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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ); Interview With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Interview With Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Interview With U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 26, 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): All on the line. The balancing act over President Biden's priorities comes to a head tomorrow.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We have at least 50 people who are not going to vote for that bill.
REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): We all agreed to vote on this bill.
TAPPER: Will Democrats come to an agreement? And, as other initiatives stall, will this week define the Biden agenda? Progressive Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and moderate Congressman Josh Gottheimer, plus Democratic Senator Cory Booker, join me in moments.
And -- quote -- "It's horrible." President Biden rebukes his own Border Patrol for confronting Haitian migrants at the border.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: All of America is horrified to see what those images suggest.
TAPPER: But what about Biden's larger immigration policy? I will speak with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas next.
Plus: democracy at risk? A sham audit in Arizona reaffirms Biden's victory. State GOP officials continue to push the big lie that fueled the insurrection, with former President Trump more popular to his base than ever. Is the U.S. prepared for what might happen next Election Day?
Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who voted to impeach former President Trump, joins me ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the State of the Union is wondering if today's Democrats will prove they can govern.
This is the most important legislative week of Biden's legacy. And, right now, the endgame remains anybody's guess. In a new letter to House Democrats on Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said -- quote -- "The next few days will be a time of intensity," telling her party that they must fund the government, pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill this week.
Tomorrow is the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had promised moderates the House would vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that cleared the Senate last month. But House progressive insists they will vote no on infrastructure if there isn't first a vote on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. That's a bill that has not been finalized and about which there remains broad disagreement on what should be in the final version.
Moderates say Speaker Pelosi needs to keep her promise and bring the infrastructure bill for a vote regardless. To quote President Biden, it's a -- quote -- "stalemate." And with both sides of the Democratic Party digging in, Democratic leaders must figure out how to please everyone. They can only afford to lose three votes in the House and zero votes in the Senate.
In the middle of all this, the government will shut down Thursday if Congress does not also pass a funding agreement. Hanging in the balance is essentially the entirety of President Biden's legislative agenda, as well as the political prospects for Democrats heading into a midterm election year that could be tough already.
So how's it going to play out? We have the House Democratic leaders from both sides of their party's internal debate with us right now.
And let's begin with the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.
Congresswoman, always good to see you. Thank you so much.
So, let's just talk about where we are right now. Speaker Pelosi plans to bring or had said she was going to bring the bipartisan infrastructure plan to the floor of the House tomorrow.
Now, you have said that you and dozens of progressives will go vote against that bill, likely tanking it, if the $3.5 trillion spending bill does not come up first. Is it your understanding that the infrastructure bill is coming up for a vote tomorrow, and you and your fellow progressives will defeat it tomorrow? Is that what you expect will happen tomorrow?
JAYAPAL: Well, I know we're working very hard to get agreement on the reconciliation package. And that, of course, has to be agreement across the Senate and the House, because we are not going to leave anyone behind. We're not going to leave behind women who desperately need child care.
We're not going to leave behind taking on climate change and taking urgent action. We're not going to leave behind public housing. We're not going to leave behind immigrants who are essential workers and need to be acknowledged as such.
And, fundamentally, we're not going to leave behind health care in the midst of a health care crisis.
JAYAPAL: So, that's all the stuff that's in the Build Back Better Act, what we're calling the reconciliation bill.
And our point is just, we're ready to vote for both. We are excited to vote for both. And we will vote for both. But we need to actually get the reconciliation bill done. That was what we said three-and-a-half months ago, Jake.
JAYAPAL: And so our belief is that we will get there. We're very close. But it has to -- we have to get to that reconciliation bill first.
TAPPER: Would it be enough if there were an agreement on the Build Back Better Act, the $3.5 trillion spending package, but not an actual vote tomorrow? Would that be enough for you and the House progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill?
JAYAPAL: Well, the reconciliation bill does have to start in the House, because it's a budget reconciliation bill.
JAYAPAL: But everything should be agreed upon.
What we don't to have happen...
TAPPER: So, an agreement is good -- an agreement is good enough?
JAYAPAL: Well, no, but an agreement of exactly what's in there. The language needs to be worked out, because...
TAPPER: And a commitment that everybody's going to vote for it.
JAYAPAL: And everyone's going to vote for it, and, if Republicans offer amendments in a vote-a-rama, that we're not going to have Democratic senators suddenly vote with Republicans.
So, the idea here is, unlike many other bills, many other times that we do this, where the House passes a bill, it's not necessarily something that the Senate can do, the Senate then goes and passes their bill, and then we conference, or we have back-and-forth, this is a pre-conferenced bill, which means everybody, everybody in the Senate right and everybody in the House has to agree on every piece of it. [09:05:05]
TAPPER: But Pelosi says that she's bringing the infrastructure bill, the bipartisan bill, to the floor of the House tomorrow for consideration.
Are you going to vote for it or against it?
JAYAPAL: I don't believe there will be a vote.
I mean, the speaker...
TAPPER: You don't think there's going to be a vote tomorrow?
JAYAPAL: I mean, the speaker is an incredibly good vote-counter. And she knows exactly where her caucus stands.
And we have been really clear on that.
TAPPER: The votes aren't there? She's not going to bring it up?
JAYAPAL: The votes aren't there.
So, I just -- I don't think she's going to bring it up. But I think -- look, I think the urgency is important. I mean, this -- in some ways, the fact that this is there has finally provided the urgency for senators to engage in reconciliation, for the president to really weigh in.
And, ultimately, we're delivering on the president's agenda. I mean, this is -- the Build Back Better agenda is not some crazy agenda that just a few people support. It's actually the vast majority of the Democratic Caucus. And there's a few people in the House and a couple in the Senate who aren't quite there yet.
But even moderates in front-line districts all support this Build Back Better agenda.
But just to clarify, there, you don't think there's going to be a vote tomorrow, but, either way, you're looking for an agreement on the reconciliation, not necessarily a vote first, when it comes to infrastructure?
