'This Week' Transcript 7-25-21: Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Sen. Rob Portman

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, July 25.

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 25, 2021 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice-over): Insurrection fallout.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They have made statements and taken actions that I think would impact the integrity of the committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejects two Trump loyalists from the January 6 commission.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As senators race to reach a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

DON LEMON, CNN: You think it's going to move forward in the Senate on Monday?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We cover it all with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican Senator Rob Portman, both "This Week" exclusives.

And:

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Are people more brazen in carrying their weapons?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's any doubt.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As homicide rates spiked to the highest level in decades, our exclusive ABC News investigation chronicles a week of gun violence in America.

Plus:

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If you are not vaccinated, please take the Delta variant seriously. This virus has no incentive to let up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: COVID infections surge across the country. Should vaccines and masks now be mandated? That debate on our powerhouse roundtable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."

Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

As we come on the air this morning, President Biden has hit the six-month mark in office holding majority support from the American people. Our brand-new poll with Ipsos also shows that 52 percent of Americans believe that Biden is following through on his campaign promises.

But it also shows that most Americans are pessimistic about the year ahead, a dramatic 20-point swing from optimism in May, as the country faces an array of challenges, a resurgent coronavirus, rising crime, inflation, our politics as divided as ever.

We're going to address it all this morning.

And we begin with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Madam Speaker, thanks for joining us this morning.

And I want to start with the January 6 commission, the investigation that you are -- you have launched in the House. I know that this came about because the Republicans rejected a bipartisan independent commission, also rejected a Senate commission as well.

But your decision to reject Congressman Jim Jordan and Jim Banks from the committee has drawn fire from Republicans. The Freedom Caucus is seeking to depose you as speaker, and Liz Cheney is now the only Republican member of the committee.

Are you concerned about the Freedom Caucus threat? And are you confident that the committee's work can be seen as credible, if most Republicans won't participate?

PELOSI: Well, thank you. First of all, thank you for the opportunity to be with you this morning. We have many challenges, and it's my honor to discuss them with you.

First of all, no, I'm not concerned about any threat from the Freedom Caucus. We get those every day of the week. Our confidence that we have in the work of our bipartisan committee that we have now, select committee, led by Chairman Bennie Thompson, bipartisan, with the participation of a very courageous number of Congress, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, is high. My confidence is high.

I do believe that the work of this committee, in order to retain the confidence of the American people, must act in a way that has no partisanship, is all about patriotism. And I'm very proud of the members of the committee. And I'm certain that they will accomplish that goal.

We have to, again, ignore the antics of those who would -- do not want to find the truth. We will find the truth. That truth will have the confidence of the American people because it will be done patriotically and not in a partisan way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you be appointing more Republicans to the committee, like Congressman Adam Kinzinger?

PELOSI: That would be my plan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, when will that be announced?

PELOSI: Perhaps after I speak to Adam Kinzinger.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you believe...

PELOSI: But I'm not about to announce it right this minute.

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: But you could say that that is the direction that I would be going on. He has -- he and other Republicans have expressed an interest to serve on the select committee.

And I wanted to appoint the three -- three of the members that Leader McCarthy suggested, but he withdrew their names. The two that I would not appoint are people who would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.

And there's no way I would tolerate their antics as we seek the truth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even relatively moderate Republicans, like Senator Portman, who's my next guest, have said your decision will fuel even more division in the country.

Are you worried at all by this precedent, that Republicans will do the same thing when they are next in power?

PELOSI: No.

What we have -- look, we have had an unprecedented action, an assault, an insurrection against our government, an assault on the Capitol Building, which is an assault on the Congress, on a day that the Constitution required us, by the Constitution, to validate the work of the Electoral College.

So, this was not just any day of the week. This was a constitutionally required day of action for Congress.

So, you know, I can -- the Republicans will say what they will say. Our select committee will seek the truth. It's our patriotic duty to do so. And we do not come into our work worried about what the other side, who has been afraid of this -- maybe the Republicans can't handle the truth, but we have a responsibility to seek it, to find it and in a way that retains the confidence of the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Portman is also one of the negotiators around this proposed bipartisan infrastructure deal. They expect a deal this week but are you sticking by your decision to hold any vote on that deal until after the Senate passes a much larger infrastructure package through reconciliation?

PELOSI: Yes. Let me just say as I respond to you, I hope that they will pass the bipartisan legislation. Infrastructure has always been bipartisan for all the years that I’ve been in the Congress. They diminished the bill when President Obama was president, but nonetheless the bill was passed, the leadership of Senator Barbara Boxer, working the senator in a way -- in a bipartisan way.

So I'm enthusiastic about the fact that they will have a bipartisan bill. I hope that it will be soon. But yes, I stand by, because the fact is, is that the president has said that he wants to have a bipartisan bill, and we all do.

