tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC July 23, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
i forgot to note this time last night that it was friday eve so i hope it hasn't taken you by surprise. happy friday. that's it for us for now. i'll see you again monday night. now it's time for "the last word" with the great lawrence o'donnell who has made his triumphant return. great to see you. >> good evening rachel. there is nothing i would like better than a good, long friday
night chat with you, but as i understand it, correct me if i'm wrong, i believe your weekend officially begins when i say good night rachel. >> 47, 48, 49, 50. >> good night, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. good night. bye! >> bye. well the biden/harris administration completed six full months in office this week and tonight the biden/harris agenda faces challenges, its biggest challenges in the united states senate. now, no president in history served in the senate longer than joe biden and no president in history has understood the senate that he is dealing with better than joe biden understands his current senate. joe biden said this week that in effect the senate is broken. he said that the rule on the 60 vote threshold is no longer working the way it was supposed to. and he said he supports a change
in that rule, but some people think they heard him say there should be no change in the senate rules. but what i heard joe biden say indicates that he will support a change in the senate rules probably for voting rights legislation after -- after he has accomplished what he can in the senate under the current rules. in that sense the biden infrastructure bills and voting rights bills are strategically linked. joe biden clearly believes he cannot come out in full opposition to the current senate rules while trying to hold on to a fragile, bipartisan coalition of senators for his infrastructure bill. but president biden is clearly giving signals about what needs to be done to pass voting rights legislation, including a change in senate rules. so tonight we will consider the biden legislative strategy in sequence beginning with the biden/harris administration's
massive, two track infrastructure legislation followed by voting rights and the senate rules. the senate will vote on majority leader chuck schumer's motion to proceed to a bipartisan senate bill on infrastructure on monday. monday's vote requires at least ten republicans to join democrats to reach a 60 vote threshold. here's what the president said he expects on monday. >> i do. here's what i think. what happens is the vote on monday is a motion to be able to proceed to this issue. then they're going to debate the issue of the individual elements of this plan to say we're going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into kentucky. >> the president is referring to the brent spence bridge across the ohio river that joins ohio and kentucky. mitch mcconnell the senior
senator from kentucky is opposing the bill that will fix that bridge, which was built in 1963. here is what president biden thinks is going to happen when the senate debates and votes on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. >> i think it's going to get done. you may find in the amendments that take place on the detail, the detail of whether or not -- and i'm the guy that wrote this bill to begin with and so i've had to compromise, to make changes in the bill. when i say i, i campaigned on this. >> a new national poll by the associated press released yesterday found that 59% of americans including 50% of republicans approve of president biden's handling of infrastructure. the poll found that 83% of americans including 79% of republicans favor an infrastructure package that includes funding for roads, bridges, and ports. and that is exactly what is in
this bipartisan infrastructure bill in the senate. nbc news is reporting that the bipartisan group of senators, quote, say they're on the brink of finalizing a huge, bipartisan infrastructure deal. on wednesday a republican senator rob portman said 11 senate republicans have committed to supporting a vote to at least begin debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on monday. yesterday democratic senator joe manchin who is one of the leaders of the bipartisan negotiations said this. >> i think we've moved in pretty much got an agreement on the infrastructure bill, what we call traditional infrastructure. we're pretty much down the road on that and hopefully will have everything. i think the 11 republicans have been signed, exactly what's asked for, and that should be presented and we go from there. we are just starting on the other. >> do you have a deal on bipartisan infrastructure? >> i think they pretty much got it worked out. >> leading off our discussion tonight a congressional historian, emeritus scholar at
the american enterprise institute and coauthor of "it's even worse than it looks: how the american constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism" and the opinion columnist for "the washington post" and senior fellow at the brookings institution. e.j., let me begin with you and with where the infrastructure plan sit tonight. monday's vote in the senate is the biggest moment yet in this infrastructure crusade for joe biden. >> it is. i think it's possible by the way that monday vote could slip till tuesday because they're still arguing about a lot of stuff. now the fact they're arguing specifics is probably a good sign that they actually are going to negotiate a view. davis bacon rules, you know, will this infrastructure bank they have in there also require prevailing, i.e., higher wages that the unions have always insisted on. there are arguments about a
