PBS NewsHour full episode, Aug. 9, 2021
Good evening, I'm William Branom. Judy Woodruff is off today on The NewsHour. Tonight, a dire assessment. An international report paints a grim future for humanity without drastic action to combat climate change.
Then Afghanistan in crisis, the Taliban take control of a critical city as the country's security forces teeter on the brink of collapse. Plus, facing eviction, we discuss the tenuous housing situation nationwide with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge. I do know that it has been difficult and has been challenging for people who may not have been paid their rent over a long period of time. But this is the opportunity to get paid back and the road ahead. The massive bipartisan infrastructure plan
heads to a final vote in the Senate after weeks of negotiations. All that and more on tonight's PBS NewsHour. Major funding for the PBS NewsHour has been provided by before we talk about your investments, what's new? Well, Audrie's expecting twins, grandparents.
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And with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions. This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you. A dire warning and a stark reality, global temperatures will rise.
It is unequivocal that human activity is driving this surge. The extremes we're now experiencing, fires, floods, droughts and storms will only intensify. That is all part of a landmark report by a team of more than two hundred and thirty scientists convened by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The western U.S. is sifting through the ashes of yet another catastrophic fire season, one that has only just begun.
And today, climate scientists at the United Nations made it clear these extreme events are largely our doing. This independent report released by the U.N. is the starkest warning yet that the planet is warming to a dangerous degree.
It affirms that our burning of coal, oil and gas is accelerating climate change and that climate change is behind many of these extreme weather events. The authors say these effects are happening far faster than predicted. There's really one key message that emerges from this report.
We are out of time. The 3000 page report is the work of more than 200 scientists from around the world. They found that global temperatures are the hottest in 100000 years and many effects of climate change are already irreversible. Those temperatures are on track to pass the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and pass them decades earlier than expected. The report says that if the planet warms beyond the target of one point five degrees Celsius or two point seven degrees Fahrenheit, these extreme weather events are forecast to be more frequent and more severe. The report states that only by drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions can these extremes be lessened unless there are immediate, rapid and large scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Limiting warming to one point five degrees C or two point seven degrees Fahrenheit will be beyond reach. Scientists say the consequences of climate change are ever present from the severity of the wildfires and droughts in the western U.S. to the devastating flooding across Europe just last month. World leaders are set to assess today's report and plot their response at the next global climate summit in Scotland this November. For a closer look at today's report and the science behind it, we turn again to Michael Oppenheimer. He's a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton
University. And while he's not an author of this latest report, he is a long time participant in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Michael Oppenheimer. Always great to have you on the NewsHour. The head of the UN referred to this as code red for humanity.
Do you share that, that dire assessment? Unfortunately, I do. The forecast is really grim. The climate is changing and at accelerating pace. And that means basically we're in trouble. More intense heat waves, heavier precipitation
during extreme rainstorms, droughts, hurricanes shifting to more Category four and five. The longer we wait to reduce the emissions of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that are causing the problem, the worse it's going to get. One thing that really jumped out at me in this report is the attribution science directly connecting climate change to specific events that seems to be getting particularly sharp. Are we getting better and better at making those linkages so much better? I mean, even 15, 20 years ago, we really couldn't make specific statements about specific events and we would declare that is the case. We would make general statements about what's the global trend, for instance, now, rather than in these general statements about the havoc that climate change is causing. We can make very specific statements about what has
happened, in particular events at particular places. At particular times we can say how much climate change increase the chances of an individual damaging or deadly event having occurred in the first place. That would be, for instance, the intense rainfall that occurred in 2017. And Hurricane Harvey, that was about 50 percent or more what it usually would be without the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It would be like the cause of the Australian fires where we could say wildfires two years ago, where we could say specifically what's the percent that climate change increase the likelihood of that event happening or it'll be done, I'm sure, shortly for the tremendous heat event that occurred in the Pacific Northwest a few weeks ago that was so off the charts. I think it's going to be relatively easy to say climate change was responsible for a big share of it. We'll see exactly what the data shows as the analysis
is done. So that makes climate change real for the average person. And it's no longer a matter of speculation as to whether a bad event that we suffered through was caused by climate change. We can say with some precision exactly how much climate change is responsible. That's called attribution. This report also points out that we have increasingly little time to act. Can you talk a little bit about the urgency that the UN is putting forward
here? Is there a window of time for action that is closing? Well, the general message is without large and rapid reductions in emissions of the greenhouse gases will rush into what I call a climate danger zone, that the warming of greater than about three or four degrees Fahrenheit, one and a half to two degrees Celsius that the countries agreed to avoid in the 200 in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In that zone of danger, impacts continue to accelerate, compounding in concatenating beyond society's ability to successfully adapt. That's why countries said we shouldn't go there. On the other hand, if we get serious about rapid, immediate reductions and large reductions in the emissions of these gases, we could produce a notable slowing of the warming within 20 years. Now, I don't know, and I don't think anybody could say with any sureness whether we're going to make the one and a half or two degree limit stay out of the danger zone. But even if we get into the danger zone, the quicker we get out of it, the better.
