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Biden Speaks As Negotiators Announce Infrastructure Deal; Interview With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Source: Biden To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations Or Testing For All Federal Government Workers; CDC Director: Delta Variant Spreading Among Fully Vaccinated; Gov. DeSantis Slams Safety Measures As Cases Rise In Florida; Pfizer Announces Third Shot Will Help Protect Against Delta Variant. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 28, 2021 - 14:30   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you all are going to make sure it pays off, because it will pay off with good jobs, long- term employment, the ability for America to, once again, reassert its role as the most powerful economy in the world.

And that is as important as the size of our military and as anything else we do.

If we think we're not in a race, guess what, take a look at China. Take a look at China. I spent an awful lot of time with Xi Jinping, president of China, more, I'm told, than any other world leader has.

He's made it really clear. He doesn't think democracies can compete in the 21st century. And I spent over 25 hours alone with him over the period of the last five years, seven years.

And guess what, just come back from a conference with Putin. He thinks the same thing.

I've got news for them. Autocracies will not succeed if we do what we can do as a democracy. Democracies.

And if you notice, not a joke, a lot of the rest of the world is hedging their bets whether to move toward autocracy or stay with democracies.

We have it all, folks. We have everything that we need in this country.

So not only today but for my grandchildren to be in a situation where we're still the most powerful physically and most powerful economic nation in the world that treats other nations decently and maintains the peace.

That's who we are. That's America. We're the most unique nation in the history of the world, not a joke.

By that, I mean every other nation was put together based on ethnicity or religion, geography. But not America. America is the most unique nation in the world.

And literally, we are based on an idea. An idea is what formed America.

And the idea was -- and it sounds corny but it is absolutely true -- no other nation has this as an organizing principle.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

We believe it. We never accomplished it, but every generation has moved us closer and closer and closer to inclusion.

That's why America's real power is not in the exercise of our military power but people follow us because of our example. That's why the rest of the world follows us.

It's about time we get back up and reassert who we are. This is the United States of America.

Thank you and God bless you all.


BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: That was President Biden outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania, talking about new rules that go into effect now to promote boosting the federal spending on American-made goods.

"Buy American," we heard from the president among other themes that we've heard from the president consistently.

Let's go now to CNN senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

Phil, to you, the president now talking about spending the U.S. federal dollar and supporting the unions, of course. We know members there at the Mack Truck facility there in Pennsylvania.

The highlights for you?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, look, I think from a top line perspective obviously the president wanting to talk about strengthening those buy-America requirements in terms of the amount of content that has to come from U.S. manufactures and anything that's purchased by taxpayer dollars.

It's a rule his administration released today. They feel like it does very well, particularly in this part of the country, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio.

But I also think the broader context of what the president laid out there, it lines up with a lot of what the president has spoken about in remarks like this during his domestic travel over the last several weeks.

Here's what's different. At this moment, the president is on the verge of a major agreement on a key, you could even argue, linchpin piece of his overall $4 trillion agenda.

He mentioned it at the top of his remarks, saying he had just gotten off the phone. It sounds like there's a deal between Republicans and Democrats on a $550 billion infrastructure proposal. That's huge.

The president walks through the top lines of that infrastructure proposal. Made clear he doesn't agree with Republicans on a lot but where there's areas of agreement, he wants to work with them.

That's something his team also feels is received very well by the broader public.


And he moved on to the next piece of that proposal and that's where the real fight is coming next, Victor.

That's why you'll see the president out more and more talking about what right now is a $3.5 trillion proposal in its nascent stages, kind of the social safety net expansion, if you will, on things like education, paid family leave, on home care as well.

This is a key moment for a president who has seen his agenda, which is transformative on several levels, stalled for the better part of the last six to eight weeks, maybe even a little longer.

Today was a break-through, one that could have huge repercussions going forward.

The president wanted to highlight that and underscore, from his perspective, his team is negotiating, Democrats and Republicans are negotiating. That's not going to stop any time soon.

He views his role as selling those proposals and serve as hype man over the next several weeks as he tries to get them across the finish line.


Also with us, CNN chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, what is the latest on this bipartisan infrastructure deal?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Both sides, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans, each had their own private briefing just moments ago.

