On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) New York
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden, Director, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases
- Sen. Cory Booker, (D) New Jersey
- Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on FACE THE NATION: The standoff between Democrats on Capitol Hill continues, and our COVID death toll reaches a grim new milestone.
Last week was a revealing look into Washington’s ways, as Democratic budget battles reached new lows and tensions within the party are at new highs.
House progressives, backed by the president, won this round, as they blocked a vote on that trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August with bipartisan support. It’s not that they don’t like it. They’re holding it up until all Democrats get on board with a massive $3.5 trillion bill devoted to spending for social programs and climate change.
Moderate Democrats in the Senate, like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, say that’s a price tag that’s too high.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not giving out money. This is not spending. This is investing. And this is building the state that we both love.
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BRENNAN: And they’re both feeling the heat from the left.
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SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): And all they need do is, we have to elect more — I guess, for them to get theirs, elect more liberals.
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BRENNAN: So is President Biden. He spent the week huddling with Democrats in Washington and announced he’s going on a road trip to sell his proposals.
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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had hurricanes and floods, and we had little things like — anyway, a lot was going on. A lot was going on.
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BRENNAN: The president says he’s been busy, but promised a new focus on his domestic agenda.
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BIDEN: “Biden has vowed he’s going to do this.”
Biden is going to work like hell to make sure we get both these passed. And I do think we will get them passed.
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BRENNAN: Can he unite the party and fix the mess that’s become the subject of late-night jokes?
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UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Can’t we compromise on anything? Isn’t something better than nothing?
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BRENNAN: The real Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be here, and we will ask her that very question.
Plus, New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker on prospects for police reform. He will respond to our interview last week with South Carolina Republican Tim Scott.
And although Delta variant cases are finally starting to slow, West Virginia is in crisis. We will talk West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, Dr. Anthony Fauci and former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
It’s all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
These are interesting times here in Washington. We’re used to the political battles being back-and-forths between Republicans and Democrats, but, today, we find ourselves in an increasingly polarized debate between Democrats, the factions within the party, the progressives or liberals, and the moderates.
We asked some of the key moderates on both sides of Congress to join us this morning, and they didn’t take us up on our invitation.
But we do begin today with a key progressive, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Congresswoman, it is great to have you here in studio.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Great to be here. Thank you.
BRENNAN: So, you have this standoff right now.
How real is the risk that the Democrats end up with nothing?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I know that — you know, I believe that the entire party is committed in delivering for this country.
And I know that our caucus, the House Democratic Caucus, is entirely focused on delivering for this country. But I think the question that we’re having right now, and the reason why we are having this discussion right now, is because we don’t want to leave communities behind.
And, all too often, D.C. politics, when we have to make a compromise, the folks that get compromised are lower-income, working-class families. It’s health care. It’s relief. It’s communities of color. And we want to make sure that we’re fighting for all of us, not just some of us.
BRENNAN: Which is why you’re using your leverage right now to hold up the other trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.
But the head of your caucus, the Progressive Caucus, was on another network this morning, and Represent Jayapal said $1.5 trillion is just too small. That’s the number that Senate moderates, Joe Manchin in particular, want to get down to.
President Biden, according to our reporting from Ed O’Keefe, our correspondent, says you’re going to have to settle for about $2 trillion. Is that an acceptable ceiling for you?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, here’s — here’s where I think the problem is, is that when we talk about top-line numbers, there’s a lot that is hidden in that discussion.
And so the reason why this conversation shouldn’t be about numbers, but it should be about what substantive programs are — are willing to be excluded or…
BRENNAN: That’s coming from the White House.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, but the White House isn’t making the demands to exclude universal child care or universal pre-K.
This is coming for the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party. And those are the — but those are the conversations that we need to have, because the thing is, is that Washington math is notoriously funny, and you can make a $3 trillion — you can make a $1 trillion bill into $2 trillion. You can make a $3 trillion bill that helps fewer people, et cetera.
And so that’s why we really need to talk about the substance of this. The budget bill that House progressives are trying to fight for, the Biden Build Back Better agenda, includes universal pre-K, free community college, expansion of Medicare. We’re fighting for expansion of Medicaid. And these are the things that we are saying, in addition to the very real climate threat that we have, emissions reductions, are worth standing up for.
BRENNAN: So — but a $2 trillion ceiling, that means you’re going to have to maneuver here somewhere.
The head of your caucus said this morning you’re looking at shorter funding periods for programs, so, instead of chopping, sort of nipping and tucking.