But that is not the limitation of the vision of the president. He wants to build back better. He wants to do so in a way that, again, involves many more people in the prosperity of our country. We say build back better with women. That's why we need childcare. That's why we need home healthcare funding. That's why we need family and medical leave.

So, building the human infrastructure is really a part of building the physical infrastructure. So that's why we will have something further to add.

The deal is not as green as I would like it to be, the infrastructure bill, and I think that it's something we could have passed a long time ago, even before the climate crisis was readily known to everyone. But nonetheless, I hope it will pass. I won't put it on the floor until we have --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you have --

PELOSI: -- the rest of the initiative.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you stick by that decision you could end up with nothing. Senator Lindsey Graham has threatened that Republicans will walk out of the Capitol if necessary to prevent any action on reconciliation, just like the Democrats did down in Texas.

PELOSI: Let me just say, you talk to Lindsey Graham about what he says. I'm telling you what's going to happen in the House of Representatives. And that is that we are rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass, but we all know that more needs to be done if we're going to build back better.

And we're very proud of President Biden for the leadership that he has provided taking us down this path, starting with the rescue package earlier in the spring, putting vaccines in the arms of the American people, money in their pockets, children prepared to be safely back in school, many people back in the workplace safely.

And congratulations to him for his leadership on that, and I’m grateful to our members for their courage in putting that forth. The infrastructure bill is a very important step in building back, but we want to do it better, and that's what we intend to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It also means the Democrats might be forced to raise the debt limit on their own. You heard Senator McConnell this week say that it would have to be done through reconciliation. Republicans are not going to vote for it. Do you have the votes to raise the debt limit with Democrats alone?

PELOSI: Well, it's interesting about Senator McConnell. We raised (ph) -- the debt limit had to be addressed three times under President Trump and Democrats cooperated two of the times, and then the third time was just a change of the date. And it's so funny because he's always been there to be an obstruction to a Democratic president.

The full faith and credit of the United States is never to be placed in doubt. It is in the Constitution and it will be respected. With Republican obstinance in years gone by, even our credit rating was in question and reduced because of the question.

Let there be no question, we will address the debt limit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, I do want to ask you about COVID. We’re seeing this Delta variant sweep through the country. Now you’ve had some outbreaks in the House as well.

Is it time to mask up again in the House? And will you be wearing your own mask more often?

PELOSI: Well, I wore my mask here. But as to whether we do so on the House floor, that is a decision of the House -- the Capitol physician. And he will give us his recommendation about it.

But let me once again praise President Biden. Right from the start, the president has been just on the job, making vaccine available in every nook and cranny of our country, available every place, urging people to be vaccinated. It's really important that that happen. And he has made that happen by having an abundance of vaccine -- vaccines available for that.

This is a vaccine -- you know, I’ve been working on vaccines for a long time because of COVID. And this is a virus that is -- because of COVID, yes, but also because of HIV and AIDS. For 30 years, I’ve been working on that subject in the Congress.

These viruses are very resourceful. They mutate. And they mutate by transmission.

So, if people would get vaccinated, there’d be less transmission and, therefore, less mutation and less danger.

But we are, I think, very well-prepared to protect the American people. Let's just hope that they follow science. Some of these decisions are regional about requirements of masks and this or that.

But if you’re asking me, I think that we should mask. But in terms of officially for the House floor, that's up to the Capitol physician.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Speaker, thanks for your time again this morning.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you. Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get a Republican response. We have (ph) Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.

Senator Portman, thanks for joining us this morning.

Let’s start out with that infrastructure deal. You just heard Speaker Pelosi say she's not going to have a vote until reconciliation is also passed by the Senate.

First off, though, do you expect to reach a deal this week?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Well, George, let me say what she has just said is entirely counter to what President Biden has committed to and what the Senate is doing which is a two-track process. The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza that she's talking about in terms of what reconciliation as she called it.

So -- so, no, I’m not happy with what she said because it's inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that mean we'll end up with nothing?

PORTMAN: -- on her own. I’m going to -- well, if she has her way, we could. I’m not sure what the future is on reconciliation.

I know that the bipartisan infrastructure package is very popular among the American people and in the United States Congress because it makes sense. We need it badly.

You know, 43 percent of our roads are in bad or mediocre condition, according to the engineers. Forty-six thousand bridges are structurally deficient. We have ships lining up at ports because our ports aren’t efficient enough.

Eighty-seven percent of the American people think we should do a bipartisan infrastructure package. It's the right thing to do. Every president in modern times has talked about it. President Trump's proposal was for $1.5 trillion infrastructure. Ours is about $579 billion over five years.

So, this is the right thing to do. It's been totally bipartisan from the start. It's the way we ought to be doing things here in Washington to get stuff done and I can’t believe the speaker of the House would be blocking it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have a deal?

PORTMAN: We're about 90 percent of the way there. I’m here this weekend. We’re going to legislate the language with colleagues and with staff, and I feel good about getting that done this week. We have one issue outstanding. And we're not getting much response from the Democrats on it.

