Full transcript of “Face the Nation” on Dec. 18, 2022

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On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia 
  • Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas 
  • Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas 
  • White House adviser Keisha Lance Bottoms
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”  


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

Breaking overnight, a state of emergency is called in a Texas border city, as officials brace for the end of a COVID era rule allowing the expulsion of migrants. We will have the latest.

Border cities are overwhelmed once again by migrants seeking asylum, in anticipation of the lifting of Title 42 on Wednesday. Processing centers are inundated. And the streets of El Paso are filled with migrants forced to wait in freezing temperatures.

We will talk with two House members from Texas, Republican Tony Gonzales and Democrat Henry Cuellar, about the challenges facing local, state and federal officials.

Here in Washington, Congress is facing deadlines on a number of fronts, including funding the government and finishing up the January 6 Committee investigation before the holidays.

We will speak exclusively to West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

Plus, we will talk to the White House senior adviser for public engagement, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Finally, with more than three-quarters of the nation’s hospital beds at capacity, we will check in with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb about the viral trifecta of RSV, flu and COVID that’s crippling the country.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

As a country wraps up year-end business and prepares for the holidays, there is once again a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Typically, the influx of migrants seeking a better life in the U.S. comes during the warmer weather, but a pandemic era rule that allows migrants to be expelled on public health grounds is set to end Wednesday.

That rule is called Title 42. That’s putting added pressure on border cities like El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona, where states of emergency have been issued, as well as in cities like Denver and New York, where border state governors have been sending those migrants.

And we begin with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He is in Charleston.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-West Virginia): Good morning, Margaret. How are you?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m doing well. I’m glad you could join us.

You wrote this letter to President Biden this week…

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … saying there would be a complete loss of operational control at the southern border once Title 42 ends in about three days.

So what more can the administration be doing? And what can Congress deliver in the coming days?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, let me just say, the border is — we have a crisis at the border. Everyone can see that. I think everyone realizes that something has to be done.

It — 42 needs to be extended until we can get, really, truly immigration reform. Immigration reform will not happen in our country until we all come, both sides of the aisle, Democrats, Republicans, and the administration, that you have to have total border security.

Security is the name of the game, and then you can have…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the courts ordered for 42 to be struck down.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: I understand that. The president needs to use every bit of power he has as an executive to find a way or ask for an extension.

The president can basically, I think, ask for that extension. I think his administration is doing that or will do that. I sure hope they do. But we need an extension until we can get a viable answer for this. Right now, this is unattainable. This is wrong. You can’t do this to the Southern border.

John Cornyn, my friend, senator from Texas, they’re on the front lines. They’re the largest border we have, a state that borders Mexico. And it just — it’s unattainable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what can Congress deliver in terms of emergency funding? Because, as we understand it, unless a Supreme Court steps in, Title 42 is going away.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Yes.

Well, again, the executive order. We could pass a piece of legislation, emergency piece of legislation, if we could all come to an agreement that basically Title 42 has to be, by law, extended and have the president sign it immediately. I guess that could be done. We’re going back in Monday.

And I — it’s just — it’s a crisis. When you have a crisis. it seems like we can manage under a crisis in a bipartisan way. It’s a shame that we’ve come to this gridlock.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said recently that you have a worker shortage in West Virginia right now.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you get to bipartisan legislation on legal migration, when you are about to face a Republican-controlled House that’s vowed to impeach the homeland security secretary?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Yes. Well, first of all, that’s — it’s an unfair charge against Ali Mayorkas.

I think the gentleman is — is very competent. He can do a good job. They just need to unleash him. Let him do his job. That’s what I have said before, and I will say it again now.

With that, we have got to do, basically, immigration reform. My state of West Virginia needs more workers, We need people that want to come here for the right reason to provide for their family a better quality of life. My grandparents — great-grandparents brought my grandparents here in 1900 on both sides of the aisle from Italy and Czechoslovakia for that opportunity.

I’m — I’m a product of that. And we have so many people that want to come to our country. There has to be a legal pathway forward. That’s all we’ve been talking about. The 2013 piece of legislation that we worked on and passed in a bipartisan way in the Senate never got a vote in the House.

Use that as the building block. That was a piece of legislation that was responsible and reasonable. And it basically all centered around border security, but it gave a legal pathway forward to come into this country, work your way to legal citizenship. That’s what we need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will see in the new Congress if that becomes possible.

