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

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/30/21

Guests: Colin Allred, Jonathan Capehart, Eugene Robinson, Norm Ornstein, Marc Jacobs, Jelani Cobb, John Yarmuth, Vicente Gonzalez


Interview with Congressman John Yarmuth, chair of the House Budget Committee. Interview with Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas. Interview with Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas. Awaiting Possible Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Vote.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. I was flipping flow a script I wrote about an hour ago to see if I want to use any of it.

So the Pelosi letter is interesting because it doesn`t say anything as these letters normally do. And so here`s what we`re going to do and here`s -- and you can go home now and sleep-in a real bed or you can fall asleep- in your office and come back at 2:00 a.m.

So luckily we have House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth to start us off tonight, and he`ll know as much as anybody does what`s going to happen the rest of the night. We did see a comment from Joe Manchin who says he does not see a deal tonight, so this may be something that, you know, we`ll go about tomorrow.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That said nobody`s waiting on, like, him to do something, right? Nobody expects Joe Manchin is going to try to bring this to a conclusion. Do they?

O`DONNELL: But in his way he actually is. So the conclusion you`ll get to must include Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema. No one`s going to say, okay, we`ve got it all done and it doesn`t include them because that`s the roadblock as everyone knows. And actually Senator Manchin has been pretty - - as these things go -- pretty open about where he is and what he`s trying to accomplish. Senator Sinema silence and actually public contempt here about what she`s doing.

And so, the -- it seems to be moving in a way that we can sort of recognize as getting somewhere.

MADDOW: The -- none of this is operative language but the part where Nancy Pelosi`s dear colleague letter tonight where she says discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to build back better through a reconciliation bill, all this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass both the House and the Senate. She wants a bicameral framework agreement.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. That means 50 senators agreeing to it not 49, 50. And so, this is -- this is the night where they`re going to try to make it happen. And the longer you keep them in, the more pressure builds. And that`s why she doesn`t say in there, okay, you can all go home.

MADDOW: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: She needs this pressure because she`s trying to convince some people in the house at the same time that the stuff`s going on in the Senate.

And so, you know, look, here`s the striking think about it. Joe Manchin made it very clear today, the memo came out that, you know, he signed with Chuck Schumer. And Chuck Schumer has the cutest little signature I`ve ever seen underneath it, he says, he`s going to try to dissuade Joe for most of the stuff he says in this back in July.

But -- so he`s made it very clear, $1.5 trillion. He`s in favor of some version of most of the things that are in the bill smaller scale. And so, $1.5 trillion is being received as some kind of loss for Democrats when it`s a huge piece of legislation. It`s not 3.5, and it`s not the 6 that Bernie Sanders originally was hoping for.

MADDOW: Or 10.

O`DONNELL: Right, but in this legislative arena $1.5 trillion is the largest amount ever contemplated or written into law. Not contemplated because obviously they contemplated more, but written into law by anyone ever, ever.

So the Democrats managed to they`ve got the win on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. They`ve got to win on this other one. It`s just a question of how many points do they score in the win? How big is the win? Is it big? Is it really big?

MADDOW: Well, let it also be noted even on his own terms, speaking with his own Joe Manchin-verse, he has never said that his $1.5 trillion idea about what this should be is meaningfully mapped to the things he says he wants in it.


He just likes the sound of that number even though a lot of the things he says he wants and indeed he says are priorities for him add up to a number that is larger than $1.5 trillion. It`s also the fact he`s never said that`s his bottom line. He`s said that his idea, right, that`s from the place in which he starts negotiating. So if he started at 1.5 and the rest of the Democrats are at 3.5 one might guess one man might negotiate, if he is in fact negotiating in good faith and not just enjoying the suntan he`s getting from the TV lights.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, this is a document unlike anything I`ve ever seen. I`ve never seen this kind of agreement not only put in -- it`s not an agreement. This kind of proposal put in writing -- that does happen. They exchange writing.

