tv Deadline White House MSNBC May 31, 2021 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean is now helping the places you go every day too. seek a commitment to clean. look for the ecolab science certified seal. thanks for joining us on. i'm chris jansing. niccole wallace will be back here tomorrow. today joe biden served the first memorial day as commander in chief. he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier and then delivered remarks. in the speech president biden stressed not only general rags of americans fought and died to protect democracy but that that fight is ongoing. here and now in the united states. >> our troops have fought this battle on fields around the world, but also, the battle of
our time. and the mission falls to each of us, each and every day? democracy itself is in pearl. here at home and around the world. what we do now, what we do now, how we honor of the fallen, will determine whether or not democracy will long endure. democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong. when people have the right to vote. freely and fairly and conveniently. >> the president's decision to frame the address around the threats to democracy and specifically to call out threats to voting feels pointed after what happened last night. democrats in the texas state house walked out and scuttle a republican bill to severe restrict voting in that state. with the democrats absent the
house lacked a quorum and the majority was forced to adjourn without voting on the bill. the texas bill was more stringent and far reaching than the voting laws enacting in several other states as republicans across the country follow donald trump's lead in perpetuating the big lie that the 200 election was stolen from trump by fraud. the texas bill would have made it a crime, a felony, for local officials to send ballot applications to voters unless they request them and impose new requirements for voting by mail and would have made it easier to disqualify the ballots and banned voting drop boxes and drive through voting and eliminated voting on sunday mornings aimed directly at souls to the polls. the successful program for black churchgoers. democrats were alarmed at the provisions that republicans
added to the bill at the last minute that appear designed to make it easier to overturn election results through allegations of fraud. after the walkout, texas house democrats celebrated and acknowledged it may be short lived. >> we've used all the tools in the toolbox to fight this bill. and tonight we pulled out that last one. now listen. we may have won the war tonight but the battle is not over. >> the battle is not over because texas' republican governor is promising to reconvene for a special session in order to get this voting bill passed. joining us texas state representative, judge hidalgo and "the washington post" neighal reporter amy gardner covering this bill and others like it across the country. thank you all for being with us.
representative, it was pretty dramatic. talk to us about this decision you and your colleagues made to walk out last night. why you did it and what you feel you accomplished. >> we were focused on killing this bill ar preserving voting rights for texans. whether it was on points of order, during debate or whether using the extraordinary tactic that we used last night, only used four times in texas history which is to break quorum and knew we had to preserve voting rights and the goal. all 67 democrats stuck together and played the parts and i was getting ready to give a stem winder of a speech against the bill and got the notice from the caucus leader do go because republicans were going to try to recall the previous and we walked out and killed the bill and make sure that texans' voting rights are protected.
>> a number of provisions in the bill aimed specifically at the county. your county did use ballot drop boxes, used drive through voting last year to great success. why is the legislature coming after successful voting opportunities in the county and what would the affect of the bill be if it passed? >> it is really hard to understand why they would do that. right? why the legislature would tackle innovations that voters used in and frankly republicans did better than we democrats thought they would but it is part of the bill also would have made it easier to overturn elections and prohibited voting before 1:00 p.m. on sundays which meant no efforts at african-american churches to go vote right after church. it is truly beyond the pale. what they have done is really
take this idea that massive voter fraud exists to the fullest extent. it is a dangerous idea and this is where you end up. provisions that are tragic and embarrassing. plainly they were ignoring their own rules, rewriting their own rules. it was a brute force effort. it was exposed and i can't underscore enough now remarkable what representative and the leadership and the membership of the texas house did. it is not easy to get over 50 members all in the same page to walk out. that is the procedure allowable under the rules. it is not like they broke a rule but used a procedure almost impossible to activate and i can think of a group of senators in the national level that need to do something similar. use something within the rules
that is -- and get some democratic protections going before this destroys our country. >> amy, here we are again in a situation where we seem to be talking about a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. put this texas bill and this fight in context. how it relates to the broader national trend of republicans cracking down on voting rights. is it similar or different from what we have seen elsewhere? >> it's very similar. if the texas republicans had succeeded in passing senate bill 7 it would have been arguably the most strict -- restrictive bill. we have seen similar bills out of georgia, florida, montana, idaho. we have seen increasing numbers of republicans in local communities call for these retroactive external audits and driven by the rhetoric of former
president trump who continues to beat the drum that the defeat in november of 2020 was based on widespread fraud, that the election was stolen. which he has produced no evidence to support. and these add its are all been called for despite the fact no widespread irregularities have been found in arizona and michigan. where these audits are called for. no irregularities are found but you have republicans who are under pressure and wanting to plead president trump, to please constituents who are supporters of president trump. texas governor abbott very quickly said last night or early this morning i'm going to bring this back. we will have a special session and get this done and then he i believe this morning threatened to withhold funding with a line
item veto of the state legislature's budget as a perhaps saber rattling message possibly aimed toward that individual who lives in south florida, possibly his constituents in texas. >> representative, it is going on for a while and predicted as i was talking to members of the caucus. i want to play a bit of a back and forth you had with a texas state house. the republican chair of the elections commit tee when you challenged him over the language in the bill about quote preserving the purity of the ballot box. i'm going to play that. >> that provision is drafted specifically to disenfranchise black voters following the civil war. did you know that? >> no. that's -- that's -- i'm sorry to hear that. >> and are you familiar with white primaries? >> we have heard and read of such things.
