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State of the Union
Interview With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV); Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Interview With U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 12, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Fed up. With U.S. deaths up to 1, 600 a day, President Biden pushes strict vaccination measures, prompting out outcry from Republican governors.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These governors won't help us beat the pandemic. I will use my power as president to get them out of the way.
BASH: Will his plan work? I will speak to the U.S. surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, next.
And strategic pause? The Biden agenda hits a roadblock, when a key Democrat objects to progressives' big bill.
BIDEN: I think we can work something out.
BASH: But what? Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and the man writing the bill, Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders, join me to discuss next.
Plus: Never forget. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a reflection on the lessons learned. Is the U.S. safer now? The national security adviser on 9/11, Condoleezza Rice, ahead.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is remembering America's horror and heroics.
Yesterday, America marked 20 years since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. And, in some ways, reliving the way Americans came together two decades ago put a spotlight on how much things have changed.
President Biden spent the day honoring those killed on 9/11 with trips to Ground Zero, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon, even as many Americans have grown numb to the thousands now dying each week, largely preventable deaths, from COVID-19.
This weekend, Republican governors are lining up against President Biden's most aggressive push yet to get the pandemic under control, vowing to fight a new vaccine mandate covering as many as 100 million Americans. One model used by the CDC projects almost 100,000 more could die by December.
Joining me now is the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Thank you so much, Doctor, for joining me.
I want our viewers to listen to what then president-elect Joe Biden said in December and what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said just this July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you think the COVID vaccine should be mandatory?
BIDEN: No, I don't think it should be mandatory. I wouldn't demand it be mandatory.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's not the role of the federal government. That is the role that institutions, private sector entities and others may take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, Doctor, what changed?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Dana, it's good to be with you.
And let's talk about the announcement and what -- what prompted it. The announcement the president made includes a number of measures that will help us address the Delta variant. The requirements that we just heard about are one part of that, but they're only one part of that.
It includes also measures to increase our testing capacity, to shore up our hospitals and health care systems which are struggling with Delta. But what the president and what all of us have said as public health leaders from the earliest part of this pandemic is that we have to use every level of government, and we all in the private sector have to do everything we can to tackle this virus.
The requirements the president announced are an example of that. Earlier in this summer, the president had announced requirements for federal workers to attest to vaccination. And this is another step in that direction.
Not only will federal workers now be required to vaccinate, with an exemption for medical or religious purposes, but also health care systems that do business with Medicare and Medicaid; 17 million health care workers will be required; 80 million business workers who have 100 employees or more will also now be required under the OSHA rule, which is in process, to either get vaccinated or to get tested regularly.
So the key thing to understand, Dana, is, number one, the data tells us that these requirements work to increase vaccinations. Number two, a lot of businesses are actually relieved that these are going into place. And we have heard a lot of feedback from the Business Roundtable and others that this will help create safer workplaces.
But, finally, Dana, keep this in mind. This is what we have got to do to get to the next phase of this pandemic response, so that we can get through this and get back to normal once and for all.
BASH: So, if these work, and this is what we have got to do, as you said, why not listen to what public health experts have been saying for a long time, which is that these mandates should have been in place a while ago? In fact, almost 60,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 just this summer.
So, if you were going to do it, should you have done it sooner?
MURTHY: Well, Dana, I think that the aggressive actions of earlier this week that the president announced are not the only set of aggressive actions that we have taken in the administration.
We have been working extraordinarily hard to vaccinate people. And not only that, but we have made progress; 200 million people, Dana, have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine. And that's one of the reasons why we have actually saved many lives and many hospitalizations.
Now, with Delta, which was a new twist -- a twist, if you will, a new curveball, it has required us to take another set of actions. And that's what you heard the president announced. And there will be more actions that we continue to work on in the days ahead, and especially on the global front, where we will be taking steps, and the president will be making announcements ahead of the U.N. General Assembly about additional measures that we're taking to help vaccinate the world.
So there's a lot that's been done, a lot that we're doing now, a lot more we will continue to do, Dana. And this is what we have to do ultimately to tackle the Delta variant.
BASH: So, I know you have heard a lot of Republican governors are saying that this is government overreach. Some of the Republican governors who are saying this, they largely work with your administration the pandemic, Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, Mike DeWine in Ohio.
Does that give you pause, or are they just wrong on this?
MURTHY: Well, certainly, I respect that people will have a variety of opinions on some of these measures. And we respect that.
