tv White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain Discusses Coronavirus Response with... CSPAN March 9, 2021 10:07pm-10:40pm EST
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text messages and tweets. >> white house chief of staff ron klain talked about the administration's coronavirus response efforts with punch bowl news founders anna palmer and jake sherman. this is about half an hour. anna: good evening. i'm anna palmer, a founder of punch bowl news. i'm joined by cofounder jake sherman at we are pleased to take part in a three-part virtual series focused on joe biden's first 100 days. a big sponsor to edelman for sponsoring these events and making them possible. we want to bring you closer to a key decision-maker in joe biden's washington and tonight we are joined by white house chief of staff ron klain to discuss the covid relief package, what is next on the agenda, and more. after our conversation with ron klain, lisa ross will join us for a fireside chat.
a reminder, we would love you to share insights on twitter and we will take your question, so feel free to tweet us @punchbowl news. jake: thank you for joining us. congress is about to pass in the next 24 hours the $1.9 trillion american rescue plan, arp, trying to set the tone for the recovery. would have you learned about congress in these last less that 90 days since you have taken office? ron: we have learned congress can do big things to help this country. that is what the american rescue plan is, a massive rescue plan to beat the fires and get our economy. we spent a year fighting this
virus from behind with half measures, without a national strategy, without the resources to implement a national strategy, so we are where we are. president biden, even before he became president, put this plan in front of the country and said this is what i need to crush the virus, to get the economy moving. we are thrilled congress and less than 50 days has taken this large package and passed it too much intact the way the president asked for it. -- basket pretty much intact, the way the president asked for. it helps the fight against covid, help the middle class, will get schools open, helps poverty, helps the middle-class, helps childcare health premiums -- helps health premiums, all the things we need to do to turn the country around. anna: what is your plan to get a minimum wage hike approved? you think the president would be
open to less than $50 if it would mean a deal? ron: our focus is on the fight for 15 dollars. president biden campaign on it. that is what we are going to work on. you're going to talk to allies, democrats and even republicans in the senate about how to do that. the rays the wage act, the principal vehicle for that act doesn't phase in over time, a five or six year phase in. we are but to look at how we can get this passed. the president likes to say people should not work full-time and be in poverty. we need to raise the minimum wage. jake: i'm going to push you on that, because i have not met any republicans willing to raise it to 15 dollars. maybe your persuasive powers will get them out of the. is no minimum wage increase better -- is it better to get something? if the kestrel $11 after a year
and upwards from there? that is better, -- if it gets to $11 after a year, and upwards from there? is that better? ron: we stand for $15 minimum wage phased in over time. that is what we are going to fight for. we had a procedural problem on it with this bill. we go back to the drawing board with a legislative strategy that moves that forward. that is what we are going to do. jake: you are governing a congress with bernie sanders and joe manchin. one thing we like to say at punchbowl news is that joe manchin's vote is as important as bernie sanders' vote. what is it like in the senate with bernie and joe? ron: i am a longtime senate suffer -- senate staffer. i love bernie sanders and i love
joe maddonchin, -- love joe manchin, and i love my conversations with both of them. this country needs action to beat the virus, deal with economic crisis and go from there. so i am happy to work with any senator of either party who wants to help president biden move the country forward. senator sanders was incredibly helpful passing the rescue package. as chairman of senate budget, he was a key player in bringing the package to the floor through the reconciliation process. and senator manchin was critical in getting us over the hump. a lot of senator played key roles. senator schumer, the leader, senator wyden on the finance committee, i could go down the list. it is a chalice to keep 50 democrats united and i am grateful senator schumer did that on behalf of the president with his caucus. we are going to work with every
senator to move america's agenda forward. anna: let's talk about that, challenges going forward are clear. you were able to keep 50 democrats in the senate together and nancy pelosi was able to keep her caucus largely intact, and incredible feat on such a massive bill, but going forward is going to be even harder. we want to talk about what is next on the legislative agenda, your three top legislative goals for 2021, and how you sequence this to get wins like you started so strong on? ron: i would let the president announce what is next when he is ready. a way for me to shorten my tenure as chief of staff is to get ahead of him, which i am not going to do. i will say, everything we have done in the 48 days we have been here has been what he promised to do as a candidate for president. he promised to tackle the virus and economy first. we then said we would tilt back better.
that meant trying to restore the economy to where it should be, not just a rescue phase, but a recovery phase where we strengthen the economy around infrastructure, manufacturing, other things. the president will roll it out when we are ready to roll it out. i really hope in the next phase we can get some bipartisan support. the thing of the rescue plan is, it had bipartisan support in the country. republican voters, republican mayors, republican business leaders, so we are never going to stop working trying to get republicans in the country joined by republicans here in washington. we need republicans in our zip codes to join republicans in other zip codes and that is something we are going to continue to work on as we move forward. jake: on that point, many components of this bill at republican support in the previous congress when donald trump was president.