BRENNAN: So, what is non-negotiable there for you?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you bring up an excellent point, in that the fact is, is that we do have to compromise with the fact that we have Senator Manchin and Sinema, who refuse to support certain programs for working families.
And so the compromises and options that we have before us is, do we shorten our funding programs? Do you reduce the level of funding? Do you cut programs out together? I think that one of the ideas that is out there is fully fund what we can fully fund, but maybe instead of doing it for 10 years, you fully fund it for five years, or you fully fund it…
BRENNAN: What are you thinking of when you throw that out as an example?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, I think there’s a — there are so many different programs in the budget bill.
First of all, I think it’s unfortunate that we have to even, as Democrats, have a discussion about not having a child tax credit. I think it’s unfortunate that we have to compromise with ourselves for an ambitious agenda for working people.
I believe that free community college should be — it should be a standard. It should — we should have K through 14. But this is one bill and perhaps we can vote for more down the line. And we’ve discussed with the president about that, continuing that funding.
But there’s a wide variety of those programs, and I would encourage folks in their community to also reach out to their elected officials to let them know what programs they want to make sure are kept.
But I think there are some things that are — that are that are very, very important to us.
BRENNAN: What’s your — for you, what is non-negotiable?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I think some of the climate provisions that we have, we cannot afford to increase carbon or just fossil fuel emissions at this time. That is simply the science.
That is not something we can kick down the line. Right now, both the IPCC report saying that this is code red for humanity, as well as recent reporting saying that, if you’re under 40, like myself, like millions of Americans, you’ll be seeing a catastrophic increase…
BRENNAN: You’re going to run right into Senator Joe Manchin on those issues, though. You know that.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Yes, and I think — I think Senator Manchin is going to run into the science as well.
BRENNAN: So, what do you think that means?
He also has said, for him, this bill will be dead on arrival if it does not include the Hyde Amendment, which would ban federal funding for abortions.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, I think what we’re seeing here is a dynamic where progressives are trying to skin this cat nine different ways, but moderates are not really coming to the table.
And I don’t even want to call them moderates, because there’s a lot of moderates in the party that don’t like being associated with some of this hard-line tactics. It’s a very tiny cadre of conservative Democrats.
But — but, I mean, this is the issue, is that we’re saying, OK, we’re going down from $6 trillion to $3 trillion. Now it’s $1 trillion. And we have some these conservatives that say, well, our line is zero, and you’re lucky if you get one.
And this isn’t — I want to ground this conversation, because this isn’t a tit for tat between personalities. It’s not about me and Senator Manchin. It’s about families in the Bronx. This is about people who need to take their bus — take a bus to drop their kid off at school, and they’re not going to be able to go back to work because they don’t have child care to go back to work.
BRENNAN: But it is a question about the vision for the Democratic Party.
And, last year, you were very, very frank during the presidential race. You said: In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not even be in the same party, but, in America, we are.
Has Joe Biden proved himself progressive enough for you now?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I think — and those comments are referring to parliamentary systems in other countries, where there’s a lot more diversity. We don’t have a two-party duopoly in other countries the way that we do in ours.
But I think that President Biden has been a good-faith partner to the entire Democratic Party. He is, in fact, a moderate. And we disagree on certain issues. But he reaches out, and he actually tries to understand our perspective. And that is why I am fighting for his agenda with the Build Back Better Act.
BRENNAN: Are you surprised, though, that he hasn’t been able to deliver those Senate moderates that you’re having those problems with?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No. No.
I think that, for quite some time, we have seen that some of these conservatives in the party, this is not about a team. It’s about individual sort of preferences. But that is OK.
You know, we’re going to come together. I believe in the vision and commitment of our party for working people. And the thing is, is that we have to respect all families and all voters.
BRENNAN: Well, lastly, just you know these moderates in the House, as well, not just Senator Manchin, would say, you’re not playing for the team when you hold one bill hostage, as they would say, for the other, and put a bill that has roads and bridges and jobs potentially at risk.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, the agreement several months ago to even proceed on that one bipartisan bill was that it was tied with — with our larger Build Back Better agenda.
And the reason when some folks say, well, why can’t you just pass this, and we’ll see everything else later, first of all, we do not — both of these bills need to pass. Both will not pass if people try to separate them, if we try to diverge from that agreement that was settled several months ago.
We can’t simply invent new terms midstream and then expect everyone else that — those initial terms to hold. I’m willing to hold up my end of the bargain by sticking to both. And we want all — we need to expect all of our lawmakers who were part of that deal to stick to that bargain.
BRENNAN: Congresswoman, thanks for coming in today.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you so much.
BRENNAN: We turn now to COVID, the pandemic, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser.
