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State of the Union

Interview With U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 31, 2021 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Do or die. President Biden gathers with global leaders to tackle a warming planet in what could be the last, best chance to curb the climate crisis.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's about leading the world or letting the world pass us by.

BASH: Will America lead? Secretary of State Antony Blinken joins me to discuss next.

And deja vu. Democrats set another deadline after the president asks for a vote now and progressives say, nope, it's all for nothing.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Let's not just keep having postponements.

BASH: So, do they have a deal? I will speak to Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders exclusively and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg ahead.

Plus: final pitch. Candidates make their closing arguments in Virginia's race for governor, a surprising line from Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

FMR. GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA): This isn't about Trump.

BASH: As Youngkin doubles down.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I really haven't thought about anything beyond Virginia.

BASH: Is this race headed for an upset?


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is testing its international strength.

Right now, President Biden is in Rome on his final day at the G20, a major gathering of world leaders, the first in-person G20 since the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate change, COVID-19 vaccines and the supply chain crisis are some of the major issues on the agenda.

The president did secure a major victory, a groundbreaking global corporate minimum tax. And, this morning, President Biden announced a new trade deal with the E.U. to remove Trump era tariffs.

The president had hoped to be meeting with world leaders after a moment of triumph at home, going to Capitol Hill to ask Democrats to get behind his agenda, but a final deal still remains just out of reach.

Tonight, the president flies to Scotland for COP 26, a high-stakes international climate summit. Some are calling it the last chance for the world to come together on a plan to help slow the climate crisis.


BASH: Joining me now from Rome is the secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining me.

I want to start by what happened here in the U.S.

President Biden went to Capitol Hill. He asked for a deal before he left for COP 26. And Speaker Pelosi told House Democrats not to -- quote -- "embarrass" President Biden on the world stage.

But, as you know, the president is arriving there with no major climate plans signed into law. So, in the words of Speaker Pelosi, is he going to be embarrassed arriving in Scotland without a deal in hand?

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, look, happily I don't do -- I don't do politics in my job, but let me say this.

What I'm seeing here in Rome is a deep appreciation for American reengagement, American leadership, and it's making a huge difference on issues that are actually going to have an impact on the lives of Americans.

We're here at the G20, the world's largest economies. And with this American leadership, with this American engagement we've struck dramatic progress. We have a global minimum tax agreement.

That's an incredibly big deal. It's something we've been working on for a long time. We've gotten that over the finish line.

That means, instead of having this race to the bottom, where companies are moving to the countries that are offering the lowest tax rates and taking jobs out of the United States, we've now got a level playing field around the world. That's a product of our engagement, our leadership. Secretary Yellen and her team have done an amazing job on that.

We've got significant progress too on getting -- ending a dispute between the United States and our closest European partners where we were engaged in a tariff war over steel and aluminum. That's now gotten resolved.

That too is going to help American workers, help American businesses, help American consumers. American icons like Harley-Davidson are now not going to be subject to retaliation from Europeans. And we're now on the same page with our...

BASH: So...

BLINKEN: ... closest allies and partners.

We -- and across the board in areas that are really making a difference. There's an agreement now not to finance coal projects around the world.

BASH: Yes.

BLINKEN: This is one of the largest drivers of emissions.

And, going into Glasgow as -- again, as a result of American engagement and American leadership, we're getting that over the...

BASH: So...

BLINKEN: ... finish line.

And that means we're going to make more progress on climate change.

BASH: Mr. Secretary, you -- let's talk about climate change, because you know that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, they're not even going to go to the climate summit in person.

So how do you meet your goals at this summit, when two of the world's biggest polluters aren't even showing up?

BLINKEN: Well, two things, Dana.

First, here at the G20, they're not here either. We are. President Biden is. And that, in and of itself, is making a difference in driving forward our agenda, driving forward the issues that we care about.

BASH: Yes. And I understand that, but doesn't...

BLINKEN: In terms of Glasgow -- yes.

BASH: But the climate is a global thing, where everybody...


BLINKEN: Yes, I will turn to Glasgow.

BASH: ... has to agree to bring the -- to bring the crisis down.

BLINKEN: It is. It is. And I think it's ultimately going to be up to China, as now currently

the world's largest emitter, to decide whether it is going to do the right and important thing for its own people, but also for everyone around the world, because it's -- you're right.

