'Your World' on vaccine guidance, mask regulations

Employers mandating vaccines for workers becoming more widespread

Fox News contributor Jonathon Turley weighs in on vaccine mandates on ‘Your World’

This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” July 28, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHARLES PAYNE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: President Biden is in Pennsylvania pitching $3.5 trillion in new government spending, as a bipartisan group of senators say that they have reached an agreement on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

But as all of this spending going to continue to whip up inflation? Fed Chair Jerome Powell saying, get used to it, at least for the next few months.

Welcome, everyone. I’m Charles Payne, in for Neil Cavuto, and this is “Your World.”

We have got FOX team coverage with Peter Doocy at the White House on all of that spending and Edward Lawrence on what the Fed chief plans to do about all those prices that just keep on spiking.

We begin with Peter.

PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Charles, good afternoon.

President Biden says he wants to spend a few trillion more because he thinks the trillions he’s already spent on pandemic relief have been panning out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: … shortly after I got elected. (LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: … because we needed to act quickly and boldly to save jobs, save businesses and save lives. And we did.

We have added more than 600,000 jobs per month since I have taken office. That’s over three million jobs all told.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: It’s the fastest growth at this point in any administration on record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: But that kind of fast growth and fast spending means inflation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in coming months, before moderating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: That’s as some Republicans on Capitol Hill are warning against letting the government intervene the way the president wants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): This bill is looked at, been looked at from people on the right and the left. It does not add to inflation.

What the Democrats are doing with the $3.5 trillion would have to inflation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: And now have a look at this video from this afternoon, no masks, no social distancing, lots of touching, which is totally normal for a Biden exit.

But it’s notable because he endorsed this new CDC guidance about masks for the vaccinated in COVID hot spots. And he is soon going to return here to the White House, where as soon as we go inside to the press room, to the common areas, we have to put on face masks — Charles.

PAYNE: It’s tough to get used to the rule changes, I guess. Thank you so much, my friend.

Hey, Fed Chair Powell also said he expects inflation to be running high in the coming months. But, of course, he’s keeping close tabs on it.

Let’s go to Edward Lawrence in Washington for the very latest — Edward.

EDWARD LAWRENCE, FOX BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Charles, the good news here for some folks is, he kept the rates unchanged. The Fed is still buying the same amount of treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, pushing money into the economy.

The Federal Reserve chairman confirmed they have started to talk about removing that help. Now, Powell acknowledge that inflation has come in hotter than expected, but he sees it spiking in specific categories, like used cars, hotels, and airfare, which is all due to reopening. He says it will come back down in the medium term, but did not define medium term.

Now, a number of Fed district presidents have told me and I have talked with and have said that they have warned inflation will last well into next year.

Now, we know the Fed chairman is pushing this transitory inflation. So I asked him about jobs and why we have 9.5 million unemployed, with 9.2 million job opens. Now, that Powell says that the number is — a number of factors played into this.

First, not only is it about going back to old jobs, but it’s also being selective about finding new jobs. Plus, he says some are afraid of going back due to COVID. Also, he said this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Schools are not fully open, and parents are at home or taking care of older people. And there’s also been very generous unemployment benefits, which are now rolling off. They will be fully rolled off in a couple of months.

And all of those factors should wane. And we think we should see — because of that, we should see strong job creation moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: And that is the first time the Fed chairman outright acknowledged that the extra federal plus-up played a role in keeping people on the sidelines. He sees a strong job market going into the fall, when all of those benefits end — Charles.

PAYNE: Edward, thank you very much.

So, the Fed chair blaming spike in car prices, hotels, airfare, those kind of things, on the overall spike in inflation. But he is — says he’s not worried long term.

The question, of course, is, should he be?

With me now, market watcher Gary Kaltbaum, along with FOX Business Network’s Susan Li.

Susan, listen, a lot of great questions out this FOMC meeting and Q&A today. And the Fed chair tried to walk a tightrope there. Did he succeed?

SUSAN LI, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I felt like I finally heard some truth from Jerome Powell.

