January 31, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
01/31/2023 | 56m 45s | Video has closed captioning.
January 31, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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01/31/2023 | 56m 45s | Video has closed captioning.
January 31, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: President Biden's top economic adviser discusses rising prices, interest rates, and a possible recession.
GEOFF BENNETT: Law enforcement tactics again face scrutiny in the wake of the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
AMNA NAWAZ: And a North Carolina Republican explains why he now supports Medicaid expansion after opposing it for years.
STATE SEN. PHIL BERGER (R-NC): It's something that we ought to do, and it makes perfect sense from a budgeting standpoint at this time.
(BREAK) GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
We're learning more this week about the strength of the U.S. economy and whether high inflation and rising interest rates are pushing it into a recession.
AMNA NAWAZ: Tomorrow, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates by another quarter-of-a-point.
On Friday, the next labor report will show whether job growth is slowing even further.
And the showdown over the debt ceiling and the threat of a default this summer is hardly over.
All of that may add to the sense that the economy is on a knife's edge.
But a recession is not a given.
In fact, yesterday, the International Monetary Fund revised its forecast and said it does not anticipate a global recession.
Brian Deese is one of the president's key advisers on all of this.
He's the director of the National Economic Council.
And he joins us now.
Brian Deese, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Let's begin with that debt ceiling debate.
Tomorrow, President Biden will meet with Speaker McCarthy.
The White House has made very clear the president will release his budget in early March.
We have heard the president call for the speaker to do the same.
But, in your conversations, do you have any sense of what Mr. McCarthy is asking for, where Republicans want to see spending cuts?
BRIAN DEESE, Director, National Economic Council: Well, look, this is precisely the reason why the president has put the emphasis on the need for Speaker McCarthy and the House Republicans to release a budget, release those details, and show that they have a pathway to pass a budget with 218 votes in the House.
That's an important predicate to having a serious conversation about fiscal and economic priorities.
And it's an important moment to do that.
The recent data we have seen in the economy has really been quite promising.
We have seen solid economic growth.
We have one of the strongest labor markets in recent history, the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, and inflation is coming down.
It's fallen for the last seven months.
Consumers have seen that at the gas pump.
Prices -- price increases are slowing at the grocery store as well.
And we're seeing it in other parts of the economy.
We know what we need to do, keep focusing on reducing prices for consumers, investing in the United States, building more industrial capacity and manufacturing capacity across the United States.
We have all of these goals within our reach.
The last thing that we can afford right now is a self-inflicted wound to try to take our economy backward.
AMNA NAWAZ: But on that meeting tomorrow, Brian, the White House has made clear that raising the debt ceiling is not a negotiation, so why the meeting?
What is it President Biden hopes to get from that face-to-face with Speaker McCarthy?
BRIAN DEESE: Well, look, honoring the full faith and credit of the United States, the obligations that we as a country have already made, should not be a negotiable item.
It hasn't been for prior presidents.
Prior presidents of both political parties, and, in fact, the leaders in the Senate and the House of both political parties today have made clear that this should not be a question.
We should not put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk and at question.
But we can have a serious conversation about economic priorities and fiscal priorities and do that as part of the normal budget process.
And that's what the president is going to focus on.
As you mentioned, he will release his budget.
It will be a detailed blueprint of how he would recommend investing in the country, continuing to make progress on our economic recovery, and bringing down the deficit at the same time.
He's got a set of proposals.
He's happy to look at the proposals when that House Republicans put out their detailed plan.
We should have that conversation as part of the normal budget process.
We should not use the threat of default in a way that we have never done as a country as a way to -- as a bargaining chip or as a way of hostage-taking for particular proposals.
Nobody should be doing that.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you a little bit about where the economy is right now.
You mentioned some of the progress we have seen.
Unemployment is at a 50-year low, for example.
Inflation does remain a concern and consumer spending has slowed somewhat.
That leads some economists to be a little more worried.
In fact, the National Association of Business Economics surveyed economists, and more than half of them said they believe there's more than a 50/50 chance the U.S. enters a recession this year.
Do you agree with that assessment?
BRIAN DEESE: Well, look, let's step back.
About six months ago, the president came out and said, what we need to see is a transition to more steady and stable growth, where we have resilience in the labor market, and we bring inflation down.
A lot of people at that time were projecting that that wasn't possible and that, in fact, we might see the economy slow down and slide into recession.
Six months later, what we have seen is, the labor market has remained resilient, and, as you said, the unemployment rate continues at a historic low, and inflation has come down for the last six months.
We're making progress on that front.
So, we absolutely can continue to make progress because we have seen it.
We have seen it over the last six months.
We have seen it over the last three months as well.
We have got to keep that progress going.
But that's where priorities matter.
Where the president's focus is now is implementing some of the historic legislation that was passed last year that will bring further price declines for Americans on health care, prescription drugs, clean energy.
These things are in the pipeline and can help people and their pocketbooks in the months ahead.
