Transcript: Sen. Bernie Sanders on "Face the Nation," Nov. 25, 2018

The following is a transcript of the interview with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont that aired Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, on "Face the Nation."  


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders who joins us from Burlington this morning. He's also the author of a new book Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance. Senator, welcome to the program. I do want to ask you about that book, but first off you are on the environmental committee and I want to ask you about this report from the Trump administration, a really sharp warning about the immediate danger of climate change. Strongest language we've seen thus far from the federal government. What action will Congress take?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well what Congress should do is move aggressively in listening not only to this report from the Trump administration but from the into-into-into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which tells us, Margaret, that climate change is not only real, it is already doing irreparable harm all over this planet, including the United States of America. What Congress has got to do is take Trump on, take the fossil fuel industry on, and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, to energy efficiency and sustainable energies like solar and wind. And when we do that, we are going to lead the world in saving the planet. We're going to create millions of decent paying jobs. We're going to lower the cost of electricity. And that is what we have got to do for our kids and our grandchildren if we are going to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know--

SEN. SANDERS: This is a very shock- this is a very alarming report and we've got to wake up and address these issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been warning about this for some time. But one of the things in the report is that it estimates you could knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the U.S. economy by the end of this century because of related costs. If advocates like yourself use that financial argument, that economic argument, would it be more effective in taking some of the politics out of this because this has been painted as such a partisan issue, not a scientific one.

SEN. SANDERS: Well first of all. The debate is over about the reality of climate change and the incredible and costly harm it's going to do to this country. We're talking about hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage that we're going to have to pay for. Second of all, I think it is very clear that we have got to bring our people together to address this terribly important issue and it is amazing to me that we have an administration right now that still considers climate change to be a hoax, who is not sure about whether it is manmade. We have got to rally the American people and economically I happen to believe Margaret, that when you move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, you're going to create millions of decent paying jobs and lessen the costs of the damage that climate change will do to our country and around the world. But this is not- this is not an issue where we have you know, where we can debate. The reality is real. The scientific community has made it 100 percent clear that this is a major crisis facing this country and our planet. And we have got to be bold and aggressive in standing up to the greed of the fossil fuel industry. We're more concerned about short term profits than the planet we're leaving our kids and our grandchildren.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well one of the foreign policy issues you do talk about in your book is your call for pulling back any kind of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. There is a resolution you have backed along with Republican Mike Lee. Do you see, given the scrutiny in the wake of the killing of- of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi new support for this bill? 

SEN. SANDERS: I do. When we brought this up, I think it was in March we ended up with 44 votes - only five Republicans. I think we now have a chance to get a majority of the United States Senate. I think people are looking at the horrific humanitarian disaster now taking place in Yemen. There was a recent report that over the last number of years some 75,000 children have died of starvation. This is a country dealing with chol- cholera. A country dealing with a terrible level of famine. So you got that issue. You got the issue that this war was never authorized by the United States Congress in violation of our Constitution. And you got the Khashoggi incident which says that we have a Saudi government led by a despotic ruler who killed a political opponent in cold blood. Add that all together. I think the American people and Congress are now saying let us end the support- our support for the Saudi led war in Yemen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are calling for Democrats, who are now going to be in the majority in the House, to launch a kind of new Contract with America and some of the things you put out there you're saying Democrats should call for raising the minimum wage, make public universities tuition free, expand Social Security, a number of other things. Is this a legislative agenda or a platform for a presidential run for you?

SEN. SANDERS: It's a legislative agenda, Margaret. You know it's interesting you- you pick up on- on what I wrote in a Washington Post op-ed and that is back in 1994 Newt Gingrich - who I disagree with on everything - really had a bold right wing agenda, and I think we should learn from that. This is what the American people want. And we should do it. They want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, which I think is 15 bucks an hour. They want pay equity for women. Poll after poll shows that the American people understand that our current dysfunctional health care system needs fundamental change and that means Medicare for all - single payer system. The American people understand that in a highly competitive global economy we have got to make public colleges and universities tuition free. We have got to deal with climate change as we just discussed. We have got to deal with a broken criminal justice system with immigration reform. All of these issues are, in fact, what the American people want. And the question is whether Congress has the guts to stand up to the big money interests who want more tax breaks for the rich, who want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Or we stand up for the shrinking middle class and we demand a government that represents all of us. And legislation which represents the working families of this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, look forward to talking to you about that at another time and also the prospects for 2020. But we have to leave it there. We'll be back in a moment.