But signing it? I`ve never seen a chairman sign one of these with a member like, okay, this is your position. It`s like Chuck Schumer`s giving him a receipt saying, yeah, I got it. I understand this is what you want, I`m going to try to talk you out of it.

But the things he`s in favor of, increasing the top income tax rate, getting rid of the carried interest provision in the tax code that allows rich investment bankers to not have regular income, regular income taxes, increasing the corporate tax rate. He said today for consumption in West Virginia, of course, I`m not a liberal. And I think that`s taken for granted in Washington, but that`s a liberal tax bill that he is in favor of in this memo.

And so the idea that Joe Manchin is not being serious at least from his perspective about how to do this I think is now clear that he is -- at you might not like what he wants, and Bernie Sanders hates what he wants. But I don`t think Bernie Sanders would say Joe Manchin has been irresponsible in his approach to this. He hasn`t been open enough with us.

MADDOW: See, I think the reason I put a darker cast on this is because I don`t think the words he`s talking about and the numbers he`s talking about have ever met. I think it is an enumerate proposal and therefore it is cynical and false to say my proposal is a number, when the number actually isn`t constitutive of his ideas.

O`DONNELL: See, that, when I was working in the Senate Finance Committee I actually liked these kind of proposals because if you say I want this, this and this and I want this low spending number, that for me was great. I`d just concentrate on so you want this, this and this. And it`s kind of like selling a house. You kind of go, well, but see this is how much it costs.

So I can take encouragement from those things that are -- that you see as cynical.

MADDOW: You`ve seen the sausage made before, and I`m right there being like sausage, that`s terrible.

O`DONNELL: And I`m not saying -- I`m not saying that it`s not cynical. What I`m saying is it looks flexible to me. Like if I just look for flexibility when they`re saying these things.

And the things that make it really difficult is when someone says I`m absolutely opposed to "X" and there`s no room, there`s like no movement at all on absolute no. Well, then, you`re not going to be able to have that provision if you need that vote from that person.

MADDOW: The question is whether or not overall Joe Manchin is absolute lay opposed to the Democrats passing President Biden`s budget. Now, it is about the definition of the budget or is he actually opposed to them passing a big reconciliation bill that includes most of the president`s economic priorities?

O`DONNELL: He actually said today -- he said toot that he was, meaning that he started off saying I didn`t think we needed this at all, zero.

MADDOW: Yes, exactly.

O`DONNELL: I thought we needed zero.

So from the perspective of thinking we needed zero and all we needed was the bipartisan infrastructure bill, he sat down with Chuck Schumer and he said, okay, I think we need zero but this is what I`m willing to do if you guys actually do it this way. I will go from zero to 1.5.

So he would argue I went from zero to 1.5. Bernie Sanders arguing I went from 6 to 3.5, so here we are tonight.

MADDOW: I will say at some point you and are going to sell each other a car to see who can come out with the better deal. And we`re going to each start with a car, we`re going to up sell each other and like the Alcantar (ph) and Headliner (ph), and we`re going to see who ends up getting the better deal.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, do you really want that sound system in your car? Okay, okay.

MADDOW: I can get you a used one.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, sure.


MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. Good night.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Well, we are starting off tonight. We`re junking the script.


We`re starting off with Congressman John Yarmuth. He is the chair of the House Budget Committee. This is where it all began.

He is the author of the $3.5 trillion framework of the house budget resolution that the house and the Senate are now try to reconcile in now what they then call a reconciliation bill.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee, John Yarmuth, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You know, look, we always feel lucky to get you, but as the night wore on we felt luckier and luckier and luckier. And then we get this mysterious letter from the speaker who doesn`t say whether you can go home tonight or not.

Can you tell us -- let`s just start with this. When are you going home tonight?

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY): I`m not going home at all. But I just want to say that I hope that the last eight or nine minutes or whatever of you and Rachel talking are immortalized because that was one of the most incredible discussions of sausage making that I`ve ever heard and so relevant to tonight.