i'm glad that's gone. that's a disgusting thing. >> did you realize the purity of the ballot box language gave rise to all white primaries. >> no. no, i didn't. >> and did you know that this purity at the ballot box justification is also used in the jim crow era to prevent black people from voting? >> no. no. those are troubling things. >> obviously impactful because the language was stripped from the bill. do you think that exchange that you had had any effect more widely on the republican colleagues? have any of them and knowledging even privately the impact of voters of color in texas? >> i think if you ask republicans privately they'll tell you, gosh, i can't believe that the version of sb 7 coming to the floor last night including things never debated on the house or the senate side judges being able to overturn the political will of the people
in an election, you know, expanded rights for partisans who come to a polling location that they could sort of overrule an independent election judge, they didn't like those things either but this is part of the big lie that you have reported on and they were going to do the bidding of their leaders. i just want to point something out because there's a discussion about the history of texas discrimination being unfortunate or too bad. i'm the son of immigrants to this country and my mother is from mexico. she was born and raised under one party rule in mexico and my dad is under spain and lived under dictatorship and came to the country not because of an economy. they came to this country because of what america embodies in terms of being the greatest
democracy on earth and what we see in realtime is an erosion of that democracy so when you ask me or when you say to me from the front microphone i'm really sorry about that history and too bad, that really gets my dander up as we might say and i'm going to fight with every fiber of body to preserve the access to the ballot box and make this state and this country live up to the highest ideals that brought my parents here. we don't take this stuff lightly and will fight like hell and whether in a regular session or a special session we'll bring the courage to the battle and joined by thousands of texans. if the governor wants a special session to talk about how he wants to strip people of voting rights i think there are going to be joining the 67 democrats not only in the house floor but the gallery and flooding this capitol to protect democracy. >> we are going to continue to
follow it and we saw president biden today drawing that direct line at arlington national cemetery from those who have fought and died for this country to voting rights and so an important topic we'll continue to talk about. trks texans state represent i, thank you. judge hidalgo and "the washington post" national reporter amy gardner who continues to do the great reporting on this all across the country. thank you all for being with us today i want to turn to texas congressman castro. thanks so much for being with us this memorial day. i think the last time democrats walked out of the texas legislature to block a bill was in 2003. you were in the legislature at that time. tell us a little bit about how drastic this move was by texas house democrats last night and why you think it was necessary. >> it was the last tool that they had to try to stop this extreme voter suppression and as
my friend that i served with in the house mentioned it's been done four times. in 2003 we left the state for four days to try to stop tom delay from gerrymandering. we left over 30 days and i'm proud of the representative state reps and what they did to try to stop this bill. >> the u.s. house as you know passed u.s. federal voting rights legislation that is stalled in the senate. about passing that legislation you said, quote, this is a now or never moment in american democracy. the democracy is not going to look the same in 2022 or 2024. what we have talked a lot about over the course of the last couple of years is as we watched the bills go through is that there is so much power in these republican controlled legislatures. but tell me a little bit about what you think the role is of
the federal government. what the federal government's role is in this and what can be done. >> i would beg my colleagues in the united states senate to look at what is going on around the country and the full-on systemic dismantling of democracy that republicans in state legislatures are engaged in. a complete assault on voter rights, in tngs texans, florida, arizona and others and this is just going to continue. republicans are willing to change any law they need to to take away people's right to vote. democrats at least should be willing to change one custom, not even a law, a custom, the filibuster in order to protect people's rights this year. i hope that democrats in the senate will pass hr 1 before the people act.
the u.s. house of representatives has to take up and pass the john lewis voting rights so i hope the senators will waive the filibuster. even for no other laws and subject matter, no other bills tharnd wave it to protect voting rights in this chance. >> what are the chances that this will get done in terms of what the plan is for getting the federal voting rights bills passed? >> i think that right now there is an effort among the democrats in the senate to get every democratic member of the senate to fully understand what's at stake. if we don't take action. look. this is a republican party that is owned now by donald trump. it's a republican party whose ticket of admission to the party to success in the party is believing in fairytales. and lies. including the big lie. you see what's going on in arizona where they just made up
this idea of voter fraud with no proof and now doing an audit to try to prove their own false theory. false democrats in the senate stand up, wave the filibuster, pass the voting rights protection acts to stop these things it is only going to get worse. as i said yesterday if we don't do anything then the elections in 2022 and 2024, there's a good chance that they won't look anything like elections in 2018 or 2016 or before that. >> congressman of texas, thank you for your time today. appreciate it president biden remembers the fallen at arlington national cemetery. the pentagon making plans to get troops in afghanistan out earlier than he promised. we eebl talk with a former marine and current reporter based in kabul in just a moment. we'll be right back.
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we remember those who gave their all in the service of america, in the service of freedom, in the service of justice. remember their sacrifice. their valor and their grace. remember their smiles, their loves, their laughter, they essential vibrant and transcendent humanity. we're the children of sacrifice made by long line of american service members, each a link in that chain of honor.
we live by the light of the flame of liberty. they kept burning. we're free because they were brave. >> president biden honoring the sacrifice of the men and women of the armed forces this memorial day. his remarks come as we learn about the plan to pull u.s. service members from afghanistan. last month biden announced a date of september 11, the 20th anniversary of the inform attacks that led to u.s. involvement in the nation's long oes war. "the new york times" is now reporting citing military officials that the u.s. and its nato allies intend to leave afghanistan by early to mid july. questions of how pentagon will counter the terror threats after the u.s. leaves or how to secure the main international airport that could affect other
countries keep a presence in the country. as the pace of withdrawal ramps up so too does the amount of territory seized by the taliban. the times reports that as troops began to leave this month taliban fighters besieged seven rural afghan military posts with the message surrender or die. all surrendered. joining us now thomas givens smith based in kabul and he is a former u.s. marine infantryman. first and force most, thank you for your service but i'll ask you to put the reporter hat on now. how many u.s. troops are still in afghanistan right now. what's the latest in terms of the wral plan? >> sure, yeah, no. thank you for having me. right now in afghanistan there's about 3,500 u.s. troops but that number is probably a little higher than that as more forces
come in to help with the withdrawal. so going forward, the july, mid july date that's kind of reported back and forth for the last couple of weeks but what we have seen is just a few unanswered questions about what everything will look like after the americans and international forces leave. >> let's start with what we have seen with more than two dozen outposts around kabul that surrendered. have you heard from military officials who are raising alarm bells? >> right. so in the -- countryside the report you cited from my colleague david, basically the base surrenders are part of a biggest tapestry of taliban tactics, outright -- there's a
military push to attack across the country but the surrenders that my colleague reported on were kind of different in the sense of more of a local strategy. where they're using every resource to kind of use slumping morale, the current situation on the ground to convince the forces to surrender without fighting a shot. you see a lot of that and elsewhere outright mill tire offenses. again in the background -- taliban and afghan government but those are not completely dead but slowly inching forward. >> one of the things we saw last week is joint chiefs chairman general millie talking about plans to withdraw afghan
interpreters. how's the government responding and how is that received in afghanistan? >> i've seen mixed reports that he said that there there were plans and the white house said there were no plans why in the middle is -- troops and diplomats, et cetera set in the purgatory and without any clear messaging i think the anxiety and the relatively small population only increased because i think especially in urban areas across the country with withdrawal means uncertain future for everyone. >> thomas, thank you so much for being here, especially on this memorial day. we appreciate it. president biden heading to
tulsa tomorrow. white citizens started a massacre that killed hundreds of tulsa residents destroying the homes and businesses. up next we hear from some of the living survivors. stay with us. stay with us you already pay for car insurance, why not take your home along for the ride? allstate. here, better protection costs a whole lot less. you're in good hands. click or call to bundle today. vo: the world is racing you're in good hands. to create the clean energy jobs that will solve the climate crisis. president biden has a plan to make sure america wins that race. biden: doing nothing is not an option. the world is not waiting. if we act to save the planet, we can create millions of good paying jobs.
