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Soon, White House Event to Hail $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Packaged; Biden, Harris, Democratic Leaders Speak on Passage of COVID Relief Package. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 12, 2021 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:31:21]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, you are looking here at the White House Rose Garden. We're keeping an eye on it because we are awaiting President Biden.

He is going to be speaking as he and other Democratic leaders celebrate the passage of the massive COVID relief plan, which they are about to do any moment here in the White House Rose Garden.

With me to discuss before this gets under way, we have CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, and Abby Phillip, anchor of CNN's "INSIDE POLITICS" on Sundays.

Gloria, we're not expecting any Republicans at this event.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No.

KEILAR: We're expecting Democrats from the House and from the Senate. What is that going to mean for the celebration?

BORGER: I don't think it's going to keep Democrats from celebrating just because there will be no Republicans there.

They believe, and I think with some reason, that this is the largest anti-poverty package in a generation. And if Republicans didn't want to vote for it, so be it.

Last night, the president explained it to American people. And today, I think you'll see Democrats celebrating what they've done. I think it's just as simple as that.

KEILAR: I wonder, Kaitlan, what this means. Look, no Republicans. But what does it mean going forward? Because Biden will have other legislative priorities.

Is he going to go it alone on those or is he going to spend time courting Republicans more?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: One thing that could even be a problem going forward with their agenda is Democrats not agreeing with each other.

That's something else the White House is obviously trying to keep an eye on, make sure the caucus stays in line.

I'm just looking to see, President Biden hasn't come out yet. But I just saw the first lady, Jill Biden, there.

I will note she is the only person I saw in the room among actual senior staff and other officials around President Biden last night as he was giving that primetime address.

Which he was tying directly to this response going forward as we are moving on with this pandemic and talking about the rays of light at end of the tunnel, to this package he'll be talking about right now.

They don't seem to be hampered by the fact Republicans did not help get this passed. Instead, are going to be embarking on that tour next week in order to ensure that it stays popular with all Americans not just Democrats.

You saw Republicans be in favor of several aspects of it. And whether or not that changes after once it starts to get implemented and people start to see how it affects their daily lives, that's the question.

You see President Biden making his way up to the microphone. So I'll let President Biden take it from here.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

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

Well, thank you.

Thank you to our great president, Joe Biden! Our great speaker, Nancy Pelosi! And a special round of applause to all the Senate and House members that are here and those who are not.

It could not have happened without all of you working as a team. So thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: It's been a long and difficult year here in America. We've lost so many in so short a time. But finally, hope is on the horizon and help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: What do we say to America? We say to America: Help is on the way! Help is on the way. You will receive your $1,400 checks in a few weeks.

[14:35:03]

Help is on the way. People are being vaccinated more quickly and more effectively than we ever imagined.

Help is on the way. Half the children in America will no longer be in poverty.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: And help is on the way. Our schools will open more quickly and more safely than anyone has ever thought.

We Democrats made promises. We made promises in Georgia. We made promises in the country. We said, if we gained the Senate, kept the House and elected the president, we would finally get things done, and get us out of this COVID crisis.

And we are on the road to success. Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHUMER: This is a wonderful day for America. This is the most significant piece of legislation, in so many ways, in decades. And we are just getting started. Help is on the way.

Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Thank you so much.

Good afternoon. Good afternoon. And in the Rose Garden.

Thank you, Mr. President, Madam Vice President.

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: An honor to be with you and to be with majority leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer.

I join him in acknowledging our members who are here, many chairs of the committee, members of our leadership. Because without all of you, this would not have happened.

And it certainly would not have been, without Joe Biden as president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

PELOSI: Mr. President, I -- everybody is complementing us. And every time we get a complement, I say, I accept on behalf of the House Democrats, and of the staff of the House Democrats, and I know of the Senate staff as well. They worked so very, very hard.

But let me say this about my members. Our chairs were dazzling in their own work, intellect, integrity, imagination for the American people, working with their Senator colleagues.

I say their beautiful diversity of our members. And I say to them, our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power.

And in this bill, our diversity to protect everyone in our country, to end the disparity and access to everything that the bill presents, our diversity was reflected in the House and the Senate in that policy.

But our unity on behalf of all of the American people is what made this such a triumph.

Whatever differences there may have been, shall we say, as I say to the chairman, exuberance, the leader, certain exuberances here and there, we all knew our purpose.

