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tv   White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain Discusses Coronavirus Response with...  CSPAN  March 10, 2021 9:36am-10:01am EST

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foreign policy agenda. watch the house foreign affairs committee live at 1:30 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. thursday a look at reliability of the u.s. electric grid, the senate energy and natural resources hearing begins at 10:00 eastern also on c-span 3. >> white house chief of staff ron klain talked about the chief administration's coronavirus responsible with punchbowl news, this about a half hour. >> i'm joined by fellow founder, jake, and we're thrilled it kick off punchbowl's focused on president biden first 100 days. a big thank you for edelman for making this possible. we want to bring you close to a key decision maker in joe
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biden's washington. we're going to be joined by chief of staff ron klain to discuss the covid relief package and what's on the agenda and more. and the edelman's ceo will join us for a fireside chat. a reminder we'd love you to share any insights or big moments on twitter. we'll be taking questions, feel free to tweet us at punch bowl news. >> anna, thank you for having me. >> thank you mr. chief of staff for joining us. a quick 15 seconds, maybe more depending how generous we feel, and about what congress is about to pass in the next 24 hours, the 1.9 trillion american relief-- rescue plan, arp trying to set the tone for the recovery. what have you learned about congress in these last, let's
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call it, you know, less than 90 days since you've taken office. >> yeah, look, jake, i think what we've learned is that congress can do big things to help this country. that's what the american rescue plan is. it's a massive effort to beat this virus, and to get our economy moving again. we spent a year fighting this virus from behind with half measures, with without national strategy or resources to implement the national strategy, we are where we are. so president biden, even before he became president put this plan in front. country and said this is what i need to crush the virus torques get the economy moving. we're thrilled that congress in less than 50 days, has taken this large package and has passed it pretty much intact, the way the president asked for it. i think it's a very significant piece of legislation. it helps with our fight against covid, it helps the middle class. it will help us get our schools open and reduces child poverty and helps small businesses and lower people's health insurance premiums all the things we need
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to do to turn this economy around. >> one thing that did fall out of the bill is a $15 minimum wage. what is your plan to get a hike approved. i know it's a huge priority for progressives. do you think the president would be open to less than $15 if it would mean getting to a deal? look it, our focus is fight for 15. president obama-- president biden campaigned on it, that's what we're going to work on. we are going to talk to our allies and democrats, and hopefully even some republicans in the senate about how to do that. the raise the wage act, the principal vehicle for that does phase in over time, i think it's a five or six year phase-in. we are going to look how things pass the. the president likes to say people should not work full-time and be in poverty.
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to raise the minimum wage. >> i have not heard of any republicans willing to raise it to 15. maybe your persuasive power could get them out of the woodward work, is a raise better than-- it phases in, 11 after a year and upward from there, that's better presumably to get people something at the front end? >> well, look, jake, our position is the minimum wage should be $15. that's what we stand for, phased in over time. that's what we're going to fight for, and so, obviously, we had a procedural problem with it on the bill and we need to go back to the drawing board with a strategy to move it forward and that's what we're going to do. on that point, so you're governing with the congress with bernie sanders and joe manchin and we like to say in punchbowl news, joe manchin's vote is just as important as bernie sanders, perhaps more.
