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State of the Union
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); Interview With Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Interview With U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired February 07, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Go big or go home? President Biden moves forward with his nearly $2 trillion relief plan, threatening to leave Republicans behind.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time to act. We can reduce suffering in this country. We can put people back to work.
TAPPER: But are there risks to such a big plan? I will speak to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Republican Senator Pat Toomey in moments.
And scene of the crime. Former President Donald Trump set to go on trial in the Senate this week, one month after the Capitol insurrection fueled by his big lie. But can Democrats convince more than one Republican of President Trump's guilt this time around? Senator Bernie Sanders is here.
Plus: vaccine redlining, data showing communities of color being left behind in the race to get shots into arms. What can be done to make sure all Americans are protected? I'll get Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley's take ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering if we will ever see any accountability.
It's been one month since the insurrection on Capitol Hill, and in just two days, former President Trump will face trial in the Senate one more time, this time for inciting one of the most shocking and horrifying moments in American history, a deadly riot by his supporters at the Capitol, their heads filled with the big lie, whipped into a frenzy just minutes before by the president himself.
And for the current president, Mr. Biden, the trial must seem like the worst zombie movie he's ever seen, with the reanimated Trump presidency coming back to slow his agenda at one of the most critical points of the pandemic.
This weekend marks one year since the first known COVID death in the United States. The current death toll in the United States is more than 460,000, with millions also suffering economic devastation. President Biden is urgently pushing a COVID relief package of close to $2 trillion, including $1,400 checks for struggling out-of-work Americans, many with hungry families.
The president said Friday that Republicans are -- quote -- "just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go," this as a new report shows U.S. job recovery has all but completely stalled. And it's not only those on the other side of the aisle from Biden, however, who say that there is some risk that the size of his rescue plan is just too big.
Joining us now for her first interview on CNN since being confirmed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Secretary Yellen, congratulations, and thanks for joining us.
President Biden and Democrats are pushing forward with this $1.9 trillion relief package. But as you know, one of your predecessors from the Clinton and Obama administration, Larry Summers suggested that it's just too big, it would flood the economy with too much money, and that could lead to rising inflation.
Quote: "Whereas the Obama stimulus was about half as large as the output shortfall, the proposed Biden stimulus is three times as large as the projected shortfall."
Why is Summers wrong? Why are you confident this will not cause rising inflation?
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, first, Jake, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be with you.
I think the risks here -- as Treasury secretary, I have to worry about all of the risks to the economy. And the most important risk is that we leave workers and communities scarred by the pandemic and the economic toll that it -- that it's taken, that we don't do enough to address the pandemic and the public health issues, that we don't get our kids back to school.
We have 10 million Americans who are unemployed, another four million who have dropped out of the labor force, particularly women who have child care responsibilities. We need to reopen our schools, make sure that children aren't falling behind, provide help.
We already have way too many small businesses that are closing. We need to provide help to get them to the other side. And we have already seen 1.3 million state and local government workers, first responders, policemen,firemen who've lost their jobs. And we need to get them back on the payroll.
And people are on the verge of losing the roofs so for their heads. The package provides rental assistance. We have 24 million adults and 12 million children that are going hungry every day. And we need to provide them with food. We have people suffering, particularly low- wage workers and minorities, and through absolutely no fault of their own.
We have to get them to the other side and make sure this doesn't take a permanent toll on their lives.
YELLEN: So, we need a package that's big enough to address this full range of needs. And I believe that the American Rescue Plan is up to the job.
My predecessor has indicated that there's a chance that this will cause inflation to rise. And that's also a risk that we have to consider. I have spent many years studying inflation and worrying about inflation.
And I can tell you, we have the tools to deal with that risk if it materializes. But we face a huge economic challenge here and tremendous suffering in the country. We have got to address that. That's the biggest risk.
TAPPER: And, as you noted, the unemployment rate is falling. And that does not take into account the millions of Americans who have left the labor force completely during the pandemic. I think 400,000 or so in the latest jobs report just gave up looking.
After the Great Recession, it took almost seven years to get employment numbers back to where they were. How long do you think it will take now to fully recover all the jobs we lost during this pandemic, including all the people who are jobless and have given up?