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the tulsa massacre. the church is one of the few buildings that survived. tonight at 10:30 p.m. central the greenwood district will hold a moment of silence to march the anniversary. tomorrow president biden will visit the greenwood district to honor victims of the massacre. before the trip the president issued a proclamation making today a national day of remembrance saying today on this solemn centennial i call on the american people to reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our nation and to recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country. this was the greenwood district of tulsa. considered one of the wealthiest black communities in the country, promoted as a safe haven fuel of opportunity for black people in jim crow but 100
years ago today a vie leapt attack left greenwood like this leveled in ashes. an angry mob set fire to the town, dropped fire bombs from planes, destroyed and looted more than 1,200 homes killing as many as 300 black residents. the mob reacting to false allegations that a black teenager assaulted a white girl in an elevator. when black world war i veterans assembled to protect the accused teen from a white lynch mob the attack began. it went on for hours stretching through the night into the following day. no city officials, firefighters or police officers came to help. the mob destroyed 35 blocks of homes and businesses, even the hospital. the value of the property lost totalled at least $27 million in today's dollars. those that survived were displaced. law enforcement took more than
4,000 black tulsans and forced them to clean up the mess the white mob made of the homes so even the surviving families lost the property and along with it the ability to accumulate generations of wealth. this property loss and damage is now the subject of a lawsuit filed bay group including the three remaining survivors of the tulsa massacre. they testified before a konlgs at committee this month. they told lawmakers what they lost that day and what they say they're owed so this country can move forward together. >> i'm here seeking justice and i'm asking my country to acknowledge what happened in tulsa in 1921. on may 31 in '21 i went to bed at my family's home in greenwood.
neighbors tulsa i fell to sleep was rich. not just in terms of wealth but in tul culture, heritage and my family had a beautiful home. we had great neighbors and i had friends to play with. i felt safe. i had everything a child could need. i will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. i still see black men being shot. black bodies lining the street. i still smell smoke and see fire. i still see black businesses being burned. i still hear airplanes flying overhead. i hear the screams. i have lived through the massacre every day. our country may forget this history but i cannot. i will not. and other survivors do not. and our descendants do not.
>> we live with it every day and the thought of what greenwood once was and what it could have been. we aren't just black. and white. pictures on a screen. we are flesh and blood. >> i survived the tulsa race massacre. and i have survived 100 years of painful memories and losses. but i am still here. i have survived. i have survived to tell this story. i believe i am still here to share it with you. >> i appreciate being here. and i hope we all work together.
we are one. we are one. >> joining us now oklahoma state representative goodwin and "the washington post" reporter denene brown. representative, so moving to hear those testimonials and so poignant and powerful to understand that every day they have those memories. when you hear those three survivors talk about what they experienced, what they lost, what they have never gotten back, what can and should this country do for them and their descendants? >> like yesterday, repair to the best of their abilities. we would like cash. very frankly and land.
whatever it is that these three would desire that would help their lives to be more comfortable, that's what we are seeking. i think that for them being that he served the country we were this tears. they deserve justice. he literally had us in tears saying for an america that did not fully love him he still loved america enough to fight for america. >> to hear him say we are one. we are one. there is the belief and hope that the country can come together. survivors have not specified a dollar amount they feel they are owed. and i don't know how you put a dollar amount in some ways on it. but as you say, what do you
think might qualify as reparations? what should they be able to ask the city and this country for? >> first of all, i would imagine being that there is mr. van el tis someone given his life and service to this country and willing to risk his life, we should be able to give them what we have done for the japanese and others that are not americans. we are talking about america attacked americans. so we should give them what they require. comfortable living right now. cash compensation. and whatever else they might desire. medical needs. let's think about it. i'm blessed to have a conversation with all three and they said to me they would like to travel. they would still at that stage in age like to travel. >> wow. >> literally said they would like to go to africa.
you know? and so there are a number of items to do. but let's try to make them whole and as a descendant of race massacre survivors myself i know what it felt like when my great grandfather lost some properties and went down and rejected outright and did not get the justice but miss viola said perhaps god allowed her to see this day so america might see her. >> have have reported on the events surrounding this and it is different because it's a centennial and been so many important conversations around race and systemic racism in this country. a little more than a year ago as we all know george floyd died on memorial day. i'm wondering your sense of how it might feel different apat
from the fact that it's a sen ten nal this year. what's happening? what's not? what's the message there? >> so thank you so much for having me. the message in greenwood i think people on the streets here are still fighting for justice. nearly -- well, now exactly today 100 years after the 1921 tulsa race massacre. we saw parades in greenwood. the survivors led a parade. they were riding in a white carriage. with a white horse down the streets of greenwood. we saw some national black power activists marching peacefully through the streets of greenwood to demonstrate against, once again, against oppression and racism and to cry out for justice so there's a continued
cry for more than 100 years for justice for black people in this country. the black people who died and those who survived in the greenwood massacre that occurred here and also the continuing cries for justice for people who experience racism and oppression today. >> we have a few minutes left but i want to ask you both briefly about the people you speak with there. is there a sense of hopefulness? is there a sense that things can and will change? is there a sense that there will finally be some sort of justice, reparations, new opportunities for that community? >> well, according to my reporting the people that i've talked to say there can't be healing unless there's justice.
and there can't be justice without reparations. that's according to my reporting. so there is a sense of hope that they will receive justice and will receive some form of reparations. >> representative, do you feel hopeful as someone that grew up in that district? do you feel hopeful? what's your vision for greenwood and the future of that community? >> 100 years later if we did not have hope we would not be here. we have ancestors that taught us that we keep on keeping on despite the obstacles and rejection. we hold on to hope. i'm a woman of faith and our vision for greenwood is a greenwood that, one, has black businesss that are owned by black folks. it is a vision where we have children playing once again in
that community and beyond greenwood and other areas of tulsa land is an issue so talking ab reparations, there's land that still can be had as it relates to development. so yes. there is a path forward and beyond cash and what we talk about in terms of business opportunities, entrepreneurship, you need policy and imple men takes of law for a more fair and just tulsa, oklahoma. we get step by step and as long as we got life we can get it right. we wouldn't be here and talking about this every day. we live it so absolutely we have to believe there's a better path forward. >> i want to thank you both for coming on to talk about this. thank you so much for your time today. still ahead here, word of another major hack from russia.
