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Vaccinating the World; Interview With Rep. John Sarbanes (D- MD); Infrastructure Negotiations; Fight For Voting Rights. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired June 23, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:02:38]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

Vice President Harris and fellow Democrats, they have a message for the GOP: The fight is not over.

So, Senate Republicans blocked a vote, even a debate on a sweeping election reforms bill. And progressives are fed up. They're calling out what they say is President Biden's lack of intervention. And some say that, if he does not take a stronger hand on voting rights, that they could block his infrastructure plan.

CAMEROTA: CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju who is on Capitol Hill.

So, Manu, is the fallout from voting rights impacting the deal-making on Biden's infrastructure plan?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that really remains to be seen.

What we do know is that there is a negotiation that is happening right now with a bipartisan group of senators, as well as senior administration officials, in the Senate to try to figure out whether or not there is a bipartisan path forward.

And the next 24 hours is absolutely pivotal to determine whether or not there can be a deal reached on a bipartisan basis. Remember, Democrats are trying to do this along two tracks, pass a smaller bill that is about $1.2 trillion over eight years, and then do a more massive bill along straight party lines, if they can keep their entire caucus united.

There's talk of even up to $6 trillion. That includes expanding the social safety net. So they want to do this along two tracks. But there's also pressure among liberals, including in the Senate, who are saying that these bipartisan talks are essentially chewing up, eating too much time.

And a number of those liberals made that warning to me earlier today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: What concerns you about these bipartisan talks right now?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Is how much time they're chewing up how much delay they keep putting into the process, when they recognize that's not the whole infrastructure package.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I am certainly out of patience, and we're running out of time on infrastructure.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): The more progressive members of my caucus have been saying for weeks.

RAJU: Right.

COONS: I have reminded them repeatedly that, in a 50/50 Senate, where several members publicly said early on they will not vote for reconciliation until we make our best efforts on infrastructure, I think we are at -- I think we're at our last effort on the bipartisan infrastructure package.

But I am also convinced it is very close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So, that last point, very important here, because Chris Coons is very close to the president. He's a part of these bipartisan talks. He says they are very close to getting a deal.

[15:05:01]

But he also indicates it could all collapse within the next 24 hours. That's what Joe Manchin also told me moments ago. He said that they need to get a deal before the Senate leaves for a two-week recess starting tomorrow. If they don't, he says it'll be very difficult to get a deal.

Now, Manchin would not commit to supporting an effort to go along straight party lines. But that's where the focus will be if they can't get a bipartisan deal. Can the Democrats unite, get behind one package? Still a big question as they're trying to sort out major details here -- guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Manu, before we let you go, I understand you have got some new reporting on Speaker Pelosi and making some moves on this select committee to investigate the insurrection.

RAJU: Yes, she's expected to move forward with a select committee, a Democratic-led select committee in the House, this after she and other Democrats have pushed for a bipartisan outside commission. That was blocked in the Senate. Seven Republicans supported moving forward. They needed 10 to do that to break a Republican filibuster.

And Pelosi is saying that she has not yet made a decision. She's saying that she's not made an announcement, would not make an announcement today. But I'm told from sources who have heard her speak that she is moving in that direction, expected to name that as soon as this week, and then they would have to move forward.

The question will be who's on it, who chairs the committee, how many Republicans will be on it, but they will almost certainly have subpoena power -- guys.

BLACKWELL: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Now to more proof that former President Trump's big election lie was completely fabricated.

In a 35-page report, Senate Republicans in Michigan rejected President Trump's fraudulent claims that the election was somehow stolen.

CNN's political director, David Chalian, is following this for us.

David, I'm sorry, did I just say Republicans rejected this?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You did. Here it is, that 35- page Republican led report from the state Senate in Michigan.

And I just want to read you in the executive summary the key finding here from this Republican-led state Senate committee. The committee -- quote -- "found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan's prosecution of the 2020 election."