You heard that he said that inflation was persistent, higher than expected, running way above their 2 percent target. But when it comes to transitory, and why he uses that term transitory, it doesn’t mean that prices will be high just for a few months. It means it won’t have a lasting economic impact on the U.S.

And does this mean it’s going to be here for — maybe for the rest of this year? Possibly. But he says that we’re not going to have a 1970s-style upward inflationary spiral that we saw in the early 1980s. But it also doesn’t mean that your coffee is going to go down tomorrow in terms of pricing.

PAYNE: You know, Gary, and that — I think that was significant. That was toward the end of the Q&A. Markets heard that, started to pull back, because, this whole time, we have heard transitory, transitory, temporary.

It always felt like, OK, we will go from zero to 100 and then back to zero. Sounds like the Fed chair is saying, no, get used to it. It may go from zero to 100, back to 90, but it ain’t coming down month from there.

GARY KALTBAUM, FOX BUSINESS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I don’t think he’s stating it’s transitory at this point, I think he’s praying it’s transitory.

And, look, the longer it lasts, the worse it gets, because if people start believing that they had better buy today or they’re going to pay higher prices tomorrow, people then start hoarding. That’s for businesses also. If that happens, then prices will feed on itself to the upside.

And then we will get into big trouble. The amazing part about all this so far, and — in my eyes, the bond market is saying otherwise, even though everywhere I go I am seeing prices up. So something’s going to give eventually. I hope the man is right. I hope this is something that passes and comes back down again.

But I am not so sure. And all this talk about all this spending, money going where, the printing of money, money going where, you know, the old economics 101, buying too few goods with too much money, I’m going to be watching the bond market very closely. If we start to see rates on the 10- year spike 2, 2.5 percent for starters, there’s going to be some trouble.

PAYNE: Susan, the other wild card now, of course, the Delta variant. We have got more action coming from the federal government.

The Federal Reserve already saying it would influence them taking action. And what that means is, they’re going to keep the pump going for a very long time. He even talked about strains around the world being out there. Like, in other words, there’s always the possibility of a new strain coming up. Sounds to me that that means the Fed is going to keep pumping, and pumping and pumping. And we just have to endure the painful effects of inflation.

LI: And that helps corporate America.

You saw those earnings last night, with Alphabet, Google parent. You saw Apple and the other tech giant Microsoft. They made $50 billion in three months; $50 billion is equivalent to the value of Twitter. And I spoke to Apple CEO Tim Cook last night on the earnings. And he says the Delta variant isn’t going to have that big of an economic impact.

And you heard that also from Jay Powell today from the Federal Reserve. Tim Cook says the U.S. economy can remain strong. And he’s seeing geographic strength around the rest of the world as well. So, in terms of corporate America and companies, they’re still making a ton of money. And that’s thanks to the money printing that’s coming from D.C.

PAYNE: I got a minute to go, Gary.

Of course, Chairman Powell also talked about those extra federal unemployment benefits running off in September. You can feel that the Fed hopes maybe that gets people back to work. We have got eight million jobs, less jobs, people working than a year ago, but there are nine million job openings. Will that do the trick?

KALTBAUM: Let’s hope.

Look, everywhere I go is the sign we are hiring. When I was traveling this weekend, there was some restaurants that were closed early because they said they don’t have enough employees. So September can’t come soon enough. Look, they overreached.

There was a decent period of time where we needed to do things, we needed the help, we needed to have a bridge for people, but they overreached. I’m not going to yell and scream and blame. Hopefully, they’re just trying to do the right thing.

But we got to get people to be incentivized to get back to work and not sit on the couch. It is simple as that. And the sooner, rather than later, is a good thing.

PAYNE: Yes, and making things even matters when these folks were getting so much money and spending it. That helped inflation go up and made life tougher for people who decided to work throughout all of this or who could work throughout all of this.

Gary, Susan, thank you both very much.

So again, free money or free markets? Key Democrats want more cash for a student loan bailout. But one major American company might have a better fix without putting taxpayers in a fix. And we’re going to debate that.