Unless we're all in this together in making the -- taking the steps necessary to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, then it's going to be a problem.

And, ultimately, I think what you're going to see in Glasgow is most of the major emitters in the world coming together, raising their ambitions in terms of the commitments they're making to combat climate change, the United States not only doing that, but also putting in the funding necessary to help countries that need help with adaptation, with resilience, to do that.

Beijing is going to have to decide whether it's going to live up to its responsibilities, starting with his own people, who are affected directly by climate change.

BASH: So, you mentioned the 1.5-degree goal. That's what the Paris Climate Agreement says, that global warming needs to keep under that.

BLINKEN: That's right.

BASH: The U.N. said just this week that the world is on track to hit a calamitous 2.7 degrees warmer by the end of the century.

So, is it fair to say that the world is not going to keep warming under 1.5 degrees?

BLINKEN: Look, right now, we're not on track to do that.

That's why Glasgow is so important. And we're going to see what emerges from Glasgow in terms of the commitments that countries make. But it's not just Glasgow.

This is a critical moment, but it's also a jumping-off point going into next year to continue to do everything possible.

What President Biden has talked about is seeing this as a decisive decade, between now and 2030, because whatever goals we set for 2050, including making sure that we keep warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, if we're not taking the steps over the next eight to 10 years to actually do that, we won't hit the target.

But Glasgow is a critical milestone, but there's going to be a lot of work following from Glasgow.

BASH: President Biden said at CNN's town hall last week that the U.S. would come to Taiwan's defense if China invaded.

Your spokesperson said there's no change in U.S. position. So, I just want to clarify, has the U.S. committed directly to the Taiwanese government that it will come to Taiwan's defense if China invades?

BLINKEN: There is no change in our policy.

We've had a longstanding commitment that, by the way, then-Senator Biden strongly supported when he was in the United States Senate, a longstanding commitment, pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act, to make sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.

And we stand by that. The president stood by that strongly. And we want to make sure that no one takes any unilateral action that would disrupt the status quo with regard to Taiwan. That hasn't changed.

BASH: You are the secretary of state, and that was very, very perfect diplospeak.

So, I just wanted to -- for people who don't speak that language, can you clarify what that exactly means? Are you now saying that the United States would not come to Taiwan's defense if attacked? Can you be specific, yes or no?

BLINKEN: Dana, again, what I can tell you is that we remain committed, resolutely committed to our responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act, including making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself from any aggression.

BASH: OK, just one more follow on that. The president said specifically that the U.S. would. That's not what you're saying, correct?

BLINKEN: The president has, for a long time, including when he was a senator voting for the Taiwan Relations Act, made clear that we will do everything necessary to make sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.

BASH: OK, let's talk about Iran.

The G20 is also addressing the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons this week ahead of renewed negotiations about the nuclear dear in Vienna. So, is the U.S. prepared to increase pressure on Iran to get them back to the table?

And, if so, what does that pressure look like?

BLINKEN: Well, two things.

First, President Biden got together here in -- in Rome with his German, his French and his British counterparts. We are absolutely in lockstep together on how we're approaching the challenge of getting Iran back into compliance with the nuclear agreement.

And that's new, because we'd actually been at odds in recent years over that, when the United States pulled out of the agreement. We're now fully coordinated...

BASH: So, what is that -- what is that lockstep? What does it look like?

BLINKEN: ... and working on this together. So, two things. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way

to deal with the challenges, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, and particular -- particularly, unfortunately, the steps it's taken since we pulled out and in recent months to make that program increasingly dangerous.


There's still a window through which Iran can come back to the talks and we can come back to mutual compliance with the agreement. And that would be the best result. But it really depends on whether Iran is serious about doing that.

All -- all of our countries working, by the way, with Russia and China, believe strongly that that would be the best path forward. But we do not yet know whether Iran is willing to come back and to engage in a meaningful way and get back into compliance.

If -- if it isn't, if it won't, then we are looking together at all of the options necessary to deal with this problem.

BASH: I also want to ask about Afghanistan.

I want you to listen -- our viewers to listen to what you said two months ago about American's still in Afghanistan.


BLINKEN: We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200, and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave.


BASH: So, we now believe that there are still close to 200 Americans trying to get out of Afghanistan, even after you evacuated more than 200 already.

So, is it acceptable to you that so many Americans are still, two months later, trying to get out of Afghanistan?