i am not sure changing what you guys did, because it was a big victory, but all most everything in here has been voted on before. and i assume you think, i don't want to put words in your mouth, but do you think it was just because joe biden was president and they didn't want to give him a victory? ron: it is not putting words in my mouth, it is a question of putting words in their mouths. i will let them explain why they voted no. i know wipe. we proposed this plant. i know why the people who voted d for it voted for the plant. people voted against it can characterize their own votes. jake: let's talk about priorities of joe biden on the campaign trail, immigration reform, gun control, big legislative items you are not to get if the filibuster is not blown up. how do you manage expectations? i think you would concede none of those things are going to get done unless the filibuster is loan up. -- is blown up.
what you say to the democratic base? ron: i am not going to concede anything right now. we have been through 47 days. jake: i will concede it for you. these things are not going to get done without killing the filibuster. ron: maybe we should switch jobs. i am not going to say that at this stage. we have been here 47 days and have made history almost every day, whether that is with the first openly lgbtq member of the president's cabinet for the first woman secretary of treasury or the american rescue plan, rejoining paris, any of the many things we have done. we are going to continue to make progress for the american people. that is what we are going to do. that's what we have done so far. that is what we are going to press forward on. anna: you have been able to keep progressives at bay or on your side. you have senator sanders, senator warren, coming out, praising this bill as the
biggest thing since obamacare. but immigration reform, there is education and desire to have something happen, with the crisis at the border in terms of separation of children from their families. how do you propose dealing with that? is echoing to be a piecemeal approach or just -- is that going to be a piecemeal approach based on the context of what is going on in washington? ron: i have to disagree. we are not separating children from their families at the border. we have unaccompanied children presenting themselves at the border, but the biden administration is not doing what the trump administration did in separating families. i want to be clear on that. but immigration is a big challenge at we have a system that has been broken for a long time. prior presidents have tried and been unable to fix it. that is one reason why we started on day one and sent an immigration bill to congress on joe biden's first day in the
white house. we know it is hard to fix a system that has been broken this long. some republicans say they want to be part of immigration reform. we know a lot of the basics are things that are common sense, things we need to do. we are going to work with congress, try to move immigration reform forward, we think it is vital. we have more than 11 million people in this country living in the shadows, many who have been here for many years we have dreamers who were brought here as children. we need to fix these problems as part of a long-overdue piece of business in this country. jake: on immigration policy, criticism from both sides of the aisle on detention facilities on the border, the u.s.-mexico border. our criticisms fair -- are they
criticisms -- are the criticisms fair? ron: we inherited a real mess. we are committed to a policy that follows the law and is humane. we are doing our best for the children who arrive here without parents, to house them in a way that is safe, in a way that is humane, and help ultimately reunite them with either family they have in this country or sponsors willing to take them in in this country. that takes time. that is not something you can do overnight. jake: how much time do you need, how much time is it fair to get this administration to get these policies in order? ron: i hope people will look at what we are trying to do and judge us based on our actions. we are also looking for suggestions. i am not going to deny that this is one of the most vexing
problems we face. but we had senior advisors there over the weekend that are focused on this like laser. sec. mayorkas is doing a great job trying to get this going in the right direction. we need secretary becerra confirmed, he oversees the office of refugee settlement which is also an office of asylum-seeking people to be resettled. we need the right leadership at hhs to solve this problem, but we are working on it. anna: let's talk about omb. neera tanden,'s -- neera tanden's nomination has been pulled. will she have an official role in the biden administration? ron: yes, she will. we are looking at a spot for her. she will not be in the cabinet, but the president thinks nee
ra is incredibly talented and we will find a role for her in the administration to bring those talents to bear. we nominated shalonda young to be deputy omb director and hope the senate will confirm her lien got her in the chair so she can be acting omb director. and the president will pick someone to fill the seat left vacant by the withdrawal. anna: how's democratic leaders publicly pushed for shalonda young to be permanent omb director. so far, no dice. are you not moved by that request by democrats? i have never seen democratic leaders in unison pushed somebody for a position like this. ron: we are definitely moved by it, but even more, the president himself picked shalonda for the number to post at the omb. that is a sign of the great respect we have for her, she is certainly a very serious candidate for the lead position at omb.
