IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 9/2/21

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Rebecca Traister, Ayanna Pressley, Jennifer Granholm, Vicky Cartwright


Five Republicans Supreme Court Justices, including three appointed by Donald Trump, a man who lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly three million votes, they destroyed a woman`s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive choice. Hurricane Ida Triggers massive flooding in the northeast. Hurricane Ida highlights the desperate need for an infrastructure bill. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is withholding funds from two school districts that made masks mandatory in classrooms this fall.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Sadly, nothing will change the fact that you played a central role. It`s not the key role in the degradation of women`s rights. You`re absolutely trail of women because of your blind faith in Justice Cavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch makes you, Susan, tonight`s absolute worse. And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, on ALL IN. The fix is in, a Texas law deliberately engineered so conservatives on the Supreme Court would end a woman`s right to choose.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Clever. Very, very dangerous.

HAYES: Tonight, the new blueprint for Red States to ban abortion, and what Democrats need to do right now to stop it. Then ...

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These extreme storms in the climate clisis (PH) -- crisis are here.

HAYES: From powerful hurricanes in the South to historic flooding in the Northeast, to fires out of control in the West, the desperate need to climate-proof American infrastructure. Plus, the schools risking it all in Florida to try to protect kids from COVID when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on-camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. In the dead of night, they did it in the dead of night, five Republicans Supreme Court Justices, including three appointed by Donald Trump, a man who lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes, they destroyed a woman`s right to bodily autonomy and reproductive choice. First, in the State of Texas, but who knows what`s next. And they did it shortly before midnight, no big public announcement with an order, that is barely more than a page long. I`m struggling to come up with the proper words to describe to you how both cynically reckless and contemptuous the actions of the Court were last night.

It was essentially a middle finger from those five justices, as if to say, we are here. We`re here for life. And we could do whatever we want. Law be damned, precedent be damned, harm be damned. In fact, Chief Justice John Roberts, who is clearly aligned with the objective of those five justices, issued one of the dissents, basically saying, Look, guys, I`m not sure we could do it this way. Quoting from his dissent, he says, he would like to stop the law from going into effect, and I quote, "so that the courts may consider the audacious vigilante nature of the Texas law structure," something I`m about to discuss. So, in essence, Robert seemed to be saying, hey, let`s wait since the Supreme Court already teed up overturning Roe v. Wade for this fall. They`ve already set it up. They got a case out of Mississippi.

In 2018, Mississippi passed a law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. Several months later, a federal judge blocked that law from going into effect as is normal because it`s not Constitutional. An appeals court upheld that decision in 2019, finding the law was, quote, facially unconstitutional because it directly conflicts with, unquote, prior Supreme Court precedent. That`s correct.

But earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided to hear that case, the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women`s Health Organization. They plucked it out, lots of cases don`t get to the Supreme Court, but they wanted that one. And we all know why they wanted it. There it is. So, they had already decided to review Mississippi`s 15-week abortion ban, which is, again, on its face, unconstitutional. But even -- given that, a more defensible law than what came out of Texas. But five conservative justices, Roberts notwithstanding, there were so anxious, they were so chomping at the bit to kill off Roe, to take away abortion rights. They couldn`t wait. They could not wait. They couldn`t wait a few months to hear arguments about Mississippi`s law, and then a few more months to actually write an opinion and announce it and go through all that rigmarole.

Instead, they took this wildly, essentially lawless, billet position less than 24 hours after the Texas law went into effect in the dead of night. They shouldn`t order, it amounts to a shrug. Well, you know, this one`s procedurally tricky, so it`s out of our hands. So, too bad all your abortion clinics have to close. Hence, the nothing-to-see-here defense from natural Republicans.

But what you really have to understand here about this law and about what has happened, is that this Texas abortion law was crafted precisely to achieve this aim. They made the law so as to prevent Federal Courts from blocking it. They crafted the law, and then handed it to the Conservative Justice Supreme Court, and were like, yes, checks out. It`s an attempt at a kind of a magic trick or maybe more like a -- like a con, like a sidewalk con with a deck of cards to make the law magically go away. And it -- and it`s worth taking a second to explain how egregious it is. So, just bear with me here.