Nobody knows where we are. The speaker is trying to honor her obligation -- her commitment to having a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I plan to vote for that bill if we ever have a vote on it. But right now, I was just involved in a call of the progressive caucus, and if anything there was increased resolve among the progressive caucus members to -- to oppose the infrastructure bill.

Again, I`m not in that position. I think it`s a good bill. I`m going to vote for it if it comes to the floor. But this is a bizarre world if there ever were one.

O`DONNELL: What is -- for you as you sit there tonight, what is the most mysterious element of what you`re facing tonight? If you could get one question answered whether it be from a senator or from anyone in this, what would that question be?

YARMUTH: The question would be why does anyone think that the top line number is significant in any way? And what we`re talking about is an analysis by the president of the United States, by most members of the Democratic Caucus in both the House and Senate of what the federal government needs to do to support the American people at this point in history.

It`s a pivotal point in history. The Biden administration has basically proposed an outline of things we can do to make sure that a generation from now, two generations from now that we have a kind of country and society that most of us will disparage it.

And what we`re seeing now, unfortunately, is a debate about a top line number, which is not even a net number, and something that we shouldn`t focus on. We should focus on what this bipartisan and then the Build Better Act provisions would do in terms of providing child care and early childhood education and senior care and common change policy and paid family medical leave, all these things which are essential to guaranteeing a better future for all of us.

And that`s my frustration is all this -- all this obsession with a top line number when, by the way, the United States government has the capacity to spend whatever we need to spend as long as it`s a smart investment in our people and our economy. And, unfortunately, we`re dealing with numbers that really don`t make any difference. We`re talking about -- we`re talking about 1.5 trillion, 3.5 trillion, 6 trillion. We`re talking about what does that relate to?

So, over the next ten years, the GDP of the country is going to be something like close to $300 trillion, so we`re talking about 1 percent, a little over 1 percent. Let`s focus on what we`re trying to do and how we`re trying to improve society.

O`DONNELL: Is this negotiation at this point basically virtually all the Democrats in the House and 48 Democrats in the Senate and one Democratic president, one Democratic vice president all negotiating in effect across a table from two Democrats senators, Sinema and Manchin?


YARMUTH: Well, of course, that`s right. And we are where we are. You were in the senate. You understand that the rules of the Senate which are bizarre, but they are what they are. And that`s what we`re doing.

And the fact that one or two member of the Senate could basically determine or hold hostage the policies that can benefit the country, pretty astounding. But we can talk about the Philosophical issues of where we are with the Senate procedures and so forth and the filibuster and those types of things, but we -- there are things we need to do, the challenges we need to meet.

Only the federal government can deal with many of these problems. We`re trying desperately to do that. And to his credit, the president of the United States has taken a position which no president I can remember has taken. Says what do we need to do for the American people? Once we answer those questions how do we resource that? And that`s -- that`s a wonderful change in mind-set that we`ve not seen in a long time.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, before you go I just want to imagine a conversation -- I`m sure you`ve had this conversation with possibly a junior member of your committee or a freshman member of the House who`s trying to decide -- whose sympathies are very strongly with the progressive caucus, maybe even a member of the progressive caucus. And is thinking about this possible vote on the Senate bipartisan bill.

You`ve said that you will vote for it even though it breaks that pledge that these would be voted on together, something you considered important. You`re making a compromise of your own in being willing to vote for that bill. What would you say to that new member who`s asking you about -- for advice on that vote?

YARMUTH: Well, I`m humble enough to not tell people how to vote or advise people. But I would say to them, look, we can make a lot of progress for the American people in voting for this infrastructure bill, but more importantly, this is not some kind of hard and fast deadline like the debt ceiling or shutting down the government tonight. We`ll have ample opportunity to continue these discussions about making progress for the American people. We will have next year another opportunity to have a reconciliation bill for fiscal `23 where we may do some things we may not get done this year.