YELLEN: Well the Congressional Budget Office issued an analysis recently.
And it showed that, if we don't provide additional support, the unemployment rate is going to stay elevated for years to come. It would take until 2025 in order to get the unemployment rate down to 4 percent again. We would have a long, slow recovery, like we had after the financial crisis.
But this package is going to really speed recovery. And analysis by Moody's and the economists at the Brookings Institution show that very clearly that we will get people back to work much sooner with this -- with this package. And that's really critically important.
TAPPER: Do you...
YELLEN: There's absolutely no reason why we should suffer through a long, slow recovery.
TAPPER: Do you have a timeline, though, for full reemployment?
YELLEN: Well, I would expect that, if this package is passed, that we would get back to full employment next year. TAPPER: One of the main discussions right now in the legislation is
about who should receive the direct payments from the stimulus package.
Almost every senator agreed with a resolution that passed on Thursday to say that upper-income taxpayers should not get direct payments. They did not define what constitutes an upper-income taxpayer, which maybe is why it was so easy for them to pass it.
What do you think the cutoff should be, $50,000, $75,000? Where do you come down?
YELLEN: Well, President Biden is certainly willing to work with members of Congress to define what's fair. And he wouldn't want to see a household making over $300,000 receive these payments.
But if you think about an elementary school teacher or a policeman making $60,000 a year, and faced with children who are out of school and people who may have had to withdraw from the labor force in order to take care of them and many extra burdens, I would -- he thinks, and I would certainly agree, that it's appropriate for people there to get support.
So, the exact details of how it should be targeted are to be determined, but struggling middle-class families need help, too.
TAPPER: So, you're not -- so, you definitely think higher than $50,000 per individual, but you're not necessarily willing to commit to $75,000, is what I'm hearing.
YELLEN: Yes, I -- I think the details can be worked out. And the president is certainly willing to work with Congress to find a good structure for these payments.
TAPPER: So, "The Washington Post" editorial board is still pushing for a bipartisan deal.
They wrote just yesterday -- quote -- "Biden should exhaust the possibilities for compromise on COVID relief."
But President Biden has also signaled he's ready to move forward without Republicans. Are you, is the administration willing to pass this relief package with zero Republican votes in the Senate, zero Republican votes in the House?
YELLEN: President Biden is strongly committed to working with all members of Congress in order to try to craft a package that addresses the needs of the American people.
And, as you know, he's met with Republicans who are interested in working with him to craft a proposal. The details of the package certainly can be negotiated over to try to craft something that's broadly acceptable. But we need a big package. And we need to get this done quickly. And
those are the things that the president is really committed to. So, he wants to make sure that all the needs of the American people are addressed. It's important to do -- to extend unemployment insurance. It's important to have enough money to distribute the vaccine.
But there are many more needs out there. And he wants a package that addresses rental assistance, so people have roofs over their head, food, that they have enough to eat, and the full range of problems facing Americans.
TAPPER: You met with regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve on Thursday about GameStop and other stocks after day traders drove the prices to soar and then crash.
Your department says that the market's -- quote -- "core infrastructure was resilient" -- unquote.
Does that mean you think new regulations are not necessary?
YELLEN: Well, first -- the first thing is that we really need to understand exactly what happened.
And the Securities and Exchange Commission is working hard to assemble a report that gives us the facts. And when we have them, we can look at whether or not there were issues that need to be addressed through new policy or regulations.
We need to make sure the markets function efficiently, that investors are protected, and also that they understand the risks that they face when they engage in trading. And all of that will be reviewed.
TAPPER: Let me ask you, because you have made more than $7 million in recent years giving speeches to Wall Street banks, corporations, industry groups, including Citadel, a hedge fund that recently bailed out a GameStop short seller.
You must know that a lot of people who pay these high sums of money for speeches like from experts such as you are hoping not just to hear a good speech, but hoping to get friendly treatment down the line.
YELLEN: Well, I have an ethics agreement that I signed that carefully considered whether or not there could be conflicts of interest. And I will religiously adhere to that agreement.
And, at every step along the way, I have consulted with ethics lawyers at the Treasury Department and will certainly abide by my ethics obligations.