No evidence. OK, now, in the parlance of your show, I just want to highlight two to four things here that you should know about.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, David, two to four things in the middle of the show.

(LAUGHTER)

CHALIAN: Right.

But, first, you may recall this Antrim County, Michigan. This is where the conspiracy theories around Dominion Voting formed, and Donald Trump was tweeting falsely at the end of last year that 68 percent of the Michigan vote tally was wrong there.

They looked into all of this related to Antrim County and Dominion Voting and found nothing that supported this. In fact, they recommended perhaps that the attorney general in Michigan, the one piece of fraud that they do think exists are conspiracy theorists peddling lies, that that is the fraudulent behavior here that the A.G. should look into.

And then you have heard a lot about the notion from Donald Trump and his supporters that dead people voted, right? Well, they looked into hundreds of instances of potential dead people voting. They found two, one due to a duplicative name. And, one, a 92-year-old woman cast her ballot, her absentee ballot four days before the election. She died, but her ballot was cast.

So that was it when they looked into hundreds of claims of dead people voting. I just want to remind everyone, Joe Biden won the state of Michigan -- you can look here at the total -- by some 154,000 votes, 50.6 percent to 47.8.

And this Republican-led report in the state of Michigan says Michiganders should have full confidence that that tally reflects how their ballots were cast.

BLACKWELL: David Chalian, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for the two to four shout-out. Excellent.

BLACKWELL: I feel like you had more than two to four, actually. But...

CAMEROTA: Whatever he did was fantastic.

BLACKWELL: We will take the branding.

David Chalian, thanks so much.

So, after the failure of the voting rights bill, some Democrats are out of patience, demanding action.

So let's bring it now Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes, Democrat and chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force. He was the original sponsor of the For the People Act in the House.

We have heard now another report from another state that there was no widespread fraud. There was, though, a theft of the election from Donald Trump. You say that the fight for this bill is not over. What's the strategy moving forward?

REP. JOHN SARBANES (D-MD): Well, the strategy moving forward is to keep moving forward, which is what we have been doing from day one.

Yesterday was very important, if you look at what happened. You had every single Democrat in Washington saying that failure is not an option here and that we have to keep at this to fight back against voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and other things that are undermining our democracy across the country.

The president, the vice president, the majority leader, the speaker of the House, and 50 Senate Democrats were unified in saying this fight is not over. In many respects, we're beginning round one.

[15:10:09]

BLACKWELL: Well, 50 Democrats, Congressman, are not enough.

I mean, you have essentially given me the answer keep on keeping on. But it didn't work for the first vote. What's the new element here? What's the new variable that's either going to convince those Democrats in the Senate who are against the filibuster to change their mind or to find 10 Republicans who are willing to back any elections reform?

SARBANES: You have proof positive, as of yesterday, that every single Republican in the Senate is standing against this. They're just not showing up to do what's right for our democracy.

So that then forces a conversation among Democrats, what do we need to do in terms of the rules of the Senate to keep this moving forward? So you get that conversation around filibuster reform. So I think that's going to be an important part of the next round of conversation among Democrats.

You also now have a number of different proposals for what the contours of this reform package will look like. You have H.R.1 in the House, S.1. in the Senate, a proposal that Senator Manchin has put forward. All that goes into the mix in terms of finding a package that Democrats feel comfortable with.

And then they can focus on, what is the process that's needed to get this over the finish line in the coming weeks?

BLACKWELL: Congressman, all of that was true 48 hours ago. It was true four to eight weeks ago.

Again, what I'm not hearing now, what is the new element? You have had all of these activist groups who've come out. They have come to Washington. They have gone across the country. We have had the conversation about the filibuster. We have talked about the John Lewis legislation and the amended legislation or the amendment offered by Joe Manchin.

Again, if there is this commitment to this fight not ending, what's the new punch?

SARBANES: The new element is the old element.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: The old element didn't work.

SARBANES: The public -- the old element is working.