We were unified on behalf of the American people, for their children, for their health, for their education, for the economic security of their families.

Yes, this is a great day to be in the Rose Garden, and to have us be able to fulfill the promise that President Biden has made all along, that help is on the way.

Promise made. Promise fulfilled.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(APPLAUSE)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Madam Speaker, and Mr. Majority leader, and America.

The president promised help is on the way. And today, help has arrived.

Help has arrived for the workers who lost their jobs. Help has arrived for the students who have been stuck at home. Help has arrived for the families that have struggled to put food on their table. And for the small businesses that have struggled to keep their doors open.

Help has arrived, America.

This landmark legislation will get relief to families, get support to communities, and make sure more shots get in arms.

And I want to thank the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and all of the members of Congress who voted for this legislation and helped lead to its success.

And, of course, we would not be here today were it not for the leadership of our President Joe Biden.

(APPLAUSE)

[14:40:07] And I just want to say something about the president. From the beginning of this, Joe said, we got to tell the stories. We got to tell the stories. We got to show that we understand what the people are experiencing and what they need.

And I've been in rooms with Joe when it's just he and I, been in rooms with Joe and I with just a small group of our team and when the cameras are there, and he's the same person every time. And he's always talking about what do the people need.

And you know, when the president and I were preparing to take office, we knew what we were up against. So we started working on a plan, this plan, the American Rescue Plan.

And, Mr. President, from the very start, you sought the people out. You asked them, as only Joe can do: How are you doing? You listened to what they said. And you remembered what they said.

And every day, in every meeting, you reminded us who we were doing this for. The American people.

And in particular, the American people who are hurting the most. The workers who have been out of a job for six months to a year. The families that lost a loved one. The communities that have been torn apart by this deadly virus.

You, Mr. President, have carried a card in your breast pocket with the number of those Americans who have died from COVID-19.

Every day he carries that card. Literally, keeping their memory close to your heart.

You have grieved, Mr. President, out loud with our nation, mourning the loss of so many extraordinary Americans. Your empathy has become a trademark of your presidency. And can be found on each and every page of the American Rescue Plan.

Joe Biden, Mr. President, you, had a vision. You had a purpose. And you had faith that the American people, regardless of who they voted for, would support this plan simply because it will help.

You had faith that Congress would pass this plan simply because it is the best thing for the American people.

And you put in the work to make it happen, to get relief directly to the American people.

And we both served in the Senate. So we know there's rarely been a bill that's so concrete and tangible.

Mr. President, people will feel and they will see what we all did here. They will see the checks in their bank accounts.

They will see the child tax credits when they file their taxes, when they return to work, when they return to school, when they reopen their businesses, when they hug their grandchildren for the first time in a year.

Americans will see what we did here. What you did, Mr. President. And they will feel the impact of this bill for generations to come.

And that's what happens when you make historic investments in communities of color and tribal communities and rural communities. That's what happens when you lift half of those children living in poverty out of poverty.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: Because of you, Mr. President, help has arrived. And on behalf of our nation, thank you.

And it is now my great, great honor to introduce the president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Good afternoon.

Thank you, Kamala.

You know, when I look out over what happened in the last 50 days, when Jill and I first got a chance to move into this magnificent building here behind you, I promised the American people -- and I guess it's becoming an over-used phrase -- that help was on the way.

[14:44:59]

But today, with the American Rescue Plan now signed into law, we've delivered on that promise. And I don't mean I've delivered. We've delivered.

Look out there on all of you.

Patty, there would still be people, kids in poverty, were not for all the work you did all of those years.

And I want to say to Bernie, Bernie, stepping up and making a case why this was so transformational, made a big difference in how a lot of people voted.

I look out at all of you, House members as well, who have made the case to the American people why this is so important.

I watched my buddy, Jim, down in South Carolina, stand up and talk about how it's going to affect individual people.

I have -- my inclination is to mention every single one of you because -- I think I've called most already and thanked you for what you did.

I called (INAUDIBLE), but he wasn't there. He was on the other side of the river. We joke all of the time. He's in New Jersey. I'm in Delaware. I keep reminding him, Delaware owns the Delaware River up to the high-water mark in New Jersey. (LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: But all kidding aside, I want to thank you all.

I want to thank particularly the speaker, who, from day one, from the very first day I got the nomination, was supportive in ways that are hard for me to describe.