TAPPER: You're the first woman to ever be confirmed as Treasury secretary in the history of the United States, kind of astounding, frankly, after a very, very long line of 77 men who preceded you.
Take a listen to something you said back in 1998, when you were the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers for then President Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1998)
YELLEN: The bad news, though, is that there remains a significant differential between women's and men's pay. On average, women now earn about 75 percent of what men earn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: More than 20 years later, women earn just 81 percent of what men earn. It's progress, but not particularly enough.
Where do you want that number to be when your term as Treasury secretary is done?
YELLEN: Well, I would like there to be equal pay for equal work.
And I would like to see the barriers that remain that impede the progress of women in the labor force addressed. Once upon a time, labor force participation of women in the United States exceeded that of most European countries.
The opposite is true now of Europe and other developed countries. And big differences are the availability of child care and paid family and medical leave. And these are things I think we need to work on in order to make it easier for women to work and to combine work with family life.
TAPPER: All right, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, thanks so much. Congratulations again on your trailblazing appointment.
We appreciate your being here today.
YELLEN: Thanks so much for having me.
TAPPER: Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania says Secretary Yellen is wrong with her demand for the full COVID relief plan, $1.9 trillion. He's here to tell us why next.
Plus, we will ask Senator Toomey how he plans to vote as President Trump goes on trial again in just two days.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Biden says he's ready to go big on COVID relief, even if that means no Republican support in the Congress.
He argues he's not willing to get bogged down in a lengthy negotiation, when Americans are hurting and there's urgency.
Joining me now to respond is Republican Senator Pat Toomey from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Senator, good to have you, as always.
You just heard Secretary Yellen make her case for why almost $2 trillion in coronavirus relief is necessary. You disagree. Why is she wrong?
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Well, there are an awful lot of reasons, Jake.
And let's remember, I mean, I have a lot of respect for Secretary Yellen. She's a very, very capable, talented person, but she is not the leader of the independent Federal Reserve anymore. She is now the Treasury secretary.
And, as such, her job is to be the biggest cheerleader for whatever economic policy President Biden wants. The problem with this is, Jake, 42 days ago, we passed the fifth huge bill, another trillion dollars, bringing the total to over $4 trillion.
Much of that money, a huge amount of money, is not even out the door yet. Much of it was way too broad, and not sufficiently targeted as it was. All of these bills were passed with big bipartisan votes, the biggest of them, the CARES Act, from March over $2 trillion, not a single no-vote in the entire Senate.
So, here we are. The economy has come roaring back. The unemployment rate is less than half what it was. Disposable income is at record highs. Savings rates are at record highs. And where we have problems is very concentrated, Jake. It's not an economy in collapse, the way it was in March.
Today, we have serious problems for workers in the restaurant, the hospitality, the travel and entertainment sectors. That's really a handful of places. And if those folks have fallen through the cracks of the trillions of dollars we have already spent that's been meant to help them, then let's have a conversation about how to help those folks.
But nobody's making that case. What you hear is these broad generalities about, well, people are suffering, so let's spend another $2 trillion. It's not the right solution.
Larry Summers is a liberal Democrat who's a Keynesian, in favor of big government spending, and he has said, this is way too much. So, there's a lot of reasons. We could go through line by line.
TAPPER: Right. But let me ask...
TOOMEY: So how much money has already been allocated for these things.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you. I mean, you talked about how the economy is improved. And the economy is improved. But the U.S. is still down almost 10 million jobs since the pandemic began a year ago. Job growth is crawling.
TAPPER: We just got the jobs report. Only 49,000 jobs added in January. I mean, that's really bad, with 400,000 Americans taking themselves out of even looking for jobs; 24 million Americans don't have enough to eat. The CBO says it's going to take until 2024 to fully recover without sizable relief.
How do you explain your opposition, given those facts about millions of struggling Americans?
TOOMEY: So, all of those things, I mean, we have allocated money for these purposes.
And, by the way, CBO is projecting that we will have almost 5 percent growth next year if we don't do an additional bill. We have tens of billions of dollars that hasn't made it out the door yet, because the ink is hardly dry on the last bill.