BLINKEN: Dana, let's be very clear about this, because I think there's a tremendous amount of confusion about this issue that's built up in recent months.

And give me just one second, and I will try and explain it.

First, going back to March of this year, well before the president made his decision, well before Afghanistan imploded, the government and the military imploded, we started sending messages to those who had American passports in Afghanistan, 19 between March and July, urging them to leave the country.

By the time that the government did implode in August, there was still about 6,000 left. And there's a good reason for that. These are people whose entire lives were in Afghanistan. Their families were there. Their extended families were there. They -- that's what they knew. And so it's an incredibly wrenching decision to leave. So, about 6,000 left at that point.

During the evacuation, the extraordinary evacuation, in which we got about 125,000 people out of Afghanistan, we got virtually all of the 6,000 who remained out. There were still several hundred who had told us they -- at that point that they wanted to get out who were not able to get out by the 31st.

And what we said was, we -- there's no deadline to this effort. We will continue to get them out. Since August 31, as of today, we have gotten out, of the Americans left who said that they wanted to leave, about 340.

But what's happened since is this. More people have come forward in two ways. There were some small number of Americans in Afghanistan who didn't want to leave who've now seen that we've successfully been able to get some of the few remaining Americans out who've now come forward and said, we do want to leave. And there are a couple of hundred of those who are ready to leave. And we will work to get them out.

Similarly, since August 31, other people have come forward who had not previously identified themselves as having an American passport. They've now come forward to say that they do. We verified that. And if they say they want to come out, we will bring them out as well. But we've demonstrated exactly what we said in August, which is, even as we work to get as many people out as we could before we left the airport...

BASH: Right.

BLINKEN: ... we were convinced that we would be able to continue to do that. And we've done that.

BASH: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thank you so much for clarifying that. And thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

BLINKEN: Thanks for having me. Good to be with you.


BASH: House Democratic leaders want to try again this week for a vote on President Biden's priorities, but do they even have a deal?

Senate Budget Chair and key progressive Bernie Sanders joins me exclusively next.

And the Virginia governor's race is tighter than Democrats ever expected. Could Republican Glenn Youngkin's strategy be a playbook for other GOP candidates going forward?

I will talk to Youngkin about that ahead.


[09:18:18] BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

House Democrats are hoping to set up votes once again on President Biden's priorities as soon as Tuesday.

Biden has slimmed down his plan to upgrade the nation's social safety net. It still includes free pre-K, health and child care subsidies and serious money towards tackling the climate crisis. But it is missing several programs Democrats campaigned on, as well as the explicit support of two moderate senators who could make or break the deal.

Well, joining me now is the chairman of the Budget Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Thank you so much for joining me.

You have said there are major gaps in this plan. Several of your priorities, paid leave, dental and vision for Medicare, giving the government power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors, that's not in the deal.

You saw that House progressives...

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, it's not in...

BASH: ... endorse -- endorse the compromise.

Do you?

SANDERS: Well, it's not in the bill yet.

But what I can tell you, Dana, we are working right now. I spent all of yesterday on the telephone.

Look, we are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry has spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to make certain that Americans pay 10 times more for some drugs than the Canadians or the Mexicans do. That fight continues.

And the fight to expand Medicare, look, poll after poll shows that the American people understand it is not acceptable that elderly people have teeth in their mouth that are rotting, they can't digest their food. They can't -- they don't have the vision that they need in order to read a newspaper.

So, we are continuing that effort.

BASH: So, can I just...

SANDERS: And it just pains me very much -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.


BASH: No, I just want to just make sure that I understand what you're saying. You're saying you're continuing that effort. You want to still add it before the House votes? You want to add it to the bill that the House is...

SANDERS: Absolutely.

Look, we're working. As everybody should know, we're on two separate bills. You got a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will finally begin to address the reality that our roads and our bridges and our water systems are crumbling. That's one bill.

But we want to move both bills in tandem. And the second bill, the bill that deals with the needs of the working class of this country, in terms of child care, in terms of pre-K, that deals with the existential threat of climate, that bill is still being worked on literally today. It will be worked on tomorrow.

I believe we're making some progress in making it even stronger than it is.

BASH: If it -- if you don't succeed in that progress, will you support the framework as it currently stands, what the White House released at the end of the week?

SANDERS: Well, all I will tell you is we have a very, very strong bill.

