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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Interview With Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Interview With Sen. Susan Collins (R- ME); Interview With National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins; Interview With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 01, 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): The war has changed. As the Delta variant rips through the unvaccinated, troubling new guidance about how easily the virus spreads. Will the U.S. bring back more restrictions?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all probability.
TAPPER: The head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, and Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine join us next.
And big F-ing deal. The Senate is working through the weekend. Hoping to pass President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This is an important deal. I know all the parties want to get this right.
TAPPER: But, after that, the hard part starts. Key negotiators Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will be here.
Plus: in the balance. Millions of Americans bracing for eviction after a pandemic era ban expires. How did Democrats fall short? Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been sounding the alarm and joins me ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is frustrated.
U.S. coronavirus cases rose more than 50 percent just in the last week, 50 percent. It's a rising tide of pain and death for unvaccinated people that is largely preventable. Top health officials in the U.S. are grappling with new information that shows the Delta variant is not only more transmissible, but also more harmful than previous variants, again, for people who are not vaccinated, all of which has the U.S. moving backwards, largely because roughly 40 percent of those eligible for the vaccine 12 and older remain unvaccinated. And now Americans in areas of higher spread, more than 80 percent of
the U.S., are being advised to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, which has left a whole lot of people worried and, frankly, confused and others angry about yet another reversal in federal guidelines, one that raises more questions than it answers.
Perhaps the most important facts for you at home to remember today are these: Less than point 0.001 percent of those fully vaccinated have experienced a fatal breakthrough case. Less than point 0.004 percent of those fully vaccinated had to be hospitalized.
In other words, the vaccines work, the vaccines remain the best way to protect yourselves from this virus, period, full stop.
One encouraging note, after the new warnings about the Delta variant and as the federal government and private businesses began to require vaccination, the rate of those getting their shots has risen almost 30 percent.
TAPPER: Joining me now, director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci's boss, Dr. Francis Collins.
Dr. Collins, thanks so much for joining us.
So, two months ago, you said that unvaccinated Americans in areas with low vaccination rates were, in your view, sitting ducks. And that was even before this new guidance.
What is your fear about how bad this could get if people watching right now do not get vaccinated?
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Well, look at the numbers, Jake.
Cases have gone up about fourfold in the last couple of weeks. We're pushing up towards 100,000 cases a day now, and particularly so in those hot spots where vaccination rates are still quite low, maybe 30 percent. That would be Missouri and Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida. And those are areas of deep concern.
The good news is that people are getting the message. You may have seen the data that, in Louisiana, vaccination rates have gone up threefold in the last two weeks overall. For the country, vaccination rates are up 56 percent in the last two weeks.
So, I think maybe I'm trying to look on the bright side of this. What's the silver lining of this is that people are waking up to this. And this may be a tipping point for those who have been hesitant to say, OK, it's time.
I hope that's what's happening. That's what desperately needs to happen if we're going to get this Delta variant put back in its place, because, right now, it's having a pretty big party in the middle of the country. TAPPER: Yes. No, I hope that's what's happening as well.
I have to say, there's some confusion out there about the Biden administration and about the CDC's new guidance that vaccinated Americans need to again wear masks indoors in most of the country.
Can you clear this up? Do most vaccinated Americans need to wear masks indoor in order to protect themselves and other vaccinated Americans, or is this primarily about protecting unvaccinated Americans, including children under 12 or people who are refusing to get vaccinated?
F. COLLINS: It's mostly about protecting the unvaccinated. That's where the real serious risks of illness are.
If you're vaccinated right now, your likelihood of getting severely sick is 25-fold reduced. You gave some numbers right before this segment, Jake, about that. The vaccines work extremely well.
But the new news -- and much of this comes from that outbreak in Barnstable County, Massachusetts -- is that vaccinated people are capable of getting the virus in their nose and throat. And they do seem to have high enough levels of virus that they might be contagious, and hence the reason, if you're in a community where this virus is spreading, which is about 75 percent of counties right now, it is prudent to put on a mask even if you're vaccinated just in case you might be somebody who's currently spreading it.
And you don't want to do that to kids under 12 or to some of those other folks who remain unvaccinated. It's just good common sense. I know it has confused everybody because it's a change in direction. But if we can step aside from all of the political assumptions, which really don't fit here, and look at the data, that's the data.
TAPPER: Some experts fear that this new mask guidance could actually give the impression that the vaccines don't work.
To be clear, as we have been saying on this show for months, the vaccines work. The vaccines work. But do you worry that these misunderstandings might actually end up discouraging people from getting the vaccine?
F. COLLINS: I do worry that some superficial interpretation of this might lead to that conclusion, which would be absolutely wrong, Jake.
I am encouraged to see that vaccination rates are actually going up now, and not down, but we need to watch that closely. Again, the vaccines are incredibly effective, even against Delta. I'll give you the numbers again. If you're vaccinated now, your chance of getting infected go down by about 3.5-fold. Your chance of even having symptoms from that go down by eightfold.