Also, from masks — from reversing the mask mandate policy to vaccine mandates perhaps for all federal workers approaching very fast, how the Biden administration has been handling this crisis.

We have got the former assistant HHS secretary with us next on that and more. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: As the investigation continues into the origins of COVID, was the U.S. actually warned about a potential problem or problems with the Wuhan lab as early as 2015?

We’re going to get the read from former assistant HHS secretary Admiral Brett Giroir in just a moment.

But first to FOX’s Jennifer Griffin with the very latest — Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Charles.

Well, there’s new reporting that the French intelligence service warned the U.S. government about China’s secretive behavior at the Wuhan Institute of Virology back in 2015, concerns that grew stronger in 2017, after the Chinese severed ties at the lab with the French, who built the biosafety level four lab and were supposed to train Chinese scientists and oversee its safety protocols, that according to interviews with former French bureaucrats in the French newspaper Le Figaro.

In 2004, the French government of Jacques Chirac signed an agreement to help the Chinese build its first biosafety level four lab in Wuhan to study infectious diseases in the wake of the SARS outbreak, despite the protests of French defense officials.

The State Department’s former lead investigator into the COVID origin, David Asher, tells me French intelligence warned the U.S. government that it had concerns about Chinese actions at the lab two years before the Institute of Virology was inaugurated

Quote: “DGSE, France’s CIA, were pretty public and sounding their alarm bells. Not typical. I can’t understand how NIH, DOD and AID would continue to plow dollars and transfer tech to WIV in the wake of the French being evacuated.”

In an e-mail from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it says: “The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate the high containment laboratory.”

Thomas DiNanno was part of the State Department team investigating the COVID origin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS DINANNO, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It’s critical. It’s a critical piece of data that clearly that the cables indicate the Chinese had lax security standards. There were concerns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: French officials and those who built the Wuhan Institute of Virology declined to comment on their troubled joint venture with the Chinese — Charles.

PAYNE: Thank you so much, Jennifer. Very troubling.

Well, I want to get right to former HHS Secretary Brett Giroir on all of this.

Admiral, what do you make of these new developments?

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, I think the truth is starting to manifest itself.

And it is well-known that the French collaborated to build the lab and then were summarily kicked out from the lab after it was up and running, again, a concerning behavior. If you wanted to have transparency and if you want to have openness of research, you don’t kick out the people who helped you build the lab and train your people.

This is known and still another piece of indirect evidence for us to be very concerned about the origins of this virus, which I do believe is from the Wuhan lab.

PAYNE: Right, and, of course, former assistant HHS secretary.

So, France helps them out. It’s 2015. By 2017, China severs their ties, perhaps over complaints. When this lab was built, was it always built with the intention of focusing on gain of function, which seems to be extraordinarily controversial, particularly since America seemed to also have made investments in China’s ability to manipulate viruses in the first place?

GIROIR: It’s really hard to know the intent back in 2004, ‘8, when the lab was being built. But we had clear evidence that gain of function research, or if not technically gain of function research, dangerous research, bringing highly pathogenic bat viruses back to a city of 11 million, was going on.

So, yes, we had concerns. We do have concerns. And it’s why that most of us call for a true bipartisan committee to investigate specifically, what did the NIH know, what accountability did they have, what review processes, and how do we make sure that dangerous research is regulated, particularly overseas, as we move to the future?

PAYNE: Admiral, it would seem that that would be very critical, particularly if we’re ever going to get any true kind of pressure on China, although many point out that, by now, whatever sort of smoking gun or evidence there might have been, might be disposed of.

GIROIR: Well, I think there’s enough evidence right now.

We have evidence in the virus. And there’s many lines of that. And you have heard them. One very important piece of evidence is, this virus was perfectly evolved to transmit human to human from moment one. That does not happen with a virus that starts to gradually emerge from a species in nature and infect humans, like SARS or MERS.

