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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 11/5/21

Guests: Robert Reich, Gina Hinojosa, Jill Wine-Banks, Sara Nelson, Teddy Andrews, Sharon Austin, Michael McDonald


House is preparing to vote on Biden agenda. House expected to vote on Biden agenda after record-breaking stock market week. Democrats are alone in fight to defend democracy. Justice Department sues Texas over voter suppression law. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers have taken place since January. Nearly 4,000 of those were related to the federal rule that passengers have to wear masks. Today the University of Florida reversed its decision to bar three political science professors from testifying in a lawsuit against Florida`s voter suppression bill.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST (on camera): That`s going to do it for us tonight on this very, very busy Friday night, which I think is going to be a very busy late Friday night news night. But now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD," where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening Ali, I hand this over to you with trepidation, having a feeling this is going to be a complicated long night ahead.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST (on camera): Yeah, I had a granola bar and I have some extra (inaudible) before the shows started. You were having a great conversation with Ali Vitali a few moments ago in which you pointed out something that`s really important to remember for viewers as they follow this tonight. And that is Nancy Pelosi doesn`t wing it ever.


VELSHI: So -- that she is talking, that something is happening should tell you something. She doesn`t take chances with votes on the House floor, it`s just not what she does. Whether she agrees or disagrees with how it`s going to go, if Nancy Pelosi doesn`t have the votes, she doesn`t hold the vote.

MADDOW: That`s right. And knowing how unsettled this landscape is among Democrats right now, knowing how uncertain it is, I think the only way to sort of stay clear on what`s going to happen is to watch Pelosi.

VELSHI: That`s exactly right.

MADDOW: He`s the only person that you can sort of -- trust to have universal vision on mission vision over what`s going on with our caucus.


MADDOW: She`s the only one that will know. Bu that`s why all eyes are on her tonight in terms of figuring out how this is going to end, if it is tonight.

VELSHI: If it is. And some will tell you this is just the sausage being made, but it is being made as we speak and we`ll stay on top of it. Rachel, you have yourself a great weekend. We`ll see you Monday.

MADDOW: Thank you so much, Ali, thank you.

VELSHI: All right. And we will continue to follow the story and as soon as there are any developments in it, we will bring them live to you. There we have a live shot of Capitol Hill. Ali Vitali and our others from the Congressional team are watching this very closely along with us.

Well, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are reportedly in their residence right now working phones to those House Democrats. But in the meantime I want you to remember, remember, remember the 5th of November. That`s the old line about guy (inaudible), the guy who tried to blow up parliament 400 years ago. I`m not asking you to remember 400 years ago, that`s too long.

Just remember one year ago. America one year ago, November 5th, under President Donald Trump, who had only been impeached one time by then. Remember the dream of saying stable leadership that was literally what the 2020 presidential campaign was about, being normal.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don`t have to argue about some crazy tweet that the president sent out this morning. It won`t be so exhausting. You`ll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president is doing his job, instead of suggesting we inject bleach that the president`s not going to retweet conspiracy theories that the Navy SEALS didn`t actually kill Bin Laden. We are not going to have a president who goes out of his way that insult people just because they don`t agree with him. It`s not normal behavior.


VELSHI: It`s not normal behavior. How quickly we forget. Remember, being in month -- in month 10 of an unprecedented pandemic with the death toll climbing, no end in sight, schools were closed, holidays were canceled. And the inject bleach guy was tweeting 10, 20, 50 times a day about whatever grievance he was nursing that day.

There was no coronavirus vaccine yet available and low confidence that the bleach guy would be able to manage the logistics of making a vaccine available to every adult in the country.

On November 5th, 2020, the votes were still being counted, the dream of sane stable leadership seemed far off because the president and his clown card of defenders were attacking the election results. The election itself, and planting the seeds for the insurrection that would take place on January 6th. Joe Biden won that election on a simple message.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re going to beat this virus and we`re going to get it under control, I promise you.


VELSHI: Eighty percent of Americans are now protected with at least one dose of the vaccines. Some with the push of federal vaccine requirements. Vaccines now available for everyone aged five and above for free.

And today Pfizer announced that its anti-viral pill for COVID-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent in high risk adults. And what else?


BIDEN: We`re going to have to plan to get our economy back on track, not to get it back to where we were, but to build back better.



