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Vaccination Timeline?; COVID Relief Bill Passes Congress; President Biden Secures 100 Million More Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Doses. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 10, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:08]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go. Here's the breaking news for you this afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

Any moment now, President Joe Biden will be holding an event with the CEO of Johnson & Johnson and Merck, on the heels of this historic partnership.

And according to the White House, he will announce plans to purchase an additional 100 million J&J vaccine doses. And this is, of course, coming just about an hour after the House passed the $1.9 trillion relief bill, marking one of the largest relief programs in modern times.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to speak any moment. And as soon as we see her there on Capitol Hill, we will bring it to you live.

Now, once the president signs this bill, what does that mean? That means millions of Americans will be one step closer to receiving $1,400 stimulus checks. This legislation also extends unemployment benefits for millions out of a job. It expands the child tax credit. It provides Affordable Care Act subsidies, and it includes funding for cash-strapped states and schools.

It is the largest set of relief checks ever and has garnered broad support across the country. You see the number here, new CNN polls showing 61 percent of Americans are on board with this COVID relief package.

I have Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, Phil Mattingly there at the White House.

And, Phil, starting with you, when can we expect the president to sign this bill?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke right now the White House planning to sign the bill, the president sign the bill on Friday.

And we actually just got the first word from the president since the House passage of the bill, putting out a rather lengthy statement, saying, in part: "This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation, the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going a fighting chance. On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House, a people's law at the people's house."

And, Brooke, make no mistake about it. Democrats both on Capitol Hill but definitely over the White House are buoyant at this point in time. This was what the president laid out on January 14, six days before he took office, $1.9 trillion. This is what he's going to sign into law, $1.9 trillion.

Now, he will have -- they will have remarks when he signs on Friday. He will have a prime-time address tomorrow, where this will be a key plank of those remarks.

But he will also go on a blitz after that. He's going to hop on Air Force One, travel the country, make sure to really do two things, one, sell the plan. He talked about how popular the plan is based on polling. It has been remarkably stable over the course of the last couple of weeks, but trying to continue to keep that momentum going in terms of support nationwide for the plan, but also answer a lot of questions.

You mentioned it's a sweeping bill. It has several crucial components. And a lot of people have a lot of questions about when they're going to get their checks, how the child tax credit expansion will be delivered, all sorts of things. The administration, from the president, to the vice president, first lady, second gentleman, Cabinet officials, all planning to go out in the country and try and address those questions and try and keep the pressure on to maintain that support that it's had up to this point, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, so Jessica, if Phil says the president autographs this thing on Friday, then what's the timing for the Americans who so desperately need this cash injection? When can they get the benefits?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, this is going to happen pretty quickly once it hits President Biden's desk.

He's pledged that a lot of families and individuals are going to start seeing that relief money coming to them within the month of March. So, this should happen over the next few days and weeks. People should start to see this money coming into their lives and also to these small businesses, schools. They're going to work hard to disburse all of this.

As Phil says, in some of these things, like the child tax credit, they're going to have to figure out exactly how to do that logistically. But those checks should be going out rather quickly once this thing gets signed.

Now, Democrats here could not be happier. In fact, we're waiting to hear from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer here in just a little bit, now that this thing is going through. They are thrilled that this has passed. To Phil's point, $1.9 trillion is what President Biden asked for.

It's pretty much what he's getting as well. So they're quite happy.

We also just spoke with us senior Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was over here just a few moments ago. He talked a lot about how Republicans are framing this. Remember, it got no Republican support.

BALDWIN: Right.

DEAN: They really see this as an albatross around Democrats' necks, because they say it's bloated, it's not targeted enough, that it has a lot of slush money in it that's bailing out these cities.

Of course, Democrats see this quite differently. They really believe this is something that is going to give the American people immediate relief and will be very popular -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Jessica, thank you so much.

Jessica and Phil, thank you, thank you, thank you.

With me now, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and White House correspondent for Politico Laura Barron-Lopez.

Dana, all right, so as we wait to see Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, we know that that, in terms of the support of Americans across the board for this bill, it's huge, right? Sixty-one percent of Americans support this thing.

[15:05:08]

How -- you saw that statement from the president. It's a people's law at the people's house. How huge is this for this White House?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's enormous. It's enormous for so many reasons.