So that’s very strong evidence, in and of itself, that this was not a typical virus from nature, that it was likely evolved in a laboratory. No, I think we will never get access to the laboratory personnel, their hospital records, if they got sick in October and November, what happened to them. We’re just not going to see that.

PAYNE: Right.

GIROIR: And we saw last week China closing off the option of additional investigations even by the WHO.

PAYNE: Admiral Giroir, I want to kind of switch gears here, and the White House preparing to mandate vaccines for all federal workers, this, of course, as the CDC revised its mask guidelines.

A lot of mixed messages are out there. I mean, how is the Biden administration handling all of this? It feels like there’s a sense of panic at the White House.

GIROIR: Well, it’s very hard to get public health messaging right, but it is really confusing.

And, in fact, it took me a couple hours to deconstruct everything going on yesterday.

I want it to be clear to the viewers that, no matter what is being said or the misinformation or the confusing information, is, the current vaccines that are approved, are authorized in the United States are extremely effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death, even among the Delta variant.

What has been really confusing is what the CDC said yesterday. They made recommendations, but didn’t give the data. And let me be specific. They claimed — and I’m sure there’s reason to believe this — that even vaccinated people can spread the virus because of the high levels in their nose and mouth.

Well, what percent is that? Yesterday, they said it’s a rare occasion. If it’s rare, 1 percent. 0.1 percent, then you don’t need to mask and you shouldn’t recommend that. If it’s 20 or 30 percent, then what they said makes sense.

But they made the recommendation without being transparent about the data. If you told the American people the data, which they obviously have, then we could have an intelligent discussion, but they haven’t done that.

PAYNE: Right.

GIROIR: I urge Dr. Walensky, be transparent with the data, so we can talk about it?

PAYNE: Yes, I mean, the notion of wearing a mask after vaccination doesn’t lend urgency to people who are still on the fence.

The next topic for you, Admiral, major companies like Apple, Google, they’re now pushing back their return-to-the-office policies to October. Some are even probably going to go longer than that. Should more companies be doing the same? Are there still enough question marks out there to err on the side of caution?

GIROIR: I really don’t think so.

I think that, if it’s the company’s decision that being non-virtual is the right thing to do, if you’re vaccinated, you’re highly protected. If you’re not vaccinated, you can easily get tested once a week or twice a week to make sure that you’re not going to pass it to someone else. And having reasonable ventilation, I would feel very safe going back to work under those parameters.

Get vaccinated or get tested and have reasonable workspace accommodations. I think you can go back to work if you want to. I think people miss seeing each other, working with each other. And we’re missing out on some great opportunities for more American innovation.

PAYNE: Yes. Yes. I definitely miss a lot of my colleagues.

Finally, the FDA has yet to fully approve the COVID vaccines. And if you look at message boards from parents, especially mothers, to me, this might be the number one reason. What do you think with respect to this hesitancy that a lot of people have? How high does this rank as maybe the main reason?

GIROIR: It certainly ranks as a reason.

And I do believe the FDA — I don’t have any inside information, but I do believe the FDA will likely fully license at least one vaccine very soon. You don’t want to create a situation where they license it too soon, so then the people who think licensure is important say, oh, it’s just another trick by the federal government.

But I do think we have had hundreds of millions of shots. The vaccine side effects are really minimal, particularly compared to the disease. So, I’m hopeful and would encourage the FDA to look at the data, because I think it’s overwhelmingly there that they can license at least one, if not all three vaccines, in a very short period of time upcoming.

And I think it will help, as you point out.

PAYNE: Admiral Brett Giroir, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, could no shot in the arm put you out of a job? Jonathan Turley.

And Senate Republicans ripping Democrats for their latest spending push, as American taxpayers are dealing with a huge spike in prices. But can they stop it?

Montana Republican Senator Steven Daines is here with that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: In your Facebook. The social media giant making more money than expected in the second quarter, but missing the mark a monthly active users.

And, well, you guessed it, that has the stock down a bit in after-hours session.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: New York state is the latest to announce a vaccine or testing requirement for employees, as a growing number of workplaces move to mandate COVID shots. We will ask Jonathan Turley if these mandates are legal in a moment.