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wet teddy bears! wet teddy bears here! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ you need an ecolab scientific clean here. and you need it here. and here. and here. which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean is now helping the places you go every day too. seek a commitment to clean. look for the ecolab science certified seal. microsoft has exposed a new hack from russia targeting the u.s. government and human rights groups. according to microsoft a russian intelligence operation hacked the email system of a private communications company which routinely sends emails on behalf
of a government agency called the u.s. agency for international development. microsoft says the russian government hacked into that private company and then sent emails to american based human rights groups and ngos that looked like they were coming from u.s.aids with links to malware for russia to access the computers that clicked on the malicious links. as far as cyber attacks go the damage done was minimal. the white house said tfsz quickly neutralized but the latest in action from russia to the u.s. and the west. associated press said russia will counter what it says is a growing military threat from the western alliance, nato. the u.s. also has to contend with russia's support of belarus dictator that jailed a journalist critical of the
regime. the u.s. and others have called for the release but he remains in custody. president biden promised to stand tough against russia and vladimir putin. so he'll have a lot to talk about when he meets with the russian leader in a few weeks, the first time they met in biden's presidency and halling june 16th in switzerland. joining us is former ambassador to russia, always good to see you, sir. let me talk first about the cyber attack, what you make of it against american targets. >> remember, when the biden administration came into power they reviewed previous attacks and said the sanctions on the russians were proportionate and now putin attacked the u.s.aid contracting with human rights organizations is a deliberate
attack and put it is onus on president biden and the administration to respond again especially right before they meet. >> a lot of folks think he needs to do something, the chairman of the intelligence committee of both the house and senate want harsher house and senate want extra consequences. i want to read what one intelligence chair said. we must make clear to russia and any other adversaries that they will face consequences for this and any other malicious cyber activity. what would you like to see the president do? >> well, first of all, i agree with senator warner, there has to be costs. obviously, they could sanction new entities and new government officials that were involved in this. but more broadly, i think the biden administration has to set aside the idea that they're just going to park in place u.s.-russia relations and focus on china. you get the sense they don't want to deal with russia, they just want to freeze it in place. putin is not going to let them do that, so i think they need a
grand strategy, a big strategy to contain putin's russia that's not just about sanctions but also is about shoring up nato and also about supporting countries like ukraine. you need a grand strategy and by the way, an agenda for promoting democratic values and ideas, a multiprong strategy and just not a tit-for-tat. >> you talk about poking, we have pictures of president putin hosting the belarusen dictator, lukashenko, on a yacht this weekend. so i want to get your take on what you're expecting at this meeting between biden and putin. obviously, you have russia taking this increasingly aggressive stance, but back when he was vice president, joe biden famously said that when he met putin, he looked him in the eye and said, i don't think you have a soul. what are you looking for from this meeting? >> well, first, those photos of lukashenko and putin were incredible. the bromance right after lukashenko audaciously downed an
irish plane, putin invites him to, you know, some fun time on his yacht in sochi. a flagrant, a blatant statement to the west and to president biden right before they meet about where he stands. you know, i was at that meeting you just described when he was vice president, and putin was prime minister. that was a decade ago. i think analytically, president biden understands putin well and putin's russia and that he's an autocrat. i think the trick is to balance pushing back and containing putin's russia and at the same time trying to engage on things where president biden and his administration thinks it's in america's interests to do that, particularly on strategic arms control negotiation topics. that's a delicate balance and we'll see the first glimpse of it in geneva in a couple weeks. >> michael fall, always good to see you and of course you were at that meeting. your insights and your experience are invaluable. thank you so much.
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mother is unable to exit the vehicle. injuries are unknown. thank you, onstar. ♪ my son, is he okay? your son's fine. thank you. there was something in the road... it's okay. you're safe now. benjamin netanyahu has been the prime minister of israel since 2009, maintaining power through half a dozen elections, four of which were in just the past two years. he has maintained power through multiple violent conflicts with hamas in the palestinian territories and corruption scandals for which he is currently on trial and facing potential jail time. but this week, netanyahu may be
seeing the end of his time as the most powerful politician in israel. last night, the leader of one of his many rival political parties announced his intention to form a coalition of opposition political parties that would make a majority in the israeli parliament and oust netanyahu. now, the groups are divided on almost all issues, but they are united in their desire to push out netanyahu. they have until this wednesday to formally decide whether to go through with their attempt to form a new government. netanyahu, of course, is famous for his ability to find a way out of seemingly unsolvable political puzzles to keep his grip on power but this is looking to be one of his toughest challenges yet. we'll be right back. 'll be righ. [ echoing ] some of us were born for this.
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tomorrow. as the nation celebrates the holiday weekend and remembers the sacrifice of fallen service members, president biden participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier. during his remarks, president biden recalled the death of his son, beau, who earned the rank of major in the delaware national guard before succumbing to brain cancer in 2015. >> yesterday marked the anniversary of his death. and it's a hard time, a hard time of year for me and our family, just like it is for so many of you. it can hurt to remember. but the hurt is how we feel and how we heal. as hard as it is to believe, i promise you this. the day will come when the image of your loved one will bring a
smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. >> president biden's remarks on this day of remembrance come at a pivotal point in the first year of his presidency as his administration attempts to shepherd through an ambitious poils agenda on everything from infrastructure to police reform. yesterday, "the new york times" reported that the biden administration is undertaking a far-reaching effort to overhaul our nation's broken immigration system. meanwhile, the biden administration and congressional republicans remain at an impasse over the president's big infrastructure proposal after senate democrats roundly rejected the republicans' latest counterproposal, arguing it just didn't have enough new spending for infrastructure. over the weekend, transportation secretary pete buttigieg said if no consensus is reached by the end of memorial day's recess next week, president biden will move forward without republicans. all of this comes at a time when republicans in washington are still fighting the battles of
the last administration. just before congress left for the holiday recess, senate republicans blocked a bipartisan proposal to establish that independent commission to investigate the january 6th attack on our nation's capitol. as democrats try to chart a new path forward for an investigation into the insurrection, federal prosecutors around the country continue to charge and arrest people alleged to have been involved in that attack. yesterday, four members of a right-wing militia group, the oath keepers, were arrested in what is now the largest conspiracy case related to january 6th. as we continue to learn more about what happened that day from court cases around the country, how will democrats respond after last week's failed vote on the commission? and what hope is there for a broader biden agenda as republicans continue to block even the most bipartisan proposals? joining us now, democratic congressman jason crow of colorado, a retired army ranger and member of the house armed services and intelligence
committees. good to see you, congressman, and i want to start by getting your reaction on what happened in the senate with that january 6th commission vote. where are we? >> thanks for having me on. the bottom line is, this vote did not absolve the republicans in the senate of their responsibility to do the right thing, to do what republicans and democrats have done in decades past, and that is identify a problem and work to resolve it so we can become better. we can identify our challenges and move beyond them. they still have that responsibility, so we have 54 votes before that commission. we believed there were three folks who were missing that would have voted for it had they been present. so the question is, can they get an additional two votes to get over the finish line? i think we're going to see that in the next couple of weeks but this needs to happen. there needs to be a bipartisan review. it needs to happen in the form of a commission. if it doesn't, we will do what we always have done in the house and in the democratic caucus, we will lead. we will find the truth and move our country forward. >> you're not new to navigating
tricky political waters. you were an impeachment manager in the first impeachment trial of former president donald trump. you've seen up close the hold he has on republicans. do you think that still that influence effectively kills any real chance of bipartisan cooperation on a thorough investigation into january 6th, realistically, what do you think? >> yeah, well, chris, i'm a combination of a realist and an optimistic. i wouldn't be doing this job if i weren't an optimistic and didn't always think there was a path forward and a way to get people to do the right thing, to appeal to their conscious, to their better angels and that's what i continue to try to do. at the same time, i'm a realistic and i understand that he does have a strangle hold on this gop. it's extremely depressing to see it. there's no other way to put it, especially on a weekend like this weekend where i have spent many days thinking about my fallen comrades, my friends that i left behind that never returned home, and i'm not asking, you know, these elected officials -- i'm not asking gop
senators or members of the house to storm the beaches of normandy or to lay down their lives for this country. i'm just asking them to show a very small fraction of the courage that is shown every day by our troops to do the right thing for our country. >> but given where we are, what, if anything, does last week's vote say to you about how democrats should move forward to press the rest of president biden's agenda and the opportunity for some -- any kind of bipartisan success? >> well, you know, chris, our approach is always the same. we actually say, let's come together as a country. this is how we start everything, whether it's infrastructure, the american rescue plan, whether it's the c.a.r.e.s. act, whether it's the proposal we've been able to get through the house like protecting voting rights. we extend an olive branch and say, let's work together. and we make an effort to do so until it becomes clear that they're not going to work with us in good faith and then we do what's necessary in the interests of the country. so that's what we're doing right now.