And it deals with the fact that we are going to start paying attention to the needs of working parents, continue that $300. We're going to build affordable housing. We're going to make sure that elderly people and people with disabilities can stay at home, rather than be forced into a nursing home, et cetera.

We have got to demand that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes. All I can tell you is, there is more...

BASH: So, is that -- it sounds like that's a yes. If you're not successful, you will support...


SANDERS: It's a very good bill. No, no.

But I am -- right now, I can tell you, I am -- worked yesterday. We're working today. We're going to work tomorrow to strengthen that bill.

It is outrageous that we continue to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs...

BASH: Well, I want to ask you about that.

SANDERS: ... and that one out of four Americans cannot afford the prescriptions that their doctors write. That is not acceptable.

BASH: Let's talk about that, because that is one of the priorities that right now is on the cutting room floor, allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors.


BASH: I have heard you talk about this hundreds of times probably.

I was told that Senator Kyrsten Sinema says she opposes it because it stifles innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.


BASH: What do you make of that? And what conversations -- you're saying you're working on trying to change this. Are you talking to her? Do you think that she is convincible?

SANDERS: Look, this is not about Senator Sinema or Senator Manchin.

It's about 50 senators and the outrage that we do not have one Republican...

BASH: Yes, but they make up the math. They make up the 50 senators.

SANDERS: All right, but so do -- so we do all.

But here is the bottom line. Last year, the pharmaceutical industry made $50 billion in profit. Last year, the top CEOs made hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in outrageous levels of compensation, all right?

So the issue is, right now, the pharmaceutical industry is doing everything that it can to make sure that one out of four Americans is unable to afford the prescriptions that their doctors write. People are dying. The cost of insulin is totally 10 times more in this country than it is in Canada.

BASH: Will you vote for a bill that doesn't include that?

SANDERS: Now, anyone tells me -- pardon me?

BASH: You're talking about how important it is. Would you vote for a bill that doesn't include changing what you're describing as a very big problem?

SANDERS: I -- as soon as I leave the studio, I'm going to be going back home to get on the phone to make sure that we have it.

The American people, over 80 percent of the American people -- give you an example. Right now, the Veterans administration is paying half. Because they negotiate prescription drug prices, they are paying literally 50 percent of what Medicare is paying.

Does that make any sense to anybody? You got one government agency paying half as much as another government agency? That has got to be dealt with. We are working very hard to make that happen.

BASH: So, one of the reasons -- and I know you have spoken to him and you have heard him say publicly -- Senator Joe Manchin refuses to endorse some of the Medicare expansion in this is because he believes, believes that the inflation crisis in this country is very bad, and that, also on Medicare coverage, he believes that expanding Medicare, which is what you're saying should be done, will hurt the actual underlying -- will hurt the trust fund and make it hard for people to get basic Medicare.

How do you convince him that he's wrong on that?

SANDERS: Well, the way to convince him and the simple reality is, we are paying for this.

Inflation today is a serious issue, no question about it. But what we are doing in this legislation is demanding that the wealthiest people and largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. This bill is going to be totally paid for.

And in terms of Medicare solvency, I have no objection, I think it's a good idea that we raise additional revenue by lowering the cost of saving taxpayers money in Medicare and putting that into expanding Medicare solvency. I am supportive of that idea.


BASH: So let me just follow up on one part of this, which is, people don't understand maybe why there's such a fight here. And it is because there are philosophical differences within the Democratic Caucus, big ones.

And you say this is going to be paid for. Joe Manchin just doesn't believe it, and believes it will add to the debt and the deficit, and it will contribute to big government spending. And he doesn't think that's the way to go.

SANDERS: Look, I...

BASH: How do you bridge that gap?

SANDERS: Well, but that -- well, 48 -- well, let's also back up a little bit, and make sure everybody understands.

There are 100 members of the United States Senate. Unfortunately, we do not have one Republican who is prepared to take on the pharmaceutical industry, take on the private health insurance companies, not one Republican prepared to come forward to deal with the crisis of climate, not one Republican prepared to say to the richest people and largest corporations they're going to have to pay their fair share of taxes.

So, we're down to 50 people. And any time you got 50 people with different ideologies coming from different parts of the country, there are going to be differences of opinion.

BASH: So, given that reality...

SANDERS: And that is, believe me, what we are -- yes, what we are struggling with right now. BASH: Given -- sorry to interrupt you.


