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tv   State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash  CNN  October 3, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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left turn. progressives in congress hold the line on the president's priorities. >> our position is exactly the same as the president's. >> forcing the speaker to delay a planned vote for the second time. is the left the new power bloc in democratic politics? the woman leading the charge, house progressive caucus chair pramila jayapal will be here. plus, dem on dem. after a very public week of infighting democrats go back to the negotiating table but as disagreements remain over what's in, what's out and how much, can they deliver on president biden's agenda? senate majority whip dick durbin ahead. staggering milestone. more than 700,000 u.s. lives lost to covid. but -- >> we are starting to see a turning around of the curve coming down. >> as the u.s. looks to approve a new covid pill, how safe are you now? dr. anthony fauci will join me.
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hello. i'm dana bash in washington where the state of our union is watching to see if president biden can deliver. the new clock starts now for democrats after a week of frenzied infighting and two delayed votes. house speaker nancy pelosi set a new deadline for her party writing in a letter to her caucus on saturday the bipartisan infrastructure bill must pass before october 31. which means the party must also reach consensus on the larger social policy bill, the centerpiece of president biden's agenda. on friday president biden made clear now that he believes those two packages are linked saying that to all house democrats during a rare trip to capitol hill that's where he stands in the effort to try to calm tensions in the party. and while his negotiating skills may have worked in the short term there's signs that his decision to side with
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progressives by delaying the infrastructure vote may have caused real damage with the moderate wing. saturday, senator kyrsten sinema one of the senate holdouts on the social policy bill released a scathing statement calling the move to delay infrastructure, quote, inexcusable and accused democratic leaders of eroding trust within the party. now the question will be whether there is enough trust left for president biden to make significant cuts to his cornerstone legislation to win support from moderate holdouts without losing votes from the powerful progressive bloc. joining me is the chair of the house progressive caucus pramila jayapal. congresswoman, thank you so much for joining me. it was a really extraordinary week. i have covered washington for a long time and this is the first time i have seen progressives have the numbers and the power and the will to use that power to hold the line on the issues that you're pushing. what do you think this week says about the progressive wing of
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the democratic party? >> dana, it is great to see you and to be with you. what i think is happening right now is progressives have helped push back on to the table, back on to the agenda, president biden's agenda. this is really what happened. there was a build back better agenda that the president laid out to congress five months ago with infrastructure, roads and bridges, but it also had -- 85% of it was around the other important programs, child care, paid family leave for 12 weeks for everybody. making sure we take on the climate crisis. expanding health care and of course taking on the challenge of giving a path to citizenship for immigrants. all of that ended up in something called the build back better act. all of a sudden we made clear that the two had to move together because we don't want to pit roads and bridges against child care and we know the president doesn't want to do that either. but when that changed and suddenly a small group of
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people, 4% of the entire house democratic caucus and the senate democratic caucus, said we only want the bipartisan infrastructure bill to go and that's after five months of negotiating, we had to stand up and get the whole thing back together and that's what i think has happened now. we have put the bills back together as was the original agreement and will deliver both bill, the infrastructure bill which is important and the build back better act. >> not everybody axwreeed that was the agreement. i'll get to that in a second. i'm sure you have seen congressman josh gottheimer and senator kyrsten sinema release scathing statements over the weekend. gottheimer accused you and fellow progressives of employing freedom caucus tactics. senator sinema called the move an ineffective move saying the delay further erodes trust and she does not trade her vote for political favors. pretty harsh words. those are fellow democrats. >> yeah. it's unfortunate because we believe that it was a bad move to put an arbitrary date on this
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infrastructure bill and to delink the two to start with. we have been clear for three and a half months. i say to news media, and they're two senators, listen, we have a very slim majority in the house as well and we should be clear that this was a majority of our caucus so it's not just a few people. we had over 60 votes and that number increasing of people who were desperately committed to the idea that we are not leaving anybody behind. >> right. but at least senator sinema is opposed to some of the substance of what you are pushing with the 50-50 senate you have leverage in the house. they have leverage in the senate. >> absolutely. >> now the pressure is on for you to deliver and you know that i'm sure. >> yeah. >> i want to talk about negotiations. some top democrats and white house officials are floating a $2.1 trillion package. a lot smaller than what you are currently at, $3.5 trillion. are you open to 2.1 trillion?