Good morning to you, Dr. Fauci.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good morning.
BRENNAN: Seven hundred thousand American dead. This is now the worst pandemic the country has ever experienced.
Are we close to over, or do we need to brace for another wave?
FAUCI: Well, one of the things we want to make sure is that we have had over the last few weeks a turning around of the acceleration of this, starting to come down in cases and hospitalizations and soon deaths.
The one thing that we don’t want to do is that we don’t want to become complacent and say, OK, now we need to pull back. We don’t need any more people to get vaccinated.
We need to continue to get those individuals, now 70 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, vaccinated, because, if you look at the history, Margaret, of the different surges we’ve had, it’s come up, start to come down, and then all of a sudden, boom, come back up again.
As it’s coming down, we have within our capability we can make this happen, namely, go down to a very, very low level, with vaccination and with mitigation.
FAUCI: So, that’s the one thing I want to make sure that our viewers realize, that we’ve done well, in the sense of getting 55 percent of the population fully vaccinated and 64 percent with at least one dose, but we’ve got to keep pushing on the vaccination front.
You said, don’t let your guard down. There are two new studies out that show COVID’s gotten better at transmitting through aerosols, just through the air. What does that mean? We’re going into cold weather. We’re going into the holidays.
BRENNAN: Do people need to start looking around and saying it’s just too risky to gather with family members if there are unvaccinated children?
FAUCI: Well, Margaret, I believe just the way the CDC has recommended, that when you are in a situation where you have the dynamics of virus in the community where there’s clearly a lot of spread, even if you are vaccinated and you are in an indoor setting, a congregate setting, it just makes sense to wear a mask and to avoid high-risk situations.
And what we should be doing is look at ventilation in indoor places. We know now that this is clearly spread by aerosol. And when you have something spread by aerosol, you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors.
And if you are indoors, ventilation is going to be key. And that’s the reason why we really should be paying attention to that.
BRENNAN: But we can gather for Christmas, or it’s just too soon to tell?
FAUCI: You know, Margaret, it’s just too soon to tell.
We’ve just got to — concentrating on continuing to get those numbers down…
FAUCI: … and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time.
Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated and also, in the situation where boosters are appropriate, to get people boosted, because we know that they can help greatly in diminishing infection and diminishing advanced disease, the kinds of data that are now accumulating in real time.
BRENNAN: The president announced nearly a month ago that businesses need to mandate vaccines for their employees or submit them to weekly testing.
We looked. It’s been a month. None of this paperwork has been filed with OSHA to make that happen. Was this a stunt? Are you seeing companies follow through even without the legal mandate filed?
FAUCI: I think some of them are. And I think you’ll be seeing a lot more once we get past these legal issues.
I think what the president said about companies greater than 100 individuals is a good thing. And you’re seeing also local groups, universities and businesses, are doing that, mandating vaccines, and particularly saying…
BRENNAN: But you’re speaking with immediacy. But when you’re speaking with immediacy, it doesn’t seem reflected in the action here.
FAUCI: Well, certainly, if you look at universities now, we’ve had — I believe, Margaret, if I’m not mistaken, close to 1,000 or more universities are saying that if you want to be on campus with real-time classes, you really have to get vaccinated, or you can’t come.
And there are businesses that are doing that. I mean, airlines — look at airlines, the mandate of the airlines, where you have now 99 percent of certain airlines’ employees are vaccinated.
FAUCI: So, when you do that, when you tell people that there are alternatives, that, if you do not want to get vaccinated, you’re not going to work or you’re not going to be able to go to school, I think that the emergent nature of what we’re dealing with actually does justify that.
BRENNAN: We’ve seen such an uptick in infections among kids and low uptake of the vaccine in that 12- to-17 range.
California just mandated it, as of January, is the estimate. Do you think other states should follow suit?
FAUCI: Well, I agree with what Governor Newsom did in California.
I mean, I’m not going to — getting into the local issues, only to talk about general principles, that people need to realize that having a vaccine requirement for schools is not a new, novel thing that is very peculiar or specific to COVID-19. We’ve been doing this for decades.
My own children could not have gone to school if they had not gotten vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella. So, when we see pushback on that, it’s as if this never happened before. It’s actually ongoing with other vaccines.
So, let’s do it with a virus that’s very, very serious. And, as you just mentioned with the numbers, Margaret, has caused an unprecedented number of deaths and infections in this country.
BRENNAN: We had news this week from Merck that they have this new pill they submitted to the FDA that can reduce the chances of hospitalization if you get COVID.
The government has purchased 1.7 million doses. That doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Why didn’t the government place a bigger bet on this drug?