split between transit and roads and bridges between democrats and republicans. tammy duckworth the senator from illinois has worries about infrastructure for drinking water and sewage. but they're arguing about specifics which means they are moving along. i think the biggest issue here and one of the reasons why priebd is tiptoeing a -- president biden is tiptoeing around the filibuster issue in a way that i think is a little dangerous is because if mitch mcconnell really decided to torpedo this bill he might be able to pull enough republicans away to de-prive them of the ten votes they need. they're having an argument among themselves. people like portman saying look we'll be in a stronger position to oppose the big bill if we support the kind of infrastructure we want. the other side of the party says
don't give biden any victories because if he pulls off a bipartisan infrastructure bill, it will be a very big deal and i'll leave out the other word joe biden likes to use because this is a family program. >> norm, massive majority of republican voters in that poll want the bipartisan infrastructure bill. >> so, you know, i've been a skeptic in part because we've been through this faux fan dango over the affordable care act where republicans grassley and yenzy stretched it out with no intention of reaching a deal and we saw it on a tax package with biden in his second term with some of these same republicans. but i think this has been handled beautifully by the president and by chuck schumer and democrats. remember that republicans opposed in unison the american
rescue plan. almost $2 trillion with a lot of popular things and then many said well look at the good things we're getting. if they all vote against an infrastructure plan given its popularity they'll have a harder time taking credit for anything. they are on the line in this one. there is a larger point we need to emphasize here which is that if this bill and the larger package eventually pass through reconciliation with climate change in a big way in that larger package, with an extension of the child tax credit which is the most significant thing to end child poverty in the history of the country and we add that to the american rescue plan, we're talking about a series of things that are the equivalent if not greater than the great society. but done without swollen majorities that lyndon johnson had. this would be an amazing set of accomplishments and not a surprise that biden doesn't want to get in the way at this point
with an argument about the filibuster. >> yeah, i mean, e.j., to norm's point that we've seen failed attempts at bipartisan agreement before, that made a lot of people think at the beginning of this process oh, we've seen this before. we know what's going to happen. but joe biden has seen it before. chuck schumer has seen it before. and every democratic senator has seen it before. and they are all so much the wiser this time around. which is why i've been betting on them getting it right this time. because they know just how slippery the other side can be on this. and that's what schumer has been doing with the insisting on having these votes, because he's not going to let them run out, just let the calendar run out. >> i love norm's term faux fandango, a political science term i think. i think the word that democrats
repeat to themselves every ten minutes is, obama care. they remember what happened in 2010. they remember republicans saying, well if you give us this amendment maybe we'll vote for it. if you give us that maybe we'll vote for it. and they extended the time of negotiation farther and farther and farther out. of course the longer a process continues, the more people focus on the process and not what is in the bill. i'm glad norm listed some of the things in the bigger bill. and so what schumer has done, what biden has done, what all the democrats have done is said, look. we will not let you drag this out forever. we would rather have no bipartisan bill if it means waiting until october. and so i think schumer has already drawn one line in the sand. i think this group of senators actually wants to get to an agreement because the other thing about the first infrastructure bill, the bipartisan one, is the biden
people and the democrats put a lot of stuff in there that is very good for a lot of republicans. they talked for example about resiliency against climate change. that's really big in a lot of coastal states that have republican senators. then there are a lot of these projects like the bridge you showed that really matter to republican states. so i think both in terms of the pressure and in terms of the carrots they have structured this to win it. >> for me it's not clear what mcconnell wants. does mcconnell really want to kill the bipartisan bill? because if he does, i believe he can. all he has to do is pull away one or two republican senators, which i believe he can do if he really wants to do it. or does he want to oppose the bill and then watch that bridge in kentucky get fixed because this bill actually does pass?
