Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Kevin McCarthy Rejects Bipartisan January 6 Commission; Biden Touts Infrastructure Plan in Michigan. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the real question is whether we will lead or we will fall behind in the race to the future, or whether we will build these vehicles and the batteries that go in them here in the United States, or rely on other countries, or whether the jobs to build these vehicles and batteries are good-paying union jobs, with benefits, jobs that will sustain and grow the middle class.

[14:00:19]

Right now, China is leading in this race. Make no bones about it. It's a fact. You know, we used to invest more in research and development than any country in the world. And China was number eight -- excuse me -- number nine.

We now are number eight, and China's number one. Can't let that be sustained. The future is going to be determined by the best minds in the world, by those who break through new barriers.

You know, it has, China, the largest, fastest-growing electric vehicle market in the world. And the key part of an electric vehicle is the battery. Right now, 80 percent of the manufacturing capacity of those batteries is done in China, so not the battery for the 150, F-150.

We went down to Georgia and took care of that. It allows them to corner the market on the supplies and raw materials for those batteries, important -- almost -- importing almost all the lithium, 90 percent. It comes from countries from, like, Australia, which lead the world in mining these kinds of critical materials.

And here's the deal. It's not that China's battery technology is that much more innovative than anyone else's. Remember, our national labs in the United States, our universities, our automakers led in the development of this technology.

But, today, China has a bigger manufacturing scale than all other countries. And they're using that scale to make these batteries not just in China, but they're making them in Germany and in Mexico. And they're now exporting those electric vehicles around the world, with sights on the American market.

And they think they're going to win. Well, I got news for them. They will not win this race. We can't let them.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: We have to move fast. And that's what you're doing here.

When President Obama and I, when Barack and I were in office, that was what we were going to do. Remember 2009? The auto industry was flat on its back. And, remember, I got criticized by the press because I was the auto guy, pushing. Well, guess what? We were told that we'd never be able to sell American-made cars at the same rate as before.

But we didn't listen. We bet on you, the American autoworker. We extended a lifeline and we stepped up, saved more than a million jobs. Working with the auto industry, we set fuel efficiency standards, provided incentives for folks to buy fuel-efficient vehicles.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And through the Recovery Act, we made the largest investment in clean energy and battery technology ever. And the Big Three emerged from the crisis in a position to sell millions of vehicles made right here in the USA.

But then the previous administration came in office. They rolled back the standards we set, rollbacks that the Ford Motor Company opposed. Despite bipartisan support for consumer incentives. They let the federal tax credit expire, penalizing autoworkers who were selling the most electric vehicles at the time.

They announced infrastructure week, and they announced it, and announced it, and announced it, and announced it every week for four years and didn't do a damn thing. They didn't get the job done.

Folks, the rest of the world is moving fast. They're moving ahead. They're not waiting for the United States of America. Government, labor, industry, working together, have to step up. And we have a playbook that will work. We're going to set a new pace for electric vehicles.

That means reversing the previous administration's shortsighted rollback of vehicle emissions and efficiency standards, setting strong, clear targets where we need to go. It means passing the American Jobs Plan to do three things, one, transform our infrastructure.

Our infrastructure is ranked like 38 in the world. This is the United States of America, for God's sake.

[14:05:07]

We're going to put Americans to work modernizing our roads, our highways, our ports, our airports, rails, and transit systems. That includes putting IBEW members and the union workers to work installing 50,000 charging stations along our roads and highways, our homes and our apartments.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: The IBEW is ready to do it, and they can.

Two, we're going to boost our manufacturing capacity. That's why the American Jobs Plan invests in new and retooled union facilities, grants to kick-start new battery and parts production, loans and tax credits to boost manufacturing of these clean vehicles.

It also makes the largest investment in research and development in generations. And it's going to help innovate, manufacture and build supply chains for batteries and semiconductors and small computer chips that make electric trucks and cars go, to be even more reliant than they are now.

It matters. The little things matter.

We saw last night the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to begin work on part of the bill that I have been pushing to strengthen our innovation and infrastructure by investing in research and development and manufacturing.

I don't remember the exact number, but it was pretty high. I think it was 83 to something in a bipartisan vote. It's a good first step. And your members of Congress here in Michigan, they know the value of manufacturing as well as anyone and are vital in pushing forward that bill and others.

Never again should we be in a situation we face today with semiconductor shortages. The United States can't manufacture semiconductors. We were at the beginning.

You know, I think some people think I'm too -- too proud of what the United States always did and why I get so frustrated when we're sliding, but I make no apologies for it. We know these kinds of federal investments work.

