tv Alex Witt Reports MSNBC July 31, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
having lawmakers testify would be unprecedented. any sense this might happen, that any members of the gop are willing to testify before this committee? >> well, the committee could certainly try to subpoena some of these lawmakers, but, again, you know, we are getting into somewhat uncharted territory where a committee would actually regard a fellow lawmaker to be, as some of them have called, a material witness to what happened on january 6th. so, yes, certainly there's been some interest in calling people like kevin mccarthy, like jim jordan, both of whom spoke to the former president on january 6th. but whether or not they would actually come and testify is, of course, something else entirely. >> remains to be seen. nicholas wu, thank you so much for your insights. a very good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters here in new york. welcome to ""alex witt reports"." here is what is happening at 2:00 p.m. eastern, 11:00 a.m.
pacific time. we begin the hour with the coronavirus pandemic. today cases, hospitalizations and deaths are up in almost every state. the number of new cases is up more than 64% this week according to the cdc. this week the new daily case average has surged to 66,000 a day, compared to 40,000 a week ago. new data from the cdc reveals it was concerned over breakthrough cases that prompted a reversal of the agency's mask guidance for vaccinated americans. the study behind the change shows three-fourths of people infected in a massachusetts outbreak were vaccinated. the cdc says this suggests it is possible vaccinated people can still spread the virus. nationwide, at least 125,000 fully vaccinated americans have tested positive for the virus according to data collected by nbc news. it is important to note that these cases though represent a total of less than .08% of the fully vaccinated americans among us. also new today, the fda is
vowing on an all-hands-on-deck effort to get pfizer's covid vaccine through the full approval process. this is in an effort to combat the vaccine hesitancy out there. no word yet on just how soon that full approval could come. let's get to more on these developments now with two nbc news reporters. we have heidi from the white house. we will go first to you, cathie, in new york. what more are we learning about the new cdc data? >> reporter: hey there, alex. well, we are learning just how dangerous the delta variant is and how transmissible it is among the fully vaccinated. the cdc cited an outbreak in provincetown, massachusetts, just a couple of weeks ago, and about three-fourths of those infected were actually fully vaccinated. also, the cdc looked at some new numbers when it comes to breakthrough infections. at the current rate they are saying it is about 35,000 per week.
yes, these numbers are alarming, but health officials are saying it is still very important for people to get vaccinated because the delta variant is so contagious and lethal. getting the vaccine will keep you out of the hospital and even prevent death. meantime, health officials across the country are sounding the alarm, saying that this pandemic is far from over. take a listen. >> so to me the best way to think about this is that this is a class five hurricane that's in the gulf of mexico heading for us right now. we're seeing a storm surge beginning, but the hurricane is going to probably hit in mid-august up to labor day. we're trying to alert the public that this storm is coming and, frankly, we need to get into a safe space right now because that's the only thing we have to protect us, is wearing masks again, staying at home more often and definitely avoiding large crowds.
>> reporter: alex, there is an ongoing discussion about mandating vaccines across the country, and it was only fuelled yesterday, last night on fox news, when the cdc director rochelle wilensky said it was something that the administration was looking into, but then she later backtracked those comments and clarified the statement on twitter saying that this is something that at the federal level they are not going to move forward on, but it is something obviously at the private level that they -- at the private sector that they are trying to enforce. a lot of companies, there's a growing list of them now, they are asking employees to get vaccinated before returning to the workplace. here in new york city, mayor de blasio is expected to announce new guidance on monday when it comes to masking, and you might have heard yesterday they made an announcement, when it comes to broadway, which will be reopening in a couple of weeks. folks will have to show that vaccination card, proof of vaccination, and also when you are inside the theater you will
be masking up as well. so the situation is evolving all across the country. >> yes, it sure is. for broadway theaters, if you don't have proof of vaccination you at least have to show that you have a negative covid test. again, everybody has to be masked, that's the way that's going to be. thank you so much, kathy park, from new york. let's go to heidi at the white house. heidi, there's been mixed messaging regarding the vaccine mandate. it is hard, two steps forward, one back, let's go in a different direction, come back this way. what about from the white house? what are we hearing from that front? >> alex, the only one mandating vaccines are private companies. we had google, disney, then walmart. the pentagon is studying whether and when to mandate it for the military, and we could expect an announcement on the army having a vaccine mandate as early as september. there is a federal mask mandate but only for federal employees. with that context the cdc