BASH: Given that reality, do you believe that House progressives should insist on a public commitment from Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema before they vote yes on either of these bills this week?

SANDERS: I think there has got to be a framework agreed upon in the Senate that all of us know is going to be implemented before the members of the House vote. Yes, I do.

BASH: And how would that manifest itself? Do you want them to make public statements? Do you want...

SANDERS: Well, it will be a framework.

Yes, well, you're going to have a piece of paper which will say, this is going to be in the bill. You don't have to have all of the legislative language. But you have to have a statement which says A, B, C, D, and E is going to be in the package and 50 members of the Senate are supporting it.

BASH: So, until Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema do that, you don't think the House should vote?

SANDERS: Well, I think that the House is -- I think we can put that together within the next short period of time.

Look, this thing has dragged on forever. But I think, when the American people see the results of what we are trying to do, and understand that, for the first time really in the modern history of this country, we are attempting to tackle the real crises facing working families, the massive income and wealth inequality that we have, I think the American people...

BASH: Yes.

SANDERS: ... will be very pleased and understand that government is now starting to work for them, rather than the big money interests.

BASH: And, just real quick, you have conversations with them, I know with Senator Manchin. He's not on board yet, it sounds like, based on your private conversations?

SANDERS: Look, I -- you know, we have 50 people that we have got to get on board.


SANDERS: This is not easy stuff.

But what we are trying to do is put together the most consequential piece of legislation in the modern history of this country, which will transform the role of government in protecting the needs of working families. BASH: Senator, before I let you go, switching topics, we are learning

brand-new information this weekend about more than 700 pages in documents that former President Trump is trying to shield from the January 6 committee, including handwritten notes from his chief of staff, call logs, visitor records.

What do you think he's trying to hide?

SANDERS: Well, I don't want to speculate. I don't know what's in the -- those documents.

But I suspect it will be the role that his administration played in maybe fomenting that insurrection.

BASH: Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Budget Committee, it sounds like you have a very busy 48 hours ahead of you.

Thank you for your time.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

And is Democrat Terry McAuliffe's strategy of linking his opponent to former President Trump, is that going to help or hurt him in the governor's race? His answer is next.


BASH: Welcome back to "State of the Union." We could see as soon as Tuesday how the Democrat strategy in Washington is playing out with voters. A closely fought governor's race in Virginia was once thought to be a relatively easy victory for Democrat Terry McAuliffe who has held the job before. After all, Joe Biden comfortably won Virginia a year ago by 10 percentage points.

But as McAuliffe put his efforts into tying his GOP opponent to Donald Trump, Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin seized on culture wars and parent frustration with schools in voter-rich suburbs. A new poll has Youngkin ahead.


BASH (VOICE OVER):For a first-time candidate who started out with almost no name recognition, quite a crowd gathered to greet businessman Glenn Youngkin, especially for 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday.


BASH: And this is Alexandria, Virginia, where Joe Biden won a whopping 80 percent of the vote just last year. Youngkin is tapping into a potent issue especially amongst suburban voters, education.

YOUNGKIN: We will have choice in our public schools.

BASH: Walking the finest of lines, appealing to parent frustration exacerbated by the pandemic.

YOUNGKIN: Schools will never be closed in, five days in-person everyday.

BASH: While dipping his toe in culture wars amplified by conservative media.

YOUNGKIN: On day one I will ban critical race theory from being in our schools.

BASH: Reality check, critical race theory is not part of Virginia's Standards of Learning, but he knows it's an animating issue for the GOP base still loyal to Donald Trump, but Youngkin is wary of alienating Independent voters.

BASH (ON CAMERA): Is this a Republican playbook that other GOP candidates can use going forward in blue states?

YOUNGKIN: I really haven't thought about anything beyond Virginia. It felt like there was a different way to run a campaign.

BASH (VOICE OVER): Keeping Trump's voters on board, but the man himself at a comfortable distance, is the name of the game for Youngkin in blue Virginia. The former president is expected to participate in a tele-rally here on Monday.

YOUNGKIN: I haven't been involved in that. My -- the teams are talking. I'm sure --

BASH: I'm sure they'd love to have you. Would you like to be there?

YOUNGKIN: I'm not going to be engaged in the tele-town hall. But we have more people helping us than you can possibly believe.

BASH: In response, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe told CNN's Dan Merica --

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Do you know, Dan, this isn't about Trump?