JAYAPAL: Well, it's just the logistics of it, right?
JAYAPAL: Everything has to be done. There has to be kind of an ironclad...
TAPPER: Are you guys close to that at all, an agreement?
JAYAPAL: Well, I think we're finally talking, which is important, because that hasn't been happening for the last couple of months. TAPPER: Yes.
Pelosi says it's going to happen this week. Is that realistic?
JAYAPAL: I mean, we want to have that happen as soon as possible. So everybody -- I know I worked every single minute of every single day for the last several weeks -- for the last week, last several days, trying to try to talk to people and get this done.
That's our hope, is to try to get it done. But we need the Senate to engage with us if that's going to happen.
TAPPER: Well, let's -- let's listen to what West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said on the show two weeks ago about the threat by progressives to tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): 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, if they play politics with the needs of America, I can tell you, America will recoil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you say to that?
JAYAPAL: I mean, look, we need to bring down the temperature, but I would just say, I could say the same thing about anyone who votes against the reconciliation bill.
If you want to go back and tell people that you don't want child care, or you don't want housing, or you don't want to take on climate change, or you don't want to provide health care to people. I mean, that's not good either.
This is the president's Democratic agenda. We will deliver on both of them, Jake. I am absolutely confident of that. But it's going to take work. And it's going to take the Senate, Joe Manchin and others, sitting down to actually negotiate.
And I am ready, willing and able to talk to anyone about anything at any time to get that done.
TAPPER: You have said the progressives have been team players and the big adults in the room. You have conceded a lot, you note, such as moving from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion on the ultimate ticket item of this.
Do you think the moderate Democrats have been team players and the big adults in the room?
JAYAPAL: Well, as I said, moderate Democrat is a lot of people across the caucus that actually...
TAPPER: Well, the ones that are -- the ones that have been...
JAYAPAL: OK, I just want to be clear that there's only like nine or 10 or whatever that number is.
TAPPER: OK, these nine or 10, Gottheimer, Manchin, Sinema...
JAYAPAL: Yes. Yes. Yes.
TAPPER: ... have they been team players?
JAYAPAL: We have -- I have been talking with Josh almost -- a lot over the last week.
And I think we're all -- I believe that they want to find a way through this.
TAPPER: You do?
JAYAPAL: And I believe that we are going to get through this.
TAPPER: Do you think it's possible that the price tag will come down? I have heard the number $2 trillion floated as a possible endpoint.
JAYAPAL: I think we should -- look, first of all, as I said to the president and I heard him say, this is a $0 bill, because it's all going to be paid for with taxes on the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest individuals, which, by the way, makes it more popular than it was even before. And it's already very popular.
But, ultimately, I think it depends on what we put in there. We put our proposal out. It was -- it cost $3.5 trillion when you add everything up.
JAYAPAL: But if somebody wants to take something out, we need to hear what that is. I don't know what -- I don't know what the alternative proposal is, so it's difficult for me to say.
TAPPER: Well, one -- let's just talk about one of them.
TAPPER: Some moderates have suggested that the -- means testing, meaning only providing for people moderate to lower income for the child tax credit, for child care, for tuition-free community college.
TAPPER: That that would be an idea, instead of just providing it for everybody.
TAPPER: Somebody who makes what I make doesn't -- or makes what you make doesn't need free child care necessarily. JAYAPAL: Yes. Right.
The thing about that is, let's look at the rental assistance bill just as an example. We had so many provisions in there to try to make sure that it was only the right people that needed to qualify that the assistance never got out. I mean, it takes somebody 3.5 hours to actually get through a form. And that's with help.
So, ultimately, the best thing we can do is make these programs universal, deliver the benefits as quickly as possible, and make sure that people are actually being able to access it, and not being pushed aside by all these requirements.
So, we can talk about it, but I think that everyone has shown, all the studies have shown that there isn't some big abuse of these programs going on. And, to me, it's about, how do we get the benefits out quickly to people, and not actually put barriers in the way for the people who are most vulnerable and most need that assistance?
TAPPER: Senator Manchin obviously represents West Virginia, which is historically a coal mining state. He says a lot of the climate change provisions in the bill will hurt people in his state.
JAYAPAL: I think this is going to be one of the harder places for us to negotiate, but one of the most important.
The president has made a commitment. He's going to go to COP 26. He has said that we want to be a leader in cutting emissions and getting to the goals that he set forth for 2035. If we're going to do that, we have got to put some really stringent standards in place and put some tax credits and incentives in place.
That is what the clean electricity standards are. And we have got to be able to do those. So, let's see where that goes. But I agree that is a -- that's going to be one...
TAPPER: A big sticking point.
JAYAPAL: ... that we're going to have to work through.
TAPPER: So, it's been a really intense few weeks, as I don't need to tell you.
I want to ask about a moment in the Oval Office last week with President Biden. Your staff has been talking openly about this.
TAPPER: So, I'm not talking out of school about a moment that was very personal to you.
TAPPER: You apparently broke into tears when you were pushing for immigration reform.
Tell us what -- tell us about that moment, why it was important to you.
Actually, I was batting cleanup. I was the last speaker. I was sitting closest to the president. So it was like this, literally this far apart. And I went through all my priorities for the Progressive Caucus, exactly all the things we had on the table, the agreements that had been made.
And, at the end, I said: "Mr. President, I want to tell you why this is so important."
And I told the story, Jake, of coming to this country at 16 years old. My parents had nothing in their pockets. They sent me alone. I arrived here alone with nothing in my pocket.
TAPPER: From where?
JAYAPAL: From India, because my parents, for whatever reason, believed that America was the place where I was going to be able to have a different kind of a life, an opportunity.
And I did. I went to college. I went to graduate school. And then I went from nothing in my pockets at 16 by myself to actually sitting in the Oval Office with the president, as the first South Asian American woman in the House.