It was the Defense Department and NASA that got the modern semiconductor industry on its feet decades ago. We started it, your tax dollars. Our own Department of Energy pioneered and transformed the battery industry when Barack and I were in office.

And through the Recovery Act, grants and loans, battery prices dropped 80 percent, 80 percent, because we were looking forward. We need that same mind-set today. We have to look forward.

And, you know, we have to work to support consumers and these fleets. That means new purchasing incentives for consumers to buy clean vehicles like the electric Ford-150, a union-made product right here in America.

But all the pieces must be made in America. It means spurring demand by converting the federal government's enormous fleet of vehicles into clean vehicles and supporting electric transit systems and school buses.

Folks, when I got elected, I signed an executive order saying we're going to buy American. As president, I get to award contracts in the area of $600 billion to $700 billion a year, from building aircraft carriers to railings that go in, in buildings.

Guess what? Representative Kildee knows I'm not letting a single contract to a single company that does not hire Americans, have all American parts, and has a supply chain that is an American product supply chain. And, by the way--

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: -- that's not violating any trade agreement. It's been the law since the '30s, but no one's had the courage or the nerve to insist on it being applied.

It's no violation of the World Trade Organization or anything else. If we're spending American tax dollars, we're able to say, buy American. But there's a lot of exceptions in the law. If you don't have the part immediately available (INAUDIBLE) you can go abroad and get it.

[14:10:02]

And anyone in the agency can say, I can't find it here. I'm going somewhere.

Not anymore. They got to go through the White House. Not a joke. Nobody can give that exception now, because there's thousands of companies out there who are able to do -- small companies, three, four, 10, 15 people, who can supply those pieces, if they know they can compete for them.

My brother has an expression. A guy named Peter McLaughlin (ph) was a great basketball player, played for Providence, was a good, close friend. He would say: "Joe, you got to know how to know. You got to know how to know."

We don't let the American companies know what's available to them, especially if they're small. So, we're going to have -- we have an office and a facility in the White House to let people know what's needed.

And there's another thing we have in our playbook that's going to outcompete other nations, the biggest secret we have, the American worker.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Not a joke. They're the finest work force in the world. It's our ace in that deck.

Now, I know many of you watching at home are like the folks I grew up with in Scranton and in Claymont, Delaware. They feel left out, left behind in an economy and in an industry that's rapidly changing. I understand it. I really do.

But we will leave no one behind. Nearly 90 percent of the jobs created in my American Jobs Plan do not require a bachelor's degree; 75 percent don't require an associates degree. We're going to be working with companies and community colleges and technical schools and union apprentice and training programs to make sure that American workers will be prepared to compete with anyone in the world, just like Ford does with its work force training center here in Dearborn.

And when we invest in our infrastructure, we're going to buy American products, materials, services for American businesses, made in America. And we will do everything in our power to encourage and protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: I met with, I think it was more than a dozen CEOs in major Fortune 500 companies. We started off, and I said, I want to be clear with you. I'm a union guy.

And every one of them but one said, "I understand," because now they're realizing what Mr. Ford realizes, that you are the best workers available. You're the best trained. You're the most capable. And you save overall.

Bottom line, American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America, a blue-collar blueprint to build America.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And we need automakers and other companies to keep investing here in America, and not take the benefits of our public investments and expand electric vehicles and battery manufacturing abroad.

We need you to deepen your partnership with the UAW, pay good wages, support communities like Dearborn across the country. We need to come together as a nation.

The vice president and I have had a number of meetings in the Oval Office with Republican leaders in Congress and members of Congress. We believe we can find a bipartisan deal on infrastructure. And we look forward to hearing more details of their proposal, which they're going to submit, counterproposal, either later today or tomorrow to me.

But we made one thing clear. We will compromise, but doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option. The world is not waiting, I say for a second time.

I will conclude with this. Last month, I kept my commitment to convene the leaders of the major economies around the world, Russia, China, India, Japan, the European Union. I convened them all. I think there were 48 or 50 heads of state, presidents and prime ministers, a meeting I hosted by the White House, one of the most consequential issues facing the world, the climate crisis.

And I made it clear at the outset, as each of the -- these folks came on, what I have long believed. When I think of the climate crisis, beyond its devastation of lives and livelihoods and health of our very planet, I think jobs.

[14:15:03]

I think jobs when I think climate change, good-paying union jobs. I think about the UAW workers here today. I wanted to make sure that the world could see that there was a consensus, that we are at an inflection point in our history.

And almost every major leader in the world spoke to it. If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of good-paying jobs, generate significant economic growth and opportunity to raise the standard of living for people not only here, but around the world.