So, this is -- this is just -- what this is, is, it's clear -- in addition to the very hard left executive orders, it's clear, unfortunately, from my point of view, that, while President Biden has given some great speeches about unity, he's governing from the hard left.
This is a list of liberal Democrat wish lists for massive spending and don't let a crisis go to waste. People remember that we did have an economic crisis. And so try to load up as much spending as possible, irrespective of the need.
By the way, how do that? Ten Republican senators marched down to the White House and offered to do another bill. I don't think -- I don't agree with them.
TAPPER: Yes, but...
TOOMEY: But they have put over $600 billion on the table that they're willing to vote for and willing to probably negotiate for more. That's enough to pass it in the Senate.
And, still, the Democrats are saying, nope, it's our way or the highway. And they have passed legislation that will allow them to do a multitrillion-dollar bill with strictly partisan votes. It's really unfortunate.
TAPPER: But you -- I mean, just for the record, you oppose that $600 billion proposal from the 10 Republican senators.
TOOMEY: Correct, absolutely.
TAPPER: But, I mean...
TOOMEY: I oppose it.
My point is, if you're President Biden, and you're serious about having a bipartisan -- working together with people on the other side, bringing people together in unity, he has the opportunity to do it.
It's true. I don't support that, because I think it's completely inappropriate. But there are more than 10 Republican senators that disagree with me, and that would do this. And yet they appear to be intent on ignoring Republicans.
TAPPER: So, President Biden, as you know, has signaled that he's moving forward on his plan with or without Republican support. This is what he had to say:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I'd like to be doing it with the support of Republicans.
But if I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that's up to the crisis, that's an easy choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That sentiment actually sounds a little bit like what you said when you wanted to pass a bill that you supported with only 51 votes after Republicans won in 2016. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2016)
TOOMEY: I am hoping that our Democratic colleagues will work with us, so that we can begin to make the constructive changes that we need.
But, if not, I think we should use all tools available to get this job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, how is what he's doing any different from what you said?
TOOMEY: Because I was talking about tax reform in the context of all but three Democrat senators sending us a letter basically refusing to participate in the tax reform that we wanted to do.
President Biden doesn't face that at all. We have done five bills with Republican support, overwhelming, almost unanimous Republican support. And President Biden has at least 10 Republican senators, which is all he needs, to do yet another bipartisan bill, and he's refusing.
So, these are very dissimilar, Jake. I think it's also worth looking at some of the particulars. The president has insisted that it's got to have $350 billion for state and local governments.
As I think you know, in 2020, state and local governments set an all- time record for revenues collected. They beat the previous record, which was 2019. And that does not include the $500 billion that we sent them over the course of last year.
Now, on top of that, we're supposed to send yet another $350 billion? And then there's the unemployment benefits. President Biden is insisting that we increase unemployment benefits to the point where more than half of everyone who's unemployed will be getting paid more not to work than they make working.
TAPPER: Right, according to...
TOOMEY: How does that make any sense? This is a...
TAPPER: According to a University of -- that's according to a University of Chicago study from last year.
TAPPER: Let me just ask you in the few minutes we have left, because there are other topics.
Just days after the Capitol riot, you came on the show. You said that President Trump committed impeachable offenses...
TAPPER: ... he should resign, he could even face criminal liability.
Some of your colleagues have already said that he should be acquitted in the Senate trial that begins on Tuesday. You told me there should be accountability for President Trump. Are you going to vote to hold him accountable?
TOOMEY: Well, so, I stand by everything I have said, Jake.
I still think the best outcome would have been for the president to resign. Obviously, he chose not to do that.
Now, starting Tuesday, I'm going to be a juror. And my job is going to be to objectively evaluate the very specific article of impeachment that is going to be presented to us, has been presented to us. And that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to listen to the arguments on both sides and make the decision that I think is right.
TAPPER: You're one of only five Republican senators who didn't vote to dismiss the trial outright as unconstitutional.
TAPPER: Do you think there's any chance at all that 67 senators will vote to convict President Trump in his impeachment trial, or is this over before it even begins?
TOOMEY: I think it's very unlikely, right?
I mean, you did have 45 Republican senators vote to suggest that they didn't think it was appropriate to conduct a trial. So, you can infer how likely it is that those folks will vote to convict.