Your chance of ending up with illness significant enough to be in the hospital goes down 25-fold. That is so fantastically good for any vaccine. We didn't really have a right to dare they would be this good in the real world. And they are even against Delta.
So, if anybody's listening who has been on the fence, it's a tipping point now. Let's really try to get everybody out there and start to be part of the winning team to roll up your sleeves.
TAPPER: So, some of the confusion also has to do with what we who are vaccinated are being told to do.
I just want to understand something. If I'm fully vaccinated, and I'm in a room full of other people, all of whom are fully vaccinated, I assume it's pretty unlikely that any vaccinated individual in that room would, A, have COVID in the first place, and, B, spread it to another fully vaccinated person in that room. That would be two breakthrough infections.
And then, of course, the concern is that that second person passes it on. But what are the odds of that happening? And can vaccinated Americans be around other vaccinated people without masks?
F. COLLINS: Probably depends on what the total number of people in that crowded space are.
But you make a really good point. If you're talking about a small party like I might have at my house for six or eight people who are all fully vaccinated, I do not believe, at this point, we need to put masks on to be next to each other.
But if there were 100 people -- and, of course, how are you really going to be sure about people's vaccination status? And maybe there's some immunocompromised people there who, though they're vaccinated, are not actually fully protected, then the dynamic changes a little bit. There will be some need for common sense there.
TAPPER: Some businesses are going a step further and beginning to require proof of vaccinations not just for employees, but even for customers in some cases.
Audience members for Broadway plays and musicals will need to be vaccinated. Some bars in San Francisco and D.C. are requiring proof of vaccinations.
Do you think, as a public health measure, it would be good for more businesses to require vaccine credentials in order to have vaccinated customers?
F. COLLINS: As a public health person who wants to see this pandemic end, yes.
I think anything we can do to encourage reluctant folks to get vaccinated because they will want to be part of these public events, that's a good thing. I'm delighted to see employers like Disney and Walmart coming out and asking their staff now to be vaccinated. I'm glad to see the president has said all federal employees -- I oversee NIH with 45,000 people -- need to also get vaccinated, or, if they're not, to get regular testing, which is inconvenient. All of those steps I think are in the right direction. But I think
maybe that's what it will take for some of those who have still been a little reluctant to say, OK, it's time. The data will support that decision.
F. COLLINS: They are making the right choice for their own safety, but, sometimes, it takes a nudge.
TAPPER: Should airlines require that all fliers who are eligible to be vaccinated be vaccinated before boarding their planes?
F. COLLINS: I think that's up to the airlines.
I do think a case could be made for that. And that would be another incentive for some of those who are reluctant. And people wouldn't be surprised, I think, to see that start to happen. So, if you're thinking about international travel and you're not yet vaccinated, it might be time to go ahead and get started.
TAPPER: Florida is approaching, as you noted, a record high number of coronavirus cases.
This comes as Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on Friday to prevent Florida schools from requiring masks. Governor DeSantis is even threatening to withhold state dollars from schools that impose a mask mandate anyway.
Now, to be clear, the risk to kids remains very, very low. But I do wonder, as a public health measure, is there a public health reason to ban schools from requiring masks? And are you afraid at all that banning masks requirements might cost lives?
F. COLLINS: Well, I don't understand the ban. Certainly, this seems like something local officials ought to be able to decide based on their community's circumstance.
And we do know that kids are capable of getting pretty sick. We have lost about 400 children who have died from COVID-19 since this all started. And kids can also get long COVID, where they don't maybe that sick with the acute illness, but then end up, months later, with difficulties with brain fog and fatigue that interferes with their school performance.
So, this is not to be just dismissed as a zero risk. And, of course, kids also live in homes. And there may be people in those homes who are perhaps immunosuppressed, and they could bring home the virus and cause a bad outcome.
So it just makes common sense in a community where the virus is spreading -- and that's pretty much all of Florida right now -- to do everything you can to prevent that, which includes mask-wearing for kids in schools, even though it's inconvenient. I think maybe, when you look on the scale of things that we're asked
to do, being asked to wear a mask is perhaps not quite the huge challenge, burden that sometimes is being portrayed. Kids are pretty adaptable.
What we need to do is be sure they get back to school. That's really critical, so that they have a chance for social interactions and learning. That, we must protect. And maybe the best way to do that is to be sure you're not allowing outbreaks in the schools by having everybody run around without the masks.
TAPPER: And, very quickly, if you could, Doctor, how quickly before, how soon before we see a vaccine that has been approved for use by kids under the age of 12?
F. COLLINS: Well, you know that that is being reviewed right now by the FDA, Pfizer having submitted the data about that.
The question is, will they decide to issue that as an emergency use for that age group, or will they fold it in when they put forward the full approval of the vaccine, which is also intensely under study?
And Peter Marks at FDA has just recently indicated that it's an all- hands-on-deck effort to speed that up. I know everybody wants that to happen as soon as possible, but you want it done right.
TAPPER: All right, Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, thank you so much for your time today.
F. COLLINS: Glad to be with you, Jake. Glad that we can talk about these issues. They really matter.
TAPPER: Moving to Capitol Hill now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just announced that those senators working through the weekend on the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill need more time to finish their work.