But I also wanted to put the world on notice, America is back. America is back.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: In the competition for the 21st century, the future will be built right here in America.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Look at this plan. We're moving. We're working again. We're dreaming again. We're discovering again. We're leading the world again.

We have shown each other and the world that there's no quit in America. There's simply no quit in America. And that's never, ever -- every time I have these sometimes knock-down, drag-em-outs with heads of state in private, they will say something, and I will say, look, it's never been a good bet to bet against America, never, never, never.

This is the United States of America. There's not a single thing -- and I believe this with every fiber of my being -- not a single thing, nothing beyond our capacity when we act together. And that's exactly what we're about to do, starting with all of you.

And thank you for allowing me to be here. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, you have been listening there to President Biden.

He's in Dearborn, Michigan. He's talking about infrastructure. He's talking about his jobs plan. He announced America is back. He said there is no quit in America, and he talked about his plans for getting people back to work.

Welcome to NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. We also heard from the president there, where he said that he believes

that a bipartisan deal is possible, expecting that there will be this counterproposal coming in from Republicans in Congress with whom he has been speaking about this American Jobs Plan.

Let's go now to Jeff Zeleny. He's traveling with the president.

Jeff, the focus is on the domestic agenda, but also, at the top there, could not ignore the foreign policy dilemma, especially there in Dearborn, Michigan.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Victor, that is one thing that President Biden, I'm told, ad-libbed into his speech, was not planning on using this as a venue to talk about the rising violence in the Middle East.

But he pointed out specifically Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. She, of course, is the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress. He met briefly with her, said hello as he landed here in Detroit.

And he said he admires her concern, he admires her compassion. He said he hopes that her grandmother and family are doing well in the West Bank. "And I promise you, I will do everything that I can to see that they are."

What is in that is, she, of course, has been very critical of the president and the White House for not doing more, in her view, to intervene to de-escalate violence in the Middle East. So that was certainly something, a shout-out, if you will, as protests and demonstrations are happening not far from here.

And they're not protesting the president's election. They are trying to draw attention to what they believe, that he should be doing more to talk about and to de-escalate violence in the Middle East.

But, first and foremost, you heard President Biden there introducing himself: "I'm Joe Biden. I'm a car guy."

That is why he is here in Michigan talking about his economic agenda, talking about, as he called it, a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. And that is the basis for the rest of his presidency, at least the next chapter going forward.

Can he get the American Jobs Plan passed? He said he is open to compromising with Republicans. We are going to see some meetings with the White House officials on Capitol Hill tomorrow. He's hoping to compromise. He said he's not open to not doing any action, though.

He called out the Trump administration in stronger terms than we have heard him before for, in his words, doing nothing on infrastructure. He said that has hurt America's place in terms of competitiveness with the rest of the world.

So that's how he framed his visit here to the Ford Rouge motor vehicle plant. And this has really a big history, built in 1917, when the undersecretary of the Navy, FDR, asked Henry Ford to build boats in World War I.

Now we are, fast-forward, more than a century later, building F-150 Lightning. That is the big all-electric truck going to be unveiled here tomorrow, America's bestselling vehicle, so, the president coming on the eve of that. He said he even got a glimpse of it. He took a ride in it.

[14:20:01]

This is a highly kept secret, what this truck is going to look like, but he said he also wanted to take it out for a spin. And he asked the Secret Service if he could, so a bit of a lighthearted ending there, but certainly a serious message for his jobs plan here in Dearborn, Michigan.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

ZELENY: Victor and Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: The president there juggling a lot.

Jeff Zeleny for us there in Dearborn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to the other big news.

Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, says he will not support the creation of an independent commission to investigate the violent January 6 Capitol riots. McCarthy rejected the deal brokered by one of his own House Republican colleagues and a House Democrat.

Only days ago, this deal was hailed as a rare sign of bipartisan in Congress.

BLACKWELL: Now, the House is expected to vote on whether to create the commission tomorrow.

CNN's Jessica Schneider -- Jessica Dean there for us joins us from Washington.

Jessica, what reasons is McCarthy giving for rejecting this commission?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon to both of you.

Yes, he made this announcement this morning.

Let me read you in part what he said, to directly answer your question about why he is not supporting this bipartisan effort to create this commission.

He wrote, in part: "Given the political misdirections that have marred the process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the speaker's shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation." And what he really wants, and what some Republicans have wanted, is for the scope of this commission, what they are looking into, to include an investigation into Antifa and the riots -- some of the riots that happened over the summer, as protests were happening over police brutality.