Usually, what happens when a law goes into effect that is arguably unconstitutional, in this case, flatly unconstitutional, the people that are harmed by that law or think they are going to be harmed, seek something called injunctive relief. They go to the court and they say, you can`t let this law go into effect. It`s unconstitutional. The plaintiff they name when they file that lawsuit to stop the law from going into effect is usually the government official that will enforce the law. So, for instance, the case to stop the Bush administration from putting Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial before military commissions was, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, as in Donald Rumsfeld, the then-Secretary of Defense.

Or, more recently, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, on behalf of one of the largest shelter providers on the U.S.- Mexico border. The Attorney General and Governor`s names are on the lawsuits. OK. So, usually, that`s how you get injunctive relief. You sue someone in the government. So, what do Texas lawmakers who wrote this bill, what do they do to avoid that? They decide the law will not be enforced by the government at all. In fact, they go a step further, they make it illegal for government officials in Texas to enforce this Texas law, which is nuts. Right?

But the reason they do it is, well, there`s no one to sue. Who are you going to sue for injunctive relief? Who will enforce it? Ha, ha, private actors will, right? The citizens of Texas or outside Texas, just you and your neighbors with the binoculars, seeing if maybe you went to go get an abortion or maybe someone who sees your Uber drive by, anyone really can bring a lawsuit against anyone who performs an abortion after six weeks, or against anyone who knowingly helps them in doing so. So, that`s the structure of law. It`s a state law not enforced by the state, enforced by private vigilantes with a bounty dangling in front of them. And that whole structure, which is obviously odious, and dystopian, and ridiculous, and despicable, it`s part of the trick. It`s the contract. It`s the hack, so that there can be no named plaintiff for injunctive relief. You`re following?

Well, then you say, well, I guess the State Courts will ultimately enforce it, because it`s under State Courts, the lawsuits get filed. So, can you name state judges? Aha, no, not clear. You can sue a judge for injunctive relief. So, the whole thing is constructed, again, by design, not to be a good law, not to create the conditions for human flourishing, not to order society in a way that promotes the general welfare. It`s designed as a trick so that it cannot stand up to actual review, and be struck down before it goes into effect. It is a dirty trick. But a cheap one, punitively to make it tough for the ca -- court to even hear the case.

And in this case, the people who wrote that law and the judges judging it, it`s like the three-card Monte con, you know, where there`s the guy at the sidewalk, three car money, and another guy walks on the sidewalk and pretends he just got there. And he`s like, oh, but they`re on the same team. It`s all the same team here, the judges and the people who wrote this law, they`re on the same team. They`re both in on the con. The Republicans who crafted the law and the five Conservative Justices who decided they would not block Texas` six-week abortions going into effect. Because, oh, well, this is so procedurally tricky, and there`s no one to sue. There`s no one to get injunctive relief. The four dissents, the four justices who dissented from that decision, basically, all write -- they all right dissents. They`re all like, we see what you`re doing here. We`re not idiots. We don`t have to pretend to go along with this nonsense.

In addition to what you read -- I read you earlier, Chief Justice John Roberts also wrote the quote, the statutory scheme, good word, before the Court is not only unusual, but unprecedented. That`s true. Usually, states don`t have private citizens enforce the laws. Justice Elena Kagan pointed out "the majority`s decision is emblematic of too much of this Court`s shadow-docket decision making, which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend." But it was Justice Sonia Sotomayor really came out and blasted her colleagues. This quote, "The act is a breathtaking act of defiance -- correct -- of the Constitution, of this Court`s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortion throughout Texas. In effect, the Texas Legislature has deputized the State`s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors` medical procedures. The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law."

Yes, Justice Sotomayor, thank you. She is 1,000 percent right. You can`t have offered this as a precedent for any state that wants to curtail constitutional rights to private enforcement, right? Think about this, oh, here`s the new cheat code. Just structure the law this way, and you could deny any constitutional right you want with no injunctive relief. Whoopsies.


It cannot be the case that if you structure a law this way, no one can do anything, Courts can`t review it. And keep in mind, the Texas lawmakers who wrote this bill, they`re all members of Republican establishment in good standing. These are folks that get companies like AT&T, UnitedHealth, that donate over $100,000 to them. Seems to suggest it will be a lot easier for lawmakers and other Red States to just literally copy and paste the Texas abortion law, before there`s ever a ruling on the one in Mississippi. You know, like a ruling they do in the Supreme Court where you have arguments, and briefs, and then a reasoned decision, and, you know? Huh, why do that when you can just do this cheap card trick to take away women`s right to choose?