FAUCI: Well, I think the government placed a good bet on it.
When people — some people were saying, well, it’s no proof at all or even indication it’s going to work, we went ahead and purchased 1.7. We have the option for millions more. And now that we have this success, the company certainly is going to rev up and make tens and tens of millions more for the rest of the world and for us.
So, it’s good news, and I think we were very prescient in making that determination way back of making a purchase of 1. 7 million — billion — million.
BRENNAN: You don’t worry that the United…
FAUCI: Excuse me. I’m sorry.
BRENNAN: You don’t — we’re talking millions, billions, trillions these days.
FAUCI: It’s millions. Sorry.
BRENNAN: No, understood.
But you don’t worry that — that, in the immediate term, the American government will be pushed to the back of the line before these foreign governments have their new purchase orders filled?
FAUCI: You know, I don’t think so, Margaret, at all.
I mean, I think this is good news. And I think it’s going to be an important addition to our armamentarium. What I won’t want people to be doing is to — saying, well, now that we have a drug, we don’t need to get vaccinated.
FAUCI: The easiest way to not get in a hospital and not die is to not get infected in the first place.
BRENNAN: All right, Dr. Fauci, thank you for your time this morning.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Margaret. Thank you for having me.
BRENNAN: FACE THE NATION will be back in a minute.
Stay with us.
BRENNAN: Overall, two-thirds of Americans over 18 are fully vaccinated.
And a new study last week determined unvaccinated Americans were eight times more likely to get the Delta variant than those who are unvaccinated and were 57 more — times more likely to die.
West Virginia is one state in crisis due to the Delta variant, and their vaccination rate is considerably below the national average.
Republican Governor Jim Justice joins us.
Governor, you were leading the pack out of the gate, and now you’ve hit this wall. Why aren’t you able to convince more of your constituents to go get immunized?
GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): Well, Margaret, we’re a long ways from being in crisis in West Virginia.
If you look at our death rate compared to the national average, we’re still below the national average with our death rate. We got out of the gate right — and vaccinated our people.
BRENNAN: Your hospitals are getting overwhelmed.
JUSTICE: I’m sorry?
BRENNAN: Your hospitals are getting overwhelmed. You have a high infection rate.
JUSTICE: We’re — we’re overwhelmed all across this country, I mean, for crying out loud.
West Virginia is managing it absolutely great, and in every way, from the standpoint of getting out first and vaccinating our people first in West Virginia. We wish that the boosters would have come along sooner, because we got out so early that, really and truly, we were at the six- month situation way before.
And think about this for just one second, Margaret.
JUSTICE: On Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week, we will have given and administered every single one of our Pfizer vaccines to every nursing home we have in this state.
BRENNAN: But, Governor…
JUSTICE: To say West Virginia is in a crisis is wrong. That’s just all there is to it.
BRENNAN: Governor, you just asked the Biden administration for more monoclonal antibodies, which is one of the treatments for people who are hospitalized with this virus, and they denied it.
You need that because people are very sick. Are you concerned that your request was denied?
JUSTICE: Well, sure, we’re — we’re concerned. We weren’t denied. It was just lowered.
But, with all that, Margaret, the reality is the supply. The Southern states just gobbled up all the supply and everything. And, again, the Biden administration is standing there holding the bag. We need more antibodies here, but we’re managing it.
BRENNAN: You were talking about your dispute of characterization of where you are with vaccinations.
But you do seem to have hit a wall with the younger people in your state. You’ve done all these things with mascots, with your bulldog Babydog. You’ve got — given away guns. You’re giving away these things. Why can’t you increase vaccinations?
JUSTICE: Well, now, just think about it.
You know, since we came out with our campaign with a little old English bulldog of Babydog that’s got a face that makes everybody smile, and she loves everybody. You know, but with all that, we have vaccinated hundreds of thousands of more West Virginians. It’s been tremendously successful.
You know, all of us, all of us all across this nation have hit a wall.
JUSTICE: We need — we all know that the more we get vaccinated, the more live. We all know that.
JUSTICE: But, at the same time, we protect our freedoms, do we not?
BRENNAN: We’re going to talk more on the other side of this break.
So, stay with us.
BRENNAN: If you’re not able to watch the full FACE THE NATION, you can set your DVR, or we’re available on demand.
Plus, you can watch us through the CBS or Paramount+ app.
BRENNAN: We will be right back with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS ANCHOR: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We want to continue our conversation with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.
Governor, let’s pick up where we left off, which was how your state is faring right now with vaccinations and with COVID.