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>> what we have said from the beginning is that it's never been about the price tag but what we want to deliver. the price tag comes out of that. so we understand that we -- the 3.5 we thought was negotiated already. clearly not negotiated. we understand we have to get 50 senators on board and we have to keep everyone in the house on board. so we are now going back to make sure what is the way that we can get all of the critical programs that we had identified, those things i talked to you about -- child care paid leave. >> yeah. i'll get to that in a second. >> how do we get the things in but perhaps for a shorter period of time and be able to get then to the number from that? the critical thing is get the priorities in and then figure out what it costs. >> i understand that, but there's focus and the negotiating is on that top line number. for example, is 2.1 trillion your absolute floor? >> we are not thinking about the
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number. and the president said this to us, too. he said don't start with the number. start with what you're for, and that's what he asked them for, and let's come to the number from there. that's how we're thinking about it. >> that makes sense, but you have been looking at this for a long time. you have been looking at the policies and what it adds up to and how you can do it. this is what your focus has been almost solely. >> yeah. >> so i'm sure you have looked at whether or not you can do what you want to do for $2 trillion. >> we don't know what the number is yet. there's no number on the table yet that everyone agreed to. it is not like they came to us and said -- >> what do you see? >> i don't feel the need to give a number because i gave my number. it was 3.5. if you are in a negotiation, you need to have a counteroffer before you bid at yourself. >> if we're not looking at numbers then what about 1.5? >> that won't happen. that's too small to get the priorities in. it will be between 1.5 and 3.5
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and i think the white house is working on that right now because remember what we want to deliver is child care, paid leave and climate change. >> i want to get to that. so 1.5 is too small but you won't say if 2 trillion is too small. >> i don't have a definite number yet. i don't have a counteroffer. it would be like buying a house and going in to make an offer and somebody says what's the lowest number you would take? why would i do that? >> let's talk about the substance because that does matter more than anything right now. because there's so much you're talking about, i want to put up for the viewers on the screen some of the policies. universal pre-k. child care. tuition free community college. paid medical and family leave, child tax credit making it permanent, dental and vision, hearing coverage for medicare, home care for seniors and sweeping climate provisions. so looking at all of that, congresswoman, what is your strategy to negotiate? are you thinking about keeping all of those programs in and
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just making the time that you're going to allow them to be out there shorter? are you going to cut some programs? what's your plan? >> the things you mentioned are priorities so our idea now is to look at how you make them funded for a little bit of a shorter time, and we are also going through some smaller things in there just to see what are those things and do they need to be in there, as well. that will probably cut out a decent amount. small things that were in there or things that we might be able to fund through an appropriations process. >> for example what would you cut? >> we are not there yet in terms of what, but there are a lot of items 2 billion, $3 billion if you put them all together they add up to a bigger number. they might have been put there to keep somebody happy, and we have to be careful as we pull them out of who we're going to lose. i think that's the process. >> anything in there that's nonnegotiable, must be in there for a 10-year period?
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>> for a 10-year period? i think that the clean electricity standards really do need to be in there for a ten-year period because it takes time to cut carbon emissions and we need to have that certainty for the market to move in that direction so that i think is one that needs to be there for ten years. >> what about means testing? are you comfortable with means testing? that's what joe manchin wants. meaning people that can afford it won't get the benefits. >> all of the research shows that means testing doesn't really target it more but it creates a lot of administrative burden and cost. >> is that a no? >> it's not what i want to do. i had a staff member do a paper for me on all the reasons why means testing is not a fiscally prudent thing to do or a policy prudent thing to do. let's see. the negotiation is just starting. >> senator joe manchin said this weekend that this reconciliation bill, the bill we are talking about, must include the hyde amendment which bans federal dollars to go for abortions.