AMNA NAWAZ: But, Brian, if I may -- I apologize.
I know our time is limited.
Consumer spending is a huge part of our economy, 70 percent of our economy.
That slowdown worries a lot of people.
And a lot of the things that were fueling the resilience you mentioned were things like people getting out after COVID lockdowns and spending a lot of money, right, and federal pandemic funds that were out and about.
Those are gone.
The costs of borrowing are up.
People are lowering -- they have less savings now than they did before.
On consumer spending, in particular, where do you see evidence that will go back up?
BRIAN DEESE: Well, look, just look at the what happened in the fourth quarter of this past year.
We just got the data on it.
We saw solid economic growth, 2.9 percent.
That was driven by solid consumer spending as well.
We are seeing some slowing.
And you would expect that in some areas.
But if you look at household balance sheets, actually, many of the measures of basic economic security are better than they were before the pandemic, credit card delinquencies, bankrupt - - personal bankruptcies, home mortgage delinquencies are all between 10 and 30 percent lower than before the pandemic actually hit.
And that reflects the fact that this has been a remarkable recovery, a historically equitable recovery.
So, look, there are risks on the horizon.
And, certainly, we take nothing for granted.
But if you look at what happened in the fourth quarter of this year, I think that there's reason for cautious optimism, and certainly for staying the course, that we need to keep doing what we know is important, lowering costs for families' balance sheets and encouraging companies to invest more in America, create the kind of jobs that give people opportunities across this country.
AMNA NAWAZ: Brian, when it comes to that optimism, I have to point out the numbers so Americans don't quite share it with you right now, right?
When you look at the latest NBC News poll, people are asked about the economy and the president's handling of it, 36 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove, essentially the same as it was a year ago.
Why do you think that is?
BRIAN DEESE: Look, it's been a very difficult set of years, and consumers are still facing a lot of challenges coming out of the pandemic.
And, certainly, inflation has been a frustration for folks.
I think that the good news for Americans that are watching at home is that we are making real progress in inflation coming down.
Gas prices are down about $1.50 since just the summer.
As I mentioned, food inflation is coming down.
As I mentioned, food inflation is coming down.
And prices of everyday goods and items that seemed like they were out of whack because of some of these pandemics supply chain issues are now coming back into fold.
So, ultimately, the ultimate outcome of the president's economic strategy is going to be, across time, are we building a stronger and more resilient economy in the future?
I think the answer to that is absolutely yes.
We're going to keep our head down and focused on those things that we know matter to American families.
First and foremost of those is continuing to reduce those costs that families face.
AMNA NAWAZ: Brian Deese is the director of the White House National Economic Council.
Brian, always good to talk to you.
Thank you for your time.
In the day's other headlines: The toll reached 100 people killed and 225 wounded in Monday's suicide bombing in Pakistan.
Rescue crews in Peshawar kept searching for bodies and survivors in the wreckage of a crowded mosque.
Families with missing relatives waited outside hospitals guarded by police.
The investigation is focused on how the bomber got through heavy security to enter the mosque inside a police compound.
In Central Florida today, police are searching for the gunman who wounded 11 people, two of them critically.
It happened Monday on a residential street in Lakeland as the shooters fired from their car.
Investigators said it was a targeted attack.
Authorities have now offered a $5,000 reward for information.
The George Santos story has taken a new turn.
The embattled New York congressman already admitted to fabricating most of his resume, and he's facing multiple investigations.
Today, he told fellow Republicans that he's stepping down from his two House committee assignments for now.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy endorsed the move.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I met with George Santos yesterday, and I think it was the appropriate decision that, until he can clear everything up, he's off of committees right now.
The voters have elected him.
He will have a voice here in Congress.
And until he answers all those questions, then he will -- at that time, he will be able to be seated on committees.
AMNA NAWAZ: Santos insisted again today that he is not considering resigning from Congress.
There's word that the FBI searched President Biden's former Washington office for classified material last November.
The Associated Press and CBS News report that was after the president's lawyers had found classified records at the site.
It's not clear if the FBI found anything else.
A crippling winter ice storm advanced eastward across the South and Central U.S. today.
Airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights and thousands of people lost power.
Texas was especially hard-hit, as freezing rain and sleet covered roads and caused numerous wrecks.
At least one person was killed.
Meanwhile, another major storm is pounding New Zealand with heavy rain.
The Northland region declared a state of emergency today as roads and fields took on water.
Auckland braced for more flooding after getting inundated last Friday.
An entire summer's worth of rain fell in a single day.
Pope Francis kicked off a six-day visit to Congo and South Sudan today, insisting that wealthy nations stop plundering Africa's resources.
The pope arrived in Kinshasa as tens of thousands of well-wishers lined his route.
In his first speech, he urged an end to carving up Congo's huge mineral wealth.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through translator): It is tragic that places like this and, more generally, the African continent, are still being exploited.
Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Hands off Africa.
Stop choking Africa.
It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.