Your health official, Dr. Clay Marsh, at a press conference just this week, talked about how much your medical system is under strain right now, saying that the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations is higher than it has been during the entire pandemic. And you, yourself, said you’re right in the eye of this storm.
So, what’s the problem? Why aren’t people protecting themselves?
GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): Well, Margaret, they are. You know, I mean, we are in the eye of the storm. We’re right at the peak of the surge right now. And from our hospital standpoint, we’re absolutely — you know, we’re — we’re still doing elective surgeries and we’re still doing all of that. We are not overloaded from the standpoint of our hospitals should be, you know, having to turn people down and all of that. We’re absolutely, you know, are managing this and managing it in a right way.
But we are right at the peak of our surge here, and we’re very hopeful that it’s starting to decline. It’s declining in certain ways, but we’re still — we’re still going to be very, very diligent in what we do.
BRENNAN: You, yourself, at your press conference this week, encouraged parents to vaccinate their children. California’s governor is mandating kids 12 to 17, get a vaccine to go into the school room after around January. Are you going to mandate it for school kids as well?
JUSTICE: No chance. No chance. These — all these mandates —
BRENNAN: Why? Why? You — you mandate, as governor — as governor you mandate, we looked, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, other vaccines. Why won’t you put COVID on that list?
JUSTICE: Now, Margaret, you know, you don’t have to come in so hot. You guys asked me to come, you know. But, Margaret, the bottom line of the whole thing is just this, I truly —
BRENNAN: I’m asking you to clarify.
JUSTICE: I truly believe that the mandates only divide us and only divide us more. From the standpoint of mandates, I don’t believe in imposing upon our freedoms over and over and over. And I’ve said that over. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to say it.
But from the standpoint of our children, I’m going to still — I’m going to still encourage in every way because I truly believe that the more people that we get vaccinated —
JUSTICE: The less people will die. But at the same time, we’ve still got to stand up for who we are. For crying out loud, we’re Americans.
BRENNAN: I — I know this has become a big issue for the Republican Party, which you are a part of, in terms of framing this as a freedom of choice. But for small children, you mandate that their parents get them those immunizations so that they are safe in the classroom. They don’t have freedoms as children to choose whether or not to get polio or not. We protect them against that. Why don’t you want to protect those children by mandating it?
JUSTICE: Well, Margaret — Margaret, to — to — to think or — that I don’t want to protect the children is ridiculous. I mean we all want to protect our children. But parents have decisions to make in this — in this situation, too. Just like the local officials have decisions to make. For crying out loud, you know, that’s — that’s who should be making these decisions, is the parents, you know. And — and — and from the standpoint of the federal government —
BRENNAN: Well, you’d make those decisions as a governor, actually.
JUSTICE: Well, we can go on and on about this forever. But — but in this situation, we’re not going to change. And — and — and, really and truly, it never has really mattered to me — you know, I — I do think this nation is so divided from the standpoint of partisanship, it’s unbelievable.
JUSTICE: And, right now, what you had AOC say just earlier, you know, our team needs to be better (ph). Well, you elect individuals. You don’t elect a team. You elect individuals to come to Washington and voice their opinions.
JUSTICE: Not elect a party. You know, you elect — you elect — you elect individuals.
BRENNAN: Right. Right.
Well, Governor, thank you very much for your time today.
JUSTICE: All right.
BRENNAN: Only about a third of the world’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID, with developing countries lagging far behind.
Elizabeth Palmer will have the latest from London.
ELIZABETH PALMER, CBS NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
We passed another global milestone in the pandemic this week, 5 million people have now died from COVID-19.
PALMER (voice over): But in Britain, where the London Marathon went ahead this morning for the first time in two years, fewer people are dying. In fact, thanks to high vaccine uptake across Europe, the death rate here is less than half what it is in America.
Not so in Russia, which has had record covid deaths this weekend. Fewer than one in three Russians have been vaccinated. When a descendent of the Russian royal family was married in St. Petersburg, there were 1,500 guests and not a mask in sight.
This is typical. Many Russians believe natural antibodies give both adequate protection and bragging rights.
Here is Vladimir Putin telling Turkey’s President Erdogan his antibody level is 16. Erdogan responds, mine’s 100.
In Israel, by contrast, vaccines, three of them, including the booster, is the new normal for everyone over 12. That’s coverage the developing world can only dream of.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala heads the World Trade Organization.
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: While nearly 60 percent of people in developed countries are fully vaccinated, in Africa, the figure is barely 4 percent.
PALMER: African leaders want countries like the U.S. to lift vaccine export controls to free up millions of doses.
