March 13, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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March 13, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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03/13/2023 | 55m 56s | Video has closed captioning.
March 13, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: The federal government takes extraordinary steps to shore up the banking industry after the collapse of two separate banks spark fears of a crisis.
GEOFF BENNETT: President Biden approves a controversial oil drilling project in Alaska.
AMNA NAWAZ: And despite a wet winter in the West, persistent drought and overdevelopment cause record low water levels for tens of millions of Americans.
DAVID ORTEGA, Mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona: We have two calamities, the megadrought, and we have the calamity created by the state legislature, which permitted dry lot subdivisions.
They're building homes with no water.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome to the "NewsHour."
Regional banks took a beating today, suffering their deepest losses on the stock market in years.
GEOFF BENNETT: It follows the failure of two major banks, and after the government's top financial authorities spent the weekend taking action to shore up confidence around the larger banking system.
No other bank failed today, but the pain is hardly over for certain banks.
Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.
PAUL SOLMAN: Markets opened this morning, and investors promptly dumped bank stocks, despite President Biden's efforts to reassure customers and investors.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Americans can have confidence that the banking system is safe.
Your deposits will be there when you need them.
PAUL SOLMAN: Damage control after the largest U.S. banking failure since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Friday, regulators shuttered the Silicon Valley Bank, SVB, and promised that insured depositors would have access to their money today.
But that left uninsured depositors with large accounts to pay their employees desperate.
Lindsey Michaelides, who runs the start-up Strongsuit, said she wouldn't be able to pay her employees or even feed her own family.
On ABC, she elaborated.
LINDSEY MICHAELIDES, CEO, Strongsuit: We have people who just bought their first house, and they're scared of, how are they going to make their mortgage payment and are they going to lose their job?
PAUL SOLMAN: So, yesterday, the government extended its promise to all depositors, insured or not.
Now, a bit of basic context.
Banks take deposits, on which they pay interest, and then lend out the money at a higher rate.
But depositors can now withdraw their money in a heartbeat, while the loans can't be recalled or sold off that quickly.
Until yesterday, depositors at Silicon Valley and every other bank in America had their deposits insured, but only up to $250,000 per person in most cases.
Problem was, almost half of all U.S. bank accounts are greater than $250,000, and thus uninsured.
In SVB, uninsured money was almost 98 percent of all deposits.
That works so long as depositors believe the bank has enough cash in the vault.
And the banks are forced by regulators to keep a cushion of reserves, in supposedly super safe U.S. Treasury bonds.
But, as interest rates have soared, those bonds have lost value, and, therefore, banks don't have the cushion they once did.
What happened last week is that depositors like billionaire investor Peter Thiel pulled their companies money out of SVB, which triggered a bank run not unlike during the financial crisis or the Great Depression, frightened depositors determined to take their money and run.
Which is why Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chief Jay Powell and the FDIC announced yesterday that the government will now reimburse the uninsured depositors, to reassure the likes of you and me and prevent a nationwide run.
That came as a big relief to people like Lindsey Michaelides.
And the government also threw a lifeline to customers of Signature Bank, which regulators shut down over the weekend.
But some customers remained skeptical.
ALLYN EHRLICH, Signature Bank Customer: I'm coming here to see if I have to close my accounts or not.
Hopefully, the bank will be bought by another bank, and I can keep my accounts here.
But if they're not or if there's any question, I want to empty my accounts and bring them to another bank.
PAUL SOLMAN: And as some customers lined up outside Silicon Valley Bank today, trading was halted in roughly a dozen other banks.
For the "PBS NewsHour," Paul Solman reporting.
GEOFF BENNETT: As you can see from the reaction today, plenty of questions remain about the government's action and the potential fallout from the collapse of these two banks.
Simon Johnson is closely following this.
He's a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management.
And Anat Admati is professor of economics at Stanford's Business School.
She has written extensively about the banking system.
Welcome to you both.
And, Simon, government agencies taking emergency measures to backstop the financial system after the collapse of two banks, that sounds eerily reminiscent of what happened some 15 years ago.
Help us understand why this time is different.
SIMON JOHNSON, MIT Sloan School of Management: Well, let's hope it's different.
Let's hope we don't get this kind of serious repercussions we experienced 2008 and in 2009.
I think, this time, what we're what we're looking at is some relatively small banks that had bad assets.
They had a lot of scared depositors.
There was a run on those banks.
And then people start to say, well, who's next?
What kind of dominoes could fall?
The government, through the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, and the Treasury Government, stepped in this weekend, and has attempted to stop the panic.
And I think, so far, they have been quite effective.
GEOFF BENNETT: Anat, the government's expansive response here to stabilize the banking system, do you think that will be enough?
ANAT ADMATI, Stanford University Graduate School of Business: We don't know for sure because there are a lot of hidden losses in the system.
And it's just fragile all the time.
So, if you put a lot of backstops on it, then you will stem at least some runs.
But a lot of these accounts, deposit accounts, are very large.
So they are very finicky.
And they could run.
Now, when they raise the insurance limit to infinity, then people will stay home.
And that's what they did during the financial crisis as well.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Simon, if the government says that we're going to guarantee deposits above the established $250,000 threshold, doesn't that in some way reward irresponsible behavior?
I mean, what's the point of bank risk management at all if the federal government is going to come in and backstop it?
SIMON JOHNSON: No, I think what rewards irresponsible risk management is when you keep the management on and when you protect the equity holders.