But, first, to FOX’s David Lee Miller in New York City, where some unions are pushing back — David Lee.

DAVID LEE MILLER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Charles an increasing number of workers in the public and the private sector are being told they must be vaccinated against the virus. Refuse and, in a worst-case scenario, they could lose their job.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that by Labor Day all state workers must be vaccinated or undergo regular testing for the virus. The mandate is even stricter for state health care workers who come into contact with patients. They will not have the option of testing as an alternative to vaccinations.

A number of private companies have also made vaccines a requirement for employment. Others say getting the shot is a condition to return to the office. Today, Google told its 135,000 employees to continue working from home unless they are fully vaccinated.

Legal experts say exceptions to employer mandates can be made for religious or medical reasons and that lawsuits are all but inevitable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ROTH, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: We are in unchartered territory.

We don’t know what’s going to happen. If someone is disabled and a doctor says that a vaccination could harm them more, and they are obligated to get vaccinated and they get fired, litigation can erupt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: Another complication in implementing vaccine mandates, the unions.

Although the president of the AFL-CIO said he supports an anticipated mandate for all federal workers, many individual unions disagree. Here in New York City, for example, the largest municipal workers union has balked at the mayor’s call for requiring vaccinations. The union says any mandate must be part of a collective bargaining agreement.

One union leader put it this way. New York is a — quote — “union town.”

The Justice Department earlier this week issued an opinion saying federal law does not prohibit public and private employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated — Charles.

PAYNE: David Lee, thank you very much.

So, do labor unions against workplace vaccine mandate have a case?

George Washington University law professor and FOX News contributor Jonathan Turley here to weigh in.

Jonathan?

JONATHAN TURLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they do have a case, in the sense that there can be litigation over particularly certain types of groups opposing a mandatory vaccine requirement.

If somebody has preexisting medical conditions or religious objections, they have valid cases to bring to court. For the most part, private employers will likely prevail in requiring vaccinations for people to return to the office. For those companies that are allowing for virtual work to continue, remote work to continue, they will be particularly in a good position in terms of litigation.

But the courts are highly deferential when it comes to private businesses. And also they have the support of the CDC recommendations.

PAYNE: What about unions that would force their union members to be vaccinated?

TURLEY: Well, it comes down to the basis for the challenge here.

If — it’s odd for a union to require vaccinations, since that doesn’t directly apply to people conducting themselves as union members. I mean, the employer has a claim to say, we’re trying to protect the workplace, we’re very concerned about these variants, we’re following the CDC recommendation.

For the unions to require members, because they’re unionized, to get vaccines is not quite as strong as all of that. What’s fascinating is that we’re moving to different stages. We started out, if you recall, after the vaccines were approved, we started out with this type of reason consent model, that they would try to convince people to take it.

That failed with over half the population, at least in that first stage. Then they went to a type of almost purchase consent. There were lotteries in Ohio and various gimmicks to get people to take it. That also failed. I mean, we’re still about 50 percent or so of the population.

Now we see a move to a different model. The Biden administration is all in on a type of coerced consent approach. And what that involves is getting private companies to make life as difficult as possible for people who are not convinced.

PAYNE: Right.

TURLEY: And you have like CNN’s health expert said, we have to make their life as miserable as possible. Even in Germany, you have an official saying you’re going to have fewer freedoms unless you consent.

All of this is to force people who are against getting vaccines into sort of a smaller and smaller point of existence, a very difficult space.

PAYNE: Right.

TURLEY: But it also means that private companies become a type of shadow state. They become the vehicle by which the government can do indirectly what it’s not doing directly.

PAYNE: Coerced consent sounds almost as oxymoronic as jumbo shrimp.

(LAUGHTER)

PAYNE: I got less than a minute to go. Is there any sort of legal precedent — any sort of legal precedent — precedents with the federal mandatory — sort of federal mandate for vaccinations?

I mean, has that even been tested in the courts?

TURLEY: Not really.