But in the wealthy west, the rituals of life as we knew it are returning.
In France, labis (ph), the kiss on the cheek, is back.
PALMER: That is as long as a vaccine-resistant mutation of the virus doesn’t emerge, but epidemiologists are saying that’s still a very real possibility.
BRENNAN: Elizabeth Palmer in London, thank you.
We go now to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who also sits on the board of Pfizer. He is the author of “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic.”
Dr. Gottlieb, always good to talk to you.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Thanks.
BRENNAN: I want to pick up with you where — where I left off with Governor Justice, which was on this question of vaccine mandates for children. He didn’t like the comparison of the COVID-19 vaccine to all the other vaccines he mandates as a governor, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio.
Should it be considered different?
GOTTLIEB: Well, I think it’s inevitable that the COVID vaccine is going to be incorporated into the childhood immunization schedule. The CDC ultimately has to take that up. My guess is they’re not going to take that up until you have fully approved vaccines for children, until you have more than one vaccine in the market available to kids. So that might be more of a fall 2021/2022 type of event.
But you’re going to see other states and local districts moving forward with their own mandates. And I think the right look is for decision making around these mandates is at the local level. So you’re going to see other states like California taking this up.
BRENNAN: Right, which they did.
But Governor Justice — what you’re talking about is a practical matter of timing. He said it’s about personal freedom and parents making decisions for themselves. And it’s a theme that we continue to hear, particularly from Republicans.
Senator Ted Cruz, this week, said he stands with NBA players refusing to be vaccinated, for example. The Republican governor of Texas, Florida, they’re saying it also, it’s a matter of free choice.
You’ve been concerned about politicization of vaccines. Aren’t we already there?
GOTTLIEB: We are there. Look, these are not just individual choices. These are collective decisions. And we’ve always looked at vaccination as a collective decision. That’s why we have a childhood immunization schedule because your behavior with respect to your choice around vaccination affects your community. That’s why I think the — the right locust of decision-making around these mandates is as local a level as possible. So to the extent that governors and mayors can do this, I think that’s going to depoliticize these kinds of decisions. It’s when the federal government steps in that this becomes more of a political issue.
I do worry about the consequences of the moment we’re in, the fact that now vaccination is something that’s dividing us culturally and politically because I think that’s going to have broader implications than just around COVID. I worry that going forward we’re going to see vaccine rates decline as this becomes more of a political football and we see people — literally governors running against vaccine and vaccine mandates in the next presidential cycle. That’s going to be deleterious to the public health generally if that’s what comes out of this episode we’re in.
BRENNAN: And that was your, if I understand it, your chief criticism of President Biden’s decision a month ago to issue a mandate, one he hasn’t filed yet, but at least announced.
GOTTLIEB: Yes, I would be trying to use big carrots rather than sticks when it comes to private businesses. I think that that’s where they might have crossed a line, that really created more acrimony and gave people on the political right, frankly, something to now run against.
Certainly the federal government’s well within its right with the mandates on federal workers. I think health care workers should be mandated to get vaccinated. We require them to get vaccinated for chicken pox and hepatitis b and influenza. I think a mandate inside the Medicare program makes a lot of sense, using the Medicare program to try to incentivize Medicare providers to get their populations vaccinated at higher levels. That’s going to protect a lot of senior citizens.
So there’s certainly tools that the federal government has at its disposal. But I think when you’re getting down to private businesses, even states, you want to see those decisions made by the businesses, at the — at the local level. And I think the federal government can step in with incentives to try to drive that behavior.
BRENNAN: We asked Dr. Fauci about this pill from Merck that was announced as being successful 50 percent of the time in reducing — or, excuse me, reducing by half the chance of hospitalizations. It’s 1.7 million doses. Are you concerned that’s not enough?
GOTTLIEB: Well, it’s not enough. And 1.7 million doses by virtue of the indication that this is probably going to be approved for would cover us with one month of the delta wave. I mean it would have covered one month of the delta wave in the south. So I think there could have been a little more forethought to trying to get more manufacturing in place and procuring more doses.
Just to give you a basis of comparison, the strategic national stockpile has anywhere between 50 million and 80 million courses of therapy for a feared pandemic flu. So, you know, contracting for 1.7 million doses wasn’t enough to cover an appreciable portion of this pandemic.
This drug looks very promising. This is the most profound treatment effect based on the top line data that I’ve seen from an orally available drug in the treatment of any respiratory pathogen. So, you know, hopefully Merck is going to be in a position to file the data with FDA this week that can make an Emergency Use Authorization request as early as this week. And depending on how long the FDA takes, and the FDA’s seen a lot of this data already, you could see this drug available very soon.
