January 19, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
January 19, 2022 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight:
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: It's been a year of challenges, but it's also
been a year of enormous progress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden defends his administration's track record amid worsening
approval ratings and a host of setbacks one year after his inauguration.
Then: ballot battle.
The Democrats' push for voting rights legislation faces stiff opposition in the evenly divided
Then: on edge.
The secretary of state reassures Ukraine of U.S. support, but warns, Russia could launch
an attack at any moment.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden fielded questions from reporters at a marathon news conference
on everything from soaring inflation, the stalemate on voting rights legislation, to
Americans' anxiety over COVID-19.
It was his first formal meeting with the press in 10 months.
Geoff Bennett joins me now to discuss where the president's agenda stands and what remains
to be accomplished.
So, hello, Geoff.
Let's talk about what the president had to say.
What kind of an assessment is he giving himself?
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, the president, Judy, in talking about the past year, said that
it has been one of challenges, but, as he put it, one of enormous progress, the president
citing the pace of COVID vaccinations, rising wages, also an uptick in job growth.
But he said, in assessing his setbacks, the administration's setbacks of his first year
in office, that he failed to fully grasp the level of Republican pushback that he would
Take a look at this.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: I did not anticipate that there would be such
a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn't
get anything done.
Think about this.
What are Republicans for?
What are they for?
Name me one thing they're for.
And so the problem here is that I think what's happened -- what I have to do, in the change
in tactic, if you will, I have to make clear to the American people what we are for.
We passed a lot.
We passed a lot of things that people don't even understand what's -- all that is in it,
GEOFF BENNETT: And later in the press conference, the president was asked, why did he fail to
get a better sense of Republican pushback, given he was President Obama's V.P.
for eight years, and President Biden said that the level of Republican obstructionism,
as he put it, had changed dramatically?
Looking ahead to year two of his time in office and beyond, the president said he intends
to get more into the country, talking directly to the American people about how his policies
and his agenda items can benefit everyday Americans, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Geoff, we saw the president was also asked about the fate of voting rights
legislation, which is being debated in the Senate this evening.
What did he say about seeing any path forward there?
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, he seemed to suggest that Democrats might be able to carve a path
forward by breaking out elements of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to
Vote Act into individual stand-alone bills, for instance, making Election Day a national
holiday, just having senators vote on that specific thing, same thing with same-day voter
registration, and seeing if they have any success by breaking parts of those bills out
and passing them separately.
That remains to be seen.
But the president was also asked, in the absence of significant voting rights legislation,
can the American people feel that elections in this country will continue to be free and
Here's his response.
JOE BIDEN: It all depends on whether or not we are able to make the case to the American
people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.
GEOFF BENNETT: And the president also nodded to what is at this point a very, very early
effort among the bipartisan group of lawmakers to rewrite the electoral reform act.
The president suggested they might have some success there as well, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Geoff, we know the president was also talking about the economy.
He said that he has created under his leadership six million new jobs in America, but he also
said he knows that inflation is something he needs to get under control.
What did he say about how he plans to do that?
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes, and he acknowledged the pain that so many Americans are feeling, given
that inflation has risen some 7 percent since just last month.
And so he talked about the tools in his toolbox that he has available to him to address this
issue, Fed policy, fixing the supply chain, and he also said that he wants to pass parts
of his Build Back Better agenda.
Take a look.
JOE BIDEN: There's a lot we have to do.
It's not going to be easy, but I think we can get it done.
But it's going to be painful for a lot of people in the meantime.
That's why the single best way, the single best way to take the burden off middle-class
and working-class folks is to pass the Build Back Better piece that are things that they're
paying a lot of money for now.
If you get to trade off higher gases, and you're putting up with higher price of hamburger
and gas, vs. whether or not you're going to have to -- you're going to be able to pay
for education and/or child care and the like, I think most people would make the trade.
Their bottom line would be better in middle-class households.
But it's going to be hard, and it's going to take a lot of work.
GEOFF BENNETT: And the president also made some news today in that press conference.
He suggested that a path forward for the Build Back Better agenda is also to break that down
into specific stand-alone bills and trying to pass those as stand-alone elements, universal
pre-K, free community college, all those agenda items that, as he sees it, would expand the
social safety net, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Geoff, this was -- as we said, a marathon press conference.
It went on almost two hours.
I think we are going to be dissecting -- dissecting what he had to say well into tomorrow.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes, I think that's the case.
And we will certainly see.
The thing that I'm particularly interested in seeing is the way that the president and
this White House generally changes their messaging strategy, how they intend to really brag about
all the things that they see that they have accomplished in this past year.
The president really tried to reframe the work that he and so many of the White House
officials and Cabinet officials have done, not just on COVID, but on the economy, and
really changing the economy generally, as they so often say, this White House, to make
the economy work for working people -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Geoff Bennett reporting on this news conference today, thanks very
GEOFF BENNETT: Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: The Biden administration is making 400 million
N95 masks available to the public for free starting next week.