That's not what happened over the weekend.
Silicon Valley Bank, and in the other bank that failed, management has been removed, and the equity holders have gone to zero.
The question of depositors is different, I think, particularly in this situation, particularly in the modern world, particularly when Silicon Valley Bank, for example, on Thursday, about a third of their U.S. deposit base tried to leave, withdraw on the same day, same business day.
That's a digital economy phenomenon, I think, the intensity of that kind of run.
And, honestly, I think it's time to ensure all of deposits.
I understand not everyone's ready to go there.
And the government hasn't done that yet.
But once you do that, as Anat said, you stop anybody's incentive to move to another bank.
There has to be then, of course, very strong supervision, and high capital requirements and very effective regulation.
And we have struggled on all of those over the past 15 years, but that's what you're going to need going forward.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, Anat, as you well know, the blame game here in Washington is well under way.
There are lawmakers pointing to what happened back in 2018 under the Trump administration, when some of the Dodd-Frank regulations were rolled back for midsized banks.
In your view, what does responsible, practical regulation look like for regional community midsized banks?
ANAT ADMATI: Well, I have ideas about what regulation should look like for all banks.
They always say, oh, the small banks are not a problem.
But then they are a problem.
All banks are a problem when they are run, with basically taking the upside and leaving the downside to others, much more than they need to be.
So, you can have a bloated system in that way where, you know, everything's fine until it's not.
So, the -- what Simon just mentioned, what I have been advocating for is a lot more what they call capital.
But I think you have to be very careful that it's not thought of as some cash reserves held on the sideline, but as equity funding coming from investors that cares about the downside.
Right now, there's too little care about the downside in the private sector.
And when the downside comes, then they go running to the government.
GEOFF BENNETT: Simon, will this change the way the Fed calculates the next rate hike, what happened over the weekend?
(LAUGHTER) SIMON JOHNSON: I think so.
I mean, we will have to, obviously, see how the rest of the week plays out.
A couple of problems for the Fed here.
One is that it's their raising of interest rates that has caused some of these issues for banks.
Now, why the Fed's own supervisors didn't flag that, very interesting question.
They're going to have sought that one out.
And then, of course, there's issues for the real economy.
Are there going to be problems because some people couldn't make payroll or because credit is becoming -- going to become a little more shy under these circumstances?
That is all going to have to be factored into the Fed's decision-making?
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Anat, how do regular people know if their bank is well-managed, if they happen to have their money stored away with small regional banks?
ANAT ADMATI: That's a great question, Geoff, because we don't.
And that's the whole idea.
We want to just trust that it's taken care of, and the job of people to take care of it, just like the job of ensuring our safety on the roads, is of the policeman or, in this case, their supervisors and regulators.
And they're the ones that are supposed to know that the assets are down in value, and that there are a lot of uninsured deposits to this bank who are going to be unpleasantly surprised.
So the key to all of it is effective regulation.
And we just didn't have that.
GEOFF BENNETT: What does effective regulation look like, in your view?
SIMON JOHNSON: Well, I think the cornerstone of effective regulation is to have, as Anat said, very strong levels of equity, and real equity, not fake equity -- and there's many ways that it can be fake -- the real equity that can absorb losses.
So, Silicon Valley Bank obviously didn't have enough equity.
They were running a $200 billion bank on a couple of billion dollars of equity at the end.
That doesn't work.
That's when depositors start to worry.
That's how you get panic.
So, first and foremost, get the equity right, larger buffers, more resilient buffers.
And then, of course, you have to have sensible regulation about, how much risk is a bank like that allowed to take?
Again, Silicon Valley Bank, we already know took a lot of risk, funnily enough by buying government bonds, but they bought long government bonds, which were very exposed to -- which fall in value when interest rates rise.
And they funded themselves with short-term deposits.
So they pay more on deposits, the value of their assets is less, they have no equity.
And that was the realization people came to on Wednesday of last week.
End of Thursday, the bank is gone completely, because they couldn't find enough liquidity to match their withdrawals.
One day, that's all it took.
GEOFF BENNETT: Anat, what do you see as the ripple effect here for the tech sector?
ANAT ADMATI: Well, the tech sector got saved because they wanted to make payroll, and the government didn't want panic.
So they kind of could breathe a little easier in terms of their deposits.
The tech sector funds itself in all kinds of ways.
A bank is not usually the way they fund themselves.
They go to venture capital.
They fund themselves in other ways.
So, the tech sector has its own problems right now, the crypto turmoil, all kinds of other things.
But, I mean, this banking part of it is just a wakeup call on the fragility of banking, basically.
And the bank couldn't raise equity.
That was a huge flag.
That means that they were too deep in the hole by that time.
It was for the regulators and for the supervisors to know that that was really an accident waiting to happen.
GEOFF BENNETT: Anat Admati and Simon Johnson, thank you both for your insights.
ANAT ADMATI: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines: Wall Street sidestepped major losses in the wake of the weekend bank failures, even as bank shares took a hit.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 90 points to close at 31819.
The Nasdaq rose 50 points.
The S&P 500 slipped six.
New winter storms are bearing down tonight on both U.S. coasts.
Swathes of California were flooded in a weekend storm, and things could get even worse with more rain and snow.
Meanwhile, the Northeast and New England face a late-season nor'easter that could bring heavy snow into Wednesday.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul is urging people to be prepared.
KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): There is no reason in the world to have plans to be out tomorrow.
Today is the day you get ready.