I spoke to a number of them about this deal that has been reached between ten members of both parties, Senators along with the White House, this $1.2 trillion over eight years, under $600 billion in new spending, fully paid for.

But there's still no details. There's no legislative text released. We do expect that to happen later tonight.

There's some support for at least that first procedural vote to open debate. That could occur as soon as tonight. They need 60 votes to open debate.

And 50 Democrats, if they join hands, and 10 Republicans, if they join hands. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the bill will pass.

Senator Bernie Sanders told me the bipartisan deal is a, quote, "work in progress." That's also what the Delaware Democrat Tom Carper told me moments ago, saying it's incomplete on the issue of funding systems for communities in need.

Now at the same time, there's a question about the United States House led by Democrats, many of whom are skeptical about this bipartisan deal.

Earlier today, I asked Nancy Pelosi if she would commit to approving whatever is passed by the Senate and not change that in any way. She would not commit.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): You ask me something that none of us has seen. We are rooting for it. We are hoping for the best. That's good news, just as we came in, that it broke that they thought they were even closer. We've heard that before. But, no, we very much want it to pass.


RAJU: So the other big thing that she made clear, again, is that she would not approve this bipartisan deal, put it on the floor until the Senate approves a larger $3.5 trillion plan that the Democrats want to move on straight party lines.

But they don't have the votes for that yet in the Senate so still an uncertain future.

Despite the optimism that a bipartisan deal has been reached, can it get to Biden's desk? An open question -- guys?

CAMEROTA: OK, Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju, thank you very much for all of the latest.

BLACKWELL: With us now is Democratic congresswoman from Washington State, Pramila Jayapal.

Congresswoman, thank you for being with us.

You just heard that this could get the next vote, this infrastructure deal, sometime this evening. What do you know about this bill?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Very little. You know, none of the details are out, as Manu said, so we're waiting to see what it is. I'm with the speaker here. We said three months ago at the congressional progressive caucus that

we would not move a bipartisan infrastructure bill without the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that has all of the important issues that we have put forward from the care economy, getting women back to work, addressing health care, immigration, housing, a critical issue across the country, and of course climate change.

So we are waiting to see what the bipartisan bill has. But nothing has changed in terms of for us.

There are not going to be the votes in the House for a bipartisan bill without the reconciliation bill at $3.5 trillion because that's what we need in order to deliver on these promises.

So I'm looking forward to what they came up with, but the two have to move together.

CAMEROTA: But, Congresswoman, wouldn't it be a shame, after all of the blood, sweat and tears that apparently have gone into this bipartisan deal, 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats, they have worked -- we are told, they have worked hours and hours late into the evening for that not to go anywhere?

The fact that you're tying these two together, don't you want to take a win where you can get it in terms of bipartisanship on infrastructure?

JAYAPAL: I want the American people, Alisyn, to get a win. The American people are not going to get a win if we simply invest in roads and bridges but don't take on climate change.

If we simply say we're going to create good jobs but don't let women get back into the workforce.

If we don't do anything about health care at a time when the pandemic cases are rising again.


Yes, we want to win desperately. There's an urgency to people across this country who are struggling to make it.

The bipartisan bill is fine. It's a small piece of everything that we have to get done.

But we've been clear from the beginning. We believe this should have been one big bill. Some people wanted to do a smaller bipartisan bill.

But let me make it clear, 20 Senators is not the United States Congress. Every one of us is going to have to buy into the bipartisan bill and to the reconciliation bill. I get that.

As you know, I was pushing for $6 trillion. We're down to $3.5 trillion. So let's be very clear this is about delivering for the urgent needs people across the country have. That's who we have to get a win for. BLACKWELL: Listen to another topic, and it's the testimony that we

heard from four members of law enforcement there yesterday in front of the select committee.

We know that Republicans there in the House say that they are moving forward on an investigation. Their goal, they say, is to support the Capitol Police because, they say, Nancy Pelosi, although it is not her job, did not secure the capitol. That's not her role.

I want you to listen to some of the members of the caucus, the Republican conference, I should say, who did not watch or listen to what happened yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you watch any of the hearing today?