Today's announcement said they will be available at pharmacies and at community health centers.
And New Mexico became the first state to ask National Guard troops to serve as substitute
teachers in order to keep schools open.
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch are denying a report -- a
reported rift over wearing a mask.
Today, in a rare statement, they said -- quote - - "It is false.
While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends."
The justices specifically denied that Sotomayor, who is a diabetic, asked Gorsuch to mask up.
NPR had reported that she joined oral arguments remotely because Gorsuch was not masked.
It did not say she asked him to wear one.
NPR said today that it stands by its story.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed again this evening for voting rights legislation,
but Republicans moved again to block it.
Democrats claimed new state voting laws smack of Jim Crow segregation.
Two Black senators, South Carolina Republican Tim Scott and New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker,
clashed on that point.
TIM SCOTT (R-SC): To have a conversation and a narrative that is blatantly false is offensive,
not just to me or Southern Americans, but offensive to millions of Americans who fought,
bled, and died for the right to vote.
So, if we're going to have an honest conversation about the right to vote, let's engage in that
based on the facts of the laws that are being passed.
CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Don't lecture me about Jim Crow.
I know this is not 1965.
That's what makes me so outraged.
It's 2022, and they are blatantly removing more polling places from the counties where
Blacks and Latinos are over-represented.
I'm not making that up.
That is a fact.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats also called for rules changes to let a simple majority prevail,
but that too appeared to have no chance.
We will return to this after the summary.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban urged foreign governments to recognize their regime and
to loosen restrictions on economic aid.
The appeal came today at an economic conference in Kabul.
Meanwhile, a U.N. labor organization reported that more than 500,000 Afghans have lost their
jobs since the Taliban took control.
An Islamic militant in Indonesia was convicted today of hiding information about the 2002
Arif Sunarso had eluded capture for 18 years, before he was caught in late 2020.
Prosecutors said that he belonged to a group blamed for bombing two Bali nightspots.
The attacks killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.
New information from Tonga confirms severe damage on several islands from Saturday's
A ship reached parts of the Pacific nation, and reports 50-foot tsunami waves wiped out
nearly every home on three islands.
In response, New Zealand has sent two ships with supplies and a desalination plant to
provide clean water to thousands.
SIMON GRIFFITHS, Aotearoa Navy Ship: For the people of Tonga, we're heading their way now
with a whole lot of water.
Now, the ship can hold -- currently holds over 250,000 liters of water, and we will
be able to provide that once we arrive.
And then, every day thereafter, we're going to be producing another 70,000 liters of water.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The ships will reach Tonga by Friday.
Back in this country, New York state's attorney general has laid out evidence that the Trump
Organization exaggerated assets to win loans and tax breaks.
That is in a court filing aimed at forcing compliance with subpoenas.
It says, in one case, the company claimed that the Trump penthouse in New York was nearly
three times its actual size.
The Trump Organization rejected the allegations.
Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected President Trump's request to block release
of White House documents sought by the House January 6 Committee.
On Wall Street today, interest jitters sent major stock indexes down again by 1 percent
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 339 points to close at 35028.
The Nasdaq fell 167 points.
The S&P 500 dropped 44.
And women's basketball pioneer Lusia Harris has died in her native Mississippi.
In 1977, she became the only woman ever officially drafted by the NBA.
She declined because she was pregnant.
In college, Harris led Delta State to three national championships.
In 1976, she scored the first points in women's Olympic basketball.
Lusia Harris was 66 years old.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the University of Michigan reaches a major sexual abuse settlement
with more than 1,000 former athletes; why airlines are warning 5G technology could cause
havoc at airports; the life and legacy of the late fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley;
plus much more.
Tonight on Capitol Hill, a vote some Democrats have waited years to hold on whether to advance
a voting rights bill in the Senate.
But with Republicans ready to block it, Democrats are also poised to vote on whether to change
the Senate's rules.
To help us get a sense of where things are standing -- stand right now, I'm joined by
our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins, who is at the Capitol.
So, Lisa, remind us of what Democrats are trying to do here and what political waves
this has been causing.
LISA DESJARDINS: As you say, Judy, the ultimate goal for Democrats here is to pass voting
rights legislation, a national standard for how we vote across this country.
We know they don't have the votes for that.
So what they are also trying to do is to try and change Senate rules in order to allow
voting rights to go through via something called the talking filibuster.
Here's a reminder of what exactly they want on the table, and we expect this today or
The idea here from Democrats right now is to force senators who want to block this voting
rights bill to stand and talk their way through it, through that talking filibuster.
Now, it would mean that the debate could be very long, but it could also mean that a final
majority vote would happen once every senator who opposes the bill finished speaking.
Now, to pass that rules change, however, Judy, they need all 50 of their Democrats on board.