BASH: Unusual from the candidate who made tying Youngkin to Trump the centerpiece of his campaign.

MCAULIFFE: I am running against someone who has been endorsed by Donald Trump. Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin are trying to run down the democracy of this country. My opponent, as you know, is a Trump wannabe, who's been endorsed by Trump five times.

BASH (ON CAMERA): I'm glad I have two cups here so I can keep drinking when you mention Donald Trump's name.

DAN MERICA, CNN REPORTER: Have you made this race too much about Trump?

MCAULIFFE: No. He wants to run again in 2024. I think he wants to use this, Dan, as a launch pad for that, that's pretty clear. BASH (VOICE OVER): What is also clear is that McAuliffe is trying to

nationalize this race, bringing in the big guns in the hopes of encouraging a complacent Democratic electorate to go to the polls.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Show up for democracy, for Virginia, for the United States of America.

BASH: A contrast Youngkin is leaning into.

YOUNGKIN: Quit bringing all these people into Virginia. We don't even know who they are. We are running as Virginians.

BASH: Staying local, a strategy that has the added benefit of helping him avoid Trump.



BASH: Joining me now is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning, sir.

We're going to get to those supply problems in a minute. But, first, President Biden really raised the stakes this week when he went to Capitol Hill, he urged Congress to pass his agenda, he explicitly said the state of this presidency hangs in a balance. And yet Democrats couldn't deliver.

So, why wasn't he able to close the deal with his own party?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, look, we are the closest that we've ever been and the president is confident that this framework that we're putting forward can pass the House and Senate and get to his desk for signature.

And the reason you hear the sense of urgency on his part, it's not just politics, is that the country needs this. World leaders are gathering in Glasgow right now, looking at this chance that we have. And it's barely within our grasp now to be able to beat the worst effects of climate change. That means immediate action and that's part of what's in this package.

But also, families are ready for the support that has been lacking for a long time in this country. To finally have preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old kid in this country, to extend that tax cut -- the tax credit, which means hundreds or thousands of dollars in the pockets of 9 out of 10 families with kids in this country. The urgency of making sure that we -- we make it easier to -- that have a -- a loved one who needs home care, by cutting those wait lists.

And we're talking about things that are going to make a real, concrete and urgently needed impact in their lives, not to mention, of course, all those transportation infrastructure opportunities that I've been talking about all year, that -- that we have a chance to deliver right now. DANA BASH: So you talked about a lot of -- a lot of big changes that are currently still in this framework compromise. There is something that isn't, and that is paid family leave. You return from paternity leave after welcoming your newborn twins, Penelope and Joseph. And I want our viewers to hear what you said on this show just two weeks ago about the importance of paid family leave.


BUTTIGIEG: I campaigned on that. So did the president. The Build Back Better agenda includes provisions for paid family leave. It is long past time to make it possible for every American mother and father to take care of their children when a new child arrives in the family.


BASH: So, what do you say to the more than 100 million Americans who don't have access to the kind of paid family leave that -- that you just benefitted from and who don't understand why the administration didn't fight harder to keep it in the bill?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, it's something that we believe in. I believe in it. Obviously it's personal for me. The same is true for the president. And it's something that we'll continue pushing for.

But let's talk about what is in this bill. Childcare credit. The -- support. Financial support for millions of American families to be able to get childcare. In addition to free preschool for three and four year olds, in addition to that child tax credit that again is concrete leaning (ph), hundreds of dollars more.

BASH: And -- and that -- and -- and, sir, all of that is so -- all of that is important and I'm not -- and I'm not taking it away from you. But when you say you're going to continue to keep fighting, how are you going to do that when we're in -- entering an election year and this was the vehicle on which the Democrats really felt was the most important, maybe the last chance to do it in the near future?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I'll tell you how we're going to do it. We're going to do it from a position of strength because when we pass this bill, we will have delivered the most important pro-family legislation of my lifetime. The biggest expansion in health care since the ACA itself. The most we've done on climate change ever. And concrete improvements, literally, in roads, bridges, ports, airports and so much more.

When you have a successful policy, when you deliver major, positive transformational change in the lives of Americans, you are rewarded with more running room to do more great things.

BASH: So --

BUTTIGIEG: I firmly believe that, that idea that good policy is good politics. And this framework is good policy.

BASH: You know why it was dropped. It's because Senator Joe Manchin simply does not think that money should be spent on this in the way that it is being -- was proposed.