And I said, that -- I had the American dream. We have to be able to deliver the American dream for everyone.
And that emotion of the story was a beautiful thing, actually. And I hope we never stop feeling the emotion of why we're here and why it's important to do what we're doing. But it was a lovely moment. And the president also sheds tears when he tells stories. And it's one of the beautiful things about him, is the compassion.
And I felt like we shared that moment, because I know, from talking to him before, that he also identifies with the immigrant experience of his ancestors, his -- the previous generation. So it was wonderful.
And I find it just a wonderful thing that we're able to kind of say what drives us to do this. This isn't just about numbers. This is about real people getting opportunity and transforming their lives.
TAPPER: It is a great country.
JAYAPAL: It is a great country. Exactly. It was a beautiful thing.
TAPPER: Well, it is a great country. And look at you.
TAPPER: So, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. JAYAPAL: Thank you.
TAPPER: Now I'm going to talk to Congressman Josh Gottheimer.
You just heard from the head of the House progressives on their demands for Democratic legislation. The other side of the story now within the Democratic Caucus, the moderates, who also have enough members to block legislation if they don't like the deal their leaders make.
Joining us now, the Democratic chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
So, Speaker Pelosi made a promise to you to pass infrastructure by tomorrow. But just this morning, Speaker Pelosi said she's going to bring the bipartisan infrastructure plan to the floor for consideration tomorrow, but would only commit to a vote sometime this week.
Is that acceptable to the moderate faction that you represent?
GOTTHEIMER: Well, as you know -- first of all, thank you so much for having me.
What's so important that people should understand is, we have been working for months, since April, on this bipartisan structure plan, which, as you know, passed out of the Senate in August with -- the beginning of August, with 69 votes, 50 Democrats, every Democrat from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin, and 19 Republicans.
It's now -- it's been sitting there waiting for action in the House. Every single Democrat in the House voted to bring it to the floor for a vote this week. We're going to do it. We're going to have the votes. It will come up tomorrow, and we're going to vote this week, early this week.
And, listen, I am very confident that we will get this done. And as Pramila just said, we also need to get reconciliation done. We need to get both done. And the speaker has said she will -- she will get the votes. And no one's better at that than the speaker.
And so we're going to have a big week for the country, and it's going to be bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans are going to vote for that infrastructure bill earlier this week.
TAPPER: But you said in August that you struck a deal to hold a vote tomorrow, not just bringing it to the floor for consideration with a vote later.
If you don't get a vote on infrastructure tomorrow, that no longer means that you won't support the reconciliation bill? You're giving a little bit here? GOTTHEIMER: Well, no, what we're -- no. No, no, no, listen, we're going to get a vote early this week. And let me be clear about that.
TAPPER: But not tomorrow?
GOTTHEIMER: Well, it's going to be brought to the floor tomorrow.
If the vote -- the way these things work, if you start debating it and it rolls over to Tuesday, I don't think -- I think we're all reasonable people.
But the bottom line is, what's important -- and the speaker communicated this to all of us yesterday -- is that we vote on it early this week. And that's going to happen.
And what's really important is that everyone also understands that we are working, as Pramila just said, around the clock on getting reconciliation done as well. And I'm optimistic we're going to get both done.
There's too much on the line here for our country. You think about infrastructure and what happened, that tragedy last night, the derailment in Montana on Amtrak. And, of course, I'm here in New Jersey. We got hit so hard, as other parts of the country did, by Hurricane Ida.
And in the infrastructure bill is climate resiliency to help fight climate change, obviously fix Amtrak and invest there in our roads, our bridges, our rails. We have got a tunnel between New York and New Jersey, that's literally 113 years old and crumbling. Broadband.
There's so much in this historic once-in-a-century package. And it's been sitting there waiting, Jake, for our consideration, waiting for us to vote on it since early August. I can't explain to anybody why we have this separate bill sitting here, and you have got all these hardworking men and women ready to go to work here of labor, ready to go to work and get this done, and we haven't voted on it.
So that's why I know we have to get it done. And we will. And we also have to get reconciliation done. And that's also going to get done.
TAPPER: Well, you know the answer to the question. The reason that it's not going to be voted on tomorrow is because House progressives are worried that more moderate Democrats, such as you or more conservative Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin, will kill the reconciliation deal, the Build Back Better Act, if they don't make sure that it's a quid pro quo.
They will vote for infrastructure as long as you vote for reconciliation.
Let me just ask you, though, if...
GOTTHEIMER: Well, I...
TAPPER: Go ahead. GOTTHEIMER: Yes.
TAPPER: Go ahead.
GOTTHEIMER: No, I just want to be clear about that. I support reconciliation.
So -- and so do my colleagues. We meet all the time. And let me tell you, we all agree that we need a reconciliation package. And I think that's important for everyone to understand. But that doesn't mean -- these are two separate bills, right? You have got infrastructure, a historic once-in-a-century -- there's no reason why we shouldn't pass that right away and get those shovels in the ground and make sure we do everything we can to stop derailments and invest in our infrastructure and climate and make sure we fight climate change.
And then, also, we should keep working on this separate bill on reconciliation, which I'm committed to passing.
GOTTHEIMER: From Pramila said we're sitting -- we're talking all the time to make sure we can get that done as well.
TAPPER: Yes, except that's not where the progressives are. And, obviously, there's at least 45 or so that will vote against infrastructure if there isn't -- at least now they're saying that they no longer need to vote first, but maybe an agreement, a pathway forward.
If this all takes a couple weeks to sort out, not -- because, obviously, it's not happening tomorrow, as you wanted, is that OK with you?
GOTTHEIMER: Well, let me just be clear about that. The bill is going to get voted on early this week. And it's going to come to the floor tomorrow as we wanted. And we feel very good about that. So, I just want to be clear about that.
And, secondly, I believe when it does come to the floor, that we will have the votes. I don't believe any Democrat or a small fraction of Democrats is going to come -- come for a vote on infrastructure, on two million jobs a year for hardworking men and women of labor, and to make sure to fight climate change, and vote against it.
