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New York Gov. Cuomo Resigns, Effective in 14 Days; VP Harris Comments on Passage of Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill; Biden Addresses Senate Passage of $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill. Aired 3-3:30pm ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Now Cuomo is leaving office politically isolated. The White House New York's two democratic senators, the New York City Mayor all saying that he made the right decision to step down. And impeachment inquiry had been ongoing, but now two members of the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee are telling CNN, they're looking into whether impeachment is still possible.

And the woman who will replace Governor Cuomo Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul tweets that she's ready to prep, ready and prepared to take the helm. Let's bring it now CNN's MJ Lee and Polo Sandoval.

MJ, let's start with you. The reaction coming in from the accusers and their attorneys are named in the AG's report. What are you hearing?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a big part of Governor Cuomo's statement today had to do with the sexual harassment allegations that have been leveled against him. He said he never meant to offend. But that it is clear that culturally things have really shifted in terms of what is viewed as appropriate. And a part of the reaction that we're getting, and there's been a ton of reaction to this huge news has been from some of the women who have leveled those allegations against the governor.

I just want to read a part of a statement from an attorney that represents two of the women who came forward reads my clients feel both vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone.

Ms. McGrath and Ms. Limmiatis remain grateful that their voices and experiences were heard and substantiated by the AG's investigators and feel solidarity with all women who continue to be abused by men in power. At least today, one of them has faced some consequences. Obviously the consequences referring to this big news that Andrew Cuomo has resigned effective in 14 days.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, there's so many layers to this. Let's go to Albany Polo, you're there at the state Capitol. The investigations, as we've mentioned, are going on there. What are you hearing about them and if impeachment will proceed?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Later, there are so many aspects of this that do not go away with today's resignation. You hit on just one of them. That is, of course that ongoing impeachment investigation that started in early March that New York State Assembly members have been really participating in.

And there is still a big question here, is one of the big questions that a lot of folks here on the ground have been asking even just some regular citizens here, they are hopeful that the governor could potentially still be held accountable in an impeachment court like just getting ahead of, when we try to get to have, what we were -- what we heard today, obviously, we did make some of the -- ask some of those questions yesterday. And seeing that even speaking to the chair of the judiciary committee that is, it continues with the impeachment investigation, they stopped short of saying whether or not they would continue with those impeachment efforts.

But they also recognize that that would potentially give them opportunity to prevent the Governor from holding future office. And so that is one of the reasons why this is still certainly something that he has to worry about. So right now, what assembly makers have to do is decide whether or not they still have that energy, they still have that desire to proceed with those impeachment efforts.

But I could tell you, when you hear from some of the people here on the ground, they are certainly hopeful that they will because let's not forget that there are still other ongoing, different investigations that they hope that the Governor will be held accountable for, including that investigation to the nursing home deaths earlier in the pandemic.

And then finally, there's also still that criminal investigation that's been -- that's being conducted by the Albany County Sheriff's Office, one that was just initiated late last week, when one of the accusers of Andrew Cuomo came to investigators here in Albany County and filed that criminal complaint.

We heard from Craig Apple, the local sheriff here, saying that today's resignation, it does nothing to their investigation, there is still the very real possibility that Andrew Cuomo could face criminal charges. The big question here is, would you face any of those potential charges as governor in the next couple of weeks before he stepped down? Or will it be after that resignation becomes effective at 14 days?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the Governor said in his remarks that he's hoping that this will end that in the people of New York and the -- those in Albany can get back to doing the state's business. There was a moment during his remarks where the Governor got emotional. And they were speaking to about his daughters. Tell us about that? LEE: That's right. You know, in a lot of ways, a part of his speech, felt like a goodbye speech, right? He was talking to the people of New York, he was talking about his accomplishments that he was proud of clearly wanting to talk about his legacy and sort of say to people, this is what I hope my legacy will be. But you're right the moment where he sort of directly addressed his daughters was particularly striking. He said that this has been a painful time for his daughters, as they have watched him go through the scandal. I think we have a sound bite of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: In many ways, I see the world through the eyes of my daughters, Cara, Mariah and Michaela. They are 26 and 26, twins, and 23. And I have lived this experience with and through them. I have sat on the couch with them, hearing the ugly accusations for weeks. I've seen the look in their eyes, and the expression on their faces, and it hurt. I want my three jewels to know this. My greatest goal is for them to have a better future than the generations of women before them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:05:38]

LEE: So ultimately, what this was Victor was a public acknowledgement from Governor Cuomo, knowing that there was no path forward for him politically, you know, confronting all of these allegations, the impeachment investigation, and just simply having lost support from basically everyone around him.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, we saw that from the elected leaders and the polling of the people of New York.