The bill includes a bipartisan agreement for $550 billion in new infrastructure spending. So far, there's not an actual written bill to upgrade the nation's roads, bridges and broadband for senators to vote on.
Joining us now, one of the negotiators of the infrastructure deal, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
It's so good to see you. Thanks so much. Good to see you in person.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you.
TAPPER: It's been a long, long, long time.
So, you have been working all weekend. What's the holdup been? And when will senators be able to see a bill?
S. COLLINS: Well, it's hard to translate an agreement into actual bill language.
But it's important to note that, on Friday night, we did send out to Senate offices a large amount of the authorizing, the policy legislation. Overnight, we have been finishing up the spending provisions, the appropriations provisions, and marrying them to the bill.
And we really are just about finished. But large parts of text have already been shared with Senate offices.
TAPPER: Do you think it will be introduced this week? Will it pass this week?
S. COLLINS: That certainly is my expectation and my hope. We're going into session today at 12:00. And I think we will be able to lay down the bill later today and begin perhaps consideration of some amendments.
My hope is that we will finish it -- the bill by the end of the week.
TAPPER: And will it have at least 10 Republican senators to vote for it?
S. COLLINS: I believe that it will. This bill is good for America.
Every senator can look at bridges and roads and need for more broadband, waterways in their states, seaports airports, and see the benefits, the very concrete benefits, no pun intended, of this legislation.
It's going to make us more competitive, more productive. It's going to create good jobs.
TAPPER: I'm not sure why, but former President Trump has vowed to help defeat in primaries any Republican senator who supports your deal. You were just reelected, so I know this isn't necessarily a concern for you right now.
But are those threats working on scaring some of your fellow Republicans away from supporting this bill?
S. COLLINS: I think each senator will make his or her own decision and look at the benefits to his or her own state.
I have worked with the members of our group, so that we have a state- by-state analysis. And, in the end, I think we will have more than 10 Republicans who support the bill.
It's worth pointing out that President Trump proposed an infrastructure package of, I think, $1.5 trillion. So, he too at one point recognized the need for investment in infrastructure.
TAPPER: Yes. No, I said I don't know why he's against it, other than he's not part of it. Let's change the subject, if we can, to a dark day in the U.S.,
You supported the failed effort to create an independent January 6 commission when it came to the Senate, although Senate Republicans ultimately defeated it in general.
The House has a new select committee. There are two Republican members, Kinzinger and Cheney, and they held their first hearing this past week. And, frankly, four law enforcement officers testified, and it was gut-wrenching testimony at times.
These are four who helped defend the Capitol, who helped defend you that day. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened.
The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you think about the -- and I'm not including you, but what do you think about the indifference shown to the law enforcement by Republican lawmakers that we have seen, with even some people smearing them?
And do you have faith in this bipartisan committee?
S. COLLINS: Well, first, let me point out that I met with Mike Fanone and I met with other police officers to hear about their physical injuries, their emotional trauma from that very dark day in our history.
And they are still, the Capitol Police are still working 10 to 14 hours a day. They need more help. They risked their lives to defend everybody who was in the Capitol that day, including me.
I fought very hard to have an independent, bipartisan, nonpartisan, outside commission to look at all of the events of that day. And I'm very disappointed that it was not approved. I think it would have had far more credibility than Speaker Pelosi's partisan committee that she has set up.
But we should have had a 9/11-style convention to fully look at what happened.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, Mitch McConnell opposed it, and that's why it didn't happen.
I should -- you called it a partisan committee. I should note that there are two Republicans on the committee, Cheney and Kinzinger. Do you have faith in them?
S. COLLINS: I respect both of them, but I do not think it was right for the speaker to decide which Republicans should be on the committee.
Normally, if you have a select committee, the minority leader and the speaker get to pick the members.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, just a -- the reason she did that is because at least two of the members McCarthy picked to be on the committee are election liars, one of whom, Jim Jordan, is possibly even a material witness. He spoke with Trump that day.
S. COLLINS: Well, there were many communications with President Trump that day.
And, look, as you know, I believe that he -- that, while the rioters are primarily responsible for what happened, there's no doubt in my mind that President Trump helped instigate and motivate the rioters. And that's one reason I voted to impeach him.
The hallmark of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. And for anyone, the rioters, the president, anyone, to try to interfere with the Electoral College count is completely unacceptable.
TAPPER: Looking forward, the state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. The court is slated to hear arguments in the fall.
You said to me that you didn't think Neil Gorsuch would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. You told my colleague Dana Bash you didn't think that Brett Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Now there's a third Trump appointee on the court, Amy Coney Barrett. So there's a 6- 3 conservative majority.
Are you still confident that the Supreme Court will protect Roe v. Wade?
S. COLLINS: Well, I realize it's always hazardous to predict what's going to happen.
But if you look at the Roberts court and how it has ruled, there were a lot of naysayers on the left that said they would never hold up the Affordable Care Act. They did. They said they would never hold up same-sex marriages. Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court justice, wrote the decision banning discrimination in the workplace.