And I`ll also say -- this is not to them, but we`re facing an opposition party which has no interest whatsoever in having the federal government having approach child care and senior care and paid family medical leave and climate change and early childhood education and all the things we`re trying to do. That`s the only reason why we`re involved in this convoluted process called reconciliation. We have no partners in doing this. We have no Republican Party that is interested in solving many of the challenges of the American economy and culture.

So we are where we are. It`s sad. But let`s get done what we can do under the -- again, convoluted process that we`re in.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, always lucky to have you and especially tonight. Chairman John Yarmuth, thank you very, very much for joining us.

YARMUTH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Ad we`re joined now by Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas.

Thank you very much for joining us.

You`ve been -- tell us you are -- how you`ve worked your way through this legislative procedure so far and where you are tonight on the two tracks of the legislation.

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Right. Well, I feel confident that we will have an agreement either tonight or tomorrow morning to be able to vote on this bipartisan infrastructure bill that I think is going to be transformative, a bill that every single member of Congress gets to take about $1.2 billion to their district. That is going to be transformative in terms of our roads, deteriorating roads and bridges and drainage and infrastructure just across the country, things that we know have been crumbling for a generation.

I think it`s a very tough decision to vote no on this bill. And my position has always been that we should not hold this proposal hostage or link it in any way to reconciliation.


And the speaker committed that she was going to put this on the floor today, and maybe she`ll do it in the morning, but I feel quite certain we`ll be voting on this bill and that it`ll successfully pass the House.

And then we need to look at reconciliation separately. And clearly it`s a huge investment in the American people. But earlier I heard you say something very interesting. Why are we talking about a dollar amount? We should be talking about the programs we`re interested in and making this massive investment then American people that hasn`t been done in generation? For the first time college graduates to be able to go to community college tuition-free, for the first time seniors will receive vision and dental and hearing care under Medicare, for the first time, we`ll be negotiating -- Medicare will be negotiating pharmaceutical prices with pharmaceutical companies to ensure our seniors have low pharmaceutical prices.

So, we -- this will be transformative in so many ways, but we shouldn`t be caught up in a number. I think we should talk about what we need, what we want and then figure out what it costs. Much like you said earlier, we can`t get caught up on $3.5 trillion. Maybe everything we need costs half of that or it costs $2 trillion, but I think we need to have a thoughtful conversation in getting to that number, and I`m confident that -- hey, Nancy Pelosi is a master negotiator and I`m confident she`ll get this done.

O`DONNELL: But in your own case if the menu of everything you wanted in this bill, if you sat there and worked out all the provisions you wanted in the bill and then you looked over at the cost and you saw $3.5 trillion, would that be something you could vote for?

GONZALEZ: I would have to look at the pay-fors, right? How are we going to pay for it?

You know, as Congressman Yarmuth said, this is 1 percent of our GDP over a ten-year period. It`s a drop in the bucket and for the first time a massive investment in the American people.

Now, I don`t like to see any industry targeted unjustifiably or in a punitive way like Texas energy or any kind of energy or a section of our economy. We need to be fair and balanced and thoughtful, but I think this is something that we`re working through.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Gonzalez, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

GONZALEZ: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And we`re going to stay with the House of Representatives. After this break, we`ll be right back with Congressman Collin Allred.



O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what senator Bernie Sanders just told reporters tonight.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): You cannot in my view have an agreement at 2:00 in the morning that nobody has seen. So my hope, again, the strategy should be to defeat this infrastructure, which I would be happy to vote for again. It`s good bill. But we`ve got to defeat it now, sit down with everybody and pass two good pieces of legislation.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

What`s your reaction to what you just heard Senator Sanders say?

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): I wish senators would stop talking about the House and maybe we could stop talking about the Senate. We have our own business to do here, and I think it`s critical we do.