The governors have been extraordinary partners, governors. Republican, Democratic governors. We have had the privilege of working with them closely over the last many months. And so, yes, from time to time, there will be disagreements on policies. But that doesn't mean that we don't stop dialoguing and working with one another.
But, again, the reason that we're pursuing some of these requirements is, again, we know a lot of businesses have welcomed it. We know that many -- that it will help keep workplaces safe.
And, Dana, if we ultimately want to not only get people back to work, but keep them at work, if we want workers to know, hey, I'm coming back to the workplace and it's going to be safe, these vaccinations will help people do that. And I believe that will not only improve public health, but will give people some more peace of mind.
BASH: The president's new plan, as you know, has some exemptions. And some of the exemptions allow for people not to get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.
Any concern that people will abuse those exemptions in order to avoid getting the vaccine?
MURTHY: Well, Dana, that's -- well, while that's always a possibility, it's something that we, fortunately, have experience with as a country.
We have had vaccine requirements for a number of other illnesses. We do that in schools, for example. When you and I went to grade school, we likely had to make sure and confirm that we had certain vaccines in place before we actually came to school.
So, fortunately, as a country, we have experience in dealing with exemptions, but we have got to be vigilant there and make sure that people are using them in the spirit that they're intended, and not abusing them or asking for exemptions when they don't apply. That will be an area that we continue to monitor in the days and weeks ahead.
BASH: The government is already mandating masks to travel on a plane or a train. But I don't know if you have had this experience, but I have been on planes recently. You're sitting there. People lift up their masks to eat and to drink. That's understandable.
So, given that reality, as a public health official, would it be a good idea to mandate the vaccine for travel on that plane or on a train?
MURTHY: Well, Dana, I'm glad you bring up travel, because there are measures in what the president announced that will apply to travel, including a doubling of the fines for those who do not observe some of those precautions, especially around masks, on airplanes and other forms of transport.
I think, Dana, the important thing for us to remember is that, in order to keep travel safe, it requires all of us to do our part, and vaccines certainly help in that regard. But I have actually been impressed as I have traveled by how many people are, I believe, trying to stick to these regulations.
But folks should know that, if you're worried about your risk when you travel, one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of a serious outcome with -- when it comes to COVID-19, including hospitalization or, God forbid, death, is to get vaccinated.
If you're around other people, even if they have the virus, if you are vaccinated...
BASH: But why not mandate? Why not do a mandate there, just like you have done in the expanded new protocols that the president announced last night -- last week?
MURTHY: Well, look, certainly, that's a reasonable question to ask, but one the things we have to consider with every decision we make is the equity concerns as well.
And we know that, when it comes to mandating vaccines for travel, there are important issues around equity that would have to be worked out to ensure that people, for example, if they had to travel in the case of emergency to see a relative who got sick, would be able to do that, even if they weren't vaccinated. We need to find a safe way for that to happen.
So, there are important considerations there that we need to weigh. But I do think overall, though, Dana, the measures that you see taken in what the president announced when it comes to the vaccine requirements, that will help reach 100 million workers in the federal government and in the private sector.
These are some of the most aggressive actions that we have seen taken to date, and they will help.
BASH: Real quick -- we're almost out of time -- a question near and dear to both of our hearts. We have young kids.
Any update on the timeline for getting children who are under 12 vaccinated?
MURTHY: Well, Dana, what the FDA said recently was really an affirmation of what you and I have recently talked about, which is that getting a vaccine for kids for COVID-19 remains the FDA's top priority.
They are ready as soon as the companies finish their trials and get the data to them to process that quickly, to review it and make sure our kids have a vaccine that is both safe and effective.
BASH: Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
MURTHY: Thanks so much, Dana. Take care.
BASH: And President Biden may be running out of time to get his big ticket items through Congress. His fellow Democrat is throwing hurdles in the way.
Senator Joe Manchin joins me next.
Then, his colleague who is writing a budget bill that needs Manchin's support to pass, Senator Bernie Sanders, will respond.
Stay with us.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Democrats in Congress are making a big push this month to send two major priorities to President Biden's desk, the bipartisan infrastructure deal and a massive $3.5 trillion budget filled with progressive priorities.
All that hit a roadblock after my next guest called for a -- quote -- "strategic pause" on that bill, saying the price was too high. And with the 50/50 Senate, Democrats can't even lose one vote.
And West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin joins me now.
Senator, thank you so much for coming in.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Great to be with you.