It's a key part of the president's agenda. I just don't buy, at the end of the day, that folks will vote against it. And I think it's right to say to -- for them to hear from people like me and others that we are completely committed to getting a reconciliation package.
And I will tell you there's so much in there with also helping to fight climate change, to child care, to reinstating the state level tax deduction to helping make life more affordable.
GOTTHEIMER: Things like that are so important. So I'm completely committed to getting both done.
TAPPER: Let's start -- let's talk about that, because you have threatened to vote against the budget reconciliation bill unless it repeals the so-called SALT -- that stands for state and local taxes -- deduction cap, which would move -- essentially, give hundreds of billions in tax breaks to mostly upper-income residents of predominantly blue states, including your fellow New Jerseyans.
Your senator, Democrat Bob Menendez, has floated making the repeal of SALT temporary for a few years as a possible compromise to get it into the bill. Would you support that?
GOTTHEIMER: Listen, I'm with Senator Menendez.
We reinstate SALT for a couple years and have to go back for more reinstatement after it, I'm fine with that. Let me just tell you this, though. Where we live, here in Northern New Jersey, which is such a beautiful place, if law enforcement and a teacher living together, they make $200,000 a year, it's very -- it's a very expensive place to live.
So, when we reinstate SALT, that's giving tax breaks for them, because the cost of living here is higher, right? And that's just -- I just want to be clear about that, that these are folks who are struggling to get by. And reinstating SALT will bring down their taxes.
And that's a very important thing. So we're going to get this all done. And that will be -- that will make it into the bill, I know, in the end. And that's kind of the point, Jake, right, that we have to keep working on this and getting it done. There is an agreement to be had here, and we will get there. We got to keep working around the clock.
But that doesn't mean we should not proceed on a key part of the president's agenda. What's great for the country, if Democrats and Republicans -- and they will be Democrats or Republicans voting for the bill early this week when it comes to the floor, as the speaker committed to...
GOTTHEIMER: ... as every Democrat in the House in August voted to do.
So, it's going to get done. We will get both things done, just like we did the American Rescue Plan, which was a huge win for the country. So, there are so many things that we have gotten done already, and we just have to keep working.
TAPPER: Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate your time.
As the White House focuses on its legislative agenda this week, they're facing outrage from Democratic lawmakers and activists over the president's immigration policies. The Biden administration has struggled to manage the influx of Haitian
migrants at the Southern border. And images of Border Patrol agents on horseback using reins on their horses while dissuading migrants from crossing over, the president condemned. And it's raising more questions about his broader immigration policy.
Joining me now is Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Secretary Mayorkas, thanks so much for joining us.
We have been trying to attract the 30,000 or so mostly Haitian migrants who came to the U.S. border in the last two weeks. You have said about 2,000 have been sent to Haiti, 8,000 voluntarily returned to Mexico.
So, where are the other 20,000 now. And how many of them do you expect will ultimately be deported from the United States?
MAYORKAS: So, Jake, good morning.
About 4,000 actually have been expelled under the public health authority of the Centers for Disease Control. There are about 13,000 that are in immigration court proceedings.
When we do not expel an individual by reason of the public health imperative, those individuals are actually placed in immigration court proceedings. They go before a judge. They can make a claim of asylum or other claim to remain in the United States. If the judge approves that claim, they are, under the law, able to remain. If the judge denies it, then they are removed from the United States.
TAPPER: And you're referring to the public health rule having to do with COVID, the one that the Trump administration put into effect?
MAYORKAS: Indeed, that is the case.
Remember, that is a public health authority. It is not an immigration policy. It is exercised, as the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, has ordered, in light of the arc of the pandemic. The public has to remember that we are in the midst of a pandemic. The Delta variant caused a setback. More than 600,000 Americans have died. More than 40 U.S. Customs and Border Protection front-line personnel have lost their lives.
This is a public health imperative to protect migrants themselves, local communities, our personnel, and the American public.
TAPPER: Right. It's called Title 42.
Top Democrats in Congress want the Biden administration to stop invoking it, stop using it. Would you be open to that?
MAYORKAS: Well, it is a public health authority that is determined to be an imperative for the public health reasons that I just expressed.
We made one important exception at the very outset. And that was to not apply it to unaccompanied children. There are exceptions to the application of that public health authority, the Convention Against Torture, if someone makes a legitimate claim that they would suffer torture if they're returned to the country from which they have come, if we have operational capacity constraints, or if there's an acute humanitarian need, such as an urgent medical situation.
TAPPER: So, the Biden administration special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, he resigned this week saying that the Biden administration's decision to deport thousands of Haitians, as you just mentioned, was -- quote -- "inhumane and counterproductive."
Now, you said Friday -- quote -- "We do not conduct ourselves in an immoral way."
But how do you respond to people who say that forcing migrants to return to a country that's dealing with political instability, widespread poverty, the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, a place that many of them haven't been in a decade, that that is immoral, and that, moreover, the Biden administration continuing to implement Trump era policies that Biden and others called immoral when running for president is also immoral?
MAYORKAS: Oh, so, I respectfully disagree with the envoy's position.
And let me say a few things, if I may, because this administration, the Biden/Harris administration, has indeed rescinded the immoral, unethical and cruel policies. And we are rebuilding a system that has been entirely dismantled by the prior administration.
With respect to the conditions in Haiti, we studied those conditions very carefully. And we made a determination several months ago that individuals resident in the United States who were from Haiti who were unlawfully present could not safely return there. And, therefore, we granted them temporary protected status.
That applied to individuals who were already here in the United States on or before July 29. We then continued to study the conditions in Haiti, as is our responsibility. And we made a determination, based upon the facts, that, in fact, individuals could be safely returned to Haiti.
We work closely with the Haitian government. And we have provided $5.5 million in humanitarian aid to assist in their humanitarian and safe return.