Do everything you need to do.
Stock up on the groceries.
Stock up on the batteries.
Stock up on making sure you got enough chargers,everything you're going to need.
AMNA NAWAZ: In New Hampshire, the storm is already disrupting local elections set for Tuesday.
Nearly 20 communities have postponed the voting.
The U.S. and South Korea have launched their biggest joint military drills in years, provoking furious protests from North Korea.
To make its point, the North said this image showed a cruise missile being test-fired from one of its submarines on Sunday.
The U.S.-South Korean exercises include computer simulation and combined field trainings.
They're expected to last 11 days.
Australia will buy as many as five nuclear-powered attack submarines from the United States to counter China's growing naval reach.
The announcement came today as President Biden met with the Australian and British prime ministers in San Diego.
As part of the deal, the U.S. Navy will also visit Australian ports more often for training purposes.
China's new premier talked up economic revival today by trying to reassure the private sector.
Li Qiang is a close ally of President Xi Jinping.
He made his public debut after three years of strict pandemic measures that have clouded China's economic outlook.
LI QIANG, Chinese Premier (through translator): The environment for private business will get better and better, and their development room will get broader and broader.
We will create a level playing field for all kinds of business entities and further support private enterprises in growing and thriving.
AMNA NAWAZ: China has set an annual growth target of 5 percent, its lowest in nearly 30 years.
The country's economy grew just 3 percent last year.
In Ukraine, Russian forces kept hammering today at the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut.
Ukraine's overall commander reported the situation at Bakhmut is difficult, but said his troops are repelling all assaults.
In Washington, the Institute for the Study of War said its assessment is that Russia's offensive has stalled.
Iran now says more than 22,000 protesters arrested in recent months have been pardoned.
Today's statement could not be confirmed, but it may provide the first details on the scope of the government's crackdown on dissent.
Demonstrations swept Iran starting last September.
They were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
And back in this country, an FBI survey finds hate crimes surged more than 11.5 percent in 2021 from the year before.
Reported incidents topped 9,000.
Nearly two-thirds involved racial, ethnic and ancestral bias.
The FBI says religion and sexual orientation accounted for the rest.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": Congress wrangles over conflicting legislative priorities; how the rise of sports betting could place student athletes in difficult positions; "Everything Everywhere All at Once" wins big at the Academy Awards; plus much more.
The Biden administration has officially approved a controversial oil drilling project in Alaska known as Willow.
The project from oil giant ConocoPhillips is expected to produce some 600 million barrels of crude oil over the next three decades.
Supporters hail the energy and jobs it would create in Alaska.
Opponents have said it would dangerously accelerate emissions and the climate crisis.
The administration's decision comes after it announced a limit on oil drilling across 16 million acres in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.
For a closer look at this, I'm joined by Liz Ruskin, Washington correspondent for Alaska Public Media.
Liz, welcome and thanks for joining us.
So, the administration did approve this Willow project, but not the entire project.
Explain that to us.
What did they decide?
LIZ RUSKIN, Alaska Public Media: The administration approved three drilling pads with this -- it comes to about 219 wells.
ConocoPhillips originally asked for five drilling pads and about 250 wells.
So this is slightly less, but basically in ConocoPhillips' favor.
AMNA NAWAZ: So the Biden administration's decision has been met with a lot of support from people across Alaska, including Senator Lisa Murkowski.
She tweeted this, saying -- quote -- "We did it, Alaska.
What a huge and needed victory for all Alaska."
Liz, when you look at folks on the ground there, who else has been pushing for this project to be green-lit, and why?
LIZ RUSKIN: Oh, pretty much the whole Alaska political and business establishment, the entire legislature, the whole congressional delegation, including Alaska's new congresswoman, Mary Peltola, a Democrat.
Organized labor supports it, Alaska Native leaders.
The oil industry has been on decline in Alaska for a long time.
And this project would bring up to $10 billion to the state and local governments.
People on the North Slope, they are primarily indigenous.
They say oil revenues will help sustain them and their Inupiaq culture.
AMNA NAWAZ: Of course, we have seen environmentalists have been fighting this the entire way.
After the decision, an official from the National Resources Defense Council called this -- quote - - "a grievous mistake" that -- quote -- "green-lights a carbon bomb, sets back the climate fight and emboldens an industry hell-bent on destroying the planet."
Liz, tell us a bit about the opposition to this project.
Are any of them seeing this scaled-back approval as a welcome compromise?
LIZ RUSKIN: The scaled-back approval was entirely expected, in part because the federal agencies had recommended three drilling pads.
So, this was not a surprise.
Against this project are a lot of environmental groups, climate activists and a lot of young voters who have really stepped up the pressure on social media in recent weeks really quite quickly.
And, also, the city and tribe of Nuiqsut, the community closest to where the drilling would be, while the North Slope as a whole supports the Willow project, the community closest to where the drilling would be, they have significant opposition.
AMNA NAWAZ: This is the president who promised to move away from oil, to not allow any oil drilling on federal lands.
How is the White House responding to that criticism?
LIZ RUSKIN: Well, they pointed out that ConocoPhillips has had these leases since 1999.
So, this isn't new leasing on federal land.
These are old leases.
And when a company has leases, they have -- the government can't take those away without compensation of some kind.
So, the White House says that they didn't have free rein to do whatever they wanted here.
AMNA NAWAZ: Liz, is there a legal challenge ahead?
We have heard from some of these environmental groups that they will continue to fight this Willow project.