BASH: I appreciate it.
So, let's talk about the op-ed that you wrote. You said you cannot support the $3.5 trillion bill until you get -- quote -- "greater clarity" on why that amount is necessary. Most of your colleagues have been trying to give you that clarity over the past couple of weeks since you wrote that.
Your party leader, Chuck Schumer, says he's moving -- quote -- "full speed ahead" with this package.
Will he have your vote?
MANCHIN: And that's fine. He can.
He will not have my vote on 3.5. And Chuck knows that. And we have talked about this. We have already put out $5.4 trillion. And we have tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can. And a lot of the help that we put out there is still there, and it's going to run clear until next year, 2022.
What's the urgency? What's the urgency that we have? It's not the same urgency that we have with the American Rescue Plan. We got that out the door quick. Yes, it was about $2 billion -- $2 trillion, and on top of that, all the things we have got with the CARES package, everything leading up to that.
So, we have done an awful lot. And there's still an awful lot of people that need help. But you have 11 million jobs that aren't filled right now. Eight million people are still unemployed. Something's not matching up.
Don't you think we ought to hit the pause and find out? The vulnerability that we have, Dana, right now, we don't know what is happening with this COVID. It's awful, coming back the way it is with a vengeance. And we don't know about inflation. We know it's running rampant right now.
I can tell you, in West Virginia, inflation's running rampant, and, on top of that, the challenges we're going to have, geopolitical challenges. Shouldn't we be prepared?
BASH: So, I want to ask you about a lot of that. But are you saying it's the price tag, it's the timeline? Both?
MANCHIN: It's the urgency. Do we have the urgency to do what they're wanting to do in such a quick period of time?
BASH: But can you be specific?
OK, let's just -- let's talk about the dollar sign.
BASH: Do you have a specific number in mind?
MANCHIN: Here's a number you should be getting to.
First of all, I have agreed to get onto the reconciliation, because that's the time for us to make financial adjustments and changes. I thought the 2017 tax code and tax law, the way it was changed, was barely -- very, very unfair. And it was weighted to the heavy -- to the wealthy.
BASH: So what's the number?
MANCHIN: And bottom line is, what's -- the number would be what's going to be competitive in our tax code.
I believe the corporate rate should be at 25, not 21.
BASH: But what's the overall number for the budget bill?
MANCHIN: You know, I think that you're going to have to look at it and find out what you're able to do through a reasonable, responsible way.
BASH: So, then how do you know that it's not 3.5?
MANCHIN: And if that's going to be at 1.5, if it's going to be 1, 1.5 -- we don't know where it's going to be.
BASH: So, you think, ballpark, 1, 1.5?
MANCHIN: It's not going to be at 3.5, I can assure you.
But, with that, whatever it is, once you have a competitive tax code that you can compete globally, and then you should look at what the need is. What's the urgency and the need that we have?
BASH: And I'm -- again, I want to get to that, but just because this is -- this is the thing that people consume.
Do you have a ceiling?
MANCHIN: I -- my ceiling is this, the need of the American people, and for us to basically take in consideration inflation.
No one's concerning about the debt. Our debt as of Friday was 28.7 trillion? And we're not even talking about that. No one is talking about that.
BASH: So, 1 -- you just said 1.5. It sounds like $1.5 trillion is your number?
MANCHIN: I'm just saying that, basically -- well, I have looked at numbers. If we have a competitive tax code from a noncompetitive, doesn't help the working person that was done in 2017, that's in the 1, 1.5 range, OK?
If that's where it is, shouldn't you be looking at, what does it take now to meet the urgent needs that we have that we haven't already met?
BASH: OK. So let's talk about how this would be paid for.
The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, told me on this show last week that you are -- quote -- "very persuadable" on this budget bill because he says it will be paid for, it won't add to the debt, it won't add to inflation.
MANCHIN: Well, if you're paying for it with inflated numbers from the standpoint, it's the tax code.
The numbers that they're wanting to pay for and the tax changes they want to make, is that competitive? Does it keep us competitive or not? I believe there's some changes made that does not keep us competitive.
BASH: Meaning don't increase the...
BASH: Don't increase taxes on corporations?
MANCHIN: I'm just -- no, no, I want to increase taxes on corporations.
I have spoken to corporations.
BASH: So, what specifically are you saying?
MANCHIN: I want the wealthy -- I want the wealthy to pay their fair share.