director was asked last night on fox news about a nationwide vaccine mandate. here is what she said. >> are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level? >> you know, that's something that i think the administration is looking into. it is something that i think we're looking to see approval of from the vaccine. overall, i think in general i am all for more vaccination. but, you know, i have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies. >>. >> reporter: alex, hours after those statements she quickly backtracked, tweeting, to clarify, there will be no nationwide mandate. i was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. for context, alex, the president and dr. fauci have said repeatedly there will be no federal mandates for all americans to get the vaccine. this will be something that is really in the hands of private industry, and cdc director
wilensky further clarified that she was speaking about the type of vaccine mandates and requirements, for instance, that we have for school children against the measles, mumps and rubella. but coming later perhaps this month, maybe early next month in september is going to be a very important moment when we see potentially that final approval of the pfizer vaccine. we see the fda now saying they're trying to move at a fast pace to make that happen. well, that is for a reason, right? because it is going to potentially make it easier for even more companies and institutions to join what looks to be like a march towards vaccine mandates, but certainly not at the federal level. >> yeah. >> alex. >> and to help those individuals who said, you know, it hasn't been fully approved and that's the way they always wanted to have that in place before taking a vaccine. so there's a lot still coming down the pike, that's for sure. thank you for that. now i want to bring in
dr. gounder, infectious disease specialist at nyu school of medicine and bellevue hospital, also a former member of the biden covid task force. welcome. always good to see you. i would love you to put into perspective all of the new data on the breakthrough cases, what it means for the millions of vaccinated americans in terms of how people should proceed with their daily lives. what do you recommend? >> alex, i think the number one message people need to hear is that vaccines are safe and they're highly effective. over 4 billion doses of covid vaccines have been administered around the world. over 350 million doses have been administered here in the united states. we have not seen significant safety issues and the vaccines are very effective. we are seeing a big drop in death rates in states where many people are vaccinated. however, in states where much fewer people are vaccinated we are seeing deaths on the rise. in terms of these breakthrough
infections, they are very rare, very rare. well less than 1%. for the very rare people who do have a breakthrough infection, what we learned this week is they can be infectious to other people, and that's why really trying to be as cautious as possible right now. the cdc is advising that even vaccinated people return to masking indoors, especially if they're in an area where there is a lot of community transmission, where they could very rarely pick up one of these breakthrough infections and accidentally perhaps spread it to others. >> yeah. >> it is really to prevent that very rare occurrence. >> again, those numbers you cite, i'll be specific here, you said it was less than .1%. you're right. it is .08% of the 350 million vaccinations that have been administered. we have about 125,000 cases across the country. so do the math, and it overwhelmingly supports what you are saying about the vaccines being safe. let's take a look together at the counties across the country with high levels of covid transmission.
areas where the cdc says vaccinated americans should start wearing masks again, but given everything, doctor, that we've discussed, would you go further and say that all americans should wear masks regardless of their community spread? i'm talking about indoors. >> i think this really depends on your own personal feelings about risk. i think if you are in an area where there's a high level of community transmission, where you cannot be certain that the people around you are vaccinated, i do think you should return to masking when indoors. >> what about -- what do you say to those people who say, i want to wear a mask but i'm getting shamed by people who are saying, we're over this, we are done? there are plenty of people that are having that reaction when they just want to take their own personal protection. >> i think you should never be shamed or blamed into any kind of behavior, whether that is to wear or not to wear a mask, whether it is to get vaccinated or not. but i do think some of the behavior we're seeing is akin to
a child in the backseat on a long family car trip who is throwing a temper tantrum, are we there yet, are we there yet. you know, we have more work to do. we need to get people vaccinated to get to the other side of this. >> for sure. let's take a look at britain where some medical experts are a bit confused about the trend in covid cases. they are plummeting instead of soaring. there could be some explanations, but it is important to note that more than 70% of adults there are fully vaccinated, and among the unvaccinated many have already had covid. so, dr. gander, what do you think is the best explanation for what is happening in britain? again, nothing definitive has been proven there, but your thoughts on that, and do you think we could see a trend like that happen here in a few weeks? because i remember at the height of covid and the pandemic there was always a sense of -- and i believe you said this, you know. the united states tended to be two to four weeks behind what was happening in britain. >> yes, i think that's right. we are usually somewhere between three and four weeks behind the pattern you see in britain and
europe, so i anticipate we will see a similar pattern here but, you know, again, there are differences. they have vaccinated a larger proportion of their population, so they are better insulated in that respect. we have seen delta rise sharply and then fall sharply, not just in the uk but also in countries like india, and there are some thoughts that there may be something to a genetic -- an aspect of your immune system that is genetically inherited that may protect some people better than others against this. >> that's interesting. to your point of not shaming anybody, nobody deserves to be shamed for how they believe or behave. that said, this is very interesting. it comes from our colleague gabe gutierrez who spoke with several north carolina health workers, and they said this week they are not getting vaccinated. here is part of what they said. >> we don't know what the long-term side effects are. >> it also hasn't been proven to