You, on the energy security front, have also been raising concerns.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were the critical vote that helped the president get his green energy plan passed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA.

That really ticked off Republicans, as you know. But you also said you had a second deal with Democratic leaders, endorsed by the president, to back up a bill to speed up permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects. Why did this collapse?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, Margaret, first of all, there was no second deal. It was all one deal. It was basically, how do we have energy security?

First of all, the IRA is a historic bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, and so is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has about $100 billion of energy concerns in that that my — me and my staff and the Energy Committee worked on.

We wrote the bill, basically, the IRA portion of that bill, as far as the energy. But, you know, when you talk about inflation reduction, it brings down drug prices. It brings down, basically, insulin prices, lifesaving insulin. It brings down health care costs. It does all those things.

But, on top of that, we need more energy in the market. I know it’s been touted as a green deal or this. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. It is a bipartisan energy security. You cannot be the superpower of the world if you don’t have energy independence.

And energy independence means energy security and national security. That piece of legislation that we wrote and worked on basically takes a double path, 10 years, certainty, that we’re going to have fossil fuel, the horsepower that runs our country, the cleanest in the world.

We don’t have to go to Iran, the most prolific terrorist supporters in the world. We don’t have to go to Venezuela, who has very little oversight on environment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: We can produce the fossil in this country to be totally independent and help our allies with the cleanest fossil in the world, and while, at the same time, we’re investing records, amounts — investments.

We’re not spending and throwing money at it. We’re investing it to bring you the new technology for the future of the world. That’s what that bill did. That’s a very important piece of legislation. It’s something that I worked with, with my…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you were trying to get permitting for drilling and projects sped up with this other bill.

And — and 10 Democrats voted against the permitting bill. Only seven Senate Republicans did vote with you. Have you talked to the president about trying to revive it?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Let me tell — it has to be passed sooner or later. Everyone knows that. They keep saying, we’ll get a better deal when the House goes Republican.

I say to my Republican friends and colleagues, you’ve had the entire gambit from 2016 to 2020, when you had the president being Republican, the House, and the Senate. You tried permitting. You had one Democrat, me. I’m the only Democrat that voted for major permitting reforms.

So, we know the lay of the land. Mitch McConnell knows, basically, the structure and how the legislature works and how the Senate works better than most. With that being said, we had a perfect situation here; 40 Democrats voted for permitting reform which they had not supported before.

And there was a majority. Only — only seven Republicans voted for something that all 50 had supported before. So, you tell me, if it’s about policy, or is it about politics? Something’s wrong, and this is why people are so upset with what they see going on in Washington.

Permitting reform, basically, with what we did with the inflation reduction and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Margaret, if — that all doesn’t come to fruition unless you’re able to do things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: We’re the only civilized country in the world that takes two or three times longer than anybody else.

And if we don’t do something on permitting reform, then the pipelines that we need to carry the energy that we demand and also the transmission that will help carry the new technologies of the future…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: … won’t be done in time, and that money will be stranded. That’s what we’re dealing with.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll see, in the new Congress, if you can get that done.

I mean, you were pretty fired up after this failed. You said: “I serve in an independent voice, not a political party. What is clearer now than ever is, party politics is paralyzing our ability to unite.”

You talked about toxic tribal politics.” Why are you staying a member of this tribe if it’s so toxic?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, here’s the thing about it.

You know, I really don’t put much — much validity in the identity of being a Republican and Democrat. I think we’re all Americans. You know, I used to — I grew up in an age when, if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we all acknowledged that we had a problem.

We all had different ideas of how — to how to solve the problem, but we were all trying to solve the same problem. It has — it has basically — basically transitioned itself to now to where, how can we blame somebody else? How can we create a problem and blame somebody for it that makes them unpopular?

That’s not what I signed up for. That’s not what I signed up for. And I speak out. I speak out against the Democrat Party and against the Republican Party when it’s wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you do.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: And, basically, people are sick and tired of it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you said recently…

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: So, I don’t…

MARGARET BRENNAN: .. you consider yourself strictly an independent.

Do you see an advantage in this environment to becoming unaffiliated, to becoming an independent?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, let’s see how basically these two pieces of legislation, which are really historic, as the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, let’s see how that plays out.

If people are trying to stop something from doing so much good because of the politics, thinking that somebody else will get credit for it, let’s see how that plays out, and then I will let you know later what I decide to do.