And, you know, I served a long time in the United States Senate. Longer than anybody still there at the time, other than Pat. And if I were still in the Senate, I'd be Senator pro tem because I was two years ahead of Pat.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: All kidding aside, still a lot of great majority leaders. Stood with them. But I never saw anybody handle such a controversial, consequential piece of legislation right on the edge than Chuck Schumer.

I owe you, Chuck. You've done an incredible job.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And, look, to the members of the House and Senate, thanks for making this happen. You made it happen.

As I said, I served 36 years in the Senate and I know how hard it is to pass major consequential legislation, particularly when we only have such minor, small majorities in both Houses.

Steny, you've done an incredible job.

And Nancy and Chuck, I have to say I agree with many of the columnists that have commented on this legislation. What you shepherded through the Congress, not only meets the moment, but it does even more. It's historical. And they call it transformational. And it really is.

The bill was supported overwhelmingly by the American people, Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

It had a strong support of governors and mayors across the country in both parties, red states and blues. Over 430 mayors contacted me. Many Republicans supporting the bill.

And here's why, because what you all did with it, in the refinements you made, it directly addressed the emergency in this country. Because it focuses on what people need most.

Debbie and I often talked about, you got to tell people in plain, simple, straightforward language what it is you're doing to help. Got to be able to tell a story. Tell the story of what you're about to do and why it matters.

Because it's going to make a difference in the lives of millions of people and in very concrete, specific ways. This legislation, as everybody's already mentioned, will provide

$1,400 in direct payments, which was promised.

That means for a typical middle-class family of four, husband and wife working, making $110,000 a year, that means a $5,600 check they're going to get. And 85 percent of the households --

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: -- in America will be getting this money.

A lot of you know, because of the way you came up, like I did and others, what that can mean.

Think of the millions of people going to sleep at night staring at the ceiling thinking, my god, what am I going to do tomorrow? Lost my health care. Don't have a job. Unemployment runs out. I'm behind on my mortgage. What are we going to do?

Well, guess what? They're going to be getting that check soon, either by direct deposit or a check from treasury. And some will get it as early as this weekend.

This legislation provides resources to open our schools. How many of you have dealt not only in your own home and with your children and grandchildren, if you have them, with how difficult it is?

The mental pressure and stress that are on so many families. So many people needing -- needing help. If they had access to counseling because it's caused an enormous, enormous stress.

[14:49:58]

This legislation extends unemployment insurance by $300 a week until September. It's going to help 11 million Americans who were days from losing that benefit.

This legislation includes the biggest investment in childcare since World War II. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact. It's a fact.

It provides help for small businesses to stay open. And, you know, 400,000 -- so many have had to close because, the first time around you all worked and did a great piece of work. And the House passed significant legislation.

What's the first thing the last president did? He fired -- he fired the folks who were supposed to watch and make sure it got, in fact, distributed the way it was supposed to.

They financed so much that went to people who didn't need it. You all took care of that. It extends coverage and lowers health care costs for so many Americans. So many Americans. And it's a big number for people.

It provides for food and nutrition. Because people knew, when you all were out there handing out food, like many of us were, but you saw people who were in car lines that were literally miles long.

You would see four lanes of cars that went back for half a mile each just to get a box of food. Again, through no fault of their own.

It's going to help people keep a roof over their heads. Half a million haven't been able to make their mortgage payments. About to be thrown out of their apartments. They have to make up all that they owe. And those mom-and-pop realtors are in real trouble.

It's going to cut child poverty in half.

You know, I've talked to so many of you.

Rosie, you and I have spent so much time on this.

But you guys, you, Patty and others, Elizabeth, have been leading this for so long. It's finally coming to fruition.

And the American people understand it.

It pays for many of the steps we've taken to vaccinate Americans. We're going to be in the position where, because of what you all did and passed, we had the money to go out and literally purchase hundreds of millions of vaccines.

And then go out and make sure we had enough vaccinators. Vaccines are one thing. Getting the vaccine in a vial and out of that vial into a needle and a needle into someone's arms, took tens of thousands of people.

And because of you we were able to mobilize the military. We were able to mobilize FEMA. We were -- I was able by executive order to allow former docs and nurses to come back and be able to engage in this activity.

And one of the things that we said in the beginning that no one thought that I was being straight about was I said this is going to create -- we have to spend this money to make sure we have economic growth unrelated to how much it's going to help people.