AMNA NAWAZ: The pope is also expected to appeal for rebels in Eastern Congo to make peace.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has concluded his Middle East visit with no apparent progress towards quieting Israeli-Palestinian violence.
He met today with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas a day after speaking with Israeli leaders.
Blinken urged both sides to step back.
But neither side made any pledges.
China reacted angrily today to report that the United States might block tech giant Huawei from any remaining access to American suppliers.
The company is already barred from buying advanced U.S. processor chips, but the Biden administration reportedly could go further.
In Beijing, the foreign minister condemned any such proposal.
MAO NING, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman (through translator): China expresses serious concern about the relevant reports and we are closely following developments.
We firmly oppose the U.S. generalizing the notion of national security and abusing state power to suppress Chinese companies.
It is a blatant technological hegemony.
AMNA NAWAZ: U.S. officials have called Huawei a security risk that might help Chinese spying.
Labor strikes and protests roiled Europe today, including more than a million people demonstrating in France.
Throngs of protesters poured into the streets of Paris angered by plans to raise the retirement age by two years.
There were similar mass marches earlier this month.
Elsewhere, more than 10,000 health care workers marched in Brussels, demanding better pay and working conditions.
Back in this country, actor Alec Baldwin was formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in a movie set shooting in New Mexico.
Prosecutors allege that Baldwin skipped gun safety training, ignored industry protocols, and failed to make sure there were no bullets in the gun before he fired.
The movie cinematographer was fatally wounded.
And on Wall Street, stocks finished a strong January on hopes that interest rate hikes will soon end.
Major indices were up 1 to 1.5 percent or more.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 369 points to close at 34086.
The Nasdaq rose 190 points.
The S&P 500 added nearly 59.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": House Republicans prepare a kick off investigations into the White House; the president announces a date for ending COVID emergency measures; Jake Blount puts a new twist on Black American folk music; plus much more.
Five days after former police officers were charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols, the brutal circumstances that led to his death have renewed conversations around the country about policing, the use of force and related issues.
We're going to spend some time on that again tonight, starting with new attention around elite police units.
GEOFF BENNETT: Five of the officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols were members of one of those specialized police forces known as the SCORPION unit.
It was created a little over a year ago to address rising crime.
Over the weekend, the Memphis Police Department announced the SCORPION team had been disbanded, all of it raising questions about the effectiveness of these special police units.
Radley Balko is the author of "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces" and the criminal justice newsletter "The Watch."
Radley Balko, welcome to the "NewsHour."
RADLEY BALKO, Author, "The Rise of the Warrior Cop": Thanks for having me on.
GEOFF BENNETT: We spoke with Ben Crump, the attorney for Tyre Nichols' family, on this program yesterday, and he said of the now disbanded SCORPION unit that, when you watch the video and you watch how nonchalantly they acted while Tyre Nichols was on the ground in distress, fighting for his life, Crump said that spoke to what appeared to him to be business as usual for this unit.
What does that suggest about how these units are trained and how they operate?
RADLEY BALKO: Well, I don't know what it tells us about how they're trained.
What it does tell us is that these units are - - that they are designed to suppress crime basically at any cost.
I agree with Mr. Crump.
I mean, if you watch that video, horrifying as it is, I mean, there's an almost sort of casualness to the way they go about beating Tyre Nichols.
At one point, they -- one of them stops and ties his shoes.
They catch their breath and help one officer find his glasses.
It's one thing for police officers to get caught up in the moment, to have sort of a rush of adrenaline and maybe make bad decisions.
This was extended.
This was over a long period of time.
And so I think what that tells us that, while these are supposed to be elite police units, they are supposed to be the best of the best, they end up actually concentrating some of the worst aspects of policing, which is abuse, excessive force, and this kind of militaristic attitude of seeing sort of the people they're supposed to be serving as an enemy, a very sort of us-vs.-them mentality and approach to the job.
GEOFF BENNETT: Tell me more about that, because you wrote a piece, an opinion piece, for The New York Times this past week.
And you quoted a retired L.A. deputy police chief and former SWAT officer who said to you: "The guys who really want to be on the SWAT team are the last people you should be putting on the SWAT team."
RADLEY BALKO: Yes.
So I think when you name it -- when you when you create one of these elite or so-called elite police units, and you call them the SCORPIONs, right, or you give them some other intimidating name that we have seen in other cities, you are -- you're doing two things.
One is, you are creating fear among the people that those units are going to be serving and the neighborhood that those units are going to be serving, and you're attracting police officers who want to be feared.
I think, if you're a community-oriented police officer who wants to help people in your neighborhood, you're not going to be enticed or excited to join a group called SCORPION.
GEOFF BENNETT: It strikes me that Memphis was among the police departments that reviewed and revised its policies after the police killing of George Floyd.
They instituted a ban on choke holds.
They instituted de-escalation policies.
Of course, none of that mattered when Tyre Nichols was pulled over on January 7.
But it speaks to this question of, can this culture, can a culture like the one that existed in this unit, can that be reformed?