If this is going to be the way this goes down, there is no choice but for full-scale lawful, nonviolent mobilization, to use the means of Democratic politics, from everyone who cares about bodily autonomy and constitutional rights to preserve the rights of women. Michelle Goldberg is a columnist at the New York Times. Her latest piece about the Texas law is titled, "Republicans Are Giving Abortion Opponents Power Over the Rest of Us." And Rebecca Traister is a writer-at-large at New York Magazine, who has written extensively about the fight to protect reproductive life -- rights, including this 2019 article, "Our Fury Over Abortion Was Dismissed for Decades as Hysterical," which feels more relevant than ever today, unfortunately.

Michelle, there`s so much here that`s sort of rage-inducing, and the human stakes are, of course, the most important, there are women right now in the State of Texas right now, living in America being denied the constitutionally sanctioned right to an abortion. That is happening as I speak to you.


HAYES: And I want to talk about that. Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: I was going to say, briefly. I mean, you know, Whole Women`s Health, one of the abortion providers in Texas, talked about, they were rushing to serve -- you know, those women were desperate to end their pregnancies. They were doing abortions up until 11:56 on Tuesday night, because after that, they had to turn women away. And, you know, they had women coming to them in an absolute state of desperation.

HAYES: There`s also, though, this aspect to it, the truly indefensibly creepy structure of it. And I just wanted you to talk -- because you wrote your column about this, and I`m going to -- I`m just going to quote from her for a second, and then I`m going to come to you, Rebecca. But, Michelle, you said, "S.B. 8 may still be knocked down eventually. And I probably think it will, because it`s just such a disgusting, like flagrant abuse of the law. But already, in addition to eviscerating abortion rights in Texas, it`s sent a message about the Republican Party`s eagerness to give its base the ability to dominate the rest of us. It also demonstrated the right-wing Supreme Court majority is willing to tacitly support that domination rather than restrain it." What do you mean by that?

GOLDBERG: I think you have to see S.B. 8 in the context of a Republican Party that is increasingly besotted with vigilantism. Right? Whether you`re talking about the January 6th Insurrection, whether you`re talking about a Republican candidate in Pennsylvania, who said he`s going to take 20 strong men and remove school board members who would impose a mask mandate. Texas also recently passed a law that empowers partisan poll watchers, and sort of restrains the ability of people in a polling place to hold them back if, you know, it kind of says they can go wherever they want, in a -- in a blatant attempt to give them license to intimidate people that Republicans don`t think should be voting.

And so, I just think all over the place, you see Republicans -- you know, you see them making martyrs of the McCloskeys. So, you see this Republican attempt to basically create a cast of people that has the right to, in this case, literally enforce laws on -- you know, on sort of citizens that they believe are deserving of lesser rights or should be disfavored by the state.

HAYES: Rebecca, this is the moment that has been both foretold, fought against valiantly and indefatigably by thousands of folks, people that work in clinics, activists, writers, lawyers, (INAUDIBLE) you know, thousands of people fighting to make this not happen. It has come. What changed in abortion politics in the last 24 hours in this country?

REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, you know, you say this is the moment, and it certainly is one moment, where I think a lot of people, I guess, are just waking up to the reality that this is what`s going to happen, that we`re not going to have legal and accessible abortion. But I would argue that there have been hundreds of moments over decades that have led up to this.


And in those moments, many people have pointed out, this is the direction we`re heading. And we have -- and many -- those people have been ignored, have been talked down to have said -- have been told that they`re being hysterical and overdramatic. And you know, there -- again, when something - - when -- it`s a stunning law, and as you pointed out at the beginning of your monologue, the way in which it was done -- first of all, sitting quietly on it for a night -- not -- we know from this court that they`re willing to get up in the middle of the night to protect religious gatherings, right? We know that they can act quickly.


And the fact that they just -- they did this weird performance and like just not saying anything for 24 hours, just remaining silent, and then when they finally did it, saying -- in a way, that actually undercuts the court`s own authority, right, that says, yes, this is unconstitutional. This is in the face of a precedent set here in this court, even if we obviously are going to overturn that -- you know, in a mission to overturn Roe, at the moment, it`s still the court`s decision. And we`re just going to let this thing go.

There was messaging there that is -- that reflects the absolute disdain for and, you know, for, the rights to bodily autonomy and dignity and flourishing.