we're saying, what can we do? how can we get this across the finish line? if they are not going to work with us in good faith, we will do what we always do and that is protect the country, because this isn't about history. this isn't about preserving the history books. i mean, it is partially about that, but importantly, it is about a growing violent extremism movement, the growing of the big lie that is being used to advance voter suppression laws around the country. more than 20% of gop voters now believe that they lied, and that number is growing. so we have to stop this. we have to make sure, for the good of our country and our democracy, that we're doing what's necessary to stop this trend. >> finally, let me ask you today, as a former retired member of the army rangers, u.s. 82nd airborne division for the viewers who don't know, those are two very elite forces in our nation's military. you're a bronze star recipient. i want to get your reaction to president biden's speech today at arlington national cemetery and what a contrast that is to the previous president's
remarks. >> yeah, it's a contrast, and it's a contrast in two ways, chris, among others. one is, you just hear the empathy, the compassion in president biden's voice. this is a man who has known great loss. i mean, his leadership life, his commitment to service is really borne out of great loss, that's why he's such an empathetic and compassionate person. he understands and can speak to the goals of our families in a way that few other people can. the second is, he talked about the promise of america. he talked about the fact that these folks died for what we can achieve, not because we are perfect, but to advance that project, you know, of president lincoln in the gettysburg address said, you know, those who died did so to advance the noble project of america, to try to make sure that we are living and building a society that is consistent with that sacrifice. and that's something that president biden spoke really well to today. >> democratic congressman jason crow of colorado, thank you for
joining us on this memorial day. we do appreciate it. and i want to bring in my panel to talk about all this further. ayesha, also with us, politico correspondent, eugene daniels and nbc news capitol correspondent, garrett haake. great to see all of you. garrett, you just heard the congressman talking about being an optimistic and a realist. let me ask you to be a realist here. what's your take on what's likely to happen now on capitol hill following the failed january 6th commission vote? >> i think we're most likely to see speaker pelosi take this into her own hands and set up either a select committee to investigate january 6th and what happened on that day or give the january 6th profile to a committee that already exists, maybe the intelligence committee. we know the respect that the speaker has for adam schiff, the chairman of that committee, and it's possible that one standing committee could take over that whole portfolio. what pelosi has been very clear about is that doing nothing is not an option, but make no mistake, democrats wanted to
avoid going this route. they know anything they set up now will be compared to the benghazi select committee and they know that the people who they wanted to reach with a commission, the folks out in the country who look at january 6th as a nonevent or as a conspiracy or not what all of us saw and experienced it to be needed the bipartisan nature of an appointed commission with law enforcement background for credibility. and anything that the democratic controlled house does will by its very nature have a political sheen to it that party leaders had hoped to avoid, but now that seems basically impossible. i have a very hard time seeing how more senate republican votes would materialize at any point in the future for this should chuck schumer try to bring it up again in that chamber. >> let's touch on some of the other tough votes that are going to come up and some of the tough negotiations that may be going on. i want to read a bit from the "new york times" report on the president's proposed immigration overhaul. they write, a 46-page draft blueprint obtained by "the new york times" maps out the biden administration's plan to
significantly expand the legal immigration system. most of the changes could be put into practice without passage of mr. biden's proposed overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people living in the united states but has stalled in a bitterly divided congress. is this the kind of thing we should expect to see more of as republicans block president biden's agenda in congress? what's the thinking at the white house on this? >> well, i think what they have tried to do is they've tried to put forward this idea of bipartisanship. they've tried to lean into this idea of putting forward things that much of the country can support, calling that bipartisan, and not as much into making sure you get republican votes. that's what they did for the covid relief. right now, they are trying and doing negotiations to try to bring republicans along for infrastructure, but they're very far apart, and on issues like immigration, congress has not
been able to pass anything serious on immigration in years, and so that was always going to be a heavy lift. and so, what this administration has said is that they are not going to just sit on their hands. if they cannot get things done, they will try to get things through congress. if they can do things through reconciliation. for an issue like immigration, yes, i would fully expect that you could see more executive action as we have seen in the past two administrations. you've seen presidents take a lot of executive action because that is -- immigration is an issue where a president has a lot of authority. so, you could see that, because getting congress to move is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort, and congress has not shown, especially on tough issues like that, that they are able to come together and pass big legislation. >> and eugene, i mentioned before that secretary buttigieg effectively laid out a timeline for infrastructure negotiations with republicans. i want to play some of what he had to say and get your reaction
on the other side. >> by the time that they return, which is june 7th, just a week from tomorrow, we need a clear direction. i think we are getting pretty close to a fish or cut bait moment. we believe in this process but also very much agree that this can't go on forever. the american people want results. >> i mean, is that where we are, do you think, eugene, a fish or cut bait moment, or are these negotiations essentially over already? where are we? >> well, i mean, when you have the senate minority leader saying that his -- 100% of his efforts is going to be the stop this administration, you kind of start it there. we started at a place where it's hard to see how there's going to be a bipartisan deal because republicans, you know, you have to find ten republicans to sign on board with anything. and so, like ayesha was saying, this is a white house that has been wanting to find a bipartisan deal, especially when it comes to infrastructure. but like the secretary said, there's just no agreement on some of the key things. one, what is infrastructure?