Two weeks ago, an op-ed got written, and everybody thought that people that supported this were going to fold their tents up and go home. What happened? Within 48 hours, it was reassembled behind this effort.

And I think that's what brought us to yesterday, where you had all 50 Democrats in the Senate saying we need to move forward on this. That's public pressure. That reflects broad majorities of Americans, Republicans, Democrats, and independents, who want to see this get done, and they're not going to let up.

Elected representatives in Washington have to stand up and be partners in this effort to protect our democracy.

BLACKWELL: Congressman, let me ask you about something you told one of my colleagues. You said that we should expect to see -- and you have said something like that today -- the heat turned up, the temperature turned up, including from the White House.

That suggests that there could have been more that the White House could have done that they did not do. Is that accurate?

SARBANES: The White House obviously has many things on its plate.

What I can tell you is that you seen in recent days, and particularly in the last couple of weeks, the White House leaning in more strongly on this. We obviously need every member of the broad Democratic team to be raising their voice and making sure there's intensity about this effort.

I see that coming now from the White House, as well as from members of Congress. But, again, what's going to make the difference here is people out in the country who are letting their congresspeople know and their senators know that failure -- in the words of Senate Majority Leader Schumer, failure is not an option here.

BLACKWELL: How do you keep this an actual priority?

Listen, today, the president's coming out to speak. He's not speaking about voting rights primarily. He's talking about reducing crime. There's the infrastructure bill. There's policing. There are other priorities. How do you make this something that actually has some weight behind it, and not just the rhetoric that we're hearing, the fight is not over?

How do you keep this central?

SARBANES: The fight is not over mantra is coming from what members of Congress are hearing back home.

That's where the pressure continues to be very, very strong, constituents. Americans, again, of every political stripe in every state, including states like West Virginia and Arizona and so forth, are saying, we need to see this change in order to protect our democracy.

That's what lawmakers respond to at every level. That intensity isn't going anywhere. That's what's going to push this over the finish line, and we're paying attention to that.

BLACKWELL: Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland, thanks so much for your time, sir.

SARBANES: Thank you.

[15:15:00]

CAMEROTA: OK, so, in just a few minutes, President Biden will address the nation on the surge of violent crime in this country.

What he plans to do to try to stop it.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the push to get vaccines to the rest of the world. The World Health Organization is warning that the situation is dire in so many countries. Is the U.S. doing enough?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:20:00]

CAMEROTA: In Sydney, Australia, new rules are in place now to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The new requirements include masks indoors, travel limits and online schooling for some students. The Delta variant is also causing Israel's highest daily infection rate in two months.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to the Philippines now, where the president and strongman, Rodrigo Duterte, is threatening to send people to jail if they refuse to get the coronavirus vaccine.

CAMEROTA: And we're just learning that the E.U.'s version of the CDC is issuing its own warnings about the Delta variant. Health officials predicted it will make up 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Europe by late August.

BLACKWELL: So, just 10 percent of the world's population has been fully vaccinated so far. Here in the U.S., more than 45 percent of the total population has gotten both shots.

But, in Africa, less than 1 percent of the people there are fully protected against COVID.

To talk about this and more, Loyce Pace, director of the office of Global Affairs for the Health and Human Services department, is with me.

Ms. Pace, thank you for being with me this afternoon.

We know that there are 55 million additional doses that are headed out, 41 through the COVAX -- 41 million, I should say, doses through the COVAX program spread across the world here. We have it on our screen.

How'd you decide where these are going based on what we're seeing across the globe?

LOYCE PACE, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, I think you said it.

We know that with this virus and its variants, we really have to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. We have a clear sense of where these hot spots are emerging. And so we know that that needs to drive our decisions.

But, most importantly, we need to look across public health and understand, OK, which countries are really ready to receive these vaccines? Many of them have strong immunization programs in place already. And so we want to be able to support them in trying to roll out these lifesaving products as quickly as possible, before their situation just deteriorates even further. BLACKWELL: So let's put the map back up on the screen control room,

please, because I want to see -- I want people to see; 14 million doses are going to Latin America and the Caribbean. That's Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, 14 million doses to cover all those countries.