What should we expect to see next?
LIZ RUSKIN: Oh, we absolutely -- everyone expects there to be another legal challenge.
There's already been one, which is why this is a reapproval.
But everyone expects there to be another lawsuit filed shortly.
AMNA NAWAZ: OK, that is Liz Ruskin, Washington correspondent for Alaska Public Media.
Liz, thank you for your time.
LIZ RUSKIN: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: Despite a rainy and snowy winter out West, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the reservoirs that provide water for 40 million Americans, are at record low levels due to the ongoing megadrought.
Arizona is set to lose over 20 percent of its Colorado River water allotment this year alone.
As Stephanie Sy reports, that's leaving communities across the state scrambling to find alternatives.
STEPHANIE SY: Karen Nabity built her dream house in the Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated area outside Phoenix, with gorgeous mountain views, lower taxes, and no paved roads.
KAREN NABITY, Rio Verde Foothills, Arizona, Resident: So, we're collecting rainwater off the roof, and this is the water we're using to flush our toilets.
STEPHANIE SY: There's also no municipal water supply.
The lucky residents have wells that are still yielding water.
Nabity has for years paid haulers to bring water from the closest city, Scottsdale, every six weeks, storing it in an underground tank.
KAREN NABITY: We got water before Christmastime, and we still are -- have like 70 percent of our water in the tank.
STEPHANIE SY: OK. And you think it'll be another two or three months before you would need to refill the tank?
KAREN NABITY: Yes, Yes, because we're being really conservative.
STEPHANIE SY: On January 1, the city of Scottsdale cut them off.
KAREN NABITY: We have over 1,000 people, they're without a source of water for their homes right now.
And that's just absurd that we're having to live like were camping in our homes.
DAVID ORTEGA, Mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona: We have two calamities, the megadrought, and we have the calamity created by the state legislature, which permitted dry lot subdivisions.
They're building homes with no water.
STEPHANIE SY: Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega says he made the decision to protect his own constituents in a time of severe, persistent drought.
DAVID ORTEGA: This is why the noise from Rio Verde was so minuscule compared to what I deal with every day and the other mayors deal with of Phoenix, Mesa and so forth.
So it is a race.
STEPHANIE SY: Scottsdale's population of 250,000 relies on the Colorado River for the majority of its water, and the mayor is preparing for the federal government to cut up to 40 percent of the city's current allotment in the next year.
DAVID ORTEGA: The entire state of Arizona and Scottsdale, in particular, are going to have to go on a water diet.
STEPHANIE SY: The Colorado River is in crisis.
SARAH PORTER, Director, Kyl Center for Water Policy, Arizona State university: We're talking about water not running in the Colorado River, potentially below Lake Powell, which is the Grand Canyon.
STEPHANIE SY: Sarah Porter, the director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State university, sums up the problem.
SARAH PORTER: We're in the most serious situation we have ever been in, and it's really, truly serious.
We're seeing hotter and drier conditions persistently in the Upper Rockies, where the water that flows in the Colorado River comes from.
Also, we have the problem of overallocation and a fully developed use by all the different entitlement holders.
STEPHANIE SY: The Bureau of Reclamation, which in 2021 made its first declaration of a Colorado River shortage, is refereeing the water battles in the West, forcing states to come up with a plan to reduce water use to avoid the catastrophic collapse of the whole system.
SARAH PORTER: It's too difficult in a few short months to get to another multistate, binational agreement.
I think federal action is more likely.
KAREN NABITY: We asked them, has your well gone dry?
And over 50 people said yes.
STEPHANIE SY: Said yes?
The troubles Rio Verde Foothills residents face show how quickly cooperation can turn to conflict.
And the Colorado River isn't the only pain point.
Years of urban development on the outskirts of Phoenix have depleted groundwater.
SARAH PORTER: So, we now have two groundwater basins where the state is saying, there's not enough groundwater for any more development that depends on groundwater.
STEPHANIE SY: One of those basins feeds the city of Buckeye; 35 miles west of Phoenix, it's a rapidly expanding city with a current population of more than 100,000.
In recent years, Buckeye has been flooded with developers, but a report released earlier this year by Arizona's Department of Water Resources found that the city may not have enough supply to support its planned growth.
ERIC ORSBORN, Mayor of Buckeye, Arizona: They're spot on with the idea that, if we continue to just grow off of groundwater, without replenishing the water in the basin and bringing in new water resources, that we will have problems in the future.
STEPHANIE SY: Like the Scottsdale mayor, Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn is on a race to find more water supplies.
He says the current supply is enough to continue to grow Buckeye for two decades.
But some residents are getting nervous.
Kathi Kucharski moved to Buckeye in 2021.
KATHI KUCHARSKI, Buckeye, Arizona, Resident: I blindly said, people are not going to keep building homes and building homes when there isn't any water.
What scares me about that are the developers that are developing all of this.
Have they done their due diligence to make sure there's a 100-year water supply, like people claim there's supposed to be?
STEPHANIE SY: As in other parts of the West, urban growth is competing with agriculture for the shrinking water supply in Arizona.
Caywood Farms in Pinal County has had a year of plentiful rain, but the last two summers were brutal.
They didn't receive their usual allotment of water from the nearby Gila River due to drought, forcing them to shut down production entirely.
NANCY CAYWOOD, Caywood Farms: When we go around the corner, there's a little gray house.
STEPHANIE SY: Nancy Caywood, a third-generation farmer, says they have had to pivot to make ends meet.