So this is not and in the end, this is not a problem. That's a technological or scientific one. It's a political one. Basically, you pointed out that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is the key here. And we have seen a lot of nations make big pledges, less so big action. President Biden, we have seen right now is had to trim his very ambitious climate goals in the negotiations in the Congress and the Senate.
Do you have any confidence that the United States, let alone all these other nations, will actually act in time? Well, let's talk about some good news first. There's kind of a wind at the back of the countries that do want to act because we're in the middle of an energy revolution. We're talking about electrified the whole system, including transportation.
Eventually, that electricity can be produced by carbon free energy and that will help get us out of the problem. And all of it is it looks like it can be done at a reasonable cost because cost of renewable energy are plummeting. Now, as I mentioned a second ago, is the political will really going to be there to do that? It's very complicated. You have to make interest groups in a bunch of countries that are the big emitters happy with a serious program to cut emissions. I'm not a politician. I can't say whether it will be done.
I can say that these countries have moved mountains were moved heaven and earth before on big problems, usually national security. This is as big as those problems. They've got to do the same thing again, whether they will or not. Well, it's partly up to us to try to put the pressure on our governments to make them do it.
All right. Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, thanks for joining us on this very sobering day. Always good to see you. Thanks for having me. Speaking of climate change, in the day's other news, skies began clearing over northern California, potentially aiding the crews fighting the state's largest ever wildfire.
The so-called Dixy fire is now twice the size of New York City and only about 20 percent contained with smoke dissipating. Firefighting aircraft returned to the air today to back up ground crews. The fire has largely consumed one small town and burned more than 600 homes. Meanwhile, in Greece, firefighters spent a seventh day battling a wildfire that's still burning out of control on the island of Evia. The fire has burned some one hundred thousand acres and destroyed scores of homes and businesses. Thousands have been forced to flee by boats and ferries.
Members of the US military will now have to get vaccinated for covid-19 beginning September 15. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the plan today and President Biden endorsed it. Officials said the deadline may move up if a vaccine receives full federal approval or if cases continue to rise. They urged troops to act. Now the secretary believes that the the men and women of the military, even the ones that have been hesitant, will will comply with that. Should it should it take that? But what he's asking for in this message to the force today is don't wait. They're safe.
They're effective, they work. They make us more ready for some more lethal force. And there's no reason to wait for the mandate. Meanwhile, traffic backed up at Canadian border stops as Americans were allowed to drive across for the very first time in more than a year, only the fully vaccinated are being admitted into Canada. The US is still keeping its restrictions on Canadians in Afghanistan. The Taliban's rapid assault captured two more provincial capitals
today. The insurgents have now overrun at least five key cities in recent days out of a total of thirty four. And fighting continues in the others.
All of this comes as the US withdrawal is nearing its end, although American airstrikes continue. We'll look more closely at the situation in Afghanistan and America's longest war later in the program. Officials in Mali report as many as fifty one people were killed when Islamist gunmen attacked a series of villages on Sunday.
It happened near the border with Niger, where extremists linked to the Islamic State group have been active. The attacks came a week after security forces arrested two jihadi leaders back in this country. The US Senate is on the brink of passing a one trillion dollar infrastructure plan.
It has drawn broad bipartisan support and a final vote could come tomorrow. But a different piece of legislation. A Democratic budget resolution sparked a new fight today. It totals three and a half trillion dollars over 10 years for social and environmental spending.
We will concentrate on communities that have been too often neglected, including communities of color and Native Americans, by making education, child care, health care. And housing more affordable, we can give tens of millions of families a leg up. They call it three and a half trillion dollars in spending. Nonpartisan experts say those plans would more likely cost Americans about five and a half trillion. Trillions more borrowing and trillions more spending when inflation is already sticking American families with higher costs.
Democrats say their plan would be fully paid for largely by tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. We'll take a closer look later in the program. State lawmakers in New York said it may be several weeks before they vote on holding an impeachment trial of Governor Andrew Cuomo. A state investigation has found he sexually harassed 11 women. It also said his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, led efforts to attack his accusers. She resigned overnight and attorney Roberta Kaplan resigned as leader of Time's Up, a group fighting sexual harassment.