It's about mass transit. Our transit number is generous. We increased transit in this a proposal. We also increased the formula going forward.

That's the one issue that’s outstanding frankly at this point. My hope is that we'll see progress on that yet today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: "The Wall Street Journal" weighed in against the deal yesterday on their editorial page. I want to put it up on the screen right now. It says, taking the “bi” out of bipartisan. And they write: What’s striking about the deal so far, however, is that by all appearances, this will be the most one-sided bipartisan deal in decades.

They pointed out that the Republicans are not getting new kind of regulatory reforms you’ve called for. Also, you're not doing anything to stop that reconciliation package we were just talking about the Democrats hope to pass.

PORTMAN: Well, you know, I’m -- I normally respect "The Wall Street Journal’s” editorial page. In fact, I read it every day. But they're totally wrong on this.

And it shocks me that “The Wall Street Journal”, which has normally good journalistic ethics, would say in that editorial, we don't know what's in it, but this is what we think. In other words, they don't know what's in it. They’re wrong about a number of things in there. If they had called and asked us, they could have avoided being wrong.

One is, they say there's no permitting reform. There's historic permitting reform in this legislation. And they should strongly support that, as should every Republican and Democrat, by the way, because it allows the federal dollar to go further.Second, they say that it's not bipartisan. It's entirely -- I can guarantee you, every single one of the issue has been bipartisan in the sense that there have been Republican views and Democrat views and we found a way to find common ground, which is exactly what ought to happen.

I think the editorial reflects the fact that this city, Washington, D.C., is not used to this. You know, we're building from the middle out and coming up with something that is truly bipartisan.

Finally, they suggest that somehow this will be bad for the economy. It's good for the economy. Every economist that's looked at it says that. Why? Because you're investing in long-term capital assets. It's not immediate spending. It's not going to add to inflation. In fact, the economists will tell you it has just the opposite effect. As opposed to adding to demand, it adds to the supply side. This may be, you know, assets that last for 50,70, 80 years, like the 43,000 structurally deficient -- 46,000 structurally deficient bridges I talked about.

So it's the right thing to do for the country, most importantly, but it's also something that has been the subject of a bipartisan consensus finding process which we ought to do more of in this town.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Failing to raise the debt ceiling will threaten the economy. You heard Speaker Pelosi on that as well.

Republicans voted three times to raise the debt ceiling under President Trump. Why not vote to raise it now?

PORTMAN: Well, I think it's in the context of the reconciliation bill, which is -- which is unbelievable, George, at a time when we have incredibly high inflation, the highest we've had probably in 20 years. And you look back at what they're proposing here. It is, you know, it's a huge new spending increase at a time when we have unprecedented levels of debt, over $30 trillion soon, a trillion dollar deficit likely this year and then the largest tax increase in American history.

And these are tax increases that are not necessary. Right now the Congressional Budget Office tells us that tax receipts -- and this is the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office -- are going to be higher than anybody expected this year and next year. In fact, a 10 percent increase next year because the 2017 tax reform actually worked. It worked to stimulate economic growth. Going into the pandemic, we had the lowest poverty rate in the history of our country since we kept track to it in the 1950s. We had unbelievable increases in wages, over 3 percent analyzed over the 19 months prior to COVID, and the lowest employment numbers ever for blacks, Hispanics, and 3.5 percent was the lowest in 50 years overall. So things were going well and the economy is relatively resilient because of it. So let's not raise taxes right now. It would be exactly the wrong thing to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But failing to raise the debt ceiling will certainly threaten the economy.

PORTMAN: Well, again, the debt ceiling is -- has to be raised because of these tax and spending policies. We need to insure we get the spending under control. So, typically, when we do a debt ceiling, as you know, there's attached to it some restraint on spending. That's, you know, how we're able to get some spending over the last decade --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not under President Trump.

PORTMAN: Well, you know, under -- under -- under every president there is a discussion of how you actually -- if you're going to raise the debt ceiling, how -- how to use something to affect the debt, particularly the long-term debt of this country. And I think we ought to have that discussion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Portman, thanks for your time this morning.

PORTMAN: Thanks, George. Appreciate it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable's coming up.

Plus, as the homicide rate surges, chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas chronicles a week of gun violence in American.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.: Crime is down. Gun violence and murder rates are up. Guns: the people who in fact are using those weapons are acquiring them illegally.

Here's the deal, cops are having real trouble. They're not all bad guys. There are a lot of good guys. We need more policemen, not fewer policeman. But we need them involved in community policing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: There is President Biden addressing the epidemic of gun violence gripping America. And this week ABC News teamed up with our partner stations across the country and End the Gun Violence Archive to track shootings every day this week.

Our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas has been tracking what's driving the surge and what can be done to stop it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It should have been a celebration, the Bucks winning an NBA championship. Instead...

(SOUND OF GUNSHOTS)

THOMAS: ... gunshots, chaos, people running for their lives.