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and 50 days in what it's like governing a democratic caucus in the senate with bernie sanders and joe manchin? >> it's funny, i'm a long time senate staffers. i love senator sanders, i love senator manchin and enjoy my conversations with both of them. they both have different points of view. all are democrats in the senate and i hope more and more republicans recognize this country needs action to beat this virus to deal with the economic crisis and to go from there. and so i'm happy to work with any senator in either party that wants to help president biden move this country forward. a senator sanders was incredibly helpful on passing this rescue packagement 0 i believe, as the chairman of the senate budget committee he was a key player in bringing this package to the floor through reconciliation process. and of course, senator manchin was critical to delivering those votes to get us over the hump. a lot of senators played key roles. senator schumer, senator wyden
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on the finance committee and i can go down the list. obviously, it's a challenge to keep 50 democrats united and grateful that senator schumer did that on behalf of the president, working with the caucus. we're going to continue to work with every member of the senate, democrat and republican, to move america's agenda forward. >> let's talk about that. the challenges going forward are clear. you were able to keep those 50 democrats in the senate together and nancy pelosi was able to keep her caucus largely intact, which is a pretty phenomenal feat on a massive bill. going forward it's going to be harder. the white house has been hesitant to talk about specifically what's next on the legislative agenda. give us your top three legislative calls for 2021. how do you actually sequence this to continue to get wins like you've started so strong on? >> first of all, aim he going to let the president announce what's next when he's ready to announce what's next. the way for me to shorten my tenure as chief of staff is to
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get ahead of him which i'm not going to do. ing we've done in the 48 days we've been here promised to do as president. we promised to tackle the virus and and then it's build backback, not back in the rescue phase, but recovery phase, strengthening around infrastructure and i'll let the president roll it out when he's ready to roll it out. i hope in the next phase we can get some bipartisan support. the thing about the rescue plan is, that it had bipartisan support in the country, republican voters, republican mayors, republican governors, republican business leaders, so, we are never going to stop working to try to get those republicans in the country joined by republicans here in washington. you know, we need the republicans in the 20510 and--
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and the zip codes to join with other zip codes, that's something we'll continue to work on here as we move our agenda forward. >> let me ask you on that point, i mean, the many components of this bill had republican support in the previous congress when donald trump was president. not short changing what you did because it was a big victory, almost everything in here has been voted on before. do you think they-- and i assume you think, i don't want to put word in your mouth, you think it was just because joe biden was president and they didn't want to give him a victory early on? >> it's not a question of putting words in my mouth, but words in their mouth. i'll let them explain why they voted know. >> i know why we proposed to plan and the people who voted against it can characterize their own votes. >> so, let's talk about a couple of priorities that joe biden was big on on the campaign trail, immigration reform, gun control, election overhaul, i mean, these are a lot of big agenda united states
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that -- agenda items you're not going to get if the filibuster is not blown up. you can see that none of those things are going to get done unless the filibuster is blown up. what do you say to the democratic base that expects it of this congress? >> look, we're going to work on these problems. i'm not going to concede any of this. we've been through 47 days-- >> i'll concede for-- it's not going to get done unless you blow up the filibuster. >> maybe you and i should switch jobs. in 47 days we've made history almost every day, the first lgbtq member of the cabinet. the retaining the rescue plan, the paris plan. we are going to continue to make progress for the mrn
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people, that's our goal and what we are going to do and what we've done so far and continue to press forward on. >> so far you've been able to keep progressives pretty much at bay or on your side, you had senator sanders, senator warren, a lot of them coming out and praising this bill as the biggest thing since obamacare, but immigration reform, there's clearly strong agitation and desire to have something happen, there's a crisis down at the border in terms of separation of children from their family. how do you propose dealing with that, is that going to be a piecemeal approach, the way forward or based on the context of politics in washington right now or you actually think there could be a bigger bill here? >> we're not separating children from their families at the border. we have unaccompanied children coming here, presenting themselves at the border, but the biden administration is not doing what the trump administration did and separating families when they
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arrive. to your broader question, immigration is a challenge, we have a system broken for a long time and prior presidents tried to fix it and unable to fix it. that's why day one we sent an immigration bill to congress on joe biden first day in the white house. we know it's hard to fix a system that's been broken this longment, but i will say, you hear some republicans say they want to be part of immigration reform. we know that a lot of the basics, as jake alluded to before when we talk about the rescue plan, a lot of the basics here are things that are common sense. things that we need to do. so we're going to work with the congress and try to move immigration reform forward. i think it's absolutely vital. we have more than 11 million people in this country living in the shadows. many of them been here many, many years. the dreamers here, brought here as children. we need to fix these problems as part of a long overdue piece of business in this country. >> now, on immigration reform