be effective. >> the cdc and many public health experts say it is more than 90% effective. >> they do say that. that hasn't proven to me to be true. >> i'm not just going to jump on a bandwagon with something that has not been tested. >> reporter: when you say it hasn't been tested, it has been tested though. >> but not to the -- if you look at the normal, the normal years' span of how long something is tested, it is usually 12 to 14 years before it comes to humans. >> so there are sage points on both sides of that conversation, but what is your reaction? >> well, so, first of all, these are not brand-new vaccines. adeno virus vector vaccines like j & j have been in development since the 1970s as a technology. mrna vaccine versus been in development for decade as well. these are not brand-new technologies. with vaccines when we see an adverse event, it typically always with every vaccine we have going back to the first vaccine, small pox, whenever
there's been an adverse event it occurs within the first two months after vaccination. we now have more than six months of follow-up with all of the vaccines. >> right. >> so we know, you know, what to expect. as i noted, 4 billion doses administered worldwide, over 350 million doses here in the united states. i mean that's a tremendous amount of data we now have on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. >> i appreciate this conversation so much, dr. celine gander. come see me again. thank you. all of you, be sure to watch "the week with joshua johnson" with his special guest, andy slavitt. watch for it at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on msnbc. inflation nation. what can be done to slow it down and how concerned you should be about the new numbers next. onc♪ ♪ ♪ power. ♪ ♪ it can only be set free. ♪ i want to make you yell. ♪
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trillion infrastructure bill. the chamber voted friday to move forward with the bipartisan legislation, though it is still unclear when we will see the final text of the bill and when the senate will begin voting on amendments. let's bring in heather broushey. good to see you, heather. $1 trillion plan here. what do you think is the most critical aspect of the bill and where will it hit most directly, and the longer it takes in your mind is it a problem? >> i'm glad you asked about the economic implications. this is an historic investment in our nation's infrastructure, a historic investment in transit, in passenger rail, in bridges, in making sure we start electrifying our nation's school busses, in making sure we get lead pipes out of communities all across these united states,
making sure people have access to the internet. all of these things connect us, they connect people and families and businesses. they help to make it possible for the economy to function. we will see the effects of this across our economy. it will make our economy more productive. it will make businesses more efficient. it will make it easier for people to get to work whether they telecommute or go on a road or bridge or take transit or take an electric vehicle. so this is really an important investment in the foundation of our economy and we're going to see the benefits of this for decades to come because of the investments that we're making hopefully as a part of this package. >> okay, can we also take a look at the $3.5 trillion so-called reconciliation bill that's being discussed? how critical, heather, is that bill to prop up the economy as we have the u.s. dealing with this delta virus, i mean essentially another wave of covid-19? >> well, i think it is absolutely essential. you know, one of the things we have learned over the past year
and a half is some of the fragilities across our economy, across our society. we've learned that if you don't have access to care, you can't get to work, and we've learned just how vulnerable so many families are. so the build back better package, that is the second part of our two-part plan, will make investments in home care workers so that families that need someone to help them care for an aging loved one have the resources they need, make investments in child care, universal pre-k. you know, those years from zero to five are really what provide that foundation for later learning and have lifelong effects, and the united states is falling behind in those investments. make sure people have access to paid family and medical leave. and, of course, there are additional expansion for addressing climate, things like the clean electricity standard, tax credits for climate issues and, of course, disability and the climate conservation corps. so these are all really
historic, important investments in our economy and in our society that really address some of the fragilities that we have seen develop for far too long. >> you know, given this new spike in covid cases though, it is far more than just looking at it from a medical perspective. how much does the white house need to pay attention from an economic perspective? >> so i can assure you, alex, we have been focused on the economic implications of covid from day one, starting in the campaign. i mean this economic crisis that we saw in 2020 was the result of the pandemic, and the president knew that the very first thing he had to do when he took office was to make sure that we were focused on wrapping our hands around the pandemic, getting those shots in arms. nothing could be more important than getting that vaccine out, making sure that people, you know, get their jab so that we can all be protected because that's the only way that we're going to get -- be able to get the economy back on track. now, let me say we've made enormous progress, both on
