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Biden promoting jobs and families plans at Georgia rally

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President Biden is campaigning for his American Jobs and Families plans in Georgia, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill meet to discuss police reform with the families of Black men killed by police. CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe spoke to "Red and Blue" host Elaine Quijano from the site of the Georgia rally, and CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion, Wall Street Journal White House reporter Catherine Lucey and Politico White House reporter Meridith McGraw discuss Biden's proposals and the police reform talks.

Video Transcript


ELAINE QUIJANO: Hi, everyone. I'm Elaine Quijano. It is good to be with you. Thanks for joining us. After giving more details on the second part of his ambitious agenda item, President Biden is using his 100th day in office to campaign for the American Families Plan.

The nearly $2 trillion plan would dramatically increase the role of government. His first stop on a tour to promote the plan is in Georgia. It was one of the closest states in the November presidential election and handed Democrats their narrow Senate majority in January.

Earlier, President Biden stopped in Plains, Georgia, to visit former President Jimmy Carter. You can see him here with his wife, first lady Jill Biden, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter. Mr. Carter had to skip the president's inauguration because he was not vaccinated yet against COVID-19. Tonight, President Biden will be speaking at a drive-in rally in the city of Duluth, just outside Atlanta. Here's how the president explained his vision for funding trillions of dollars in new federal spending last night.

JOE BIDEN: How do we pay for my Jobs and Family Plan? I made it clear we could do it without increasing the deficit. Let's start with what I will not do. I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000.

But it's time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share, just their fair share. My fellow Americans, trickle-down-- trickle-down economics has never worked, and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.

ELAINE QUIJANO: As President Biden pushes his plan in Georgia, lawmakers in Washington are getting down to the details in their negotiations on police reform. Mr. Biden is calling for a bill to be on his desk by next month. Relatives of four Black men killed by police, George Floyd, Botham Jean, Terrence Crutcher, and Eric Garner, met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.

They spoke with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker, and South Carolina Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. The families are urging lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It would ban chokeholds, some no-knock warrants, and prohibit racial and religious profiling by police. Here's how attorney Ben Crump framed their meeting with the South Carolina Republican senators.

BEN CRUMP: They listened intensely. They got very emotional at times. And they promised them that they were going to try to make meaningful legislation in their families' names. So this was about them understanding that this is very real to all of us, but it means more to these families than anybody else, because that legislation will literally have the blood stain of their loved ones.

ELAINE QUIJANO: CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe is in Duluth, Georgia, ahead of President Biden's rally tonight. Hi there, Ed. So I want to start, first of all, with President Biden's pitch for the American Jobs and Families Plans. What work does he need to do to actually see this vision of expanded and engaged government become a reality?

ED O'KEEFE: Well, the White House believes he needs to be making trips like this to battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania tomorrow, Virginia next week, as the vice president visits Maryland, and Ohio, and Wisconsin in the coming days, all in a bid to boost public support for this legislation and try to convince Congress to act as quickly as possible. And even if it means that overall Americans support the ideas, even if they can't find Republican support, that strong majority public support for this could compel Democrats to go it alone.

Remember, Georgia was the state critical to not only the president's fortunes last November, but also to Democrats taking full congressional control. This is the second visit the president has made to this battleground state since he became president. Tomorrow when he goes to Pennsylvania, it'll be the third in just two months, a sign that these kinds of states, competitive in presidential years and have competitive statewide races next year either for governor or for senator or for both, as in the case here, are the kinds that Democrats are going to focus on and the White House is going to make sure the president is visiting.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Well, Ed, this event right now is the public relations pitch from President Biden. Tell us what's happening behind the scenes.

ED O'KEEFE: Well, this is like the campaign rallies he held last fall, a car rally. You bring your car in. You sit in your car, on top of your car, just outside your car to hear from the president. And in this case, a slate of Georgia Democrats who have been invited to warm up the crowd, everyone from state senators to Stacy Abrams to the two senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the president, of course, being the headliner.

This is an event that they had wanted to hold last month when the president was here, but it had to be postponed because of the shooting at that Atlanta massage spa. That, of course, led to a conversation at the White House, a much broader conversation about anti-Asian violence and the new push that the administration has taken since then. This is also sort of designed to be a thank you to Georgia Democrats.

There's a real understanding here that the state party has done yeoman's work, really, over the last six to eight years trying to build up the party, turn out enough voters to win areas of the state like this one, Gwinnett County, a key suburban county outside of Atlanta. If Democrats can't get people to turn out in these kinds of areas of this kind of a state, they can't win elections. And so to get presidential attention for this area is a sign that the White House understands fully what it takes to win back the White House for them in a few years and what it will take for Georgia Democrats to hold on at the congressional level next year.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Ed O'Keefe for us in Georgia. Ed, thank you very much. And Nikole Killion, Catherine Lucey, and Meridith McGraw join me now with more. Nikole is a CBS News congressional correspondent. Catherine is a White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal." And Meridith is a White House reporter for Politico.