But, right now, I have no intentions of changing anything, except working for West Virginians, trying to give them more opportunities, better quality of life, and basically making sure our country is energy-secured. That means national security. We’ll be the superpower of the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: I’m not going to be relying on other parts of the world or other countries to delivering energy for what we need for our economy and our defense of our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That sounds a little bit like warning the Democratic leaders that you’re considering something in the future there.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: I’m…

(LAUGHTER)

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said, let’s see.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: I think if — Margaret, let me just say, if I can say this to you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: They know how independent I am.

The D does not saddle me to everything the Democrats want to do is what’s right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: I don’t think the Democrats have all the answers. I don’t think the Republicans are always wrong, and vice versa.

I don’t look at things that way. Where I came from is basically, how do I survive and make it better and the quality of life that we can extend to more people? That’s it. And if the Republicans have a good idea, and I like it, I’m with it.

And if I’m the only Democrat, which I have been many times…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: … I feel very comfortable I can come home and explain it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: On the other hand, you got to speak truth to power.

But when the Democrats are doing something — and, on this one right now…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: … with the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s a shame it went through only reconciliation.

(CROSSTALK)

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: That was a bipartisan bill. You can walk and chew gum, provide more fossil energy cleaner, provide more investments into the cleaner technologies. That’s — that’s what’s coming, and that’s what we have to embrace.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time this morning. And I hope you have a good holiday.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales, whose district covers more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in West Texas.

Good morning to you, Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES (R-Texas): Good morning, Margaret. Thank you for having me on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard the senator there calling for reform.

But, as you know, unless the Supreme Court steps in here, Title 42 is going away. What has the federal government told you is coming to your community in the coming days?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, it is a dire situation in El Paso.

As you know, the city declared a state of emergency. This is something you do when there’s a hurricane, a fire, or an earthquake. What is happening is, it’s a hurricane of migrants, and everyone is impacted.

Yes, I represent 823 miles of the Southern border. I have seen this exact play, play out a year ago in Del Rio is what’s happening in El Paso now. I was just in El Paso a few days ago. And what I saw at the migrant center, I had never seen before.

I have visited — I had visited the processing center there many times. And what I saw were hundreds, over 500 migrants in a in a pod. They call them pods, essentially, a large cell that holds about 100 people. There’s one bathroom. The odor is terrible.

And there’s eight pods in there. And so those are the good conditions outside, just above the hill, there’s 1,000 — a little over 1,000 migrants waiting in outdoor conditions…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: … not to mention the people that are waiting by the — by the — by the bridge and elsewhere. It’s a very dire situation in El Paso.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to say to our viewers who are just looking there at video that you provided to CBS that I believe you shot inside those facilities.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are relying on that cell phone video, in part because CBS News and other media organizations have not been permitted to film recently inside those facilities.

Why do you think it is important for the public to see what’s happening inside?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, Margaret, I visited there for a few reasons, to know the ground truth and to be able to share the ground truth, also to let the Border Patrol agents that are under incredible amounts of stress know that they’re not forgotten.

And what I saw shocked me. And I wanted to share that with the world. It’s not about politics. It’s not about trying to create this image that isn’t there. This is the reality. This is the facts. We’re not even at the worst of it yet.

Hundreds of people stuck in a small area is not good for everyone.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: What I also saw was people without socks and jackets. It’s going to be in the teens later this week.

So it’s a very sad situation all the way around. What I also say to — enough with the finger-pointing. I don’t care how we got here. How do we get out of here? And there are some things that the administration can immediately do like to alleviate the stress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Like what?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, look, the Biden — this isn’t the first time an administration has had a crisis, every presidency, President Trump, Bush, Clinton.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. This is a hemispheric surge of migrants, though. This is a hemispheric crisis.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: That’s true. We have never seen it like this.

So — so, what are some of the things that the administration can do? Title 42 is gone. We have pushed and pushed and pushed. We’re three days away from that being gone. What are some of the things that the administration can do?

They can re-implement a couple of programs that made sense, PACR and the HARP program. That’s essentially having immigration judges at the border, meaning you get your asylum case heard in days, not years. And if you do not qualify for asylum, you get returned back to your country of origin via repatriation flights.