BRENNAN: Is it going to have to be rationed, though?
GOTTLIEB: Depending on what happens with the COVID spread, it’s going to have to be rationed. Yes, I would expect to see a scheme similar to what we have with the antibody drugs where this is going to be allocated to the states.
BRENNAN: All right, Dr. Gottlieb, thank you for your analysis, as always.
We’re going to talk police reform up next with Senator Cory Booker. Stay with us.
BRENNAN: Last Sunday, South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott gave us his explanation for why bipartisan negotiations on police reform collapsed. We spoke Friday to his Democratic counterpart. Senator Cory Booker told us that despite getting the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, to support his bill, he couldn’t get Republicans to do so. The last straw, he said, was when Senator Scott refused to codify former President Trump’s 2020 executive orders, which required certain criteria for police departments to receive federal money. That prompted Senator Booker to walk away, something for which he says he takes full responsibility.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We were willing to take a lot less. I said to all my staff, we’re not going to take half a loaf, let’s take a couple slices of bread. The one area we had was on chokeholds, where there was conditions of grants and the like. But there was no other areas of agreement that we had yet established. And when we started giving some just basic lines on things that we didn’t think were that great, we couldn’t get the agreement there.
And it’s unfortunate because basically the issues that the families were asking, these are families of people that were murdered, the issues that the police officers are now standing up and agreeing with us, and — and by the majority of police officers represented by at least the FOP, what everybody was saying is, let’s take a situation of just increased transparency, raise professional standards, and create more accountability when an officer does something really, really against the law, as well as our common values. That’s what we are looking for.
BRENNAN: So, specifically, because Senator Scott was specific in this criticism, he said do — that you wanted police departments to hand over data to the federal government from every investigative encounter with police, including routine traffic stops, or, if they don’t do that, they would risk losing money.
BOOKER: I think that we should be in a nation that if an officer uses physical force, whether that’s a Billy club, that that data should be collected. Right now we do not have a collection on these things. I think to give transparency to any town, we should start understanding what are the traffic stops, the demographics of those, and the like.
We live in a country where both Senator Scott and I have had personal experiences with wrongfully stopped — being stopped by police, guns drawn on us, accused of things that we didn’t do. If there’s no transparency into those actions, we can’t deal with it. As the for manager of a city, if you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it.
BRENNAN: So given that you say you did have some areas of agreement —
BOOKER: We had one area of agreement on chokeholds, which, frankly, all across the states, red states and blue states, are banning those actions.
BOOKER: We did not have enough to do the kind of data transparency that is necessary, the kind of raise in professional standards that even police officers are now saying the majority of folks who represent them, and we did not have real consequences. Remember, there are things we’ve been debating from the beginning about qualified immunity, other shields to hold officers that do bad things accountable.
BRENNAN: But qualified immunity had been put to the side for the moment; is that correct?
BOOKER: It — that’s definitely — this is what I mean about not been willing —
BOOKER: Not sticking with the full loaf. But we did want what the FOP and others agreed to is some movement on the criminal standards and some movement on holding municipalities accountable for when their officers do horrible, horrible, illegal things.
BRENNAN: So the argument that the — that Senator Scott was making is that doing that, by saying there will be punitive action against you, or you won’t be eligible for those grants, it is akin to restricting funding. And he used that term “defund the police,” which has, frankly, dogged Democrats for some time because it just — it creates a perception of being somehow soft on crime, right? So how do you respond to that? Do you think when he is using that particular phrase in explaining why you walked away, that — that this is just a political game?
BOOKER: Again, this is a moral moment. This is not about a back and forth between Tim and I. It’s a moral moment. And to get big compromise bills done, which I’ve accomplished before, you — you have to have people that are willing to take risks and come together —
BRENNAN: But it was Democrats who walked away twice. That’s what he would say, and that’s what Republicans have said. In 2020 it was Democrats who walked away from a Republican police reform bill, and this time Democrats are walking away.
BOOKER: Again — I mean, by that math, they — they — they walked away from the George Floyd bill. Remember, there was two bills put out. We were trying to do the honest, hard work of finding a compromise. Along that pathway, we did something people didn’t expect. Major law enforcement organizations who were not known to agree with Democrats came to agreement. And we didn’t — and were not able to land it. We would not have gotten the people on the fringes, people in both parties would have disagreed with it.
I will not give up on this bill because it is not a partisan issue, it is a moral issue.
BRENNAN: So —
BOOKER: WE have a problem in policing in America.