She had given legal advice to Cuomo, his administration on discrediting one of his accusers, a woman who says she was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein. Sex trafficking ring is now suing Britain's Prince Andrew. Virginia Jeffrey filed the federal lawsuit in New York. She alleges Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions when she was 17. Andrew has previously denied the allegations. And on Wall Street today, falling oil prices pulled much of the market lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost one hundred and six points to close at thirty five thousand one hundred one. The Nasdaq rose twenty four points. The S&P 500 slipped four points. Still to come on the news hour, we look at the Cuban threat in Missouri and how lawmakers are responding in one hot spot. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge discusses the tenuous nationwide housing situation. We reflect on the highs and lows of the Tokyo Olympic Games, plus much more. This is the PBS NewsHour from WETA Studios in Washington and in the West from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
Even before the Biden administration announced that the US was withdrawing from Afghanistan by the end of September, the security situation there had deteriorated. The Taliban have stepped up their attacks. Their onslaught is accelerating and Afghan forces seem to have no ability to stop it. Stephanie SCIE has the latest. Across the country, in every direction, the Taliban have made major gains from Lashkar Gah in the south to Kunduz in the north, along with many other places, the Taliban have captured territory and regional capitals and are now a threat in most of Afghanistan's provinces.
Their assassination campaign against government, civil society and media also continues. So how does all this look to those who follow Afghanistan closely? For that, we get to views. Retired Lieutenant General Doug Lute served in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations focusing on Afghanistan, and Annie for Simon served as the deputy chief of mission in Kabul in twenty, seventeen and eighteen, then went on to become acting deputy assistant secretary of State for Afghanistan until two thousand nineteen.
Thank you both for joining us. And first time, I want to start with you. We asked the Pentagon today about their reaction to the events in Afghanistan. The spokesman said they're concerned. What does that really mean when a government official says that? Does it mean they were not expecting this? I think it means that they do not have viable plans right now that they can share with the media and honestly, they don't seem to have had enough planning behind their policy decision to withdraw unconditionally and with a date certain. So I cannot get into the mindset of the spokesman, but I would say that concern is a mild word to say that they don't know what is happening next. Ambassador Doug Lute, no viable plans, does this withdrawal withdrawal, which I know you have supported, is that the reason we are seeing this momentum from the Taliban? Well, it's part of the reason, but it's only part of the Biden administration decision had many components, at least five by my count.
One was the withdrawal of US military troops, and that's taking effect according to plan. But other pieces, the plan, other parts of this policy package have lagged. And here I agree with with any foresight. So how are we going to continue economic and political support to the Afghan government? How are we going to deliver diplomatic support to the stillborn talks in Doha? How are we going to take care of the Afghans who worked and served alongside of us and equally important for the US self-interest, how are we going to deliver and over the horizon counterterrorism capability in case transnational terrorists pop up again in Afghanistan? So one piece of the policy has been implemented according to the timeline. The others are yet to be seen. Annie, what can the US do from here on out, and do you hold the Biden administration responsible for this method of withdrawal and the reason we're seeing so many cities fall so fast in Afghanistan? Well, I first I want to say that the human costs are escalating and it is a terrible series of stories of people that I know and have worked with. It is what we hear about atrocities that are being committed, prisoners that have been killed.
And this is happening in a way that has caused more displacement. Over three hundred thousand people have been displaced since May. People are sleeping in the open in Kabul because they are frightened to go back to their homes and cities. So, yes, I think that the US government bears some part of the responsibility for how this has unfolded. And I think that we have options short of war that we still need to take. Ambassador, it sounds like you believe there are options as well, but what leverage does the US or the UN have to get the Taliban back to the negotiating table? And are the Taliban that are fighting these battles, are they even listening to the leaders negotiating in Doha? Well, it's not quite clear what the connection is between those who are negotiating in Doha on behalf of the Taliban, what that relationship is with the Taliban fighters on the ground in some of these remote rural areas, largely still rural areas where the Taliban is gaining military military effectiveness. But, you know, these are not general
areas anymore, not just rural areas anymore, Ambassador. We're looking at cities, including the city of Kunduz, three hundred seventy five thousand people, a northern city which the Taliban has held before. But it looks like the security forces are not able to hold territory. That's right. Kunduz is an exception in terms of its size and its location in the north. The other provincial capitals and the handful that have fallen are still
relatively small and relatively remote and in Pashtun dominated areas. So the largest cities, the five or six largest cities, are still defended by by the government forces. And I think the key here and what we're seeing play out is that we have given alongside Afghans, we have given the Afghan government the capacity to their capabilities to defend itself. But what's playing out is whether or not they have the will to defend themselves. And in military situations, capability and will are both important. But Will is dominant.