getting the vaccine out there, but also on economic recovery. you know, we've seen gdp come back. we have seen millions of jobs come back. we have seen over 3 million jobs created since the president took other. so we are working our way back, but that hinges on continuing to contain this well, let's say, 6s percent gdp, that's good. let's talk about inflation. companies, as you well know, are seeing higher costs for ingredients, packaging and shipping. that means consumers will pay more at the store. the higher prices are pushing the u.s. inflation to rise at really the fastest pace in more than a decade, heather. what does that rising inflation mean for the economy overall? >> well, let me say a couple of things about inflation. first of all, the bulk of the inflation we are seeing is very much pandemic-related. this is what economists would call a supply-side shock, right. we all could not get to work because of the pandemic, and so that meant a lot of work didn't happen. still around the world, you are
seeing that as the virus pops up firms aren't able to produce the things that are inputs into things that we need. so like semiconductors or lumber or, you know, a number of examples that we've seen. as we get this virus under control, the supply side hiccups are going to abate. so we really do think that this inflation we're seeing will be temporary. the good news is that we've seen the pace of inflation slowing over the past few months. we got new data on friday that showed that the pace is now down three months in a row. it is still high, but it is coming down, and the bulk of the inflation is pandemic related. a lot of it is actually in automobiles. so this is important. but let me stress one other thing, coming back to the president's larger build back better agenda, we believe that this economic agenda that boosts the productive capacity of the united states, helps people get to work, helps firms function better, these are going to help keep inflation down in the long
term. so this package will not only create jobs and help our economy function, but it will keep prices down for the long haul. >> i appreciate you heather bouchey, coming and speaking on behalf of the white house as part of the white house council of economic advisers. thank you so much. now that the justice department has ordered the irs to turn over donald trump's taxes to congress, does it mean the public will get a look? what more can trump do to keep them concealed? that's next. that's next. that's why i started medhaul. citi launched the impact fund to invest in both women and entrepreneurs of color like me, so i can realize my vision and give everything i've got to my company, and my community. i got you. for the love of people. for the love of community. for the love of progress. citi.
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now a look at the other top stories we are following for you today. starting on capitol hill where the senate has convened for a rare saturday session to hammer out the final details for that bipartisan infrastructure package. majority leader chuck schumer this morning urging those negotiators to hirry up. >> i understand writing the text of a bill this size is a difficult project. i have been part of many such
projects in the past, but i urge the bipartisan group to finish their work so we can begin the amendment process here on the floor. i have said for weeks that the senate is going to move forward on both tracks of infrastructure before the beginning of the august recess. the longer it takes to finish, the longer we will be here, but we are going to get the job done. and bombshell new reporting from "the new york times" says donald trump pressured the justice department late last year to declare the 2020 election corrupt, even though they had found no evidence of widespread fraud. according to notes taken by former acting deputy attorney general richard donoghue, in a december 27th phone call the ex-president directed him and former acting attorney general jeffrey rosen to, quote, just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and to congressional allies. congressman jim himes telling me last hour his reaction. >> i was reflecting on something president lincoln said which is that, you know, we will not be
done in by, our democracy will not be ended by foreign enemies, it will be done in by ourselves and this is the way it happens, alex. it is hard to try to do bipartisan business with a party, the republican party, that will not be loud and clear about what a threat to our democracy this is. >> this comes as congressional democrats are now one giant step closer to getting trump's taxes. the justice department telling the treasury department it must turn over six years worth of the former president's tax returns. this to the house ways and means committee. joining me now is joyce vance, msnbc legal analyst, former u.s. attorney and professor at the university of alabama school of law. joyce, always a pleasure. let's get into this here because we have several major doj headlines to talk about. let's start with the doj saying that the irs has to turn over trump's tax returns to a house committee. what is the legal significance of this? >> well, the legal significance of this is that congress's
balance of power with the executive branch is being properly maintained. the statute that this happens under actually requires that the treasury department shall provide this sort of material to congress upon a request. there's a very low threshold here perhaps for treasury and the justice department to make sure that this is pursuant to a legitimate congressional inquiry, but congress has more than met this threshold and it is long past time for this sort of action to be taken here. this really restores the balance of power between the branches of government. >> in terms of time, joyce, how long is it going to take for congress to get these documents, and does it mean that they would be released to the public at some point officially? i mean there may be leaks, but officially could they be released? >> i think that's very unlikely. anyone who handles tax information that has personally identifying information of the taxpayer is duty bound to keep that information secret.