[09:20:00] But if you're up higher to the point to where you are that we can be competitive globally, then it's going to be counterproductive. Everyone's looking at this whole complete different way than I think maybe I am or other people, or other people are just keeping quiet.
The bottom line is, do we have the urgency to spend another $3.5 trillion right now? The most urgent thing that we have to do is get the bipartisan infrastructure bill that's gone left unattended for over 30 years, deferred maintenance throughout every part of our nation.
That's the one. The president went out and campaigned on that. That's his bill. We worked it in a bipartisan way, got 19 Republicans to vote for it. That's the bill that should go out immediately.
BASH: OK, and that's -- you have another side of this negotiation and some of your fellow Democrats, which I want to get to in a second, but let's just stay on, what they call here in Washington to pay-fors, how the -- your fellow Democrats want to pay for this.
They're looking at increasing the corporate tax rate, closing existing loopholes, raising taxes on wealthy Americans, trying to get money back from...
MANCHIN: I agree with...
BASH: Get the IRS to get money back.
MANCHIN: IRS. I agree with all of that. I agree with all of it.
BASH: And they say they can add that up to 3.5, and there will be not a dollar...
MANCHIN: No, let's...
BASH: This is what they're saying -- added to the debt.
MANCHIN: I understand, but we just disagree.
BASH: You just don't believe them?
No, I don't believe them. I'm just saying that those rates are not going to be competitive to find out the money.
Here's the difference. They're looking for $3.5 trillion. I'm looking for a competitive tax rate, OK? I want to make the adjustments and changes. They're looking for basically...
BASH: What does competitive tax rate mean? Can you define that?
MANCHIN: Yes, be globally competitive. Dana, you have to be globally competitive. You back can't be... (CROSSTALK)
BASH: Right. But can you give a -- can you explain...
MANCHIN: First of all, you can't be at 39 percent as far as cap gains, capital gains. I said 28 all in, OK? You can't be at 28 or 30 or more with corporate net. I said 25 all in.
And I think that every corporation should pay a minimum of 15 percent. They should all pay something. I believe in that. But the bottom line is, the need that we have -- you understand that they have put no restrictions whatsoever or qualifications on any of this as means testing...
MANCHIN: ... of the need of the people, the means testing?
How many people have you had talked to you that said, they're sending me checks, I don't know why? We have all heard that.
BASH: OK, I want to -- and I want to get to some of the specifics in a second.
But you just said that you want to get the infrastructure bill that you helped to negotiate, a bipartisan infrastructure bill. It passed the Senate. You want to get it through the House.
MANCHIN: And the White House was very much involved every day.
BASH: And the White House was -- but, as you well know, dozens of House progressives are saying, no, they're not going to vote for your infrastructure deal until you support what we're talking about here, the overall budget bill, which has a lot of the president's agenda, a lot of Democrats' agenda in it.
By digging in your heels on this, aren't you dooming your own infrastructure bill?
MANCHIN: Who's digging in the heels here?
From the -- first off, the infrastructure bill has been passed, OK? You have a bipartisan bill with 19 Republicans. Who thought that could happen? Who thought that -- and we worked hard on that for many, many months. And the president's team was very much involved. And the president went out and sold this around the country.
Why would you basically let the perfect be the enemy of the good? You have a bill right now. I'm not saying we aren't going to the reconciliation bill whenever. I'm just saying the urgency now...
BASH: But they have leverage. I guess they're -- they have leverage...
MANCHIN: If they can home and tell...
BASH: ... just like -- just like you have leverage. They're using their leverage, the House progressives, just like you are.
MANCHIN: That's fine.
And if they can go home and tell people that, hey, I don't care about the roads and bridges, you don't need it, I don't care about Internet service, you don't need that, I don't care about fixing water and sewer lines, I don't care about the hard infrastructure that's left go, deferred for last 30 years, I don't care about any of that.
I can't go home and say that in West Virginia. We need all of that. We have the worst bridges in the country.
BASH: You take this threat seriously by the progressives?
MANCHIN: They will have to do what they have to do. I mean, I don't -- I'm not involved with the House and the House rules or any of that, OK? They're going to do what they think is best.
And if they play politics with the needs of America, I can tell you, America will recoil.
BASH: And they say you're playing politics.
MANCHIN: I don't think so.
But the bottom line is, if it's such good politics, and they think $3.5 trillion, why are they rushing it now? Why don't they use that for a political...
BASH: All right, let's talk about what's in it.