>> i think it's more the latter than the former lawrence. we also have to keep in mind as they've talked about how they're close to a deal there is still a lot of question marks here including how you're going to pay for it and whether those pay fors will work. but that aside, i think mcconnell is in a very tough place on this one. something he's not used to doing. you're absolutely right. he can command his troops and keep this from happening if he really, really wants to do that. but remember that mitch mcconnell also cares about winning a majority in the senate in 2022 and he has some vulnerable senators. and if they're on record as opposing infrastructure, all of those things that are popular in their states, and popular with those voters as the polls showed, that is going to be a bigger problem for him. so i don't think he is going to pull out all stops to kill this and if it goes through and it goes to the house, nancy pelosi is going to sit on it and wait until we see that larger package
happen. one other big point which is you need all 50 democrats to get the second part of this package. you're not going to get the 50 unless there is a clear belief among them they've done everything they can to get this bipartisan deal done. there are real reasons to move that forward to get the second piece of it which is the big enchilada. >> e.j., the sequencing here of bipartisan bill first, get it through the senate, then move to the democrats only infrastructure bill, at that point when that gets through the senate, that seems to be the moment where it's the moment of truth in effect for joe biden and the democrats on the 60 vote threshold rule when it comes to voting rights legislation. we're not there yet because of the sequencing of this legislation, but when we get there, joe biden is saying that he's interested in some of the
kinds of changes in the senate rule that norm's been talking about. >> when joe biden gave a very, very strong speech on voting rights, and he basically said it's a fundamental, moral issue of our time. and if the only reason that bill fails is because of the archaic senate filibuster rules, joe biden just can't be in a position to say, well the filibuster really matters more to me than this historic effort to guarantee the right to vote. and i think the reason his comments at that town hall troubled a lot of people is not because he tried to kick the issue down the road which i think everybody understands for the reasons you described. but he really went into a fairly detailed defense of the filibuster and said there would be chaos if we got rid of the filibuster. well, there is going to be chaos if we don't fix our voting
rights rules. and so that's why he got the pushback. i think the pushback is useful because you use the right term, it is a moment of truth for biden and for the country that when they face up to the problem of voting rights and democrats are going to have to do it. and i worry that there are still some senators who won't get there and i think it is going to take enormous pressure to get it done. >> we're going to consider that in the next segment. thank you very much for joining us. norm, please stick around for our discussion of the filibuster next. we need your expertise on that. and coming up this week, joe biden actually said that he does want to change the senate's filibuster rules, but he said other things at the same time that left people kind of confused as e.j. just mentioned. we'll take a look at what the president had to say and what that means for voting rights legislation, next.
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i know many of you heard what president biden said this week about the so-called filibuster rules in the senate but let's listen carefully again because technically what joe biden is calling for now actually does require a change in senate rules. >> i've been saying for a long, long time the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming. when i got to the united states senate at a time when we had guys like jim eastland and strom thurman and robert f. bird and a whole range of people who were very, very, very, very, very conservative on race to say the least, even then if you were to filibuster you had to stand on the floor and hold the floor. and that's why strom i think set the record at 24 straight hours
or something. don't hold me to the number. you know. so you had to take -- there were significantly fewer filibuster in those days. in the middle of the civil rights movement. >> let me talk to you about that. >> well let me finish my answer. because i tell you what i'd do. i would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor. you have to stand there and talk and hold the floor. >> turning our discussion now, jonathan author columnist for the daily beast and msnbc political analyst and the author of "his very best: jimmy carter a life" and norm is back with us. that sounds like the president of the united states has been listening to you and your suggestions about how to change the senate rules. >> i was very happy with those comments. i cringed at what he said as you pointed out earlier about abolishing the filibuster bringing as e.j. said, chaos. but this was heartening in a lot of ways.
biden is open to reforming the filibuster. one way of doing that is go back to a present voting standard. what he is really talking about is putting the burden on the filibustererers, on the minority. i think we are in pretty close range of getting 50 votes when the time comes to reforming it to go back to what it was in a sense which is to put that burden back on the minority. there are a lot of ways of doing it. i would be thrilled if he picked the one that i favored the most and crafted early on without franken but there are a lot of ways to go here and he left that door open. let's be clear though, lawrence. there are not now 50 votes to eliminate the filibuster. there will not be. so the latter part of his comments don't mean a whole lot in terms of what we need. there are i think likely to be 50 votes with a push from the president when the time comes to