First and foremost, just because it is the first very big piece of legislation that this president is pushing through, second of all, the content of what's in it that we just heard from our colleagues. It is all about the president's number one priorities, twin priorities, getting the pandemic off our plates, and getting the economy up and running.

And there's no question that that is the vast majority of this bill. And it reaches deep inside pockets of the work force, pockets of society that Democrats have been arguing, especially the most loudly during the 2020 primary season, have not gotten the help that they have needed from the federal government.

So, that is why this is so positive for the president, in terms of delivering on that campaign promise, even though we hear so much from Republicans about how he isn't delivering on another, which is bipartisanship. And that bipartisanship is a two-way street, and we have to remember that.

BALDWIN: Yes.

And I want to get to Republicans, Laura, with you.

Just another number for everyone watching; 85 percent of Americans say they support policies in this bill that would produce larger tax credits for families and ease the burden on low-income households. And yet, as we have been reporting, not a single Republican lawmaker supported this bill, despite its enormous popularity among Americans.

Will this come back to haunt Republicans? Will this hurt them politically?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, given the polling, which is that, as you said, Brooke, this is widely supported by Americans, not just Democrats, also Republicans and independents.

But Republicans are thinking about the midterms. They're thinking about 2022. And the midterms are very much--

BALDWIN: Laura, forgive me. Just quick pause. Let's listen to the House speaker.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is a momentous day in the history of our country, because we have passed historic, consequential and transformative legislation.

We are here today to sign the enrollment and roll the bill before it goes to the White House. In doing so, though, engrossment, these ceremonies or occasions to express recognition and appreciation.

And, first, I want to express recognition and appreciation to the president of the United States, Joe Biden.

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: President Biden's vision and his determination were so apparent to the American people and the reason why this legislation enjoys the support of 75 percent of the American people in a strong bipartisan way across the country.

We thank him for his leadership, and also for his contribution to the substance of the legislation, as well as his signature when that comes. It would not have happened without a very collaborative spirit among our members.

On the House side, I commend our chairs and members of the committees of jurisdiction for working together, the relentless work of our staff, to make it possible to go over to the Senate. I know that the Senate chairs and members of their committees had a commensurate effort going there.

So, it was collaborative. We had the leadership of our chairs, House and Senate, and we had the intellectual resources of the committee members, again, with the help of the staff, which would have never had this bill be possible without staff working so hard.

So, on this occasion -- and I think I can safely say -- and I have said this to my colleagues in the House on the Democratic side -- this is the most consequential legislation that many of us will ever be a party to. Who knows what the future may bring, but, nonetheless, on this day, we celebrate, because we are honoring a promise made by our president, as we join with him and promising that help is on the way.

And with that, I'm pleased, as always, to welcome back to the House a former member here, now the leader, the majority leader of the United States Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer, with appreciation for the great work that he did in the Senate to bring all of that beautiful exuberance together--

[15:10:05]

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: -- to send back to us, so that we could have this success today.

Mr. Leader, welcome back to the House.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Thank you, Nancy.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: And let me thank you for your beautiful exuberance as well.

And the thanks goes to the senators who are standing here, our great committee chairs, and all of our senators who pulled together as one unit, beating back killer amendments, making sure the bill was as strong as possible.

And I want to salute them, all of those who are here and some who couldn't be here.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: And I want to salute the House as well. We were a seamless web. And we work together, Democrats on the House side, Democrats on the Senate side, all together, because we knew how important this was to America.

So, what do we say to America? We say to America, help is on the way. Help is on the way. You will receive $1,400 checks by the end of March. Help is on the way. Vaccines will be available far more quickly to far more people at a -- in a shorter time. Help is on the way.

Our schools will open safely and more quickly than we thought. Help is on the way. Half of America's children who are in poverty will not be in poverty because of this bill. Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE) SCHUMER: We Democrats made promises. Particularly, we did in the Senate. We said, if we won those two seats in Georgia, we would get things done.

Mitch McConnell blocked bills four times in a row. And Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock told the citizens of Georgia, if they were elected, they would make sure that the actual promises made would be promises kept. And they have been.

So, this is a wonderful day for America. This is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we have passed in decades. And you know what we can show America? That we can get things done to make their lives better.

And we will continue to do that through the rest of this session. Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: Now, the distinguished majority leader of the Senate and I will sign the bill, and then it will begin its course to the White House.