MANCHIN: ... on the campaign trail and say, elect for me, and we will spend $3.5 trillion?
BASH: Let's talk about some of the specifics, because I want to get to the substance of what we're talking about here.
BASH: Because I don't think that gets enough attention.
What President Biden and the Democrats say is, the child tax credit, which has been expanded, make it permanent. They're saying it's already having a major impact on poverty and hunger for children.
Do you support making it permanent?
MANCHIN: Well, I support child tax credits. I sure am trying to help the children. BASH: But the expansion that is...
MANCHIN: But let's before this. And before you start saying, is it going to be permanent, this and that, let's see how we're doing.
MANCHIN: Let's make sure that we're getting it to the right people.
Let's make sure -- and the people on poverty. I can tell you, people that are working and working poor making every effort they can to get ahead in life, that's in the $50,000 and below. I have got people that are making combined 200 and 300 and more, up to 400, saying they're getting checks.
If we have X-amount of dollars...
BASH: But it's on a sliding scale. They shouldn't be doing that.
MANCHIN: Well, it's happening, though. This is happening because of the sliding scale.
It's 75 and 150 with a sliding fee up to 400, OK? These are things that there's -- hard caps to be put. The need base -- we're not having anything about need base. We're not doing any type of that.
And, first of all, child tax credits, think about this. If a child tax credit, you want to help the children and the parents that are basically providing for those children. There's no work requirements whatsoever. There's no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets.
Don't you think, if we're going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?
BASH: So, let's talk about universal pre-K. West Virginia, your home state...
MANCHIN: I have been all for that. I'm all in.
BASH: You want to make it a federal program?
MANCHIN: Well, that's fine, to be federal, but the states can do it too. And the states have a responsibility.
BASH: But should universal pre-K be in a bill like this that you would support?
MANCHIN: I don't have a problem because I universal pre-K.
BASH: OK. OK.
What about increasing funding for home care services, for the sick and elderly?
MANCHIN: We have $60 billion hasn't gone out the door yet, $60 billion.
The only thing I'm saying is, why the urgency to spend another $300 billion towards that when you got $60 billion that hasn't gone out? Don't you think we ought to find out what happened? Why are not able to get into that type of a change, where we're able to make sure that the administration is able to disburse the money that need -- to get it to where it needs to be helped?
BASH: Clean energy provisions that are in this bill, they would use tax incentives and carbon capture technology to try to cut emissions in half...
BASH: ... and make the electric grid 80 percent clean energy by 2030.
Do you support that?
MANCHIN: Let me tell you this.
Let's look at what we have done for the last 20 years. In 20 -- in 2000, the year 2000, 52 percent of our electricity came from coal. Only about 16 percent came from natural gas, and only about 9.5 percent came from renewables, 20 years to date, OK?
2020, 19 percent from coal, 40 percent from natural gas, and up to 20 percent for renewables. The transition is happening. Now they're wanting to pay companies to do what they're already doing. Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they're going to do as the market transitions.
We have proven that. And we will continue to transition. They're accelerating something that could be very, very vulnerable to the reliability...
BASH: So, it sounds like a no. You don't support the provisions.
MANCHIN: It makes no sense at all.
MANCHIN: Makes no sense.
I'm sure you have heard your fellow Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this about you in a tweet: "Manchin has weekly huddles with Exxon and is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called bipartisan fossil fuels bills. It's killing people. Sick of this bipartisan corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation." This is your fellow Democrat.
BASH: Is it true that you have weekly meetings with Exxon and other lobbyists for fossil fuels?
MANCHIN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And you ask them if they have ever -- no, they don't -- weekly meetings, I don't...
BASH: It's just false?
MANCHIN: I keep my door open for everybody. It's totally false.
And those types of superlatives, it's just awful. Continue to divide, divide, divide. I don't know that young lady that well. I really don't. I have met her one time, I think, between sets here. But that's it. So we have not had any conversations. She just speculating and saying things because she wants to...
BASH: She's not the only one. I'm sure you have heard. There are a number of your fellow Democrats who say that you're opposed to this because you're bought and paid for by corporate donors.
MANCHIN: I'm opposed to it -- I'm opposed to it because it makes no sense at all. I just gave you the facts.
I have said this. You're entitled to your own facts -- I mean, your own opinions. You're just not entitled to create your own facts to support it.
