking tie, if Senator Kyrsten Sinema, for example, doesn't back the bigger spending bill, even $2 trillion or $1.7 trillion, but does support the $1.2 infrastructure package, do you think you would at least, you and other progressives, would vote for the infrastructure package and leave with that as opposed to getting nothing?

JAYAPAL: Wolf, we're going to get both bills across the finish line. I am very confident of that.

BLITZER: What if Senator Sinema votes no.

JAYAPAL: That's not where we are. That's not where we are.

BLITZER: Do you think she's going to vote yes?

JAYAPAL: Yes, I believe she is actually at the table negotiating with the president. I believe she's negotiating in good faith. I believe we're going to do both bills. And I don't think it's going to happen, that we're going to lose one of them. That's why we're working so hard to try to get this all done.

And I can assure people that the president has been terrific on this. I myself have met with him for an hour-and-a-half, just the two us of on Monday morning. I met with him yesterday with a group of progressives. I know he's doing the same with others. I know he's working very hard with Senator Sinema and Manchin. And we are going to get this done, because it is really important.

Let me just say that this is a good thing that's happening right now. We are all talking to each other. I talked to Senator Manchin again today. I met with them the other day for a couple of hours. This is all good. This is what should be happening. And I'm really proud of the progressive caucus for keeping all of this together and keeping us in the fight to really leave nobody behind. And we're going to get it done. I really believe that, Wolf.

BLITZER: The president of the United States just said basically the same thing. He said, I think we're going to surprise them. We'll see what happens. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, as usual, thank for so much joining us.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, new details on the stunning announcement from the FBI, a pair of human remains have been discovered during the search for Brian Laundrie.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the manhunt for Brian Laundrie. I want to bring in CNN's Randi Kaye, along with CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

Randi, tell us more about what the investigators found and what they said today.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, authorities were ought here early this morning. They found what happened to be human remains, according to the FBI, as well as a backpack and notebook they believe belongs to Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito's fiancee.

This was found in an area that had previously been under water. This is a swamp of 25,000 acres. They've been using some buggies and divers to search. Now the water has receded. So they were able to search areas they hadn't been able to get to before. They had been out here searching since September 17th.

The FBI has response teams on here looking at the evidence, processing the scene. The FBI was out here earlier and spoke with reporters. And here is what they had to say about what they found.


MICHAEL MCPHERSON, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI FIELD OFFICE: Earlier today, investigators found what happens to be human remains, along with personal items, such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie. They were found in an area that, up until recently, had been under water. Our team is using all forensic resources to process the area.


KAYE: And we understand from the Laundrie family attorney, Wolf, that Brian Laundrie's parents were at the reserve when these human remains -- or what appear to be human remains were discovered. In fact, they were the ones who called the FBI and North Port Police last night to say that they want to come here and search for this son.

This area of the reserve and this park leading into the reserve had been closed, previously.


It just opened to the public yesterday. So they were out here this morning, along with law enforcement and made that discovery, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yep. Randi, stand by. Paul, the FBI, as you heard, says it did recover some personal items belonging to Laundrie including his backpack and a notebook. Could these items provide u heard, says it did recover some u heard, says it did recover some personal items belonging to Laundrie including his backpack and a notebook. Could these items provide investigators with -- with potentially some long- awaited answers?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think circumstantially, the proximity of these personal items to the human remains make it highly likely this is Brian Laundrie. I think DNA testing in the next few days will confirm that definite definitively. If it turns out it's a suicide, it's the final cruel act of Brian Laundrie because he will never be publicly held accountable, and we'll never know what really happened.

But, you know, only time will tell after a coroner has a look at this at those remains.

BLITZER: Paul Callan, thank you very much. Randi Kaye, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, I will speak with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about Kyrie Irving's refusal to get vaccinated. Stand by.



BLITZER: There is breaking news in the battle against COVID-19. The FDA has just authorized booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The agency also gave the green light for boosters to be from a different brand than your original vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions vaccine advisers, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets Thursday, tomorrow, to decide whether to recommend the FDA's authorization to the American people. And then, the CDC director will decide whether to sign off.

Meanwhile, we're also following another COVID controversy rocking the NBA. Charles Barkley -- yes, Charles Barkley slamming nets star Kyrie Irving for refusing to get vaccinated.

Joining us now to talk about the controversy, the NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He's written about it at

Kareem, thanks so much for all you are doing, thanks for what you are writing.

I want you and our viewers to listen to exactly what Charles Barkley had to say. Listen to this.


CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: You don't get vaccinated just for yourself. Like Adam said, you get vaccinated for your family, first. You get vaccinated for your teammates, second. I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down, for saying no, we're not going to deal with this half on, half off. The only thing that bug me, he still going to make $17 million sitting at home.


BLITZER: What do you think, Kareem? You agree with Charles Barkley? Does it bother you that Kyrie Irving is collecting the significant paycheck while leaving his team to play without him?

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA LEGEND: Well, Wolf, the financial aspect of it is not as important to me as the health aspect of it. People are getting sick and dying from this, and having to spend a long time in the hospital, near death. This isn't a joke. And being, you know, on the fence about it, going back and forth, is not helping.

You know, I -- if he is making $17 million while he is doing this, God bless him. You know? But getting our community protected is the key issue here. And that's what I want to focus on.

BLITZER: And I just want to be precise. That 17 million that he is going to make is for the away games even though he might not play with the team on the away games. He is not going to get paid for the home games in New York, in Brooklyn because he refuses to get vaccinated.

I want to read something you wrote about vaccinated players who seem to support the idea that getting the shot is simply a personal choice. You wrote this on and let me read it to our viewers.

This tepid kid-glove handling from players who have all gotten the vaccine appears more an attempt to preserve a congenial working relationship than true support for making asinine choices.

Can you, Kareem, elaborate on that for us?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, you know, it seems to me that the public image of the league and the public image of the individual players involved is a lot more important than public safety. And that's absurd. I mean, we -- we've got to -- it doesn't matter who you are, you are at the same risk as everyone else.

And you should be treated and expected to comply with the safety measures that protect all of us.

BLITZER: How much responsibility, Kareem, do Kyrie Irving and other professional athletes, for that matter, have as a result of their huge platform?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I -- I think people who are followed -- who have a huge platform like that -- have a responsibility greater than just the average citizen. Young kids, especially, look up to Kyrie, and -- and are trying to model their lives after his. And become great athletes.

And his stance on this is, you know, it -- it -- it's backwards. And he has to understand that. He has to be a good teammate.

What he is doing is making him a bad teammate. It is making him someone who doesn't care about the other guys. If you -- if you bring the COVID virus into an environment where people get sick, some people could get sick and die.

So, you know, we -- we have to recognize that and act accordingly like we have some sense.

BLITZER: Well said, indeed. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as usual, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing.

ABDUL-JABBAR: No problem, Wolf, nice talking to you.

BLITZER: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

And THE SITUATION ROOM is also available as a podcast. Look for us on or wherever you get your podcasts.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.