Welcome. Thanks to you all for being with us. Catherine, I'm going to start with President Biden's pitch to reshape the role of the American government. You wrote this morning about the narrow window the administration has to work on their priorities. What are they up against?

CATHERINE LUCEY: That's right, Nikole. The president has spent the first 100 days really trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, pass emergency legislation. I don't think anyone who works with him would say that that's been easy, but the job is about to get harder. They're pitching these really sweeping economic proposals, both on a traditional infrastructure, as well as investments in education and child care, paid leave. And they have a window now until the midterm elections, about 18 months, in which they're really hoping to get some of these things done.

The calculation is that if they can do some of these big things, that puts them in a better position in states like Georgia, where the president is today. But it's going to be tough for the president. There is, you know, these very narrow-- Democrats have very narrow majorities in the House and the Senate. He has to keep a broad caucus together where there are a lot of divergent interests about what this legislation should look like, how much it would cost, what should go in it. And so these are going to be tough negotiations moving forward within his party.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Yeah, and so Nikole, just to follow up on what Catherine's saying there, does President Biden actually have the support that he needs from inside his party and outside his party to actually pass these plans?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, I think to Catherine's point, it is going to be a heavy lift. Certainly he has more support within his own party, and a lot of the legislation that he called for last night has already been passed by the House, for instance, you know, and some measures. Of course, really the bigger challenge is in the Senate. And while Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed support for a number of these proposals, again, you know, trying to get enough votes to clear some of these bills is really the challenge, whether you're talking about police reform, gun control legislation, immigration, and the like. So that really is the challenge going forward.

I think as far as the proposals that the president discussed last night in terms of infrastructure, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, certainly when you're looking at the issue of bipartisanship, there is a willingness among Republicans to work with the president on infrastructure. But you know, they always give the caveat they would rather see this proposal focus more on traditional infrastructure. So the price tag is still a lot to swallow for Republicans, but they are still interested in working with the White House and the administration to try to come together on this.

As far as the American Families Plan, that one, by far, is going to be a much tougher lift. As far as Republicans are concerned, they just think the price tag is too big, and they just question the need for all of this spending. So I think while the president gave Congress a pretty hefty to-do list, you know, I think it will be a matter of what lawmakers are actually able to check off.

ELAINE QUIJANO: In the meantime, Meridith, you noted last night that a recurring theme of the president's speech was China. It was woven throughout different topics. Here-- here's part of what he said. Let's listen to that.

JOE BIDEN: We can't be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century. Secretary Blinken can tell you, I spent a lot of time with President Xi. He's deadly earnest about becoming the most significant consequential nation in the world. He and others, autocrats, think that democracy can't compete in the 21st century with autocracies, because it takes too long to get consensus.

ELAINE QUIJANO: You know, it was interesting, Meridith, to hear the president sort of framing the need for these investments out of a need to compete with China. And China was also the focus of a Senate hearing on worldwide threats earlier in the day. What is the administration's position here?

MERIDITH MCGRAW: Well, it was really notable that throughout Biden's very long and ambitious speech last night that China was a recurring theme and thread. That clip that you just played, his line about Chinese President Xi Jinping being, quote, "deadly serious about becoming a consequential nation," and him noting the many hours that he has spent talking to President Xi, that was ad-libbed. And that's also President Biden trying to prove that he has really studied President Xi personally and understands what he is trying to accomplish here.

And since the beginning of Biden's presidency, he's really tried to take a tough stand on China. But he's tried to do it in a more traditional way. Whereas former President Trump had a go-it-alone America first style, let's slap tariffs and push sanctions on China to pressure them, President Biden has tried to engage allies. It was notable, too, that he said that we're going to maintain a stronger military presence [AUDIO OUT] Pacific.

But he's really tried to outline that he sees China as an existential threat for America, for American industries in the 21st century. And in some ways in his speech that for a lot of Republicans they didn't hear a lot that they-- they quite wanted to hear in terms of the money that we're spending or some of his plans, focusing on China is a way to reach across the aisle. There's been bipartisan support in Congress to call out China on some of its human rights abuses, and also the military threat that it poses in the Pacific region.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Nikole, let me ask you, I want to dig into this topic of policing reform negotiations. Ben Crump said that these lawmakers listened intently. It was a group of not just the Republicans, but Democrats as well. What do we know about what went on in these meetings at the White House and at the Capitol?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, really, it's a first start. I mean, there have been informal negotiations for the last couple of weeks, primarily between South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and California Congresswoman Karen Bass, who, you know, kind of has the lead on this from the House side. And so today what we saw was really the scope of these negotiations broadening out to folks like South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, and also to other members on the House side, also Senator Durbin.