it can't be publicly disclosed. in answer to the first part of your question, how long will it take for congress to get the information, alex, you know like i do that fast in government means at a glacial pace. so there's really no further impediment. i suppose that the former president could go into court and try to file something to slow this down, but, honestly, at this point it is difficult to imagine a judge issuing an injunction, and as quickly as anything in government is provided to another branch this should take place. >> if trump went and tried to challenge it in court, you think he would lose? >> i don't think that there's really a basis for him to sustain a legitimate challenge at this point. >> okay. let's talk about the other headline today. trump having asked top justice department officials to declare the 2020 election corrupt the notes show. according to an nbc report, joyce, the phone conversation happened just weeks before the capitol riots, like a week and a half before. how did all of this come out?
>> so it is interesting to note how this went forward. this information comes to us in the notes of the then-acting deputy attorney general, rich donoghue. he actually has written notes from this conversation between the two principles, the president and the attorney general. one of the reasons we'll now start to learn more and more about what happened in the run-up to january 6th is because doj has issued an opinion that says that former executive branch officials may testify in congress and that they can give unrestricted testimony. i take that to mean that there won't be any permissible assertion of executive privilege. we have all heard about that in the past, the white house keeping its employees from talking with congress so that congress can engage in legitimate oversight. apparently that sort of high jinx is now off the table.
we should expect it will be just the tip of the iceberg about what we learn about what happened in advance of and perhaps after as well january 6th. >> interestingly, this week on tuesday the doj ruled that congressman mo brooks of alabama was not acting in an official capacity when he spoke at trump's rally on january 6th. this is an argument that brooks had been using to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses him, donald trump and others of inciting the capitol riot. so what does this mean, joyce, from a legal standpoint when they say he wasn't operating in official capacity? >> it is pretty routine when a federal employee gets sued for committing a tort, a civil wrong, the government steps in to their shoes because, of course, the government is the employer. so they take over responsibility for the employee's actions. one of the problems, frankly, is that that typically leads to dismissal of the lawsuit because the government, except with some exceptions, is immune from this
kind of a lawsuit. but in this case brooks asked the government to take over for him, and for the government to agree to do that, to provide what is called a westfall certification, would have required proof that brooks was both a federal employee -- no problem there, it is pretty well established that members of congress are -- but would have also have to have shown he was acting within the scope of his professional obligations on january 6th. doj sort of drew the line there and said, enough is enough, what he was doing was engaging in campaign activities, not in his official duties as a legislator. they went beyond that a little bit, alex, and they said it is not the job of the federal government to take sides in an election. i think that language really portends a lot about what is to come. >> okay. joyce vance, thank you so much for the debrief. much appreciated. in just a matter of hours the end of the eviction moratorium may really hit home for about 6 million americans behind on their rent, but many
could be kicked out of their homes even if they're eligible to receive rental assistance. how could this happen? i'm going to speak with former hud secretary julian castro next. (vo) nobody dreams in conventional thinking. it didn't get us to the moon. it doesn't ring the bell on wall street. or disrupt the status quo. t-mobile for business uses unconventional thinking to help you realize new possibilities on america's largest, fastest, and most reliable 5g network. plus customer experience that finds solutions in the moment.
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which allows him to pay off his balance over time. and boom. crane time. contract signed. art for all. get the card built for business. by american express. now to some breaking news. tonight at midnight the federal moratorium on eviction sincere due to expire after house democrats failed to push through a last-minute extension. ten states are continuing those eviction protections, but that still leaves millions possibly losing their homes. let's go to nbc's guad venegas joining us from los angeles. what are you hearing about all of this, guad? >> reporter: alex, you mentioned the ten states that have their own moratorium, also cities and counties can have their own moratorium so it is a complicated issue because you have a lot of pieces that are moving. the federal governmental located more than $40 billion to help with emergency rental assistance program. the problem with the money is although it made its way to the states getting the money to the
renters has been slow. you have states like florida that has only disbursed about 2% of the money. in new york, the governor now assigning more employees to approve the applications. so you have other states with difficulties like these where they have the money, it just has been very difficult getting it to the people that need to pay the money as we get to the first of august, right, when the moratorium will now end and the eviction process will be able to begin against a lot of these renters. it is a very complicated issue. we are expecting congress to possibly pass some type of extension, which they didn't. so now here we are with millions of people in fear of getting evicted. my colleague spoke to an attorney in the atlanta area who is defending a lot of renters just like they're doing in other parts of the country. we're going to hear from this attorney that spoke to vaughn hillyard. >> reporter: what is it that you need? >> we need more time and we also need less limitations on what we
have to do in order to get the assistance out the door, because we've run out of time. >> reporter: so more time, that's what is needed. the cdc had extended this moratorium through the month of july, then the supreme court said it could no longer be extended, it has to be congress. we know congress is now in recess, so there's really nothing that can stop it now. tomorrow this moratorium will end on a federal level, and millions of people will be left to begin these eviction processes against them. alex. >> guad venegas, very frustrating actually to hear this report. we will delve into it further right now as i thank you and welcome msnbc political analyst and former secretary of housing and urban development, julian castro. mr. secretary, i'm glad to see you here. let me ask you about what guad was saying. it is frustrating to hear, about $40 billion specifically from "the washington post", a $46.5 billion emergency fund aimed at getting rent to tenants at risk of eviction.
it has been painfully slow to get off the ground with some states and counties unable to spend even a dollar of the money they were provided months earlier. florida put out about 2%. that's how much it has dispensed of this money. why is that and what needs to happen to get the money where it is needed? >> well, you're right about that, alex. you know, this is, unfortunately, this is government living up to its worst reputation of red tape, of inefficient procedures and not getting information effectively out to renters and landlords that might be able to benefit from this emergency rental assistance. all told, only about 7% of those $47 billion that congressional located for emergency rental assistance has actually reached the hands of people who need it. because of that you have a lot of panicking, frankly, among families across the country when the clock strikes 12:01 tomorrow morning, sunday morning, a lot of people will have an eviction
notice filed against them. sheriff's deputies will start knocking on doors, telling people that they have to vaccinate their apartment or their home. this didn't have to happen. it was an unforced error, but, unfortunately, this is what we're staring down. >> so then you are telling me that people who have followed the process, they have put in their applications but because, as you call it, appropriately so, the red tape and earlier it was said the glacial pace of government and the way it acts, these folks have done everything they are supposed to, they might still get a door knocked and hear, you have to go. wait a minute, we've done what we have to. how frustrating is that? >> it leaves a lot of people frustrated and fearful about what they're going to do. what we are facing potentially is seeing not only a virus crisis as this delta variant surges but also an evictions crisis. what makes it worse is that 80%
of people who are behind on rent live in an area where the coronavirus is surging. so it is like this perfect storm of bad news -- >> yikes. >> -- for people who are behind. to give folks a sense of this, by one count there's about $25 billion worth of back rent out there with an average of about $3,800 per renter. >> wow. are you confident anything can or will be done to prevent a wave of evictions and all of the troubles you are portending here could happen? >> congress made a push at the last minute yesterday to get the moratorium extended. it did not happen. the biden administration actually does have the authority to extend the cdc's moratorium. that moratorium was looked disapprovingly at by the supreme court a few weeks ago, but the court didn't actually strike it down. the administration could extend it, knowing that it may well get struck down, but give congress a
little bit more time -- >> yeah. >> -- to perhaps pass an extension and also give states more time to jump start their programs and get those dollars into the hands of people that need it. >> exactly. sounds like it would buy a bit more time if that were to happen. okay. julian, please stay with me because we're going to a reporter at that texas rally you are attending right now. i know it just wrapped up. i will come right back to you after that to discuss it. so, everyone, back now to the march to protect voting rights in texas. hundreds took over the streets, took rather to the streets over the last few days to complete a 27-mile walk to the capital in austin. leading the charge, reverend william barber of the poor people's campaign as well as former congressman beto o'rourke. that four-day event ended today with a march and rally and appearance by willie nelson. gary grumbach is joining me from austin. talk to me about what you saw?