And we know that at least one of them, Senator Joe Manchin, is not, and very likely another,
Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, also opposes changing the rules by a partisan majority.
Now, both of these senators are experiencing some backlash from their fellow Democrats,
and including some very political serious consequences, including for Kyrsten Sinema.
She's had some endorsements withdrawn in the last day, including one from the group EMILY's
EMILY's List put out this press release about her, writing: "Sinema's decision to reject
the voices of allies, partners and constituents who believe the importance of voting rights
outweighs that of an arcane process means she will find herself standing alone in the
Now, at the same time, Judy, for those Democrats also supporting this rules change, there's
a risk as well for some of them who might have tough elections this year.
That might not be a popular decision either, like Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
So there are some questioning, why take this vote if they know it's going to fail?
To that, Senator Chuck Schumer says we have to get the senators on the record.
Republicans are more than happy for Democrats to do that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all that, Lisa, what is next for Democrats?
LISA DESJARDINS: All right, let's take you through some of what Geoff reported about
and what's going to happen here.
This is another very critical period coming up.
Let's start with where we are right now.
This is the voting rights discussion today, yesterday, if we want to look at a calendar,
also going possibly tomorrow.
Then, what happens next?
We have got about five weeks where the Senate will be here and could try and work out a
possible alternative to Build Back Better.
Right after those five weeks, you will see at the end of it there is a deadline for government
funding on February 18.
That deadline is important, because, immediately after that, the Senate is set to go on recess,
following that recess, another very big date, on March 1, President Biden's State of the
Obviously, he wants to have some part of the Build Back Better agenda.
Tonight, following his press conference, it does seem like there are more doubts about
the child care tax credit.
That's a big loss for some progressives, but talks will continue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins are reporting on it all.
Thank you, Lisa.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Ukraine today to meet with their president
and high command, as more than 100,000 Russian troops remain deployed on Ukraine's borders.
In a moment, I will speak with two U.S. senators who are just back from Ukraine to get their
But, first, Nick Schifrin brings us up to speed.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President: Hello.
Nice to meet you.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary of State: So good to see you.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In Kiev today, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Secretary of State
Antony Blinken met while staring down the barrel of a gun.
ANTONY BLINKEN: Today, there are some 100,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine's borders, and,
in that sense, the threat to Ukraine is unprecedented.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Those soldiers are signaling escalation.
This week, the Russian Defense Ministry released video of troops near Ukraine's border practicing
the urban warfare they would launch if they invaded.
And now Russian tanks and Russian troops are arriving in Belarus to pomp and circumstance.
Belarus calls it a surprise readiness check.
A senior State Department official says they arrived in the guise of joint exercises, potentially
to attack Ukraine.
Those troops could be launched from just 200 miles north of Kiev, joining what us intelligence
has identified as four additional locations of Russian troops surrounding Ukraine's Eastern
border for a total of 100,000.
ANTONY BLINKEN: That gives President Putin the capacity, also on very short notice, to
take further aggressive action against Ukraine.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Ukraine's not feeling much love, but its military released a slick video
granting Russia no grace to a Jefferson Airplane soundtrack.
It shows off U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles that senior U.S. officials say are now deployed
to key transit points.
A senior State Department official today said the U.S. would provide an additional $200
million of military assistance, on top to $450 million provided last fiscal year and
ongoing U.S. training of Ukrainian forces.
But, today on Capitol Hill, Republicans urged the Biden administration to send Ukraine more
military aid and sanction Russia today.
JONI ERNST (R-IA): Putin doesn't take this president, they don't take his threats, and
they certainly don't take his leadership seriously.
NICK SCHIFRIN: This afternoon, President Biden said the extent of sanctions would depend
on Russian actions.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Russia will be held accountable if it invades.
And it depends on what it does.
It's one thing if it's a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to
do and not to do.
If they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we can respond the same way, with cyber.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But while the enemy's at the gates, some Ukrainian guns are pointed inward.
Former President and current opposition candidate Petro Poroshenko rallied supporters in Kiev.
The sitting government accuses him of treason and funding terrorism, accusations the West
believes are politically motivated.
Blinken today urged unity.
ANTONY BLINKEN: Leaders inside and outside Ukraine's government have to put aside their
differences in favor of the shared national interest and work together to prepare for
what could be difficult days.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But Zelensky suggested the U.S. didn't know what it was talking about.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY (through translator): Your intelligence is excellent, but you are far
overseas, and we are here, and I think we know some things a little bit deeper about
NICK SCHIFRIN: Meanwhile, in Russia today, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told
a forum that Moscow posed no threat.
SERGEI RYABKOV, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: We will not attack, strike, "invade" -- quote,
unquote -- whatever, Ukraine.
NICK SCHIFRIN: On Friday, Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,
hoping to forestall an invasion that, despite Russian claims, many fear is inevitable.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Blinken's trip comes just days after a bipartisan congressional
delegation went to Kiev.