VELSHI: After an unprecedented and modern times pandemic and unprecedented in modern time`s recovery. The United States added a whopping $531,000 new jobs in the month of October. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics made revisions to the somewhat sift September and August jobs numbers which show that those months were much more robust in terms of job creation than we even knew at the time.

Unemployment has dropped to 4.6 percent, it`s the lowest rate since the start of the pandemic. And today, the DOW Jones Industrial average closed above 36,000 after hitting that milestone for the first time in history earlier this week. So, to anybody out there who is taking the progress for granted, listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you`ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it will be a very, very sad day for this country.


VELSHI: Leading off our discussion tonight is Robert Reich, the former Labor Department Secretary under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley. His latest book is "The System, Who Rigged It And How We Fixed It." And Jonathan Alter, columnist for "the Daily Beast," and a MSNBC political analyst.

Gentlemen, good to see you both. Bob, let me start with you. These numbers, later than some people wanted but stronger than most people expected.

ROBERT REICH, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALSYT (on camera): Well, the economy is almost back to where it should be. It`s not entirely back, but the trajectory is in the right direction. I mean, there`s no question about that. We also see consumer confidence up and a lot of the problems with the economy we all knew had a lot to do with the Delta virus or with the coronavirus generally.

And we see that that seems to be also trending in the right direction. So there is no question. And nobody should have any question that we have a lot to be grateful for.

VELSHI: Jonathan, you and I -- I`m trying to think back to the last time you and I talked. It was very late in the morning on Wednesday -- early Wednesday morning, late Tuesday night as the election results were coming in.


VELSHI: And we saw the exit polls in Virginia indicating that the number one issue for voters that night, that day was the economy. And the implication was that if the number one issue was the economy, you might have been -- you might have chosen the Republican candidates in New Jersey and Virginia.

But in fact, what we`re seeing is something entirely different. Is there -- what`s your sense of why that hasn`t resounded the way it should with Democrats?

ALTER: Well, I think one of the problems is that you know, the economy has so many dimensions to it, Ali. And unemployment is only one of them. Yeah. You can get a job now if you really want one. There are help wanted signs everywhere. But if you want a couch it`s going to take three to five months, literally, in many areas to get that. That`s what the supply disruptions are like.

If you go to a pump, it`s $3.40 on average around the country. People think that`s high. So they think inflation is moving faster than their wage increases are moving, even though they can now afford to be choosier about what jobs they have.

I think there`s sort of a broader sense, particularly on the part of Democrats, that all this sense of malaise, I think part of it is that they really thought Trump would be in the rearview mirror now, you know, and he`s not. And he has all these accolades and these Trumpsters who are making it pretty clear that he could be back.

And so a lot of Democrats who, you know, kind of relaxed after the election, said OK, that part of my life is over, that staying up all night worrying about Trump is over. But now we have this real sense of unease. They see these assaults on democracy, this move toward authoritarianism in the Republican Party. It makes them very uneasy and also exhausted and not enthusiastic about going to the polls.

VELSHI: So, Bob, this is an interesting point. Because I would never as an economy guy I would never diminish the effect of inflation and rising prices on how people make their decisions, except in this moment in America, you can`t make your decision about that between Republicans and Democrats.

Because, to Jonathan`s point, one party is sort of operates within the bounds of an agreed-upon democracy and the other party continues to embrace conspiracy theories and to some degree Donald Trump.

REICH: This is a huge asymmetry in American politics, and, you know, I don`t recall a time when you have one party basically willing to undermine democracy for the sake of winning, and another party of the Democratic Party really feeling that its responsibility is to uphold and fortify and protect democracy even at some cost.


Now, if that is asymmetry really does grow, and I do feel it is growing, then we`re all in trouble, because how can you run politics that way? How can politics be a kind of a place where there is any trust, and one of the biggest things we are missing now, and I think one of the -- as Jonathan refers to that old Jimmy Carter term "malaise."

I think one of the reasons there is malaise in the system is the expectation that we would have all of this behind us, not just the economic problems and not just the pandemic, but also the political distrust and anger, but it`s still there.

VELSHI: Jonathan, obviously, the supply chain disruptions are a product of the pandemic, and that will get fixed when it gets fixed. But this inflation thing, to some degree is a product of the recovery, right? I mean, you have inflation because people have money now and they are buying things and some of these things are more expensive than they should be because of the supply chain. But in some coheres the criticism of inflation ignores the acknowledgement of the recovery or the strength of the recovery.