Farm tours have brought in some new revenue.
NANCY CAYWOOD: Agriculture has been in this area since who knows when.
It's been here for so many years.
And, you know, you're sitting there and it's snowing wherever you live and you're eating a salad.
It came out of Arizona.
STEPHANIE SY: Some farmers in Arizona have already sold their land.
Others have taken up what are called buy-and-dry offers, to leave their fields unplanted, thereby giving up their water.
Nancy wants to keep farming.
Growing food and feed, she says, should take priority over urban development.
NANCY CAYWOOD: Because Agriculture is freedom.
Agriculture is food safety.
STEPHANIE SY: ASU's Sarah Porter says that Arizona's farmers and municipalities are taking the steps needed to allow for continued growth.
SARAH PORTER: It's a tough point.
Nobody likes it.
There's lots of fighting and finger-pointing and name-calling.
But the problem that we're really facing is a very solvable problem.
STEPHANIE SY: The solutions, Porter says, include what Arizona's big cities are already doing, upcycling water, reclaiming it, conserving it, and moving it to where it's really needed.
Whether that includes the Rio Verde Foothills, where Karen Nabity is using buckets of rainwater to flush her toilet, remains in question.
What does the future look like for you here?
KAREN NABITY: I don't know.
I'm the glass is half full of water.
(LAUGHTER) KAREN NABITY: And, for me, I feel like we will end up with a solution.
But I wish that we could get the politicians to stop playing politics, and let's talk about water and just get this done.
STEPHANIE SY: But it's not done.
The politicians have still not agreed on a plan to get water to the Rio Verde Foothills.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pressing federal banking regulators after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
Our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins, has been following it all, and joins us now with a check-in.
It's good to see you.
So, the president this morning, he called for stronger banking regulations in that speech.
What's been the response from Congress?
LISA DESJARDINS: No surprise, in this divided Congress, we have divided response.
I'm going to take you through.
There are a few, like Senator Bernie Sanders, who say there was a mistake by the Trump administration to blame here, that they sort of got rid of too much regulation.
He wants more regulation back.
But more people like Senator Alex Padilla are saying, how about accountability?
Let's figure out who's to blame.
And some like Senator Tim Scott, who happens to be the top Republican on the Banking Committee, are saying simply, we need to find out what happened.
Basically, Congress is a moment with the finger in the air.
There will be a debate, I can sense from my sources, over, is it the regulators that are to blame here or the regulations?
One bipartisan thing we should watch out for though, Geoff, I have heard from both sides interest in Twitter, that actually Twitter and the idea that a bank might be going under might have accelerated things this year in a way that it has never happened before, not since 2008.
I think Congress will look at that.
GEOFF BENNETT: So we are more than two months into this new Congress.
How are you holding up?
(LAUGHTER) LISA DESJARDINS: So far, so good.
GEOFF BENNETT: But what are Republicans doing with their -- with their new House majority?
LISA DESJARDINS: So fascinating.
I have been tracking all the significant bills that this Congress has passed so far.
The vast majority, all but one, actually have come out of the House, 39 bills.
So let's talk about what exactly the House Republicans have been doing with their time in power.
First, they passed a number of bills on China and one bill that was anti-socialism, decried socialism.
Those were bipartisan issues.
But more of what they have passed have been partisan.
Abortion, for example, they have passed a couple of items there.
A bill on censorship defined in Republican terms that was a dividing line.
Censorship shouldn't be, but it is because of how that bill is worded.
Then there's also been the largest number of bills that House Republicans have passed so far, Geoff, on COVID.
And they have taken some interesting approaches.
I want to run through some of the bills that have come out of the House.
Some of these, we do not expect to move forward because of the president or Senate Democrats.
But, first, they would like to end all of the national emergencies immediately.
President Biden is moving to end those in a little while, in May.
Also an interesting bill that would send federal workers back to the office.
Republicans say, you shouldn't be working from home anymore, but go back to the office instead.
Now, here's one that I think could end up becoming law.
Or, I'm sorry, they also would like to end the noncitizen vaccination requirement for people flying into this country.
Now, one that could actually become law is a bill that would declassify everything that our intelligence agencies know about the Wuhan lab and whether COVID started there.
That passed unanimously in both chambers.
And it's -- we're waiting to see if President Biden would actually make that information public or veto that bill.
GEOFF BENNETT: Let's talk about the Senate.
There are some health-related absences on the Democratic side.
What does that mean for the majority and what they're able to accomplish?
LISA DESJARDINS: First of all, it's almost impossible to get anything through, including regulation, deregulation of banks, because the Senate is so narrow.
But, right now, you're right.
There's not even a technical majority for the Democrats.
Because we have two senators who are out, Senators Dianne Feinstein of California.
She is out after shingles.
She is recovering from that.
Also, we have Senator John Fetterman -- we have talked about that on this program -- who is out recovering with depression and from his stroke last year.
Two senators out usually isn't a big deal.
But when your majority is one single senator, that means that Democrats have to really be careful.
So far, this has not affected business.
One of the reasons is, Republicans also have had absences.
They have had senators who've had COVID.
And they also, of course, have their very own leader, Senator Mitch McConnell himself, who was out last week because he had a fall.
GEOFF BENNETT: What's the latest with his condition?
It's been five days since he suffered that fall.
LISA DESJARDINS: Senator McConnell is 81 years old, so a lot of people paying attention to that, of course.