if there's no agreement on that, how can you possibly find a deal? and they are running out of time because, one, congress isn't in session for a lot of the summer. they get a lot of time off. and so they're running out of actual legislative days. they also have to raise the debt ceiling at one point. they're going to have to do a budget resolution at some point. so there's not a lot of time to do a lot of these things and this is a white house that was determined, really determined, to try to get this deal to be bipartisan, but there's just not -- it started where we thought it would be, right? we thought it was always going to be them work really hard, try to get the bipartisan deal, and then it not come to fruition, so now the question is, for those people like joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, has the back and forth been enough that they can now move on and say, okay, let's get this done through the reconciliation process. >> what are you hearing, garrett, about that? because i saw you nodding when eugene was talking about what's the definition of infrastructure, which is, you
know, brings up some of the key points that democrats really want to push through on this, that republicans say have nothing to do with infrastructure. do you see wiggle room here? do you see negotiating room here? >> not a lot. i mean, look, we've been doing this for months now, and republicans have never moved on the broader picture of what is infrastructure. you know, democrats, the white house continue to insist that things like the electric vehicle portions of this package should be in there, the elder care economy should be in there. republicans have never touched that. they have expanded the amount of money and the time frame in which they're willing to spend it on what they believe is traditional infrastructure. likewise, the two sides have never come within shouting distance of each other on how to pay for infrastructure. republicans were never willing to touch changing any element of the 2017 tax bill that they passed in the last congress, and democrats haven't been willing to adjust taking things out of the covid relief bill that they just passed in this conference. to me, this is a question for the white house. the white house is ultimately going to have to decide if they
think they have 50 votes for any of this or else the negotiation show will go on. republicans can't do this on their own. they're in the minority party here. shelley moore c a apito, some of these others really want to see investment in their states but if the white house walks away and decides to go their own way, that's their call if they have 50 votes and unless and until that's the case, i think you could see these talks blow through this imaginary soft deadline of next week because nobody wants to walk away from talks to then do nothing. to eugene's point, there is vanishingly little time left to get anything big done this year in congress, although it's only just now about to be june. >> and eugene, let me, in the last 30 seconds, ask you what you're hearing about where we are with police reform. speaking of deadlines, they didn't make the one the president set in his state of the union address but could this still happen? >> absolutely, republican
senator tim scott said june or bust. it's june tomorrow so they have a little bit more time to get that done, and both sides on police reform are finding more common ground. they sound more optimistic than literally anyone on capitol hill on any issue so i see something possibly coming. whether or not it will appease both sides is going to be an open question, because you have republicans who, as long as tim scott kind of signs off on it, say they're probably going to do it. however, the progressive wing of the democratic party is going to have a lot of questions on things like whether or not you can sue a police officer after someone dies in police custody. so there's a lot more that has to be worked out after the deal is even done. >> eugene daniels, garrett haake, ayesha rascoe, thank you very much for joining us. we've got much more to get to this memorial day. a lot of americans feel almost like this has been a normal holiday. but for those who are not vaccinated, life can still be far from normal. and as we remember the fallen today, many of america's
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memorial day weekend has long been known as the unofficial start of summer. millions of americans jump in their cars or on flights to see their family or just to get away for the weekend. except for last year. in may 2020, we were just a few months into this covid pandemic. scientists and em deemologists were strongly advising all americans to stay home and avoid travel and that's what people pretty much did. only 23 million americans hit the road last memorial day, a
significant decrease from the norm. tsa reported just 327,000 travelers at checkpoints at the start of that holiday weekend. but this year, americans seem to be starting to get back on track. on friday, for example, tsa reported 1.9 million people boarded planes to get to their weekend destinations. the highest number since the start of the pandemic. and aaa expects more than 37 million people will travel more than 50 miles by the end of today. 60% more than last year. although still well short of prepandemic levels. the national spike in travel might have something to do with the proportion of americans who are now finally vaccinated. more than 51% of american adults are fully vaccinated now. 62% of american adults have at least one shot. and more than 1 million shots are going into arms every single day. the biden administration believes we are on track to meet their goal of getting at least one dose to 70% of american
adults by the next big holiday, july 4th. i want to bring into the conversation msnbc correspondent ellison barber, who is at the grand canyon, where she's been talking to americans who have ventured away from home on this holiday weekend. so, ellison, i know you've been having conversations with a lot of folks who are there. i wonder what they're telling you about what factors they weighed about deciding whether or not to travel, whether they feel safe, and are they overall being influenced on the types of plans they're making going forward? >> reporter: yeah, so, most of the people, in fact, all of the people that we spoke to told us that they had already been vaccinated. they were here because they wanted to focus on doing something outdoors to have a little bit of space between people and to feel comfortable in bigger groups, which is what's happening at the grand canyon this weekend. the place is packed. it's almost at pre-pandemic visitation levels and a lot of us told us they were opting to do something like this outside because they could camp or they
could even take an rv. i want to show you our rv, because we actually have one of our own and i want to take you inside with me to show you a little what one of these look like. a lot of people have seen these but ours is a little guy and i'm going to take my camera here so you can see it from my perspective. this is not huge. there is a sink. we have a little stove under here, a little pullout microwave. we've got our refrigerator. a unique little bathroom/shower combination and then two beds that could be pushed together as well. again, not very big, but manageable and great for a weekend getaway. we've spoken to a lot of people who say that they are first-time rv renters, and part of the reason why they said they turned to this and started considering maybe getting an rv was because they were nervous about traveling in the pandemic and they wanted to have an option where they could have a little more control over their environment. and with views like this, it is so easy to understand why they would opt for a hotel that
moves. we've met a ton of people here, again, many of them who say they've never camped or rented an rv prior to the pandemic, coming from as far as new jersey to as close as california or even just phoenix, arizona, down the road. we've also met a couple healthcare workers who said that they had been waiting for a moment, an opportunity like this, just get out, get some fresh air and just reset. listen to what they told us. >> just get away. i work at a hospital, so this was something i wanted to just get away. just get away. >> reporter: it's been a hard year. >> yeah, it's been a hard year. it's been a real hard year, so i just wanted to get away. i could have been in a cabin with a bunch of my friends but i wanted to be by myself. i wanted to just soak all this in. >> we probably worked harder than i ever have because not only was i seeing patients in the clinic, but i was seeing
them in the parking lot. i've never seen more anxiety and depression ever than in the last year. so, this, what we're doing right now, has been, i think, the cure for a lot of that. >> reporter: and that last couple there, the ryans, they're both nurse practitioners from texas. they actually decided to buy their rv in the middle of the pandemic because it felt like a way that they could get out, get a little bit of travel, a little bit of space, distance, but do it safely. one of the big rv groups in this country, rv share, we spoke to the ceo of that group, and he told us that the demand for rv rentals has just skyrocketed throughout the pandemic and there are no signs of it slowing down. he said right now, demand for rv rentals is six times higher than it was pre-pandemic. >> wow. >> chris? >> msnbc correspondent ellison barber, boy, if anybody deserves a break, it's those folks who have worked on the front lines
of this pandemic. thanks for bringing them to us as well as those beautiful views. joining us now, medical director of isolation in new york city. it's good to see you, dr. roy. look, finally, a holiday weekend where people felt they could travel, lot of family reunions, people who couldn't see folks at thanksgiving or christmas. you had big events, 135,000 people at the indy 500. when you see that, do you think, oh, there's proof the vaccination plan is working? or do you worry, since, for example, there, almost nobody was wearing a mask? what are you thinking as you're watching people get out and about this holiday weekend? >> well, chris, it's so good to see you, and again, every time i -- when i think of this pandemic, i really do think of you being one of the first people i started talking to on air about covid-19. back when we were still calling it just this novel coronavirus. we are in a very different place today in the united states and
for -- in large part, a much better place. right now, as of yesterday, the seven-day average of cases, about 7,400, remember, just in january of this year, we were averaging over 200,000 new infections per day. so, when you look at those numbers and the fact that about 40% of the country is fully vaccinated and i think about 60% of the country has at least one shot, so i think those numbers in combination make me a lot more reassured, chris, so when you see these large gatherings, my hope is that the vast majority of those people are vaccinated, and if they're not, they should be wearing a mask. >> it is interesting, though, when you see, for example, those numbers with rvs and people feel that they can travel safely. i get a lot of emails from folks because i've traveled pretty much throughout the pandemic for my job, and people have asked me, do you feel safe? how are you safe?