We had — the most important case was the Jacobson case in 1905. The Supreme Court upheld a state, in this case, Massachusetts’ program for mandatory vaccines in that case for smallpox.

We have not seen a test case for a nationwide federal mandatory vaccine program. That gets into probable questions, not just of the basis for the vaccination program, but also the questions whether this is a state or federal power. Usually, public health is left to the states.

PAYNE: Right.

TURLEY: And so this could trigger a federalism fight, as well as these more health-based legal challenges.

PAYNE: Jonathan Turley, thank you so much. Always appreciate it.

TURLEY: Thank you.

PAYNE: Well, folks, you are looking live right now. This is the Southern border, communities there raising COVID concerns, as the migrant surge is showing no signs of letting up.

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar says the administration should start listening up. He’s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: Well, the mask mandates continuing. Now the Pentagon will require masks at Department — Defense Department installations with high COVID transmission rates.

And, well, we’re going to continue to keep watching for more of these mandates as they continue to come down.

Meanwhile, to the Southern border now, where the migrant surge is continuing. And that has COVID concerns rising as well, this as Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the National Guard to assist with arrests.

FOX News correspondent Rich Edson is in La Joya, Texas, with the very latest — Rich.

RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good afternoon, Charles.

And you have got some more apprehensions going on behind me here. This small stretch of about a mile will often see 100, sometimes hundreds of migrants coming through in what is the busiest spot or one of the busiest spots in the busiest spot along the Southwest border.

We’re also in the town of La Joya, Texas. And just a couple of miles from here, police say that there’s a charity that’s rented an entire hotel to house COVID-positive migrants. Police say they only found out when a customer at a burger restaurant next door flagged down a patrolling officer and then told them a family member inside was sneezing, coughing and unmasked.

Police say the family members told them Customs and Border Protection processed them a few days earlier and that they tested positive for COVID and were then released to the charity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. MANUEL CASAS, LA JOYA, TEXAS, POLICE DEPARTMENT: They’re staying in our city. We did not know this.

No one told the city of La Joya. No one told the police department that these people were here. And no one told us that these people were possibly ill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EDSON: Now, the county judge here says — quote — “I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our community. And I am further calling on Governor Abbott to return to Hidalgo County the safety tools he took away that would help us slow the spread of this disease.”

That, to them, means mask mandates here, letting them do that. Abbott has issued an order — this just came out a bit ago — authorizing Texas law enforcement to stop vehicles they suspect are carrying migrants and then reroute them to the port of entry.

We’re trying to get more details on what exactly that means or where specifically that would happen. The Texas governor has also ordered the state’s National Guard to assist with arrests.

So, instead of the mask mandate that some here are calling for, that’s what we have heard from the governors office over the last couple of days — Charles.

PAYNE: Rich, thank you very much.

My next guest is calling on the Biden administration to do more to stop this surge.

Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar joins me now.

And I do want to mention that we did call DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. We have yet to hear back from him.

Representative Cuellar, thank you so much. Always appreciate having you on.

Just the latest here. You have been making these pleas to the White House for some time, even as this surge continues to get greater and greater. And now, of course, the threat of COVID things more intense now than it was in the last couple of weeks.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Absolutely. Thank you, Charles.

Look, last week, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, they had over 20,000 encounters, over 20,000 encounters in just one week. And what happened is, is the story — La Joya is in my district. And I talked to the officials this afternoon.

And we’re going to talk again on Friday, but what’s happening is, when Border Patrol drops folks off at a charity, the charity gets overloaded. And then they drop them off at a hotel without even telling the local officials. And that’s not right.

The charity needs to tell the local officials, especially if they are COVID-positive. It’s not fair to — by local communities. There are people being released there that might have COVID-19. And we need to just make sure that we communicate with each other.

And what I’m asking on the Biden administration is to do a pause, do a pause. They need to — they need to prioritize border communities. They need to prioritize the men and women of DHS. They need to prioritize our border communities at DHS.

PAYNE: To your point, on May 30, there were 1, 307 cases, new cases in Mexico of COVID-19. Yesterday, there were 17,000.