Let's bring in now CNN Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash and CNN Political Analyst and Managing Editor of Axios, Margaret Talev.

Dana, let me start with you. All right, President Biden is now coming out. Let's listen.

KAMALA HARRIS, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. The President has been clear that every day in every way, our administration will work on behalf of the American people.

And this has been true, as we delivered historic relief through the American Rescue Plan to families and small businesses, as we continue the fight to pass legislation to protect and strengthen the sacred right to vote. And as we continue the work to strengthen our nation's care economy, and this is true today, because today, we move one step closer to making a once in a generation investment in our nation's infrastructure.

Today, Democrats, Independents and Republicans in the United States Senate passed the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act. So let me describe just a little bit about why this bill is so important.

It is an investment in the roads and bridges we drive on every day to get our kids to school. It is an investment in the public transit we rely on to get to work. It will mean people in our nation won't have to drink water from lead pipes, or go to a fast food parking lot to get high speed internet. This Bill will also establish a national network of electric vehicle chargers that the president has been fighting for, for a long time and build toward a national fleet of electric school buses.

And the way I see it, an investment in infrastructure, it provides people with what they need to get where they need to go. This bill that passed the Senate today gives people what they need to get where they need to go. And it will do that while also creating millions of good union jobs for our nation's workers. It will do that while also helping our nation's businesses compete worldwide. And so just so we are clear, we are not going to raise middle class taxes to pay for it, because that's what the president promised. And that is what we must deliver.

This afternoon I was proud to preside over the Senate vote, and I want to thank the senators who worked together to pass this bill. I also thank the members of the House who will now work to get this bill to the President's desk. And first and foremost, we would not be here today were it not for the leadership of our President, Joe Biden.

Mr. President, from the very start, you welcomed ideas, you welcomed debate, you welcomed Democrats and Independents and Republicans to meet with us in the Oval Office. In those meetings, I watched as you listened. In those meetings, you deliberated. You were determined to bring all sides together and to deliver real results for the people of our nation. And I know that even after this vote, our work will not stop. Even when you sign the bill into law, our work will not stop. We will never stop working on behalf of the American people.

[15:10:12]

So thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you. And now it is my great honor to introduce the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Well, thank you, Madam Vice President.

First of all, I want to thank the group of senators -- Democrats and Republicans -- for doing what they told me they would do. The death of this legislation was mildly premature, as reported. They said they were willing to work in a bipartisan manner, and I want to thank them for keeping their word. That's just what they did.

After years and years and years of "Infrastructure Week," we're on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.

As you all know, just a short while ago the United States Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the very legislation I ran on when I announced my candidacy for the nomination for President, a historic investment in the nation's roads and highways, bridges and transit; in our drinking water systems; in broadband, clean energy, environmental clean-up; and making infrastructure more resilient and the climate crisis much more in our minds as to how do we deal with it.

You know, we're poised once again -- and I mean this in a literal sense, to make the same kind of historic investments that have so often made possible, made it possible for America to build the future and allow us to outcompete the rest of the world.

From building the Erie Canal in the early 1800s, a bipartisan effort; to the Transcontinental Railroad, to construction, that was constructed during the Civil War; to Dwight Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, the investments that literally connected our entire nation and fundamentally changed the pattern of life in America.

To the public investments that took us to the Moon, and the discovery of lifesaving medicines and vaccines, and gave us the Internet, America has often had the greatest prosperity and made the most progress when we invest in America itself.

And that's what this infrastructure bill does with overwhelming support from the United States Senate, 69 votes in the Senate, a vote margin bigger than when the Interstate Highway System passed in the Senate in 1956.

It makes key investments that will, one, create millions of good union jobs all across the country in cities, small towns, rural and Tribal communities.

America, this is how we truly Build Back Better.

This bill is going to put people to work modernizing our roads and our highways and our bridges so commuters and truckers don't lose time in traffic, saving billions of dollars nationally.

Today, up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400,000 schools and schools, and childcare centers have pipes with lead in them, including for drinking water. This is a clear and present danger to the health of America, particularly to our children's health.

This bill is going to put plumbers and pipefitters to work replacing all of the nation's lead pipes so every child, every American can turn on a faucet at home or in school and know they're drinking clean water.

During remote learning in the -- during the pandemic last year, we saw too many families forced to sit, literally sit, in their vehicles in a fast food parking lot so their children could get on the Internet they couldn't afford and didn't have access to at home. This bill will deliver affordable, high-speed Internet to every American, a necessity for the 21st century.

We'll also see in the last -- we've seen in the last couple of years the damage done in Texas and other places when transmission lines carrying power were taken down by extreme and unanticipated weather, leaving millions of folks without electricity for weeks and weeks, and costing our economy billions and billions of dollars. This bill provides upgrades to our power grid so that more secure and resilient and cleaner energy can be transferred across those wires.