BRENNAN: So what does that mean? Because President Biden, when he blamed Republicans, said he’s going to get this done through executive action. What you’re saying, it sounds like you’re going to try to resolve this?
BOOKER: I think this — there’s a lot that President Biden is going to step up and do. And I’m excited about that. And for Washington world, I’m a baby. I’ve been here for eight years. But I do know now, on the big bills that I’ve been able to get passed, compromised bill in the criminal justice system, it often would take more than one Congress. We are going to do this because the families deserve it. There’s not enough justice in policing.
BOOKER: Whenever we can, right? I —
BRENNAN: When? I mean we had racial justice protest movement that shook this country.
BRENNAN: This was an opportunity.
BRENNAN: We’ve been through two Congresses now. Are you telling us wait until after 2022?
BOOKER: So, again, as Martin Luther King would say, how long, you know? People have been told to wait. Justice delayed is justice denied. And for those families I’ve talked to over the last weeks, they are rightfully impatient. I cannot change the minds of some Republicans, but I’ve got enough momentum now that I’m going to continue to work. I can’t tell you when, but I will tell you this, we have already seen progress. From Kentucky to Colorado, we have seen the activism of people in the streets demanding it create real, substantive change. We offered in these negotiations —
BRENNAN: But if Democrats lose the majority in 2022, do you think you are more likely to get the kind of change you want?
BOOKER: I — I — I don’t know what it is. I’m telling you, I’m not giving up. And, again, law enforcement leaders will tell you this, well, we have a lot of work to do so that everybody doesn’t feel like I felt growing up, and a lot of kids do, is when you see a police officer, your first instinct is fear and not like, hey, there’s somebody here to help me. And so we need to create transparency, accountability and raise professional standards. The majority of police officers, at least the unions that represent them, agree with us now. We have more work to do to get this done.
BRENNAN: Senator Scott says he’s at the table. Will you come back to it or are talks completely dead at the moment?
BOOKER: Again, Senator Scott and I actually are friends. And so the — the — I — I am more than confident, especially as I look at other Republicans there, and other who (ph) deal with, that we’re going to find a way to keep working on this issue. We came to a stalemate. Where we couldn’t embody Donald Trump’s E.O. in legislation as is, that’s problematic for me.
But, again, this is going to continue to be an urgency in my life. And as a person who has been able to deliver significant reform in the criminal justice space, I’m going to continue to work on this. In American, police officers, as we’re now seeing, conservative think tanks all are calling for change. We’re going to build on that coalition and we’re going to, I believe, we’re going to get this done.
BRENNAN: Senator Booker, thank you for your time.
BOOKER: No, thank you very much.
BRENNAN: You can watch our full interview with Senator Booker on our website.
We’ll be back in a moment.
BRENNAN: Americans seem to be in increasingly splintered these days, and now that anger and partisanship is impacting our children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we will find you and we know where you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You — you — you will never be allowed in public again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know who you are.
BRENNAN (voice over): Attention, angry American parents, your children, and the rest of the country are watching.
BRENNAN: Scenes like this outside a school board meeting in Tennessee last month, or this one in Idaho, where anti-mask protestors caused local officials to cancel their meetings due to safety concerns triggered an unusual emergency request for federal assistance to stop violence against public school children, board members and local educators.
In a letter to President Biden, the National School Board Association appealed for help.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These threats to school board members is horrible. They’re doing their jobs.
BRENNAN: The board compared the angry eruptions to domestic terrorism and hate crimes. It isn’t clear what the feds can actually do about the basic lack of respect and civility plaguing communities right now.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Show some respect.
BRENNAN: The spate of physical attacks on flight attendants enforcing mask rules is just another example of self-righteous adults behaving badly. It seems the anxiety caused by the pandemic has made it even harder for many of our fellow Americans to listen to each other and to forget how to have a civil conversation about difficult issues.
At least eight states have enacted legal bans on teachers even discussing theories regarding race-based privilege. Racial equity is one of the most explosive topics at school board gatherings. It is dangerous to our children when the parents themselves are the school bullies. It poses a threat to the very foundational levels of our democracy, basic education.
Not every act needs to be political. Putting a mask on your child amidst a pandemic is just practical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Avoiding masks is not in the Bible, but taking care of others is.
BRENNAN: As this Tennessee dad explained to his kindergartener.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She went to school and was one of just a few kids in her class wearing a mask, which made her ask me why she had to. My answer was because we want to take care of other people. She’s five years old, but she understood that concept. And it’s disappointing that more adults around here can’t seem to grasp it.
BRENNAN: Perhaps the children could teach us a thing or two about civic duty.
We’ll be right back.
BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. For FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.