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tv   Washington Week  PBS  May 13, 2022 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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>> covid's tragic toll and fallout. pres. biden: one million empty chairs around the dinner table, irreplaceable losses. >> a, grim new milestone one million americans dead from covid-19. in their memory, flags fly at half staff. >> the fall will be too late. >> but the biden administration warns of another surge in the coming months, up to 100 million new infections, as congress is deadlocked on funding for covid. meanwhile -- the backlash over abortion grows louder as the key vote to protect access to abortion fails in the senate. plus -- >> donald trump loves west
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virginia and west virginia loves donald trump. [applause] >> this week, midterm results reveal the power of former president trump's endorsement, and his limits, next. ♪ >> this is washingtonweek. corporate funding is provided by -- >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide well your list -- to provide wireless service. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. >> additional funding is provided by the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting and by
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contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> good evening and welcome to washingtonweek. i'm judy woodruff in tonight for yamiche alcindor. the nation has suffered a loss of unthinkable proportions, more than one million americans dead from covid-19. so many around the country are mourning the loss of friends and loved ones. that toll represents one death for every 327 americans, that is a number equal to the population of san jose, california, the country's 10th largest city. on thursday, president biden marked the tragic milestone. he asked world leaders to renew their commitment to fighting the virus. pres. biden: there is still so much left to do. this pandemic is not over, with thousands still dying every day, now is the time for us to act, all of us together. judy: he also called on congress
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to provide more covid-19 funding, but the path ahead for that aid is uncertain. joining me tonight to discuss this and more, manu raju, chief congressional correspondent for cnn. seung min kim, the white house reporter for the washington post. and susan page, washington bureau chief for usa today. it's so good to see both of you at the table, and you, manu, remotely. we are so glad to have you here with us tonight. let's start by talking about that package that the white house is asking for. remind us, how much are they asking for, and what is in that package? seung min: when they initially put forward that request to congress, they had asked for more than $22 billion to cover the cost of additional therapeutics, vaccines, all these essentials the country needs to continue fighting this pandemic. several months ago they were supposed to put it in this must
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pass package in congress to fund the government, but that got left out over disputes on how to pay for it. now we are looking at this orphan package. because of protests from republicans, that already $22 billion has been sliced by more than half. now we are talking about $10 billion. there are a lot of other complications. the biggest company and with that package is republicans insisting on a vote, on retaining title 42, that pandemic era border policy that expels people at the border for pandemic reasons. that is set to liftay 23. there are legal rulings that may change that date, but republik and right now are insisting on a vote. a lot of democrats oppose lifting that policy. judy: it has gotten very messy. seung min: very much so. judy: manu, from the hill
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perspective, they have been asking for this money for some time. and here we are, and there is a problem. why? manu: it's been actually months in the making, this problem, and not just because of the disagreement over title 42 policy that is stalling things at the moment, but also democrats have struggled to get their own ducks in a row. back in march there was a deal for about $16 billion worth of covid aid. that was a deal cut between nancy pelosi, mitch mcconnell and chuck schumer, along with the top appropriators in the house and senate on the republican and democratic side. they were going to roll that into a massive package. democrats revolted over it because republicans insisted that the $16 billion be offset with spending cuts, and there were concerns among the democrats about where those
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offsets were coming from. some would have come from their own states, for unused covid money they believe was obligated to their states, and they pushed back. that forced pelosi, w ho did not have the votes to pass spending bill out of the house, she had to nix that $16 billion package altogether. things have been stalled for some time. there was then deal cut in the senate for a smaller package, $10 billion between the republicans and democrats, they got rid of international covid aid on the global level. they had to got rid of that to fully pay for, to offset the cost of this package. that $10 billion got wrapped in election politics of dealing with how to target the title 42 policy at the border. republicans are insisting on an amendment dealing with title 42 as part of the covid package. chuck schumer has resisted that, but he has facing -- he is
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facing increased pressure from top democrats, including the number two democrat, his chief deputy dick durbin, who says it is ultimately inevitable they have to cave to republican demands. it seems they will eventually have to give republicans a vote to get this through. it will only being $10 billion of the $22.5 billion the white house proposed. it is unknown if it can deal with the surge of cases in the months ahead. judy: it gives you a headache to keep track of the ins and outs o f this. susan, does it look like there is a solution here from your perspective? susan: i don't think it is perfectly clear there will be a deal. six month before november, republicans do not feel a great imperative to do anything that let's democrats out-of-the-box they are in on this. one reason i think americans hate politics is you listen to the back-and-forth about unrelated issues, but this will
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have real-life consequent is for americans if this money is not approved. the administration says it will be harder to update vaccines to deal with new variants, that they may have to restrict who can get the new vaccines to the most vulnerable. that is the way back machine, when you had to be on a certain list to get the initial vaccines that came out it's not just a fight with shadow puppets, this will affect americans across the country into the fall and winter, when we expect to have another surge of covid. judy: which brings me back to the question of, is the white house thinking about how the american people see covid right now? we know there are a lot of cases out there, though they tend to be mild, but covid is still there. seung min: it has been a big challenge for the white house for months now, if not over the year, because we are tired of covid, we all want tmove on and try to resume a sense of
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normalcy and the white house has tried to project that as many ways as possible. they lifted the mask mandate, perhaps too prematurely. they had not really resisted when a federal judge knocked down that federal transportation mask mandate a few weeks ago. they also know at the same time that the pandemic is still with us, infections will still be high, even with vaccines, they still need the tools to fight a pandemic that is ongoing. it is a tough balancing act for the white house that they have been dealing with for some time, with a weary public, but a reality where the pandemic is still with us. judy: from the hill perspective, is it the democratic members are feeling the need for covid and republicans aren't? that is almost too simplistic, isn't it? manu: it is a much different