You turn that process back on, with — there’s some enforcement, and, all of a sudden, the stress gets down. I worry, if that doesn’t happen, we may be shutting bridges down. The city of El Paso produces $138 billion worth of trade. You shut down one day of that trade and commerce, that $60 million. It will impact everybody, not just those that live along the border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the Biden administration is asking Congress for $3.4 billion to prepare for this surge. Do you think this will happen? Would you vote for it?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I think it’s needed. I think it’s absolutely needed.

But throwing money at a problem does not solve a problem. You can have an unlimited amount of soft-sided facilities. The problem is enforcing the laws that are already on the books. I’d also argue the bulk of people that are coming over are just trying to live a better life.

I get that. They’re coming here for economic — economic opportunities. But that doesn’t qualify for asylum. Going back to immigration reform, I would love to have a conversation with the administration to work through something. Work visas make sense to me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Pathway to citizenship, amnesty, that is dead on arrival.

What people have tried before have — has no chance of working. You have got to start and build out from there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I hosted the president — I hosted the president in Uvalde and — six months ago, and I asked him: “Mr. President, I’d love to visit with you about the border.”

He agreed to it. But yet I have — I have yet to have that conversation with him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you’re putting your finger on the need to get bipartisan legislation done.

But I got to be honest with you. A lot of your fellow Republicans are not talking that way. In fact, there’s calls, as you know, to impeach the homeland security secretary. We had Michael Chertoff on this program, the Bush era homeland security secretary, recently, a Republican, who said this was a political stunt, a waste, a performance on impeachment, never going anywhere.

How do you defend your party prioritizing impeachment, when you’re saying it is dire crisis, in need of substantive legislation?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: We certainly have to secure the border.

It’s very difficult to have the conversation on immigration reform when the border is not secure. But I also say I have hosted nearly 100 members of Congress these past two years. And…

(CROSSTALK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: I asked you about impeachment

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Impeaching Mayorkas, our president or elsewhere? Yes, that is…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, what Republican leadership is talking about prioritizing.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, I think that’s going to — hearings are going to absolutely take place.

And where that leads us, who knows? But I take impeachment extremely serious. That is a case of emergency, break glass. But, impeachment, that’s a long process. The city of El Paso needs help today, not a year from now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, good luck to you and your community in the coming days. We will be tracking everything.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Gonzales.

Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We now want to go to Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, whose district covers about 200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, including the city of Laredo.

Good morning to you, Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE HENRY CUELLAR (D-Texas): Good morning to you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are 8,000 border crossings per day. That number could double,according to estimates, as soon as this week.

You represent a lot of Border Patrol agents. Are they prepared? How is morale?

REPRESENTATIVE HENRY CUELLAR: Well, first of all, morale is not good, because they feel that the administration doesn’t have their backs, number one.

Number two, are they prepared? No. Even the $3 billion that you mentioned a while ago, that money is going to be used for processing, is going to be used for food and shelter, and transportation of migrants. It doesn’t address the issue that we’re facing at the border.

There’s — thousands of people are coming in. But you got to look at one thing. In the last few years, we had over 35,000 rescues, Border Patrol saving people that could have died. We also had 1,400 people that died, including children.

Now, is this the most humane way that we ought to address asylum? No. I think what we need to do is have a pathway where they go through the bridges in an orderly way. And then, and then, Margaret, if they don’t follow that pathway, I think we need to send them back and say, follow it away.

I will finish with this analogy quickly. It’s like if somebody invites me to go to their house for lunch, but I decide to go through the back door. I come through windows. I decide to bring a whole bunch of people. I decide what hours I come in. It doesn’t work that way.

We as a country need to set the asylum procedures in place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

Well, as you know, it’s extra complicated with Venezuelans and Haitians and Cubans and people who are coming that can’t be sent back to their countries of origin. How do you solve for that?

REPRESENTATIVE HENRY CUELLAR: Yes, I mean, without a doubt, those three countries, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, those are countries that are a little bit more complicated.

But the top 15 countries include Colombia, Mexico. It includes also Peru, Ecuador. And, in the top 15, you also have Russia, India, Georgia, the state, also, and Turkey also. So the top 15 — people are understanding across the world that — the fact that the Southern border is open.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, we have a lot more to talk to — talk to you about on this, so I want you to stay where you are.

We have to take a quick commercial break. And we ask all of you to stay where you are.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: One story we have been following closely is almost at an end, the congressional investigation into the January 6 attacks.

The committee will release their final report this week, and then thousands of pages of interviews and documents will be released to the public soon after.