ALTER: Yeah, that`s right. I have to make one little footnote, because I just wrote this book about Jimmy Carter. He actually never used the word "malaise" in that famous speech. He never used it at all. But it was clearly seen as a period of malaise and there are some resemblances in terms of the gas prices.

But, you know, I think that some of what`s happened is that even some Democratic economists like Larry Summers have warned about inflation and that`s kind of gotten into the psyche a little bit, particularly of the thought leaders.

But if you listen to Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, he`s actually not particularly worried about inflation. He thinks that these sort of mini- bouts of inflation that we are having now which by the way are so small compared to what Jimmy Carter was facing. Double digit inflation in the 1970s.

So this is very, very minor by comparison, and it is often related to these sort of hiccups in the economy that are part of recovering from a period when nobody could really buy anything because so many factories were closed and then suddenly everybody wanted to buy stuff all at once and you have these, you know, traffic jams at ports because they just couldn`t make the shipping of the goods connect up to consumer demand.

And when you have excess consumer demand, you are going to get at least a temporary period of inflation. But I think there`s been too much emphasis on that. If it was next year at this time and we still had, you know, some of this inflation and the supply disruptions were at an end, then I`d be more worried about it.

VELSHI: So, Bob, the three of us here are collectively a couple hundred years old so we remember what Jonathan is talking about, right. When inflation back in Jimmy carter`s day was a very different game. Double digit inflation, double digit mortgage rates, real interest rates that were very high. We don`t actually have all of that right now.

What we have is a lot of people chasing after fewer available goods for the time being and oil prices that are back to where they were before the pandemic. Can you -- from an economist`s perspective tell us what we actually need to be thinking about, what we should be worried about and what we should hope is going to go away soon?

REICH: Well, just look at supply and demand. You know, the old economic factors on the supply side, we do have coming out of a deep recession a pandemic similar to the supply problems as we had coming out of World War II. That is, you just can`t get everything that you want all at once.

And now the supply chains are more complicated, because they are global. At the same time, and the World War II analogy is actually works here as well. On the demand side you`ve got a lot of (inaudible) demand. Consumers that have wanted to buy all sorts of stuff have saved a little bit because they have not had the opportunity to buy as much as they wanted during the pandemic.

And they are demanding -- they want to spend a lot more. Well, you put those two factors together and you`re going to get what we`re seeing, and that is some price increases that I believe, strongly believe, are temporary. I think in the next four to six months they will be -- most of them will be gone. And now that may not be convincing to a lot of Americans who are foreseeing it and experiencing it and we`re all experiencing it.

But I think it`s important to understand in historical context, this is nothing like what we experienced in 1970s in part because we don`t see a wage price inflation. That is, unions don`t have nearly the power they had then.


We don`t have the kind of constraints on companies in terms of actually increasing their supply that we had then. So I think this is going to -- it`s easy to say it`s going to work out, but I really do believe it`s going to work out.

VELSHI: Jonathan, Stuart Stevens put out a tweet, "The DOW is over 36,000. Unemployment has dropped from 6.3 percent in January to 4.8 percent. Over five million jobs added, a record, 220 million vaccines in 10 months and only 30 percent of the country thinks the U.S. is on the right track. The Democratic Party has a huge messaging problem."

I take issue with his last sentence there, because if you don`t think the world`s on track, it may not have anything to do with whether you like the performance of the Democratic Party. You may just think -- as Bob said, there are lots of reasons to still think this is not in the rearview mirror, Donald Trump is still around, anti-democratic forces continue to prevail, no one`s been held to account for an insurrection but Democrats are getting the blame for it right now.

ALTER: Yeah, there`s a couple of things to keep in mind here. First of all, the public always thinks the country is on the wrong track. If you go back 40 years, there have only been two points, once in the mid-1980s and again in the mid-1990s, I guess sort of right after Barack Obama was elected where people felt we were really on the right track.

This has become almost an American condition. It`s a little more serious right now. But, you know, we`ve had this. I think political dysfunction is a big part of this, at least on the part of Democrats feeling that we`re not on the right track. Republicans feel that way because there`s a Democratic president.

So, in terms of getting Democrats more confident, I think if this legislation can start to move so that we have science working, the economy working, and finally politics working, then people can start to sense that maybe we`re headed into sunnier days.

And one of the (inaudible) about the `70s, you know, there was horrible inflation in energy prices. The Arab countries, OPEC had us literally over a barrel. Now it`s true that energy prices sometimes spike now but we don`t have the structural, super high energy prices that were driving inflation at that time.