I disagreed with their assessment. I think it is constitutional. I think it's clearly constitutional to conduct a Senate trial with respect to an impeachment. In this case, the impeachment occurred prior to the president's leaving office.
But my job is going to be to listen to both sides of this, evaluate the arguments and make a decision.
TAPPER: As you know, sir, there's a struggle in the Republican Party, especially -- it's especially pronounced in the House -- between the wing that represents conservative people of principle such as yourself or Liz Cheney, and then the wing that represents lies and conspiracy theories.
Only 11 Republicans in the House voted to strip Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments due to her violent, inflammatory, bigoted, and, frankly, insane comments she's made in recent years.
Are you glad she's off those committees, that Democrats voted that way? Is there a place for the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world in the future of the Republican Party?
TOOMEY: There should be no place in the Republican Party for people who believe in insane conspiracy theories like QAnon. That is madness. That has nothing to do with conservatism. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party.
I think the really encouraging thing from last week was the fact that Liz Cheney, a terrific, capable leader who voted based on her conscience, she was -- she held onto her leadership post by a margin of more than 2-1 among Republican House members casting secret ballots. They could have voted any way they felt right.
And they maintained her role in their leadership place. That's how you begin to keep this party united and together and think about how we move on in the post-Trump era. I was really encouraged to see that vote in the House.
TAPPER: Well, that's a very glasses-half-full way of looking at it.
I mean, 61 Republicans voted to strip Liz Cheney -- to punish Liz Cheney, but only 11 Republicans voted to punish Marjorie Taylor Greene.
But I appreciate -- I appreciate your sunny disposition. I mean, it's a nice way of looking at it. TOOMEY: You know, you don't get into this line of work if you're not an optimist, Jake.
TOOMEY: But I do think that we will -- we will be able to pull the party together.
The madness of the QAnons of this world, that's not going to be part of our party, and we're going to be a big strong, diverse party. I'm very optimistic.
TAPPER: Well, I hope you're right, sir. Good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us today. Appreciate it, as always.
TOOMEY: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: President Biden is saying a key piece of the COVID relief plan probably will not make it into the bill.
It's something high on Senator Bernie Sanders' wish list. He's the new Budget Committee chairman. He will react next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. Bernie Sanders
While President Biden has the House and Senate majorities and is ready to push through a nearly $2 trillion COVID relief plan, he is acknowledging he likely will not get Republican support or everything he wants, including a $15 federal minimum wage increase.
Joining us now is the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.
Senator, first of all, congrats -- oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Chairman.
First of all, congratulations on the new appointment.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you. Let's get down to work.
Speaker Pelosi said Friday she expects the House will send its COVID relief package to the Senate within the next two weeks. And from that point on, the ball will be in your court.
Do you think that you're going to be able to get this bill passed before unemployment benefits begin to expire in mid-March?
SANDERS: We have to do that. Jake, 2020 was probably the worst year in the modern history of this
country. You have got millions of people who have lost their jobs. People are worried about being evicted. Children are -- literally, in this country, are going hungry. People in the midst of the pandemic have no health care.
We have got to get the vaccine into people's arms as quickly as possible. We have got to reopen our schools, we have enormous crises. And we have got to pass that legislation as soon as we possibly can.
TAPPER: So, one of the big sticking points right now in the package is the provision raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Not to get too much in the weeds about Senate language, but the issue here is that the reconciliation process you're using, so as to avoid needing 60 votes in the Senate, it requires that the legislation be strictly about budgetary matters.
And even President Biden is skeptical that this measure will pass muster. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Apparently, that's not going to occur because of the rules in the United States Senate.
QUESTION: So, you're saying the minimum wage won't be in this...
BIDEN: My guess is, it will not be in it.
I put it in, but I don't think it's going to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, to be clear, he supports raising the federal minimum wage. He just thinks it's not going to make it into the final bill.
You're the Senate Budget Committee chairman. Is President Biden wrong?
SANDERS: Well, I hope he is, Jake.
As you indicated, the president supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage. I do. Last poll I saw has 62 percent of the American people supporting it, because, at the end of the day, we are in the midst of massive income and wealth inequality. People on top are doing phenomenally well.