And that's exactly what they're doing. The facts that I have given you, the transition is happening, reliability. Look what happened in Texas. It was natural gas that basically shut down in Texas that caused all that horrible carnage of people. It was awful.
BASH: You have said pause. What the Senate wants to do is get this worked out by this week, so that the House can vote on it September 27.
Is that a timeline that you can support in any way?
MANCHIN: There's no way we can get this done by the 27th, if we do our job. There's so much differences that we have here and so much -- there's so much apart from us where we are as far as our -- I'm giving you different things.
I have been talking. I'm working with people. I'm willing to talk to people. It makes no sense at all.
BASH: Real quick on another topic.
BASH: Because I have been traveling, working on a project on voting.
I have been to Georgia and Texas and Arizona. Every Democrat I talk to there say that they need the federal government to act, you to help find a way to get a federal voting rights bill passed.
I know you have been working on it this summer.
MANCHIN: I'm doing everything I can.
BASH: Where are you?
MANCHIN: Well, we have got -- Lisa Murkowski has been working with me. We have been talking to them quite a few different Republicans who are very interested in doing something that makes sense.
Voting and basically the security of voting is the bedrock of our democracy. And if you're -- not have access to the voting pool, vote, if it's not secured, and if the count is not accurate, then people have no confidence.
And, right now, the last two presidential elections, when it was over for Senate -- for President Trump or President Biden, there's over 40 billion people didn't vote -- 40 million that didn't believe it was accurate. That's wrong.
And if you're going to do something in a partisan way, they said, oh, just double down, get rid of the filibuster...
MANCHIN: ... let's do it partisan, it'll divide our country further.
BASH: Do you think you will get this done before the next midterm -- before the midterms?
MANCHIN: Oh, I definitely believe we can, if we work hard.
Getting rid of things is the easy thing to do. Saying, I don't want the filibuster, that's easy. That's easy.
The hard work comes is when you try to sit down and work through this. Who would have thought we would have 19, 19 Republicans vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill? Who would have thought that? Look at all the things that we have been able to do because we're working through it.
And there's about 22 of us, 11 D's and 11 R's. We continue to meet, continuously. We have built relationships. Ask some of the senators who are telling you or some of the congresspeople who are telling you how bad the other side, ask them the last time they sat down, had a cup of coffee, had a conversation, maybe had dinner, know what their spouse's name is, know how many children they have. Ask them.
Are they working hard enough? Or are they just basically hunkered down in their own position and defending it? And that's when you're set. You're entitled to your opinion. You just can't create your own facts or make your own statements that aren't accurate.
BASH: Senator Joe Manchin, thank you so much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.
MANCHIN: Thanks, Dana. Appreciate being with you.
BASH: Senator Bernie Sanders, who is writing the budget bill, says $3.5 trillion is the compromise. He's here to respond next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Senator Bernie Sanders is back on the campaign trail trying to sell voters in Middle America on Democrats' $3.5 trillion plan to expand the child care tax credit, paid leave, along with new investments battling the climate crisis.
But, right now, his focus is on a key Senate Democrat he must convince to get any of this done, Senator Joe Manchin.
Here's Bernie Sanders.
BASH: Joining me now is the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the author of the reconciliation bill, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Thank you so much for joining me.
First, your colleague Joe Manchin just explicitly told me repeatedly he will not support your $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. He wants to see something more in the ballpark of $1.5 trillion. Is that acceptable to you?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): No, it's absolutely not acceptable to me. I don't think it's acceptable to the president, to the American people, or to the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic Caucus.
Look, we worked with Senator Manchin to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was enormously consequential and helpful to working-class families in getting us out of the economic disaster that befell us as a result of COVID.
I believe we're going to all sit down and work together and come up with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill which deals with the enormously unmet needs of working families. We have got to lower the cost of prescription drugs for people. We have got to expand Medicare to include dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses. We have to maintain the $300 direct payment we're giving to working parents, which have lowered childhood poverty in America by 50 percent. And I will tell you what else we have got to do. The scientists will tell us that we got a few years left before there will be irreparable, irreversible harm to our planet if we do not address climate change.
And the truth of the matter is, Dana, as you may know, many of us made a major compromise in going from the $6 trillion bill that we wanted, supported by the overwhelming majority of Democrats, down to 3.5.
And the last point that I would make on this, I know that Senator Manchin worked very hard on what's called the bipartisan infrastructure bill, $550 billion of new money to rebuild our roads and our bridges. What we have worked on is working both of those bills in tandem. They go together.