So, Mr. Secretary, many House Democrats have expressed deep concern about you and your department and how you're implementing policies. This letter from the House Oversight Committee chairwoman and several others states -- quote -- "Reports that thousands of migrants are being deported to Haiti, despite turmoil in that country, raises serious concerns about whether the federal government is failing to treat migrants, including those fleeing violence, political instability, and natural disasters, with respect and dignity, and affording them a meaningful opportunity to seek asylum" -- unquote.
Do you think that asylum seekers who are fleeing violence, fleeing political instability, fleeing natural disasters, are they welcome in the United States?
MAYORKAS: They most certainly are.
Remember, it is very important to remember that the Title 42 authority is a public health authority, in light of the pandemic. It is not an immigration policy, nor is it an immigration policy that we would embrace.
We are rebuilding our immigration system. We are rebuilding humanitarian, safe and orderly pathways for individuals to make their claims here in the United States. We are also applying the law. In this case, it is a public health law to protect the American public, communities and the migrants themselves.
And there is much disagreement about almost everything that involves immigration in this country. But there is one thing as to which there is complete unanimity, that we are dealing with a broken immigration system. And that is why President Biden, on day one, sent a bill to Congress to once and for all fix what everyone agrees is a broken system.
So, Mr. Secretary, did I just hear you say that, if Title 42, I believe it's called, the -- which allows -- it's the health initiative, health imperative that allows DHS to expel individuals because of COVID.
Did I hear that you said you wouldn't welcome that? So, if the Biden administration rescinded it, HHS or whoever's in charge of issuing that, that would be fine with you.
MAYORKAS: What is fine...
TAPPER: CDC, I guess.
MAYORKAS: ... is that the -- yes, so, the CDC makes its determination, as experts, on behalf of the public's well-being from a health perspective.
If they determine that the public health imperative no longer exists, and Title 42, which is a statute, is a law...
MAYORKAS: ... need not be applied to protect people, then it will not be applied any longer.
MAYORKAS: And we will -- and we will proceed accordingly.
TAPPER: There has been a lot of controversy about the images of border agents on horseback addressing migrants at the border.
Take a listen to what President Biden said about the investigation into those agents on horseback and how they treated the border, and what you said about that investigation into that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promise you, those people will pay. They will be -- an investigation under way now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.
MAYORKAS: I will not prejudge the facts. I do not in any way want to impair the integrity of the investigative process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But, Mr. Secretary, you also said that the images -- quote -- "horrified us."
How can DHS claim to have an independent investigation into these Border Patrol agents, when the president says -- quote -- "Those people will pay" and you say the images "horrified us"?
MAYORKAS: Jake, I think it's quite clear that what the images suggest horrified the American public.
That is quite different than learning what actually happened, determining the facts. And the fact determinations will be made in an independent investigation by the Office for Professional Responsibility.
And the facts that are adduced, the facts that are determined will drive the outcome, nothing less and nothing more.
But what those images...
TAPPER: Some of the initial descriptions -- go ahead. I'm sorry.
MAYORKAS: But, Jake, what those images -- what those images suggest, what they appeared to portray was horrifying.
And that, I think, deserves attention. That is quite different than fact determinations. And I will tell you, I served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years.
MAYORKAS: And we conducted independent investigations, despite what appearances might have been and the public outcry about them.
But that's the thing. Some of the initial descriptions of those images were just patently false. There's now video out there that provides more context. Having seen the video, are you certain that there was actually wrongdoing?
MAYORKAS: I am going to let those investigators make that determination. And then that determination will drive the outcome of the investigation.
TAPPER: Can the Border Patrol count on you and President Biden, who has said that people will pay, to come to a determination based on the facts, and not based on Twitter outrage?
MAYORKAS: They sure can.
And let me say something about that, Jake, because I have worked very closely with the men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for many years, many, many years. And they are heroic, what they do.
And I saw their heroism displayed in Del Rio, Texas, last Monday when I was there on the ground. And that is emblematic of who they are, their commitment to this country, their talent and tireless dedication to mission. I'm incredibly proud to work alongside them.
TAPPER: Well, as you know, a lot of those agents on horseback, they're on horse because there are no roads in so many parts of the border. And a lot of them have saved the lives of migrants trying to cross the river.
The nice words you said about them, you should probably share with President Biden, not just with -- not just with me today.
Thank you so much for your time today, Secretary Mayorkas.
MAYORKAS: Jake, the president has echoed my sentiments many a time to the men and women of CBP.
TAPPER: All right, thank you, sir.
MAYORKAS: Thank you.
TAPPER: Six million American jobs are on the line next month, and Congress still needs to figure out a plan to save them.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joins me next.
And we said their names, people demanded action, and Congress came up short. Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey on the collapse of police reform coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Once again, the stability of the U.S. financial system is at risk, thanks to political brinksmanship in Congress.
If lawmakers do not act, the federal government will shut down this week. And, next month, the Treasury secretary says, the U.S. will not be able to pay its bills if Congress does not lift the debt ceiling, which, if that were to happen, that could be catastrophic for the U.S. economy.
It's a scenario that has not convinced a single Republican lawmaker to get on board to raise the debt ceiling.
Joining us now, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Good to see you.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Good morning, Jake.
TAPPER: So, the Senate is going to vote tomorrow to fund the government and to suspend the U.S.' borrowing limit.
To be clear, are you committed to voting no, even if that means risking a government shutdown and the U.S. defaulting on its debts in the middle of a tough economic time already?
TOOMEY: So, I will certainly be voting no if the Democrats insist on combining the debt ceiling increase or suspension with the continuing operations of the government.
And there is no calamity that's going to happen, Jake. If that were even a serious risk, don't you think the equity markets from last week, rather than fully recovering after the scare that came out of Evergrande in China, rather than fully recovering, as they did, maybe they would have traded off?