There are more than 200 million people in Brazil alone. Is this spread so thinly, that it's not really going to mitigate the spread?

PACE: Yes, I can appreciate that question.

Of course, the U.S. is really proud of the commitments that we have made. I mean, it's the largest investment or commitment that a nation has made ever with regards to vaccines and getting these out to the world. But we know that our work continues, right?

It started initially with the commitment of 60 million, then 80 million doses. And then you have the president's announcement, along with G7 countries, to commit from the U.S. alone an additional 500 million doses of vaccines. And we anticipate rolling out even more, given the need is so great.

BLACKWELL: The president said the first 200 million of that half- billion he announced at the G7 would be heading out this year. Do we have any clearer understanding of when those will be heading out to these countries that desperately need them?

PACE: I think we're working as soon as possible, night and day, I can assure you, working to make those decisions, and to ensure that that is happening as soon as possible.

We know that this -- there's a great need to move as quickly as we can. Of course, there's a lot involved in getting vaccines to countries. It's more than just putting product in plain. There are a number of logistics that it entails.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PACE: And, of course, we want to honor where the countries are in terms of what they can receive and at what time.

BLACKWELL: So it's no secret, I'm not breaking news here, that the World Health Organization thinks that the U.S. is not doing enough and it's not doing it quickly enough.

I want you listen to one of the officials there and then ask you to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We have a very, very short window of time to get our most vulnerable protected. And we haven't done it. We have not used the vaccines available globally to provide global protection to the most vulnerable. And, as Bruce said, when you ask countries the question, they say,

well, we're going to vaccinate according to our priorities. And our priorities are our own citizens. And that's fair enough. But there is a huge number of people globally who still remain susceptible to severe disease and potential deaths from this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Is the U.S. doing enough quickly enough?

And, listen, we know, you know that helping those countries is actually in the U.S.' interest. These variants that are popping up around the world are coming here and becoming dominant. Could the U.S., should the U.S. be doing more?

PACE: That's right, Victor. We know that we need to close this gap that we see now with regards to vaccinations. That is why we're trying to move so quickly to share what we can when we can.

[15:25:01]

And on top of that, let's remember that we're also being a catalytic force in the world, ensuring that other countries are stepping up to do their part as well, not to mention working to scale up capacity in other regions of the world, so that we can bring more products online.

So I'm just really encouraged to see this happening, again, round the clock on our end, but also see other countries and companies stepping up to ensure that there's adequate supply for everyone who needs these vaccines.

BLACKWELL: All right, 200 million, the president said was coming is not yet out the door for this year.

Last question here, this CNN analysis I want to get your thoughts on about -- and this is a domestic question about, even as the numbers of deaths come down, disproportionately, they are black people who are dying, they are younger. Black people, 12.5 of the population, throughout the pandemic accounted for 15 percent of deaths. In May, they were 19 percent of deaths.

As it relates to age, people over 75 were the majority of those dying. Now it's those under 75. These disparities are continuing, but seeming to get worse. What practically should be happening to stop this?

PACE: Well, that's certainly something we're focused on here at the Department of Health and Human Services. It's really a tragedy.

And so what we're trying to do is continue to work through these champions who we know have connections to these communities. We're launching our college level program in terms of our outreach to special communities. We're also looking at social media, anything we can do to reach people who are eligible to be vaccinated and who really need to line up, because we know that these vaccinations are going to save lives.

And we absolutely need everyone to do what they can to ensure that they're protecting themselves.

BLACKWELL: All right, Loyce Pace with HHS, thanks so much.

PACE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, any moment now, we're expecting President Biden to come out and lay out his five-point plan to try to reduce this surge in violent and gun crime that we're seeing in cities across the country.

We, of course, will bring you that live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:30:00]