UNKNOWN: Where do we go? Where do we go?

THOMAS: Part of the chronic gun violence epidemic surging in recent months. The map shows it all unfolding, more than 1,000 incidents, more than 430 dead, 1,000 wounded in one week.

UNKNOWN: 3-2, a swing and a miss.

THOMAS: We saw it begin last Saturday...

UNKNOWN: Eight to four.

THOMAS: ... as we started our investigation, gunshots outside of Nationals Park. That same night, a mother and her baby caught in the crossfire at a corner store in West Philadelphia, wounding the one-year-old.

UNKNOWN: I'm tired of this. I'm sick and tired of this.

THOMAS: Day after day, we saw so many children affected by this violence, one boy shot in a bedroom.

UNKNOWN: And the bullet just went through the wall. It went through his head.

THOMAS: Tristan Jaden Rosas, in San Antonio, Texas, was only 15 and playing video games, hit by a stray bullet.

UNKNOWN: I should have been there. Because, when you promise your kid you're going to protect them, that's a promise you can never take back.

THOMAS: Altogether, an unspeakable toll, more than 39 dead, 94 wounded under age 18, and of the deceased, six children under 12.

We also saw mass shootings play out across the country, 18 incidents in 12 communities, including one that senselessly took the life of Corey Saunders and wounded four others.

MARK BRYANT, GUN VIOLENCE ARCHIVE FOUNDER: Mass shootings are up a lot. You know, they went from a 400 base in 2019 to 600, 700.

THOMAS: And, sadly, we followed as reports of suspected domestic violence ticked up -- at least 44 cases, among them a mother and child allegedly kidnapped Monday.

UNKNOWN: A female and her child was abducted and brought out here to Cheney (ph) Lake. At Cheney (ph) Lake, there was an altercation that occurred.

THOMAS: Virtually no area of the country was immune. But as ABC dug into the numbers, they showed violence disproportionately hit poor and urban areas.

UNKNOWN: People are afraid to go to malls. People are afraid to go to theaters. People are afraid to -- to go to parks.

THOMAS: From Los Angeles to Chicago to New York, where this stunning video caught our attention, two men, guns drawn in broad daylight.

THOMAS: Are people more brazen in carrying their weapons? Has something shifted?

DERMOT SHEA, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER: I don't think there's any doubt that the data here in New York City is more guns on the scene of shootings, more rounds being fired.

THOMAS: New York City saw a 73 percent increase in shootings in May 2021, compared to the same time last year.

On Tuesday Commissioner Dermot Shea told us a lethal mix of factors is largely driving the surge, gang violence, budget cuts, COVID shutting down the courts, leaving a backlog of more than 5,000 gun cases.

UNKNOWN: Taking the gun off the street is great. But really what we need is we need the individual carrying the gun off the street.

Increasing gun arrests and targeting repeat offenders has led to some signs of success, a dip in the rate last month.

Shea remains unsatisfied.

THOMAS: Who are the victims?

SHEA: When you look at who's getting shot in this city right now, it's about 97 percent people of color. It's way off the charts.

THOMAS: For Chief Judith Harrison, the fight is personal.THOMAS: As an African-American, obviously, it was painful to hear that he said 90 percent of your victims are people of color.

JUDITH HARRISON, BROOKLYN NORTH POLICE CHIEF: Yes, horrifying statistic, but it's not just about statistics. It is not just about people of color. It's about everyone.

THOMAS: Philadelphia facing an even worse explosion.

THOMAS: It's been a minute since I have done this.

THOMAS: On Wednesday, Philly police allowing us to ride along, a small number of streets infected with gun violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see this corner store right here. I want to come up and press it. Six people shot.

This is another corner here where we have multiple shootings.

THOMAS: The streets that night quiet, until they weren't.

THOMAS: Now there's reports of shots fired in the city.

THOMAS: A shooting outside this restaurant famous for its cheesesteaks.

THOMAS: That's a shell casing right on the ground right there. You see where the white circle is drawn around it. I don't know what it is. You get closer to 2:00, stuff starts popping.

THOMAS: As we waited at the scene, the horrible news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he was pronounced deceased.

THOMAS: The person here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

THOMAS: ... died?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

THOMAS: That's horrible.

THOMAS: Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw telling us the argument was over a parking space.

DANIELLE M. OUTLAW, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: A lot of the beefs or social media disputes or whatever, they're being resolved with a firearm.

THOMAS: Outlaw acknowledges the challenges of policing in the era of George Floyd and building community trust.

OUTLAW: I'm a cop and I'm a black woman. And so, because I have all of these lived experiences and these different perspectives, I understand why the police do what we do. But I also understand the hurt and the torment in our communities.

THOMAS: In so many neighborhoods, small numbers of repeat offenders terrorizing overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said: "I'm shot. I'm shot. I'm shot."

And then I felt the heat in my leg as we're all running away.