HAYES: Here`s my takeaway, and I want -- I would like to hear what you have to say on this, is that for years, the balance is row and then Casey is the status quo, and they`re chipping away at it, and there`s mobilization against it. And that`s the thing that`s being protected. It`s, you know, you`re defending the fortress.

The valence of that has to shift now. Like, the aggressor in this metaphor -- again, I`m talking politically, right, democratically, non-violently, like just through direct action and through the means of Democratic politics. But the courts are not going to save you. Like this must be grasped back into the democratic polity and pushed as an issue everywhere, Michelle.

GOLDBERG: Well, you know, it`s interesting, because I think there was a lot of debate about whether this court was going to throw row outright or whether they were just going to turn it into even more of a hollow shell. I`m not sure anybody believe that this quickly you would have abortion banned without exception for rape or incest at six weeks, and that you would soon see that kind of spreading throughout the country.

And I suspect -- who knows what the court was thinking. But one of the results of the way -- the sneaky way that they did this, the kind of middle of the night one paragraph order, is that they were able to allow this abortion ban without the headline Roe v. Wade is overturned, without the kind of shockwaves and convulsions it would cause if that happened.

And so, they`ve almost sort of acculturating people to a world of illegal abortion so that when they do overturn Roe, when they do rule on this less extreme 15 week Mississippi ban, it will be hard to kind of Rouse people. And so, I think it`s a challenge at this moment when people feel so inundated, so battered, to you know, sort of summon the outrage of defiance that the moment calls for.

HAYES: Rebecca.

TRAISTER: And I think that has been what Michelle is describing is -- has been the challenge on the part of abortion defenders for decades since Roe was decided and very soon after we had a Hyde -- we had the Hyde Amendment, the legislative writer that is made abortion all but -- all but illegal, totally inaccessible to vast portions of this population is the legislative writer that says you can`t use government insurance to pay for abortion care, making this legal and constitutionally protected procedure and form of health care inaccessible to pregnant people who have needed it over decades.

And that hasn`t roused in -- that hasn`t roused this kind of, oh, no, abortion is under attack. We`ve had thousands of state regulations passed, state laws, trap laws that have eroded Roe for years. And not only have -- has the populace not been made aware of that, it`s not -- the Democratic Party hasn`t taken it up with the passion that it absolutely should have.

There has been -- there has been not the energy needed to point out that this was what was always on the horizon. And that`s including from the Democratic Party that was supposed to be rallying troops over these decades.

HAYES: Well, I`m going to talk about this in the next block with Ayanna Pressley, but I will just say, this Texas law is indefensible. It is so odious. It is you -- couldn`t conjure a better foil for people that believe in the right to choice and bodily autonomy of women than this law, so you might as well lean into it.

Rebecca Traister, Michelle Goldberg, thank you both.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

HAYES: Last night on the show, I talked about the fact that abortion is one of the few actual policy positions held by the Republican Party. So, you would think the Supreme Court`s decision would be a huge win for them. They`d be in front of every camera they can find declaring victory. Here`s the thing. They aren`t. They`re kind of in hiding. Why is that? I`ll explain next.



HAYES: For years, the Republican Party has used abortion and the fight against abortion rights as a kind of mobilizing energizer for their base, a base that is sincerely committed truly to ending a woman`s right to choose not just in red states, but everywhere to outlawing abortion everywhere.

And in some ways, the best of both worlds for Republicans was to have abortion be the law of the land, and have states deal with it locally in this sort of constant fight but the court protecting it in the end. Because despite the complicated politics of abortion, there`s a very clear, durable, long-standing majority of Americans who are in favor of a woman`s right to choose and legalized abortion in this country.

According to a Gallup poll from June, 58 percent of Americans want to see Roe v Wade remain the precedent while 32 percent want to see it overturned. That is almost identical to what attitudes were 30 years ago. And now, that is being destroyed by the Republican Party and conservative movement before our eyes. And you can see they are uneasy about it because today you would think Republicans will be doing victory laps about it. They are not.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz issued a statement through his spokesperson reading, "Senator Cruz is proud that Texas is leading the charge defend life. Every life is a gift from God. And without life, there is no liberty. The question of abortion legislation should be returned to the States. That`s it.


Not him actually saying that statement, his spokesperson. I mean, Ted Cruz is not a guy who`s reticent to jump in front of a camera. Have you noticed that? That`s more, of course, than the absolute silence we`ve heard from the state senior Republican Senator John Cornyn.