Annie Fassbinder, how do you get the willingness to go ahead, you can respond to the ambassador there. I just want to say that I know he's making very important points, but I would just add that the Afghan forces are reclaiming territory as well as losing it. They are still fighting and they have the disadvantage that they can't use the Taliban's tactics. They have to care about international humanitarian law and civilians. And so I know they have the will to do quite a bit. And that's where I think that they need international support,
the way that, in fact, the Taliban has international support. I think that we should continue to support our allies in Afghanistan and keep them fighting at the level that they're capable of. But any other issue that we're sorry, the forms of support of, please, ambassador, go ahead. This fight will not be won by air support, for example. Air support is important, but only on the margins. This is a ground fight, a ground based fight, and in particular, it's a ground based fight with the forces intermingled with civilians.
So we need much more capacity and much more will demonstrated by the Afghan forces so that we don't see reports of Afghan forces surrendering or abandoning their posts and so forth. So it's both capacity and will. Does the Taliban momentum at this point look reversible, though, to you, Ambassador, and you have a military background without boots on the ground because as you say, there is still U.S.
air support doesn't seem to be making a difference and it can lead to civilian casualties, as you know, in these urban fighting environments. Right, I don't think the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban is inevitable. I think that the Afghan government does have the capacity has over three hundred thousand army and police on station on the payroll.
The question here is whether we can provide they can provide Afghan leadership to those Afghan forces that will then stem the tide on the ground. We should provide as any force. We should continue to provide tactical air support when we can distinguish between the Taliban and civilians, careful not to create civilian casualties in the process. But that's extraordinarily difficult because these forces are intermingled. So the essence of this is Afghan capacity and Afghan will.
Yes, I want to agree with that, I want to thank America for Zammar, I apologize. We'll have to leave the conversation there. And I also apologize for the delays in us speaking to each other. Ambassador Doug Lood and Annie Fassbinder, thank you both for joining us. And we hope to have you back soon. Thank you.
Back in this country, the Delta variant continues to surge for the first time since February. The US is averaging over one hundred thousand new infections a day. One of the places hit particularly hard is Missouri, where right now only forty two percent of eligible people are fully vaccinated in the last seven days. Missouri has recorded more than twenty thousand new cases. I'm joined now by a Republican who has been very public about his vaccination and is urging others to do the same. Representative Billy Long represents Missouri's 7th
Congressional District. He's also running for the open Senate seat being left by Senator Roy Blunt. Congressman Long, great to have you on the news hour. Could you just give us a sense of how things are in Missouri right now? How are your hospitals doing? How are cases doing in Springfield where I am, the hospitals are having a really, really tough time trying to keep up or trying to transfer patients to other locations, even have little issue with. I know that one hospital here had 11 folks deceased since Friday evening. And so it's pretty, pretty dire situation right now.
I will report I heard you give the statistic there about forty two percent of Missouri. Springdale has it up over 50 percent now, which is a very good trend. I think that a lot of people are reassessing their position on the vaccine and deciding that they see these folks in the hospital and they see the sad stories about people on their last breath saying, I wish I hadn't said I wouldn't take it for a year. I was going to wait a year and now it's too late.
And then that person to the a day or two later. So I think people are really starting to understand how important it is to do. What I did is what I tell people, go to your doctor. As soon as I was eligible for the vaccine, I went to my doctor and I said, hey, you know, my medical history, you know everything about me.
Am I a good candidate for this vaccine? And should I take it? And the doctor said, you're a very good candidate for the vaccine. So I took both doses of the course of the Pfizer vaccine is the one that I took. My wife does have the vaccine. Both daughters had the vaccine on this issue of the sort of misinformation and disinformation and mistrust that is out there. You have been, as you were saying, very public in celebrating getting this vaccine. You've encouraged others to do it.
Do you think that if President Trump had done the same, if he when this vaccine came out, if he had said this is a safe vaccine, it's one of the great successes of my administration. I want you all to watch me to get the shot and then I want you to do the same. Do you think that would have helped change some Missourians minds about this? I don't know. The main people that didn't want the Trump vaccine were the Democrats at the time. If you remember, even before it came out, they said, well, Trump's development that we think he's doing it too quick, I think all politics should be removed from this. It's ridiculous to me to bring politics into this life or death situation.
Trump did what no one has ever done before and brought a vaccine to the market rapidly. He took the vaccine immediately. And and I think that the the making it a political football is just repugnant to me. I think that everyone should operate at whatever level they're comfortable with, whatever you like. I say check with their doctor.