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he said, yeah, we are not taking the hyde amendment off. hyde's going to be on. it has to be. it has to be. that's dead on arrival if it's gone. i know this is personal for you. you shared your experience with abortion in congressional testimony this past week. can you vote for a bill that has the hyde amendment in it? >> no. >> so what happens? how do you compromise on that? >> let's just -- this is a negotiation. we've got to continue to move this forward but the hyde amendment is something that the majority of the country does not support. 1 in 4 women have had an abortion and need to have reproductive care in a very, very important time when those protections are being rolled back. that is nobody's business. it is our business as people that carry the babies. and we have to be able to make the choices during our pregnancies. >> just to be clear, you want to have in this legislation you want to allow federal dollars to be spent for abortion? >> no.
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none of the dollars here are going for that. >> that's what the hyde amendment bans, so how would -- >> i think the reality is i think what he is asking for from my understanding is something more than that. and so let's just continue to see where we are. but i think the important thing here is this is the beginning of a negotiation. >> okay. thank you so much for coming in. >> thank you, yeah, yeah. >> i really appreciate it. congressional democrats blew past two self-imposed deadlines this week so october should be fun. the man in charge of counting democratic votes in the senate on how they're going to get it done, senate majority whip dick durbin is next. plus, a potential breakthrough in the fight against covid-19. dr. anthony fauci is coming up. gentle constipation relief in minutes. little fleet. big relief. try it. feel it. feel that fleet feeling.
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like 12 weeks of paid family leave. >> six days. >> six whole days of paid -- >> unpaid. >> unpaid six whole days -- >> nights. >> six nights of unpaid family -- compromise, right? >> welcome back to "state of the union." "saturday night live" is back with a lot of comedic fodder from democrats as the party struggles to come together to pass president biden's agenda. now the president and congressional democrats have just one month to cut trillions of dollars from a bill stuffed with progressive priorities. all to secure the votes of at least two members of their party, senators manchin and sinema who won't sign on to the current plan. joining me now is senate majority whip dick durbin joining me from illinois. thank you so much for joining me. so as you well know, top democrats are floating $2.1 trillion as a potential compromise. but it would still require you
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to scale back significantly. you just heard congresswoman jayapal tell me $1.5 trillion won't do. it's too small. that's where senator manchin is right now. so how do you get from where senator manchin and senator sinema are, $1.5 trillion, to a deal with progressives? >> dana, let me tell you i support the $3.5 trillion. i believe the elements have been stated over and over again. they're good for this country and needed for families and by our nation, but i'm a realist, too. i went through the affordable care act, and you remember that debate ten or 11 years ago where we made concessions, and i think those concessions lead to a different number. i want to make sure we come up with the right result, not the biggest number, but the most effective number to help families and this economy move forward in a responsible way. >> what do you think that number may be? >> i don't know. i know that's the question of
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the day for every reporter on capitol hill. i can't tell you how many times i've asked what's your number. i can tell you working with chuck schumer we look at the priorities, we listen very carefully to every single member. every vote counts when it comes to getting to this majority, and concessions will be made. we are certain of that. thank goodness we have other players committed with the president arriving in the house last week. that was historic. shows he wasn't going to stand by the sideline and issue tweets. he walked to capitol hill or traveled to capitol hill and nancy pelosi. never underestimate nancy pelosi. as i saw her deliver the affordable care act. i know the power she has when she gets to work. >> let's talk about the substance and the policies that you are describing, and i'll put on the screen so the viewers can see it. we talked about it with congresswoman jayapal but universal pre-k, community college tuition free to adding
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benefits for medicare and climate provisions. so do you think democrats should eliminate any of these specifically? just excise them or keep them in and scale back all of them, maybe through means testing or shorter time lines? >> there's the question. it's one that we'll face in the next four weeks because october 31st is our new target date, certainly get the debt ceiling done long before that, but when it comes to this issue, reconciliation and the infrastructure bill, to have that as our target. we have to ask that very fundamental question. should we do everything to a limited degree or invest ourselves in the most important things and try to make that decision? it's a hard one. >> what do you think? >> support the agenda. >> as somebody that supports the full thing, what do you think should be done? >> i think the american people are looking for to us to come up with effective ways to help them in their daily lives.