I mean, again, two guys that will leap at any microphone to talk about, say, critical race theory, they`re basically mummed. Get this. Fox and Friends devoted 27 seconds of their broadcast to the court`s demolition of abortion rights. It`s almost like they know how unpopular the decision is.

Mitch McConnell tried to brush it off as rules from undetectable ruling law. And I think Republicans do understand the math on abortion. They know the politics on this issue. People don`t want Roe overturned and that`s what Republicans want. And so it`s best to just pretend like it never happened.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is a Democrat from Massachusetts. She serves on the Oversight and Reform Committee. She`s chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus Abortion Rights and Action Task Force. And Congresswoman in that role, what do Democrats and what do people who believe in a woman`s right to choose do in the wake of this?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, Chris, I`m not at all surprised by the draconian acts under the cloak of night by this extreme Supreme Court. What I`m looking to right now, is this Congress to act and we must. We know that the courts have not been on our side when it comes to housing rights, to voting rights, to the rights of low-income people, to people of color to the most marginalized.

But who does this party value and who will we stand up for? Being in that this is the first pro-choice majority Congress, being that we are in the majority, we have the House, the Senate, and the White House, being in the majority and being the first pro-choice majority Congress in the history of Congress must be more than a talking point. And so, we have to act.

And that is why we need to get to the floor. And we were able to get a commitment earlier today from Speaker Pelosi, my bill with Representative Judy Chu, the Women`s Health Protection Act, which would ensure access which would codify Roe v Wade, and also ban other draconian state laws like the one in Texas, which is a frightening bellwether of what could be to come.

If we do not, if Congress does not act right now and use every tool at our disposal to protect the bodily autonomy of all people, regardless of income, regardless of gender, identity, or race -- we cannot back down. This is not a drill. And might I add, not only do lives hang in the balance, but so does this majority if we don`t act in this moment.

HAYES: Let me play for you what the speaker had to say about this. And then I want you to explain a little bit when people say codified Roe into law, what that would mean. Here`s what Nancy Pelosi said earlier today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): When we go back to Washington, we will be putting Roe v Wade codification on the floor of the House to make sure that women everywhere have access to reproductive health. And I say that as a mother of five children.


HAYES: So, since 1973, when Roe was decided, you know, finding a constitutional right to an abortion for women under the right to privacy. There has been a constitutional threshold for which laws states can and can`t pass. And it`s determined by courts through Casey, through women`s health, through the series of cases.

What you`re proposing through your legislation would just to actually just pass a law which Congress never done, right, to say, states cannot restrict this thing. Is that -- is that the way it will work?

PRESSLEY: That`s right. And Chris, you know, this isn`t a bill that was just written. This is a bill that was written many years ago because we anticipated and forecasted that we will find ourselves just this inflection point. Again, I`m not at all surprised by the extremism of this court, which is why we do need to expand the court, which is why we do need to codify Roe v Wade, and ensure access to abortion for all people and ensure that state laws like the one in Texas are not passed anywhere else.

And that`s why my bill with Judy Chu needs to come to the floor for a vote. We also need to abolish the filibuster. So, we need to codify a Roe v Wade, pass the Women`s Health Protection Act. We need to abolish the filibuster. We need to expand the courts and we need to repeal Hyde.

You know, the impact of these policies is disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable. That`s true for the Hyde Amendment as well. And it is the most vulnerable and the most marginalized, who delivered this Democratic majority. And so, it`s up to us now for Congress to act to meet the moment and to deliver on the most basic rights to that coalition of voters.


HAYES: What does it say to you -- it is very striking to me -- by one person is count, Fox had not mentioned this since 27 seconds, you`re not -- you know, I`ve been on air when the -- when the marriage case was decided, for instance, and that was a huge deal. And I`ve been on air when the ACA was signed, and that was a huge deal. We didn`t pretend it didn`t happen. It`s like guys, it`s good people.

The total absence of reaction from Republicans, what does that say to you about their perception of the politics of this?

PRESSLEY: Well, I don`t want to give them any more oxygen. You know, it`s just more of the same with them. And clearly, they have contempt for everyone who calls this country home. I`m not looking to the courts. I`m not looking to our colleagues across the aisle. I`m looking at this Democratic Party to stand up and to be responsive and to meet the moment and to act legislatively.