THOMAS: This Philly resident shot in the leg this week, along with another man standing in front of her home.

She did not want to show her face on camera, at times tears filling her eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I shouldn't have to be afraid to stay in my home.

THOMAS: At the end of a sobering week, we're left with the vigils.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) down on us right now.

THOMAS: The lives lost, the families grieving, and the almost certain knowledge that, next week, it's all but guaranteed to happen again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Pierre Thomas joins us now.

You just used the word sobering. And seeing this all in one place is about as sobering as can be.

THOMAS: George, I was struck by just the sheer concentration, so many children, the domestic violence, the mass shootings, 17 this week alone, where that's an incident where there are four or more people shot in basically one setting, 17 of those.

It's difficult to absorb. And what we wanted to do was just take a look, to take a mirror and take a look at the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And this in some ways may be an undercount of the violence.

THOMAS: Oh, absolutely. These are conservative numbers.

We did not account for gun death by suicide, because those numbers are much more difficult. They're slower coming into the system. So, according to our analysts, there would be hundreds more deaths in this number that we had this week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So the big question is, how do we come to grips with this as a nation? What do we do about it?

THOMAS: George, I think, at the end of the day, we have to answer a basic question: Are we okay with 1,400 people shot in a week? It's going to happen again next week. Over and over and over again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas, thanks for this report. I know it's going to be coming all week long.

The roundtable is up next.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is ready to go. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Is anybody out there willing to listen? Get vaccinated.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): The vaccines are terrific. You know, absolutely they do a great job on this delta variant.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): It's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks who are letting us down.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), MINORITY WHIP: I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it. I got it myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Striking chorus of Republicans -- Republicans calling, excuse me, Republicans calling for vaccines this week.

Want to talk about that on our roundtable. Joined by Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Donna Brazile and Margaret Hoover, host of "Firing Line" on PBS, also a CNN contributor.

And, Donna, we did see those Republican leaders this week calling for people to take the vaccines, but is it time to go farther, is it time for vaccines to be mandated at major institutions?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think so, George.

Look, I'm eager to return back to campus this semester. We have a vaccine -- we have a -- a mask mandate. I've already had to show my -- my card. We need to do everything possible to keep this country safe. I don't think we can afford to go back to that period of time when we were locked down and unable to get people back to work. So, yes, I -- I hope we take it seriously.

Look, I'm in -- I come from Louisiana. I was hope two weeks ago wearing my mask, even walking my -- my small dog and people looked at me like I was strange and I'm like, I don't want this. I don't want this virus.

RAHM EMANUEL, (D) FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Tell us about your dog. (INAUDIBLE) mask.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, no state was hit harder at the beginning that New Jersey.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No. Look, we -- we had the highest -- and still do -- have the highest death rate per capita of any state in the country. With all the lockdowns, with the -- the biggest lockdown, probably New York and New Jersey were the biggest ones to lock down. It didn't -- it didn't work.

The vaccines do work. And I think that every focus group I've been in with Republicans who are not vaccinated, you have to walk them through the logic of this.

EMANUEL: Right.

CHRISTIE: What they don't want is to be indoctrinated. They're willing to be vaccinated. They don't want to be indoctrinated. And so let's be smart about this.

And I think that one of the places where our leaders have fallen down is they're not explaining it. They're just saying, get vaccinated. And these -- these folks do not respond to being ordered to do those things.

I had a very smart guy who was -- who visited with me this week who said, I don't want the government telling me what I have to do. It's a libertarian type of response to this. But what they respond to, I sat with this guy and I walked him through the facts, and then he said, OK, I'm going to go get vaccinated. That's what we need to be doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So --

MARGARET HOOVER, PBS' ‘FIRING LINE’ HOST AND CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, when that guy's child goes to kindergarten, that guy has to present an immunization card that shows that his child is vaccinated.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

EMANUEL: Yes.

BRAZILE: Right. Right.

HOOVER: So, you know what, if we just made it really -- just -- almost impossible.

EMANUEL: Familiar (ph).

HOOVER: If you are going to get government-provided health care, if you're getting VA treatment, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, anything, and Social Security, obviously, isn't health care, you should be getting the vaccine, OK, because you're going to have to -- we're -- we are going to have to take care of you on the backend. So there are a lot of things we can do without calling it a mandate but to just make it almost impossible for people to -- to live their lives without being protected and protecting the rest of us.

EMANUEL: I'm having an out of body experience because I agree. So I'm -- look, I mean, I grew up, my dad was -- I'm the son of a pediatrician. I know you think I was going to say something else, but I was the son of a pediatrician.

CHRISTIE: No, others say that, Rahm, others say that.

EMANUEL: The thing is that -- yes, that is right.

The fact is, no child can show up at school this fall without showing their immunizations, small pox and -- and measles, et cetera.

BRAZILE: Right.

EMANUEL: You've got to make this familiar to people.