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working families, for example. we want to get more people back to work and applying for jobs. i can tell you that child care is essential to that. the reason the women are holding back is that schools are not reopened fully, and there's uncertainty about the pandemic and there's uncertainty about the availability of child care. so we want a workforce that's responsive in building the economy. we need to give mothers and fathers the confidence that where they're leaving their children is safe. >> you're saying child care should stay in there. anything that you think could be delayed for another package? >> there's some -- i'm not going to go through a list, but there's some i think -- >> can you give me an example? >> no. i'm not going to because that argues against my case. i do support the entire agenda, but i'm listening to kyrsten sinema and joe manchin, as chuck schumer is every day, and deciding what will it take to bring them across the finish line.
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we absolutely need them. >> senator joe manchin said this week that this reconciliation bill is dead on arrival if it does not include the hyde amendment which bans federal dollars for most abortion. as you know, president biden changed his position during the campaign to oppose the hyde amendment. which means he's okay using federal dollars for abortions. you just heard congresswoman jayapal say that's a nonstarter. she will not vote for a bill with the hyde amendment in it so what's going to happen? >> dana, i can't tell you how many times in my senatorial career we have seen major pieces of legislation flounder on this issue, so i don't want to say anything now to jeopardize the negotiation. but i hope we'll keep in perspective what we are trying to do will have a positive impact on families and children, and we should move to that goal together. we have to find ways to deal with this issue honestly, but i hope it's not the decisive issue. when it comes to the future of
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this package. >> you're not just collecting votes but you are a vote. would you, senator dick durbin, vote for legislation with the hyde amendment in it? >> i'll tell you i voted for both in the past because i have to measure it against the value of the package itself. build back better is the future for many working families. it gives them a chance to finally break away from the inequality in our economy and to have some optimism about the future. i don't want to let the package break down over that issue. >> i take that as a yes. let's move on to senator sinema. i'm sure you have seen she released a scathing statement yesterday. she said democratic leaders -- and you're obviously one of them -- have made conflicting promises that could not be kept and that canceling the infrastructure vote further erodes that trust. the republicans and democrats who negotiated this infrastructure deal took the president at his word. a couple months ago when he told them that these bills are not
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linked. so did the president go back on that promise? >> no, i don't believe he did. i think what we're witnessing is a strongly felt belief by kyrsten sinema and others that this bipartisan infrastructure package passed the senate with a good strong vote and it's needed in the future and we ought to move with it. at the same time, it's a fact that it's linked in time with the reconciliation package. and we need to deal with both of them together. i just hope that we'll all take a pause for a moment as the president suggested and look at the agenda ahead of us. we can do both of these. we should do both and the sooner we do them together, it will be good for this american economy. >> let's turn to another crisis on capitol hill and that's debt limit. the government will no longer be able to pay its bills on october 18. republicans say they're not going to help you at all and you need to raise the debt limit via
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what's known as reconciliation, so just with democratic votes. leader schumer and house speaker pelosi say they won't do that. are you ruling out raising the debt ceiling with only democratic votes through reconciliation? >> the republican leader in the senate, mitch mcconnell, is playing games with a loaded weapon here. he's demanded the filibuster be applied to the debt ceiling. it may be the first time in history that's happened, and we have been warned by not only the treasury secretary but by all the financiers across america this would be deadly to our economy. it would cost us 6 million jobs. why? what schumer said to mcconnell is, if you're not going to lead, if you're not going to follow, get the hell out of the way. let the democrats accept the political responsibility of extending the debt limit and mcconnell said no. he is doing it at the expense of this economy. we're going to get this done and