I had a guy today contact me and he asked me the same thing about where I was on the vaccine. And I read all these different reports and I see this and I see that. I really don't know what to believe. And I suggested he check with his doctor and do as I did and take the vaccine if his doctor recommended it. And he wrote back and told me of some situations, things that his doctor wasn't real sure if he should take it or not. And I said, hey, that's why I told you to go to your doctor. I'm not a doctor. Don't come to me. But that is my advice to everyone.
I mean, I hear what you're saying, though. There are vaccine hesitancy is disproportionately high among GOP voters. But moving on for a section, we have seen mandates started to come out.
Businesses, state and local governments have been coming out with mandates. Do you think that that's a good idea? Could that get these numbers up and could that help save lives? I don't know if it would help get it up, but I'm not for mandating put a needle on anyone's arm, period. I don't think that that's a good way to go. I think the best way to go is encourage people and show them what happens to the majority of the people that are vaccinated, have a good, safe vaccine. And it's like the vaccine. But mandating anything in the United States of America, in a free country, I don't think should happen. Well, we do mandate certain things. I mean, for kids to go to public school in Missouri,
they say you're you're basically required to have the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. You don't think in this case that that would be a smart thing? I mean, schools are going to reopen in a couple of weeks. No, I don't I'm not for a mandated vaccine, no, I'm for encouraging people to take the vaccine, but I'm not for mandating that and making people put something in their body against their wishes. All right, Representative, long best of luck to you in Missouri. Thanks very much for being here. Thank you, I appreciate the time.
Millions of renters and landlords across the country are living in limbo because of a flurry of legal challenges to the Biden administration's new federal ban on evictions. Michelle Sándor takes a deeper look at what the administration is doing to address this growing housing insecurity in the country. We examine the administration's plans to address evictions and economic challenges during the pandemic with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge.
Thank you so much, Secretary Fudge, for being here. Now, the Biden administration allowed the federal eviction moratorium ban to expire when Congress did not pass anything to extend it. What do you say to critics who say that the White House did not act fast enough here? Well, first off, thanks for having me.
I would say that the White House acted in a very deliberate way. I think that there were a lot of things that went into making this decision. And certainly one was to determine where we were as it related to the CDC and what was happening with the variant. I think that they did act timely. Certainly people do believe it should have been earlier, but I think that they acted with the kind of reason and and and just good consciousness of what was going on in the country. So I think that they did just fine with that. And the new federal ban on eviction moratorium, it's more limited. It also expires on October 3rd.
Do you worry at all that this is sort of a cliff that's coming toward renters now that there's this October 3rd deadline? I don't think that I'm as worried as I would have been. I do do not believe, actually, that there should be a cliff if we can get out the forty six billion dollars that is already in the pipeline. I do not believe that we should hit a cliff. There is enough resources right there that we can actually make up all bridges as well as pay some rent forward. So I don't think there should be a cliff. I think that right now people are getting the resources out the way they should.
Everybody is up and running. And I do believe that this additional time is going to make sure that we push it through. So I'm not as worried as I would have been had we not extended it. And you said you're not as worried and that you say that that you think the White House acted timely. But of course, there are critics who say that this is a sort of a coming cliff for renters and that the White House in some ways dropped the ball here.
What do you make of that? Well, I would say that it's easy for people to throw stones when they don't really have to make decisions. This was a big decision. And so I do think that they did act, at least in my view, in the way I think about it, very responsibly and for those who want to throw stones. I mean, there's nothing that I could do about it except for to say I am very supportive of the decision they made and within the timeframe in which they made it.
And there are landlord groups now that are challenging this new eviction ban in court. Judge just today said that this new, more limited ban looks almost identical to the one that the CDC passed that was expired. The president has said that he thinks that he's not sure that this new ban will pass constitutional muster.
What happens if this new eviction moratorium is struck down in court at this point? All I can say is that it is really up to the courts. I am not of the opinion that the White House made a decision that they did not believe was legal. And so I believe, as does the president, that this will pass constitutional muster. And if for some reason it does not, then we'll deal with it at that time. But that's a decision for the courts to make and not us. But I think that they did the right thing. We're also hearing from landlords, some of them, who say they could be homeless if they don't get rental payments. What do you what's your message to landlords who say
they are financially struggling and that they might not be able to pay their bills if they don't get the rent from tenants? I would say the landlords, they should be supporting what we're doing because the money is going to landlords. The money is there to make sure that they are brought up to date, that we assist them in any way we can. So they should be supportive because they are the ones getting the money. So don't take forty six billion dollars out of the queue that you can have to bring you up to speed. I do know that it has been difficult and has been challenging for people who may not have been paid their rent over a long period of time, but this is the opportunity to get paid back. And so I would be hopeful that they would want to keep people in their homes.