The second is, and I think this is an important point, I would close this space end. Meaning, if you want to participate in x, y, or activities, you've got to show you're vaccinated. So it becomes a reward/punishment type system. You make your own calculation.

The other thing is, I mean, the fact is there's data this week that like 30 percent of the health care workers are not vaccinated.

BRAZILE: Right.

EMANUEL: They've got to lead by example.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hard to imagine.

EMANUEL: And the other thing that I think, if I -- my own recommendation is that the religious community ecumenically, across the board, needs to speak up and encourage people. So you hit all populations with a singular message.

And I do give credit to the White House of whether it's Fox TV, whether it's Republican leaders, getting a chorus of voices across the spectrum, not just political, religious, business, et cetera, with a singular message of why this is the right thing and then lead by example.

I still get back to that -- so that -- 30 percent of the medical profession not vaccinated is an unbelievable wrong example that gives people a permission slip -- well, the nurse isn't, the doctor isn't, or the pharmacist isn't, why am I doing it?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why should I?

CHRISTIE: It's a really good point. And I -- in New Jersey this week, a hospital system fired five employees who refused to get vaccinated. Health care employees who refused to get vaccinated. They're making it mandatory for employment now, a number of the hospital systems in New Jersey. And I think that's part of the way that we're going to lead too here is, employers, when the summer is over, employers are going to want people coming back. JP Morgan is announcing they want people coming back. Goldman Sachs say they want to come back. And I think what will follow is those employers are going to say, if you want to come back into the office, which you have to do, you have to be vaccinated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have to be vaccinated.

BRAZILE: And I agree. I think it's key that non-political people speak up more. Whether it's the medical profession, whether it's educators, whether it's just ordinary people.

You know, George, when I received my vaccine, I went to a senior citizen, public -- public housing project in Washington, D.C. I told everyone I did not want to wait until I was 65. So I got in early. And I went door to door, similar to what I did when I was in politics, and I said, I'm getting the vaccine today, will you join me? And they'd say, aren't you scared? I said, I'm scared to get the virus. Especially back in the day when you got a virus when you had sex, I didn't want the virus. And so you -- you remember those days.

EMANUEL: This is TMI.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE).

CHRISTIE: I'm -- I'm -- I'm not admitting anything. Absolutely not.

BRAZILE: OK. But -- but --

HOOVER: Some people are in church right now.

BRAZILE: But I was able to go door to door and convince people that it was OK, it was safe.

EMANUEL: You've got to give --

BRAZILE: And we have to lead by example. So I think that's important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you get the vaccine, will it -- you're so far less likely to go to the hospital, so far less likely to...

CHRISTIE: And they don't want to hear from politicians, George...

EMANUEL: That's why there's...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: These focus groups -- whether it was President Bush 43 or President Obama, they said, "What do they know?"

These folks responded -- so I think politicians have to say what they need to say, but they're not the persuasive ones. It's the medical community and people who have had COVID who can tell them what it's like to have it.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: That's what's important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to switch topics. Rahm, I'm listening to Speaker Pelosi and Rob Portman. And even though he says they're 90 percent there on a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate, it seems almost impossible for this to go anywhere if -- if the position of the speaker is that it's not going to be put on the floor until after reconciliation.

Are we going to have a stalemate?

EMANUEL: No, I think -- first of all, I want to compliment Rob Portman, the Republican, and the leaders, the bipartisan group, against a lot of headwind. And I'm not just talking about the -- the infrastructure and the (inaudible) but a lot of headwind about bipartisanship to accomplish this.

And I -- look, if you're 90 percent there, you're going to get there. I have confidence they're going to get there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is that the end of the road?

EMANUEL: No. It's not the end of the road, but it's a major leap forward.

And, also, the other thing that's important, which is not only are people -- break this down. People are unbelievably supportive about the investment in broadband, water, infrastructure -- and the roads, rails and runways. They're unbelievably supportive of the bipartisanship, and they're doing it without raising the gas tax.

As, you know, I used to say in Chicago, "Throw me into that briar patch." And this will move also, and I think what the speaker's doing is negotiating. And that's -- that's OK to do. It won't endanger the process and the accomplishment.

HOOVER: What's so fascinating to me is who they're negotiating with is actually the left flank of the Democratic Party. And I've been so struck -- I think you saw that with Nancy Pelosi. I think you see this with Chuck Schumer. It is very difficult for them to look at the far left of their party in the eye and say, "You know what, the filibuster is just going to be dead for the next two years. But you can still have everything you want."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, President Biden pretty much said it this week.

HOOVER: Biden said it. Manchin has said it. "You can still get everything you want. We're just going to do it in two parts and you need a little bit of patience. So we're going to pass this first bill, and then, hold it for a beat, we've got everything else you want, soft infrastructure, in reconciliation."

And if they could just be patient, they actually could get everything they wanted, and give the president a win. I mean, do you want to hold the Senate in two years? Because it's going to be if you get the -- if there's some bipartisanship. And, frankly, everybody is going to win for that. And that's -- that's like Rahm said. We're all agreeing. The country wants the government to work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I think...