VELSHI: Gentleman, thank you for your perspective.

REICH: If I might.

VELSHI: Go ahead.

REINER: There`s one other factor here that we haven`t mentioned. And that is that as I have lived through the last 50, 60 years, I`ve seen the media become more negative. And this is obviously on the social media but all the media generally.

You know, nobody is talking as we are right now about what is good, what`s happening that is actually positive. Almost all the stories we hear are stories that promote outrage. Now when you have an entire culture that is listening and hearing outrageous things, day after day after day, people are going to say naturally we are on the wrong track.

VELSHI: I take your point there, and it is well made. Thank you, Bob. Good to see you again. Robert Reich and Jonathan Alter, we appreciate your time and your analysis and your perspective tonight.

I want to give you a quick Biden agenda update. The House is in recess right now. We`re going to continue to monitor developments and keep you updated on the votes for the Biden agenda that are expected to happen tonight. I don`t want to go out on a limb and say that. It might not happen tonight.

A moment ago, "Punchbowl News" shared this text from an unnamed Democrat, quote, "Don`t panic, I think we are there."

We`ll see, right after this.



VELSHI: Jonathan Alter made the point a few minutes ago that one of the reasons people don`t think things are going in the right direction is because of the state of politics and discourse in this country. So, if you want to fix that, here`s the most important job for you engaged citizen of America.

As our economy bounces back and COVID vaccinations expand, never forget that the Democratic Party is the only major political party in this country right now that supports and believes in democracy universally. That`s a huge deal. And don`t let the successes of the Biden administration distract you from the reality that anti-democracy forces continue to power the Republican Party.

Those anti-democracy forces are no longer in the White House or in the Justice Department as they were during the Trump era, but the threats to our democracy are far from gone.

Texas is now being sued by the Department of Justice over its Republican voter suppression law. Democracy`s being threatened by the lack of accountability for the planners and stockers of the Capitol insurrection. We`ve seen some of the rioters be held accountable but they were Americans who were duped by the big lie, the perpetrator of that big lie and his Republican enablers remain largely untouched and entirely unpunished.

And now Republicans have received the wrong message from the elections this week that Republican candidates won`t be punished if they play footsy with the anti-democratic crowd. The Republican who ran for governor in New Jersey refuses to concede, even after Democratic candidate, Phil Murphy, won re-election.

In Virginia, a Republican is now the Governor-elect, even after refusing to disavow Donald Trump`s election falsehoods and Donald Trump`s numerous endorsements of him. So your job as citizen warrior is to keep that in mind. Never forget that in this country we don`t currently have the luxury of choosing between two parties that support democracy but have different ways of exercising it. That option does not exist today. We have one pro- democracy party and that`s the Democratic Party.

Joining us now is the Texas Democratic State Representative, Gina Hinojosa, she represent Texas`s 49th district which includes parts of Austin. Also joining us, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, co-host of the podcast "Sisters In law," and a MSNBC legal analyst.


Good evening to both of you. Thank you for joining us. Representative Hinojosa, you are living this day in and day out. The idea in Texas today is that it`s not a competition between conservatives and liberals. It`s a competition between those who believe that democracy is worth preserving and expanding and those who don`t.

STATE REP. GINA HINOJOSA (D-TX) (on camera): Absolutely. And just to give you the latest taste of what`s going on in Texas, our governor just appointed to be our new Secretary of State, a man who was on Trump`s team to overturn the 2020 election results. This is the person who will be in charge of now interpreting the voter suppression law that just passed in Texas.

VELSHI: And on a national level, Jill, and good to see you, my friend. On a national level, we`ve heard from the chair of the January 6th Committee, Benny Thompson, about the testimony of Jeffrey Clark, a name that most of our viewers didn`t know a year ago. This is a guy who was central to this insurrection attempt.

Many times Mr. Clark`s complete failure to cooperate today is unacceptable. He was testifying before the committee. "I`ve considered Mr. Clark`s claims of privilege and rejected it. He has very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully. We need the information that he is withholding and we are willing to take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation."

This nonsense continues in front of a congressionally mandated committee charged with getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6th. People go there and snub their nose at this process.

JILL WINE-BANKS, WATERGATE PROSECUTOR (on camera): You are absolutely right, Ali, and I cannot imagine how we`re letting it happen, but Bannon certainly stonewalled and he hasn`t been held accountable yet. He was voted in contempt by Congress, but he hasn`t been indicted. Until he is, others will continue to follow in the path.