So I think that a lot of people on the left and pundits have been wrong about how the court has respected precedent. We will have to see. I will say that I don't think the amicus briefs are going to influence this court. I think they will look at precedent and reach their decision.
I would also note that I have voted for six of the nine justices on the court, including some of the most liberal ones, as well as the more conservative ones.
TAPPER: I know you care a great deal about this thing called the Havana Syndrome, which is this mysterious illness first experienced by officials at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
More than 130 cases have been reported worldwide. Victims report hearing intense noise, followed by side effects such as nausea, vertigo, headaches. New cases reported in Vienna just this month.
Who do you think is behind this?
S. COLLINS: That's the question that we must get an answer to.
And, just recently, the director of the CIA has appointed a very well- qualified individual to lead the search for this mysterious direct- energy weapon that is causing in some cases permanent traumatic brain injuries.
I authored a bill with Senators Warner and Rubio that passed the Senate that will provide compensation for these individuals who, believe it or not, initially were having a hard time getting the care that they needed. That is disgraceful. Our bill has passed the Senate unanimously.
I'd hoped that the House was going to pass it before going home this week, and that is a great disappointment to me.
TAPPER: All right, Susan Collins, senator from Maine, Republican, thank you so much for being here. We really, really appreciate it. It's always good to see you.
S. COLLINS: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: And best of luck with the infrastructure negotiations.
S. COLLINS: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up, I'm going to talk to two of the most influential voices in the Democratic Party. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is next, and then Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Don't go anywhere. We're literally going to be back in 60 seconds.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
The Senate is hoping to wrap up a bipartisan infrastructure deal this week.
For Democrats, of course, that's just the first step. Next, they're going to turn to a $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget package that they're planning to pass at the same time full of progressive priorities such as child and elder care, climate crisis measures, an expansion to Medicaid.
Joining us now is one of the most powerful Democratic senators and a key negotiator on this infrastructure package, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Senator Manchin, it's good to see you. Thanks so much.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Good to...
MANCHIN: ... Jake, in person. It's...
TAPPER: Yes, I haven't seen you in person in a long, long time.
MANCHIN: It's too long.
TAPPER: Good to see you.
So, Schumer says he wants to finish up this bipartisan infrastructure deal in a matter of days.
TAPPER: We haven't seen it yet. When do you think we will?
MANCHIN: Yes. I think you will see text today.
And by this evening, hopefully, we can start the process, hopefully start our amendment process by tomorrow.
MANCHIN: We should finish up by Thursday, I hope.
TAPPER: And you think it will pass?
MANCHIN: I do. Oh, absolutely, I do.
Let me tell you, Jake, when you see Chuck Schumer and you see Mitch McConnell both voting for the same thing, it's unbelievable. But the bottom line is...
TAPPER: Yes, that never happens.
MANCHIN: No. And I will tell you this. Senator Schumer has really been great on this, allowing us to work this process, bringing everybody, trying to get a bipartisan deal, no matter what you might have heard. He's been working hard, keeping us engaged. Everyone's engaged. We keep telling him we're getting closer and closer. We have got the text done now.
Basically, it's just drafting right now.
TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi says she's not going to hold a vote on the bill, assuming it passes the Senate, until the much larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill passes the Senate.
Some moderate House Democrats say that the House should vote on the infrastructure bill as soon as they can. What strategy do you support?
MANCHIN: Well, I would never get Speaker Pelosi any advice on how she's going to run -- she does -- she does a great job.
And I just believe that every bill should go up on its own merits. I really do.
TAPPER: Senator Warren...
MANCHIN: And I have always said that.
TAPPER: Senator Warren described these two bills as really one big package. Is that how you view it?
MANCHIN: Well, I didn't. I never did view it that way.
I respect Senator Warren and everybody else who has a different perspective of this. The bottom line is that, for the last three decades, we have been trying to, previous administrations have been trying to do a large infrastructure bill.
When you talk about roads and bridges and rails and train and everything that goes with it, and Internet services, it's something that every state, every area of every state needs. So, this is something you should be getting 80 or 90 votes on.
And, right now, we're going to do great on that. But I have always felt that infrastructure, traditional infrastructure is traditional infrastructure. And a pothole doesn't have a Republican or Democrat's name on it. It'll bust your tire and tear up your car. We need to fix things.
Let's talk about the sweeping reconciliation bill. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who is one of the other moderates...
TAPPER: ... among Democrats in the Senate, she made headlines this week saying that a $3.5 trillion bill is too big for her to support.
Now, I know you have said you're keeping an open mind.
TAPPER: But you have previously said you're concerned about the debt and inflation. You have suggested you could back $2 trillion.
Would you prefer this bill be smaller?
MANCHIN: Well, let me just say this, out of respect for all of my colleagues who've worked so hard, and I respect them too. Hopefully, they respect us for what we have been doing, the more moderate group or conservative group of the Democratic Party.
But, with that, you have to have a blend. So, where they are right now, everyone should be concerned about debt. We're at 28 -- almost $28.6 trillion of debt. And our debt goes up $4 billion a day. If you're sleeping, if it's the weekend, whatever, it goes up $4 billion a day.