RADLEY BALKO: So, yes, I don't think it can be reformed when it comes to these units, because the entire point of these units, they're formed when crime goes up and when politicians or police officials feel like they have to do something to show that they're taking crime seriously.
And so there's this kind of knee-jerk instinct to say, well, what we need to do is, look, we need to supervise police less, we need to give them more freedom, more leeway, we need to tell them to be more aggressive, and we need to kind of look the other way when they bend or break the rules.
And I think that -- we have seen the story play out over and over again.
In my New York Times piece, I go into the history of these units.
And L.A., Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, Indianapolis, I mean, cities across the country, when they have instituted one of these units, they have inevitably run into problems.
And, sometimes, they have pretty massive scandals, particularly in places like L.A. and Chicago and most recently in Baltimore with their gun -- their gun crimes task force.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, what then is a better approach, because, according to FBI data, Memphis was, I think, the most violent metropolitan area in the U.S. in the year 2020.
The following year, 2021, they had a record number of murders.
So, what are elected officials in Memphis, what is the police chief in Memphis, what are they to do?
RADLEY BALKO: Well, I mean, we don't know exactly what stops crime.
We don't know what causes crime for the most part.
But one thing that does seem pretty intuitive is that you have to have trust from the communities that you serve.
When -- if you look at where some of the most violent cities in America, these are also cities where there have been long histories of police misconduct and documented reports from DOJ and other agencies and organizations outlining long histories of police abuse, misconduct and racism, places like Cleveland, St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, because, I mean, if you're in Memphis, I don't think you're going to want to one of these -- anything that might succeed the SCORPION units patrolling your neighborhood, because that sense of trust has been broken.
GEOFF BENNETT: Radley Balko, thanks so much for being with us.
RADLEY BALKO: My pleasure.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let's focus now on how the trauma of police killings ripples across communities.
In September of 2016, Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old Tulsa resident and father of four, was shot and killed by Officer Betty Shelby.
Crutcher was waiting for help with his broken-down vehicle.
Shelby was responding to the call.
Crutcher was unarmed.
Eight months later, Officer Shelby was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter and the case has been expunged from her record.
Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, created a foundation in his name focused on criminal justice and policing reform.
She joins me now.
Tiffany, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
I have to ask you, just first off, you and I have spoken before about how each new report, each new police killing each new video reminds you of your pain and your loss.
I just want to start by asking, since the release of this horrible, horrible video of Tyre Nichols, how are you doing?
TIFFANY CRUTCHER, Founder, Terence Crutcher Foundation: Well, Amna, thank you so much for having me again.
It's always good to connect with you.
But I have to be honest.
It's been a struggle over the last few days.
Even prior to the video being released, listening to Tyre's mother, I remember being in her shoes back in 2016.
And, of course, I didn't watch the video at all.
I haven't even watched the video of my brother's killing.
But, to say the least, and to hear some of the murmurings of him calling out for his mom, it's definitely retraumatized not just my family, but the community here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
AMNA NAWAZ: You know, as you well know, Tyre's family said they wanted to release that video because they wanted people to bear witness and they hope that it will lead to some kind of change.
Each time this happens, it seems to reignite this conversation around police reform that I know you do so much work in and around.
Do you think this actually leads to change?
TIFFANY CRUTCHER: Well, I'm going to be honest.
I feel that Black folks in America, we're in a state of emergency and we're afraid.
We're afraid for our lives.
And we have seen video after video after video, starting with Rodney King.
That's what I remember when I was just a little girl.
And we saw videos of Philando Castile.
We saw the video of my brother and so many more, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott in South Carolina, and George Floyd.
And we have yet to see any change in this country, have yet to see Congress act.
And so I just think that it's unhealthy, and that communities of color across this country are dealing with vicarious trauma.
And we need more than just videos being released.
But I am thankful for the fact that these videos put a spotlight on the crime, the criminality and the murders of Black and brown people across this country, but, at the same time, it is unhealthy.
And, again, it tears the scab off of unhealed wounds.
AMNA NAWAZ: You know, the attorney Ben Crump who is working with Tyre Nichols' family said even he was glad to see such a swift response in terms of the accountability portion of arresting and charging the officers.
When you look at that, what do you see?
Why do you think things have moved so swiftly in this case when they haven't in the past?
And what does justice, if there is such a thing, look like for Tyre Nichols' family?
TIFFANY CRUTCHER: Well, let's be honest.
Justice would be Tyre being alive.
That is the only justice.
The only justice is for people we pay to protect and serve us, for them to stop killing us.
That's the only justice we will ever see.
And that's -- the only way that's going to happen is if we have this swift action and if we change the laws that allow police officers in this country to commit -- to commit legal murder There are laws that are shielding and protecting police officers where all they can simply say as, "I fear for my life."
But to see the swift action, I'm hopeful.
It happened in the case of Betty Shelby.
For the first time in the history of Tulsa, a police officer was indicted.