BRAZILE: And they want to also hold the House in two years. And so therefore she understands -- and I think the speaker is -- is well-positioned to know all of her caucus, that the progressive members who represent millions of Americans, they want to see change, not just in roads, rails and bridges and so forth, but also some of the soft infrastructure programs that they campaigned on.

So I think it's going to be a win-win not just for bipartisanship but for Democrats delivering for the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're convinced that all the Democrats in the Senate hold together on reconciliation even if the House -- even if the Senate bipartisan bill hasn't been voted on in the House?

BRAZILE: Well, it's going to be tough, but I think Chuck Schumer understands that he's going to have to pull them over.

CHRISTIE: This is -- this is where Speaker Pelosi is tone deaf. Because, if she continues to push in this direction, you're giving the Republicans no room to be bipartisan.

If -- if the Republicans are characterized not as making a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, which I think will be supported, but that they're supporting reconciliation by sitting by and giving the infrastructure bill, by letting the reconciliation bill go first, they're not going to do it.

They're going to back out of it. They're going to lose the Republicans they have, and then they're going to wind up with a problem with Joe Manchin on top of it.

So this is -- I understand, she thinks she has to negotiate on everything. And she thinks that she has to play this game all the time. But she's wrong on this one. You can't ask Republicans to be bipartisan. They come forth and do it, in the Senate, and then say, "Oh, but wait a second, we have..."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they're not doing it on the debt ceiling.

CHRISTIE: No, but, George, part of that is a symptom of this. They're saying, "Well, wait a second now, you want us to do the debt ceiling, too, before we do the infrastructure bill and before we do -- show us that you're willing to be bipartisan with us."

EMANUEL: The politics of both caucuses in both chambers are totally different.

BRAZILE (ph): Right.

EMANUEL: But at the end of the day, the election in 2022 -- I know that's not far -- that's not far off for anybody in that chamber, and that's OK -- is won in swing states by swing voters in swing districts -- and that, in that sense, bipartisan is unbelievably popular, as popular as the content of the bill.

The second thing is, I'll just tell one little story. I remember when we were working on ACA, and Nancy Pelosi was really trashing the Senate health care bill, and then sat down and said, "OK, we're going to pass it."

So, in my view, to me, she has fundamental things that she has to speak up for her caucus. Otherwise she's not the leader of it, as well as the leader of the chamber. And she's making clear those things, while something is happening in the Senate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you confident, though, in the Senate side that Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, others are going to vote for reconciliation in the end?

EMANUEL: Am I?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes.

EMANUEL: Yes, because, in the end of the day, I think the most important thing Senator Manchin has said in the past six months was: I want President Biden to be a success.

And, therefore, that translates to me, based on whatever -- you got to work through the details. That is going to matter. And that's essential when you look at the type of investments that are there.

And Manchin to date has been very clear about what he's going to get done, and for the president. And I think both the bipartisanship on infrastructure, as well as the bipartisan -- as well as the contents of the reconciliation package.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with that, Margaret?

HOOVER: I mean, I do.

Manchin is a -- he's a senator from West Virginia. They need a lot of infrastructure spending. He understands that. He knows that. I think he's nervous about the price tag. But, aside from that, I -- why are we -- why am I agreeing with you so much?

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: You're having an -- yes.

CHRISTIE: I think the key with Manchin is going to be, what is the number?

HOOVER: Yes.

CHRISTIE: I don't think he's going to agree to $3.5 trillion. I don't think he will. I think he thinks it's too big and too much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he has to get something in his negotiations as well.

CHRISTIE: Yes, that's right. So...

BRAZILE: Yes, but it was $6 trillion before.

CHRISTIE: Well, it was never...

BRAZILE: It's gone down.

CHRISTIE: But Joe Manchin is smart. He knows it was never $6 trillion.

BRAZILE: Well, it's gone down.

CHRISTIE: It was never $6 trillion.

And he's not going to agree -- I don't believe he's going to agree to $3.5 trillion. It's going to be something less than that. But will he ultimately vote for reconciliation? I think he will, unless Chuck Schumer decides to say it's $3.5 trillion or nothing. If he says it's $3.5 trillion or enough, Joe Manchin is going to go, nothing.

EMANUEL: Everybody -- look, there's a process in the legislative process where you get close to the edge, you look over and go, and you run back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Don't want to fail.

EMANUEL: Why the infrastructure deal is that is, the cost of failure is more politically and economically than the price of success.

And that's what will drive people towards it. The politics of success outweighs the politics of no.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Point of agreement here on the roundtable. So let's move on.

EMANUEL: Let's get to...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Margaret, I was struck by Pierre's piece there on violence all across the country. We're seeing rising gun violence in every -- every state in the country right now, especially in the cities, as Pierre pointed out.