I`ve told my caucus not only is this policy and these incredibly important policies on the table, but really American democracy is on the table and that, you know, it shouldn`t be we`re the only party that is interested in protecting our democracy, but that`s the situation we`re in. And Americans in the last election came out in record numbers in the middle of a pandemic to vote for a Democratic majority that has to deliver because authoritarians love it when democracies fail. They love it when democracies are stuck in gridlock.

And we`re dealing with an authoritarian who`s a former president and still out there and actively working to try to undermine the next election.

O`DONNELL: I`ve just been handed something Senator Manchin just said, and the control room is going to have to tell me if this is on video or I have to read this. If it`s on video we can go to it. But I`m going to read it. We might get it on video later.

Senator Manchin just said, we just need a little bit more time. We`re getting that time in order to do it. We`re going to come to an agreement. I`m trying to make sure they understand that I`m at $1.5 trillion. I think $1.5 trillion does exactly the things necessary to take care of our children, take care of our people at the end of life, our seniors. We`re working on that.

I don`t see a deal tonight. I really don`t. And I`m hoping that everyone is sympathetic towards we`re trying to all work.

So Senator Manchin says he doesn`t see a deal tonight. Have you been given an indication, anymore than what the speaker said in her letter about when you might be able to go home tonight?

ALLRED: No, I think we`re not going to see anything more tonight. I think negotiations will probably carry on tonight, but then I think we`ll be right back tomorrow and have more discussions and then I think the caucus will have to be briefed on what those discussions are. We have running out of time today, but I think it`s important that we do try and find at least a framework by the end of the day tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to what Senator Manchin is saying. He`s saying that his top line, his absolute top line is $1.5 trillion, and that`s he said to Chuck Schumer back July 28th in that memo we`ve now seen today. He`s in favor of almost all of the tax provisions that have been discussed. In fact, he`s in favor of the carried interests -- eliminating the carried interest piece which the House Ways and Means Committee did not do.

So he`s in favor of a more liberal tax bill than the House Ways and Means Committee has already delivered here. What is your reading of the Manchin position as of tonight?

ALLRED: Well, I don`t think the top line is as important as we`ve seen so many people discussing because it depends on what we`re talking about here. Are we talking about new spending or how much time are we talking? Is it ten years, is it five years? Are we talking about revenue that`s raised and then it`s anything above that?

So I think we should focus more as everyone has said and as you have said on the policies that are transformative. I mean I was the first member of Congress to ever take paternity leave ever in 2019. And I want to make sure that every American can have access to paid family medical leave, something that too many of our fellow Americans don`t have right now and that we can do in this bill.

We know we have the threat of climate change facing us or really with us already. We have to address that in this bill, we can do incredible things in the state of Texas, we can give one and a half million Texans insurance by expanding Medicaid, which we can do in this bill. Even though our state won`t do it, we can offer it to Texans. So those are all incredibly important policies. And the top line to me is really less important than the policies. I wish everyone would stop talking about it because it really is a fungible number.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Colin Allred. Thank you very much for joining us, and I really appreciate it.

ALLRED: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to be back after this break, we`re going to have more analysis of what`s happening on the house. Well, not on the House floor. It`s actually in those closed rooms and most conference rooms in the house and those conference rooms in the Senate. That`s where the deal is getting done in those rooms with the door closed. We`ll be back right after this.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I was at that time asked to go to - I was time to ask to go to a budget resolution. I didn`t think any of this was needed at this time. I thought that the infrastructure bill was really what was needed. But I said fine, this is a condition I would get to and that was a 1.5.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Norm Ornstein, Congressional Historian, he is Emeritus Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Eugene Robinson, Associate Editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for Washington Post. He`s an MSNBC Political Analyst and Jonathan Capehart is with us, he`s an Opinion Writer, of course for "The Washington Post". And he is the host of the Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC and we begin with Jonathan Capehart, who coined the phrase for us to describe this situation as the storm before the calm.