And he was released from the hospital, we just found out a short time ago, today.
He was not released to go home, though.
He was released to an inpatient rehab, very common.
And he suffered a concussion is, what we know about his injuries.
They say they also discovered a fracture in his rib.
But he's going to inpatient rehab.
We don't know exactly what kind of rehab.
But he's going to inpatient rehab.
We don't know exactly what kind of rehab, but he is not yet going to return to the Senate.
We're going to be watching carefully.
He is not just the leader in name.
He really determines how House -- how Senate Republicans operate.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
Lisa, in the roughly minute we have left, can I ask you about China?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.
GEOFF BENNETT: Because we have had been talking about how that might be the one area of bipartisan cooperation.
There's that Special Committee on China.
What are they -- what are they focused on?
Is there any legislation that we should be expecting?
LISA DESJARDINS: They are focused on the Chinese Communist Party.
And, in fact, I think they're going to take a couple of approaches.
One will be on economics.
One will be on security.
And it's a very serious committee.
They are hoping to legislate.
This is not just for show.
This is not just investigating.
This is not just trying to have a conversation about China.
And I have to say it is probably the area of the most bipartisan agreement, certainly in the House, so far.
GEOFF BENNETT: More to come.
Lisa Desjardins, thanks so much for sharing that reporting with us.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, brackets are set for the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments, meaning March Madness is officially here, and, with it, the billions of dollars in bets on the games.
We recently reported on sports betting companies partnering with universities to promote their brands on campus, and the threats it poses for students, many of whom are under the legal betting age.
But it turns out problems are even more acute for student athletes.
Paul Solman is back now with our latest report.
And this story is a partnership with the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, both at the University of Maryland's Merrill College of Journalism.
STEVIN SMITH, Former Arizona State University Basketball Player: So, you're telling me we can win the game and I can make money?
STEVIN SMITH: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) no-brainer.
PAUL SOLMAN: In 1994, decades before the Supreme Court overturned a ban on college sports betting, Arizona State University star point guard Stevin Smith was paid $20,000 by a gambler to make sure his team didn't win by more than six points.
STEVIN SMITH: I just scored 39 points, and we won the game.
It's all about winning.
As long as you're winning, nobody ever suspect nothing.
PAUL SOLMAN: Smith was eventually caught, however, went to prison.
His fall is featured in the Netflix series "Bad Sport."
His justification at the time?
STEVIN SMITH: We were making the school all that money, and we did not get compensated at all.
PAUL SOLMAN: That is, money universities receive, mainly from TV deals and advertisers, not a dime of which, until recently, went to players.
These days, star college athletes can make serious money through name, image and likeness sponsorship deals.
But with sports betting now legalized in many states, student athletes no longer have to fix games to become vilified.
For example, in the state of Ohio, where sports gambling became legal in January, the University of Dayton basketball team lost a heartbreaker after leading big at halftime.
Accusations, presumably by gamblers who lost bets, promptly followed.
"You rigging games for sure.
What a chump," tweeted someone.
"Hope you get caught."
But there was absolutely no evidence of foul play.
At a press conference, coach Anthony Grant recoiled at the new gambling environment.
ANTHONY GRANT, University of Dayton Head Basketball Coach: It could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about.
And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me.
PAUL SOLMAN: The Ohio state gambling regulator has now threatened to ban anyone who attacks athletes online.
TREVER WRIGHT, University of Cincinnati: Irrespective of gambling, the pressure on these kids to perform is immense.
PAUL SOLMAN: Trever Wright helps run rules compliance at the nearby University of Cincinnati.
TREVER WRIGHT: I'm really worried that now, because it's legal in Ohio and students of the university and general public are gambling on the University of Cincinnati basketball and football games and other events, that now they're publicly going to come out via social media or just in the crowd in general and say, "You cost me money."
And what does that do to the mental health of that athlete?
PAUL SOLMAN: Now, the NCAA prohibits it's athletes from betting and warns athletes about gambling during and after their college careers.
CLINT HANGEBRAUCK, NCAA Compliance Chief: It's really challenging just to keep up with.
PAUL SOLMAN: NCAA compliance chief Clint Hangebrauck.
CLINT HANGEBRAUCK: From a state-by-state level, they're kind of legalizing the activity and then, after the fact, trying to adjust to that and put in place a lot more regulation and integrity efforts.
So, our primary concerns are twofold.
One would be the health and well-being of our student athletes.
And second-fold would be the integrity of our competitions.
PAUL SOLMAN: And there's actually another concern, which is why the NCAA helps pay for former English pro rugby player Mark Potter to scare student athletes straight by confessing his story, including his near suicide.
MARK POTTER, EPIC Risk Management: I drove down the road, sat on a train station bridge and tried to psych myself up to jump off in front of one.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because Potter was a compulsive gambler, as some 6 percent of all gamblers.
At an even much higher rate are college-age gamblers, first time away from home, maybe drinking too much.
And college athletes are several times more likely still to become addicted, says Potter, for lots of reasons.
MARK POTTER: Whether you feel like you have more sporting knowledge, whether you are using the competitive drivers and your almost will to win to try and succeed at it, whether you are trying to replicate what you're not getting out of your sport.
PAUL SOLMAN: Potter shared his own story recently at the University of Cincinnati.
MARK POTTER: I got injured.
And that is honestly one of the worst things that ever happened to me.
PAUL SOLMAN: In just his second year as a rugby pro at 19, Potter sustained a series of injuries that kept him off the field.