We need to codify Roe v. Wade. We need to pass my bill with Judy Chu. We need to abolish the filibuster. We need to expand the courts and we need to repeal Hyde. Unnecessarily in that order, but all of those things must happen.

HAYES: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you so much for your time tonight.

PRESSLEY: Thank you, Chris. Next, the unbelievable scenes of destruction as the remnants of Hurricane Ida battered the Northeast Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm joins me to talk about the urgent need for climate infrastructure ahead.



HAYES: Three people are dead in the northeast after the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the area last night. Record-breaking rainfall led to massive and dangerous flooding with streets like these in Newark, New Jersey, essentially turned into rivers. Newark received an all-time high daily total of more than eight inches of rain, as well as a record one hour total of nearly three and a quarter inches in one hour.

The airport in Newark had to temporarily suspend flights with floodwaters even reaching inside the terminal buildings. In southern New Jersey, a tornado hit the town of Mullica Hill causing catastrophic damage. A tornado in Jersey leveling some homes down the foundations. York City saw a deluge of rain as well more than seven inches falling in Central Park.

And get this. The city set a new hourly record of more than three inches of rain in a record which smashed the record set just 11 days prior with Hurricane Henri. This subway station in Brooklyn was just one of many inundated by floodwaters grinding the entire system to a halt. We couldn`t get a train last night.

Passengers had to be rescued from 17 subway cars. A resident of downtown Manhattan captured this scene. Water rushing in to the living room of her duplex apartment. Homes across the region sustained devastating flood damage. This Bridgeport Pennsylvania neighborhood remained underwater today after a nearby river overflowed. Water rescues were carried out this morning.

All this comes just a few days after it slammed into Louisiana as a category four hurricane hitting New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It was the fifth highest wind for a hurricane making landfall in U.S. history. And this time, the levees held, but winds reaching 150 miles per hour knocked out power throughout the city. Nearly a million people are still without power across the state. There`s no timeline for electricity to be restored as temperatures reach into the 90s.

Now, while the eastern half the country is basically drowning, the western half is on fire. This real-time map shows the 150 wildfires currently burning in the U.S. Among the biggest is a Caldor fire in California, which has burned more than 200,000 acres, destroyed more than 800 structures in less than three weeks.

The fire has been threatening the very popular Lake Tahoe area where thousands of people were evacuated this week as it spreads east towards the Nevada border. Firefighters are doing incredible are continuing to battle the flames hopefully with more favorable conditions in the coming days. Winds are expected to lessen going into the weekend, which is good news.

So, with these extreme conditions causing devastation nationwide, the question many Americans are asking is how are we so ill-prepared for this and what are we going to do about it? I`ll talk to the Secretary of Energy about that next.




BIDEN: In the past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms in the climate crisis are here. We need to do -- better prepared. We need to act.


HAYES: President Joe Biden is headed to Louisiana this Friday where more than a million people lost power in the wake of Hurricane Ida including nearly all of New Orleans after our transmission tower collapsed, sending powerlines falling into the Mississippi River. The largest utility company in the state says it has 2000 miles of high voltage lines that are knocked out while the heat index is reaching 100 degrees or more in parts of the state. It could still be weeks before some of the hardest-hit areas get their power restored.

As President Biden said, we are in a climate emergency. East of the Mississippi is flooded, west of the Mississippi is on fire. It feels like there`s climate disaster all around you and that we are sorely unprepared for. If you feel that way, you`re not alone. How much and critically what source of energy we use to power our country is central to the issue of climate change? And how to get to the President`s goal net zero emissions by 2050 falls in large part to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. And she joins me now.

First of all, Secretary, you were a governor before you were Secretary of Energy and you`ve dealt with disasters before. And I wonder what goes through your mind when you look at these images of essentially, like extreme events one and 1000 year events happening more routinely and overwhelming the built infrastructure that we have to contain it.

Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy: Yes, I mean -- well, the first thing that goes to your mind, of course, are the people. But really you think, oh my god, how many times do we have to do this? These are not once- in-a-generation storms. They are happening with greater and greater frequency and intensity.

So, when we build something back, we better build it back better, which is exactly what Joe Biden wants to see happen. And that infrastructure bill that has passed through the Senate and is now sitting in the House has $.5 billion for resilience, for making sure that we do harden our grid, for example, our grid infrastructure, make sure that we have the ability to prevent these -- you know, I mean, the fact that you see this transmission tower go across the Mississippi River and that all of our transmission wires and distribution wire are on wooden poles. I mean in some areas, we should be burying that -- those wires. We should be burying it so that we don`t end up doing this again.