And it's combined with what we talked about at the top of the show there in that poll, huge pessimism, rise in pessimism among the American people right now.

HOOVER: Yes. Yes. No, it's really striking.

And I really hope we can get some infrastructure done, so they have a win on the board for some bipartisan legislation actually at the federal level as well, because, what, 90 percent of Americans agree there's some basic things we can all do with respect to gun control.

And there are some even reform Republicans out there who are trying to think through what a futuristic Republican agenda can look like that includes some kind of gun control. It's not taking away anybody's guns. It's not hitting the Second Amendment. But there are things that can be done, and that are reasonable things that aren't going to hit Republicans.

And so I look forward to it. None of it's going to happen if this polarization in Washington continues to choke -- have a choke hold on us. And so you got to have a little bit of a win on infrastructure, and then there's a lot of things that I think can be done. And I think there's a lot of hope for this administration that we might see some of that.

EMANUEL: I think, while we focus and say gun violence, it's an all-in strategy. And you got to flood the zone. You got to flood the zone with after-school, summer jobs, mentoring programs.

You got to flood the zone with precision policing. You got to flood the zone with economic development. You got to give a place that is filled with despair a sense of hope and opportunity.

And way too many -- one of the things that struck me with Pierre's story -- two things -- way too many kids are going to school thinking about their safety and not their studies, because violence is more familiar and the sound of gunfire than the sound of laughter. And that is just an entire life lost meaninglessly to gun violence.

The second thing he said -- at least in urban -- I can't speak to rural -- that a few individuals are doing the...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Again and again and again.

EMANUEL: You got to -- and our overwhelming factor of the gun violence.

There's like 5,000 individuals in any city, 2,000 individuals who are creating both 75 percent of the problem. Those individuals do not belong on the streets where children are playing. It's that simple.

CHRISTIE: Well, look, George, and this is where the police reform issue is a really important issue to get done, because what's happening right now is, police are on their heels.

The atmosphere that has been created in this country are putting police on their heels. Now, this is not to say that there aren't some reforms that need to be done. And we did those when I was governor in New Jersey. They need to be done and can be done and be effective.

But the only thing that's going to stop those 2,000 people and get them off the streets are police. And, right now, we're not supporting police. And the way to support police is to work with them to reform what's going on, violence de-escalation among police forces, community policing that gets them involved with the community, so that the community and police are working together to stop what's happening in the streets.

And that's what we need to do. And we're not doing it. And if we don't empower police, this violence is going to continue to go up.

And I don't think there's people in any neighborhood in this country who want to see that happen. And so we have got to lower the rhetoric that's going on that's been anti-police rhetoric across this country that's wrong.

You want to reform things? Absolutely. And we can and should. But we're not doing that. And, as long as we don't do that, violence is going to continue to go up because they’re in (ph).

BRAZILE: It's more than just more police. We do need more police and many police departments around the country, they’ve lost policemen.

And that's one of the reasons why I think President Biden has urged some of the mayors and governors to use some of the money from the rescue plan to bring back more policemen. Hire them. Train them.

But, George, this has to be a comprehensive approach. It's not just more policemen. We’ve got to get the community involved.

You’re absolutely right. We know -- I mean, I can tell you right now being a D.C. resident and when I go home, you know where the pockets are.

These are kids who are returning back to the streets. There's nothing to keep them busy, occupied. You have substance abuse. They have no jobs. It's despair.

And it's frustrating as a city resident to see the kind of violence that we're experiencing across the board. The police are stripped. Trust me, I talk to my cops.

CHRISTIE: Yeah.

BRAZILE: I know my cops in the fourth district. I know them in the second district when I go to Georgetown. I know ‘em everywhere across the city.

But they're stressed out. And they need people in the community to help them. They need more resources.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: And Donna, that’s why -- that's why this defund the police rhetoric that’s been coming out, parts of it is -- but this is damaging. It's very --

(CROSSTALK)

EMANUEL: Here’s the one thing, we’re doing both sides -- we're doing both sides of this wrong. We're policing at a community, not with the community.

CHRISTIE: Right.

EMANUEL: And we're doing police reform at police not with police.

CHRISTIE: Exactly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It is going to be --

BRAZILE: We have to work together, got to work together.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- time for this, I’m afraid we don’t.

We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUBTITLE: A landmark 1993 gun violence prevention bill was named after which White House press secretary?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: A landmark 1993 gun violence prevention bill was named after which White House press secretary?

James Brady.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Brady Bill has finally become law and Americans are finally fed up with violence that cuts down another citizen with gunfire every 20 minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

And before we go, Pierre Thomas' investigation with our partner stations across the country that tracks one week of gun violence in America is going to be airing across all ABC platforms this week. "One Nation under fire" takes a deep look at the human cost of this relentless trend and explores the root causes of violence and offers unique insight into the victims of communities devastated by these shootings.

You can see his exclusive reporting on "GMA," "Nightline" and "ABC News Live."

And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."

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