With that, we thank all of our members who are here, House and Senate.

I do want to acknowledge Nikema Williams, who is here, because, in some ways, she made today possible.

SCHUMER: Yes.

PELOSI: Thank you, Nikema, president of the freshman class.

SCHUMER: And Bernie Sanders, our chairman of the Budget Committee, did a great, great job in getting this done, as did--

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: As did John Yarmuth of Kentucky, with a little help from Bourbon, right?

And, again, I see Richie Neal and Ron Wyden, the chairs, the Finance Committee, and they -- between the two of them, they put nearly a trillion dollars into the pockets of the American people.

But, in any event, we're here to sign the bill. So, thank you all very much for joining us. Thank you to our chairs, our rank -- our House and Senate chairs and, as you said, Mr. Leader so correctly, all those who are not here as well.

Thank you. Shall we?

BALDWIN: All right, Dana Bash, I'm bringing you back in.

You hear the message. Help is on the way. Message received. You even saw there a second ago the shout-out for Bernie Sanders, the progressive wing of the party, right? And we were just talking before we listened, obviously, to the fact that not a single Republican voted for this.

Just your thoughts as we watch them?

BASH: Well, they said exactly the line that we first heard Bernie Sanders use with our colleague Anderson Cooper the other night. It's the most consequential piece of legislation that they have been a part of since they have been in Congress.

And that's a huge statement, given -- I mean, we could just rattle off five things that would perhaps battle for that title. But they're trying to make a point. They're trying to make a point that they have delivered for all of their campaign promises. They're pretty transparent about that and about the specifics there.

And one of the interesting things that you were starting to talk about before they began was whether or not Republicans would have regrets--

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

BASH: -- in the fact that nobody voted yes for this.

You're already seeing in sound bite after sound bite, speech after speech, press release, after press release, they are trying to set this up as a liberal -- just a way to use COVID to pass all of the liberal agenda.

[15:15:10]

And while there certainly are things in here, that Republicans can label that way, that's also -- it's not exactly accurate, when you think about some of the things that Republicans voted for in a bipartisan way in past COVID bills. And I won't get into the specifics, because, frankly, they don't deserve to be heard.

But that is one of the main things that you're going to hear from Republicans, trying to make sure that they don't get in trouble politically for not supporting this by labeling it as just a socialist agenda, whereas the reality is, a lot of their constituents are going to be very happy to get this help.

BALDWIN: The most consequential legislation they say they have ever been a part of.

We have got to leave it. I have got this Biden event that's coming up in a bit.

Dana and Laura, thank you both so much.

Again, waiting for the president, who is hosting an event with vaccine makers at the White House. We will bring that to you live.

Also ahead today, Texas officially is ending its statewide mask mandate today, but many cities are keeping the policy in place. How's that going to work out?

Plus, the crisis at our Southern border is growing, as more and more children are showing up needing food and shelter, medicine, mental health services and more. What is the Biden administration going to do about it and them?

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

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[15:21:09]

BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Twenty-four hours to go before the nation marks one year since it's been on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, and here's a reality check for you. The president's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says we are not out of the woods just yet.

That is despite a continued downward trend in cases and deaths and getting more and more people vaccinated. Today, Texas has fully reopened, no mask mandate there. Other states are following suit, just as spring breakers are about to break out.

Erica Hill, CNN anchor and national correspondent, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Lone Star State open for business, masks no longer required, though some of the state's largest cities, many businesses are keeping their mandates in place.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Texas is at around 8 percent vaccination rate. Our positivity rates are still over 10 percent. Probably not the time to tell people it's OK not to wear a mask.

HILL: Boosting vaccinations a top priority.

ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Today, President Biden will direct Jeff and the Health and Human Services team to procure an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

HILL: Almost 10 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated. Early vaccine data shows no signs of safety issues for pregnant women or nursing mothers and more states are expanding eligibility, Alaska the first to offer shots to anyone 16 and older.

GOV. MIKE DUNLEAVY (R-AK): I think we will get enough Alaskans that want to be part of this process that we're going to put this behind us.

HILL: CDC officials calling initial CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people an important first step in resuming pre-pandemic lives. But it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: On travel. What about going out? What about getting a haircut? What about doing things like that? That's all imminently going to be coming out.