I think that's because the millions of investors across America know that no such calamity is going to occur.
TOOMEY: What's going to happen is, after Republicans vote no, Chuck Schumer is going to do what he could have done months ago, what he could have done weeks ago, what he could do tomorrow, and that is, he will amend the budget resolution so that Democrats can pass the debt ceiling all by themselves.
And that's what should happen. And here's why, Jake. They are in the midst of an absolutely unprecedented, very damaging spending spree on a scale that we have never seen. And they want us to come along and authorize the borrowing to help pay for it, when we are totally opposed to what they're doing.
They don't need a single Republican vote. Republicans can't stop it. It's not subject to a filibuster. And if they want to do this, they can go ahead and bring the attention of the American people to the increase in debt that we're going to need to pay for this spending spree.
TAPPER: Right. So...
TOOMEY: That's the reality. That's the way it's going to happen.
TAPPER: So, you know as well as I do, probably better than I do, that the debt limit, raising the debt ceiling, does not apply to the future expenses you're talking about. It's about paying for spending...
TOOMEY: Jake, can I cut you -- Jake, no, I'm going to cut you off right -- that is totally factually false.
TAPPER: It's false?
TOOMEY: It's factually false.
There -- absolutely. There's all kinds of spending that is yet to be approved, including the huge $5 trillion bill that you were discussing with several guests earlier on the show.
TAPPER: Yes, of course.
TOOMEY: The annual appropriation bill every year.
TAPPER: But raising the debt ceiling...
TOOMEY: None of that has happened yet.
TAPPER: But it's about the spending the Congress has already approved. That's why we're hitting the ceiling, because that spending is happening.
TOOMEY: No, Jake, I have just walked you through spending that has not yet occurred, but our Democrat colleagues want to engage in.
They are going to dramatically increase the amount of money that will need to be borrowed, because they want to engage in all this borrowing.
TAPPER: Of course.
TOOMEY: And they want the authority to borrow it now.
TAPPER: So, but, Senator, even if the...
TOOMEY: I don't agree with that spending.
Even if the $3.5 trillion spending package that's being discussed, the budget reconciliation and the infrastructure, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, even if those were tabled in perpetuity, would Congress have to raise the debt ceiling or not?
TOOMEY: At some point, we would.
TAPPER: OK. And that's my point.
TOOMEY: And by a smaller amount.
TOOMEY: So, that matters. The timing of this is coming much more quickly. And the scale is much greater than it would otherwise be.
TAPPER: Right. Next month, it would happen, instead of next week.
But that's my -- that's my point, is that this is already about spending that already occurred, including $8 trillion of debt under the Trump administration.
No, the way I think about, it is -- it is certainly not. The spending that's already occurred, the money was raised for it, either through taxes or through debt. This is about future spending, some of which we have already committed to in the form of the big entitlement programs that are in -- on autopilot, much of which has not been committed to, such as the new entitlement programs that our Democratic colleagues want to -- want to launch.
But it is indisputable that this spending spree -- if you spend more, you will have to borrow more. And the Democrats want to spend vastly more. So they are driving up the need for...
TOOMEY: ... still debt in the future to cover all of the spending they want to engage in.
TAPPER: Sure, I get that.
But, for instance, the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation act, Build Back Better, the Democrats -- and I know you oppose this, but the Democrats are proposing tax increases to pay for it.
TAPPER: When it came to, for example, the Trump tax cuts, that was about $6 trillion. Most of it was paid for one way or another, but not $2 trillion of it. That was not paid for in any way. You supported that.
And that created the debt as well.
TOOMEY: Well, yes, Jake, it also created the strongest economy of my lifetime. That's just an indisputable fact, strong economic growth in 2019, record low unemployment rates in 2019, all-time record low for many subsets of Americans, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and wage growth that was accelerating fastest for low- income workers, without -- just happening more organically because of the strong economic growth. That kind of economic growth generates more tax revenue. We were
seeing the complete success of the tax reform. It's indisputable that we had the best economy of my lifetime. And now the Democrats want to undo the very tax regime that helped enable that tremendous economic growth, a very bad idea.
TAPPER: Let me just ask you.
Technically, a government shutdown could have a severe impact on the efforts to combat the pandemic. Parts of the CDC, parts of the NIH could be forced to close temporarily if that funding were to expire.
If Democrats were to bring up a clean government funding bill, separate from the debt ceiling debate, because you said you objected to the idea that they were being pushed together, would you vote for that government funding bill?
TOOMEY: I might very well. In fact, I think Republicans will offer a clean continuing resolution that funds the government.
I have discovered in this -- in this place what is described as a clean bill seldom is actually a clean bill. But the gist of your argument, the gist of your question about whether Republicans would support a clean continuation of funding, the answer is, there would be a lot of Republican votes for that.
TAPPER: All right.
I do want to ask you about a couple other topics, because, this week, we learned that a conservative lawyer working for Trump's legal team, John Eastman, who's not some fringe guy -- I believe he was a Supreme Court clerk. He's with the Federalist Society.
He wrote a memo ahead of the January 6 insurrection laying out how Vice President Pence could toss out the election results in seven states, including the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which you represent, in order to throw the election for Donald Trump.
This was basically a how-to-stage-a-bloodless-coup memo. What was your reaction when you read about that?
TOOMEY: So, I haven't read the memo, so I don't know the details.
But you know what I think about what happened on January 6. In my mind, is very clear. Joe Biden won the election. And we were carrying out a very important, but essentially ministerial process that the vice president proceeds over to finalize and formalize what we already knew had happened, which was that Joe Biden had been elected president.
Any effort to derail that effort at that point, that exercise that we go through, is a tremendous events against the Constitution and our country.
TAPPER: Well, speaking of which, you and I are both Pennsylvanians.
Republicans in Pennsylvania are launching their own unnecessary taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 election results. They're subpoenaing -- or trying to, anyway -- the personal information of millions of our fellow Pennsylvanians.