What do you say to him?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, again, I'm a -- I'm a big believer in this policy and -- and I think it's the right thing to do. I'm also a huge believer in the things that are in this bill in front of us right now. This is not half a loaf. This is a feast of good policy of which my party has been talking about, or even politicians on both sides of the aisle have been talking about for literally as long as I have been alive. And the chance to deliver it is now within our grasp. It is an extraordinary package that is going to make concrete improvements in the lives of every American. And I can't wait to see it done.

Obviously, you know, when you put together something this big and this complex, nobody gets everything that they want. The president has been clear about that. I don't think anybody crafting their perfect package in their mind would see it reflected here because this reflects the input of so many different people.

BASH: Right.

BUTTIGIEG: Including bipartisan work on the infrastructure side and a very ideologically diverse big tent party on the -- the family stuff. By the way, on the family stuff, I have to say, I don't want to let Republicans off the hook. I think at least some of them should be able to vote for those tax cuts for middle class families. I think at least some of them should be able to vote for those tax cuts for middle- class families. I think at least some Republicans should be willing to vote for 3- and 4-year-olds to get preschool in this country. I think at least some Republicans should be prepared to vote for Americans to get up to a $12,500 discount (inaudible) vehicles so that we can create American jobs --

BASH: So --

BUTTIGIEG: -- and beat climate change. Everybody should be a part of the solution.

BASH: Well, the Trump administration did pass 12 weeks of family leave for federal employees. But I want to move on because you mentioned infrastructure. I want to talk about the supply chain crisis.

Two weeks after the Biden administration announced that key ports would move to 24/7 operations, supply chain backlogs are still really not getting much better. There are persistent truck drivers, there's (ph) warehouses that are overflowing, an estimated $24 billion worth of goods are stuck waiting to go through U.S. ports. So how are these going to be fixed and do you expect these persistent delays to continue through the holidays?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we are going to continue to see challenges. The steps that we're taking are making a difference. But think about all of the things that have to happen to get a product to a shelf on time. Fundamentally it's up to the producers, the shippers, and the retailers and we're doing everything we can to help them move those goods across the infrastructure that's often outdated. Look, we've got demand that's off the charts, the Retail Federation is predicting an all-time record high in terms of sales. We've got supply, which is, in some cases, actually up but not up enough to keep up with that demand. And then the biggest thing of all, of course, we have the pandemic. The pandemic is poking holes in supply no matter how good any company or any administration is.

We're going to keep working on things like the port issues, smoothing out anything else that is within our control. But the only way we can really put these disruptions behind us is to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, which is why the president has been leading decisively to do just that.

BASH: I want to ask before I let you go about a flight attendant for American Airlines who was hospitalized this week (inaudible) broken bone -- several of them in her face after a passenger assaulted her mid-flight. So far this year the FAA is investigating more than 900 incidents of violent or unruly passengers. And that's up from 150 two years ago.

So should there be a federal no fly list for people who behave like this on U.S. flights?

BUTTIGIEG: I think that should be on the table. Look, it is completely unacceptable to mistreat, abuse, or even disrespect flight crews. These flight attendants have been on the frontlines of the pandemic from day one. And they're up, there as the announcement always say, for your safety. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of treatment of flight crews in the air or any of the essential workers -- from bus drivers to air crews who get people to where they need to be.

The FAA stands strongly with flight crews. It's why you're seeing some really harsh penalties and fines being proposed. And we will continue to look at all options to make sure that (inaudible) and passengers are safe.

BASH: Before I let you go, it is Halloween. Do the twins have a costume -- or costumes?

BUTTIGIEG: So yes, my husband Chasten found these -- it's a little hard to describe, but basically they're like these traffic cone costumes -- they're infrastructure basically. They're going to be going as infrastructure.

BASH: That's amazing. Secretary Buttigieg --

BUTTIGIEG: Of course.

BASH: -- thank you so much for your time this morning.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you. Take care.

BASH: Tuesday is Election Day when we find out who emerges on top in closely watched races, including and especially the Virginia's governors race. Tune into CNN special coverage on Virginia and other key races across the country. We're going to learn how voters feel about the president, the parties, and other hot button issues like police reform. That's Tuesday night, join me and our political team at 6:00 pm Eastern for our special election coverage.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with me, all of us here at "State of the Union." "Fareed Zakaria GPS" is up next.