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in a responsible way and face this as soon as we return next week. >> so yes or no, can you guarantee that the united states of america will not default on its debt on october 18? >> apparently if senator mcconnell has his way, we will not do that and a financial disaster. >> you guys are in charge. will you make sure it doesn't happen? >> i want to add quickly you're a student of the game. to say the democrats are in charge of the senate is to ignore it's a 50-50 senate and we need 60 votes. i think he'll come to his senses. i hope he will if he'll listen to the people back home and around this nation who warn him of the dire consequences of his strategy. >> okay, but this is a man who held up merrick garland's nomination for many, many, months and unprecedented. he is known to say something and stick with it despite the pressure that is on him so i'm guessing you understand him. you're a student of mitch mcconnell as much as anybody and
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that's not going to happen and the reality is that democrats are probably going to have to figure this out on their own. fair? >> well, as i said earlier, schumer said to him, you don't want your fingerprints on the debt ceiling even though you voted on all the spending bills that created this debt ceiling extension? then step out of the way. let us do it by democratic vote. we'll accept that responsibility. the future of our economy is at stake here, and if he thinks he's going to score political points by defaulting on america's debt for the first time in history he is wrong. >> senate majority whip dick durbin from illinois this morning, i really appreciate it. >> thanks, dana. >> thank you. a new pill that could cut covid-19 deaths in half. how is that going to change the course of the pandemic here in america? dr. anthony fauci joins me next. i was drowning in student loan debt. then i discovered sofi.
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gig-speed broadband network. and just doubled the capacity here. how do things look on your end? -perfect! because we're building a better network every single day. welcome back to "state of the union." america just hit another painful milestone. more than 700,000 u.s. lives now lost to covid-19. that grim statistic as health officials suggest we have started to turn the corner on the delta surge, and now a new covid pill could help future deaths -- cut them in half. so could the end of the pandemic actually be in sight? joining me now is the president's chief medical adviser dr. anthony fauci. dr. fauci, thank you for joining me this morning. first i want to get your reaction to the milestone i just mentioned.
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700,000 deaths happened over the weekend from coronavirus. and that number would have been unthinkable 18 months ago. what's your reaction? >> right. well, it is a very painful statistic, dana. obviously because of the enormity of the challenge of this outbreak and this extraordinary virus that spread so rapidly. many of those deaths were unavoidable but many, many are avoidable. were avoidable and will in the future be avoidable. the number itself is staggering. you're absolutely correct. but hopefully that will then spur us to realize that we do have interventions in the form of a vaccine to prevent infection, to prevent severe disease, to prevent death. so when you see a number like this, i would hope people would say we have a tool to not let that get any worse. let's utilize it, and i refer to something we bring up all the
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time, that we still have 70 million americans in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not gotten vaccinated yet. so we don't want that number to continue to go up and we can blunt it very, very well with vaccination. >> merck announced this week that its new covid-19 pill cuts the risk of hospitalization and death by 50%. it would be the first pill authorized to treat covid-19. you have spent your career trying to find treatments for viruses. so how much of a game changer is this? >> it's extremely important, dana. the reason is, it's a pill given by mouth, so you don't need anything special other than just taking a pill the way you take any other pill. the results are really quite impressive. decreases the likelihood of getting hospitalization or dying in people who early in the course of their infection take this particular medication. in addition, there another part of that study that is really impressive.
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among the deaths in the study, there were eight deaths among the placebo group and no deaths among those who took the medication. that's very impressive. so we really look forward to the implementation of this and to its affect on people who are infected. >> obviously has a lot of importance when it comes to viruses in general, but you mentioned vaccines before. are you worried that people hearing about this will say i'll take the pill and not get the vaccine? >> i'm sure there are people who are going to be people to say that but i would reach out to them and say it is not a situation where it is okay. it is never okay to get infected. you heard the numbers. it decreased the risk of -- this pill did, of hospitalization and death by 50%. you know the way to reduce the risk by 100%? don't get infected in the first place.