And yet we have literally tens of millions of Americans working for starvation wages. You cannot make it in any state in this country on nine or 10 bucks an hour. We have got to raise that minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.
And I can tell you, as chairman of the Budget Committee, we have a room full of lawyers working as hard as we can to make the case to the parliamentarian that, in fact, raising the minimum wage will have significant budget implications, and, in fact, should be consistent with our reconciliation rules.
TAPPER: During the campaign, you were running for president. You said whoever you picked as V.P. would overrule the parliamentarian in order to pass legislation such as Medicare for all with just 51 votes.
Should Vice President Harris do that, overrule the parliamentarian, to keep the minimum wage increase in this bill?
SANDERS: Well, before we get to what the vice president is going to do, I got to get through the parliamentarian, and then I got to get 50 votes in support of raising that minimum wage to $15 an hour.
But I am working as hard as I can to make that happen. In America, people should not be working 40 or 50 hours a week and living in poverty. We have got to raise that minimum wage, which, Jake, has not been raised, unbelievably, since 2007.
TAPPER: Even if it makes it into the bill, you're going to need every Democrat on board. And West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he does not support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He has suggested he could get behind a lower amount, such as $11 an hour, which I think is what the rate is in West Virginia.
Would you be willing to compromise in order to get Manchin's vote?
SANDERS: No, I strongly -- look, a $15-an-hour minimum wage is not a radical idea.
Making $600 a week in the United States of America barely -- given the high cost of rent and all the other living expenses that people have to pay, that's not a lot of money. So, these are debates that we're going to have within the Democratic Caucus.
But I hope and believe that, at the end of the day, the members of the Democratic Caucus understand that we do need to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
TAPPER: And when it comes to the COVID relief checks, President Biden said Friday he's open to lowering the threshold of who qualifies for the checks.
One idea being floated in the Senate, including by some Democrats, is to phase out checks for individuals making more than $50,000 a year. You called that proposal unbelievable and said -- quote -- "In other words, working-class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant."
Obviously, you're being sarcastic there. It's clear you don't support it. You heard Janet Yellen earlier in the show. She said, obviously, she thinks that somebody who makes $60,000 a year should be getting these relief checks.
But she wasn't willing to commit to $75,000. Where do you think the cutoff should be?
SANDERS: Well, I think what we have done in the past and what we have promised the American people, we have said two things in the last month.
We said we're going to get you $2,000. And that's $600 plus $1,400. And what we're going to do is say that everybody, a single person, individual $75,000 or lower, and a couple of $150,000 or lower, will be eligible for that full $2,000, $600 plus $1,400.
Now, when people said, we don't want rich people to get that benefit, I understand that. I agree. And what we need to do is have a strong cliff, so it doesn't kind of spill over to people making $300,000. And that's what I support. And that's what I think most people understand.
But to say to a worker in Vermont or California or anyplace else that, if you're making $52,000 a year, you are too rich to get this help, the full benefit, I think that that's absurd. And it's also, from a political point of view, a little bit absurd that you would have, under Trump, these folks getting the benefit, but, under Biden, who is fighting hard for the working class of this country, they would not get that full benefit.
So, I think, from a policy point of view, we have got to do the right thing. And that's $75,000 and $150,000 for a couple. From a political point of view, it is absurd to be telling working-class people, somebody who has a decent union job, they're making $55,000, $60,000, sorry, you're not eligible for the program. It makes no sense to me at all, nor do I think it makes sense to the American people.
TAPPER: Chairman Sanders, always good to have you on.
Hope you, in this new era, come on the show a lot and talk about these issues that matter so much to you and so much to so many millions of Americans.
Thanks for joining us today.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi said that the enemy is within the House of Representatives.
Will one member of the so-called Squad who survived the MAGA riot who's now co-workers with Marjorie Taylor Greene feel safe going to work?
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): We know what it feels like searching for something, anything with which to defend ourselves, and realizing a pencil is about all we had.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): And we crouched there, and some of my good colleagues and I began to pray.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Food service workers, staffers children ran or hid for their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Personal accounts of terror from lawmakers as the MAGA mob ransacked the Capitol one month ago this weekend.