make an important change. >> and, jonathan, just to go to that other point, what the president said that did bother a lot of people, he did go on to say, if you got rid of the whole thing, now, he said, quote, you're going to throw the entire congress into chaos, and these are the key words, and nothing will get done. now, what if this is after both infrastructure bills have passed and virtually all of the first term biden agenda has passed? the stakes about what will then get done after some change of senate rules become very, very different. >> yeah. they do. but first you have to get through this period of getting these big infrastructure bills through so i think progressives, all democrats have to not put the cart before the horse here. so there is more flexibility to do things on the filibuster a
little bit down the road. i think what he's talking about is that if you did something precipitous now you would upset an awful lot of senators and not just, you know, manchin and sinema on the democratic side. there are a number of democratic senators worried about what would happen if mitch mcconnell was not restrained at all and became senate majority leader under a republican president in 2025. so i think people need to understand it is not necessarily these versus ours on this issue. it is more complicated inside the senate. the other big thing people need to understand about hr-1 is that setting the filibuster aside, there are not 50 votes for hr-1 right now. and so this idea that oh, if we
only got rid of the filibuster, we'd have voting rights reform, is not accurate at least as things stand today. >> norm, it seems to me that if you're going to convince, if joe biden is eventually going to convince joe manchin to go along with him on a senate rules change, he's not going to be able -- that won't happen publicly. that would be something they'd have to have very close, quiet conversations about. because joe manchin doesn't want it to look like in west virginia that the president bullied him into doing this. >> you know, if you look at what joe manchin has said and parce it out, he is very much open to some of these changes. and biden can have an impact on him. i think john's point is a very important one, though. we're not going to see hr-1 as it is written, the for the people act. we'll need the president to step in not just quietly, quietly, persuasively to get a change in
the rule. we're going to need the president to put all of his efforts, and the vice president, into crafting a kind of voting bill that will get 50 votes. manchin's put out a kind of white paper just talking points but it's got some good changes in it that could work and i think they also have to include not just the voting rights act but the bill that raphael warnock the senator from georgia has put in that would obviate some of these terrible efforts to enable republican legislatures to overturn election results because they don't like them. put that package together and i think biden can play a very constructive role. and then i think we're really on line to get something extraordinarily important done. >> jonathan, that's what's -- that i've been following in this voting rights issue in the senate is that it is a complex,
longer term game than obviously it is in the house. and it's always difficult for people to watch that and wait for the sequential elements of the game to play out. >> and people have to understand that hr-1 for the reasons norm just described is obsolete right now. it was written years ago before the 2020 election. there are two big problems. voter suppression, so everybody knows it, it's been around for a long time, and voter sub version, which is a new problem of people trying to act like they're living in a banana republic, banana republicans basically trying to overturn election returns with endless audits. this one in arizona has been going on since february. and these fraud-its must be stopped. these are extraordinarily dangerous for democracy if it's heads we win tails you lose.
which is a republican position right now. they will protest the results of any election that they don't win. and that must be dealt with legislatively. so hr-1 must be amended to include warnock's provisions and perhaps other ones. also, democrats need to go on offense on this and not just be playing defense. so my feeling is that when the human infrastructure bill comes to the floor, the one they're going to push through with 50 votes, and reconciliation, because election equipment has been declared critical infrastructure by the department of homeland security, they should have a provision that says that any state that wants any of that money for that critical infrastructure to upgrade their election systems must provide no excuses absentee ballots at a minimum so that they don't curtail people's
right to vote by mail-in ballot if they choose. >> sorry, we're out of town on this segment. thank you very much for joining our discussion. really appreciate it. coming up the latest trump friend to be indicted was released today on just $250 million bail. daniel alonzo joins us next. ba. daniel alonzo joins us next. moisturize with shea butter and she's wearing my robe. mom: ahem ahem ahem we're out. i don't just play someone brainy on tv - i'm an actual neuroscientist. and i love the science behind neuriva plus.
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the worst week of tom barrack's life ended today with his release from federal custody. tom barrack a billionaire friend of donald trump's spent three nights in a cell in los angeles before being released today. on tuesday tom barrack and two other men were arrested after being indicted on charges of illegally lobbying donald trump on behalf of the united arab emirates. prosecutors allege that tom
barrack had been working at the direction of senior uae officials to influence then candidate donald trump's foreign policy positions during the 2016 campaign. those influence efforts continued once trump became president through april, 2018. tom barrack is also charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement agents during a 2019 interview. because of his vast wealth and foreign ties, tom barrack is considered a flight risk. his location will be monitored by a gps ankle bracelet. he has been forced to surrender his passport and must limit his travel between california and new york where he was charged. tom barrack is scheduled to be arraigned monday in federal court in brooklyn. joining us now daniel alonzo a former federal prosecutor in the eastern district of new york and former chief assistant district attorney in the manhattan district attorney's office.