That’s a 13 times’ increase in just that very short period of time. Certainly, that must raise red flags at the White House. Even without your pleas, someone’s got to be looking at this data and wondering what plan of action should be taken, don’t you think?

CUELLAR: Absolutely.

I mean, look, look, they don’t need to listen to me. They don’t need to listen to you. But they better listen to the border communities, because those are people that are the front line. They also need to listen to the men and women of DHS.

Look, last week, they had 70 positive cases of agents that were sick. Now it’s 80. And they have a little bit over 102, 103 that are self-isolating. So those cases are going up. And, remember, those men and women have families. And if they get sick and go home to the families, it’s not fair to their families, and it certainly is not fair to the border communities to leave people that are sick and not even tell the local communities like La Joya.

PAYNE: What would you like to see done? I mean, are there mixed messages when Vice President Harris says, don’t come here, and yet the administration doesn’t publicize how many people are being deported as perhaps a deterrent?

CUELLAR: I have told the White House that they had to — they are deporting people under Title 42. And I support Title 42, especially right now.

That they need to publicize and show images of people being deported, because I ask you, Charles, have you seen one single picture of somebody being deported? No, I haven’t seen one. I see people coming in, but we’re not showing people being deported.

And you have to do that. If you don’t have any consequences, then there’s a green light. And I emphasize there’s a green light for people who come in. Traditionally, March, April, May and June are the peak months almost every year. We’re now in July.

And just this morning, they stopped a group of 509 people, one single group, I emphasize, 509 people coming in, in one — just one group. So these numbers are not stopping. And with all due respect to the administration, they need to put a pause on this now, for the sake of our border communities.

PAYNE: We understand there is obviously politics that play a major role in this. And I guess that’s the calculus at the White House.

But at some point, the health and safety of the folks coming here on the dangerous trek, and now, of course, with the added mix of a virus where you have got a new strain out there, and these border communities that you continue to talk about, it would just seem, at some point, it tilts, right?

You forget about politics, and you put the health of human beings first. Is there anyone there? I mean, Vice President Harrison didn’t meet with you. They — I think you’re probably a thorn in their side. But is there anyone there who’s even relaying these messages to the White House on your behalf?

CUELLAR: It’s interesting.

And I will say this very carefully and very diplomatic. The career people at DHS get it. They get it. In fact, when I speak, they have told me privately, thank you for having our backs. The career people at DHS, they get it.

PAYNE: Right. Right.

CUELLAR: Again, the political appointees are a different thing, but they need to understand they need to have the back of the men and women from DHS.

They certainly need to take care of our border communities. Prioritize them, please.

PAYNE: Representative Cuellar, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing ahead with massive spending, despite new warnings of even higher inflation, Republicans slamming it as reckless, but can they do anything about it?

We will ask Republican Senator Steve Daines about that and also how he plans to vote on the infrastructure deal tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: Democrats pushing massive spending amid inflation.

Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines on the dangers of that now.

Senator, they’re really pushing this $3.5 trillion. Won’t let it go. What do you think?

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): Oh, my word, these numbers are just massive.

This is a Nancy Pelosi, pork-filled, belt-busting, tax-and-spending, all- you-can-eat buffet. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s massive. We have never seen numbers like this. This will be the largest tax increase and the largest spending bill ever passed in the history of the United States government, and just at a time when inflation pressures are everywhere.

The American people see it. We just saw the report where housing prices are up 23 percent year over year, gas prices up 45 percent since the 1st of the year, used car prices up 45 percent year over year. The American people see it.

And perhaps the worst tax of all, Charles, is inflation, because that shrinks everybody’s paycheck.

PAYNE: And it hurts the poorest among us.

Let me ask you about tonight, this infrastructure package. Apparently, Republicans like it. How do you plan to vote for it?

DAINES: Yes, we’re waiting to see a couple of things, Charles.