[15:15:04]

Down in New Orleans, I met with the incredible women and men who are in charge of the water system, some of it running on technology that is literally 100 years old. This bill is going to provide opportunities to upgrade their system.

It also allows American workers to strengthen our national -- our natural infrastructure, like our levees. These are at risk of catastrophic collapse in the face of extreme weather like superstorms, wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and heat waves.

Last week, I stood -- and many of you were with me, on the South Lawn of the White House with the United Auto Workers and the leaders from the Big Three automobile companies in America, surrounded by iconic American vehicles that will all be electric and made right here in America in the not-too-distant future.

This bill is also going to put IBEW workers, electrical workers, to work installing a truly national network of electric vehicle charging stations that will transform the way we travel and move commerce.

And, by the way, around those charging stations, you'll see -- just like around, we put in gas stations in our state highways, you'll see other industries build up. We have the benefit of significantly reducing pollution from vehicles on our roads.

Look, this bill, I believe, will make the most important investment in public transit in American history.

When I went to Philadelphia not too long ago for Amtrak's 50th anniversary, I was proud to be able to say that this bill was in the works and that it would be the most important investment in rail since the creation of Amtrak itself. This bill will upgrade railroad tracks so people can get to work and their destinations faster, and it will build new lines to get people to more places faster, reducing, I might add, pollution, as well.

And here's another critical part of the bill: 90 percent of the jobs created don't require a college degree. You're tired of hearing me saying it, I know, but this is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.

We're going to do all of this by keeping my commitment. We will not raise taxes by one cent on people making less than $400,000 a year.

Everyone from union to business leaders to economists, left, right, and center, believe the public investments contained in this bill will generate more jobs, higher productivity, higher growth for our economy over the long term.

Forecasters on Wall Street project that over the next 10 years our economy will expand by trillions of dollars, and it will create an additional 2 million jobs a year beyond what was already projected, good-paying jobs all around the country.

Experts believe that the majority of the bill's benefits will flow to working families: faster commutes, cleaner water, less expense, available and affordable Internet, these are the things that working families needs, that they need.

As last week's jobs report shows, our economy is recovering at a record rate -- 934,000 new jobs created in July. It's going to go up and down, but 4 million jobs created since I took office.

This bill is going to help make a historic recovery a long-term boom.

Folks, above all, this historic investment in infrastructure is what I believe you, the American people, want you've been asking for, for a long, long time. This bill shows that we can work together.

I know a lot of people, some sitting in the audience here, didn't think this could happen. This bill was declared dead more often than -- anyway. That bipartisanship was a thing of the past. From the time I announced my candidacy (inaudible) bringing the country together and doing things in a bipartisan way, it was characterized as a relic of an earlier age.

As you may well remember, I never believed that. I still don't.

So, I want to thank those senators who worked so hard to bring this agreement together. I know it wasn't easy.

For the Republicans who supported this bill, you showed a lot of courage. And I want to personally thank you for that, and I've called most of you on the phone to do just that.

You have -- and no doubt, you will disagree with me on many issues. But where we can agree, we should. And here, on this bill, we proved that we can still come together to do big things, important things for the American people.

[15:20:11]

For the Democrats who supported this bill, we can be proud of these unprecedented investments that are going to transform this nation and change millions of lives for the better.

Think about what's going to happen, in a practical sense. Clogged arteries at the heart of our economy, they're going to be opened up. That will reduce transportation costs, reduce commuting costs, and, as a result, reduce costs overall for families and businesses.

And there's safety provisions being -- as I said not long ago, everyone can tell you what the most dangerous intersections in their communities are. There's money in there to deal with those pac -- those specific needs. Thousands of bridges will be safer and more accessible.

And, by the way, as you've heard me say before, some bridges are so weak that they couldn't have a firetruck go across it, requiring the fire department to go 10, 12 miles out of the way to get just, literally, a mile away to put out a fire.

Millions of lead pipes carrying drinking water to our homes and schools and daycare centers, they're finally going to rep -- be replaced. Never again can we allow what happened in Flint, Michigan; and Jackson, Mississippi. Can never let it happen again.

High-speed Internet, going to be available and affordable everywhere, to everyone, so farmers nationwide can get the brest [sic] prices for their products at home and abroad by knowing when to sell, and children in Chicago or Philadelphia never have to again sit in a McDonald's parking lot to do their homework.

This is transformational. I know compromise is hard for both sides, but it's important, it's important, it's necessary, for a democracy to be able to function.

So, I want to thank everyone on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill. Today, we proved that democracy can still work. A lot more work to do.