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for one second or policy. the democrat-- criticism from both sides of the aisle on these detention facilities, call them what you want to call them, on the border, on the u.s.-mexico border. are those criticisms fair? >> look, i think we inherited a real mess, we inherited the facilities we have. we are commit today a that policies that follow the rule of law and it's humane. and we are a dog our-- we are doing our best and particularly children arriving without parents, to house them in a way that's humane and sponsors willing to take them in this this country. that takes time and not something you can do overnight. >> how many time do you think you need. how much time is fair to give in administration to get these policies in order? >> well, look, jake, i hope people will look at what we're trying to do, and judge us
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based on our actions. i think that we're open for suggestions, ideas. it's a hard problem, i'm not going to deny that this is one of the most vexing problems that we face and it's a-- it is a very difficult situation, but i will tell you, we had some of the president's senior advisors down there over the weekend. we are focused on this like a laser. i think secretary mayorakis is doing the job, and we need the overseer of office of refugee resettlement and notwithstanding his name, an office of asylum seeking people resettlement, also. we need the right leadership at hhs, to help solve this problem, but we're working on it. >> all right, i want to shift gears a little bit. let' talk about omb, the domination has been pulled and we included neera as part of your future on punchbowl news
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and features on biden's administration in the first 100 days, will she have a part. >> we're looking-- she will not be senate confirmed in the president's cabinet, but the president thinks that neera is-- we'll find a role to bring the talents to bear. in the meantime, we've nominated shah-- shalonda young and the president will pick someone to fill the seat left vacant by neera's withdrawal. >> house democratic leaders have pushed for shalonda young to be-- >> you may have heard that. >> i'm sorry, i could not hear your questions, anna. >> are you not moved by that request by democrats. i've never seen democratic leaders in unison push for
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someone for a president. >> and even more, president biden pushed for herfore number two post. she's a serious candidate for the lead position. but our goal is to get the key chairs filled. and that's focusing on agencies where we have cabinet nominees and no deputies in place, we're making progress in the senate this week and we're supposed to get three cabinet members confirmed tomorrow. again, i think the most urgent way to fill our needs is to get her confirmed as deputy and let the president have who the nominee would be. and i think she would be on the least, tremendously talented person. great to have her on the team. she's definitely under consideration for the top post. >> let's talk-- we're quickly running out of
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final. the white house will not see it's at top property and everybody else in town think it's a top priority. should we expect an infrastructure bill that's a trillion dollars 0 or more? >> i hate to repeat, the president will introduce his infrastructure bill when he's ready to. we're doing the way we campaigned. the president ran on build back better and there was infrastructure in manufacturing and care giving and you should see that as part of the next things we are doing. i'll let the president announce the timing and the size and the scope, but america has huge infrastructure-- one reason why everyone is talking about because everyone knows it's a big problem. it is a bipartisan problem. we have' had republicans at the white house, the house, the senate tell us they also share, if not exactly the same way we
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would do it, an idea that we need to do something big on infrastructure so i'm cautiously optimistic that we can find a path forward on infrastructure that is substantial, that is bipartisan. >> can you-- let me just drill a little more on that. infrastructure means a lot of things to a lot of people. can we dig in on that a little bit? how do you view infrastructure? itch -- i've seen this mres serious efforts with john boehner and paul ryan not as commit today infrastructure as you seem to be at this point. how do you view this holistically. >> look, i think that we view infrastructure as the kind of investment this country needs to get ready to succeed to beat china in the global economy to create the kind of jobs we need, not just building the infrastructure, but then the jobs that that infrastructure powers in terms of bringing powers, products to market. it includes things as the president said, like hundreds of thousands of charging
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stations for the new generation of electrical vehicles that are going to be on the road here in the years to come. it includes investments in power transmission for clean power, it obviously includes things like roads and bridges and all of these thingsment, but we need a 21st century infrastructure to compete in a 21st century global economy and i think that's at the top of joe biden's agenda. way back in january we laid out the rescue plan, he said rescue first and then recovery, and a key part of recovery is being globally competitive. and the structure is a key part. >> can before we let you go, when will the president give an address? a lot of people are wondering why it's taking so long. >> i think we wanted this rescue plan first and then go to the country and explain the plan and i think after that you'll see him work with congress on a joint address, it's appropriate for covid and all of these other-- the times we're living in.