So, the bottom line is we have to build back better and we have to make sure that we address climate change so that we don`t continue to exceed this exacerbated every single year.


HAYES: Yes, on that -- we`re looking at those power lines. There`s an interesting piece in The Times-Picayune about why Katrina didn`t bury power line -- why New Orleans didn`t bury power lines after Katrina. And one of the big things that comes up in all this stuff is it`s expensive. It`s really expensive.

And that`s -- you know, that`s been the odd -- that has been the -- you know, we saw the $16 billion that got sent spent on the levees that appears to have worked in this case, but it is going to take money to do this stuff. I mean, that that`s what it all comes down to is the investments are costly.

GRANHOLM: Well, that`s why the President wants to partner to make this happens so that those costs are not passed on to consumers. That`s why he`s got $33 billion. And I mean, really, in the 1980s, we spent about $12 billion a year to clean up after these extreme weather events. Last -- in the past three years, we`ve averaged between 150 and $200 billion per year in cleaning up after these events.

We have got to build better. We`ve got to make sure that we make it resilient. But Chris, we have to address climate change which is the cause of all of this in the first place. And that`s the other piece that the President has put into the -- into the reconciliation bill. The build back better agenda is to make sure we get 100 percent of our electricity from clean sources by 2035.

And we incentivize the build-out of renewable and clean energy across this country so that we can lead not just our country, but help to lead the world as we pressure other countries to do the same thing.

HAYES: Yes, the clean electricity standard, which is a key part of that reconciliation package, is something we`ve been very focused here on the show. I think it`s one of the most important proposals that I`ve seen covering Congress in many years. I want to get your reaction to an op-ed that Democratic member of the Senate, Joe Manchin, wrote in The Wall Street Journal basically saying, hey, we need a pause on this whole $3.5 trillion bill. You know, it`s a lot of money, there might be inflation. Everyone, just cool your jets. What do you say to that?

GRANHOLM: Well, first of all, one of the things he says in that bill is that he wants to ensure that we`re not increasing debt and deficit, and Joe Biden agrees with him. And that`s why Joe Biden has proposed a way to pay for these infrastructure pieces that need to happen to make our country solid in the long term.

I mean, in fact, Moody`s has said that the infrastructure, the build back better agenda not only is good for the long term, but it will also help to control inflation in the long term because these are smart investments that are not intended just to juice the economy right now but to set our country on the right path for the future.

That`s what that clean electricity standard is all about. That`s what building up clean energy is all about. That`s what reducing the cost for everyday families that are -- that is embedded in the reconciliation bill is all about. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs, we don`t want to see inflation increasing. We don`t want to see healthcare increase. We want to see a health care tax.

And so, the issues that Joe Manchin is raising about the cost on everyday citizens, the President totally agrees with it.

HAYES: Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, always a pleasure to get a chance to talk to you. Thank you very much.

GRANHOLM: You bet. Thanks.

HAYES: You know, last few weeks have been hard in a lot of ways for a lot of reasons. I`ve had a lot of my own frustrations over the last few weeks with the coverage particularly of Afghanistan which I think some of you might share. And it`s why I really enjoyed sitting down with Spencer Ackerman on my podcast Why Is This Happening?

Spencer has been on the show. We had him on recently. He`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has been covering the war on terror since its very beginning. He`s very clear-eyed chronicle -- chronicler of that. It`s a great conversation. I hope you check it out.

Up next, the Florida school districts defying the governor`s ban on mask requirements and they now face punishment from the state. How they are fighting back right after this.



HAYES: The joy of going back to school for kids is only matched by the anxiety many parents are feeling about sending them at a time when pediatric COVID cases have "increased exponentially with over a five-fold increase from July to August." As a parent of three children about to start school not yet eligible to be vaccinated, I have to say, I do take quite a bit of solace in the wide body of data we have so far indicating that children are at a significant lower risk of serious illness from COVID compared to adults.

But no one wants their kid getting COVID. And things really hit home when I came across a report released by the CDC earlier this week on a case in Marin County, California for May where an unvaccinated elementary school teacher infected with the Delta variant spread the virus to half the students in a classroom seeding an outbreak that eventually infected 26 people.