So the point of that is to try to move the ball forward and look for ways that they can try to reach common ground here. Now, this was just kind of a first step or a first meeting, if you will. I spoke to Congresswoman Bass coming out of this meeting, and she said they really didn't dive into a lot of the details and that is her hope that that can now happen over the next couple of days, not only between the lawmakers who were gathered here today, but also among their staffs and, you know, that they can engage on this.

I also talked to Lindsey Graham. And you know, he did express a willingness to me that this could potentially get done in 30 days, that the will, potentially, is there. But I think these lawmakers are very clear-eyed that they know they have a lot of work to do to try to make that happen, especially since they have just started to scratch the surface.

So what he told me is, you know, it's kind of now going back and-- and talking, for instance, to law enforcement organizations and police organizations to see what they can do. Because in terms of Senator Scott and Senator Graham, they know that they have a very tough sales job among their party when it comes to this issue of qualified immunity. And Congresswoman Bass was very clear that she does support ending it, and she hasn't really backed away from that position.

And Senator Graham told me he's not sure what he can sell to his fellow Republicans yet. So they're still trying to look at different ways to get at this. But I think what you heard across the board, and not only from these families, from Ben Crump, but also from these lawmakers, is really a willingness to try to get this done. And so now it's just a matter of, you know, watching the process play out.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Well, I want to play what New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker had to say to you after this afternoon's meetings. Let's listen to that.

CORY BOOKER: Change doesn't come from Washington, DC. It comes to Washington, DC, by leadership, and advocacy, and activism, and service, and sacrifice, and sometimes blood. So they are driving this change. And the pain and the hurt, as well as the turning that pain into even a deeper, broader purpose, this is what's going to make the difference.

NIKOLE KILLION: What commitments did you make to these families today?

CORY BOOKER: To fight like hell. To fight like hell.

- Amen.

CORY BOOKER: We're going to get as much as we can.

ELAINE QUIJANO: So Nikole, you mentioned a moment ago qualified immunity. What exactly are these family members advocating for? And is it clear if there are votes to pass what we heard Ben Crump call meaningful change?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, I think it still remains to be determined. You know, I think at the end of the day, as you heard Ben Crump say, you know, for him and for these families, it is about getting meaningful legislation. And you know, I think there is a really strong desire to try to hold officers accountable, but how is the question. And so that is something that lawmakers are going to have to drill down on and figure out if they can reach a compromise on this issue.

You know, obviously, we saw in the case of Derek Chauvin, he was held accountable. But you know, for many of these families, they have not found that same justice, and that's why they do feel that having some type of legislation clear this Congress, you know, while it won't bring their family members back, it will be a step forward towards justice for them and for other families and hopefully, in their view, prevent other types of these incidents from happening.

I think it's also important to note as far as some of these lawmakers are concerned, specifically with Cory Booker and Tim Scott, you know, this is also very personal for them. They have also faced, you know, their own personal issues at the hands of police. And they have spoken openly about that in the past. So I think both of them have been working together kind of in an honest brokering fashion.

But again, there are a lot of issues still to be resolved, and lawmakers have made that clear. And as we know here on Capitol Hill, nothing ever happens quickly. So again, I think this may be something that will require some time.

While certainly there is an interest in trying to get this done by the anniversary of George Floyd's death, I think there's also some openness, potentially, to not set that deadline in stone, even though, you know, the president kind of reiterated that yesterday. And certainly when we asked lawmakers on the Hill today about that, they were kind of noncommittal as to whether or not they could truly get this done in 30 days. So again, we'll just have to see.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Yeah, it's such an important point, though, Nikole, that these lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Cory Booker and Tim Scott, are approaching it with a common sense of personal understanding of what the stakes are in this case. We'll look to see what progress--

NIKOLE KILLION: And I'll just add--

ELAINE QUIJANO: --is made--

NIKOLE KILLION: --very briefly--

ELAINE QUIJANO: --in the days and weeks ahead.

NIKOLE KILLION: --you know, the families were very optimistic. I mean, I did have a chance to talk to them. I know we heard a lot from Ben Crump. But you know, Tiffany Crutcher, who's-- who's the sister of Terrance Crutcher, she did say that she felt that Congress could get this done. So the families are very hopeful and, as you heard there, hope to stay engaged in this process.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, I want to thank all of you. Nikole Killion, Catherine Lucey, and Meridith McGraw, thank you very much.