MCCONNELL: I was busy doing work. I serve in the Senate.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I'm asking, did you watch the testimony of the capitol officers who defended our lives on January 6th or did you not? It's a yes or no question.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): It's irrelevant.


CLYDE: It's absolutely irrelevant to this right here.


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I didn't watch it. I don't know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe their testimony at all? You've heard what they have said in the past, haven't you?

BROOKS: It's difficult to have an opinion on whether you believe somebody when you haven't heard what they had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, many of them said that they feared for their lives, sir. Do you think that that was true?

BROOKS: If they said that, I agree 100 percent.


BLACKWELL: Your reaction to those members who profess to have the interest of the Capitol Police and Metro Police but didn't even watch the hearing?

JAYAPAL: It's disgraceful. We have to, as a country, come to terms with what happened on January 6th. And there's an incredibly big gulf between some people, who promote or

continue to believe in the Big Lie, continue to believe that nothing happened on January 6th, have tried to whitewash it, and the people who know what the truth is.

Either because we were there or we watched it or we watched that powerful testimony from the officers yesterday.

This is fundamental if we are going to move forward. There has to be truth telling. There has to be accountability. And then perhaps there's some opportunity for us, as a country, to save our democracy and to be able to move forward.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman, while we have you, tell us about this bill that you are reintroducing, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act.

JAYAPAL: Alisyn, I'm so excited about this National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We will be reintroducing it tomorrow.

It is essentially a protection, civil rights protections for two million domestic workers, primarily women of color, that were left out of the protections of the Civil Rights Act.

And so what this bill does is it actually includes them into the Civil Rights Act, allows them the protections of that act.

But also adds a few protections around things like safe scheduling and having a voice on the job in terms of being able to determine what the key things are for domestic workers to be able to work with dignity.

So I'm so proud of this because this was a bill I introduced with Senator Kamala Harris in the last Congress.

President Joe Biden on the campaign trail said he would sign this bill into law.

We are now going to be introducing it tomorrow with just a phenomenal group of co-sponsors and giving hope to domestic workers who, of course, have been at the front lines of this pandemic with the care industry in so many ways.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thanks for being here and giving your insight into all of these issues.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Alisyn.


BLACKWELL: Well, mask mandates are starting to return, even as some people are actually burning them in protest. Officials issue a new warning about the Delta variant. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us next.


BLACKWELL: Let's turn now to the pandemic and a first-of-its-kind move from the federal government to slow the resurgence of COVID cases and hospitalizations.

A source says that tomorrow President Biden will announce a requirement that all federal employees, not just medical workers, be fully vaccinated or be tested regularly.

The president is expected to announce more incentives as well to get people vaccinated.

The country's top doctors say that this map, mostly in red and orange, is because of the unvaccinated.

The 49 states you see there have at least a 10 percent rise in cases. States with low vaccination rates are experiencing the worst of the surge.

CAMEROTA: Hospitals in Florida, Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere, overwhelmed with COVID patients.

A Missouri hospital network now expanding its morgue to accommodate the growing number of bodies.

A Louisiana hospital has stopped all elective surgeries. One doctor there says she now relates to the struggles of New York City hospitals in March of 2020.


DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: The E.R. physicians coming into the meeting look a little shell shocked. They're asking about things like I need some more oxygen tanks.

There are people outside that we can't get to that we know are hypoxic. How are we going to get those people in tonight? What are we going to do in the morning?

This is an every 12-hour decision for our hospitals now. We don't have a game plan for three days from now, except that we know three days from now will be far worse.


CAMEROTA: More than two-thirds of the U.S. population live in counties where people, including the fully vaccinated, should go back to wearing a mask indoors, according to the new guidance from the CDC.

They also forecast that, by August 21st, the U.S. death toll could be 633,000. Meaning 20,000 more Americans will die in the next three weeks.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in now Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent.

First, on the Delta variant, your reaction to what we heard from Dr. Walensky today about it being -- spreading among fully vaccinated people? [14:50:04]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's been some evidence that's sort of been accumulating around this for some time.

The evidence that she was citing has not yet been published so we want to see that data when it comes out.

But the idea that the vaccine does a really great job of preventing you from getting, we've known that from the trials going back to the end of last year.