so, even people who are vaccinated, i find, many of them are being cautious and maybe part of it is they hear about these new variants. now we're hearing about one from vietnam, even though it's not in this country yet. should we be concerned? are we going to continue to see variant after variant after variant? could we hit one that's not, you know, that the vaccinations are not effective against? >> yeah. so, this is why -- i mean, i'm reserving complete optimism because to your point, chris, viruses, what they do, they mutate. they're sole purpose is to survive and thrive and they will do so in an environment where we are, unfortunately, still making it conducive for them to thrive. again, here in the united states, it varies city by city, county, county, and state, right? so, we're seeing some states do really, really well, but other states are frankly still opening up prematurely, even though the vast majority of their people, their residents, have not been
vaccinated. as you know, children under 12, still are not eligible to be vaccinated, and yes, these variants are emerging in multiple countries throughout the world. brazil, india, vietnam, as you pointed out, and the variant that we're seeing in vietnam, we believe is a hybrid of the uk and the india variant. now, there's two studies in nature that the eminent, a scientific journal, "nature" that were published last week showing that people who have been infected with covid and get vaccinated are -- actually, they may not even need a booster because they're showing they can be protected mostly by the variants but that's -- we haven't tested every single variant that's out there. the only way we can really contain this pandemic globally is by people getting vaccinated and practicing mitigation measures. only then will the virus really be contained and not continue to thrive, chris. >> i feel so grateful every day
that i am fully vaccinated. just came back from my first vacation, real vacation in a year and a half. dr. lipi roy, medical director of covid isolation and quarantine sites for housing works in new york city, great to see you. we're going to take one last beautiful look at the grand canyon on this memorial day. we've got a lot more to get to this hour. stay with us. e got a lot more to this hour. stay with us seeing blood when you brush
on memorial day, we remember the heroes who answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. but on this day, we also remember the soldiers who made it home and are suffering. sometimes, due to lack of services and support from their government, a growing number of u.s. veterans who served in iraq, afghanistan, kuwait and other countries say they've developed serious health problems after facing prolonged exposure to flaming trash piles known as burn pits at overseas bases where human and medical waste, chemicals and other items were burned with jet fuel and other flammables. many of them have died. in the 2020 survey of 1,700 members of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, 86% say they were exposed to burn pits or airborne toxic chemicals. 88% believe they may or have been experiencing related
symptoms. the defense department also estimates that roughly 3.5 million service members could have been exposed to these flaming trash piles. yet, the department of veterans affairs has denied 75% of veterans' burn pit claims because nearly 20 years after the u.s. led invasion of afghanistan and 30 years after desert storm, the u.s. still does not acknowledge a definite connection between the burn pits and veterans' ailments, limiting service members' ability to get adequate treatment. veterans say they've encountered resistance while seeking treatment from the va health system because the burden is on them to prove that exposure to burn pits is the cause of their health problems, but this could all change soon. >> today, i am so proud to unveil our new bill. this comprehensive package covers every aspect of toxic exposures and is based on 15 bills from members on both sides
of the aisle. >> that is house veteran affairs committee chairman mark takano, democrat of california, introducing broad toxic exposures legislation, adding a list of 23 cancers and respiratory illnesses that would qualify veterans for va disability healthcare benefits. similar legislation has been introduced in the senate by veteran affairs committee chairman john tester, democrat of montana. senator tester is pushing for all veterans who served in overseas conflicts in the last 31 years to be granted presumptive benefit status for a host of illnesses, including vietnam veterans who might have developed high blood pressure after being exposed to agent orange, a chemical defoal i can't used by the u.s. military during the vietnam war. joining us now, jeremy butler, chief executive officer of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. thank you so much for taking the time. let me start with this whole question about burn pits. some say are to post-9/11
soldiers what agent orange is to vietnam veterans. do you buy the va's reason for so in denials or is this a case of ignoring what's in front of them, not learning the lessons from agent orange? >> thanks for having me and thanks for having that question because it's exactly the latter. the va has known that this is a problem. the department of defense has known this is a problem. this is nothing new. what it is is the government not wanting to pay the full cost of war. it's not a surprise to anybody that breathing in, day in, day out, noxious fumes, burnt plastic, body parts, batteries, ammunition, breathing these in, day after day for a yearlong deployment, several members deploying multiple times, it's not a surprise that this is going to result in rare cancers, respiratory illnesses, all of the above, but the problem is that the va refuses to provide healthcare for those veterans that have come down very ill with these, and they're literally dying. we are losing service members.
we have lost service members. so, it is well overdue. we're really happy that both the senate and the house are so close to passing this very comprehensive legislation. unfortunately, i think it's going to come down to fights over money. i think there's going to be members of congress that are going to say, if you list all 23, if not more, of these illnesses, we, the government, are going to have to pay a lot of money to take care of these veterans, but that could not be a question. it is our responsibility, as a government, as a country, to take care of these sick veterans. >> you, in fact, wrote an op-ed with general david petraus titled, a memorial day appeal to congress. help service members with toxic burn pit exposure. tell us a little bit more about your specific appeal to members of congress, to president biden, and do you feel you're making progress? >> thank you. i really do think we are making progress, and the appeal here is to include the large number of illnesses that we know are caused by exposure to these
types of toxins. you mentioned the two bills right now. the real difference between the house bill and the senate bill are the number of covered illnesses. the house bill has about 23. the senate bill has, i think, less than 15, maybe 12 to 15, and that's a huge difference, because the ones that are excluded are the ones that we know are really the result of many of these exposures, and so if we're going to do this, we need to do it right, and we need to do it now. as you mentioned, i think, in the lead-up to the story, we're still dealing with illnesses that are caused from agent orange exposure to our vietnam veterans. so, so many decades later, we're still dealing with that. we're 20 years on now from the start of these wars. we don't want to be in the same case where we're making piecemeal changes to give veterans the healthcare that they deserve. >> we're almost out of time but i want to mention quickly that president biden has said he suspects toxic exposure in iraq contributed to his son, beau biden's death, but he can't prove it. thousands of families find themselves in that same
situation. so, what do we do as a nation to highlight this problem? how do we get to that place? >> yep. and we're doing it right now. so, thank you, chris, for talking about this. i think what is happening is more and more stories are getting out. people are seeing the true cost of these wars. they're seeing these veterans that are literally on their death bed because of the exposure, because of the cancers that they've come down with, because of the respiratory illnesses. the more and more we can show the individual veterans and the families that are suffering from this, i think the greater chance there is that congress is going to pass the comprehensive legislation that we need to know, that we need, so i think the biggest thing we're asking everyone to do is to talk about this. make sure your members of congress know that you support the legislation and share the stories of the veterans and the families that are suffering so much right now. >> well, we thank you for taking the time to talk about it, jeremy butler, chief executive officer of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. happy memorial day to you. we appreciate your time.