And it would be a really sad state of affairs for the American people, for Congress, if both of those bills went down.
BASH: Do you think that's possible, that that could happen right now?
I don't think it will happen. I mean, I think, look, this is a very difficult issue. What we are trying to do in this bill is more significant for working families than any bill probably since FDR and the New Deal. I mean, we're talking about expanding Medicare. We're talking about making sure that no working family in America pays more than 7 percent of their income for child care, making pre-K universal and free, putting a huge amount of money into affordable housing, creating millions of good-paying jobs, home health care, you name it.
This is a consequential bill. It is hard to put a bill like this together. At the end of the day, I believe we will.
BASH: OK. And I want to ask you about more of the substance in a second.
But the other thing that Senator Manchin is opposed to is the timeline. Chuck Schumer wants to have a draft of this reconciliation bill done by Wednesday. The House speaker committed to holding a vote by September 27. He said that's not going to happen, full stop.
Are you willing to give it more time?
SANDERS: Well, look -- well, I mean, a few days here or there, it doesn't matter.
But there is a sense of urgency. And a sense of urgency is that we live in a country today where the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well, while working-class people are struggling all over this country in terms of health care. You got 90 million people uninsured or underinsured. People can't afford to pay prescription drugs, can't afford to send their kids to college. Kids are leaving school deeply in debt. You got almost 600,000 people
in America who are homeless today. And you have got the climate crisis. Oregon is burning. California is burning. Siberia is burning. People are dying and floods in New York City, unprecedented rainfall.
There is a sense of urgency, which I think the American people understand. And what they want is, finally, maybe, just maybe, the Congress of the United States will act for them, and not just for the wealthy campaign contributors and the rich and the powerful, who, by the way, are pouring huge amounts of money, the drug companies, the insurance companies, fossil fuel industry, huge amounts of money in trying to defeat us.
BASH: OK, let's actually talk about that, because Senator Manchin said pretty explicitly he's opposed to the clean energy provisions that you are going to put into this bill as you write it.
He also wants to see more evidence that the child tax credit is working, and it's going to the proper people, not wealthier people, before making it permanent. He doesn't support raising the corporate tax rate as high as you want. So this isn't just about the overall dollar figure. It's not even just about the timeline.
It's a disagreement, a pretty deep disagreement, about some of the fundamental priorities that you have been talking about. How do you bridge that?
SANDERS: Well, but, Dana, please understand that, within the context of the Democratic Caucus -- and I hope everybody in America knows we have no Republican support for this.
We're talking about Mr. Manchin, but the real outrage is you got not one Republican who are prepared to extend the $300 direct payment for working parents, so that they can raise their children in security and dignity.
SANDERS: Not one Republican is prepared to help us take on the existential threat of climate change.
Now, in terms of taxation, at a time when you have billionaires and large corporations in this country, in some cases, not paying a nickel in federal income tax, you know what, we should and can pay for this entire $3.5 trillion bill, which, by the way, extends over 10 years -- we should pay for it by demanding the wealthiest people, largest corporations in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes.
And if Mr. Manchin wants to pay for it completely, I am delighted. I know that Senator Wyden, chairman of the Finance Committee, delighted to work with him. We can do that.
BASH: Yes. And, again, what he's said is that that is one issue, paying for it.
But the broader question is the real differences on the question of your priorities here, but also just the raw math. You mentioned Republicans not being on board. I don't need to tell you this is a 50/50 Senate.
If Senator Manchin or even Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona doesn't support this, you will not get the votes. How do you get there?
SANDERS: Well, look -- well...
BASH: Are you are you willing to compromise on any of this?
SANDERS: I did. I compromised.
BASH: Additionally. I know you did. Additionally.
SANDERS: No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no.
Look, don't make this a Bernie Sanders vs. Joe Manchin issue. It is not.
BASH: Yes. No, and I'm not trying to. I'm trying to...
SANDERS: This is all after -- Dana, Dana, Dana, one minute.
BASH: As the budget chairman, you're -- you have a -- you have a negotiating position, you and other -- and the White House and the leadership.
BASH: So I don't mean to make it about you.
Just how do you, the Democratic leadership and the White House, get to a place where there's something that can be done?
SANDERS: Well, I think -- well, I will tell you how we get it. I tell you how we get it, because the American people are going to speak out on this issue.
Every single poll that I have seen, whether you are a Democrat or working-class Republican or an independent, overwhelming support for this bill. The president of the United States wants it.