There is no legal defense to Jeffrey Clark and actually I don`t think anybody heard of him until after the January 3rd meeting that he had at the Department of Justice when his name started coming out as someone who was trying to overturn the election.

And I am one of those who believes very much that we need to have accountability and that without it, these horrible things will keep happening. If Richard Nixon had been indicted after he left the presidency or even while he was president -- but that`s a different issue -- maybe Donald Trump would have learned a lesson and he wouldn`t have done the things he has done.

So let`s get busy, and buzz words sell. What you`re taking about is messaging by the Democrats and the Republicans have buzz words that the voters don`t understand but they make it sound like, well, it`s bad. Ask a voter what is CRT. Well, I don`t know, but it`s bad.

And that`s not the case and Democrats are trying to explain things in a way that is meaningful, but it`s not communicating. I feel like Donny Deutsch trying to craft a message that needs to be crafted, so let`s get that message out there.

VELSHI: And it`s sort of two sides of this coin Representative Hinojosa in that on the federal level with Donald Trump and his dumpster fire of people, they were trying to overturn the results of an election, in Texas, you`ve got something else entirely. You`ve got -- you`ve got efforts to stop people who have the constitutional right to vote from being able to freely exercise that vote. Its two sides of the same anti-Democratic coin.

HINOJOSA: It is. And actually there`s two fronts in every state that we`re fighting right now. One is these voter suppression laws that are being passed all across the country, I think we have 16 states now that have successfully passed these voter suppression laws. And then we have redistricting happening.

And so both those things just happened in the state of Texas. We passed this voter suppression law that Democratic House members broke quorum during the summer and went to D.C. to try to prevent from happening. We knew we could only hold it off so long and it eventually did pass.

And then we also just drew new redistricting maps, and of course our census data shows that people of color made up 95 percent of the growth in Texas. But people of color raw seats in the U.S. congress, I mean, the Texas House, by the way Republicans severely gerrymandered our state.

VELSHI: I think this is not a point that everybody realizes. People say population growth and places that are getting more diverse and all that, but gerrymandering undoes the benefits of all of those changes.


Jill Wine-Banks, you`re talking about people not being held accountable and the fact that, you`re right, people didn`t Jeffrey Clark`s name. People did know Rudy Giuliani`s name. And this guy has been saying crazy stuff for a long time.

When asked about this, there was a deposition on August 14th obtained by CNN. This was about that lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems about Rudy Giuliani and what they allege are the lies he told. Here`s what he said.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: It`s not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that`s given to me. Otherwise, you`re never going to write a story. You`ll never come to a conclusion.


VELSHI: If I had hair, it would have caught fire after listening to that. Jill Wine-Banks, you have been a lawyer for a very long time. What do you make of that statement. "It`s not my job in a fast moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that was given to me".

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASST. WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Let me just say, that`s why he has been disbarred, because he didn`t do it. He has an obligation. He`s an attorney and we have ethics. And he is not abiding by them.

And I think Representative Hinojosa is absolutely correct in everything she said, but I would add a third threat to democracy, which is not just voter suppression, it`s suppressing counting the votes.

All of these laws that turn over to the secretary of state and take it away from them and say the congress, the state legislature will decide whether to count votes. That`s a real danger to democracy and democracy is worth fighting for.

VELSHI: I think that is a valid third front.

Thanks to both of you. Texas Representative Gina Hinojosa, thanks for the fight that you and your colleagues are undertaking in Texas in preservation of democracy. Jill, you have been doing it for a very, very long time. We continue to thank you for all of your service.

Thanks to both of you.

Coming up, what Trumpism has unleashed in our airports -- racial attacks, physical abuse, and wild anti-government ravings just for being asked to wear a mask. That`s next.



VELSHI: Now that children as young as five years old are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, more families are imagining doing something that many have not done since 2019. traveling for the holidays.

But like many things in America after Trump, air travel has changed as well. Images like these that you`re looking at, all on social media and news reports are shocking. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that more than 5,000 incidents of unruly passengers have taken place since January. Nearly 4,000 of those were related to the federal rule that passengers have to wear masks.

The FAA has referred 37 unruly passengers to the FBI. The FAA administrator Steven Dixon (ph) said, quote, "Let this serve both as a warning and a deterrent. If you disrupt a flight, you risk not just fines from the FAA but federal criminal prosecution as well."