Black people and people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and have faced dire economic struggles. What's your plan to address the widening gap in black homeownership and generational wealth that has deepened in the pandemic? I'm so glad you asked me about that, because you have to think about it. This didn't just start with the pandemic. People of color, black people, brown people of low income people have been living with this for a very, very long time. This didn't just start. But the good thing about this administration is that the president has asked for us to look through everything through a lens of equity.
So some of the things that we are doing is assisting those who have FHA mortgages. We've already extended the eviction moratorium or foreclosure moratorium. We are assisting with modifying mortgages. We are talking to mortgage servicers. We are doing all of the things that we know we can do as an agency to make sure that people stay in their homes. We've talked with our landlords about how
they can avoid. Foreclosure, we are talking with courts about how we can assist with keeping people in their homes once they are put into the process of eviction. So we are doing all we can. But this is not new. Twenty five percent of black renters today believe that they they're already behind on their rent, but this is not new. Again, I keep saying it. It is not.
It is what we live with every day. You it is we are the people who bear the brunt of this entire crisis. We are the front line workers. You know, we are the essential workers. We are people who live in dense communities. This is something that is not new. There are also a lot of temporary fixes right now, you look at the eviction moratorium, you look at enhanced unemployment benefits, you look at student loan repayment pauses. Are you worried that this could be a house of cards that could fall foul? And are you worried about what could happen once these temporary fixes go away? Well, I'm certainly certainly you worry about it, but I am not nearly as concerned as I would be if we were not doing all the things we're doing and the White House was not doing all the things they are doing. I do believe that all of this is going to work out
at some point, and I do think it's going to happen soon. If you look at the numbers of people who are being helped over the last few months, it has been going up exponentially every single month, over a billion and a half people just in the month of June, July numbers are going to be better. August numbers are going to be better. And we believe that we can avert the crisis that everybody sees as looming if we do the work that we are all doing right now.
An important conversation. Thank you so much, Secretary Fudge. Thank you for having me. Tonight, a major bill that could steer billions of federal dollars to fix roads, railways, water systems and broadband networks in America is inching closer and closer to a final Senate vote. But at the same time, Democrats who control the Senate's agenda are looking at the road ahead, laying the groundwork today for the next major piece of legislation that they want to push through. Lisa Desjardins is with us to get us up to speed. Lisa, as always, so good to see you. Last week, you helped us understand what was in the infrastructure bill.
Tell us where that bill is now. Man, talk about hurry up and wait and wait and wait, we expect the final Senate vote sometime in the next 20 hours or so, likely tomorrow morning is held up still over some advice because of some objections by Republicans. But I want to remind viewers why this is so important, why we're paying so much attention to it. This infrastructure bill, one point two trillion dollars or so, the largest infrastructure bill the country's ever seen inside it, funding and the funding for it is would be based on a lot of it from unused covid relief.
Now, this would give us substantial investments in roads, bridges, water. However, some of it would, in fact, add to the deficit. We now know about two hundred and fifty six billion dollars in red ink. And that, William, is one reason why it's taking so long. Republicans in particular, one senator from Tennessee is holding it up saying this is just too expensive.
So the also today, as I mentioned, the Senate Democrats unveiled this much larger three and a half trillion dollar piece of legislation that they would like to move through using budget rules. Tell us about that. That's right. This is the reconciliation bill that many, many Democrats, including the Democrat who is president in the White House, are most eager to see once the infrastructure bill passes and we do expect it to pass the Senate, then Democrats will tee up this next bill. And today they told us essentially their rough plans for what will go in it. I want to take a look, because this is important. This bill would Democrats would use to expand Medicare and vision, dental and expand the age of Medicare. But they haven't said to what age yet it would have.
Universal pre-K also offer two years of community college for many Americans. This bill also significantly addresses climate, but we don't have the text yet, so we don't know exactly how meaningful it will be. It could be very meaningful. The funding for this bill is based on taxes increases for corporations and the wealthy. So we're going to be paying a lot of attention and talking to a lot more about this. Lisa Desjardins, as always, thank you so much.
So we dig further into this infrastructure deal and Congress packed summer agenda with our politics Monday duo Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR. Great to see you both in person, in the flesh. We're getting some kind of an alert on my phone. It's a thunderstorm warning. Thunderstorms watch out from above. Hope, hope the roof holds. Amy, what do you make of this initial infrastructure bill that is going through? It does seem to be generating a fair amount of bipartisan support.
It does. I mean, you know, when you think back to, say, twenty, seventeen and this is really I don't know if irony is the right word, but President Trump could have gotten a similar infrastructure bill had he wanted to do that. You know, we joke we joked a lot about its infrastructure weak, its infrastructure weak.