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situation than 2020. at that time it was almost a blank check that congress was writing for dealing with the covid response. there were no concerns about offsetting the costs and not increasing the budget deficit in the process. that was not even a discussion. during the trump time, the end of the trump era, they said we don't really care about deficits and debt, we care about dealing with the pandemics. the politics has changed and the parties' approaches have changed. republicans are insisting on offsetting the costs of any new money dealing with covid, and as a result that has created extra complications. that first package that they passed under biden, roughly $2 trillion, that was passed with
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strictly democratic support. that was supposed to be dealing with the pandemic, but the republicans disagreed with that approach. it has under the biden era been a much more partisan fight, which has made things more complicated, but democrats have their own issues to deal with. is that going to be enough to deal with this? if the white house says we need more money in the fall, can they get that together by the midterms? also another couple getting factor. judy: susan, i hear you saying the republicans are not hearing the imperative from their voters, from the people they answer to, to do something here. susan: there has been several strange things about the covid pandemic, and one is that has become a partisan split. republican voters and legislators have been -- have taken a different attitude to the pandemic than democrats. they have been less willing to take vaccines, to agree with
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mask mandate. there are probably a lot of reasons why that has happened, but it persists today. this has become very much a partisan political issue. judy: which makes it even harder for the white house, getting back to what you were saying about their need to connect what they are asking for with what they see the american people need at this point. seung min: very much so. and they are dealing with an uphill dynamic in the senate. 10 republican votes in the senate for an admin attrition priority, even if it is -- an administration priority, has definitely been a challenge. that dynamic, the congressional split, has been such a big hurdle for the administration and so many other issues. judy: we are going to turn now to something else that has been on the minds of people sense a little over a week ago -- since a little over a week ago. we had that leaked for the
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supreme court, the fallout from that draft opinion, the reaction has only intensified this week. and abortion is now shaping up to be a top issue for midterm candidates across both parties. wednesday on wednesday senators voted on a bill that would legally protect abortion rights. the democrat backed bill failed. senator joe mention of west virginia, a democrat, joined all senate republicans in blocking the bill. >> this bill today is ugly, winner takes all politics. it is full of aggressive pro-abortion provisions. where is the tolerance? where is the compassion? where is the humanity? judy: democrats, including senator patty murray of washington state, expressed outrage. >> what we saw today is republicans telling americans all over this country, and women in particular, that their voice is more important than yours,
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that what they believe in is more important than your choice about your own body and your own family and your own future. judy: manu raju, i think everybody acknowledges this vote was not going to ultimately prevail. they needed 60 votes. what happened here? manu: it was an interesting several days, a decision by the democratic leaders not to try to get a bill to the floor that would have at least two republican votes. there was no chance that this bill would pass. this was a message in vote -- was a messaging vote that the democrats wanted to show they are trying to preserve abortion rights. there was no chance of this getting the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. or presumably they could change the rules of the senate, pass it along straight party lines, but you need a simple majority of votes and they sibley don't have
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that because of the opposition from joe manchin and several others concerned about that approach. the decision by chuck schumer was to put a bill on the floor, the women's health protection act, that did not have the support of those two republican moderate senators who support abortion rights, who believe that this bill goes too far. instead they decided to go with this other bill instead. the reason why democrats did that is for messaging purposes. they wanted to make it clear that republicans were unanimous against them in trying to preserve abortion rights and trying to say to overturn the supreme court's decision, assuming that is what becomes law here. the problem with the message became when joe manchin, the one democrat who does oppose
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abortion rights, came out in opposition to this plan. he said he would have supported that narrower approach that collins and murkowski backed. as a result it was 49-51, that bill failed, and it leaves democrats with no clear path to dealing with this on a federal level. really their only hope is to convince voters to send more democrats to the senate, for them to hold the house, presumably change the senate rules next year by having enough votes, and then enacting legislation to preserve abortion rights. that is the only bet they are left with to deal with this on a federal level. judy: susan, are these messaging votes -- do they tend to be effective? do they accomplish what the members want? susan: big debate about that. on the one hand, does it show to
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your base you are willing to stand up for abortion rights or does it show weakness? democrats are supposed to control the white house and senate and yet they can't keep their own members in line. there was some debate in the caucus about whether this was the right thing to do, but they had nothing else they could do. it was there only play. -- their only play. wait until the real decision comes down sometime this summer. because once a decision comes down, if it strikes down roe v. wade as we expect, there are 13 states that have trigger laws that instantly go into effect restricting abortion. there are another nine states that have laws that were on the books when roe v. wade was decided that have never been rescinded. those could also go into force instantaneously. these pre-roe laws could be in effect again. a supreme court decision's
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effect will take no time to unfold. judy: what messaging can they offer at this point? seung min: in terms of substance, they have told us they are looking into potential exec actions, -- executvie actions -- executive actions, seeing if you can use medicaid dollars for a woman who has to travel to another state to get an abortion if an abortion is outlawed in the state where she lives. some of those actions, they don't know if that is legal yet. they were looking towards this vote that failed wednesday. the next step, the messaging from the president onown, you have to elect democrats, weathered it's -- w -- whether it is to the senate, the house, if and when roe is overturned.