CBS News will cover that final meeting Monday at 1:00 p.m. on our broadcast and streaming networks, as the committee votes on whether to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice for some of the people they have investigated, including former President Trump.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And this programming note: Be sure to tune in tomorrow to CBS Mornings for their exclusive interview with newly reelected Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.

As for us, we will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We want to continue our conversation now with Congressman Henry Cuellar.

Congressman, in a letter to the president this week you warned that this week, when Title 42 lifts, they’ll have a complete loss of operational control over the southern border. And that’s going to have a profoundly negative impact on border communities. You know, the White House is saying that they’ve got a plan here. Why are you saying they don’t? What is it that you are hearing?

HENRY CUELLAR: You know, they’ve been talking about this plan for the last two years. They’ve been playing – they’ve been playing — blaming the Republicans, they’ve been blaming Congress. How long is this plan going to be – take — when will it take an effect?

I’ve seen that plan, with all due respect. A lot of it deals with processing, moving migrants from the border over to the interior. We need to have a way that we can have a policy where if Title 42 goes away, looks like it’s going to go away, unless the Supreme Court steps in. If it goes away, they have to have a policy of an orderly pathway to asylum through our bridges. And if they don’t follow that pathway, they need to go back. You know, they’ve got to have something in place.

I’ve looked — with all due respect, I’ve looked at that plan and I – I don’t think it’s — you know, they’ve been talking about it. It hasn’t worked. Now, they’re asking for the $3 billion or so. It’s mainly for food and shelters, processing, transportation, but it doesn’t really talk about security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you also pledge in this letter to work on bipartisan legislation. That’s not going to get done in the next few days. What is it that you’re envisioning in the new congress that is going to be possible with a Republican-controlled House?

HENRY CUELLAR: Yes, I mean, definitely — the – the only thing we can do is add more money. I don’t know if it will be the $3 billion, but it will be moneys there to meet the president’s request, or as much as possible, number one. Next year, I mean, it’s going to be a show in so many ways and, you know, impeaching the secretary doesn’t move us one inch closer to solving the issues. And I hope that we can have the president — the president can do this, can implement a policy of an orderly process for asylum at the bridges and, if not, they go back. They’ve got to have a consequence. The president can do that because, look, keep in mind, in 2014

MARGARET BRENNAN: Through executive order?

HENRY CUELLAR: Yes. Well — well, look at it. I mean, if President Obama didn’t have immigrational reform, didn’t have all the things that people have been asking for, but he was able to manage the border in a much better place – a way. So, the president, President Biden can do this. But with all due respect, I think his advisers are doing a disservice to him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m sure the White House would say it’s a hemispheric surge. It’s worse than it’s ever been.

I want to get to something you’ve been raising consistently as you’ve been faulting President Biden for failing to visit the border. Policy experts would say, you know, a photo op doesn’t do much.

To you, what does going to the border actually achieve? And do you think it’s — the reason he hasn’t gone is because the White House is afraid it’s going to backfire, that the border agents you’re talking about will be disrespectful to him?

HENRY CUELLAR: Well, look, there’s different ways of visiting the border. He doesn’t have to go there for just a photo op.

But, you know, a leader has to show images of – of being up there in the front. He – he can do that. He can do it in so many ways. And I’m not asking for a photo op, but I think the message that will go to not only the men and women in green and blue but to the border communities. I’m more interested in the border communities who will say, hey, look, I’m the president of the United States. I’m here at the border. Border communities, I feel your pain.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, we will be watching what happens in the coming days. Good luck to you and your community.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is a senior adviser to President Biden for public engagement.

Good morning to you.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (White House Senior Adviser for Public Engagement): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Immigration is top of mind here. You just heard from two Democrats who have been sharply critical of the administration not doing more in the face of this expiration of Title 42.

What is the administration doing to urge migrants not to come?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, the administration has been working for months, planning for the end of title 42. And you have to remember, Margaret, these aren’t people who are attempting to illegally cross the border. These are people who are presenting themselves, asking that they be processed in accordance with the laws of the United States. So, people have to remember, Title 42 is a public health emergency order.