But then President Trump had a bigger package that he would have gotten Republicans on board and many Democrats who would have been happy to vote for more spending here, but for whatever reason, didn't want to do the work or whatever else it took to get that through. And so now what you have is a bill that will have President Biden signature signature on it instead of President Trump's. But the same elements are there for both. Why you could get people onto a Trump bill and onto Biden and Bill, which is everybody loves bringing home the bacon.
Right. So there's real stuff in there that people love talking about. But I think the other difference between, say, what would have happened in twenty seventeen and what's happening now, there are a number of members of the Senate who, especially after January 6th, said we need to show the world, we need to show America as well, but the world that this place can work, that we are not broken, that that our legislative process can move through bipartisan work and it can be done in a very civil and thoughtful way and make it through this process. And this was all of those factors that Amy is describing are true. And then this was also Biden's pitch all along that I can be the one that can come and bring the two parties together.
I mean, we are seeing the fruition of that to some extent, certainly. And as Amy said, especially for President Biden, certainly there are members of the Senate for whom this is important, too. But for President Biden, it is incredibly important to him to be able to make the case that American democracy can work, that Washington isn't completely and totally, fundamentally broken. Part of that is a midterm argument. Part of that is central to who President Biden is and why he ran for president and and what he wants his presidency to represent. And it's kind of an old school idea, given the incredible divisions that exist in the country and and the partizanship and polarization. It's an old school pitch that he's made.
We come together and actually fix broken bridges. And that's what the Senate actually does. Right. And and also just fascinating to watch. Former President Trump put out a statement after statement after statement, not tweets, but sort of in the form of a tweet, really just badgering Republicans saying, don't do this, don't do this.
A few of them have hurt him, but a large number are saying, well, you know, there are overriding reasons to ignore you. And one of them is that they have long Republicans in the Senate have long shown a willingness to buck President Trump, former President Trump on policies where they aren't so willing to back him on something that's personal. And for him, infrastructure is not nearly as personal as something like, oh, I don't know what happened on January six. Right. This piece of legislation then moves to the House, of course, and then it's Nancy Pelosi's job to wrangle a broad spectrum within her own party. How does that play out?
It's not just a broad spectrum, but it's that she has very few members that she can afford to lose. We talk so much about the 50 50 Senate. We don't talk enough about the fact that Democrats only basically have a three seat cushion. The one thing that Nancy Pelosi does have going for her is that she is not new to this game. She was speaker in that era from 2007 through 2011. So she's been on this before. Now, this is the smallest majority she's ever had to work with. But I think she understands her caucus in a way that very
few politicians I think historically we're going to look back and say there was nobody who I think was able to manage their caucus as well as she did. So she understands what the pressure points are. And I also think all the members, while they are going to go and publicly complain and go on TV and talk about, well, we need this and you can get my vote without that. If Joe Biden fails, so do they. Their majority rests on things getting done. And so if he looks like he is not doing the work, if his approval ratings start to slide, it falls on them in the midterm.
He's not up until twenty, twenty four. Tim, I want to shift gears to the scandal happening in New York State right now. Andrew Cuomo has been seemingly credibly accused by 11 women of some pretty atrocious behavior.
One of them came out somewhat publicly today and detailed these allegations against him being assaulted by him. How do you see is he going to survive this? And and many of these actions that he is accused of were happening at the same time that he was portraying himself as a champion of women. Right. Which is just an added blow in all of this. He is at the moment hanging on and is calculating, seemingly with his push back on on all of the allegations, his professionally produced video with the pictures of him hugging and grabbing people by the face. With all of that, he is calculating, as other politicians have successfully calculated in the past, that if he just hangs on, maybe people will forget, maybe they'll just start focusing on governing again.
But there are so many factors working against him at this time. The question is, you know, is he really, really going to hang on or is he hanging on right up until he is no longer hanging on? And then and that's also the way it works, is that it seems like people are fighting until they're just till they've not wily coyote and the cliff is right there. But as Tim is saying, there are examples, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, who also faced credible allegations of sexual harassment and and they held on. Right. The one thing that they have that Andrew Cuomo doesn't support from their base.
So if you look back even just a month ago, polling in the state showed that more than 50 percent of Democrats said don't impeach Andrew Cuomo. And this is still when the allegations were there, not the report. But still there were credible allegations. There was all of still the investigation into nursing home deaths and covid.
So there was still a lot of stuff there. And he did have the base. But now post the attorney general's report, more than 50 percent say he should be impeached. So if you don't have leaders on your side, right, the entire Democratic Party has abandoned you. Your legislature, which is run by Democrats, has abandoned you little literally your right hand aide has abandoned you and voters aren't with you. That is there to talk about a man being an island,
as somebody said, someone on an island. And then the high tide is also coming in. So that's supernumerary. And allegedly, though he's in a fighting mood, seems like he's going to fight this.
Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, great to see you both. Thank you. You're welcome. The Tokyo Olympics have now come to a close in Team USA, came away with the big winner with a total of one hundred and thirteen medals, thirty nine of them gold. Earlier today, I spoke with sports columnist Christine Brennan, who joined me from Tokyo to discuss the highlights of Christine Brennan. So good to have you back on the news hour. We all watched the closing ceremonies last night.
And from here, I think by most measures, this was a very unusual Olympics. You have been there the entire time. What was it like for you being there? It was the strangest one I've covered. And as you know, I've covered a lot of them every once since L.A. in 84 and nothing quite like this, obviously.
No crowds, no fans, empty arenas, empty stadiums. You're looking at whether it's beach volleyball or skateboarding or swimming, just sections of of arenas, entire sides of arenas, all, of course, empty. And that is jarring. No matter how many times you saw it, it really was strange. And yet these athletes out there doing what they do the best in the world and still performing beautifully. So, you know, anyone can see these games. It was the athletes. And I think in many ways they did. With regards to the U.S. Olympic team, the U.S.
really surged at the end and racked up a lot of medals in particularly the U.S. Women did phenomenally well. And you wrote a column recently where you credited a lot of that to Title nine back here in the U.S. Can you explain that? Absolutely. That's the law, William, that Richard Nixon signed almost 50 years ago, June of 1972, basically mandating that women and girls would have the same opportunities as boys and men to play sports in high schools and colleges. And it opened the floodgates for for those girls and women to be able to play like the brothers in sports the way that they always have done for generations. And it is the evidence is clear.
For the fourth consecutive Summer Olympic Games, women in the United States won more medals than men, and this time close to 60 percent of the U.S. medals won were won by women. For example, April Ross, the women's beach volleyball player, won the gold medal. She said if there wasn't a Title nine, I wouldn't be here. She said it's just a fact that her college experience getting a chance to get a scholarship and play in college led to her years later winning this gold medal here in Tokyo. Katie Ledecky, the same thing, saying the opportunities that she was given because of Billie Jean King and Donna Davoren and other pioneers fighting for Title nine all those years ago, that that has made her the athlete she is. If you ask women, William, we're actually a country
they would have finished fourth in the medal count ahead of almost two hundred other countries, including Australia and Japan and Great Britain. That's how remarkable the US women were at these Olympic Games. It is such a tremendous legacy. And there are obviously some standout performers among those women, too, as well. Allyson Felix certainly being one of them. Tell us a little bit about her remarkable run.
Thirty five years old, her last Olympics she has with her 11th medal, which she won in the women's four by four hundred, relays a scintillating race of past, present and future American women stars and running when they won the gold. That's her 11th medal, making her the most decorated American Olympian ever in track and field. Also, as a mother, she is this is her first Olympics as a mom with having had her daughter in twenty eighteen. And she had to fight for equal pay and for maternity and paternity leave from Nike, one of her major sponsors. And she's one of the biggest names in the Nike stable. And they did not want to to pay her while she was pregnant.
And she fought that battle and she won. So she's not only excelling on the track, but she is taking and as a veteran in her 30s, she is now taking on issues for not only women her age, but women who are going to be coming along, professional Olympians who want to also be moms, continuing to compete because of Title nine. And they will have rights and they won't be able to make money that they otherwise would not have made because of Allyson Felix. And lastly, you recently wrote that the this Tokyo Olympics, even though the face of protests and the pandemic and no audience that it did go on, but the future of the Olympics as a real cultural touchstone is changing. And it is not as clear that that's going to be going forward the same
way. Can you explain? Certainly TV ratings have plummeted just in the past and I'm sure around the world as well. It's just it's just not the must see TV that it once was when you raced home and without DVRs and and videotaping, if you got home a few minutes late and that was on from eight to 11:00 in the East, the Olympic Games that got home at eight, 15, those 15 minutes were gone forever. You could never get those Olympic minutes back.
So you did. Appointment viewing, and you had to be there and now you, frankly, can follow the Olympics without ever turning on the broadcast. There's certainly the Olympics are going to be here for a long, long time. But they're changing. They're basically just not as special as they once were. And that's OK. It's just the reality of our sports landscape and all the options
people have for watching and viewing sports. All right. Christine Brennan from USA Today, joining us from Tokyo, Japan. Thank you for all of your great coverage of these Olympic Games. Great to see you, too. William, thanks so much. And that's the news hour for tonight. I'm William, bring them join us online and again here tomorrow evening for all of us at the PBS NewsHour.
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