Hurt, bored, gambling became his way to replace the competitive high.
Within a few short years: MARK POTTER: I was 24, and I was 70 grand in debt.
I had no job at the end of the year, no prospect of another contract, and I suddenly got an Irish girl pregnant who lived in a different country.
PAUL SOLMAN: He moved to Ireland, started a family, and vowed the betting was behind him.
But it wasn't.
MARK POTTER: It started to become more and more unmanageable.
And I had to go to great lengths to hide it from her.
I used to have a house phone, and I used to pull the cord slightly out of the wall before I went to practice, because I didn't want people ringing her asking her for money when I wasn't there, and I couldn't answer it.
PAUL SOLMAN: The money for household finances was going toward bets, until one day: MARK POTTER: Repo man came to our house and gave us an eviction notice, I hadn't paid our mortgage for months.
And she didn't know.
I owed $6,000 for a mortgage, and I had $42 in my bank account.
PAUL SOLMAN: The story becomes ever more harrowing.
Potter was arrested, ostracized, but even that didn't deter him.
MARK POTTER: I went into my town, and I sold my wife's engagement ring and all of my kid's toys for $500.
I had to.
I literally couldn't stop myself from doing it.
And I did it, fully assuming that I was going to win the money to pay it back.
PAUL SOLMAN: OK, enough.
You get it by now, as did the student athletes, though we weren't allowed to shoot interviews or show their faces.
But, off camera, they were blown away, especially with pawning the kid's toys.
Potter eventually reconciled with his family.
After years of rehab, this is his ongoing therapy.
MARK POTTER: Ultimately, my sports career was a failed one, and it was a failed one because of what was going on in the background.
So the next best thing from that is to be able to provide information, so other athletes don't have to go down the same route.
PAUL SOLMAN: But why is a former English rugby star focusing on America?
PAUL BUCK, EPIC Risk Management: It's a country that's 320 million people, 50 states, all with either no regulation or different regulation.
PAUL SOLMAN: Paul Buck founded the firm Potter works for.
PAUL BUCK: It really feels that this is a country where we should be spending most of our time from a prevention point of view, because it feels like where we're needed the most.
PAUL SOLMAN: The company promotes education through lived experience, like Bucks, once a banker and such a problem gambler himself, he actually tried to commit suicide.
PAUL BUCK: I felt that the world would be a better place without me, you know, be that my wife, be that my kids, be that my employer, be that my friends.
That's how low a place it can take you if gambling does get ahold of you.
PAUL SOLMAN: Via Buck's firm, Potter was brought to Cincinnati not just by the NCAA, but by European gambling giant Entain.
So, you're a gambling company that's doing education.
Are you just protecting yourself, protecting your image?
MARTIN LYCKA, Entain: No, we're doing education to achieve long-term sustainability of these markets.
So, we're protecting the industry, that is right, but we're also protecting customers, our customers, the industry-wide customers, as well as the public at large.
PAUL SOLMAN: By trying to scare the most vulnerable among us straight, because in a free-for-all free market, college kids need all the protection they can get.
For the "PBS NewsHour," Paul Solman in Cincinnati.
GEOFF BENNETT: The 95th Academy Awards proved to be an evening of wins for many Asian and Asian American artists, with "Everything Everywhere All at Once" sweeping up many of the honors.
While blockbuster films mostly lost out, there were also wins for smaller productions, like the international film "All Quiet on the Western Front."
William Brangham has more on the annual celebration of film for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
HARRISON FORD, Actor: "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It was a historic evening for "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
The film took home seven Oscars, including three of the four acting Oscars and best picture.
The film tells the story of a Chinese immigrant family and mother-daughter relationship via a martial arts extravaganza.
It became a breakout for what has been called a multiverse dramedy.
The film was an indie hit Production company A24, taking the Oscar as well for best original screenplay and best director for the two men who've become known as the Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
DANIEL KWAN, Director: Genius emerges from the collective.
We are all products of our context.
We are all descendants of something and someone.
MICHELLE YEOH, Actress: For all the little girls and boys who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for best actress for her role in "Everything Everywhere All at Once," and the first person of color to receive the award in 20 years, since presenter Halle Berry won it.
KE HUY QUAN, Actor: They say stories like this only happen in the movies.
I cannot believe it is happening to me.
This, this is the American dream.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the same film relaunched the career of actor Ke Huy Quan after a decades-long hiatus off-screen.
Quan won for best supporting actor.
In an emotional moment, he later reunited with Harrison Ford, whom he costarred with in the 1984 film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Only moments later, Jamie Lee Curtis won best supporting actress for the film.
JAMIE LEE CURTIS, Actress: I just won an Oscar.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Dedicating her award to her Hollywood royalty and Oscar-nominated parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
But her win came at the cost of Angela Bassett, who was a fan favorite for her performance in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."
RUTH E. CARTER, Costume Designer: Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the superhero that is a Black woman.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ruth E. Carter did take home the award for costume design that Marvel film, making her the first Black woman to win two Oscars.
BRENDAN FRASER, Actor: I just want to say thank you for this acknowledgement.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Best actor went to Brendan Fraser, who also had a long period off screen.
He tearfully accepted for his role in A24's drama "The Whale."
There were performances of nominated songs throughout the night by stars like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Diane Warren.
But best original song went to Naatu Naatu from the film "RRR."
It was the first song from an Indian film to win the category.
The documentary short Oscar went to "The Elephant Whisperers," also the first Indian film to win in its category.