We want to see the actual bill text. They are getting real close. And, number two, how are you going to pay for it? We call it the pay-fors. And then we also talk — we call it the CBO score, in terms of making sure these numbers are accurate after they’re analyzed.

But at least we’re having a debate tonight about real infrastructure. It’s about bridges, it’s about roads, it’s about ports, it’s about airports, it’s about waterways, it’s about broadband. And so this is real infrastructure. That’s why there is some interest on both sides to try to get something done.

But this is a far cry from this different bill that $3.5 trillion bill. And, by the way, Charles, many have analyze that $3.5 trillion Pelosi special and have said it’s actually much bigger than that, because it’s going to create entitlements…

PAYNE: Right.

DAINES: … that are going to be lasting for a generation.

I think the real price tag of that other bill is probably closer to $5 trillion, maybe even $6 trillion.

PAYNE: I have read as much too.

And, again, they will have new entitlements that you will never be able to get rid of. And if you thought free money was tough then, wait until you get more free money. It’s pretty expensive, for sure.

Senator, thank you very much. Really appreciate it. We will be watching your vote tonight.

Meanwhile, who needs Uncle Sam digging us deeper into the red for student loan bailouts on top of everything else, when Walmart has a solution that could save all taxpayers a lot of green?

We debate, you decide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAYNE: Well, it’s the free market vs. Uncle Sam.

Key Democrats want a partial student loan bailout. This as Walmart is planning to pay 100 percent of college tuition for all its workers. So, who’s got the right idea?

Let’s ask Democratic strategist Sarah Norman.

All right, Sarah, on one hand you can pay it off yourself with a good job at Walmart. On the other hand, you can have taxpayers pay it off. I got a feeling I know which one you’re going to say is the best.

SARAH NORMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I have to correct a couple things that were said earlier.

The bottom line is loaning is not the solution to our affordable education problem. I applaud Walmart for offering to pay for education for their employees. But you have to remember that these employees can only choose from a few specific degrees that directly benefit Walmart, such as supply chains management.

It’s good for Walmart, and it’s good for the employees if they actually have the time to use these programs. But it’s not going to create our next generation of engineers, nurses or teachers. And this is a real problem.

The Pentagon just released a report that said if we don’t start investing in education the way that other countries are, we will lose our competitive advantage and we will weaken our national security.

PAYNE: You just — you used the word affordable education.

NORMAN: Yes.

PAYNE: Since the Obama administration kicked the middleman banks out of the process, the rise in tuition has been stratospheric.

If we now take taxpayer money and pay off those loans, can you imagine how much higher tuitions are going to go? I mean, wouldn’t we be making doubling down on a mistake that’s already cost a lot of people a lot of money?

NORMAN: You know, I think what we agree is that we all want a lower national debt, and we also want people to have access to education, if they want that education.

What we disagree on is how to do that. So, I hear you on taxes. But what Walmart is doing is, they’re smart to invest in their people. We need to do that too. And, by the way, we have done that with huge success before with the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill made it possible for both of my grandfathers to go to college and my brother to get his MBA after he came home from Iraq.

PAYNE: Yes.

NORMAN: But, most importantly, it was one of the best investments…

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: That would be great, but we’re not talking about that, though.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: We’re not talking about rewarding people who go to war and fight for us.

Here’s the thing we’re talking about rewarding. The top two income quintiles in this country, they make 73 percent of the payments and they have 56 percent of the debt. Why would any taxpayer money be used to bail out the richest Americans?

NORMAN: The reason that I call out the G.I. Bill is because we need a 21st century version of the G.I. Bill.

And canceling student debt would be sort of a retroactive G.I. Bill, so that these people can focus on buying a house, becoming entrepreneurs, and forwarding their career, instead of being crushed by debt for decades to come.

PAYNE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

PAYNE: Well, Sarah, we’re going to continue this conversation. Unfortunately, we have run out of time. The show has gone too far.

I know this is not going anywhere. It’s a conversation worth having. And we will. I want to thank you very much.

That does it for me right now. Catch me on FOX Business at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on “Making Money.”

For now, though, “The Five” starts right now.

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