Someone should be concerned about getting your financial house in order. So I'm worried about that. I'm worried about inflation. But, with that, we're going to pay for it. So, let's see what the pay-fors -- if they're real. Let's see if the tax adjustments we're going to make -- I didn't vote for the 2017. I thought it was weighted to the wrong side.
So, if we make some adjustments, do we -- are we going to go overboard and make ourselves noncompetitive? I wouldn't be for that.
TAPPER: Politico reports that, when you brought up the federal deficit at a Democratic Caucus luncheon on Tuesday, you were booed.
MANCHIN: I'm not sure. I...
TAPPER: You were booed.
MANCHIN: I heard a lot of no's. I don't know if it -- maybe it was boo no or no boo or something.
And what it was, was this, I just said, basically that -- just what I told you. Both of these bills should go up on its own merits.
MANCHIN: Some of my colleagues, my friends who thought differently, it should be all one or should -- one should go with the other, felt, no, that -- so, I understand that.
And we had some good back-and-forths. They know who I am. They know where I come from. And they know what I'm about. And I have been up front with them.
TAPPER: After you come on the show, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, one of the leaders of the progressive movement in the Democratic Party...
TAPPER: ... is going to talk.
You are, I would say, one of the leaders, if not the leader, of the more moderate Democratic Party on Capitol Hill.
Can you guarantee to AOC that a reconciliation package will pass the Senate? Because her concern is that this infrastructure bill might be bipartisan, but it's scaled back so much, it's not as bold as it should be and what the country needs.
Can you guarantee her that the reconciliation package will pass?
MANCHIN: I can't really guarantee anybody. And I have not guaranteed anybody on any of these pieces of legislation.
Would we like to do more? Yes, you can do what you can pay for. This is paid for. Our infrastructure bill is all paid for. We don't have a debt, that we're going to incur more debt in throwing onto it.
And on the other, as far as reconciliation goes, it should be looked at the same. That's why I said we're going to get the budget resolution. Let's start the process and then see where it goes.
On that, we should just work in good faith and be honest with each other, so no one's misled any way, shape or form, and there should be no quid pro quo. You do this, I will do this.
When it comes to big legislation, does it help the American people? How do you tell over 80 percent of people, Democrats and Republicans, that we can't do an infrastructure bill, a traditional infrastructure? There's a lot of need out there for the human infrastructure, I understand.
But some of these programs that they are going to be putting in place could be in perpetuity, and even though it only has a 10-year run on it. So it's being scored at 10 years at 3.5. It might have perpetuity, would be $5 trillion or more. So we have to look at everything and be honest with ourselves.
TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar said this week that you are very close to an agreement on voting rights legislation.
TAPPER: One of the main questions has been what kind of national voter I.D. rules it will include or allow on the state level.
What can you tell us about that? And could we see that agreement this week?
MANCHIN: Well, it's the same. We all have a desire.
First of all, the whole stronghold of our democracy, the bedrock of our democracy, is an open, fair and secured election. People have to know that, basically, at the end of the day, when the count is made, it's accurate, and either you have won or I have won. However it's done, it's supposed to be an orderly transfer.
Under President Trump, we have not seen an orderly transfer, we have not seen an acceptance of basically the will of the people. And that has made it very difficult.
So, when you have 41 million people still believing that maybe Joe Biden's not the duly elected, which he absolutely is, and it was done in a very fair and very, very secure system, that we have got to make sure, whatever we do, we don't divide our country further.
So, people say, well, what's Joe going to do or what's Joe going -- what's he for or against? I will not do anything, Jake, that will separate our country further. And to do a major overhaul on voter and on voting the rights bill, take the Voting Rights Act that we had in '65, use the John Lewis -- and John Lewis, the most decent human being -- and make sure we stay within the guidelines of what we're supposed to, protect the elections, not going into this expansive overhaul, if you will, to the point to where it can be overturned in court.
And we have been seeing the courts overturn some of this.
TAPPER: I know you want it to be bipartisan.
MANCHIN: It should be.
TAPPER: But I don't know how possible that is. The only Republican I have heard talk about this in a positive way is Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
MANCHIN: You know what I can't understand, Jake? And I'm sorry to interrupt you on that.
But I cannot understand, how did it pass 98-0 in 2006, and now it's not possible for that to happen?
TAPPER: I don't know, but is there any circumstance under which you could imagine allowing a carve-out for the -- I know you oppose getting rid of the filibuster.
But there are -- there are some people in the more moderate camp, like Angus King of Maine, who is an independent...
TAPPER: ... who said that he's possibly willing to step back from the filibuster, his opposition to getting rid of the filibuster, just for voting rights because he's so concerned and it becomes -- it's become so partisan.
Can you imagine ever doing that?
MANCHIN: Jake, I can't imagine a carve-out, because I was here in 2013 when it was called a carve-out. We're just going to do the Cabinet for the president. And then it went into, we're going to do the judges who are lifetime appointments for circuit and district. They were even going to do Supreme Court, but they didn't at that time. The Democrats were in control.