Our next guests both testified before a House Committee on Aviation specifically on sharp rise of violent behavior by airline passengers this year.


SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS The danger in this hostile environment in response to flight attendants simply conducting routine safety reminders and compliance is hesitancy in performing these tasks.

TEDDY ANDREWS, MEMBERS, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: I lost count the times I`ve been insulted or threatened during a flight simply for doing my job. My colleagues are anxious and fearful. What`s going to happen on the next flight? How will this passenger react by reminding to wear their mask. Will complying with airline policy set them all off. Can I avoid engaging or would that be an evasion of my duties?


VELSHI: Joining us now, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants. She`s been a flight attendant for 25 years.

Teddy Andrews is a member of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and a flight attendant for American Airlines. Welcome to both of you.

Teddy, I was on a flight recently from Johannesburg to New York. And before the flight pushed back the captain came over and said it`s going to be 16 hours, you got to put your mask on the whole time. If you have a problem with that, hit your call button now we`ll deal with it now because if we have to deal with it when I`m in air you`re going to be met by federal agents when we land.

And you know, everybody on plane seemed to be happy. It was like Lay down the law and make it clear because you have all been suffering this for more than a year -- year and a half.


VELSHI: Tell me about what happened to you.

ANDREWS: Well, I was working a flight, heading to Miami and was met in the back alley by a flight attendant on my crew who was visibly upset because a passenger refused to wear a mask. He was not eating or drinking and was just giving the flight attendant a hard time to the point where she was near tears.

When I went out to speak with him, he began to use racial epithets and I won`t use the word that he used with me on the plane, but the N-word was over and over --


ANDREWS: Over and over, telling me that he didn`t have to listen to me. It was a free country and that, you know, he can do whatever he wanted to do. He didn`t have to listen to our rules.

VELSHI: Sara, what do you do about this stuff? I mean you and I have been talking since the beginning of the pandemic about this. Your people are literally on the front lines. You were there when there was no vaccines. People die of this thing and then Teddy and others have to deal with this added anti-government and racist BS at the same time?

NELSON: Yes. And it`s all about communication and the real discordant communication that has been going on across the country for several years now, even with whether or not we recognize that we`re in the middle of a pandemic and what we have to do about it.

You talked about the fact that we`re going to have more children on our planes this next month. We have to keep these children safe. Now, it`s a federal mask mandate that flight attendants are required to enforce. But let`s be really clear, we`re very serious about our role as safety professionals.

And we know that rules in aviation keep us safe and so we`re there to enforce those. When we go to do that though, we are being met with this conflict. And I want to be really clear. This is a small number of people but it`s bigger than it`s ever been before. In fact, we`re on track to have more in this year alone than we`ve had in the entire history of aviation.


VELSHI: Right. And as people are vaccinated, as people start traveling they`re going to start encountering them. I`ve done a couple of times I`ve been on flights or around an airport where I`ve encountered belligerent people.

And it`s just not something we need to add to the stress of travel and the safety of air travel.

I`ve got to unfortunately cut this conversation short because we do have breaking news out of Congress, which you know a lot about, Sara because you`ve been involved in so many of these discussions but I will promise that I will continue this conversation with both of you.

Teddy Andrews is a member of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. He is a flight attendant. Sara of course, is the president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

We have some developments on Capitol Hill right now. I`m just checking with my control room as to whether we`re going to go to those right now or we`re going to do after -- we`re going to go to a quick break and when we get back, we`re going to talk to you about what`s going on. There have been some developments on Capitol Hill about the infrastructure bill.



VELSHI: We`re following closely what`s going on Capitol Hill. Ali Vitali`s going to join us in a few minutes. We do have developments on how things are going to unfold tonight. But until we get to Ali I want to tell you about another story.

The University of Florida is being sued by three of its own professors tonight. At issue is a controversy involving academic freedom and possibly the state`s lightning rod Governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.

Today the University of Florida reversed its decision to bar three political science professors from testifying in a lawsuit against Florida`s voter suppression bill.

The Miami Herald reports, quote, "University officials told the professors that because the university is a state institution their participation in a case against Governor Ron DeSantis` administration would be quote, "adverse to the university`s interests".

Imagine that, telling professors not to testify in a court because it might be adverse to university`s interests.