Jonathan, how stormy is it tonight?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS FORMER COLUMNIST: Lawrence, when I told - when I said that to you on Monday. It was, you know, it was stormy. But right now it`s like hurricane. I mean, it is we are deep in the middle of all of this. So yes, it`s pretty stormy out there. But I want to tell you something, Lawrence. Tonight, I served as the Emcee of the March on Washington Film Festival, and getting the John Robert Lewis lifetime Legacy Award was none other than House Majority Whip, James Clyburn, who was there in attendance, the entire dinner, notably, the dinner ended at 9:00 p.m., which was when the speaker said, you know, if we`re going to it`s going to be a vote. It won`t happen before 9:00 p.m.

I talked to whip Clyburn and I asked him, you know, well, what`s going to happen? What`s going to happen? And here`s what he said, he shared with me, because I asked him, do you have the votes? Like, is this going to happen tonight, and he said that if anyone can bridge the divide, it`s Nancy Pelosi. And if she`s able to, if she - if she is able to do it, and he`s, he thinks she will, that she will go down is like one of the greatest speakers of all time, but the best part he said was, she has said, the vote will be tonight. It could be 9:00 p.m. or 4:00 a.m. But it`ll be tonight.


CAPEHART: He told me that around a couple hours ago.

O`DONNELL: So, all right. So Eugene, the sun won`t be shining during the vote. That`s all. That`s all we know, so far. And I gotta say, I mean, nothing says stalemate more than, you know, Jim Clyburn is out at an event until 9:00 p.m. Because he knows we`re in a stalemate, nothing is happening. I can just stay here at this event with Jonathan Capehart. And so--

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Yes. No, the March on Washington Film Festival was a great event. But at a moment like this for Jim Clyburn, the beats are lolling around with Jonathan, and a bunch of nice people in the film festival. Does say something about how fast things are moving up the hill right now. Because it`s certainly going to happen, he`s got to be there. He`s, you know, he comes to the vote.

O`DONNELL: Norm, you`ve been watching it closely, what do you think of the state of play as of this hour.

NORM ORNSTEIN, EMERITUS SCHOLAR AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: So one of the things we know Lawrence is having you and I have both seen a lot of these negotiations, they`re going to drag on and then ultimately, we`re going to reach a resolution. Jim Clyburn could go there, because the house at this point isn`t going to be doing anything, there is no way in which you`re going to be negotiating with the so called moderates or the so called progressives, until we have a framework, that`s where Nancy Pelosi`s magic will come into play, because she`s going to have to convince enough progressives that a framework is enough to vote for this bill. Now, I don`t know it might come tonight, Manchin has left the Capitol.

Now, maybe a lot of other key figures are going to be going to the houseboat to negotiate with them. I`m still a little nervous that we haven`t heard anything from Sinema, he`s a key player. But, you know, also keep in mind that when Manchin says 1.5 is my bottom line or top line, however you want to frame it. A while back, he said we should have $4 trillion in infrastructure spending. Then he said I`m comfortable with 2 trillion, when he says these things. It`s it shouldn`t be taken too seriously. And we know there are a lot of ways to reach an agreement, including shortening the number of years in which you have these programs in place.

So the bottom line is not a terribly significant figure. I`m still nervous that the tax numbers and the substance of the tax figures are going to be ones where Manchin and Sinema will take different points of view. And that`s what concerns me more about reaching another stalemate here.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s such a good point because nothing - it`s the old saying which is true. Nothing`s agreed to until everything`s agreed to and so, you know, Manchin and Sinema could agree on a 1.5 or some numbers and then disagree on the internals to it and then you`ve got a real problem, Jonathan Capehart, it - it may come down to the most progressive Speaker of the House in history, who represents one of the most progressive districts in the Congress, San Francisco, negotiating with the Progressive Caucus to get them - to come along with her on a - on a road that`s basically being laid out for them by Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema.