but right now, our goal is to get the key chairs filled urgently. that means focusing the senate on agencies where we have cabinet nominees. we are supposed to get three cabinet members confirmed tomorrow. the most urgent way to fill our needs at omb is to get shalonda confirmed as deputy, then the president will have an announcement about the nominee. i think shalonda is on that list. she is a normatively talented. we are grateful to have her as part of the team, as she is definitely under consideration for the top post. jake: i want to talk about infrastructure which, even though the white house will concede it is the top right your tea, everyone else in town seems to think it is the top priority, you know how the echoes. should we ask -- you know how that goes. should we expect an infrastructure bill that is $1
trillion or more? ron: the president will announce his infrastructure bill when he is ready. we have governed how we campaign. i don't think there have been big surprises in 48 days. the president ran an agenda on build back better, which included a substantial investment in infrastructure and you should expect to see that come forward from us as part of the things we are doing. i will let the president announced the timing and the size and scope, but america has a huge infrastructure. one reason everybody is talking about it is that it would knows it is a big problem, a bipartisan problem. we have republicans tell us that they also share, if not exactly the same way we want to do it, an idea that we need to do something big on infrastructure. i am cautiously optimistic we can find a path forward on infrastructure that is substantial, that is bipartisan. jake: let me drill down a little
more because infrastructure means different things to different people. how do you view infrastructure? i have seen less serious efforts , to be sure, and john boehner and paul ryan were not as committed as you guys seem to be. how do you view this realistically? ron: we view infrastructure is the investment this country needs to beat china in the global economy, creating jobs, and the jobs the infrastructure powers in terms of ringing products to market. it includes hundreds of thousands of charging stations for the new generation of electric vehicles that are going to be on the road. it includes investments in transmission for clean power, it includes roads and bridges and all these other things, but we need a 21st century
infrastructure to compete. and that is at the top of joe biden's agenda. in january, when he laid out the rescue plan he said rescue first, then recovery and a key part of recovery is being globally competitive and infrastructure is a key part of being globally competitive. anna: can you give us any sense of when the president will give a joint address to congress? people are wondering why it is taking so long. ron: we wanted to get through the rescue plan first and get it passed. then we are going to go to the country, take a couple weeks to explain the plan. shortly after that, you will see him work with congress on a joint address that is appropriate for covid and the times we are living in. anna: ron klain, white house chief of staff, thank you. we appreciate it. now, we welcome lisa ross, element's u.s. ceo for a
fireside chat to talk about our conversation with ron klain, how democrats are approaching the new washington, and more. lisa, thanks for joining us. lisa: thank you, anna and jake. before i got, congratulations. when i met you, i was struck your composure and willingness to hear diverse points of view. i and -- and i am happy to see you here at punchbowl. anna: thank you. we appreciate it. we pressed ron klain on many issues. a couple things stood out to me, but what is your top line? what was your take away hearing from him about 50 days into this white house? lisa: i was struck i his competency. i was struck by his humility.
and i think because it is such a contrast to what we have seen, not just in the trump administration, but other administrations as well create as a former tea, i couldn't stop thinking about things. one was what they have been able to do in this short time. from the green room, we said for them, this is very like the passage of obama care. this is huge. at to be able to do this in such a short time, experience matters. being prepared matters. competency matters. in the way they came in was amazing. that just his description, i am a staffer, and i am here. and jake, you were pushing him, it wasn't as spicy as the oprah interview. but you were getting there. jake: [laughter] no one has ever accused me of being nearly as good as oprah. lisa: it is going to go to your head.