he advises clients on compliance with the foreign corrupt practices act. he is an msnbc legal analyst. tom, dan, i'm sorry, this is very much kind of case you'd be handling back in your old job as a federal prosecutor. what do you make of this indictment as we understand it so far? >> the indictment seems pretty strong, you know, relatively straight forward. it is a statute not used very often. it's related to the foreign agent's registration act but not exactly. it is a statute that requires people acting as agents of foreign governments to register with the attorney general. not used all that often. it carries up to ten years in federal prison. it is a very serious charge obviously because the united states needs to know who is lobbying our government. and so it is obviously very
important. these charges are very serious. i will say the bond amount is higher than i've ever heard in my career. $250 million is the biggest bond i've ever heard of. i don't know if it is the absolute record but it's pretty high. >> but like everything in the life of the super rich, it is leveraged. he really only had to put up $5 million in cash against the $250 million. but if he doesn't show up in court, that is when he owes the government $250 million. that's the theory as you know. but obviously they seem to have enough control over his movements that they believe that they're going to get him to show up in court? >> yeah. this is not an unreasonable package. that concept applies to everybody. a more common bond might be 250,000 secured by $50,000 and equity in a property. that is not an uncommon thing to
have partial security but the bond amount, you're right, is owed in entirety if the person doesn't show up to court. a lot of times judges add additional conditions like here. the ankle bracelet is a classic one. the passport is an obvious one. so it is not unreasonable. this is something that was thought about long and hard and the judge really is required to issue an order like this if he or she finds that it will reasonably assure the defendant's return to court which i think this will given all the conditions. >> whenever we're talking about a friend of donald trump whose charges actually involve donald trump because this lobbying was of donald trump one has to wonder what this defendant might have to offer prosecutors about donald trump. >> well, one always wonders that. in federal court unlike the cases we've talked about over the last few weeks in the manhattan da's office, it's a
stronger squeeze. it's a more attractive option to cooperate because the likely consequences and likelihood of winding up in federal prison are greater in federal court for a whole number of reasons. so sure. yeah. i think the prosecutors are always going to say to the defense lawyers here, you know, if he wants to come in obviously we'd be interested in hearing what he has to say. now, big question, somebody as close to trump as he is whether a he has information and b if he is willing to give it. on this exact crime by the way traditionally the president would be the victim of an unregistered foreign agent act. did trump know about it? we don't know. there the indictment itself, doesn't say anything about trump knowing about it. ordinarily the president should be outraged there is somebody out there lobbying or acting on behalf of a country without telling that he is doing that. in this case with a president as
unique as donald trump shall we say and mr. barrack's close relationship that may not be the case. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up a republican governor says, quote, this is a quote, it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated. that's next. e unvaccinated that's next.
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>> i don't know. you tell me. folks supposed to have common sense. and it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks not the regular folks. it's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. >> as a leader of the state don't you think it is your responsibility to try and help get this situation under control? >> i've done all i know how to do. i can encourage you to do something but i can't make you take care of yourself. >> joining us now, an infectious disease physician and an emergency medicine physician at john hopkins all children's hospital in st. petersburg, florida. what is your reaction to the way the governor put it there? >> lawrence, i feel the frustration, because the greatest human cost is being carried by people who are unvaccinated. but in medicine and public health we tend not to blame the people who are carrying that.
we tend not to blame the patients. we tend to look upstream to try to figure out what brought them there. the truth is for most people who are at this point, there are still people, pockets of people who need their questions answered. and i think we need to continue to work to do that to instill more confidence in the vaccines but for others they're being fed a steady stream of disinformation and misinformation and even the efforts to get the vaccinations out or take any public health measures have been politicized. vaccine mandates are politicized. mask wearing is politicized. they've been told, a section of the population, that covid is no worse than flu which has led them to say why should i take the vaccine? i think that is what is leading to this and we have to work it back and for governors like governor ivy i would insist the way we go about this is to continue stressing the importance of the vaccines and making it as easy as possible for people and potentially
mandating it in universities and schools and hospitals to increase the uptake. >> dr. rodriguez, what was your reaction to the way the governor put it? >> i would totally agree that we need to have empathy. blaming people is not the way to go. most people, i am an all truist and i believe most people really care about their families and community and their decision to not be vaccinated is based on fear for themselves and their families. it is really about going into these communities, having conversations with our patients, and addressing their fears and talking about the reasons why vaccination is important. >> at what point does the refusal to get vaccinated become kind of the medical equivalent of say cigarette smoking and lung cancer? >> i think we're there. i think it's similar to smoking. when you don't vaccinate it is
not just about your body and your health but when you don't become vaccinated you potentially might get infected and pass that to other people who are not vaccinated or a portion of people who are vaccinated and maybe immuno compromised because the community that is highly vaccinated in that community you are less likely to see, a single person is less likely to get infected, hospitalized, or die, less likely to have long-term effects and most importantly to come across other people who are infected. that's why i think we need to stress that communal aspect that it is not just your family, your health. it is actually your community's ability to get -- that will depend on that high level of vaccination. >> dr. rodriguez, you are in florida, one of the states leading the increase in infections. what is your experience there now? >> i've seen an exponential increase over the past three weeks. every day i go in there are more and more cases.