But I want to thank the Republican, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for supporting this bill.

And I want to give special thanks to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Your leadership, Chuck, in the Senate was masterful.

But, look, let's be clear: The work is far from done. The bill now has to go the House of Representatives, where I look forward to winning its approval.

And we have to get to work on the next critical piece of my agenda, my Build Back Better plan, making housing more affordable, it's so unaffordable to so many Americans; providing clean energy tax cuts, including homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes; bringing down the cost of prescription drugs; making eldercare more affordable; and continuing to give middle-class families with children a tax break, a tax cut, the one they're receiving now, well- deserved childcare and healthcare that gives them just a little bit of breathing room.

This is a plan that invests in the American people, in their future and their success. And it will be paid for by having the largest corporations, including 55 of them who didn't pay a single penny in federal income tax, and the super-wealthy to begin to pay their fair share.

I want you to be able to be millionaires and corporations to do incredibly well, but this isn't going to change anything for you. You'll still have your three homes. You'll still have whatever you need. And corporations will continue to do well.

I'll have more to say about this later as the Senate continues its work. But today, I'm happy to mark this significant milestone on the road toward making what we all know are long-overdue, much-needed investments in basic, hard infrastructure of this nation. I truly believe that this bill proves the voice of the people will be heard and that we can all come together to make a difference in people's lives. As you heard me say it before and I apologize for repeating it, but there are no Republican bridges or Democratic roads.

This is a moment that lives beyond the headlines, beyond partisan soundbites, beyond the culture of instant outrage, disinformation, and conflict-as-entertainment.

This is about us doing the real, hard work of governing. This is about democracy delivering for the people. This is about winning the future. It's about doing our job. This is about building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, giving everyone a decent chance at a decent life.

[15:25:09]

And by the way, when the bottom and middle do well, the wealthy do very, very well. Nobody, nobody, nobody gets hurt. This is what I call governing and government doing its job, ensuring

everybody is better off.

As I've said many times and I'll say it again today: We are the United States of America. And there is nothing, nothing, we can't do if we do it together.

So, thank you. God bless you all. And may God protect our troops.

Darlene at AP. Darlene, AP.

DARLENE SUPERVILLE, AP WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, thank you. What is your reaction to Governor Cuomo's -- his announcement that he is stepping down? You called on him to resign. Did you think he would?

BIDEN: I respect the governor's decision and, I respect the decision he made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how concerned are you right now about children in schools, given that 94 percent of children, many of them unable to get vaccinated because they're too young, have now tested positive? What are your concerns, and how concerned are you that schools will not be able to stay open as you've asked for?

BIDEN: My concerns are deep and I'm very concerned, and we all know why.

Look, I understand that there are millions of people who decided, adults, who decided not to get vaccinated. And I understand that to badger those folks is not likely to get them to move and get vaccinated. But I also understand that the reason children are becoming infected is because, in most cases, they live in low- vaccination-rate states and communities, and they're getting it from unvaccinated adults. That is what is happening.

And so, my plea is that for those who are not vaccinated: Think about it. God willing, the FDA is going to be coming out in a reasonable timeframe to say this vaccine is totally safe. We've seen millions of doses around the world -- a billion doses already -- and we know how it's transmitted.

And one of the things that I find a little disingenuous: When I suggest that people in zones where there is a high risk wear the masks like you all are doing, I'm told that government should get out of the way and not do that; they don't have the authority to do that.

And I find it interesting that some of the very people who are saying that, who hold government positions, are people who are threatening that if a schoolteacher asks a student if they've been vaccinated, or if a principal says that, "Everyone in my school should wear a mask," or the schoolboard votes for it, that governor will nullify that. That governor has the authority to say, "You can't do that." I find that totally counterintuitive and, quite frankly, disingenuous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have presidential powers to intervene in states like Texas and Florida where they are banning mask mandates?

BIDEN: I don't believe that I do thus far. We're checking that. We -- but there are on -- federal workforce, I can.

And I think that people should understand, seeing little kids -- I mean, four, five, six years old, in hospitals, on ventilators, and some of them passing, not many, but some of them passing. It's almost, I mean, it's just -- well, I should not characterize beyond that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Andrew Cuomo, his resignation: What impact, as the head of the Party, what impact does his resignation have on the Democratic Party?

BIDEN: I think the impact is all on Andrew Cuomo and his decision to make that judgement, and I respect his decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, on Afghanistan, in just the last few days, multiple cities in Afghanistan have fallen to the Taliban. There's irrefutable evidence that a vast majority of those Afghan forces cannot hold ground there. Has your current plan to withdraw U.S. troops changed at all?

BIDEN: No. Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces.