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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  March 6, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PST

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address the amendments, all of which have failed. man manu -- >> reporter: we expect a final vote to happen this hour after this marathon series of amendment votes that lasted now 13 hours straight. members have not slept. they've been on the floor. they are exhausted. they're ready to go home. they're bleary eyed, staring into space. they're looking at their phones and ipads. i was in the chamber watching them as many are ready for this to end. the significant vote being the final passage of $1.9 trillion of economic relief to deal with this pandemic. republicans overwhelmingly potentially almost all are going to expect to vote against this, one republican senator to watch, lisa murkowski, see if she breaks ranks but we expect all democrats to support it and that's all that's needed for final passage as 50 democratic
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seats in the senate right now, all of them if they vote yes, this will move ahead. at the moment they're trying to figure out some final procedural steps as they get into the final process. now they've been in session so long, fred, that the new calendar day of the senate is about to begin. that happens at 12:00 noon every day. right now you're seeing the senate chaplain reading a prayer to the senate. that happens at the beginning of the calendar day and then they're saying the pledge of allegiance. and after that they'll move on to the final series of votes, one technical amendment offered by chuck schumer, followed by the senate democrats relief package and then after that vote will be the final package so probably three votes remaining here. but they, as i mentioned, these members have not slept at all. this has been a marathon session as they're trying r. and if they do get this through, assuming they do.
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then it will be back to thl pas goal of democrats all along is to get this bill done before a key march 14th deadline. that's when millions of jobless benefits are set to expire. under this bill, a deal that was reached that held up the senate for 12 hours where they did virtually nothing but negotiate behind closed doors and horse traded with senator joe manchin of west virginia, that deal would extend jobless benefits for $300 a week for individuals through august, up until september 6th, it would ensure that the first 10,200 dollars of job benefits -- >> let me interject. senate majority leader chuck schumer is talking right now. oh, that's patrick leahy. we heard from schumer. we'll see if he resumes. >> after about 24 hours -- >> we missed the comments there from chuck schumer. we'll try to rerack that as patrick leahy is talking now. manu, back to you, there may be
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some amendments included but one has to wonder if the white house would be pleased with that. >> they will be. the amendments the democrats have agreed to have been modest changes to the underlying bill, one of can which was agreed to moments ago to redirect funding the education money to homeless children. that was actually lisa murkowski that alaska republican swing vote who offered that amendment. measures like that that have had bipartisan support have generally been adopted. the other changes that have been made have been done with the blessing of the white house and the senate democratic leadership. the core tenets of the bill have not been changed despite republican efforts to gut and change. democrats are confident this will get done. chuck schumer making remarks probably saying they are on the path to getting this finally completed here within the next hour as they finish the last couple of votes and then get into final passage but this could be a huge victory for joe biden. republicans will say that he did
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not reach across the aisle and work with them to try to get this through but nevertheless $1.9 trillion in relief, a massive relief package, one of the biggest in american history, could be closer to getting to the president's desk. >> manu raju, we'll check back with you. manu says perhaps the white house will be happy, core tenets virtually unchanged. we'll find out what kind of reception maybe coming from the white house. our joe johns is there. it allows the president if indeed passed to say he has fulfilled his number one promise while on the campaign trail. bringing some relief immediately to the american people. >> reporter: absolutely, and that is why we are very much hoping to hear from the president presuming this bill passes the senate, even though, in fact, it will have to go back to the house of representatives for a few more tweaks. and we'd like to hear from the president sometime this afternoon just to hear his thoughts on his first big legislative initiative moving
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through now both houses of the united states congress. we do know that the president has been involved over the last 24 hours, particularly with that delay involving senator joe manchin of west virginia and the 10-12 hours of conversations apparently that went on, apparently the president talked to manchin during that period. not clear at all exactly what they talked about. we also got a statement that came out last night from jen psaki, the press secretary, essentially the president saying he agreed with that compromise that was struck last evening on unemployment benefits. also saying it extends supplemental employment benefits into september and helps the vast majority of unemployment insurance recipients avoid unanticipated tax bills and keeping their eye on the ball here, most importantly this agreement allows us to move
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forward on the urgently needed american rescue plan with $1,400 relief checks to finish the vaccine rollout, open schools and help those suffering from the pandemic. so one of the things that i think we also have to point out, just sort of the micropolitics of all this, the president has had apparently repeated conversations, a series of telephone conversations with senator joe manchin as well as senator kyrsten sinema of arizona, another moderate democrat. as you know fred this is a 50/50 senate and any one democrat can hold up joe biden's initiatives and priorities up on capitol hill. back to you. >> joe johns, we'll check back with you, thank you so much and we'll continue to keep an eye on the u.s. senate there. with a third vaccine, covid vaccine now available some governors are loosening covid restrictions, soon 17 states will have no statewide mask
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mandates despite all the data suggesting masks are key in keeping people safe and getting throat remns of this pandemic. evan mcmoor santaro, this is a familiar story, public health meets politics. where are things? >> reporter: fred, you're exactly right. it was only a few months ago during that second surge of the pandemic that i felt like the whole country had finally come together and had one single message on this virus. but now we're seeing that that's all falling apart again and it's just state by state once again. the covid-19 pandemic is still all around us and still deadly but this weekend the question some in america may be asking is, is the danger gone? in texas businesses are reopening at full capacity, more state mask mandate. >> just like you can set the standard for anybody coming into
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your home, a business owner can set the standard for anybody coming into their business. it's just like no shoes, no shirt, no service. they can set whatever standard they want to set. for anybody that comes into their business. and that is their right. >> reporter: some business owners are nervous. >> what he's done is he's put the burden on the business now. >> reporter: governor tate reeves lifting mandates in mississippi, citing improved numbers while blasting continued government overreach but governor jim justice reiterates his current mask mandate in west virginia, even as business returns to 100% capacity today. >> as we continue to vaccinate more and more and more we'll get rid of the masks but i don't know really what the big rush, and if we don't watch out, we can make some mistakes. >> reporter: arizona, a covid-19 hot spot last summer, has experienced success with mitigation efforts. on friday governor doug ducey issued an executive order reopening all businesses at full capacity, but keeping mask rules in place. other states are also loosening
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restrictions. on friday michigan increased indoor dining capacity while connecticut began rolling back caps on retail and restaurant numbers. and while nationwide numbers of new cases are down, public health officials warning that moving too fast to reopen could be dangerous. a new cdc study shows mask mandates and restricting indoor dining could reduce covid-19 cases and deaths. >> we would advocate for policies, certainly while we're at this plateau of a high number of cases that would listen to that public health science. >> and dr. anthony fauci telling cnn the daily new case number still regularly over 60,000 needs to come down a lot more before states move to fully reopen. >> i would say less than 10,000, and maybe even considerably less than that. we're now up to about 2 million vaccinations per day. that means every day that goes by, every week that goes by you have more and more people protected. >> so, fred, public health
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officials are going to monitor very closely these changes in these states to see if numbers go back up but obviously what we're dealing with here is politics has once again entered this conversation and we're back to a place where depending where you live depends on how closely your state is keeping an eye on this pandemic. fred? >> evan, thank you so much. we'll talk more about this with dr. regina besed, joining us from houston. good to see you, doctor. >> good to see you, fred. >> come wednesday your state will no longer have a mask mandate. how concerned are you about that? >> extremely concerned. i'm actually petrified. you know, i don't know what the numbers are going to be once the mask mandate is lifted and once businesses are allowed to open at 100%, but i do know what the numbers look like with tha wl tl you with mask mandates in placln
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the top three with daily new cases, and total number of deaths. we're at the bottom of the country in terms of vaccinations being given per capita. this is with mitigation strategies in place. i'm so fearful to see what things look like with those strategies. >> governor abbott has said by removing the mask mandate that it really is a decision left up to businesses and based on all those numbers that you just spouted off do you feel like businesses and patrons will largely adhere to wearing masks, or do you feel that they'll be just tossing away? >> i really don't think that businesses and patrons are just all going to decide to wear masks because those are numbers that i know. those are numbers that people in the medical community, people who study data, people who study epidemiology know but those who are in the community may not know exactly what the data is, and they're looking to our
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leaders for direction. you know, it's the mixed messaging that's been kind of shooting us in the foot since the beginning of the pandemic. because if the leaders in this country really thought that mask mandates and keeping businesses at certain levels were important, then we wouldn't be lifting those restrictions. >> so what's the data that you want people to hear? because, gosh, it doesn't seem like it was even a month ago when we were being encouraged to wear two masks, and now it means abandoning it all together, that much progress has been made? >> well, we're still needing to wear two masks. i think what people are hearing is that cases are going down and hospitalizations are going down and we're starting to celebrate but we're starting to celebrate a little bit too early. you have to take those decreasing numbers into context. in december and in january, we saw spikes that we have not seen since the beginning of the pandemic. so yes, numbers are decreasing but they're decreasing from record highs. where we are right now are we're still showing high levels of
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disease in the community, and our current numbers are about where we were in july and august when we were so fearful of that second wave. >> all right. dr. richina bicette, good to see you. back to capitol hill, we understand they're really close. let's listen in to senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. >> mr. president and colleagues i strongly recommend a no vote. >> the clerk will call -- >> you heard the tail end of mitch mcconnell saying he's recommending a no vote. we expect that somewhere within this hour a vote will come in the u.s. senate on the bill that had already passed the house, $1.9 trillion american relief bill. we'll continue to watch. we'll be right back. it's powered by verizon for as little as $25 a month. but it gets crazier. bring a friend every month and get every month for $5.
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right now you're looking at live pictures on capitol hill where senators are voting on that $1.9 trillion covid relief package. listen in right now for the yays and yays. >> ms. murkowski, no. mr. murphy, aye. mrs. murray, aye. mr. ossoff, aye. mr. padilla, aye. mr. paul, no. mr. peters, aye. mr. portman, no. mr. reed, aye. mr. risch, no. mr. romney, no. ms. rosen -- >> you hear the yays and nays,
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and senate minority leader mcconnell saying he recommends a no vote and so far it appears republicans are following suit. democrats need 50 votes. they feel like they have them. m manu raju knows better than i. probably the white house is bracing for a first legislative victory in the biden administration. right manu? >> yeah, this is going to be one huge step towards achieving central pillar of the new president's agenda. this bill is going to pass, passing on a straight party line vote. we expect the vote to be 50-49. two key votes, joe manchin was the subject of intense speculation, scrutiny, negotiation behind the scenes yesterday, he voted yes. he's a democrat from west virginia. he was likely to vote yes after he secured his deal yesterday on jobless benefits. but lisa murkowski, the alaska
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republican senator, she had not said how she might come down. she just said she is voting no against the bill. she was really the only potential republican swing vote here. but regardless, democrats have used a process in which they can advance this bill by a simple majority vote. that means all 50 democrats, if they stick together, they're going to get this bill through and it appears all 50 democrats, in fact, will stick together, which means joe biden will be one step closer to getting this $1.9 trillion package, a massive rescue package out of the united states senate after an arduous day of votes, arm twisting, negotiation. they've managed to keep their caucus between progressives and moderates together to get this out of the senate. then the final passage vote expected in the house in a matter of days. nancy pelosi there will have to ensure she can limit defections to no more than a couple, maybe four members so they expect that she will be able to do that,
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limit those defections, get this to joe biden's desk but we're not seeing any republican support in either the house or here in the senate as democrats push through joe biden's key domestic achievement here. >> and we're reminded last week, we heard from the president who said he wanted it on his desk by march 14th, in time for, you know, to supersede that deadline of the unemployment benefits. you just mentioned this was a simple majority voeeded. there was no need for the vice president to step in here and be a tie breaker. >> yeah, because dan sullivan, who's an alaska republican, he had to leave because of a death in the family. he left yesterday. so as a result republicans are down one member. the senate can pass legislation on a 50-49 vote so that's exactly what's going to happen here. ordinarily we would have expected this to be most likely a 50/50 vote, kamala harris would have come in to vote to break that tie, unneeded here given sullivan's absence.
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regardless, this is a straight party line vote, all democrats siding together on this bill, overwhelmingly popular in the polls but republicans believe that they'll argue against this. they'll take it to voters saying it was unnecessary, unneeded wasteful spending at a time when the economy is showing signs of coming back to life. democrats are making the opposite bet, thinking voters will reward for this aggressive move into the economy. those were passed out of bipartisan support. much different this time. straight party line vote out of the senate, we expect a 50-49 vote on joe biden's desk by next week. >> not popular among republicans voting today but polling has showed that this relief bill is very popular. it does have bipartisan support when you look at the american electorate. but you don't see a demonstrated legislatively with bipartisan support. >> yeah, and that's exactly the message that joe biden actually has given to fellow democrats.
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i was told behind the scenes, behind closed doors during a senate lunch this week he told them during this virtual meeting he said, look, in the halls of congress this is not bipartisan. but out in the country it is. and that message really resonated with a lot of democrats. they believe that ultimately come 2022 when they have to go back to their voters, ask them to be reelected, to hold on to both chambers of commerce that they'll be awarded for helping turn the economy around but the concern too will be implementing this. $1.9 trillion is not easy to be spent. it's going to require rigorous oversight and methodical spending and it takes a long time to get the money into the u.s. economy too. there are risks. but democrats are arguing it is worth it, and their party is united in their belief that this is needed now, fred. >> in that package, $1,400 checks for cash strapped families. help for paying for child care.
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assistant local government and financial need and of course going toward cost of coronavirus vaccine distribution. manu raju thank you so much, keep us posted, the vote under way right now. let's listen to patrick leahy. >> the bill as amended is passed. >> all right, what timing. all right, so amended package there, passed. manu raju, now it will be making its way back to the house. before eventually making its way back to the white house for signature? >> yeah, and you see the number on the screen, important, 50-49. that is straight party line, all democrats voted yes, all republicans voted no. and you saw the round of applause. that usually does not happen in the senate. the senate, you're not supposed to show expressions of support in the senate but democrats are relieved because this has been an arduous undertaking behind the scenes for weeks, fred, they have been trying to get their caucus in line, negotiate with the house democrats, try to make
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sure to sort out all the differences, tried to put in sweeteners to win over key democratic holdouts and they were surprised when they couldn't get joe manchin on board yesterday which led to that 12 hours keeping one vote open, the longest that's ever happened in modern history for a senate vote to be open that long but that was needed in order to get all members of their caucus on board because as you see from this vote 50-49 vote all republicans were no. so they needed to make sure that the joe manchins of the world could get behind it. if he were to support an alternative amendment on jobless numbers, that could -- such a delicate compromise on the democratic side and realizing they could do it with just democratic votes in this process, they'll get it almost certainly to the president's desk in a matter of days. the question will be will it turn the economy around and help deal with this pandemic and how will the voters respond, fred.
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>> obviously, manu, the white house will think that 12 hours was worth the wait. in fact, let's go to the white house, and joe johns joining us now. we are expecting to hear from the president momentarily. this is what he was waiting for before he makes his way to delaware. >> reporter: our hope is to hear from the president right now. we do have some reporting on that, waiting for it to get cleared. i can tell you that it would be surprising if the president did not talk about this first piece of legislation to pass both the house as well as the united states senate presuming that's what's going to happen here and i think it's also important to say that there are a lot of questions for the president, including one question about the delicate balance that manu was just talking about in the united states senate with the democrats. you've got a 50/50 split. any one democrat going off the reservation means a priority item potentially of the
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president of the united states does not get through. so i'd like to hear from him on that. obviously there were a lot of objections raised during this senate debate about some of the specific things in the bill that republicans say have absolutely nothing to do with covid or helping the economy along. it would be also good to try to get a question or two to the president there but i think this frankly is going to be a good day for the president to come out and speak to the media. he has not done a news conference just yet. hopefully we'll get there at some point. and would love to hear what he has to say today, back to you, fred. >> so, joe, remind us of the efforts that this president made. i mean, you know, decades long student of the senate, he knows how it works and his involvement here. whereas he may not have been able to be successful in getting that bipartisan legislative support. he did sell this package as we
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were just talking moments ago, sold this package as a bipartisan package because republicans and democrats, americans find it very popular. appeasing. this is what they wanted. what was his role in all of this? >> well, that is the argument that's been coming out of the white house and it's been picked up very much by the democrats on the senate side and the argument simply is despite the fact that no republican in the house of representatives voted for this bill and then there was clearly a great deal, if not all of the opposition of the united states senate republican party, nonetheless out in the country, in the cities, in the states, in the districts where these people represent you'll find a lot of folks who really like the idea of what's in this bill. they like the idea of the direct payments. they like the idea of extending unemployment insurance. and so on.
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so the president's argument and the argument that's been made here is to go past the people up on capitol hill and speak directly to those people, even in red state america, even perhaps some old trump supporters to say to them, look, these are the kinds of things that republicans have supported before. in fact, donald trump supported $2,000 payments to americans before he left office. and now you find that virtually all of the republicans up on capitol hill are opposed. so they tried very hard to get that message out to americans. and some of the polling definitely shows that a lot of americans, even republicans, support this bill, fred. >> and then joe, i'm told in my ear that we do have confirmation the president will speak, he does plan to speak today. do you have any insight, intel as to what fashion we expect to hear, is he walking to the helicopter, marine one, or is he
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going to be in the room, what, in a room? >> no, we do not have an indication and that's been a question of some debate going back and forth just how and when the president is going to speak but last week, as you know, he gave a very, very brief statement just seven days ago on saturday, i believe, to camera talking about his essential satisfaction that we did get the bill passed out of the house of representatives, the question is whether he would do something like that again today and keep moving or allow for a few questions which would certainly be something we in the news media at the white house would love to get an opportunity to query him on this bill. >> and manu raju back with us on capitol hill, are you learning anything new? >> we're trying to get a reaction from some of the members here, some of the
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democrats. everyone's pretty much darting out of this building. i went down stairs after i came on with you earlier and virtually everybody is out, leaving, excited to be gone after being in the chamber for more than 13 hours. that was the length of the voting session. one senator, jim imhoff, he didn't sleep at all last night. they're ready to be done with this grueling amendment process. the democrats are feeling emboldened here. they just got a major victory here. there were questions about whether they could get this done. they were able to get it done by keeping together their very fragile coalition. even though this bill is popular it was so difficult for them to keep their party together because of concerns about some of the key elements in here, some of the things that prompted
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a number of people to push back on and that is why they had to go behind the scenes to sort out some of their differences. this has been a large negotiation that's happened privately, a lot of private horse trading to get some members on board. but at the end of the day democrats confident they believe the voters will reward them. republicans think that the view of this will change over time as they think it's just simply not needed. we'll see which calculation is correct, fred. >> big victory, big legislative victory. first legislative victory for this biden administration. again, we expect to hear from the president confirmation he will be taking to the cameras later on this afternoon. his response about the now senate passage of the $1.9 trillion relief package. thanks so much, manu and joe, appreciate it. we're going to take a short break for now. if you wanna be a winner then get a turkey footlong from subway®. that's oven roasted turkey. piled high with crisp veggies. on freshly baked bread! so, let's get out there and get those footlongs. now at subway®, buy one footlong in the app,
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moments ago the u.s. senate voted to pass the $1.9 trillion covid relief bill in a 50-49 vote. joining me is senator tina smith. good to see you, you're probably ready to keel over and take a long nap after an incredibly long night and morning. how are you feeling? >> thank you, great to be with you. i have to tell you i got to the capitol yesterday morning at a little before 9:00 because i was the officer who presided at the senate when we came in yesterday morning so it's been about 30 hours. but the sense of making a real difference for working families in this country was just so palpable on the senate floor and the difference that this is going to make for reopening our
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schools safely, for lifting children out of poverty, for helping families directly recover from this covid pandemic is just going to be so important. >> was there ever a moment where you thought, oh wait a minute, we may not be able to get this done? >> well, as you know we had quite a long open vote yesterday afternoon and we all knew that we were going to get it done though, you know, it is a complicated thing. it should be complicated to put together a package of this scale and of this size but we hung together, we have done something i think that's really important and mostly what's so important about this is that i believe working families in this country will be able to feel it. >> tell me about joe manchin, he was able to suspend things for about 12 hours in his fight for unemployment benefits and provisions. what does this tell you about his prominence, his power, whether this also signifies that
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unity is going to be very difficult for democrats? >> well, look, joe is a fighter. he is a fighter for west virginia. just as we all are in the caucus. we all fought really hard to get pieces into this package that were important to us. you know, i fought really hard to make sure that there was meaningful help for multiemployer pensions that had been teetering on the edge of disaster and that everybody would have access to a free vaccine. we all fought for the things that we cared about and at the end of the day we came together and we passed this bill and that is what matters. >> democratic senators don't vote as a monolithic body but how concerning is it because of the balance of power that all it takes is one, all it takes is one to underscore that you need each other, democrats, in order to advance legislation particularly under this administration? >> well, you know, there are 50
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of us in the democratic caucus. but it was interesting there were just a couple of times today where republicans and democrats joined together to pass bipartisan amendments to this legislation. though unfortunately not a single republican voted for this package. and i think that that is a shame because this package is broadly bipartisan out in the country, even if it's not within the senate chamber. >> is that an indicator to you of what the road ahead is going to be like, regardless of whether the, you know, proposal is popular among the american people, or not, but its party that the gop just exhibited, it is showing its allegiance to? >> that's what it looks like to me and i think that that puts even more responsibility on those of us in the majority in the senate, the narrowest of narrow majorities amongst democrats in the senate to be able to deliver for people. as you can see we don't all agree on everything and there are things in this package i would have done differently myself but it is a significant accomplishment that people are
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going to be able to feel. >> polling has shown that piece of legislation was more than 60%, you know, popularity among americans. >> right. >> democrat or republican. let me ask you, earlier this week you posted on facebook that you thought, you know, you wanted to end the filibuster. do voters select lawmakers based on the demise of the filibuster? does this matter hugely to your voting elect rat? >> you know, i think most people don't have any idea what the rules of the senate are and how they work. i think most senators don't really fully understand how the rules of the senate work. what people care about is whether the senate is able to accomplish things that make a difference in their lives. i think if you ask folks do you know that a majority in the senate actually doesn't rule, that a minority gets to decide what we take up, what we vote on, what actually happens to improve your lives and they would say that's undemocratic,
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and, in fact, it is, and this filibuster has been used for undemocratic purposes for way too long. so i am, you know, the path towards really accomplishing things, i believe, are going to go through making the senate rules work so that we can get things done. >> all right, senator tina smith, thank you so much. and go have a nice big nap now, right, no more coffee, just a big sleep. >> no more coffee, thanks, it's great to be with you. >> thank you so much, appreciate it. still to come the governor of florida accused of playing politics with the coronavirus vaccine, the controversial vaccine drive that has politicians outraged on both sides of the aisle. some people say our trade-in process feels too easy. they can't believe it's 100% online and gives them a competitive offer that won't change for 7 days. an offer that they can put toward their new car.
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organize a covid-19 vaccination site at the upscale lakewood ranch community allowing people from two affluent mostly white zip codes
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to get the shot ahead of 150,000 seniors on the county's waiting list. >> i jumped on it and i'd do it again. >> reporter: she created a vip list that included her own name while fellow commissioners say -- >> i was really ticked off. >> reporter: they were kept in the dark. the move equally angered residents in affluent and not so affluent neighborhoods. >> we're in the wrong z.i.p. code. >> the whole thing snacked of politics, favoritism, elitism and racism. >> reporter: the manatee county sheriff's office is investigating baa after a citizen watchdog filed a complaint with the sheriff's office claiming the commissioner may have broken the law by misusing her public position to benefit herself and others. >> and what does just look like for you? >> accountability. accountability and consequences. that's the way our justice system is. >> reporter: cnn asked baugh for comment on the investigation and did not hear back. while baugh admitted to choosing
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the zip codes -- >> i want to apologize to all the residents who i have disappointed. >> reporter: she said it was governor ron desantis who called rex johnson the ceo of the parent company about setting up a vaccine drive there and that she got involved after he called her for help. sense sen's spokesperson told cnn their involvement in the vaccine drive was only to help identify a site that could accommodate 1,000 people per day. all this begs the question, why would desantis reach out to rex jensen to help distribute the vaccine? i tried asking desantis about it. but he didn't take my question. in a statement to cnn desantis's press office said the state has launched several initiatives to target underserved communities and the insinuation that politics play into vaccine distribution in florida is baseless and ridiculous.
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turns out a similar thing happened at a 55 and over gated community called kings gate which allowed residents of another place called grand palm to get the vaccine. >> i'm an active republican, so i'm a fan of the governor but i think that this could have been done better. >> reporter: what do lakewood ranch, kings gate and grand palm have in common? >> where you live matters. >> reporter: one of the prominent developers is -- patrick neal, showing he donated $125,000 to the friends of ron desantis pac. records show megaconservative donor doe -- also donated $900,000 to the pac during that period. neal communities did not wish to comment on this story but said it was not involved in the lakewood ranch vaccination site. cnn reached out to eulein and did not hear back. >> this doesn't seem fair.
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in fact, it seems grossly unfair. >> reporter: u.s. congressman charlie crist is asking the doj -- whether this benefits political allies and donors. >> i don't think it's an effective political tact to attack me for vaccinating syrians, yes, we are aggressively vaccinating seniors. >> reporter: a mostly hispanic working class city doesn't buy the governor's answer. >> i have not been invited. i'm -- >> reporter: hernandez crashed the grrn's press conference in the city and says he's been trying to talk to desantis since the pandemic started. >> he talks about politics aren't involved. come on. i mean, you know what, give me the vaccine. >> reporter: rosa flores, cnn, manatee county, florida. all right, let's talk more about all of this now with me is dr. bernard ashby. he is a cardiologist in the florida state director of the committee to protect medicare. so good to see you, dr. ashby.
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so, you know, talk to me about your reaction to these accusations that the governor is prioritizing, you know, wealthy, white communities to make sure that they have access to these vaccinations. >> well, fredricka, numbers don't lie. the disproportionate impact of the pandemic has fallen on the shoulders of the poor americans, more floridians in addition to people of color, particularly black folks in america. and as it stands right now, we account -- black folks account for less than 6% of the current amount that are vaccinated. that's a real problem. and we've seen this governor make decision after decision that aligned itself with industry and corporate interests and those of the elite class rather than the community. so from the fact that we don't have mask mandates to the fact that he prevented us from enforcing anything to decrease
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the virus it all has translated into unnecessary deaths and hospitalizations and once i heard this story about him potentially having wealthy folks in key largo jump the line i hit the roof. i mean, i want to be diplomatic about this, but i can't be diplomatic when it comes to life and death. you know, i have patients currently in the hospital. i have patients who i know have passed away, and this is near and dear to my heart. i had a visceral reaction once i heard that. >> and what about -- oh, actually let me ask you to take a pause real quick, go to capitol hill after the u.s. senate has just passed this covid relief plan. here is majority leader chuck schumer. >> okay, thank you for all coming and, look, this is a great day for the country. they need it and now we have fulfilled that promise. now nobody said passing one of the largest, perhaps the most
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significant bill to help the poor and working people in decades was going to be easy, particularly with 50 votes. but it is done. and i said from the beginning we were going to power through. we're not going to let anything stop us. until we got the job done. and by god we did. and here we are. so i want to say one thing. i am so proud of my caucus. i love each one of them. they are just so great. and you know what unites our caucus? everyone knows, especially with 50 votes, we all have to pull together. everyone knows. you know i have a leadership team that meets on monday nights, and it has elizabeth warren and bernie sanders and joe manchin and mark warner and people in between and that's because we all have to -- we have to talk to each other and realize we need each other and be united as a team.
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and that is the secret to the success here. the caucus unifying, every person realizing that we needed every other person to have this victory. sure, it would be nice if the republicans would join us but they didn't. i thought it was a little bit hypocritical of mitch mcconnell to say we did it bipartisan. yeah when trump was president democrats in the minority didn't block things, we worked to get something done. now that we're in the majority they don't seem to want to work with us. but we're going to get it done anyway. we prefer them to work with us. we want them to work with us. maybe they'll change their minds after this. but we're going to get it done regardless because america needs it and that's what we did. so we didn't stop. we didn't let anything get in our way. and i was confident from the get go. i just told that to the president. he called me. and i said i knew we'd get this done, and i so appreciate being
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under joe biden's leadership. he put together a great plan. it was just right, strong and deep, but also very popular so we have the strength to get it done even if we had to do it with just our own 50 votes. so i think this is a very fine day. and one of the things that i feel proudest of is we told the american people in the election campaign, and even in the georgia campaign, that democrats would actually get government to help them, whether it's with checks or vaccines or opening the schools and now we're showing we're keeping our promise. and i think that's going to change america to a decent extent. i think people will have much more faith in government doing things and much more faith that we can get them done. and so i feel very, very good about that. i feel good about the long range here. i feel good about moving on to new victories.
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so i think that's all i'm going to say. and i'll answer your questions. >> you said that you spoke to president biden, have you spoken to speaker pelosi in the last 24 hours or so about the amendments that you all passed? >> our staffs have been in touch and she knows all about them and she wants to pass this bill. >> what happened yesterday morning, and why were you -- why did you not sort out your differences with joe manchin ahead of time and then instead you left open one vote for almost 12 hours? >> people have new differences all the time, but you know what the overwhelming difference is, everyone has to get it done and we're a team. sometimes it takes some discussion, sometimes it takes some work but we don't let our differences stop us from achieving success. >> shouldn't that have been resolved in the front end. >> people come up with different ideas at different times. and we still have to take everyone into account and pull
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together as a team and that's what we did. no one's going to pay attention to the fact that -- or i mean, i don't know, no one. that eight hours is meaningless compared to the relief the american people are going to get and if it helped us get to that, great. unity. unity, unity. that's how we got this done. >> do you expect the house to pass what the senate just passed as is including amendments that may not be as palatable to progressive members? >> the speaker -- i spoke to a number of people in the house over the last few days including the speaker, and they know -- they feel like we do, we have to get this done. it's not going to be everything everyone wants, no bill is, especially a massive comprehensive bill like this but the beauty here, within our caucus, and i think between democrats and the house and senate, is that we all realize we've got to pull together to accomplish something. that's far more important than our differences. that's true of my caucus. and that's true of the house and
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senate democrats. >> so you think the president will be signing it before the march 14th -- >> yes. >> expiration? >> yes, i definitely do. i have no doubt about that, none. and that's what we said, everything we said we'd do, we said we'd put together a strong bold bill, we said we'd put together things that do the things the american people wanted. we said no matter what happens we would not stop and power through and get it done and by god we did. what could be -- what is bad, nothing? yes. >> leader schumer you said a couple times that this would push americans over the finish line of the pandemic. >> yes. >> do you expect this is going to be the last covid relief bill? >> look, it's a very strong bill. part of it will depend on covid. how long will it last, will there be a new strain. part of it will depend on -- the economy has some underlying weaknesses that need bolstering, how deep and weak are those? our number one load star is going to be hepg the american people and if they need more help we'll do another bill.
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if this bill is sufficient, and i think it's going to help in a big way, then we won't do another bill. >> do you have any concerns this could be a parallel to 2010 when democrats pushed forward a stimulus mostly on democratic votes in the senate, straight party line to the house. >> not even the house. this is 75% of the american people who want this, 55% of the republicans want it. that's the bottom line. and, you know, we'll have a job in the next few weeks, joe biden, our caucus, the house, letting the american people know all the important parts of this bill but this is what they asked for. plain and simple. last one. >> but do you believe that perhaps this could make bipartisanship more difficult if republicans -- >> i hope it will make bipartisanship more likely when republicans see -- when we say we want to do it with you but if we can't do it with you we'll do it without you now they know -- now they know we mean it and they know we're capable of doing it.
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now maybe they'll say we'll come together. again, the bottom line, when trump was president democrats didn't sit and fold their hands and say no. now biden's president, we hope they won't continue to do the same thing. anything else i'm leaving out? thanks, everybody. >> what are your priorities next week? >> i said at the beginning we could do all three things at once, an impeachment trial, that's done. next week, as i just put on the calendar, merrick calendar, marcia fudge and the epa nominee and then later in the week we'll do howland and another nominee. next week we're focusing on nominees. we've only had the new congress and the new president for a little over a month. we passed one of the most important pieces of legislation in decades. we've done an impeachment trial which showed the person people what trump was really like. and we're putting -- we're filling up of his cabinet. we're getting a lot done. i'm proud of my caucus, i
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love -- i truly love my caucus, every one of them. >> including joe manchin? >> yes, absolutely, everyone, everyone, i love bernie. we love -- you know, you have to look for -- at people for what they're -- look for the good in people and if we couldn't all come together we wouldn't get this done. any one of us could not had it done. okay? so i am -- i have nothing bad to say in answer to your question about any single member of my caucus. how could you when you got 50 votes? and by the way all those tough amendments, they tried to put all those logs in our path, on every single important vote every democrat voted to block those amendments. they tried to trick us and everything else. that's an amazing testments to this caucus. every single vote. you saw the votes they put forward, not once did anyone dissent on any important vote and the few dissents, they came to us and it was okay because it wasn't a killer amendment or we didn't need their vote. it was great. >> did you make a seriourt

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