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>> so some states and cities like where we are in washington d.c., they are seeing thousands of new requests for religious exemptions to coronavirus. do you know of any major religion -- and this is getting a vaccine for the coronavirus. do you know any major religion that opposes a vaccine? how worried are you that people are abusing religious and medical exemptions in order to not get a vaccine that either the local government or their company requires? >> well, dana, we looked at this years ago when people were claiming religious exemptions to avoid getting measles vaccines, when we had the measles outbreak in certain clusters of undervaccinated people. there are precious few religions that actually say you cannot do that. i mean very, very few. literally less than a handful.
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but people, you know, sometimes confuse a philosophical objection with a religious objection. when you talk about established religions, there are so few that will not allow you to be vaccinated. >> how do you though tell somebody that their faith -- if they say this is my faith and doesn't fall into that traditional religion, and then on the flip side how do you kind of tell whether or not that's just an excuse? >> yeah. no. dana, that's going to be very difficult. i would hope that people would understand that all of this is for their benefit, for the safety of themselves, their family and societal responsibility. other situations locally dealt with that. there was a situation back in california years ago when governor jerry brown was the governor and he said no religious exemptions because it was being abused. i'm not sure how it's going to roll out. i would encourage people to realize the importance of this
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to get this outbreak under control. the idea of getting vaccinated, for example, getting children in school vaccinated which is gone right now with governor newsom in california, things like that are not new. there are school situations where my own children had to get vaccinated with a variety of vaccines to go to school, so there's nothing new about that. >> should other states follow california's lead and require kids to be vaccinated for coronavirus to go to school? >> i'm not going to be recommending things to other states. i'll let the leaders of those states, but i think what the governor did in california was sound judgment. >> dr. fauci, stick around. we have a lot of things to discuss, including a surprising reason many republicans believe covid-19 is spreading. it has nothing to do with vaccines or masks. stay with us. we'll be right back. (phone beep) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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welcome back to "state of the union." we're back with president biden's chief medical adviser dr. anthony fauci. so dr. fauci, the fda advisory panel will meet october 26 to consider whether to recommend pfizer's vaccine for children 5 to 11. only one-third of those parents say they'll get their child vaccinated right away. what's your message to parents who are hesitant? and also, will the shots go into arms of children by halloween? >> well, let me answer the second question first, dana, is that you don't want to get ahead of the fda. they said they'll look at the
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data and they will meet. i believe that if the recommendation is to go ahead, that the fda will move expeditiously. so i can't predict whether it's going to be before halloween or into november. i think it's going to be as quickly and as expeditiously as possible and the fda will do the usual good job. my message to parents would be although it's clear that a child getting infected has less of a chance of having a severe outcome than an elderly person or a person with an underlying condition, but it is not completely, unequivocally a benign condition in children. we are seeing now very clearly if you go to pediatric hospitals that although this risk is less than the adult there are children in hospital who are getting seriously ill. in addition, there's an issue which we call long covid, which means that some people including children get infected, recover and may get minimal symptoms who
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have a lingering of certain symptomatology that can be disruptive of their lives. so you want to protect your child but you want to make the child a part of the solution. mainly so that there's not spread of infection either within your own household or to other vulnerable people. that's what i would try to articulate to parents to convince them that it is a very positive, good thing to get their children vaccinated. >> dr. fauci, a new kaiser family foundation poll asked americans what they thought the major reasons for high coronavirus spread are and the top reasons the republicans gave was immigrants and tourists bringing covid-19 into the u.s. are immigrants a major reason why covid-19 is spreading in the u.s.? >> no, absolutely not. if you just look at the data and look at the people who have gotten infected, look at the people who are in the hospital,