Their goal was to show American solidarity with President Zelensky, even though U.S.
lawmakers disagree on the best strategy for combating President Putin.
The leaders of that delegation were Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and
Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.
And I spoke with them this afternoon just as President Biden's news conference was starting.
Senator Shaheen, Senator Portman, thank you very much for joining us.
Senator Shaheen, to you first.
To Americans, who are right now preoccupied with COVID and a number of things at home,
explain to them why it should matter to them whether Russian troops go into Ukraine.
JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Well, we don't want to see a reprisal of the Cold War.
And, unfortunately, that's what we have begun to see with Vladimir Putin.
And the fact is, if he does invade Ukraine, it would be the worst conflict on Europe since
World War II.
That's not good for our allies, and it's not good for America.
We want to see Ukrainians, like Americans and other democracies, have the opportunity
to determine their own futures.
And we do not want to give Vladimir Putin and Russia a veto power over what happens
in Ukraine in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Senator Portman, if the United States is not prepared to send troops
of its own into Ukraine, which is what bipartisan leaders are saying is not in the cards, how
are the American people to understand why this is a priority for them?
ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Well, first of all, the cause of freedom is being fought all over
the world, but no place more so than Ukraine.
Here, you have a country that is sovereign, independent, part of Europe, freedom-loving.
They decided back in 2014.
They went through a process there where they kicked out their Russian-backed authoritarian
And they said, we want to be a democracy.
We want to follow free markets.
We want to be like America and like Western Europe.
And so now, unfortunately, Vladimir Putin is surrounding them with this massive force
that is causing a huge threat to this cause of freedom.
So, it's not just about Ukraine.
It's about destabilizing all of Europe, but it's also about countries all over the world
that are watching this, both other authoritarian regimes that are thinking about what they
might do in terms of taking over another country's territory, and, of course, countries around
the world who are wondering, is the United States and is the free world going to stand
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Senator Shaheen, what more can the United States do?
I mean, Republicans are saying, as we just heard from Senator Portman, send more aid
in now, do more to train the Ukrainian troops.
I mean, what more can be done?
JEANNE SHAHEEN: Well, we want to continue to show the Ukrainians and Vladimir Putin
that we are united, we're united in Congress, and trying to make sure that we provide the
support the Ukrainians need, and also that we point out to Putin what the threat of sanctions
is, should he take action.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Portman, some of your Republican colleagues are calling for harsher
sanctions on Vladimir Putin himself right now.
How do, though, that that wouldn't embolden him even more, make him angry, make him more
determined to go into Ukraine?
ROB PORTMAN: Well, he's already built up this massive force, over 100,000 troops surrounding
Ukraine, more troops going every day, more heavy armaments going every day.
So I don't -- and that's with no provocation.
So I agree with what Senator Shaheen said.
We need to do two things.
One, we need to work with our allies to provide the military assistance that Ukraine needs
to defend itself.
And we're starting to do that more.
And, second, we need to be absolutely sure that the Russians and Vladimir Putin know
that, if they should invade again -- and, remember, they invaded Ukraine already and
They also have come into the Donbass and taken Ukrainian territory there, but, if they do
it again with this massive force, that there will be devastating sanctions.
And the difference between Republicans and Democrats that was played out last week was
the timing of those sanctions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of your Republican colleagues, Senator Rick Scott of Florida, was saying
today that President Biden has been appeasing President Putin and that President Biden needs
to grow a backbone.
ROB PORTMAN: Well, we are where we are.
There may have been some things we could have done earlier.
But we are providing lethal defensive weapons.
Again, the president has just chosen to spend another $200 million, $60 million last year.
In Congress, I think we will appropriate additional funds.
And I think that there's also a lot of unanimity around sanctions should something happen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Shaheen, I -- again, I hear you saying there's unity.
But do you also agree with the Republican criticism that President Biden should have
done more sooner?
JEANNE SHAHEEN: I think the administration has been very engaged with Ukraine.
And, as President Biden told us this morning when we had a classified call with the members
of the delegation who went to Ukraine, he was the one during the Obama administration
who worked with Ukraine, who went in, who tried very hard to make sure that we did more
at that time to hold Russia accountable.
So I think he understands very clearly what's happening.
That's why all the members of the State Department have been in Ukraine, when -- Wendy Sherman,
why Secretary of State Blinken is there, and why the president was very interested in hearing
what our -- what we learned when we were in Ukraine earlier this week.
The fact is, there is a -- there are several sanctions bills in the Senate right now, one
of which would put personal sanctions on Vladimir Putin, as well as other members of the military
there if -- in case of an incursion.
I think we ought to be able to work out some compromise that allows us to make clear what
the threat is should Putin take any action.