SARAH POLLEY, Director: First of all, I just want to thank the Academy for not being mortally offended by the words of women and talking, but so close together like that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: While no women were nominated for director this year, Sarah Polley did take home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for the film she directed, "Women Talking," based on the book of the same name.
The documentary "Navalny" about Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the plot to assassinate him won the Oscar for documentary feature.
From Germany, "All Quiet on the Western Front," based on the World War I novel by Erich Maria Remarque, took home four awards, for cinematography, production design, original score, and best international film.
It was a big night for indie films overall.
But blockbuster hits like "Avatar: The Way of Water," and "Top Gun: Maverick" were the films that finally lured viewers back into movie theaters.
So does last night's Oscars change in any fundamental way how Hollywood goes about making movies?
For some perspective on that, we're joined by Justin Chang.
He's the film critic at The L.A. Times.
Justin, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Very, very big night for Asian and Asian American moviemakers last night.
What do you make of "Everything Everywhere All at Once" sweeping so much gold last night?
JUSTIN CHANG, The Los Angeles Times: Yes, William, thanks for having me.
I think "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is absolutely -- it's a milestone.
It can't be taken lightly or denied.
I personally wish it were a better movie.
When writing about the film, I have described it as, I don't think it's remotely the best picture of the year, but, in some ways, it was the movie of my year and the movie of a lot of people's years, because I kept thinking about it, because this was a movie that people love, and people hate it.
It was extremely divisive.
And I am very much of two minds about the film.
But watching the movie win a kind of remarkable seven Oscars last night, I was thrilled by Michelle Yeoh's win, very moved, as everyone was, by Ke Huy Quan's speech, which was not a surprise, but which was a delight nonetheless.
And there is something very significant about a movie about this scrappy, dysfunctional Chinese American family winning seven Oscars.
I mean, that is -- there's something remarkable about that.
I was disappointed that some really excellent films like "Tar," "The Banshees of Inisherin," and "The Fabelmans" got zero between them.
And we can talk about this as perhaps a reflection of the fact that they were not as big commercial successes as "Everything Everywhere," which was a big theatrical success.
But I think that's a shame because that is very -- seven Oscars for one movie, and for that movie, to be "Everything Everywhere," is disproportionate.
It doesn't reflect just the actual the actual diversity and quality of the year in cinema.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On that issue of diversity, I mean, Hollywood and the Oscars has been trying to make movies and to celebrate movies that better reflect the diversity that is this country.
Do you think -- I mean, all your criticisms aside, the points that you're making aside, do you think that this night does change the way movies get made going forward?
Because this is remarkable when you look at who is in front of the cameras in that film and what that film is all about.
Does that change things in a fundamental way?
JUSTIN CHANG: Yes, it absolutely does.
And quite apart from my feelings, anybody's feelings about the movie, love it or hate it, it absolutely changes it.
Michelle Yeoh, in her speeches this season says, for every little boy and girl who looks like me -- and it's not just the decision-makers.
It is for the very talented people who will maybe pursue their career dreams and think that they have what it takes.
How exactly this will change anything, what decisions will get made going forward, that remains to be seen.
And we have sometimes seen that people can be very tokenistic about this kind of thing.
People can say, well, if we just have a very sort of perfunctory kind of representation, then we have done our due diligence.
And that's not good.
Nobody needs that kind of representation.
But you also do look at past best picture winners, like "Everything Everywhere," like "Parasite," like "Moonlight."
The definition of what a best picture can be is changing.
And I think that that is a very encouraging thing in terms of just what types of stories are being celebrated and who is fronting and telling those stories.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Indeed.
It is a remarkable tableau we saw on stage last night.
As I mentioned, while they didn't get as much love from the Oscars, two very big blockbusters did seemingly break that frozen reluctance that all of us pandemic-weary moviegoers had and suffered through and got us back into the theaters.
Do you think that that is -- have we -- are we done with the pandemic as far as moviegoing?
JUSTIN CHANG: I certainly hope so, because I feel safer in a movie theater.
Now, I still mask up in theaters, but I feel like it is an activity that -- I feel like there is this hunger to get back to theaters.
And it's worth noting that, even though it wasn't technically a studio blockbuster, "Everything Everywhere," I think, developed its incredible cachet and devotion in the industry partly because it was a huge success, a very low-budget movie that made many times what its budget was.
And so that is a success story very much in itself.
So, I -- it remains to be seen.
I think that, from what I understand this coming year -- I mean, with the pandemic in 2022, you had "Top Gun," which was a holdover, and you had "Avatar," but they were still holding back some of their inventory.
And I think, this year, they are -- the studios are going to be back in what they hope to be close to full force, like pre-pandemic full force.
But I also hope that that doesn't slight the great films that I think are really worthy of Oscar recognition and that benefit from this kind of attention, which is movies that premiere at film festivals, movies from other countries, independent movies, documentaries.
I hope that there is a really healthy hunger and an appetite to see those movies in theaters on the big screen as well.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Me too.
Justin Chang of the L.A. Times, great to have you back on.
Thank you so much.
JUSTIN CHANG: Thank you so much for having me.
AMNA NAWAZ: And as part of our ongoing arts coverage, we recently spoke with some of the now-Oscar winners, including actress Michelle Yeoh and Sarah Polley, the screenwriter and director of "Women Talking."
You can watch those conversations online at PBS.org/NewsHour.
GEOFF BENNETT: And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.