If Title 42 goes away, we will then go back to Title 8, which allows for a process, which is the reason why the administration has asked Congress to fund more than $3 billion to help us provide the resources that will be needed to process these migrants, to make sure that people are treated humanely, to make sure that the bordering communities have the resources that they need. And we need Congress to be a partner in this. And we need Congress to act because this is – this is a global issue that we are facing. And the White House alone can’t do it. We need support from Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you – I mean you make an important point that it is a right to be able to ask for asylum. What happens when Title 42 goes away is that people can’t be expelled — what it allowed for was expelling without the guarantee of an asylum hearing. So, this means that people will be allowed to stay until they get their day in court. So, this will means more people coming into the United States. They may be in a process that could last years, frankly. And so that’s why I come back to that fundamental question of what is the White House doing to say, don’t come to the border and try to claim asylum?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, what the White House has done, has said very publicly, that we want people to avail themselves of a lawful process. What we are seeing happening is that many people are taking advantage of the fact that Title 42 may go away this week. We see many people exploiting migrants, saying, come now or you lose your ability to come at all. And that’s simply not the case.

But, again, this is not just an issue that we are facing in the United States. This is a global issue. So, the president has been working very closely with our partners across the global to address this global issue. But we also need partnership at home. We need partnership from Congress. And we need to focus on what this decades old issue is. And that issue is making sure that we have comprehensive immigration reform, not focusing on trying to impeach the Homeland Security secretary. You think about impeachment. Impeachment is for misdemeanor — high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery, treason. This is a difference in policy approach. Not the best use of our resources. Certainly not the best use of the time that Congress has to work with the White House to address this issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So, we are about to face that Republican-controlled House. It looks like gridlock. So, that doesn’t really get you to a place for bipartisan reform. If we are only left with executive actions, what can President Biden do?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, Margaret, I want to remind you that in the first two years in office, President Biden has signed over 200 bipartisan bills. So, he’s not giving up on working in a bipartisan manner to address immigration, an issue that we should all be concerned about. What we need is funding from Congress and we need to continue to work towards comprehensive immigration reform.

So, the president has said he wants to get things done in a bipartisan manner. The American people have said they want us to work together in a bipartisan manner. We need everyone at the table with ideas.

Remember, Republicans will control the House. So, the need for Republicans in Congress to say what they won’t do has now been removed. Now, tell us what you will do to work with the president to make sure that we have comprehensive immigration reform. But in the immediate future, we need funding for the resources that will make sure that we can address the immediate needs on the ground.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

Are Democratic leaders telling you, you will get the $3.4 billion?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, we’re going to keep trying. We’re going to keep pushing. So, it’s our hope — we’re working daily around the clock with members of Congress to make sure that funding is in place because those resources are needed. And this is, again, not just a Democrat issue, it’s not a Republican issue, this is an issue that impacts us all, even those of us that don’t live in states that are – that are on the border.

You heard Senator Manchin talk about the needs in West Virginia and how immigration reform is needed in West Virginia to help with the economy in West Virginia. So, we’re going to keep working around the clock. And simply because people don’t see the president at the border doesn’t mean that he’s not working.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Well, why doesn’t he go to the border? He was just in Arizona. Why wasn’t it worth his time?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, you have to remember, Margaret, when the president travels, it’s not like you or I jumping on an airplane and getting off and going to our destination. Everything comes to a halt. So, all of these things are in consideration for the president. Is that the best use of resources? All of the resources that will be diverted on the ground when the president makes a visit.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that why he didn’t go?

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: But is that visit — well, I can’t speak to why he has or has not gone. I’m just speaking to the fact that it’s a bit more disruptive for the president of the United States to travel than you or I.

But what the president has done is continued to lean in on this immigration issue. It’s something that he ran on. And what we know, over the past two years, every single thing that the president has run on, he’s put time and resources into addressing it. So, immigration, we know, is a problem that he did not create. Our issues with immigration are decades long issues. And he will continue to lean in through the White House and through Congress to get comprehensive immigration reform done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, we’ll be watching for that.

Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you for your time today.

We’ll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Despite some hopeful new economic indicators, consumers are watching their spending this holiday season. Mark Strassmann has more from Atlanta.

(BEGIN VT)

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Tis the season to be jittery, with an economy offering both the spirit of santa and the spectre of scrooge. Here’s a gift.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Inflation is coming down in America.

MARK STRASSMANN: Down for the fifth straight month from its June peak. Gas prices dropped more than 50 cents over the last month, averaging $3.15 a gallon. A steal compared to mid-June, when typical gas prices began with a number five.

Inflation’s easing, but it’s become a siege. Still above 7 percent. Still near a 40-year high.