>> just wrapped up a little while ago. this is the culmination of marching from georgetown, texas, here to austin, the state capital, in the name of voting rights and federal voting rights legislation. the excitement was here. there were thousands gathered on the lawn behind me. in washington it is a different story. yesterday the president and vice president met with congressional leadership about a path forward nor that legislation, and they're saying it will be a slimmed down version. that's according to our capitol hill team. it will be things like early voting, same-day voter registration, leaving some of the complicated issues for further down the line. we spoke to lucy bain johnson, president lyndon b. johnson's daughter. she spoke at this event and was on msnbc earlier as well. here is what she had to say. >> we need the republican leaders to care about justice. after all, they have children, too, and they're going to give them an unjust and cruel world
if they don't try to come together for voting rights, not just for them but for everybody. i would beg them to awaken their conscience and be the courageous people like all of the courageous people that are here today. >> reporter: now, this is all about timing. the special session here in texas ends a week from today. the congress, they're in recess now for the month of august. so advocates here on the ground are saying, we need this to happen and we need it to happen quickly. alex. >> gary grumbach, thank you so much. as we look at what the texas tribune is saying about all of this, which is that the 27-mile march that led to austin has invoked the spirit of the historic selma to montgomery marches which played a crucial role in passage of the landmark voting rights act of 1965. as we get a sense of the atmosphere and the energy taking place there, we will welcome back julian castro to talk about this. so the question to you, i mean does this feel really big,
historic? >> there was tremendous energy out here today, alex. you could feel a diverse, energetic group of folks truly pushing on this issue of voting rights, pushing back against the voter suppression legislation here in austin. but, really, as much as this was aimed at texas, it was aimed at the senate and the white house and trying to create a sense of urgency about passing the for the people act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act, and understanding that it is not just about texas but we see it in arizona, in georgia, in florida and in a number of other places. and also, people are encouraged perhaps by the daylight that there is with senator manchin and the possibility of a negotiation to create legislation that's workable and can get enough support to get passed. >> but you're right, it is an incredibly important story which is why we here at msnbc for the
last four or five weeks have incessantly been covering it because it has a national domino effect as well. this rally in austin, it is coming as the texas democrats, as you know, left their state. they are trying to block restrictive voting measures, but republicans have certainly been hammering away at them for leaving, including during a congressional hearing this week. do you, julian, have any concerns of the optics of lawmakers fleeing texas? do you think it might dilute the concerns of voter suppression? >> i think the lines have been drawn very, very clearly. the legislators seem to have been doing a good job of informing their own constituents of why they left, why they broke quorum, the urgency of standing up. it is also true that texas, like a lot of other places, has become more partisan, more polarized, and so what you have is a democratic party here in texas that is solidly behind these legislators. so far they seem to be doing well, winning the battle of
public opinion, folks understanding, who might be on the fence about what this is about, why this is so important. the question is what's going to happen after this 30-day special session runs out. are they going to stay in washington, d.c.? are they going to come back here to texas? that's still uncertain. >> let me get a quick question about covid there in texas because while covid cases are on the increase there you have governor greg abbott who signed an executive order banning cities from requiring masks or vaccine mandates. he has said there will be no covid-19-related operating limits for any business. what is your reaction to this order and what about texans, how are they responding? >> it is short sighted. texas is seeing more than doubling of hospitalizations. it has led the nation the last few days or been in the top three in terms of new covid cases, new hospitalizations. as you mentioned, the governor back on may 18th issued an executive order that disallowed cities, counties, other local governments from crafting their
own covid precautions including requiring masks to be worn. it also did that for schools and made it effective on june 4th. right now you have millions of parents who are either scratching their head or even panicking about what's going to happen when kids go back to school. many of them on august 9th or august 16th, and those school districts are not allowed to require mask wearing in the classroom or in the school buildings. we know that children can pass the coronavirus along even though they themselves are not as impacted perhaps as adults. it also presents a challenge for teachers, for staff members and families when those kids go home to mom and dad or grandma or grandpa. >> absolutely. julian castro, always a pleasure to have you on the show. thank you so much. look forward to seeing you again. >> good to be with you. >> thank you. tomorrow i will speak with washington state congresswoman pramila jayapal about the new infrastructure deal and the january 6th commission.