Senator, you have long been on the record, as you just stated again, that Biden won the election, he won Pennsylvania. What do you make of this effort by Republicans in Pennsylvania?
TOOMEY: Well, so, I have enough work with my day job that I don't scrutinize carefully the legislation that's being passed in Harrisburg.
But I do want to make a point here, Jake. And that is, in Pennsylvania, sadly, we have a rogue Supreme Court that is lawless, has chosen repeatedly to violate the law and take into their own hands powers that belong in the legislature. And they did that in the election cycle, unilaterally changing the rules after a Republican legislature and a Democrat governor had agreed to the rules under which the election would occur during the pandemic.
They decided to throw that all out and write it themselves, with no authority to do so. That kind of thing also contributes to undermining confidence in an election. So, let's -- I think we should just be candid about that.
TAPPER: Yes, to be clear, though, I mean, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to review some of those decisions, and there was a whole stack of ballots that was put aside as a precautionary basis that were not even ultimately counted. So there was some supervision.
TOOMEY: I agree that...
TOOMEY: Yes, so -- but the Supreme Court's decision not to intervene, the U.S. Supreme Court, is not some kind of stamp of approval by the U.S. Supreme Court on what the state Supreme Court did.
It's just a continuation of a longstanding practice whereby the U.S. Supreme Court is very, very reluctant to step into an internal state matter.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, good to see you. Thank you so much.
TOOMEY: Thanks for having me, Jake.
TAPPER: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, a year ago, outrage over these lives and many others lost in brutal police encounters was prompting nationwide protests, calls for change.
This week, we learned that, after months of trying and working hard, a bipartisan group of lawmakers was unable to reach agreement on attempts to reform policing in the United States. It was essentially an admission that Congress is not going to act to address the issue, at least in the short term.
Joining us now, one of the lead negotiators, New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker.
Senator, so good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): No, it's grateful.
And, Jake, I know we want to talk about policing, but I'm sitting here kind of stunned. And you said it. And I just want to make the point. Donald Trump ran up profligate spending, $8 trillion worth of debt. This debt ceiling raise is all about money Donald Trump spent to give the biggest tax cuts that I have seen in my lifetime to the wealthiest of wealthy corporations and billionaires...
TAPPER: As well as middle-class people.
BOOKER: Well, we know 65 percent of that tax break went to the top 10 percent.
What Joe Biden has done is give the biggest middle-class tax break, with the child tax credit. These are -- this is math. It's not complicated. And so for people who ran up that, who voted for it, suddenly to say, I'm not going to raise the debt ceiling on debt that we voted for we supported, is, to me -- Jake, it's the Kabuki theater I think that frustrates a lot of folks.
What's happening tomorrow, Monday, continuing to run the government and continuing -- and raising the debt ceiling, is the stuff that, under Donald Trump -- because I voted for -- under Donald Trump to raise the debt ceiling three times. What they wrote for, Mitch McConnell talked about, even my friend, who's a gentleman, Senator Toomey, wrote an editorial in "The Wall Street Journal," I think it was...
BOOKER: ... calling for these actions.
I just -- it's the thing about Washington that frustrates many people is, under Donald Trump, there were certain rules. But now they don't want to do the same thing here. It is bad for the economy. It is bad during this time we are struggling with a pandemic.
These are the kinds of things that should be pro forma.
BOOKER: And then let's focus on the bigger issues before us.
TAPPER: OK, now that you have said that, I want to ask you about policing reform, because this is obviously...
[09:50:02] BOOKER: Yes. I'm sorry. I just...
TAPPER: No, no.
BOOKER: It was hard to sit here and listen to that.
TAPPER: It's fine. It's just such an important issue.
TAPPER: And we're all disappointed.
TAPPER: In June, you and other negotiators announced that you had -- quote -- "reached an agreement" on the framework for policing reform.
Take a listen to what Republican Senator Tim Scott, who was your partner in these negotiations, what he just said on CBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We have about a billion dollars in grant money that goes to police.
When you start saying, in order to receive those dollars, you must do A, B and C, and if you don't do A, B, and C, you literally lose eligibility for the two major pots of money, the Byrne grants and the COP grants, when you tell local law enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that's defunding the police.
There's no way to spin that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He says that the bill that you were pushing was defunding the police.
BOOKER: Again, it's unfortunate.
You remember, on this saga, we got the head of the FOP, the director of FOP, IACP -- these are some of the biggest unions and law enforcement agencies -- to go with us on a lot of commonsense reforms. And those folks don't want to defund the police. This is a bill that would have had millions of dollars for police departments.
TAPPER: Less -- fewer dollars, though?
BOOKER: Millions of dollars more.
TAPPER: Additional? BOOKER: Additional dollars, because we want to help officers with mental health issues. We want to collect more data, so we should give more resources.
So it was a frustrating experience, in the sense that we had the biggest civil rights demonstrations in this country's history asking for change. We wanted to have more transparency, higher professional standards, and real accountability. If you break the law, you shouldn't be shielded from that. Those were the lines all along.
We sat down, good-faith negotiations, got closer together, got major law enforcement groups to endorse it, but we didn't get it done.
TAPPER: Are you surprised that he's characterizing this as defunding the police?
I mean, I have to say, just as somebody who's covered legislation for a long time, having strings attached to funding is not a new development. It's how the United States federal government got states to raise their drinking laws.
It's like, you want highway monies, then you have to raise your drinking -- your drinking laws to 21, et cetera.
TAPPER: It's pretty common.
But he is saying that, because you attached it to police funding grants, that's defunding the police.
BOOKER: Well, the one area of the bill we agreed on was choke holds. And we conditioned funding -- federal funding on that.
So, again, I'm sorry that we're...
TAPPER: So what's going on with Senator Scott?
BOOKER: Well, I don't want to descend into partisan lines. This is a -- there's a lot more at stake here.