jake: you served in the clinton white house, and you have a history of being a staffer. how do you think joe biden -- and by the way, everyone is a staffer for joe biden. [laughter] lisa: it is true, but not everybody knows that. jake: if you zoom back and think about your experience, and how obama governed, how trump governed, how biden is governing and how clinton governed, what is your general take away? lisa: he is good. he is ready. the administration is ready. the people he has hired are ready. i will tell you, it did make me think about my days as a staffer and for me, one of the things
that resonated was the day of the inauguration, when president biden did the virtual swearing in of appointees. i think for everyone who served in this capacity, it was a very meaningful moment. but when he set the tone for his administration, we will be honest, we will be transparent, we will be forthright, and he didn't use the word shenanigans, but he said, if i don't see you living up to the values that we believe in, i will fire you on the spot. he said i will fire you on the spot. and he has, or has called for resignations. what struck me as an appointee was him and the administration as an employer, and the things you have to do to make people understand what the expectations are. they understand we are all staffers for the american people, not the president, for the american people, and this clear vision about, this is
where we are going and come hell or high water, we are going to bring people along, but we are going to get there. anna: one thing that struck me from the conversation is, they have such big problems, immigration reform, think about minimum wage, green new deal, all kinds of issues that have really been at loggerheads but man, this congress is going to be tough for them. they were able to keep it together because it was his first priority. no president has more capital than when they first come into office. you give advice to the private sector, corporate america is agitating on a of these issues to get something done. how optimistic are you, given what he said and the feelings that some of these things, infrastructure, something we tried to push them on, could actually get done? lisa: i am optimistic, but also
worried and concerned. we have a great need for this administration to succeed from a business perspective. i know you follow our edelman trust barometer, we released it in january. one thing that emerged this year was terrifying. and that was, the first time ever, the global community is trusted american business. you know what that does to our economy? that hurts. i have to have confidence that this administration is going to deliver because the inference for that trust is, for global partners who feel poorly about the government, don't trust of the government, that lands on business and hurts our ability to succeed and thrive in a global economy. so i am confident almost because i have to be. but also, president biden gives
you a sense of competence like, i've got this. yeah, i've got this. and that gives him competence, whether you personally like him, whether you are a democrat or a republican, but he is a sage. and that comes across. jake: you answered this partially and i want to drill down more. there are so many priorities corporate america has, i hear about it all the time, immigration reform, there is a million. give us a couple things that you hear the most from clients, and what are the biggest things you think of when you have to sit down and think of, this is what corporate america is really concerned about. what is it? lisa: corporate america is worried about infrastructure. look at texas. corporate america is worried about social and racial equity, because it has a huge impact on
our employee base and on our customer base. corporate america is worried about the pandemic. it was not funny, but during the summer, richard and i might be on any number of calls with global ceos with a set agenda and before we could do anything they were like hey, what is going on over there, what in god's name are you people doing? it was embarrassing. and it had a really negative impact. corporate america is looking for stability, innovation, creativity. esd remains a really big issue -- esg remains a really big issue. the problems government has get in the way of what business is supposed to do and if the government is not working together, you cannot have a civil and safe and productive society. anna: one thing jake and i remarked upon with this administration that is so
different from the trump administration is the competency, people who have been in the position before, a return to regular order. but we have seen when they were left these big lands, companies lined up, from associations to downtowns, to chairman of committees and there is a real sense that there is this almost firewall when they put something out. and i assume for you all, that must be one of the benefits that you are starting to see, whether it is infrastructure or some of these other issues, that there is going to be some kind of return to the process, this is where we weigh in, this is how we pull back, this is how we try to shape things. in my reading that right? lisa: absolutely. chaos is distractive. where you sit on your political structure him -- your political spectrum, i don't know, but chaos is distractive.
president biden, regardless of whether you agree, gives you a sense that we can work together, make a difference together, and we are also working for the american people and looking for a way to increase jobs, increase opportunity, increase access across the board. and business feels they have a partner with this administration in order to deliver on those things. anna: we are unfortunately out of time, but i want to thank you so much, lisa, for spending a few minutes to get a read on the reaction to our conversation with white house chief of staff ron klain, as well as the business community is handling the biden administration in these early days. thank you for your support and thank you, edelman, for sponsoring these conversations. we are going to be back march 24 at 5:00 p.m. with another conversation on how washington is changing with more women and more women of color rising in
the ranks on capitol hill, the biden administration and on k street. join is then and in the meantime, follow us on social media channels at punch bowl -- punchbolt news. thank you, and stay safe. >> good night. thank you so much. >> coming up wednesday, the house is back at 9:00 a.m. eastern to debate and vote on the 1.9 trillion dollars covid relief package. if passed, the legislation adds to president biden for his signature. on c-span2, the senate returns at an :00 a.m. on the nomination of marcia fudge as housing secretary, merrick garland as attorney general and michael regan as epa administrator. on c-span3, the foreign relations committee means at 9:45 a.m. eastern to vote on state department nominees wendy
sherman and brian mckeon and a discussion on democracy around the world with madeline albright. at one: 30 p.m., antony blinken testifies about the biden administration foreign policy agenda. more worldwide coverage on our website. the senate environment committee is looking for ways to address climate change in the energy sector. the house small business committee meets to consider next steps in the paycheck protection loan program established by congress one year ago, in the early stages of the pandemic. at 3:00 p.m., the senate judiciary subcommittee examines whether special-interest groups have influence on federal courts. you will find those hearings dreaming live at c-span.org. >> visit c-span's new online store at c-span shop.org to
check out new c-span products. and with the 117th congress in session, we are taking preorders for the c-span directory. every purchase supports c-span nonprofit operations. shop today at c-spanshop.org. >> the senate judiciary committee held the confirmation hearing for deputy attorney general dominique lisa monico and vanita gupta. they previously served at the justice department under the obama administration. they answered questions about domestic policing and drug criminalization.
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