But, again, I can't help but think about the thousands of other victims who never get swift justice, the names that we will never know.
And, quite frankly, I believe that all of the officers that were involved need to be held accountable.
And whoever is over the training of these officers, whoever implemented this special unit needs to be held accountable too, because this isn't the first incident.
We know that there's been more.
And so I want everyone held accountable.
But the only justice that there is, is Tyre Nichols being alive.
AMNA NAWAZ: Tiffany, since your brother's death, you have become part of this community no one chooses to join.
And I know you have a very close connection with folks like Gwen Carr, right, the mother of Eric Garner, and Allisa Findley, the sister of Botham Jean, Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose, all of whom have lost a son or a brother to police violence.
Have you been in touch with them over the last few days?
What is that community like for you?
TIFFANY CRUTCHER: Well, I'm grateful that I have a community of individuals who simply understand and who can relate to what I'm feeling.
I connected with the mother of Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and also Dr. Bernice King just over the past few days.
And we were all struggling.
We were all trying to figure out, will it ever stop?
But the common sort of threat was that we can't give up.
And Dr. Bernice King, she made me feel a little bit better.
She said, we will feel all sorts of things, but we have to make sure that those feelings are fueled -- or is the fuel to keep acting, to keep organizing, to keep rally crying.
And that's what we all decided that we would do.
But, right now, we are struggling.
And no one should feel this pain.
No one should have to be a part of this community, this sisterhood, this brotherhood.
And -- but I am comforted to know that someone understands what we're going through.
AMNA NAWAZ: Tiffany Crutcher is the founder and executive director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation.
Thank you so much for joining us.
TIFFANY CRUTCHER: Thank you so much for having me, Amna.
GEOFF BENNETT: As part of the new Congress, tomorrow, House Republicans will start scrutinizing nearly every policy step taken by the Biden White House and congressional Democrats over the past two years.
Lisa Desjardins joins us now with more on what to expect tomorrow and down the road.
So, Lisa, House Republicans have mentioned a number of topics that they say are ripe for investigation.
Help us understand where they intend to start and where this whole thing heads.
LISA DESJARDINS: All right, let's roll up our sleeves.
There's a lot to talk about here.
When you think about the investigations that House Republicans are launching, I think about them in three very big baskets.
Let's take a look at the committees that are especially going to be key here.
First, there is a new Select Committee on China.
Important to note, this has wide bipartisan backing.
It is focused on China and the Communist Party there, the economy and also human rights among the things they're looking at.
Different are the two other committees you see here right next to me, the House Oversight Committee.
These committees are looking at the Biden administration, as you talked about.
Look at that list.
These are all of the different things already announced by that House Oversight Committee, things they will look at, the classified documents, the Biden family influence.
That includes Hunter Biden and also Joe Biden's brothers, whether they have connections outside of this country that have been problems.
The pandemic, there's a subcommittee there.
The border, energy, drug prices, and also overall Afghanistan and the withdrawal there.
Expect a lot of news to come out of that committee, certainly a lot of hearings.
Then there is a second one, the House Judiciary Committee.
That is led by Jim Jordan, the Republican from Ohio.
They are also going to look at classified documents, but especially the role of different agencies, including the Department of Justice.
Border security will be one of their first hearings next week.
And here's a special subcommittee that we will be paying attention to, the Weaponization Subcommittee.
I think that will focus a lot on the Department of Justice and the FBI and, in fact, investigating the investigators, but not only that.
There will be some look at sort of how government agencies take on individual Americans, Republicans say.
All of this is just kind of the beginning.
We don't know exactly what shape these will take.
But the theme here is, for those two big committees, looking at the Biden administration and the Biden family.
GEOFF BENNETT: So those are the topics.
Tell us more about the approach that these committees might take.
LISA DESJARDINS: So important.
Those two chairmen are very different kind of chairman in their approaches.
First, let's talk about James Comer on House Oversight.
He is a more affable kind of chairman.
He's gotten along with his ranking and fellow Democratic chairmen in the past.
And he's someone who says he's going to take this slow.
I have spoken to him at length about his approach here.
He does not want to start out of the gate with sort of big, kind of throwing punches at the Biden administration.
He says he wants to gather evidence.
And, in fact, in the past, he has also criticized the Trump administration.
Different from him, you see in style, Jim Jordan.
These two men do get along, but very different.
Jim Jordan is a former champion wrestler.
He is someone who likes to throw punches.
He believes that pugilistic style is something that can uncover truth and it's something he loves to do.
His committee will be something where we see much more contention.
And already we have seen that he is telling the Biden administration, signaling to them that he's ready to issue subpoenas pretty quickly.
Here's a press release they put out just in the last couple of weeks.
There it is signaling the right there that he will take them on, giving them notice about documents requests that are out there.
So, both of these committees, different in style, are still trying to go after the same thing.
Republicans say there was not enough of a check on the Biden administration.