And I think there are ways in which we can - - we can provide additional aid, additional
lethal weapons that can show the Ukrainians and Russians that we are intent on doing everything
we can to deter this aggression and to hold them accountable should Putin go into Ukraine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, with the two of you standing there together, I can't miss this opportunity
to ask you both finally about one other thing, and that is what's on the floor of the U.S.
Senate right now.
That's voting rights.
Your two parties are on opposite sides of this issue.
I just wonder, from each one of you, what would you say to the other one about why the
other one's wrong, why you're right on this issue that has so divided the two parties
ROB PORTMAN: Well, Judy, I have very strong views about this.
I think it's been a big mistake for us to spend the last week, including today, on something
that, frankly, isn't going anywhere anyway.
It's a political exercise.
We all know that.
But it is basically saying to the American people that elections don't really matter,
because they're so corrupt or that there's so much voter suppression.
That's just not true.
Many of the same Democrats who had criticized Republicans about questioning the results
of the election because of fraud, and, therefore, drawing into question the legitimacy of elections,
are now doing the same thing by saying that somehow democracy is in crisis because we
have all this voter suppression.
And then, finally, of course, because Democrats are doing this in an entirely partisan way,
they have no Republican support.
In fact, they have a couple of Democrats who aren't supporting it, because what they want
to do is change the rules of the Senate that is the one thing that keeps the Senate from
being not even more partisan, which is called the legislative filibuster, which just means
you have to have 60 votes, rather than 50 votes.
Without that one rule in place, the Senate would become far more partisan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Shaheen, you hear Senator Portman saying this was the wrong way to do
it, it's partisan, it's wrongheaded, it's hurting the country.
What do you say?
JEANNE SHAHEEN: Well, I think we can all agree that the elections in 2020 were record turnout.
Even Donald Trump's own head of elections and homeland security said they were the safest,
securest elections in history.
And that's where the differences lie, because what we have seen, and in 19 states, over
30 states that have -- are considering changing their election laws, in response to the big
lie that Donald Trump actually won that last election, is what the issue is.
In New Hampshire, I'm very worried about our Republican-controlled legislature that is
unwinding many of the reforms and election laws that have taken place over the last two
to three decades.
They're trying to prevent young people from voting.
That has been struck down once already in the Supreme Court in New Hampshire.
And they're trying again.
They're gerrymandering congressional districts in the state, as well as state Senate districts.
So, this is really -- I agree with Senator Portman that we ought to be able to work together.
But, unfortunately, in an effort to try and address what's happening in states across
the country to restrict voting, there has been real reluctance on the part of our Republican
colleagues to work with us.
Lisa Murkowski has signed on to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
But she's the only Republican who's been willing to do that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we couldn't leave the two of you without asking you about it.
And it's a reminder that, yes, there are issues the two parties work together on, but this
is one where you remain profoundly, profoundly apart.
We cannot thank you enough, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Senator Rob Portman
Thank you very much.
ROB PORTMAN: Thanks, Judy.
JEANNE SHAHEEN: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One year into President Biden's tenure, we are taking stock of where some
of his key campaign commitments stand.
Even before taking office, Mr. Biden called climate change an existential crisis, and
he promised to take historic action.
Amna Nawaz joins me now to look at what he has done so far.
So, we know this is a huge issue.
Tell us how he's delivering on it.
AMNA NAWAZ: That's right, Judy.
It's a massive issue.
Climate change is clearly now a climate crisis.
So, to better assess how President Biden has done in year one to address it, we're going
to take a look at four key commitments that he made.
And here they are.
Number one, he has promised to develop a clean energy economy, also to build more resilient
communities, to reestablish America's global leadership on this issue, and to work towards
So, Judy, this is not a comprehensive list but it is illustrative of some of his key
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let's take these one by one, starting with this clean energy economy.
How has he done specifically on that?
AMNA NAWAZ: That's right, Judy.
Well, it's a massive, ambitious goal, the president's goal of hitting net zero carbon
emissions by 2050.
And, actually, let's take a look back.
Here's how he framed it when he was talking about it in July 2020.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: We also know that transforming the American
electrical sector to produce power without producing carbon pollution and electrifying
an increased share of our economy will be the greatest spurring of job creation and
economic competitiveness in the 21st century.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Judy, we know he has taken some action on this front, and particularly
We know transportation is the single largest source of U.S. emissions.
But here's specifically what he has done so far.
Here's a brief list.
He signed in his first week in office an executive order to electrify the entire government vehicle
fleet, which is about 650,000 cars.
He secured $15 billion in that bipartisan infrastructure package for electric vehicle
charging stations and to electrify public transit.
And just last month, the administration put into place the most ambitious car mileage
standards -- standards, rather, yet through 2026.
But meeting that emissions goal, Judy, a lot of that hinges on this Build Back Better plan
Well, we put that question to Dr. Leah Stokes.
She's a professor of climate policy at U.C.
Here's what she said.
LEAH STOKES, University of California, Santa Barbara: That bill will make it way more affordable
for everyday Americans to buy an electric vehicle.