tomorrow marks the start of hurricane season and the national hurricane center predicts this year is going to be an above average one. and there are new concerns today that the agency in charge of helping americans recover from hurricanes is stretched way too thin. we'll be right back. we'll be right back. [sfx: psst psst] allergies don't have to be scary. spraying flonase daily stops your body from overreacting to allergens all season long.
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much like last year's record breaking season, that saw a total of 30 named storms, scientists are warning this summer is also going to be unusually active. during a recent trip to the headquarters of the federal emergency management agency, fema, president biden emphasized the urgent need for all hands on deck. >> i'm here today to make it clear that i will insist on nothing less than readiness for all these challenges. we're going to make sure the men and women of fema and our other key agencies have everything they need, everything they need, because they've got an incredibly difficult job. >> so, to that end, biden announced fema would double the amount of funding that helps cities and states prepare for extreme weather, but even with this new financial assistance, our fema agents, the responders who answered the call to virtually every national emergency this past year, equipped and ready? well, according to anonymous employees who spoke to "the new york times," the agency has
never been stretched thinner than right now. just 3,800 of fema's nearly 14,000 emergency workers are available to respond if disaster strikes. that's down 30% from last year. so, even if president biden insists we're doing all we can to get ready for what may be many high-impact storms, can we ensure that fema has enough manpower to clean up in the aftermath? joining us now, craig fugate, who served as fema administrator under president obama. it's always good to see you, although usually we're talking about disaster, so here we go again. should we be worried, do you think, that fema employees are talking anonymously to "the new york times" and saying that the agency doesn't have the manpower it needs? >> well, i think if you look at all of the deployments, you know, the new administrator has acknowledged the fact and is looking for ways to give people some down time as covid is progressing, the vaccination sites are now starting to wind
down before the first storms hit but this is a perennial question that fema faces and probably this year worse than ever, is the serial deployments where they literally have to pull people off of older disasters to go to the next one, and while that means they can respond to the next hurricane, work that they had been working on before will get shut down until more people are brought on board. >> so, i guess the question then becomes, what do you do about this? because -- do you just throw money at it? do they need to train more people? again, we did see this with covid. there's only so much one individual can do before they need a break. we see it, whether it was in the hospitals with covid. we see it every year there's a bad fire year in california and the firefighters are absolutely exhausted. what do we do? >> well, we're seeing the increase in disaster response. i think there's several things. first thing is, this hurricane season, i know that fema's going to look at trying to get people breaks but also be prepared to pull people from older disasters
to go to more current ones. longer term, i think it's continue to increase funding to the state and local governments so they have more capability to respond to disasters and we need to look at fema's workforce. fema hasn't really grown their permanent workforce since i was fema administrator, yet the workload continues to increase, and i think we need to, you know, have a frank conversation about fema size, the permanent workforce, and then the disaster reservists who, when you say reservists, you think of the military and they get all kind of benefits and protections, but fema's reservists don't have that. they only get called up when there's a disaster. they don't have any workplace protections. and there's not a lot of incentives between disasters to keep them current. so, i think fema needs congress to step in and look at making sure fema is adequately staffed, not for what's been happening in the past but for this increasing frequency of both natural hazards as well as other events that fema is asked to coordinate on behalf of the federal government.
>> well, to your point, even though hurricane season officially starts tomorrow, we already have reported one named storm, subtropical storm anna formed over a week ago. this is the seventh consecutive year in a row -- storms big enough to be named have emerged early. i mean, obviously, isn't that something fema has to factor in when gearing up and when you talk about extending the number and kinds of things that they have to respond to. >> absolutely. i think the climate signal is well demonstrated in the last decade of increases frequency of flood events and the fire seasons, the tropical storms and hurricanes and we're staffed for what used to happen. we're not staffed for what is happening and what will continue to worsen with the impacts of climate change. >> craig fugyate, former fema administrator dur the obama administration. thank you so much.
things are different here at msnbc today because today at 6:00 eastern lawrence o'donnell will be here with us, a special early edition of "the last word." that is coming up at the on of the hour so don't miss it but first we have one more story to get to. so stay with us. yfair. hi. last piece. -kelly clarkson? you're welcome. like an updated kitchen in just an afternoon. it's a whole new look. -drinks? from the new kitchen cart? -yes. the bedroom style of your dreams. this room is so you. -i got it all on wayfair. yeah you did, and so did i. the perfect setup for game night. i know this! it's the singer, it's the singer! yes! i got next game. -kelly clarkson. i love this sofa. look at the storage. you like my sofa? -i love your sofa. i've got moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. now, there's skyrizi. ♪ things are getting clearer. ♪ ♪ i feel free to bare my skin yeah, that's all me. ♪ ♪ nothing and me go hand in hand nothing on my skin, ♪ ♪ that's my new plan. ♪
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lives in service to our nation. here is just a sample of what we heard. >> memorial day, you know the weather doesn't do anything to dampen anything on memorial day. maybe a little chilly out here, maybe a little rainy. but this is a special day of the year. >> for the loved ones of those who have fallen sh let me simply say, we know the depth of your sacrifice, but we could never truly know the depth of your loss. >> for while we stand amid monuments of stone, we must never forget that each of these markers for those known and unknown here at arlington and far beyond represent a precious life, a son, a daughter, a mother, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor. >> we don't celebrate this day,
we respect rand honor this day for those that have gone before us. >> in recognition of this sacrifice, an unknown speak ser quoted. our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it. >> samuel nicolleson. william reed. luke bliss, marine private. oliver nester, able seaman. >> and that was the scene on board old ironside in charleston, massachusetts. that is going to do it for us. nicolle wallace will be back here tomorrow and a special edition of "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell is up next.
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good evening, i'm lawrence o'donnell here for a special two hour edition of "the last word" on this memorial day weekend. today president biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier in arlington national cemetery and joined by jill biden and vice president kamala harris to honor the men and women of the united states military. president biden lost his son beau to brain cancer six years