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>> all right, ron klain, white house chief of staff. thank you so much for your time this evening, we really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> thanks, ron. >> well, now we'd like to welcome lisa ross edelman's u.s. coo to join us to are a fireside chat in the virtual world to talk about our conversation with ron klain. how democrats are approaching the new washington and more. lisa, thanks so much for joining us. >> all right, anna, good to see you, jake. before we get started i'm afraid i'll forget, congratulations, great job. i remember the first time i met you and i was super struck and impressed with your composure and your willingness to hear diverse points of view and your balance and i'm happy to see it here at punchbowl. best of lucky to you. >> thanks, appreciate it. well, we have a lot to unpack there. we pressed mr. klain on many issues. but i'll leave it up to you first. a couple of things that stuck out to me. lisa, what's your top line,
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what's your take away from hearing him about 50 or so days into this white house? >> i was stuck by his competency. i was struck by his humility. i was struck and i think because it's such a contrast that what we've seen not just in the trump administration, but other administrations as well and as a former appointee, i couldn't stop thinking about three things, one was what they have been able to do in this short period of time. time, in the green room we said that for them, this is very, very much like the passage of obamacare, this is huge and to be able to do this in such a short period of time. so, you know, experience matters. being prepared matters. competency matters and i think the way they came in was pretty amazing and you know, just short of his description of i'm a staffer and i'm here to-- which is very much, you know, jake you were pushing him on
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this. it wasn't quite as feisty as the oprah interview, but you were getting there. >> no one has ever accused me of being nearly as good as oprah. i think she has many legs up on me in that category, to be honest with you. >> well-- you served in the clinton white house so you have-- you have a history of being a staffer, right. i mean, how do you think-- how do you think joe biden-- and by the way, everyone is a staffer besides joe biden, which is the ultimate kind much easterny. >> -- irony and-- >> and it's true, but not everybody knows that. >> that's true. i mean, how do you view-- so if you zoom back a little bit and think about your experience and biden-- and just how obama governed, how trump governed and how clinton governed.
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what's your take away. >> he's good, he's ready. the administration is ready. the people that he's hired are ready. i'll tell you though because it did make me think about my days as a staffer and for me, one of the things that really resonated was the day of the inauguration when president biden did the virtual swearing in of appointees and i think for everyone who has served in this capacity, it was a meaningful moment, but when he set the tone for his administration, we will be honest, we will be as transparent, we will be forthright and he didn't use the word shenanigans which i was happy about, he said if i don't see you living up to the values that we believe in, i will fire you on the spot. i don't know if you remember that, but he said i will fire you on the spot and he has or he's called for resignation is. and i think what struck me as an appointee was him and the
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administration as an employer and the things that you have to do to make sure that people understand what the expectations are, they understand we are all staffers for the american people and not for the president, but all staffers for the american people and this clear vision about this is where we're going and come hell or high water we're going to bring people along, but we're going to get there. that's what struck me. >> one. things that i kind of take from this conversation is, you know, they had such big problems that they're trying to solve, immigration reform, which we pressed him on, minimum wage, think about-- >> we're leaving the last few minutes of this program to keep our over 40 year commitment to congressional coverage. you can finish watching at and the u.s. senate is about to gavel in, biden nominations, they'll recess for their weekly party caucus lunches.
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after lunch lawmakers will vote for merrick garland to be the next u.s. attorney general and votes whether to limit debate and michael reagan to lead the epa. live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, you are our fortress. thank you for surrounding us with your walls of goodness, mercy, and love. even when overwhelmed, we remain confident.


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