Democrats, however, are nervous, and they say that Judiciary Committee in particular is something that they want to watch for their own strategy.
Some Democrats said they were nervous about even sitting on that committee with Representative Jordan.
GEOFF BENNETT: Meantime, Lisa, there's news today regarding to members of Congress who may not have committee seats at all.
Tell us about that.
LISA DESJARDINS: As Amna reported, Representative George Santos and I was told by sources in the room has said he will not serve on committees.
He said that's at least temporary.
Now, that is in fact connected to the other member that we're talking about, Democrat Ilhan Omar.
She is someone that Speaker McCarthy has said he would like to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
But he needs nearly all of his conference to agree on that.
He does not have enough votes to remove her.
This is for past statements she's made about Israel, which some Jewish groups have said were antisemitic.
She has apologized for those, but there are questions from some about her stance toward Israel.
He doesn't have the votes to remove her right now.
We're going to be watching that carefully.
GEOFF BENNETT: And lastly, Lisa, there has been a renewed focus on police reform following the police killing of Tyre Nichols.
What are the prospects in Congress right now for that?
LISA DESJARDINS: There is huge interest in doing this.
There are behind-the-scenes conversations.
Geoff, I have to say, this is the critical timeline, State of the Union.
We expect to see Tyre Nichols' mother at that speech next week.
I'm told by people, Republicans and Democrats, that that is the critical timeline.
If there can be movement on this issue, it will be up to that speech.
And they're hoping to try and get some sign of advance by then.
Can they get there?
We don't know.
GEOFF BENNETT: State of the Union on February 7.
Lisa Desjardins, great to see you.
Thanks for that reporting.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
AMNA NAWAZ: Since the start of the pandemic, both former President Trump and President Biden have repeatedly renewed a special declaration of a national and public health emergency.
But the government's approach toward COVID has dramatically changed.
And, yesterday, the president said he would allow that emergency declaration to end in May.
William Brangham looks at what that will mean.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Amna, this is the government essentially saying that COVID-19 isn't as grave a threat as it once was, and, thus, certain policies can be phased out.
House Republicans have been pressuring the administration to make this exact move.
But COVID is still killing more than 500 Americans every single day, on average, and has cumulatively killed well over a million of us.
Joining me now is Lawrence Gostin, who tracks all of this very closely.
He's at Georgetown University's Global Health Institute.
Larry Gostin, great to have you back on the program.
I mentioned the GOP pressure on the administration, House Republicans just introduced this bill called the Pandemic Is Over Act, which would basically do what the administration says they're going to do.
Do you think the administration wanted to do this, or is this bowing to political pressure?
LAWRENCE GOSTIN, Georgetown University: Yes, I think it's a little of both William.
I mean, certainly, all emergencies have to come to an end.
And we have been at this COVID emergency for three years now, originally with President Trump declaring it in January 2020.
But there has been enormous pressure.
I mean, it's certainly from Congress.
It's from Republican governors.
It's from the public that just seems to be so fatigued and over COVID, and even from its own agency.
The Food and Drug Administration is planning on cycling to seasonal COVID shots, the way we do flu shots.
So, all of this is a political, a strong political signal that we need to move on.
But we need to do -- we need to have a soft landing.
And I think that's why the administration has put this back until May 11.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, practically speaking, when the government says that the public health emergency is over, what does that mean?
Well LAWRENCE GOSTIN: Well, first, we have to be clear that the crisis is still here, and particularly for the vulnerable.
You mentioned more than 500 deaths a day.
That's twice the average flu season, but that's in a severe flu season.
We have got COVID exploding in China.
We have got variants and subvariants that are on the horizon.
And so, for the young and healthy, it may be older -- over.
But, for the vulnerable, it's not.
What this is going to mean is that it's going to unravel a whole social safety net.
People will find it harder to get health insurance, particularly Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Veterans Administration benefits, and even private insurance.
It'll start to cost money for tests, therapeutics, and, ultimately, for vaccines as we transition to the private market.
That means that the uninsured, the underinsured, the poor are going to really lack access the way they have been accustomed to doing now.
CDC is going to have a lot more trouble getting data from the states and doing surveillance.
And there's also implications even for Title 42, which is the program that expels asylum seekers coming to the United States.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yes, what is the application for Title 42?
Because I know that this has been another one of these political hot potatoes that has been fought over.
You -- if you declare the emergency is over, does that change Title 42 in any real way?
LAWRENCE GOSTIN: It actually does.
Title 42 itself is not dependent on a declaration, a formal declaration of a public health emergency.
But if you actually look at CDC's original order, the order says that it stays in place until CDC decides to take it down or until a formal declaration of emergency is over.
So, on May 11, like it or not, Title 42 is gone, unless, for some reason, CDC were to issue a fresh order.
CDC won't do that because my understanding is CDC has never been in favor of this, because it's really not justified by public health.
It's really more a border control policy, and an inhumane one, at that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You wrote on Twitter that this is the equivalent of waving the white flag of surrender.