2017, Mitch McConnell's in control, comes right back in, and guess what? That carve-out worked to really carve us up pretty bad.
MANCHIN: Then you got the Supreme Court, OK?
So there's no stopping it. And if we don't put this place back in order, you get rid of the filibuster, which makes us work together -- and I have said this. The whole -- the brilliancy of our founding fathers was this.
Why in the world did they give two senators to Rhode Island and Delaware at the time they were forming this great nation of ours, when they told New York and Pennsylvania and Ohio, hey, you only get two too?
It was basically to make us work together, so that the big states wouldn't overrun the little states. It's minority participation.
TAPPER: Quick question for you before you leave, sir.
TAPPER: The House tried and failed to extend the CDC's eviction moratorium this week.
They failed, so millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes in the coming weeks. There is this desire to extend the moratorium.
TAPPER: And Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is going to talk about this, to extend the moratorium to get this money, tens of billions of dollars that are sitting there, for renters to be able to pay their rent, to go to landlords who need to pay the mortgages, et cetera.
Are you in favor of extending the moratorium?
MANCHIN: Jake, first of all, the money's already there, as you said.
MANCHIN: Why didn't it go out the door? I can't tell you that.
TAPPER: I don't know.
MANCHIN: But to put blame on anybody right now, let's fix that and make sure that we're able to use the money for the purpose it was appropriated for. But, also, the economy's coming back strong. Everybody can get a vaccination. I hope they have. But still yet they're trying to get your feet back under them again from a real tough year. We understand all that.
So, we should be compassionate. We should help. And if that money is there, we should use it for its extended purpose.
TAPPER: So, you should -- you would support extending the moratorium to get the money out the door?
MANCHIN: Absolutely. Absolutely, for the money -- it's not new money. It's not more debt.
MANCHIN: It's already money we've appropriated.
TAPPER: Senator Joe Manchin from the great state of West Virginia, thank you so much.
MANCHIN: Thanks, Jake. Always good to be with you.
TAPPER: Great to see you.
The crisis that sent my next guest running to the House floor this weekend, staging a sit-in outside the Capitol last night.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is here next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
A rally at the Capitol overnight, progressive lawmakers demanding that the House come back in session, some even spending the whole night on the steps, in solidarity with those who may soon find themselves without a roof over their heads, after the federal ban on rental evictions expired at midnight without a vote to extend it.
Congress has passed already billions of dollars to help renters during the pandemic, but only a sliver of that money has actually been distributed, leaving both tenants and also some landlords in desperate straits.
Joining us live now to discuss, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who was at the rally last night.
Good to see you in person.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Of course.
So, you have been warning that this eviction deadline was coming for weeks.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Mm-hmm. Yes.
TAPPER: Democrats control the House. You guys control the Senate. You guys control the White House. Nothing aggressive was done by leadership until just a couple days ago.
Who's to blame here?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think there's a couple of issues here.
First of all, you are absolutely correct, in that the House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. And there were many and there was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes, rather than hold this vote.
And we have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority.
Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking on Congress to extend the moratorium.
This came after weeks. I sit on the Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction in over housing. We had the housing secretary there, asking about the administration stance. We asked the Biden administration about their stance. And they were not being really forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned.
And so the House was put into a -- I believe a needlessly difficult situation. And it's not just me saying that. Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters has made that very clear as well.
And so there's a couple of contributing factors here. We have governors who are also not getting this emergency rental assistance out in time, which is forcing this extension, what we would like, an extension of the moratorium.
The fact of the matter is, is that the problem is here. The House should reconvene and call this vote and extend the moratorium. There's about 11 million people that are behind on their rent, at risk of eviction. That's one out of every six renters in the United States.
TAPPER: Congress is out of town for the next seven weeks. Speaker Pelosi made it clear in a letter to Democrats last night she's not calling the House back. The Senate's here, because they have got the infrastructure bill. What's your -- and you heard Manchin say that he thinks that the moratorium should be extended, so that these tens of billions of dollars can get out the door? What's your response?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, listen, the House adjourned technically for seven weeks, but I want to be very clear that, due to the ongoing negotiations with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we were given very specific instructions that we are set to adjourn for seven weeks, but every member of the House of Representatives is currently on a 24- hour callback notice, in anticipation of that bipartisan infrastructure bill.
So, we all have left town with plans to come back within 24 hours if necessary. And I believe that the expiration of the eviction moratorium and having 11 million Americans, one out of every six renters, at risk of being kicked out of their homes, is worth coming back and triggering that 24-hour notice.
We cannot leave town without doing our job.
TAPPER: Can you explain to the American people why it is these tens of billions of dollars that Congress has already passed to help renters -- and, also, we shouldn't depict -- and you're not -- but landlords, some of them are small business people. They need the money too, so they can survive.
TAPPER: These are not all just Jared Kushner slumlord types, right?
And so this money is there. What's the holdup? Why can't it get out the door?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, this money was handed over by Congress and the federal government to states and local municipalities to dole out.