Well, guess what? Every single major economist out there, left, right and center, supported this plan. Even Wall Street agreed. According to Moody's, for example, by the end of this year, this law alone will create seven million new jobs, seven million.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And the bill does one more thing, which I think is really important. It changes the paradigm. For the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first. It's not hyperbole. It's a fact.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: For too long, it's been the folks at the top. They are not bad folks. A significant number know they shouldn't be getting the tax breaks they had.

But it has put the richest Americans first who benefited the most. And the theory was -- we've all heard it and especially the last 15 years. The theory was cut taxes and those at the top and the benefits they get will trickle down to everyone.

Well, you saw what trickle down does. We've known it for a long time.

This is the first time we've been able, since the Johnson administration or maybe even before that, to begin to change the paradigm.

We've seen time and time again that that trickle down does not work.

By the way, we don't have anything against wealthy people. You got a great idea, you're going to go out and make millions of dollars, that's fine. I have no problem with that.

But guess what? You've got to pay your fair share. You've got to pay something. Because guess what? Folks who are making -- living on the edge, they are paying.

And so, again, all that's done is make those at the top richer in the past and everyone else falling behind.

This time, it's time that we build an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out, the middle out.

(APPLAUSE)

[14:55:08]

BIDEN: And this bill shows that when you do that, everybody does better. The wealthy do better. Everybody does better across the board.

If that's our foundation, then everything we build upon will be strong, a strong foundation. Our competitiveness around the world, the jobs here at home, the health and quality of our lives.

That's what the American Rescue Plan represents. And it's all about rebuilding what I've been saying, and Bernie and a lot of others have been saying, the backbone of this country.

The backbone of this country are hardworking folks, hardworking folks, middle-class folks, people who built the country. And I might add, I think unions built the middle class.

And it's about creating opportunity and giving people a fair shot. That's really all and everything it's about.

In the coming weeks, Jill and I and Kamala and Doug and our cabinet, with all of you, members of the Congress, will be traveling the country to speak directly to the American people about how this law will make a real difference in their lives and how help is here for them. Almost every single aspect would be significant -- would be -- if you

took the -- this bill and broke it into all the pieces, every one of those pieces standing alone would be viewed as a significant accomplishment. But it's all the work you've done for years to try to get us there.

This law is not the end of our efforts though. I view it as only beginning.

As we -- look, one of the things that I've been most worried about -- and I think you all have, too, especially those of us who have been around for 100 years like me -- is you've watched people lose confidence in government, just lose confidence in that we tell the truth.

That's why when I announced, I quoted Franklin Roosevelt. I'll give it to you straight from the shoulder. The American people can handle anything if you tell them the truth. And they really can. Just give it straight from the shoulder.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And when we do something right, we're going to make a case for it. And when I make a mistake, I'm going to own up to it and say it was me, I made a mistake.

And I said last night, this is not over. Conditions can change. We're not finished yet. Conditions can change.

The scientists have warned us about new variants of this virus. And the devil is in the details of implementing this legislation.

I know, from experience, when the president turned to me, like I haven't done to the vice president yet, and said take care of it, you take care of implementing the plan. But she can do it.

But I remember being -- given the dubious distinction of having to implement the Recovery Act back in -- when we came into office, Barack and I.

I spent literally four or five hours a day for six months, I talked to over 160 mayors probably more than two or three times, every governor, save one who was looking at it from Alaska to Russia, and making sure that we're in a situation where we talked to -- but it takes -- the devil is in the details.

It's one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan. It's going to be another thing to implement it.

It's going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there's no waste or fraud and the law does what it's designed to do. And I mean it. We have to get this right.

Details matter because we have to continue to build confidence in the American people that their government can function for them and deliver. So there's a lot of work for all of us left to do, but I know we'll do

it.

To every American watching, help is here. And we're not going to stop working for you. Together, with you, we are showing it's possible to get big important things done.

That's what America does. It tackles hard problems. And how we do -- look, it's -- it's how we do have it within ourselves to come out of this moment, which we've been saying -- a lot have been saying for a long time -- more prosperous and more united and stronger than where we went in.

That's where we have a chance to be. That's what we have a chance to do.

And it's really critical. It's really critical to demonstrate -- not Democrat, Republican. It's critical to demonstrate that government can function, can function and deliver prosperity, security and opportunity for the people in this country.

[15:00:04]

And as my grandfather used to kiddingly say, with the grace of God, the good neighbors, and the creek not rising. That's exactly what we're going to do.