Do you really think that that's the case, I mean, given, as you're describing, that Congress has kind of done this.
The American public has certainly decided, we're done with this.
So, what are we surrendering to?
LAWRENCE GOSTIN: I worry that, when the next variant or subvariant comes, that it has more immune escapability, perhaps even more pathogenic or deadly, that, when CDC says, put on a mask or get your booster shot, that people's eyes may roll.
And I think it's fine for the young and the healthy, but I really worry about the poor, the uninsured, those with deep underlying health conditions and vulnerabilities.
I think they are at grave risk.
And that's what really worries me the most.
I do understand and I agree with President Biden that all emergencies do eventually come to an end.
But I wish we would be able to have a safe landing, in the sense that we really protect the health care insurance and social safety net for the most vulnerable among us, because they're still at grave risk.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Larry Gostin of Georgetown University, always good to see you.
LAWRENCE GOSTIN: Thank you, William.
I appreciate it.
GEOFF BENNETT: Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented more than a decade ago, 39 states have expanded Medicaid, the public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income Americans.
North Carolina is not one of those states.
One of the obstacles had been Phil Berger, a Republican and president pro tem of the state Senate, but he changed his mind last year.
And now that the state legislature has reconvened, Medicaid expansion is a top priority.
North Carolina state Senator Phil Berger joins us now.
Thanks for being here.
And our team looked up a press release issued a decade ago this week in which you said of expanding Medicaid: "Saddling our citizens with the enormous costs of a new federal bureaucracy and entitlements is simply not the way."
What were your primary objections to expanding Medicaid at a time?
And, ultimately, why did you change your mind?
STATE SEN. PHIL BERGER (R-NC): So the big objection had to do with the impact on the state budget, or at least the potential impact on the state budget.
It was a new program.
The federal government said that they would be paying 90 percent of the cost.
Traditional Medicaid, the federal government pays about 66 percent of the cost.
That difference between 66 percent and 90 percent could bust our budget in significant ways.
And so there was a concern about whether or not the federal government would keep its word.
Since then, we have we have seen the federal government be controlled by Democrats, controlled by Republicans.
We have seen almost every iteration that you could have of control by one party or the other or joint control.
And they haven't changed that 90-10 split.
In my view, it's something that we ought to do.
And it makes perfect sense from a budgeting standpoint at this time.
GEOFF BENNETT: There was also an initial concern, as I understand it, that expanding Medicaid would have discouraged people from looking for work; is that right?
STATE SEN. PHIL BERGER: Well, we're looking at the potential of 600,000 people.
And, generally, the numbers that we were seeing was that the bulk of those folks would be able-bodied individuals who were not employed and not really looking for work.
The reality is that, with the way the federal program is designed, more often than not, what you have is a situation where folks who would be eligible for Medicaid in the expansion population are people that are actually working full time.
Sort of the person that seems to be helped the most would be a single female with one or two children who works a full-time job.
She's not eligible for traditional Medicaid, not eligible for subsidy of an exchange policy.
And so she just falls through a gap and does not have the funds to purchase private insurance.
So, I actually think that, at this time, a substantial number of the people that will be covered in the expansion population are people that are actually working.
Now, you have still got a good number of folks who will be able-bodied, not working, not willing to work who will be covered.
But I just think that, on balance, given the choices that we have, it turns out to be the best policy decision for us to make at this time.
GEOFF BENNETT: There are a few incentives these days for elected officials like yourself to change your mind on major issues like this.
Might there be any consequences?
What's your level of concern?
STATE SEN. PHIL BERGER: I think the public, by and large, is supportive of expansion of Medicaid.
I think the opposition is clearly there.
It's probably more pronounced in what would be described as a very red district, but, even there, the -- in the Senate last year, we had 44 votes in favor of expansion in the bill that we passed, only two votes opposed.
Most of those 44 positive votes were Republicans in Republican-leaning districts or strong Republican districts.
And, quite frankly, I don't remember expansion being an issue in either a primary or at this point in the general election in the way that would have been 10 years ago or that people would have thought would even be now.
GEOFF BENNETT: North Carolina State Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Senator Berger, thanks for your time.
STATE SEN. PHIL BERGER: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: When folklorists went to the American South last century to record and preserve traditional string band music, they probably didn't imagine that someday a 27-year-old like Jake Blount would come along to not only update the tradition, but to help ensure its future too.
Blount is gaining recognition for his work and is up for artist of the year at the International Folk Music Awards being held tomorrow night.
Special correspondent Tom Casciato met up with him for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
TOM CASCIATO: Jake Blount is a musician on a mission.
Upon first listen on this night at Brooklyn's Jalopy Theatre, you might think it was simply to keep up the tradition of what's known as old-time or string band music.
JAKE BLOUNT, Musician: I try to cultivate a really close relationship with the body of source recordings that we have that comes from these bygone musicians who are a generation or two or three ahead of me.
TOM CASCIATO: He's studied those sources, extraordinary artists born over a century ago like Bessie Jones, Vera Hall, and Lead Belly.