The teacher taught for two days while symptomatic and before getting tested which itself not a great call. During which time, she read aloud without a mask to 24 students. Everyone in the front row tested positive, which fell to 80 percent in the first two rows. In the back three rows, 28 percent of students tested positive. You can see how it diffuses through the class there.

An unvaccinated teacher dropped her mask despite rules -- school rules to wear masks indoors. And within days, half of her class was positive for the virus at a school that had been conscientious about following COVID protocols. Yet despite stories like this, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is withholding funds from two school districts that made masks mandatory in classrooms this fall, one of which is Broward County where Dr. Vickie Cartwright is the interim superintendent. And Dr. Cartwright joins me now.

Great to have you here. Before we get into mask policy, I just want to level set because I want to make sure I understand this. Pursuing to I think an executive order from the governor, you can`t have a vaccine requirement for your staff -- teachers and staff in schools, correct?


DR. VICKIE CARTWRIGHT, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, that`s something that we would have to review coming up here in the future. We have not -- at this point in time, we have not had legal counsel to advise us as to what we are allowed to do or not allowed to do specific to vaccinations.

HAYES: So, you don`t have -- just to be clear, you don`t have a vaccination requirement in your school district?

CARTWRIGHT: No, we do not have the vaccination requirement at my school district at this time.

HAYES: Right. So, I mean, just to -- when we`re talking about sort of levels of mitigation, right, like one level would be having vaccinated teachers, hopefully, a lot of them are vaccinated. A second level would be masks. Why did you decide to require masks inside your schools, despite the fact that Governor said he would take away funding for your school district?

CARTWRIGHT: Absolutely. So, this decision was something that was very difficult for our school board to consider and to look into and to make a decision on. What happened is the numbers here in Broward County were we were starting to spike in our numbers, we continue to see spread that was happening throughout our county, we were now also starting to see where the hospitalization rates and the -- and the pediatric ICU beds were also increasing.

And so, whereas originally, you know, summertime, we were thinking we were going to be able to make it optional. It just got to the point where, unfortunately, the data for our county was very alarming and very concerning. We`re coming back to school, all back in-person. So, we knew that the mitigation strategy of being able to separate by six feet or three feet is just nearly impossible inside of the classroom.

So, with the positivity rate increasing and knowing that we needed to take as many mitigation factors into play as possible, that was why our board made that decision, and very difficult decision. I don`t want to go against the governor. But at the same time, they`re responsible -- their constitutional duties require for them to provide that safe environment here locally within Broward County.

HAYES: What does it mean for the county in terms of -- I`m still a little unclear on what the actual stick the government --the governor is wielding against the school district.

CARTWRIGHT: So, what he did is actually right now we have two different sanctions that are in place. The first sanction that he is doing is withholding the school board members` salaries for each month that we are not in compliance. Now, and that`s important to also realize is that even though our board made this decision, we`re revisiting the decision after Labor Day.

So, we`re going to continue to monitor -- it`s that`s a decision that`s been made for the entire year. So, our school board members, prior to the commissioner coming out and saying that they were going to withhold their funds, they withhold -- on August 26, they withheld the funds. So, it was $35,000, a little bit over that, that they did, and withholding those funds.

And the other thing that they also put in sanctions for was with paperwork, as you might say. So, on a daily basis, every one of my schools, every one of them, that those principals at this point in time have to certify a report that basically goes into listing the names of students, the parents, information, the contact information for any student that we had to discipline or if a parent or the student themselves or a caregiver just report that the child has been harassed. And we`re doing that because even then the order they gave us was so vague.

HAYES: So, they`re punishing you with dumb paperwork for a masking requirement to try to protect the school. Has -- have parents been -- generally, how have parents been about this?

CARTWRIGHT: Overwhelmingly supportive. Everywhere I`m going, when I`m interacting with community members, when I`m interacting out at our school sites, of course, there are parents there as well. Every one of them, thank you. Thank you for protecting our children.

HAYES: Yes, mitigation efforts really work as a collective undertaking. That`s something that I think hasn`t really gotten through with some folks. Dr. Vickie Cartwright, thank you so much for coming on tonight. I really appreciate it.

CARTWRIGHT: Absolutely. You have a wonderful evening and thank you for this opportunity.

HAYES: You have a good evening, too.

That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. There are fires on the West Coast, there is the storm in the northeast, and the hurricane aftermath in Louisiana.