CAPEHART: Yes, so what you have with Speaker Pelosi is, yes, she is the quintessential, "San Francisco liberal". However, she is the Speaker of the House. And she takes her role as leader of the - of the Democrats in the House very seriously. And she also takes very seriously protecting her caucus. And when she decoupled the reconciliation bill from the bipartisan bill earlier in the week, that was part of her role as OK, if this isn`t going to happen, I`ve got to get something for my members so that when they start running for reelection in 2022, they have something to run on.

But it is also very important for a lot - a lot of her members in her caucus, that a lot of the things that were promising the reconciliation bill that there be seen as there`s movement, that there`s movement on this, so that those members of Congress can go out to their constituents and say, this is what I`m working, this is what I`m working on. And this is what we`re moving towards. And so what I`ve seen with Nancy Pelosi, as we`ve seen it the two times now that she`s had the gavel as Speaker of the House, is that is she is a Progressive, but she is pragmatic and she will do whatever it takes to get a deal and to protect her caucus.

O`DONNELL: Well, Jonathan, as you`ve been speaking, I`ve been getting the news that, and this is NBC News, obtaining this at this stage from House Staff, that there will be no votes tonight that the leadership has decided, the speaker has decided no votes tonight. That means they`ll be coming back in the morning. Eugene Robinson that is sometimes - it`s sometimes when you`re outside the room, it`s sometimes a good sign because it means oh, the negotiations are continuing, and sometimes a bad sign because the longer it takes, the more difficult it gets.

ROBINSON: Right? It could be a really good sign or a really bad sign. And it`s hard to know, you know, what - what`s different this time, I think, is that Progressives in the house have numbers and they have power. And they know they have power. And I don`t think they`re going to vote for the heart infrastructure built without a framework for the human infrastructure bill. And so there`s going to have to be a framework and it`s going to have to be something that not just that Pelosi can sell to from Pramila Jayapal, but that she can sell to the members of the Progressive Caucus, and so probably going to be north of 1.5.

O`DONNELL: And Norm, we`re going to have to go to break in a second. But this is when the speaker and I`ll never forget hearing the speaker say this when I was in these closed rooms and others, they always say, don`t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And that`s where we will probably be on this tomorrow morning with the Progressive Caucus?

ORNSTEIN: And remember that the speaker also has gotten the moderates who are promised to vote on Monday to stay very quiet about the fact that they`re not going to get a vote until at least Friday. She`s managing to work both sides of this very well. Now the question is whether Chuck Schumer, Louisa Terrell and Steve Ricchetti can get the Senate to get it go along with something that she can sell to both sides.

O`DONNELL: Well, that is an A-team of legislative negotiators that you just named. We`ll see what they can do. Norm Ornstein, Jonathan Capehart, Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for joining us during this breaking news. Really appreciate it.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Now that Donald Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party all over the country have launched a continuing assault on democracy. The news media faces a challenge of how to report that story without appearing to simply be supporting one political party against another. Marc Jacob says the news media has been "Unintentionally Complicit" in the rise of fascism that threatens our democracy. Those are his words. And he includes himself. Among those who have been complicit, Marc Jacob edited page one stories for the Chicago Tribune. And he describes the challenge facing news media in a series of tweets. Mainstream media have long tried to treat Republicans and Democrats equally some like me thought that was the way to be fair.

In fact, it was the way to be lazy and not have to sort out the facts. Just quote a Democrat and quote a Republican and you`re done. When I edited political stories I went so far as to count the quotes from Republicans and Democrats thinking an equal number would make us fairer. I didn`t think I was helping either party. I thought I was helping the readers. I was wrong. The Republicans have overwhelmed the media with corruption. They`ve created scandal fatigue; prompting journalists to do something I call ethics forming.

That`s when something that would have been a huge scandal in the recent past is considered normal now. Some media have turned off their outrage and Jim Paulsen decided that corruption is normal. What`s needed is new framing not party oriented but democracy oriented, truth oriented. The media shouldn`t elevate liars in the interest of fairness. Yes, media should be fair to the readers to the facts, but not to the two party systems to our democracy.