Democrats really want to keep this very narrowly focused on what happened here, the deadly insurrection on January 6. And the fact that McCarthy is not supporting this really has raised some questions about what his role was on January 6 and the events that transpired that included him.

We know that there was a heated phone call between himself and former President Donald Trump. Liz Cheney, who's recently been ousted out of House leadership for speaking out against the big lie and wanting to hold those responsible, including President Trump, for what happened here on January 6, said that McCarthy does owe this commission some information, that he should speak to them once that commission is up and running.

But -- and she says it's up to them as to whether they will subpoena him or not. Victor and Alisyn, as you mentioned, this goes to a full vote in the House this week. It is expected to pass.

We will see what happens in the Senate. Some senator -- Republican senators saying they're now thinking about it after what McCarthy said today.

CAMEROTA: Jessica Dean, thank you very much for all of that reporting from Capitol Hill.

CNN chief political anchor Dana Bash joins us now. She's also the co- anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION."

Dana, Kevin McCarthy played a pivotal role, as Jessica just laid out, in what happened that day with that phone call to President Trump. I mean, this is the part that we need to know, why President Trump didn't send help sooner or call off the mob sooner of his violent supporters.

How can Kevin McCarthy single-handedly derail this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're watching it. You're potentially watching it, I should say, happen in real time.

And the key is what Jessica said at the end of her report there, Alisyn. And that is what Kevin McCarthy's move that he made this morning to say explicitly, both in a statement publicly and we are told behind closed doors in a meeting with his Republican colleagues, that he opposes this and here -- and the reasons why he gave.

The question is how that is going to affect the vote in the Senate. It was just late last week when this bipartisan deal was announced that our colleagues on Capitol Hill, talking to Republican leaders in the Senate, were reporting that there was a split. John Thune, the number two Senate Republican, was kind of gung-ho about this, embraced it. And just today, because of McCarthy's opposition, he said that that might not be the case anymore. It might not be the case that there will be enough support, because you're talking about, when you look at the raw numbers, as we have been talking about since this new Congress began, 50 Democrats.

This is a filibusterable resolution, so you need 10 Republicans in order to get to 60. Are there going to be 10 Republicans?

And McCarthy did what he did, for the reasons he stated, but let's just be clear. He is very open about supporting the wishes of the former president. The former president doesn't want this. He doesn't want to be subpoenaed.

By the way, Kevin McCarthy didn't say this. It's not stated at all. He claims that he doesn't care so much about being subpoenaed. But it's hard to imagine that that is not a factor here, because this commission, as written, in this deal, would have that subpoena power in order to get to the bottom of, like you said, Alisyn, what exactly happened, leading up to and on that day of January 6.

[14:25:07]

BLACKWELL: Yes.

And to that point, let's listen to Representative Jim McGovern here on questions about people who would oppose this commission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): But I'm going to tell you, if there's anybody in this chamber who doesn't believe that it's important to get to the truth about what happened on the 6th, or who doesn't -- or who wants to make believe that what happened on the 6th didn't happen on the 6th, like a typical tourist day on the Capitol, they are not fit to serve in this chamber.

And I have had it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Dana, we just watched whitewashing and grandstanding and defensiveness, which really illustrates why the American people need something like this, because we clearly didn't get it in that last hearing, that they need to get to the bottom of what led to January 6.

BASH: It's so true.

I mean, the reason for this is to get the answers, which, in any scenario, would be important, since it was unprecedented, what happened on January 6, this kind of attack on the Capitol. And it was just because of the quick thinking of the Capitol Police, who were totally overwhelmed, that they saved people's lives who were elected to serve.

So, that's number one.

Number two, even,-- you know, that's what we want as American citizens, but on the backdrop of what we saw last week, with a member of Congress who we have a photo of who was in the House, in the chamber, trying to barricade the door in order to be safe then going out last week in a hearing saying, it was just tourists.

I mean, it is beating back that kind of revisionist history in a very dangerous way that speaks to the need for this kind of commission.

Now, I will tell you that, if the Senate blocks it, it is entirely possible, maybe even probable, that the House speaker will set up a select committee, kind of like the Republicans did way back when on Benghazi.

She has floated the idea. It's possible that that -- it's not to say this kind of investigation wouldn't happen. It would just be very different, because they would members of Congress would be doing it.

And this commission, the way that the deal was written, no members, no sitting members would be there. It would be outside officials, just like the 9/11 Commission.

BLACKWELL: All right, Dana Bash, we will see where this goes, obviously, from here.

BASH: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Thanks so much.

BASH: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, breaking news in the law enforcement shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

The DA says that the use of deadly force was justified. And the police body camera footage was finally shared with the public, and it's raising a long list of questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)