And what that means, then, is that each individual governor is responsible for establishing these programs. I think that, in some states, governors and state administrations might be slow-walking this process to get it out, in other states, the administrative burden of setting it up.
But there are states and municipalities that have been getting it right. And we're at a point where, frankly, those state governments need to get it together. But we cannot kick people out of their homes when our end of the bargain has not been fulfilled.
Out of the $46 billion that has been allocated, only $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small mom-and-pop landlords.
TAPPER: No, it's crazy.
You just heard Joe Manchin a few moments ago talk about the reconciliation bill. That's the bigger budget package, $3.5 trillion. He said he can't give any guarantee that it would pass the Senate. What was your response to that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, listen, this deal -- these deals on infrastructure that have gone out are not just bipartisan, but they are also bicameral.
And it was very -- it was made very clear...
TAPPER: That means House and Senate.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, that means House and Senate.
And so it was made very clear at the beginning of this process that this bipartisan deal, if it even survives the Senate, the only chance that it has at passing the House is if the House passes the Senate bill and if the Senate passes the House bill, which is largely in reconciliation.
And so we can't just have one body driving the entire legislative agenda for the country, and, frankly, 20 senators within that one body. And so we need a reconciliation bill if this bipartisan bill is going to get -- if we want this bipartisan bill to pass.
TAPPER: Now, I know the infrastructure deal that they're talking about -- and Manchin said they're going to introduce it today, they're going to bring out the language -- is obviously a lot smaller than you wanted, a lot smaller than a lot of your fellow progressives wanted.
It still does include things that you like, including funding for electric vehicle charging stations, public transit, clean water systems, broadband, more.
When it comes before the House, as it looks like will happen, will you vote for it?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It has to -- we have to hold onto the -- we have to hold onto that bargain.
If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House, and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.
And I want to be clear that the investments in the bipartisan bill are not all candy land. There are some of these -- quote, unquote -- "pay- fors" that are very alarming that we need to see the language on. For example, some of the language around privatizing public infrastructure, putting toll roads, leasing public infrastructure to private entities, are very concerning and should be concerning to every American.
So, we really need to see that language and see what's put in there until it reaches -- when it reaches the House. Bipartisan doesn't always mean that it's in the interests of the public good, frankly. Sometimes, there's a lot of corporate lobbyist giveaways in some of these bills.
So, when it comes to the infrastructure package, you disagree with your fellow Democrat Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who told Politico -- quote -- "Strike while the iron is hot. If you get a deal, and if it's significant money, don't let it sit. It does not age well."
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, we have a deal. And the deal is reconciliation for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
TAPPER: OK. Yes, you have made your point.
You have called out Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema for saying she does not support the budget reconciliation package, $3.5 trillion, for all sorts of priorities.
You wrote -- quote -- "Good luck tanking your own party's investment on child care, climate action and infrastructure, while presuming you will survive a three-vote House margin."
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I mean, that's the thing.
This is a deal. And we have a tight margin in the Senate. I respect that we have to get Senator Sinema and Manchin's vote on reconciliation. They should also respect that there's a very tight House margin, and that we have to be able to uphold our end of the bargain as well. And House progressives are also part of that majority.
TAPPER: How many House progressives do you think are with you on this?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I believe, a very large amount of the Progressive Caucus. The total amount is about 90.
I am not the whip of the Progressive Caucus. But what I can tell you is that it's certainly more than three. And it is in the double digits, absolutely.
TAPPER: Enough to prevent it from passing.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: More than enough.
TAPPER: President Biden and other administration officials have signaled that they believe that Democrats can out-organize Republicans, even though Republicans are passing all these measures that, generally speaking, make it more difficult to vote.
And, generally speaking, a lot of the impetus for this is the big lie that the election was stolen. You're an organizer, former organizer. Is that a realistic strategy,
what President Biden is saying, that Democrats can out-organize Republicans on this?
I appreciate the White House's optimism, but I believe that it verges on naivete, because what we have here, first of all, is, we -- it already took unprecedented historic organizing to overcome the voter suppression efforts in 2020. And we barely squeaked through on the majorities and the White House election that we have.
But, beyond that, even if we are successful in -- quote, unquote -- "out-organizing voter suppression," which is a ridiculous premise on its face, Republicans are already laying the groundwork in installing state level attorney generals and beyond to overturn the results of any state election that they, frankly, do not like in states where they have taken power.
And so, even if you are successful in out-organizing, they won't even -- they're laying the groundwork to not even certify the results of the election. They're holding essentially dress rehearsals in states like Arizona in order to do that.
And I think we should be extremely alarmed. And it will -- we are setting it up to happen unless we pass very strong voter provisions against gerrymandering, voter protection rights, not just an H.R.4, but we need the retroactive provisions in H.R.1.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, thank you so much for being here.
Good to see you.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you. Absolutely.
TAPPER: Worrying news about the Delta variant, as local leaders urge the unvaccinated to get their shots.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on trying to convince members of his own party to get vaccinated.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
I want to end today's show where we began, the deadly coronavirus that has had such a devastating health and economic impact on tens of millions of our fellow Americans, killing more than 610,000.