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it illustrates how hopeless the democratic party is to do actual action in the aftermath of this. judy: democrats i think are acknowledging they have not done as good a job as republicans in translating whatever public support there is for abortion rights into victories in these key congressional races. susan: right. when i talked to republicans about abortion rights in congressional races this year, they say at the end of the day it's going to be the economy and inflation that are going to matter for voters this november. i think president biden flicked at that this week when giving a speech on inflation. he called combating inflation his top domestic priority. how much this mobilizes voters this fall and has an impact i think is an interesting question. judy: one question is whether
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that dynamic with the abortion debate flips. the energy has been with the antiabortion forces because the people who support abortion rights saw a roe v. wade as something they could count on, even as some restrictions were enacted. does that change as abortions are banned in some states? does it make people who support abortion rights a single issue voter? as we saw both parties tried to make the debate over abortion a rallying cry to bring pro-choice and pro-life voters to the polls, one person has been relatively silent on this, former president trump. this week mr. trump saw his endorsed candidate win in primaries, and one lose in the nebraska gubernatorial race. those races are viewed as a
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referendum on the former president's power. we are watching everyone of these candidates that former president trump hasndorsed. susan: he has a lot of influence in the republican party, no question. very few republicans are willing to challenge him, but there is a bit of a sense that, republicans even those willing to endorse other candidates. we saw mike pence endorse governor cap in georgia -- kemp in georgia. trump is very much in favor of kemp's challenger because of kemp's action in upholding the 2020 election. i wonder if there is a sense, to some degree, are there those in the republican party who want to get past the moment when trump could call all the shots? judy: and manu raju, there has to be conversation among republicans as they watch these
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trump endorsements play out? manu: no question about it. this is a key month for trump. he did get jd vance through, helped him. there is no question he played a key role in getting him through the ohio senate republican primary. he had a split decision this past tuesday in the west virginia house race. he did help alex mooney in a republican on republican primary. it was about support for the infrastructure law that mckinley backed, mooney opposed. trump tried to get republicans to block that so biden would not have an compliment. he was unsuccessful in the nebraska gubernatorial race, his preferred candidate failed. will happen tuesday in the pennsylvania senate republican primary? trump of course supported the celebrity dr. oz.
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there are questions about whether oz can pull it off. he is in a tight three-way race there. there is the north carolina republican senate primary. he has backed a cumbersome and going up against the former -- a congressman going up against the former governor there in a tight race. there is a question about what will happen in georgia gubernatorial race. david perdue is struggling in the polls against brian kemp. in talking to republicans about david perdue, a former senator, someone who had they -- who they had served with for some time, they don't recognize the man on the campaign trail espousing the same baseless conspiracy theories that donald trump did, that the 2020 election was stolen, that there was widespread fraud that caused him the election. -- cost him the election. he had to do that to win donald trump's support. judy: we remember he was being loyal to the president when he
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was in the senate. finally, the white house has to be watching all this with some interest? seung min: very much so. what has been interesting to me is how much they tried to use that maga messaging over the last several weeks, especially at this week, they rolled out the "ultra maga" label to republican policies, not just as a relates to the economy and taxation, but as it relates to abortion. you are going to continue to see that from the white house. they feel this is an effective message. they have polling that indicates that this is something that has a negative connotation with a broader voter populace, but at the same time president trump likes the ulta maga message, so they are co-opting it, particularly when biden calls trump the former maga king. judy: we are only beginning to
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watch how the rest of this midterm year plays out. susan: and it will be important because there is every possibility democrats lose the house, and with that it will be a whole new game in washington. judy: a lot of conversation about that already in washington. with that, a wonderful discussion. we thank all three of you for joining us and for sharing your excellent reporting. tune in saturday to pbs news ekend for a conversation on the abortion access debate in latin america and how it compares to the united states. be sure to join me on monday on the pbs newshour. thank you for joining us and good night from washington. >> corporate funding for washingtonweek is provided by -- consumer cellular. additional funding is provided by the yuen foundation. committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. sandra magnuson.
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robert and susan rosenbaum. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪ >> you are watchin
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