Joining us now are Marc Jacobs, Former Metro Editor at The Chicago Tribune, and Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer for The New Yorker and Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. He is Co-Editor of the New Book, The Matter of Black Lives. Marc Jacobs, what brought you to the point of going public with your thinking about this challenge now?

MARC JACOBS, FORMER METRO EDITOR THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, being out of the news, business makes it easier, I must admit, I was just, you know, and watch the news every day, and you see all the dishonesty. And, and you wonder why it isn`t called out so much. I mean, I was in editing stories for four decades.

And, you know, four decades ago, I think there was some similarity in honesty, and in corruption with the Democratic and Republican parties, they were close enough to where, again, as I said in the tweet, if you`ve quoted a Republican and quote Democrat that, you know, added up to, somewhat to fairness, but you`ve seen a dramatic problem, in my opinion, with the Republican Party, going very dishonest to just to just lies, lies, lies, corruption, corruption and in the Democrats, in my opinion, becoming thing about what they were 30, 40 years ago.

And so you have this gigantic imbalance in how these parties are behaving. And in fact, one of the parties isn`t really behaving like a party; it`s behaving more like a criminal enterprise, in my opinion. And so what does the news media do the news media, in some of them don`t do anything, they follow the same patterns they follow for 30, 40 years. And that`s, that`s what I was calling out.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb is the way to write a new set of rules that will work or is this a dynamic challenge, where the approach to it has to stay agile and change as the challenge changes?

JELANI COBB, PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I mean, I think there`s both I mean, I think there are some rules and some guidelines that you can follow, you know, the most fundamental of which is to not treat unequal things equally, you know, as Marc, as Marc said, but the other part of it, the part of it, that is dynamic, I think, is to be mindful of just how quickly our situation has changed, you know, over the course of the past several years, you know, we`re actually having, you know, January 6th, recede into the background, you know, some of the outrageous things have happened.

And we`re seeing that people in the right, people in the Republican Party are talking about January 6th, as if the people, who stormed the building, were the ones who were being wrong. And so, you know, over the course of time, and let us call it out, and that`s that is, people are adamant about what the facts of the situation actually were. But you do wind up normalizing something that`s exceedingly dangerous. And I would add betraying the mission that is entrusted to media in the - by the Constitution.

O`DONNELL: Marc, I`ve always found the challenge once the Trump era began of trying to describe the extraordinary thing that happened that day, as extraordinary and trying to make it sound different from the one that happened yesterday and trying to maintain the correct kind of shock or outrage level at what we were observing. It`s very; it`s just a constant challenge.

JACOBS: Well, that`s the thing, it, it`s - news is supposed to be something unusual that didn`t happen yesterday or the day before. Yet, this corruption that we`re seeing, I mean, really big corruption, and just outrageous comments, like calling the January 6th riders, tourists, that kind of just crazy behavior happens day after day after day, and there`s so much outrage you can do, it`s what I might call scandal fatigue. And, and that`s been a real problem, especially I think in TV media. And you see that, and it`s a real challenge.

Now that the thing about like the January 6th, select committee is, you know, staff informed, and I was watching TV news report and at the end of it, the reporter, I think, in an attempt to be fair, said, well, Republicans say that this committee is just a partisan witch hot, you know, alright, so that`s the Republican view. But in my opinion, that reporter didn`t need to say that because we know it`s not true and we just know we know that the Republicans attempted and succeeded in blocking a bipartisan commission that would have you know, would have been bipartisan would have been fair.

And so they didn`t want any kind of investigation. And so for them to now, kind of dump on the idea that a select committee has been formed to try to find out why people try to commit an insurrection against our democracy becomes what I`m saying is that that level of fairness is not fairness, it`s actually helping the people who are trying to destroy our democracy.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave that challenge there for tonight, Mark Jacob and Professor Jelani Cobb, thank you very much for joining us. We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: Speaker has announced there will be no votes in the House tonight and the House will go back into session at some point after 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.