The White House is trying to confront a wave of disinformation on Facebook and social media and in MAGA media and elsewhere that has millions of Americans determined to not get their COVID shots, which leaves governors watching their state case counts rise with a big challenge.
Joining me now, Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine.
Governor DeWine, good to see you again.
The Delta variant...
GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Good to be back, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: The Delta variant is on track to be the dominant strain of COVID in Ohio. Cases are climbing again. Less than half your state is fully vaccinated.
In fact, Ohio's less vaccinated right now, percentage-wise, than Florida, which is currently experiencing an explosive surge in cases and hospitalizations.
Do you anticipate going to -- do you anticipate you're going to bring back any of the public health mandates, capacity restrictions, social distancing requirements for businesses?
DEWINE: Jake, here's where we are in Ohio.
Sixty percent of adults have been vaccinated. If you look at those 12 and above, which we think is probably a better measurement, we're at almost 58 percent. So, we certainly, as you say, have room to grow. We're seeing the vax -- the virus go up.
We think the Delta variant is certainly the dominant one in Ohio yet. But the whole game today is vaccinations. And we have room to grow. We think we can continue to get more people vaccinated.
Let me just give you a couple -- a couple of examples. If you look at where we have seen an increase in vaccination, we have had a significant increase in vaccination in the last week or so. I think it's the fear of the Delta variant is certainly one of the causes.
But where we have seen the biggest increase is in our most unvaccinated rural counties. So, people are making those decisions out there based upon what they're seeing in their county and what they're hearing on the news.
We have also started a program to really focus on Medicaid members. When we started in January, we really focused on Medicaid members who were in nursing homes and had very, very good success. But what we saw was that the rest of the Medicaid population was really undervaccinated compared to the general population.
So, we have started a few weeks ago an incentive. It's $100 to help people who are on Medicaid, if they're going to -- some of them are fearful, frankly, of being off work.
DEWINE: Some of them are fearful of some side effects.
But what we're also working with are pharmacies. I had a call this week with Walgreens, CVS, all the pharmacies in the state, and asked them to also initiate a program of help and counseling when people -- when people come in. So we have seen an up -- a pretty significant increase now in people on Medicaid, people -- members of Medicaid who are, in fact, unvaccinated.
We also are looking, Jake, at something that Columbus Health Department has done. And I talked with Mayor Ginther about this yesterday. And we think it's probably a model that we can take statewide. And that is, what they have done, we now can give them census track data. Our state Health Department can give every health department the state census track data.
So, they can look exactly where they are unvaccinated, what neighborhoods. So, they have started an incentive program there, a $100 incentive, but not just the $100. Everything that they're doing is, they're putting it in very familiar places. They might put it in a grocery store. They might put it in a church. And they do it on a regular, reoccurring basis.
That combination of things seems to have worked very well.
DEWINE: And we're looking at doing that, to expand it.
So, the game -- I guess my summary is, the game still is with getting people vaccinated. We have room to grow. And we think we have some ways to help people get to that point.
TAPPER: So, no plans right now to bring back mandates like capacity restrictions or distancing requirements of businesses? A complete full-scale, full-court press on vaccinations.
DEWINE: No, I will tell you -- yes, I will tell you what we have done.
We came out last week with recommendations. They are recommendations. We leave it up to the local schools, 600 and some local schools. We leave it up to them. But we have a strong recommendation that, because the population in school -- kids in school, most of them are unvaccinated. Obviously, we can't get any by 11 and under vaccinated yet.
So most of these kids are unvaccinated. And we had great success last winter, last school year. We saw virtually no spread in the classroom, when all the kids were wearing masks. So we recommend, strong recommendation to our schools, that they do that. Now, will do that. Some will not.
But it's clear the evidence shows that that's a way to really slow down spread in the school. And we think it's very important. TAPPER: Let me ask you.
You held the first vaccine lottery in the country a few months ago, giving away millions of dollars in college scholarships to drive up the rate of vaccinations.
Your fellow Republican governor, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, his office tells CNN he considers such lotteries a waste of taxpayer dollars, and he will not institute one in Florida, which also has a relatively low vaccination rate and is experiencing an explosion in new cases.
Clearly, you don't agree with that. How many lives do you think you saved with the lottery program?
DEWINE: Yes, first of all, look, every governor has got to make their own decision. They know their local community. So, I'm not going to quarrel with what Governor DeSantis is doing or not doing.
Here's what happened in Ohio. We were going straight down every week in the number of people vaccinated. When we announced that, we saw it go straight up. And we had, Jake, two really, really solid, good weeks.
A lot of people who were going to get vaccinated sometime later -- we had one mom, for example, that told Fran and told me: "I was going to get my son vaccinated right before school. Because you came out with this, and the scholarship was available, I got him vaccinated right away."
And turned out he actually won.
So, we think well over 100,000 extra people were vaccinated, at a minimum, because of that who either would not have been vaccinated or who would have delayed vaccination. So, it was very, very successful.
It was something that worked. And we're glad we did it.
TAPPER: All right, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.
DEWINE: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: And best of luck in Ohio.
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.