But Jake Blount isn't content to simply research and copy the past.
In fact, he's pulled the sound right into the present and put his own spin on it.
JAKE BLOUNT: String band music, whether it's spirituals, whatever, is still alive and breathing and growing.
It is not restricted to old times.
I think its perfectly allowable to admit that people who are young and alive today have things to contribute to that.
TOM CASCIATO: He proved that point on his first full-length release, 2020's "Spider Tales, where he covered Lead Belly's classic tale of jealousy and suspicion, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night."
Blount's version changes the girl to a boy, giving the song what The Guardian called an arresting new power on an album it deemed an instant classic.
JAKE BLOUNT: My boy, my boy, don't lie to me.
TOM CASCIATO: His most recent album is called "The New Faith."
It contains a song called "The Downward Road."
This 1934 version is sung by a group of incarcerated Black men in South Carolina.
It's a spiritual about the damnation awaiting unbelieving souls.
But Jake Blount has repurposed it.
The road still heads downward, and it's still crowded with imperiled souls, perhaps for eternity.
But the doom that awaits is a new kind of help, environmental catastrophe.
JAKE BLOUNT: Hello, Brooklyn.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JAKE BLOUNT: If you're anxious about climate change, say woo!
(CHEERING) JAKE BLOUNT: When we started this trip, a third of Pakistan was underwater and 50 million people were out of their homes.
And we started this tour off to the joyous news that apparently mankind has wiped out an average of 70 percent of animal populations over the past 50 years.
TOM CASCIATO: One really feels listening to "The New Faith" the precariousness that your generation must feel about the future.
JAKE BLOUNT: I am terrified.
And everyone I know is terrified.
I don't know what were supposed to do.
I'm going to be old and infirm, and the world's going to be collapsing around me.
I felt like I needed to approach it somehow.
TOM CASCIATO: His approach is to put a futuristic spin on the songs of his Black musical ancestors.
"The New Faith" imagines how Black refugees would be forced to recreate their lost music from memory once the world is ravaged by climate change.
JAKE BLOUNT: Designing the sounds, designing the concept meant thinking about people who've heard all of the music that we have heard up until today, inclusive of rap, of disco, of all of these different genres that have come out of the Black community, and then had to make those things again because they don't have access to our technology.
TOM CASCIATO: "Didn't It Rain" is a spiritual about Noah's flood.
It was once sung by pioneering electric guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe in early rock 'n' roll fashion.
For the coming deluge, Blount takes a swinging approach, but the electric guitar becomes ominous.
And he not only reworks records of the past; he imagines records that were never even made.
He says, when field recording went from collecting folklore to making commercial releases, many Black musicians were erased, or nearly so.
JAKE BLOUNT: Industry folks went down to the south and started recording people.
They made two kinds of records.
They made hillbilly records, which were string band music, and they made race records, which was whatever Black people did.
And they wanted that to be blues, jazz, eventually gospel.
And you have Black musicians like Cuje Bertram, who was a Black banjo and fiddle player.
Cuje never got recorded until he was like a 70-something-year-old man.
And there are a set of recordings that a folklorist made in his living room with his grandchildren running around banging on things and yelling.
I do love it.
But the end result is that people were written out of the sound.
What I'm doing is reimagining a version of string band music where Black people were not erased.
TOM CASCIATO: And where Jake Blount is not afraid to mix old-time fiddle with hip-hop verses from his friend the rapper known as Demeanor about sea levels reaching new heights.
You might say that's the sound of the future of tradition.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Tom Casciato in Brooklyn, New York.
GEOFF BENNETT: Tonight on PBS, a new series recounts the birth of hip-hop and its emergence as a global cultural phenomenon now 50 years old.
MAN: Rap, rhythmically rhyming a spoken word, breaking, graffiti art, aerosol art, and deejaying were four distinct cultures, four distinct communities.
Kool Herc came and brought all that together into one place.
Some years later, Lovebug Starski and Chief Rocker Busy Bee started calling it hip-hop.
MAN: Hip-hop was a movement created by, populated by and spoke to working-class kids.
MAN: These were the kids that had an attitude about themselves.
Hip-hop is coming from within us.
We were never not hip-hop.
We were always this.
From the time we were born, we were always this.
DARRYL MCDANIELS, Rapper: That was a shy, nerdy, geeky kid.
But hip-hop empowered me.
Oh, I can use this to not be afraid to tell the world who I am.
MAN: Hip-hop is the creativity and activity that comes out of the Black neighborhood when everything has been stripped away.
GEOFF BENNETT: "Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World" airs at 9:00/8:00 Central.
Check your local listings.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, remember, you can watch much more online at PBS.org/NewsHour, including a conversation about whether people can change their luck.
GEOFF BENNETT: And join us again here tomorrow night, where we will speak with Senator and former astronaut Mark Kelly about the 20th anniversary of the Columbia space shuttle disaster.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.