In two days, President Trump will stand trial, stunningly, at the scene of the crime in the U.S. Capitol, on charges that he incited that deadly terrorist attack.
Joining us now, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, to talk about that and more.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
Yesterday marked one month since that insurrection. With former President Trump's impeachment trial set to start Tuesday, we're already seeing people questioning why this matters. Is it necessary? We need to move on.
You lived through the events of January 6. What do you say to people who say, come on, just move on?
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, that's the problem.
The reason why it took a violent insurrection, a white supremacist mob seizing the Capitol, waving the Confederate Flag, erecting a noose on the West Lawn of the Capitol, injury and loss of life for many to appreciate the threat that white supremacy is to every American and to our democracy, the reason it took that incident, that harrowing, traumatic -- those events on January 6, is because, as a country, we have been turning the page.
If we really believe that this is a moment of reckoning in every way, then we must act accordingly. And that means that Donald J. Trump must be held accountable because he is culpable for having incited this insurrection by perpetuating this big lie.
This House has twice done its job. He will forever be the twice- impeached president by this Democratic-majority-led House.
And now the Senate must honor their oath and impeach Donald J. Trump to hold him accountable, but also to bar him from running for public office ever again.
And then we know that he had accomplices who told on themselves in broad daylight. They aided and abetted this insurrection by perpetuating this big lie. And they must be expelled. And then we must continue to investigate, Jake, so that any
individuals or agencies that enabled this insurrection are taken to account.
But let me just say this for those that continue to feign great surprise about what happened on January 6. As a black woman, to be barricaded in my office, using office furniture and water bottles, on the ground, in the dark, that terror, those moments of terror, is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me.
And I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol, but I want us to address the evil and scourge that is white supremacy in this nation. This is not only about securing the Capitol to ensure that members and our staffs and custodial staff and food service workers are safe in the Capitol. It is that we are safe in America.
And one of the images that I'm haunted by is the black custodial staff cleaning up the mess left by that violent white supremacist mob. That is a metaphor for America. We have been cleaning up after violent white supremacist mobs for generations. And it must end.
PRESSLEY: So, impeach (AUDIO GAP) investigate.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, some House Democrats say they're afraid for their safety after the Capitol attack.
I will note that we're not even sharing your location this morning, because you yourself have significant security concerns.
Many of your colleagues blame the rhetoric coming from some House Republicans, in particular, Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has -- you know, has been in the news lately for her bigoted and insane conspiracy theories.
Simply put, do you feel safe going to work?
PRESSLEY: Look, I feel safe.
Living with threats and living with bigots who are as vile in their rhetoric as they are in the policies that they seek and enact and the harm that they seek to cause the most marginalized communities, black Americans in particular, is not new.
Again, this is familiar in an ancestral sort of way. So, it is not going to deter or obstruct me from doing my job on behalf of the American people. And that's why, right now, I'm continuing to fight and to center the American people to ensure that we have a COVID response that is -- that centers the people, that is robust, and leaves no one behind.
This pandemic has not discriminated. And so the relief must be robust and leave no one behind. It's also why I'm fighting to have the collection of anonymized demographic, racial data in terms of vaccine recipients.
TAPPER: Yes, I want to ask about that. I want to ask about the racial disparities that we're seeing in the coronavirus fight.
Polls show vaccine hesitancy among minority communities remains high. White Americans are getting vaccinated at a much higher rate than black Americans and Latino Americans, even though the virus hits black and Latino communities harder.
You have criticized the pace of vaccine distribution among minority communities. You call it vaccine redlining. Do you think the Biden administration is doing enough to address this problem? And, if not, what more should they be doing specifically?
PRESSLEY: Well, first, let me just say I'm encouraged that we actually have a national strategy.
Under the previous administration, we did not have a national strategy to slow the spread of this virus, and we did not have a national vaccine strategy. So, now we have both of those things.
But what I am looking for and calling on the administration to do -- and it's why Senator Warren, Markey and myself sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services -- is for us to collect in real time demographic, anonymized data of vaccine recipients.
We knew anecdotally, Jake, early on what communities would be hardest hit because of unequal access to health care and the comorbidities of structural racism. We demanded the collection of that equitable data early on, myself and Senator Warren.