But even then, they said 90 percent-plus effective at keeping you from getting sick. It wasn't clear how effective it was in actually preventing you from still carrying the virus.

But could you still carry the virus, not know it, not have any symptoms? That's what she's alluding to.

And when they dug into that data, which should be forthcoming, they found that, in large part, because of the Delta variant, people who are vaccinated and infected could carrying the same the amount of virus as people who are unvaccinated and infected.

The concern is then that even those infections are less common, they could spread it to people, unvaccinated people.

And that's what is, I think, driving this new change or update in mask guidance.

I do want to be clear. We talked about this yesterday. The primary problem, to define it clearly, is unvaccinated people spreading the virus to unvaccinated people.

The vaccinated people, they may be a portion of it, but it's very small, relatively speaking, to what you just showed on that map.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, there's all sorts of pushback from many corners about not wanting to go back to wearing masks, including governors of states.

Governor DeSantis, of Florida, put out this statement after the CDC came out with their guidance on masking up, and I want to bounce it off of you to see if there's any relation to science or to fact.

The governor says:

"Experts have raised legitimate concerns that the risks of masking outweigh the negative aspects for children because masking children can negatively impact their learning, speech, emotional and social development and physical, e.g. infections from bacteria that's often found on masks, difficulty breathing while exercising, et cetera."

We know that 400 children have died of COVID in the past year. Have there been a spate of infections in children from their masks? GUPTA: No. If you look at the bottom two points specifically that he's

making regarding infections or not getting enough air into the lungs, that's just not true.

Those myths have been circulating since the beginning of this pandemic. They've been addressed, debunked, the science has been provided.

I'm in the operating room every week. I wear a mask for hours on end in the operating room. I've been doing it for the last two decades of my life. That's not an issue.

Nobody likes to wear masks. I realize there are concerns. I have three kids who I told yesterday that they're going back to mask wearing this fall. They did not like hearing that.

But those specific concerns are not real concerns.

BLACKWELL: I want to ask you about the announcement from Pfizer that a third shot will provide more protection against the Delta variant. Should people now be going to get this third shot? How long will it take for that to happen?

GUPTA: I'm not running out to get this shot.

Here's the thing. The good news in all this, the vaccines are really effective, right? We know that. We've seen that. The data has held up.

There may be a concern that the effectiveness may wane over time. In which case, we'll start to see different numbers. And 99 percent of people in hospitals who are sick with COVID are unvaccinated.

The flip side is the vaccine are doing a good job of keeping people from going to the hospital. If you make them five times more effective, does that make a big difference? Probably not.

I think what people are really wanting to know is, is there evidence in the real world of people starting to develop infections that are serious among the vaccinated population?

If that's the case, that would be an indication that the vaccine's duration is starting to go down. And that would be a bigger concern.

I'm not so sure giving a lot of antibodies up front works makes a difference if the vaccines work really well.

And I just got back from Tokyo. There are places around the world that need these vaccines.

I understand the third shot discussion will take place, but for the time being, those shots would probably be well placed somewhere else.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, quick question. Now that the CDC has the new guidance about masks, what about you? You're in Atlanta, Georgia. The map looks orange and red. Maybe it's a high transmission area.

Where are you, back to wearing a mask indoors, or are you?

GUPTA: We are. We've kind of been doing it throughout. Back in May, the guidance came out that, you know, if you're vaccinated, you don't need to wear it indoors.

In part, I think, because I work at a hospital, I'm wearing a mask all day. But grocery stores, indoor public areas, we were sort of doing it.

Practically speaking, you get a lot of funny looks sometimes when you do that. And, you know, that can be uncomfortable.

My girls and my wife have been doing it. But we've been wearing masks in indoor areas.

If we go to a place, where everyone will be vaccinated, a friend's house, we won't wear masks in those situations. We won't wear masks outdoors.

I think viral transmission outdoors has not been a problem, as we've tracked this over the last 18 months.

But indoor public areas where transmission is high, and it is substantial in our area, that has caused us to keep wearing masks.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, great to talk to you as always, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You've got it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: As we talk about this country divided on the question of the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, the impact on each, we'll hear from a mother who has a 15-year-old daughter now on a ventilator. Her words of warning, still ahead.