Joining us now are two of the three professors who are suing the University of Florida -- Sharon Austin and Michael McDonald, both are professors of political science.

Good evening to both of you. Thank you for being here.

Some big development in the story, Professor Austin. This was something that the university had sort of backtracked on but in the end there`s an issue here -- a fundamental issue of the freedom of expression that because you work for somebody you can`t testify against them.

That wouldn`t fly anywhere, or it shouldn`t fly anywhere.

SHARON AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Absolutely. And that`s why we decided to challenge it.

VELSHI: Professor McDonald, tell me about what you`re doing about this now. Because the university backtracked but you are now suing the university.

MICHAEL MCDONALD, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Yes, they`ve given us a temporary exemption to say that we can testify in this lawsuit now. But the policy as far as we know still stands. And so we really want to tackle that policy.

We know that there are other professors at the university who weren`t as fortunate as us and weren`t able to go public and make their case. And we know that they`ve been affected and hurt as well. So we really want to stand up not only for our own personal (ph) rights but all the personal rights of all the professors at the university.

VELSHI: Professor Austin, talk to me about the argument that the university makes. Has it ever occurred to you before that there should be a distinction between professors employed by any state institution in America versus those who are employed by a private institution.

If you are testifying as a expert witnesses, why should the organization for which you work make a difference?

AUSTIN: It shouldn`t make a difference, and that`s exactly why we`re challenging this. I don`t it`s think a distinction between a public and private university. I think this is mostly just a constitutional issue and it brings up some very important questions about the First Amendment and also about academic freedom.

So that`s the way -- I think the three of us are seeing is that it was an unfair decision. It was something that we were very surprised by but even more importantly than that, it raises some serious constitutional issues that still have yet to be resolved.

So even though you could argue that our situation has been somewhat resolved today. Nevertheless there are still some really important questions concerning academic freedom that our campus really needs to resolve.

And until they do that, we really do have a lot of work to do at the University of Florida.

VELSHI: I think you bring up a good point. When it comes to First Amendment issues, somewhat resolved is not resolved and that needs to be completely resolved. Thanks to both of you for your time.

We are getting word that there will be a vote on the House Floor possibly within minutes. We`ll be right back with this on the other side of the break.



VELSHI: All right. We`ve got breaking news right now. Inside the United States Capitol a vote is about to happen. I want to go right to our NBC News correspondent Ali Vitali. I believe Ali V. We are just coming out of recess in the House right now. What is happening?

ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Ali V., according to schedule, at least what we knew they took a short recess. Tried to make sure that everyone was on board for this.

And now what we think we`re about to see is forging ahead with the plan that Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out just several hours ago voting on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate and then moving on to a vote on the rule for the larger social spending package that Build Back Better act.

Again, it`s just the rule. This is not the actual vote to pass the Build Back Better Act, but this is the procedural step that has to be taken at this point.

And in order to get here there were a lot of assurances and jockeying behind the scenes. Because progressives have long said they need to see both of these bills actually move forward together.

Tonight at least they feel like they`re getting something close to that because in the intervening minutes since the house went to recess, we saw moderates release a statement saying that they are going to vote for the Build Back Better Act at some point during the week of November 15th so not next week but the following week, because the house is in recess next week.

They say that that will give them some time to review a potential CBO score. We know that they were talking about wanting to see the longer term financial impact of this despite the fact that they do have a sense from the joint tax as well as other entities about what the impact of this bill is going to be.

For progressives, that was enough. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the Progressive Caucus releasing a statement minutes later, saying that because her caucus has gotten those assurances, they will now move forward to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as vote on the rule there.

That`s not to say that everything is perfect. There are some progressives who I have talked to, whom my colleagues have talked to who say they don`t like this plan. Congresswoman Cori Bush for instance, when leadership called for this evening asking where she was on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the plan that they were laying out, she said, no, she wasn`t on board.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez similarly concerned about the way that this has gone down tonight. The reason that those are important is because the magic number here is three. Speaker Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democrats on this if she were to be going on this alone. There could be some Republicans on the bipartisan infrastructure bill who do end up voting with Democrats on this. Certainly we saw that in the Senate.


VITALI: This process has gotten a little bit more partisan in the House but nevertheless the bones of that bipartisan infrastructure bill are still exactly what they were when they passed the Senate so there could be a handful of Republicans here who do come over and vote with Democrats.

At the same time though, really what this is, is hours and hours later from this morning when we thought today was going to be the day, it does seem at this point like it will be, Ali.