And it will also make sure that those electric vehicles are increasingly built in union shops.
With the Build Back Better Act, we will have a fighting chance to cut carbon pollution
at the pace and scale that's necessary and tackle the climate crisis.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, first, Judy, we know that Build Back Better plan has been stalled.
But experts say, without it, it will be very hard for Biden to meet those emissions goals.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, moving on, what about the impact of climate change on communities?
We know last year was, what, one of the worst ever in terms of climate change affecting
- - and natural disasters.
How is the president doing in terms of making communities more resilient?
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Judy, this is actually a rare area of bipartisan cooperation and work moving
And that's because the devastation and the damage from all of those frequent extreme
weather events is just undeniable, hurricanes and flash floods and wildfires and so on.
And so the president has helped to secure funds to help mitigate some of the worst impacts
When you take a look at, that came as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, $47
billion going to projects like moving highways out of flood zones, grants for wildfire-prone
communities, and water storage in drought-affected areas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then moving on to the third promise, that is recommitting to global leadership
on climate, how has he done there?
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Judy, remember, on day one in office, President Biden reentered that
Paris climate accord, which, of course, sent a very strong signal.
But we should remind people it was on the campaign trail that candidate Biden promised
to go even further in terms of trying to lower global emissions and demand some of that change,
especially from places like China, which is among one of the global leaders in emissions.
Here's how Biden talked about that back in September of 2020.
JOE BIDEN: I will bring us back into the Paris agreement.
I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.
And I challenge every other country to up the ante on climate commitments.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, Judy, of course, late last year, the president attended that big climate
summit in Glasgow.
He slammed the Chinese president for not attending.
And then those two countries, U.S. and China, the world's two biggest polluters, did end
up signing an agreement that experts say was very big on ambition, but very, very short
on specifics, so a mixed record on that front.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, finally, Amna, as you mentioned, the president talked as a candidate
about putting equity at the center of all of his policies.
How has he done when it comes to equity and the environment and climate change?
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, Judy, and the key part here is, studies after study has shown, look, people
of color do tend to live and be exposed to higher levels of pollution than any other
members of the population.
And President Biden has made that a central part of his policies.
In fact, in Flint, Michigan, before Election Day, he talked about just that.
JOE BIDEN: The impacts on climate are -- too often fall disproportionately on poor communities
and communities of color.
We're going to make sure communities benefit from the hundreds of billions of federal investment
in infrastructure and climate change.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, President Biden had pledged $45 billion to replace every single lead pipe
in the country.
He ended up getting $15 billion in that infrastructure bill, which is less than he wanted, but still
way more than previous administrations.
And we actually asked a man named Reverend Edward Pinkney about that.
He's from a town called Benton Harbor in Michigan, where they have been dealing with contaminated
water for three years.
Here's what he said.
EDWARD PINKNEY, Benton Harbor Community Water Council: In most cases, by this being really
a Black community, we don't get stuff down here.
I have to applaud the president, because what he has done, he let us know that he's willing,
he's willing to do what needs to be done to make sure that the community of color have
all the tools they need to be successful.
AMNA NAWAZ: Now, the reverend says that the EPA officials from the Biden administration
have been in touch with his community regularly, in constant communication.
He says he's happy with the progress now that we know about $3 billion of that 15 billion
has been making its way out into the community.
And the Biden administration still says they think they can meet that goal to replace those
lead pipes within a decade.
So, Judy, those are some specific examples, but, big picture, it is going to take a lot
for President Biden to see through his climate agenda.
He's going to need Congress to move forward on the Build Back Better plan.
He's going to need the courts not to get in his way.
And he's going to need to do it quickly, because Republicans have shown little interest in
getting this done, if they especially win back control of Congress in the midterms -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So important to go back and look at all of this.
It's not in the news every day.
Amna Nawaz, thanks very much.
The University of Michigan has reached a $490 million settlement with former athletes and
students who say they were sexually abused over decades by a longtime university physician.
A warning that some may find this story disturbing.
John Yang has the story.
JOHN YANG: Judy, Dr. Robert Anderson worked at the University of Michigan for nearly 40
years, beginning in 1966, until he retired in 2003.
He died in 2008.
Last year, a university-commissioned investigation concluded that Anderson engaged in a pervasive,
decades-long, destructive pattern of sexual misconduct and that the trauma that Dr. Anderson's
misconduct caused persists to this day.
The report also found that the abuse was an open secret among students.
More than 1,000 survivors of Anderson's misconduct, most of them men, will share in the settlement.
David Jesse is the higher education reporter for The Detroit Free Press, and has written
about this story extensively.
David, thanks so much for being with us.
I think that this case may be case may be less known to our viewers than, say, the Larry
Nassar at Michigan State.
So, can you give us a sense of the scope of Dr. Anderson's misconduct and sort of what's
being -- what he did, according to the reports?