And a great example of this is, we wanted to memorialize what Donald Trump did. He passed an executive order that was -- actually had some good parts to it, like creating national accreditation standards that would have involved the FOP. And Donald Trump himself said, if you want federal dollars, you're going to have to comply with raising professional standards.
But we couldn't even get agreement to memorialize what is already the law of the land via executive order.
So, this is not a time for partisanship. I have talked to the family -- members of the families this week of, unfortunately, people who were murdered by police officers.
TAPPER: Well, let me -- yes. BOOKER: And they were very generous in saying: We're glad you held the line on certain things.
It's a shame that, when you have leaders of law enforcement who were there with you, but we couldn't get it all the way.
TAPPER: Take a listen to Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was on CNN earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN CARR, MOTHER OF ERIC GARNER: We were very hopeful that this would already be a done deal. And now we stand without anything.
So I think they need to go back to the table. They need to rethink this. This is a very necessary bill. And we have to go to negotiations again, because it has to be passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: She wants you to go back to the table.
BOOKER: Well, I -- again, I have talked to her and I have talked to many other members. I'm never going to stop until we get something substantively done.
BOOKER: The problem is, at some point, this negotiation was not getting to where it needed to be, especially if you can't even get Donald Trump's -- what he thought should be done memorialized.
I have been in this town eight years. I have gotten -- I have worked with Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner to get changes that many people said couldn't get done, lowering sentencing, getting rid of the banning the box for re- offenders.
I know how to get big things done. I know when we're not getting anywhere. This was one of those moments that two good people, both African-Americans who've had awful, awful experiences with police, we couldn't get it done that way.
I went to the White House a day or two afterwards, talked with President Biden, who was very connected to these negotiations in terms of watching what was happening. We talked about things we can do with executive orders.
But this is one of those times where it's not time to cast blame. We need to take responsibility for people, like you just showed. I take responsibility for this struggle. I'm going to continue to work. Not going to cast stones at Republicans or Tim Scott. That's not constructive.
[09:55:02] We have got to continue to work on getting real transparency in policing in America. We don't even know how many people have been killed at the hands of police in this country because we don't collect the data.
TAPPER: There's no database, right?
So, we need to -- these are things that we need to require federally, require them to be done. And, of course, if you're going to get a federal grant, you're going to have to show some transparency in what you're doing.
This is stuff that's not way out of the norm, what we were asking for. I was surprised that we got leaders of law enforcement to say, absolutely, yes, because they understand that we are at an inflection point in America. We have in the state of New Jersey applications for the state police are down 90 percent.
BOOKER: Law enforcement leaders understand it. That's why we got a lot of agreement with them.
We need some Republican partnership to get it done, and America deserves to get legislation...
TAPPER: We only have about a minute left. I want to ask you.
I was talking to Secretary Mayorkas earlier about the -- what's been going on at the border, especially with Haitian migrants. We have heard from a lot of civil rights leaders frustration that they're expressing with President Biden over the situation at the border, as well as the collapse of policing reform talks, and the lack of progress on voting rights legislation.
The Reverend Al Sharpton told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "He said," meaning Biden, "on election night, black America, you had my back, I will have yours. Well, we're being stabbed in the back, Mr. President. We need you to stop the stabbing from Haiti to Harlem."
Do you share Reverend Sharpton's frustration?
BOOKER: We need to pass voting rights.
We need to -- what happened at the border, unacceptable. But I just want to tell folks, I have now been in this town, as I said, eight years. What President Biden has done, and -- before his first year is over, and on issues that I have been fighting for, for eight years, he cut black child poverty in half with the child tax credit. Now we're moving to make elements of that permanent.
He helped black farmers, people that were out there. He is working to get that done. Lead pipes, which disproportionately affect African- American communities. Maternal health, what he's done -- black women die at four times the rate that white women -- his record for helping African-Americans is one of the best I have seen of any president.
TAPPER: Senator Cory Booker from the great state of New Jersey, thanks so much for being with us today.
BOOKER: Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: "The New York Times" reported this past week on the pending release of the FBI's uniform crime report showing that the number of murders in the United States spiked by nearly 30 percent from 2019 to 2020.
This news prompted this graphic, which on Twitter an "Axios" reporter happily assessed as grim and it prompted this tweet from former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, now with Fox, criticizing, quote, the U.S. murder rate under Biden.
One problem with that, of course, Joe Biden was not the president in 2020. Donald Trump was so this was the U.S. murder rate under Trump. Not that Trump should be personally blamed for this spike in murders. There are any number of reasons behind this spike as criminologists are now studying, ranging from increased domestic violence due to COVID to policing challenges after the murder of George Floyd.
As a policy matter, it's complicated, but as a human matter, of course, it is tragic. McEnany deleted her tweet, but I think it's worth taking a moment to look at her first impulse when confronted with these upsetting numbers of loss, of families destroyed, of humans eradicated from the face of the earth. Her first impulse seemed to be, how can I use this information to attack a politician I do not support? And that is an impulse we see all too often.
You could strain your neck watching some commentators go from attacking Joe Biden for not evacuating Afghan special immigrant visa applicants quickly enough to attacking Joe Biden for admitting too many Afghans to the United States. It is a bipartisan affliction, as evidenced by commentators on the left who attacked Trump for years for deportation policies who are now mum about Biden carrying on those same policies.
I personally will never understand folks whose outrage about civilian victims of U.S. drone strikes or murder rates or the deaths of U.S. service members, that outrage entirely dependent on whether the president in office at that moment has a D or an R after their name.
Yes, policies have real world life-or-death consequences and, yes, politicians should be held accountable for those policies, of course. But if your first instinct when you learn about a tragedy is to try to figure out how to fit it into your view that your side is the good guys and the other side is the bad guys, and you only accept the information that reaffirms that narrative, well, you're revealing a part of your soul that needs to be fixed, not a part that needs to be broadcast to the world.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. "Fareed Zakaria GPS" starts right now.