HILL: While we wait, spring break looms. Disney's theme parks in Orlando open at reduced capacity, almost fully booked next week.

Maryland dropping travel quarantines for out-of-state visitors as of Friday, at U.C. Davis offers students $75 grants to stay put.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's better than nothing. And I think it helps people maybe on the fence of staying or not staying.

HILL: While the picture is improving -- the seven-day average positivity rate in the U.S. now down to 6 percent -- newly published research shows the variant first discovered in the U.K. is not only more contagious, but also more deadly, fueling concerns that reopening too soon could send us in the wrong direction.

FAUCI: We understand people's need to get back to normal and we are going in that direction. But when you start doing things like completely putting aside all public health measures, as if you're turning a light switch off, that's quite risky. We don't want to see another surge. And that's inviting one when you do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: So, Brooke, today, we're here in New Rochelle, New York, which is just north of New York City.

And if the name sounds familiar, it should. It was just a year ago that Governor Cuomo put in place a one-mile containment zone in this city, which had about 100 cases at the time. A lot has changed in that year. Some things have not.

Initially, the National Guard, of course, was brought in. There was confusion about what containment actually meant. Was it a lockdown? I just got off the phone with Mayor Noam Bramson, told me maybe containment in the beginning was too confusing a word as everybody was figuring it out, but one of the big lessons that he has learned over the past year is what a strong, resilient community, he says, New Rochelle is.

He's also learned the importance of leadership and relationships and having those in place, he said, before you move into a situation like what we saw over the last year.

[15:25:00]

He also said, like many other communities, New Rochelle introspective at this point and reflective. They were in the headlines in the beginning, but, as he told me, they really have been living through this past year like so many others, and many people here, of course, looking forward to finally moving out of this pandemic.

BALDWIN: Cannot believe it's now been a full year since you all were there and we were talking about New Rochelle and just the beginning of this thing.

Erica Hill, thank you for the perspective.

Let's talk about the vaccination point here in America.

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath is a molecular immunologist, and the president and CEO of Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

So, Dr. McMurry-Heath, always a pleasure.

On the point of vaccinations, they're picking up speed. More states are opening up vaccinations to new groups. Erica was just reporting that anyone 16 and older in Alaska can get a vaccine. How soon until every single state offers vaccines to basically everyone?

DR. MICHELLE MCMURRY-HEATH, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BIOTECHNOLOGY INNOVATION ORGANIZATION: Well, it's definitely night and day.

The rate of vaccination is increasing by the day. And this is incredibly important, but slow and steady is going to get us there. And we have to stay committed to that goal.

It looks like we will be able to offer vaccine more fully to every adult American by sometime by the midsummer. And I know that sounds like it's still a little bit away. But we have come so far. This has been the slowest and the fastest year many of us have lived through. We just have to hang in there as we get towards the finish line.

It's incredibly important not to lose hope now.

BALDWIN: Slowest and fastest year we have ever experienced. That's a perfect way to put it.

The Biden administration has purchased another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They don't know yet, though, of course, when those shots will get in people's arms. You are a former J&J executive. What do you think needs to be done just to get these shots out, and fast?

MCMURRY-HEATH: Well, it's incredible to see the army of volunteers that have really stepped forward to make sure that they can vaccinate people. We are seeing more and more mass vaccination sites set up in large amphitheaters and arenas.

And this is exactly what we need to see. The combination of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine that have to be delivered in somewhat of a high- tech setting, and the J&J vaccine that is very flexible in terms of the setting in which it can be delivered because it's stable at refrigerator temperatures, and it can be delivered in one shot, means that we have two approaches now to really reach more people.

And I got my first dose of vaccine this morning. And I have got to say it was such a jubilant setting to see so many people from so many cross-sectors of the community coming together and saying, we're doing this to fight back against COVID altogether. BALDWIN: And seeing these nurses administering specifically the J&J vaccine, saying, one and done, and let's move along in our slowest/fastest year ever.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, thank you very much.

MCMURRY-HEATH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We are waiting to see President Biden, speaking of J&J.

He will be addressing the public for the first time since the passage of the historic COVID relief bill. We will bring that to you live as soon as we see him.

Also, breaking news today on the crisis at the border. CNN has just learned authorities there are encountering at least 1,000 migrants a day in South Texas. And it all starts under a bridge.

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