DAVID JESSE, The Detroit Free Press: So, Dr. Anderson, like you said, was at the university
for 40 years.
He started and worked in the health services for the broad campus.
He also was the team doctor for the football team under famed coach Bo Schembechler.
He did physicals for football team members, wrestlers, all sorts of athletes.
So, over the course of the four decades, he saw thousands and thousands and thousands
And, as you said, about 1,000 so far have come forward to say that they were sexually
assaulted, that when they went to him for routine physicals or because their elbow was
hurting, or just kind of those routine type of things, that they had unnecessary exams
done of them and were actually sexually assaulted.
JOHN YANG: And the report said that the students - - this was sort of an open secret among the
They actually had a nickname for him.
DAVID JESSE: That's right.
JOHN YANG: But what's known about what administrators and coaches knew?
DAVID JESSE: Well, we have heard that one wrestler came to the athletic director in
the '70s and said that this was going on, that he had been sexually assaulted.
The athletic director at that point swept it under the rug, actually pulled the scholarship
of the wrestler.
We have heard from multiple other former football players who said they reported.
Bo Schembechler, the famed football coach, one of his adopted sons said he was assaulted
by Anderson and told his dad about it.
And so there's been this pattern here of several of the men coming forward and saying, the
administration knew about this and did nothing and just let it keep on going.
JOHN YANG: The investigation talked about the effects this abuse had on students while
they were at the university.
They needed to get counseling.
They -- some of them questioned their sexuality, their academics hurt.
But in terms of the depositions and interviews, what do we know about how it affected the
survivors of this abuse later in their lives?
DAVID JESSE: So, we have heard from people like Chuck Christian, a former football player
who was sexually assaulted by Anderson, who then going forward had this deep distrust
of going to the doctor.
He just didn't want to go, because he equated that pain and shame of going to the doctor
with what had happened to him when he went and saw Anderson.
So he didn't go.
And now he has cancer, and it's pretty far along the stages.
And he says, lookit, this could have been caught if I would have just gone to the doctor,
but I wasn't going to because I wasn't going to go through that experience again.
We have heard from a number of these athletes who have said the same thing.
JOHN YANG: Sexual abuse is often a tale of a power imbalance.
What power did he have over these students and these student athletes?
DAVID JESSE: He had the power for playing time.
He could say, yes, there healed up to, put him back in, coach.
He had the power of scholarships of saying, they're not paying attention.
They're not healed.
You don't want them here.
They're not obeying.
So he held the careers of these athletes right in his hands.
JOHN YANG: You covered the Larry Nassar case at Michigan State.
How do these two compare?
And how did the settlements compare?
DAVID JESSE: The cases are very similar, right, a large amount of people who were assaulted,
both by doctors who used that trust that they have -- think about you going to the doctor.
You trust that your doctor is looking out for you.
And when they say that what they're doing to you is what needs to be done, you go along
As far as the settlements, Michigan State University paid the Nassar victims $500 million.
And, in this case, the University of Michigan is paying $490 million, so pretty close.
JOHN YANG: David Jesse at The Detroit Free Press, thank you very much.
DAVID JESSE: Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Verizon and AT&T are forging ahead with their plan to switch to new high-speed
5G wireless service nationwide, but with an important exception, near U.S. airports and
Those exceptions were made yesterday because of fears of that the new technology could
interfere with plane technology and potentially impact landings.
Our science correspondent, Miles O'Brien, is here to unpack it all for us.
Hello, Miles, to you.
So, tell us, exactly, what is the problem here?
MILES O'BRIEN: Hello, Judy.
The device in question here is called a radar altimeter, a radio altimeter.
It's a device on an airliner which gives pilots very precise information of their relative
distance to the ground the closer they get to it.
It's crucial during the landing phase in bad weather.
And, without it, we couldn't have the proverbial safe landing on that dark and stormy night.
So, any time the aviation industry gets word of something getting close to that piece of
the spectrum where this device operates, they get nervous.
And that's what led to this fight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Miles, we know this was supposed to have been resolved of some time
The two federal agencies involved, the FCC, federal communications commission, and the
FAA, of course, the Federal Aviation Authority, are at different places here.
What has happened?
Why hasn't it been resolved?
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, the aviation community has been saying this is a big problem.
And the communication industry has said that the aviation industry is focused on worst-case
scenarios that are improbable.
Well, that's what the aviation industry does.
So, there is kind of a clash of cultures here.
The concerns are potentially real.
These frequencies tend to spill outside of their lanes.
And it's very important that there are specific filters on the devices, so they don't pick
up stray signals, giving bad indications to the pilots.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So -- but, I mean, you think about all this.
Surely, the FAA considered all this as they were moving forward.
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, the FAA was considering it, but the FCC was pushing as well.
And it was a little bit like a game of chicken to see, who is going to fix the problem?