watch "alex witt reports" here on msnbc. if the united states follows the lead of a major city, you my be required to show more than your id to get into a bar any time soon. that's next. next. (customer) hi? (burke) happy anniversary. (customer) for what? (burke) every year you're with us, you get fifty dollars toward your home deductible. it's a policy perk for being a farmers customer. (customer) do i have to do anything? (burke) nothing. (customer) nothing? (burke) nothing. (customer) nothing? (burke) nothing. (customer) hmm, that is really something. (burke) you get a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. see ya. (kid) may i have a balloon, too? (burke) sure. your parents have maintained a farmers home policy for twelve consecutive months, right? ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ (burke) start with a quote at 1-800-farmers. icy hot. ice works fast. heat makes it last. feel the power of contrast therapy, so you can rise from pain. rush hour will never feel the same.
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call your doctor if worsened breathing, chest pain, mouth or tongue swelling, problems urinating, vision changes, or eye pain occur. it's time to start a new day. ask your doctor about once-daily trelegy. and save at trelegy.com. a new requirement by some san francisco bars either prove you have been vaccinated or show a negative test in order to coming side. this new policy is yet another standard for an industry already struggling to bounce back. let's go to nbc's scott cohn in san francisco and ask what you are hearing about this requirement. what has been the reaction? >> reporter: yeah, i mean this is something that was put together by a group called the san francisco bar owners alliance. it is 500 bar owners who own some 300 establishments like this irish public behind me. it is not clear how many of them will actually implement this policy since it is voluntary, but the basic issue is what you say. if you want to go into any of
these bars, you will have to show proof of vaccination or you will have to show a negative covid test within the last 72 hours. the president of the bar owners alliance says really for these businesses it is a matter of survival. >> don't mistake a bar that survived the pandemic with a healthy business. most of us took on hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt just to stay alive, just to have these businesses continue on, and it has been really hard. the thing i will say is that for the first 12 months it was we were against a virus, and, of course, human behavior was good and bad, but really there was no solution. you couldn't control it as we needed to. but the problem now is that we actually can control it. >> reporter: the issue now really, they say, there's a lot of frustration among the bar owners. when you look at some of the numbers, these are nationwide figures from the national restaurant association. this industry has taken on close
to $300 billion in debt. we have 90,000 establishments that have either been temporarily or permanently closed, and employment down by about 1.4 million. there's also a practical consider here for these bars in san francisco, and that this horrible worker shortage that they're facing. so you lose an employee to covid because he was infected by maybe someone who came in to the bar, it is not like you will be able to replace them right away and workers are very, very hard to come by. alex. >> yes, they sure are. thank you so much, scott cohn. i appreciate you. well, coming up next, we are going give you the latest on the olympic medal count and where the u.s. stands. stay with us. stands. stay with us wright brothers? more like, yeah right, brothers! get outta here! it's not crazy. it's a scramble. just crack an egg.
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now to the latest from the tokyo olympics with an update on the medal count. it shows the u.s. and china each with 46 medals. the russian olympic committee, japan and britain rounding out the top five. an update on simone biles who withdrew from competition on tuesday and sat out thursday's all-around final and will remain on the sidelines at least for tomorrow, although she could still compete in floor exercise on monday and balance beam on tuesday. that will do it for me on this edition of "alex witt reports." i will see you again tomorrow at noon eastern. my friend, yasmin vossoughian
will pick up coverage after a short break. have a great saturday. ♪ ♪ good afternoon. i'm yasmin vossoughian. a rare saturday session right now in the senate as an infrastructure deal moves closer to passage, but house members left before extending an eviction moratorium, a move that could leave millions on the streets. in texas, a major rally after a march is now the latest effort by democrats to fight republican efforts to curtail voting rights there. bombshell new reporting on the former president's efforts to get the department of justice to sign off on his election lies. all of that, plus -- check out this scene you've got to see to believe. still in the middle of this pandemic, but no sign of that from the crowds at lola pa looz au right now. we will take you there just ahead. certainly no