mostly children obviously is what i see. and then obviously the complications associated with that and then in the community as well children obviously don't have such a significant illness. mortality and morbidity as adults do. but they do spread it to their care givers, grandparents who are elderly, who have chronic conditions and are more likely to be hospitalized and have fatalities as a result. >> let's listen to what white house press secretary jen psaki said today. >> reached a point where there are some communities even states where there are 70%, 80% or higher vaccination rates. other communities where there's 40%, 50% or otherwise. that is not just a health issue. it's a huge health issue. it's an economic issue. we've seen how that can impact local communities as it may lead to shutdowns of different businesses. it is an economic issue as well. >> doctor, do you see anything
changing this pattern? >> i have some hopes we might be seeing something. the states actually seeing the greatest increase in the rate of vaccinations are actually those that are the heaviest hit. maybe some of this heaviest hit. maybe the message about the unvaccinated, vaccinated carrying the greatest burden may be coming through to some people. but jen psaki is exactly right. and that reality is not just true here in the united states but also globally. the longer these outbreaks go on, the more -- the longer the recovery will lag for those communities. >> dr. bhadelia, and dr. rodriguez, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. thank you. coming up, congress wants america to do more, much more to get the vaccine to people in countries where they have no access to the vaccine yet.
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as millions of americans continue to refuse to get vaccinated, less than 1% of people in low income countries have received the vaccine. more than 6 billion people around the world have yet to receive covid vaccine. today a group of 70 democratic members of congress joined in support of accelerating the production and distribution of covid-19 vaccine around the world. in a statement they said, quote,
no investment in the fight against covid-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible. joining us now is democratic congressman rajah chris christian moorgty of illinois, a member of the house oversight intelligence committee. congressman, as we try to convince people in the united states to get the vaccine, people who absolutely refuse to do it, billions of people around the world are desperately waiting for it. >> that's right, lawrence. that's why i and others introduced something called novid. this novid act which is play on words of no more covid, would setup the system to basically help to vaccinate 60% of the population of the world's 92 poorest countries. it's not only the right thing to do but it's also the smart thing to do because, unfortunately, the variants that we saw abroad,
for instance the delta variant, which sparked this initial novid act four months ago, has come here. and it's ravaging us. and peep deemologists tell us that it's only a matter of time before variants appear on the landscape that defeat our first generation vaccines. >> let's listen to what the secretary of state said about this on "morning joe" today. >> we had vaccines in our stockpile, 80 million, that we're making available to countries around the world. we started doing that about a month ago. of the 80,000,060 million have been districted. because of our leadership other countries are stepping up, and g7 countries, our european partners, japan are also committing additional vaccines, and production is increasing. what we have to do is get to a place where we're getting as many vaccines as we possibly can
to as many countries, as many people as fast as we can. if we do that we can get ahead of the variants and win the race. >> congressman, that's 80 million in a need that as we say goes into the billions. >> yeah, i don't think we should be talking about millions anymore, lawrence. we should be talking about billions. the need is about 8 billion doses of vaccine. and although i applaud the biden administration for this down payment, if you will, and his commitment to helping other countries, at this point we've got to hustle. we can't wait any longer. four months ago i and some others pointed out the delta variant which was ravaging in that case my birth country where i lost three of my family members to covid, and basically saying, look, that delta variant is going to make its way over here to the united states very shortly if we don't vaccinate people abroad. unfortunately, that came to pass.
and now a land variant has arrived on the landscape, and what's next? already in israel they're seeing the efficacy of the pfizer vaccine go down significantly even in response to the delta variant. and so we have to be at this point vigilant. and we've got to hustle and get vaccines out there and spend the resources to do so. >> the only thing i was surprised about in your group's announcement is that there were not more members of congress joining this effort. >> we wanted to put together something quickly to make sure we could get this into the reconciliation package, quite frankly. we think it's absolutely crucial to allocate this money as quickly as possible because to me this is cheap insurance compared to the trillions of dollars that we're going to be spending on the economic
recovery and of course with regard to the health aspects of the pandemic. i am confident that the majority of our caucus is behind this. and i think that we're going to get this into the package, but we've got to push as hard as quickly as possible right now. >> congressman, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, lawrence. >> that is tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. and good evening once again. day 185 of the biden administration. and this was the day a republican governor of a deep red state actually said out loud that it's, quote, time to start blaming the unvaccinated for this dramatic spike in illness in her state. you'll hear her say those words in just a moment. but first and importantly it's now noon saturday in tokyo. these are live