Would the transmitters on the ground be modified in some fashion?
Would the power be reduced, the antennas re-aimed?
Would there be bubbles around airports?
Or would the airlines have to fix all of their radar altimeters, so the obsolete ones are
no longer in the fleet?
Which are the ones that might cause trouble?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Miles, given all this, what do we expect to happen here?
I mean, can they resolve this so that the airlines, the FAA feels comfortable and 5G
MILES O'BRIEN: It can be done.
Forty countries have done this.
And what this compromise that was announced is a lot like what has occurred in Europe
and elsewhere, providing lower transmission power, directing those antennas, creating
corridors for runways.
All that is in the compromise.
So that will stay in place for a while, until such time as the aviation fleet gets upgraded
with radar altimeters that aren't likely to be fooled by 5G.
So, this problem will work itself out over time.
The compromise will probably be here for a while, as it takes a while for this equipment
to be retired.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it sounds complicated, but I know, first and foremost, people who
fly on passenger airliners or anybody who gets in a plane wants to be sure they're safe.
MILES O'BRIEN: Absolutely.
And that is uppermost here.
And, obviously, the aviation industry doesn't want to be in a position where something like
this causes an accident, particularly in the wake of the problems 737 MAX scenario, where
the FAA was accused of not being aggressive enough identifying a safety issue.
In this case, they're out in front of it.
The compromise is in place, and people can feel safe flying for the foreseeable future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Miles O'Brien reporting on all things aviation for us.
Thank you, Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN: You're welcome, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Andre Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large
of "Vogue" magazine, has died.
He had a front-row seat to fashion shows around the world, and provided his readers a lens
into that world through his writing.
Jeffrey Brown has our appreciation of Talley as part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: At 6'6'', Andre Leon Talley cut a large figure, and wore it well.
And he had a major impact on the world of fashion.
ROBIN GIVHAN, The Washington Post: He had tremendous clout and influence.
JEFFREY BROWN: Robin Givhan, senior critic at large for The Washington Post, has long
covered the fashion industry.
ROBIN GIVHAN: Andre Leon Talley was really a rare creature in the fashion industry because
of the status that he had when he was at "Vogue."
He was creative director.
And that is a position that, in reality, no other Black person has held at American "Vogue."
JEFFREY BROWN: Born in 1948, Talley was raised in North Carolina by his grandmother.
He spoke of getting a first taste of style from her as they attended church.
Talley went on to study French literature at North Carolina Central University, before
receiving a master's degree at Brown.
He spoke in the 2018 documentary "The Gospel According to Andre."
ANDRE LEON TALLEY, Former Creative Director and Editor at Large, "Vogue": I did not know
who exactly I was.
I was becoming.
But I did get out of the Jim Crow South.
Brown gave me a freedom, a liberation and propelled me into the world that I know.
JEFFREY BROWN: An apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Brought him to New York and
first encounters with the fashion industry.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY: This is Andre Leon Talley reporting live from Paris.
JEFFREY BROWN: He would go on to work at magazines, including "Interview" and "Women's Wear Daily,"
where he was Paris bureau chief, before serving as creative director at "Vogue" magazine.
He was a fixture on the fashion scene, a regular at runway shows.
And he was also a rare Black editor in a largely white world.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY: You don't get up and say, look, I'm Black and I'm proud.
You just do it, and, somehow, it impacts the culture.
JEFFREY BROWN: He spoke out about the racism and anti-gay bigotry he faced along the way.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY: People have said many bad things about me.
They used to call me Queen Kong.
I was like an ape.
I was a gay ape Queen Kong.
But I had to move on.
I had to get on with my career.
JEFFREY BROWN: A student of fashion history, he was known for playing with that history,
as in a reworking of "Gone With The Wind" in the pages of "Vanity Fair."
He was also known as an enthusiastic champion of designers he liked, here at the exhibition
Black Fashion Designers in New York in 2016.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY: You have a plethora and a rainbow of success based on innate quality
and innate technique.
These people taught themselves.
They had dreams, and they put their dreams in their fashion.
ROBIN GIVHAN: I honestly don't know that I have I have come across anyone who could be
as effusive in their praise for something that they really admired or they really found
- - took pride in.
He was someone who I think was in a really challenging position for a long time, which
is, he was such a unique character, and he had -- he occupied such a high status, but,
at the same time, he was only one person.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today, tributes poured in that spoke to his influence as a role model.
Robin Givhan defines his legacy this way:
ROBIN GIVHAN: I think that, every time Andre took another step forward, he cleared the
path a little bit more, he opened the door a little bit farther, so that a few more people
could step through.
I mean, I think, every time he defied a stereotype, he made the fashion industry that much more
JEFFREY BROWN: Andre Leon Talley died yesterday in White Plains, New York.
He was 73 years old.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And all the more remarkable because he faced obstacles throughout his
life, beginning with his childhood.
And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.
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