JEROME POWELL (Federal Reserve Chairman): The U.S. economy has slowed significantly from last year’s rapid pace.

MARK STRASSMANN: No surprise, the Fed this week raised interest rates again. This time by half a percentage point.

JEROME POWELL: Without price stability, the economy doesn’t work for anyone.

MARK STRASSMANN: The Fed’s seventh rate hike this year stokes another worry.

DAVID SPIKA (Chief Investment Officer, Guidestone Capital Management): It’s clear that the Fed is not done. They’re going to continue to raise interest rates, more likely than not push us into a recession.

MARK STRASSMANN: Recession pessimism feels the scrooge in this holiday economy, along with a bear stock market, a housing slump, a drop in manufacturing output. November’s retail sales were the biggest decline this year. Worrisome to retailers, shoppers spent less in holiday categories, electronics, clothing, toys.

FEMALE: I am definitely doing couponing, Amazon deals, shopping local, and then, obviously, like, making my own stuff.

(END VT)

MARK STRASSMANN: The holiday shopping season is the time of year when retailers need consumers to feel jolly. But for millions of shoppers, this year’s goal, find gifts that fit under the tree and into their budget.

Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann, thank you.

Another thing americans are watching closely, that surge of viruses inundating us this holiday season.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a former FDA commissioner and a Pfizer board member. And we welcome you back, Dr. Gottlieb.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB (Former FDA Commissioner): Thanks a lot.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The – the White House says this is the worst flu outbreak in a decade. RSV, Covid, they’re surging. Seventy-seven percent of ICU beds in the country are currently full. How dangerous are these next few weeks?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: It’s going to be a difficult few weeks. We’re right in the thick of respiratory pathogen season. That’s the worst in recent memory. It’s being driven largely by flu. This is an historic year for flu. Probably the worst in the last decade, as you mentioned. Covid is exacerbating that.

We also have an epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus, which seems to be abating right now. Fu also seems to be peaking in certain parts of the country. It’s rising in other parts of the country. It’s decreasing in the south, rising in the north. And Covid is contributing to that. It’s pressing families. It’s also pressing hospitals. As you mentioned, 80 percent of hospital beds right now are full. The hospitals haven’t been this full since the peak of the omicron wave last winter. The difference is that last winter 25 percent of those hospital beds were filled with Covid admissions. Right now only 6 percent are filled with Covid admissions. So, a lot of them are influenza admissions and other respiratory pathogens, like adenovirus, parainfluenza, all the things that plague us each winter are coming back with a vengeance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot of bugs, but if – if the flu vaccine is such a good match, as you’ve said before, to this current strain, why are so many americans getting sick?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, a lot of people aren’t getting the vaccine, first of all. And we know the vaccine isn’t 100 percent protective against infection. What the vaccine does in the setting of flu is reduces your chances of having a symptomatic infection and reduce your chances of having a severe outcome. Similar to how we’re using it with Covid.

The predominant strain of flu right now that’s circulating is H3N2. The vaccine, as you said, is a very good match for that strain. Maybe 60 to 70 percent protective. The other strain that’s circulating is H1N1. About 20 percent of infections are H1N1.

The vaccine is also a good match for that strain. And the difference between those two strains is hat H3N2 typically peaks earlier in the winter. H1N1 may peak later. So it’s not too late for people to get their flu vaccine. If people go out and get it now, they’re going to have some immediate protection from it. And we could see a situation, as we’ve seen in other winters, where the predominant strain, the H3N2, starts to decline and then H1N1 infection picks up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the other thing, particularly annoying parents of young kids like me, is the shortage of antibiotics. Why don’t we have enough supply?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: It’s really demand driven. So, distributors made estimates on how much demand there would be this year. They’ve had lower demand the past two years because there was less bacterial infections because we were all taking certain steps to prevent the spread of disease. Demand went up this year. They anticipated some increase in demand, but not as much as we’re seeing and not this early in the season. So it’s not any kind of disruption in supply. This isn’t like what we had with baby formula where manufacturers have been taken out of the market. This is a sophisticated supply chain. All the manufacturers are in the market. They just didn’t anticipate this much demand this early in the season.