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look at the people that died, this is not driven by immigrants. this is the problem within our country, the same way it's a problem with other countries throughout the world. the idea when you have 700,000 americans dead and millions and millions and millions of americans getting infected that you don't want to look outside to the problem. the problem is within our own country, certainly immigrants can get infected, but they're not the driving force of this. let's face reality here. >> the cdc director said on friday that the agency is re-evaluating what's known as title 42. that was an order done on an emergency basis that allows the u.s. immigration officials to expel migrants more easily because of the pandemic. you have talked about this. there are widespread vaccines and testing now. as a public health official, do you see a medical reason still
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to continue to impose that rule? >> you know, i'm not going to -- i'm sorry, dana, but i am not as familiar with the intricacies of that to make any comment about that rule. i just -- you know, my feeling has always been that focusing on immigrants, expelling them is not a solution to an outbreak. >> before i let you go, president biden got his booster shot this week, he did it in public. former president trump said this weekend he would get the booster shot if he felt it was necessary. would it be helpful if the former president got his booster shot on camera in public? >> well, you know, first of all i would think everybody should get their boosters anyway, whether the president does the or not. i'm sure that there are people who religiously follow what former president trump says and does, that that -- they may look and say, okay, i'll get vaccinated. we'll see. i don't know.
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i think we need to appeal to the rationale of why it's important. whether trump gets vaccinated or not. there are very, very good reasons beyond someone specifically getting vaccinated for people to get vaccinated with a booster shot. the protection is waning as we know, and boosters are going to be something that will be very helpful to contain the outbreak and protect people. >> yeah. >> that's the reason why they should get boosted. >> dr. fauci, thank you for joining me this morning. i appreciate it. >> good to be with you. thank you for having me. 1 in every 500 americans has died of covid-19. a moving art installation gives the families grieving a voice and a place to go. the messages they are leaving to honor their loved ones may surprise and move you. that's next. we don't use just any wipe, we use dawn disinfecting wipes. they're tough enough to cut through greasy messes,
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we have lost so many lives to the covid-19 pandemic, it's hard to comprehend the number. a stunning two-week exhibit on washington's national mall closing today tries to do just that. it's hard to capture this on camera. it's even hard to capture it with your eyes when you're here like you and i are, because it's so bad. it goes down to the world war ii memorial now.
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suzanne firstenberg is the artist behind america, each flag representing a life lost to covid-19. >> when i bought flags in june, i bought 630,000. i thought never would we use that many. i reordered twice. >> reporter: visitors come by not just to observe but participate, volunteers write dedications for loved ones submitted online. >> one flag, there was a 99-year-old who died, and the flag reads, he refused a ventilator. he asked that it be used for someone younger. >> reporter: when the exhibit opened september 17, there were 670,032 deaths. since then, thousands more has died. each day she increases the number to reflect that. >> i check the numbers every day because it's important we honor
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the people we just lost the day before. >> reporter: it's a lot of people. >> incredible number of people. >> reporter: this weekend that number hit an unthinkable milestone, 700,000 american lives lost to covid-19. >> there are a lot of flags that say if only you would have listened, or i wish you had gotten vaccinated. >> reporter: look at this one here, dear mom-mom, you're a woman of strength, love and kindness that radiated from you. this period around the holidays is the hardest without you. >> what i didn't realize is just how much emotion people would bring to this. i created the art, but they brought the content, the stories, the sadness. oftentombs they'll tell me this is the first i've had a chance to cry. >> thank you for spending your sunday morning with us. the news continues next. with the ww app, our weight loss program is easier. josh: the personalized recipes are really great.
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with no line-activation fees or term contract required. see if you can save by switching today. comcast business. powering possibilities. hello and welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. appreciate your company. i'm michael holmes. coming up, joe biden hits the road this week to promote his agenda as democrats grapple with what they may need to cut to get a vote. 'tis the season to avoid covid. the cdc has released new guidelines to keep your family healthy over the holidays. and a facebook whistleblower speaking out. why she says teenage girls are victims of the company's co


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