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Transcript: Sen. Joe Manchin on "Face the Nation," June 4, 2023

Manchin: "Everything's on the table" for him
Sen. Joe Manchin says "everything's on the table and nothing off the table" with his plans 07:27

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, that aired on "Face the Nation" on June 4, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Senator, welcome back. We really came down to the wire here.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: It's good to be with you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you were– 

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, it's a shame that we do that.Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know. When you were with us in March, I remember you saying Speaker McCarthy and Joe Biden, they just have to stop grandstanding. And they needed to start negotiating. How much of a miscalculation was it by Democrats to wait?

SEN. MANCHIN: I think it's harmful. It shows you that the extreme left was pushing so hard not to even negotiate, not to even talk about it. You know, just hold your ground, hold your ground, hold your ground. That's not who we are in America. The process of democracy, you sit down and–


MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they- they said that the Republicans were hostage takers, right?

SEN. MANCHIN: How can you be a hostage taker if basically you're talking about shouldn't we recognize that we have an unmanageable debt? Shouldn't we figure out how we got here so fast and so high at 31 and a half trillion dollars? Trajectory is out of sight if we don't do something. So I want to give both sides, negotiating teams, credit. When you have Garret Graves and- Congressman Graves and his team, on behalf of Kevin McCarthy, did a wonderful job. And when you have basically- you have Shalanda Young, you have Steve Ricchetti, and Louisa Terrell working on behalf of the president. Those were good people that worked together to make this happen. It's a shame that we didn't acknowledge it much quicker. 


SEN. MANCHIN: Three months ago, at least, and not come down to brinksmanship when it kind of throws the uncertainty into the market, to where here we are the reserve currency of the world market- the reserve currency of the world has to have stability where people believe that it's- it's safe. 


SEN. MANCHIN: You can't play these games.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Agreed. Well, you- you also got an energy project tucked into this, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which cuts through your state. It's also cutting through Virginia and Senator Tim Kaine said this was a slimy way to handle it. That was his word, because it bypasses the courts and has the government seizing land from people in a hard hit part of his state. How do you respond to that?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, first of all, Tim Kaine is my dear friend and a good person. He and I were governors together so we understand both of our states very well and the southwest Virginia area he's talking about is entirely, my entire state is demographics along those lines. First of all, this has been under review for over eight years, eight years. Now, after eight years, basically a lot of this land has already been purchased and people have been paid. Fair market values and they've negotiated and paid. Next of all, it's gone through eight NEPA reviews. Eight. It's been in the court system nine times. And then on top of that, Margaret, these processes or these projects cannot move forward unless the FERC commission determines there is a need. Now, three times they have issued a need for this product as far as more gas in the market. 


SEN. MANCHIN: Next of all, Jennifer Granholm and this administration came out with a statement saying this is the national interest. The people in the Carolinas are paying 10 times more than we are in West Virginia for the gas we produce. That's ridiculous for them to have that. 


SEN. MANCHIN: A heck of a stranglehold on them, and also helping the rest of the secured national markets as far as energy. You have to be independent. You have to be secured. This is a great project that's going to help, not only just West Virginia– 


SEN. MANCHIN: But the entire energy security system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, it's interesting, because last month, you said you were going to block all of Joe Biden's- President Biden's EPA nominees until he halts a radical climate agenda. But he just greenlit a whole bunch of fossil fuel projects, including this one. You've been very critical of the president in recent months. Does this change your point of view? Are you ready to endorse them?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, the bottom line is, is that I'm going to work whenever I think that basically we're moving in the right direction. What you've just seen is basically the extremes trying to run this operation, the United States government, from the far left and far right. It was the middle that pulled everybody together. It was basically reacting to the people saying enough is enough.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that wasn't a yes. When I asked you about endorsing him, though.

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, the bottom line is I'm not involved in the political process right now, with all the things that we have to do. Everyone thinks about politics first. I don't. It's not about the politics. It's not about my reelection, or anyone else. We have an awful lot of work to do. And we still have permitting to get done. 


SEN. MANCHIN: We have geopolitical unrest around the world. We have to support Ukraine, we have to make sure that we get our financial house in order and get inflation down. 


SEN. MANCHIN: But if you throw politics in, I'll guarantee it. You won't get any decisions on any of that. 


SEN. MANCHIN: I don't think we would have got this bill done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To get all those permitting issues done. Because you only got a fraction of them in this bill. You want things that will help speed up energy infrastructure permitting for both fossil fuels and for clean energy. Do you need a second term? 

SEN. MANCHIN: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you need a second term to get those things done? I mean, another term- excuse me, are you running for reelection?

SEN. MANCHIN:  Well we basically- you got to continue to keep working. We can get it done now. We're on the brink of getting it done right now. We coulda got it done last year, but politics entered into and we couldn't. And now here we are, we got part of it done. We got basically some reforms done as far as permitting. 


SEN. MANCHIN: And now what we can do is basically make sure that we're able to get the pipelines and the delivery system we need for clean fossil all over this country to be energy independent, and also be able to invest in the technologies- the cleaner technologies with- with less carbon, but we're gonna need more transmission. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know, why–  

SEN. MANCHIN: I'm for all in above energy policy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know why I asked it that way because–

SEN. MANCHIN: I can support this from wherever I'm at.


MARGARET BRENNAN: From wherever you're at. You're leaving your options– 

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah I know. I know exactly why.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know why. Because, Jim Justice, your governor, Republican- he is coming for your job. He has declared. And I know you have said you are going to take your time till the end of the year to decide. But doesn't he have- at least six month advantage here? Don't you need to tell people what your plans are?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, here's the thing, Margaret, you just said- I'm- I'm- about my job. My job is to do what I can to help the people of West Virginia and support this great country of ours and defend the Constitution. That's truly the primary cause of my job. It's not for me to get reelected.


SEN. MANCHIN: Now, if I run, I'm gonna win. And I'm looking at everything I can to basically help my country to be stronger, to be more moderate, more centrist governed, than anything I've ever done. That's what my focus is. Because I know that's where good decisions- look what happened here. We got clear to the brink. But this is the first time I've ever seen from the House working with the Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries and his team working with Kevin McCarthy and his team to make something happen. I read about that when it used to be Tip O'Neill and President Reagan. Now I've seen it. And I've seen also, President Biden and his team come back to the middle getting away from where the left have pushed them. So basically, it's the middle that brought them together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well- that's what- Joe Manchin there's always more to talk to you– 

SEN. MANCHIN: That's where we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: More to talk to you about. And I want you to come back to talk to us when you make a decision about whether you're running for reelection. Or that other option you said last time you're leaving open, possibly. A presidential run.

SEN. MANCHIN: Everything's open, everything's on the table and nothing off the table. But hey Margaret, one thing I wanted to mention to you, we need a- we need a risk assessment team, a risk management team. For the United States of America to get to this brinksmanship every time- we should be taking this on seriously every day. What's the risk we're taking if we don't do that–


MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk- I want to talk about that with one of our upcoming guests, the CEO of Bank of America, so stay with us.

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