Now, this is not like a 50/50 split in the Democratic Caucus. You may know this. I'm chairman of the Budget Committee. On the Budget Committee are 11 Democrats. Nine of them were prepared to support a $6 trillion bill. I would guess at least 40 Democrats out of 50 understand that we need at least $6 trillion. So that's already been a significant compromise.
But the bottom line here is, if you think about the House as well, these two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill, are marching down the path together.
SANDERS: Mr. Manchin, I know, worked very hard on the bipartisan bill. It would be a terrible thing for the American people if both of those bills fail -- failed. They are linked together. They're going to go forward together.
And that's my final question to you, because you know that a lot of your fellow progressives in the House are saying explicitly they will not vote for the infrastructure bill that's already passed the Senate.
SANDERS: Right. And I agree with them.
Dana, let me be clear. I think they're doing exactly the right thing, because promises have been made. Agreements have been made. We want a physical infrastructure bill. We have to rebuild our roads and our bridges. That's important.
Human infrastructure is more important. We cannot continue to have elderly people unable to hear, no teeth in their mouths, children who can't get decent child care. We cannot afford not to deal with climate. We have got to do that in this unprecedented moment in America history.
Two bills go together. At the end of the day, I believe we're going to pass them both.
BASH: Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Appreciate it.
SANDERS: Thank you.
BASH: The memories are still as clear as the skies on the morning of September 11, 2001.
The national security adviser on that day, Condoleezza Rice, is next.
BASH: Yesterday, the nation paused on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
I spoke to the woman who was the White House national security adviser on that day, Condoleezza Rice, about the war in Afghanistan and the conversation she had with then-President George Bush just minutes after the second plane hit the towers.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I told him -- I talked to him after the first plane. And we both thought perhaps it was an accident of some sort.
But then, when the second plane went in, we knew it was a terrorist attack. And our conversation was rather sharp and short. He said: "I'm coming back."
I said: "Mr. President, you can't come back here." And I raised my voice to him, Dana, which you don't do to the president of the United States. But I needed him to understand that he couldn't come back because it wasn't safe. And he was really a little bit angry. He wanted to come back, because you know him, Dana.
And you know that, at that moment, the emotions were running really, really hot, but that was really the nature of the conversation. You cannot come back here. America is under attack.
BASH: You penned an op-ed for "The Wall Street Journal" this week arguing that Americans are more safe now than on 9/11.
You mentioned one of the reasons, I know, just now. Recent polling, though, suggests Americans don't agree with you, for lots of reasons. Perhaps one of the reasons is looking at what's happening in Afghanistan, the Taliban back in charge. Why do you think the U.S. is safer?
RICE: Well, I would distinguish the apparatus that we have built, the National Counterterrorism Center that merges intelligence in ways that we did not before 9/11, a Homeland Security Department that didn't exist before 9/11 and is actually dedicated to thinking about the security of the homeland, the fact that, for the time being, at least, we have disabled the al Qaeda, the highly sophisticated, highly disciplined organization that actually carried out the 9/11 attack with -- when you think about the coordination that that took, the flying of planes into buildings and so forth, that's a sophisticated operation.
Denying them the territory of Afghanistan meant that they couldn't train and they couldn't operate in the way that they did on that day.
But I would separate all of that, all that we achieved on that -- in that 20 years with our allies from NATO and our allies from Afghanistan. The part that doesn't make me feel very comforted is that we have lost the eyes and ears on the ground in Afghanistan that helped us to know where the terrorists were, that allowed us to run the kinds of operations that you sometimes have to run against terrorists.
We have lost Bagram and other airfields that were able to allow us to run certain -- even drone operations out of them. And so I'd be the first to say we have lost some of the capabilities, but that shouldn't diminish the capabilities that we still have.
We do -- we are still safer. I hope we can remain that safe into the future.
BASH: Thank you to Secretary Rice for joining me last week.
So, did America win its longest war? It's a tough question, even with tougher answers from America's top generals.
My co-host, Jake Tapper, has a CNN special report tonight with some of the people who led the U.S. in war. And you will be surprised at what they had to say.
"America's Longest: War What Went Wrong in Afghanistan?" hosted by Jake Tapper, that is tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You don't want to miss it.
We will be right back.
BASH: Thanks for joining us today.
Again, tonight, top U.S. generals on what went wrong in Afghanistan. "America's Longest War" airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.