And because of that, we were able to see just how dire the inequities were, and that informed how resources were marshaled.
PRESSLEY: So, I'm encouraged by what the administration is doing.
But Congress must act, and we must embed in our response, in our relief package...
PRESSLEY: ... the collection of that data.
And this administration must collect this data, so that we can save lives.
TAPPER: All right, Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us today. We really appreciate it.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It was one month ago this weekend that a terrorist MAGA mob, fed lies for months about the election, stormed the Capitol, an insurrection that cost at least five lives, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick.
There have been, as of Wednesday, 181 people charged related to the riot, Justice Department announcements and court documents show. Zachary Alam, shown here allegedly trying to break through the doors to the speaker's lobby. Kevin Seefried, here with the Confederate flag. Rachel Powell shown here with the bullhorn, allegedly giving instructions.
That none of them are wearing masks correctly is a testament not only to the fact that they also ignored health guidelines during the pandemic, but they did not think they would be held accountable for their actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to walk down to the Capitol. You'll never take back our country with weakness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And indeed a number of these insurrectionists are now saying they did what they did because they thought that then President Donald Trump wanted them to.
As one defense attorney put it in a legal filing, quote, "the nature and circumstances of this offense must be viewed through the lens of an event inspired by the President of the United States."
According to a New York Times opinion piece, about 40 percent of the phones tracked near the rally stage on the National Mall during the speeches were also found in and around the Capitol during the siege, quote, a clear link between those who had listened to the president and his allies and then marched on the building.
But it was not only Trump whose impeachment trial starts Tuesday. What about accountability for the others who helped spread the big election lie that incited the crowd?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: It has a feeling of a cover-up in certain places. You know, putting the servers in foreign countries, private companies. We don't have transparency with those servers. This is an election nightmare, as well as a battle for the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That lunacy, of course, is not true from Lou Dobbs. And Friday night Dobbs lost his show after Smartmatic, one of the electronic voting companies that was lied about, filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, some of its hosts and two Trump allies.
Some companies and donors have paused political contributions to the campaigns of the almost 150 House and Senate Republicans who voted to undermine the election one month ago today. We shall see how long that last, these things tend to have a short shelf life.
There has been, frankly, no real accountability, none, for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who spread the lie and voted to undo the election. Or for Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley in the Senate. And there is already, frankly, right now a concentrated effort by the same MAGA smear machine to whitewash it all.
This week Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on Instagram Live and told her constituents and supporters and everyone else about her experience during the insurrection. Like many members of Congress and staffers and journalists and others on the Hill that day, she sought refuge in her office. Hers is in the Cannon House Office Building, which was briefly evacuated that day because of a bomb nearby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D-NY): So I start heading back to my office, and, you know, the walk back is a considerable walk. I head back to my office. We get back in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: She relayed her personal story of someone banging on her door, scaring her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: I close the door. And I just keep hearing bang, bang, bang.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Then she explained it turned out that that person banging was a Capitol police officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: And I come out, and this man is a Capitol police officer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So there is a lot more to her story, but the point I want to make is that the very same bad actors in the GOP, on social media, Fox and elsewhere, those same people took her story and twisted it.
They falsely suggested that she had hid the fact that she was in her office building, not in the Capitol dome itself, even though she had made that clear in the story. Or that the person pounding on the door was a cop, not a rioter, even though all that information came from her in that Instagram Live.
Now, they seem to be doing this in the name of smearing her and diminishing the ugliness of the attack and, frankly, to distract from the blood on their hands.
One month to the day before the attack, we here at State of the Union were warning about what we were afraid might happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It turns out when a major political party coddles and enables and supports public figures who lie rapaciously and incessantly and also tolerate threats against those who challenge those lies, that storm of lies and indecency is strengthened and unleashed and it cannot be controlled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was one month before the attack. Today, one month and one day after the attack, after that storm hit the Capitol, we are again warning, if there is no accountability and no attempt by the Republican Party to stop these insane lies that have taken root in their party -- witnessed the support this week by the House Republicans for bigot and conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Congresswoman from Georgia. If there's no effort at accountability, this is not going to be the end of MAGA terrorism. This will only be the beginning.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. Fareed Zakaria GPS starts right now.