Supplies should catch up with demand. And there are alternatives for the things that are in shortage, like amoxicillin, the oral suspension of Tamiflu is also in shortage. Doctors and pharmacies can compound that from the capsules. So, there are alternatives. It’s just going to be difficult in some instances for families to get their hands on those alternatives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. You know, I know – I know you’re saying things are better versus where we were on the Covid front. But Dr. Fauci was on this program a few weeks ago and he said he was tracking new Covid variants that evade the protection of monoclonal antibodies that are used for treatment and prevention.

I know there’s been studies on that, that also say the same thing about the vaccine. What level of protection is there against these new variants?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, there was data out from the CDC on Friday that showed that the vaccine providing good protection, particularly in the older individuals, the new vaccine, this – this new bivalent booster based on the new strain, so it’s based on BA.5. what we’re seeing right now is 40 percent of infections of BQ.1.1, which is a derivative of BA.5, the strain that the vaccine’s based on, about 30 percent of infections of BQ.1, there still should be good protection from the vaccin against those new variants.

The one we’re more worried about is a variant called XBB. So far that’s not spreading in the U.S. that much. It’s about 5 percent of infections. It’s held steady for about four weeks right now. That strain spread a lot in Asia. It didn’t spread a lot in Europe. So it could be the case that BQ.1 and 1.1 crowd out XBB. But the concern is that if XBB continues to persist, you could see a second wave this spring. We don’t think that’s going to happen, but it’s a possibility.

But people are still going to get good protection from the existing vaccines, the updated vaccine against the strains that are circulating right now. So the study that came out from CDC showed about 80 – 70 to 80 percent protection from hospitalization from those over the age of 65. On top of the protection that they got from the old vaccine. So that’s quite meaningful for a lot of individuals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Title 42. In March of 2020, that was when the CDC director put this in place. It’s a public health law to expel migrants in order to stop the spread of disease. That was the premise. Is there any public health reason to keep it in place now?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think as a matter of public health we should be expiring a lot of these emergency measures that we put in place. Not just Title 42, but also the national emergency that we put in place.

I think what’s happening is a lot of these are being extended to serve other policy and political goals. That’s ultimately going to undermine our ability to implement these public health measures in the future. If we need to have expedited removal of people crossing the border illegally, I think that should be contemplated in the context of broader immigration reform and as a matter of law enforcement, but not as a public health measure at this point. I think all of these public health emergency measures that we put in place should be expired.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Gottlieb, thank you so much. And I hope you stay healthy this holiday season.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Finally, today, we are coming up on day 300 of the war in Ukraine. Our Imtiaz Tyab reports from this country where the cold winter is being weaponized by the Russians against the weary yet resilient population.

(BEGIN VT)

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): In liberated Kherson, life is desperate. Russian attacks on the energy grid have left the city without fuel and power. And one of the few ways to get a hot meal now is to cook over an open fire in the street.

IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Nine months of Russian occupation has obliterated any semblance of a normal life for people here. But what Ukrainians have shown time and again is that they’ll do anything to help each other.

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): Including at Kherson’s main university, where desperately needed aid has been brought in by these professors from Kyiv, who hadn’t been able to contact their colleagues here for months because Russian forces controlled their lives so tightly.

IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Remnants of Russians’ occupation have been swept into this room. You can see flags, photos of Vladimir Putin. And while Russian forces are gone, make no mistake, they’re still targeting this city.

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): At an elementary school in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, which is still haunted by the atrocities committed by Russia here, life is slowly returning to normal. But regular power cuts means it’s cold and dark until the generator kicks in, bringing with it warmth and light, something in short supply at home says eight-year-old Donna (ph).

IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): There’s no electricity?

FEMALE: Uh-huh.

IMTIAZ TYAB: That must be really hard.

FEMALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): It’s very hard, she says. Our house is freezing.

On one of the school’s walls is now a memorial to Katia (ph), Matvi (ph), and Vona (ph), who were all killed in the early weeks of Russia’s invasion says acting principal Ivana Yarshkenko (ph).

FEMALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

IMTIAZ TYAB: Every morning we have a moment of silence, she says, because we must never forget them.

At a small ceremony in one of Bucha’s cemeteries, a memorial service for fallen soldiers, including Natali’s (ph) brother and husband, who are both buried here.

IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): I feel pain, she says. I’m trying to come to terms with things, but I can’t. A feeling felt by so many across this war- scarred country.

Imtiaz Tyab, CBS News, Bucha, Ukraine.

(END VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching.

And we wish you a Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate the holiday.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.



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