VELSHI: You -- an hour ago you were talking to Rachel and you said, you both were discussing the fact that Nancy Pelosi doesn`t put votes to the floor that she doesn`t know she`s going to win.

VITALI: Exactly.

VELSHI: So what is the promise that the moderates who were concerned about the larger bill -- what is the undertaking that they`ve given? That if this bill costs out the way we`ve been told it will, we will support it?

VITALI: Yes and then they also say at the end of that statement that they`re going to work to resolve any issues that may come up if they see that score. And it doesn`t exactly track with where they think it is.

For a lot of these moderates I think the important thing to remember is that the objection was less on the policy and more on wanting the time to look into the cost.

That`s not to say that there weren`t people objecting on the policy front but certainly when you look tonight the way that things were hammered out behind the scenes with progressives shuttling back and forth, with their moderate counterparts trying to get this deal together what it does seem like it`s shaking out as is that moderates have found something to be comfortable with buying themselves a little bit of time here with this slight of hand by voting to advance the rule but not voting on directly on the Build Back Better Act.

This slight of hand bought them the time that they feel that they need to be able to look at this additional financial information that will come from the Congressional Budget Office but also allowing them to move forward on the thing that moderates have wanted to move forward on here for months which is that bipartisan infrastructure bill.

And I think what`s important here, Ali, this is sort of where the progressive strategy does end up breaking down, right, because the bipartisan infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate when the House passes it tonight it goes to President Joe Biden`s desk.

That allows the White House and Democrats to notch a win but it also mean that the Build Back Better Act now once they officially move on the rule and then when they get back in town in a week, they theoretically will move to pass it.

That means that it then goes to the Senate and there are a whole bunch of changes that could take place there. Because the first thing that I think of is Senator Joe Manchin still not on board for the four weeks of paid leave that are in this bill right now that the House has put in there. That`s just one thing that could end up being stripped out.

It`s going to go to the senate, it`s going to go through not just the personalities that have to weigh in on it but also it`s going to go through the procedures of making sure that everything that`s policy in this bill actually adheres to the reconciliation rules, that it all touches that budgetary bottom line that make it acceptable to do through this partisan reconciliation process.

All of that is going to mean changes. So when it does eventually come back to the house and this is now a process that`s going to take several weeks because it`s going to need financial budget scores as well as the personalities to weigh in, it`s going to look like a little bit of a different bill when it gets back to the House and that`s going to mean that all of this will take time. So we`ll probably not going to see this larger social spending package get its Rose Garden ceremony and its celebration for several weeks now.

But at least for Democrats they can say that they have moved on one key piece of this tonight if and when this vote happens.

VELSHI: Ali Vitali, we are looking at the screen. We`re seeing various members speaking. This is -- whatever vote is about to happen, this is not the vote on the actual bipartisan infrastructure bill yet, right? This is a procedural vote after which the actual bill will be voted on?

VITALI: I believe that`s true right now, Ali. I haven`t been able to be listening. Because I`ve been on here with you.

VELSHI: Of course, yes, you`ve been talking to us.

VITALI: Right. But as I`m watching that sounds right, though we are starting to see these lawmakers start to speak so, yes. But what we expect is that this vote once it doe officially start take about 15 minutes and then they will move on to the Build Back Better rule which, again, is procedural but the first vote that we`re going to see is the bipartisan infrastructure bill which is not procedural. That`s them passing the bill that the senate has already passed.

VELSHI: That`s the actual bill so the one that`s on the screen right now says on the motion to concur in the Senate amendment and there`s about ten minutes left in that particular vote.

Your belief is that this bill will -- is expected to pass tonight and this will go to the president tomorrow, perhaps?

VITALI: Yes. I get the sense that they want to send this thing over there as soon as they can and certainly the White House is ready to receive it. We heard the president this morning urging his colleagues here in the House to vote yes on this package, of course. He wants to see both of these two bills passed in tandem.

At the same time a notched win now is as good of a win at any time. So certainly the White House they want to get this win here too.

VELSHI: This is dizzyingly complicated, Ali V. But you do a fantastic job of making it clear. So fantastic that you can`t go anywhere because I`m going to hand you over to my colleague in just a moment.


VELSHI: Ali Vitali is live at the United States Congress. Our breaking news coverage continues on "THE 11TH HOUR" with my colleague Brian Williams right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Indeed. Good evening, once again.