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Transcript: Sen. Joe Manchin on "Face the Nation," January 27, 2019

"Outside observer" needed to negotiate immigration deal
"Outside observer" needed to negotiate immigr... 06:26

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia that aired Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He's a moderate Democrat that has called for compromise during the shutdown. Compromise, not a word acted upon much these days, Senator.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Not used much either.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No. But- but the president says there's a really good chance that you could see a deal before mid-February. What can you actually get done in the next few--

SEN. MANCHIN: Well I- I- I'm very hopeful. I've always been very hopeful reaching out. First of all we're going to have to bring- I think that Susan, my dear friend Susan Collins, had said that you need to bring in professionals. There's a lack of trust and a lack of belief on both sides. No one believes that basically these figures are correct, or this or that's going to happen, or do we really need all 5.7 billion being spent on a secured- some kind of a secured structure. On the other hand, you know, we know that a lot of our drugs and things that come across that do harm to our country are coming through points of entry and that's going to be technology sensors things of that sort. I think they can find a balance if you bring an outside special group in unbiased and nonpartisan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well basically professionals. Engineers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The secretary of homeland security has been talking to Congress. 

SEN. MANCHIN: Well the secretary of homeland security -  by Democrats are believing that she's going to basically say what the White House wants her to say. So if you want to get past that trust or belief then you have to bring in an outside observer who has the professional ability to say yes, that is needed. Yes this is going to be. People forget in 2013 we did a major immigration overhaul bill. We voted for- every Democrat voted for 44 billion dollars of border security. And we still believe border security is necessary. But there's a combination of not just--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So- So how do you get language that actually Democrats will sign off on? Because you hear from the administration that, as- as you were mentioning here, that time and again Democrats have voted for barriers and fencing. How do you get what the president wants?

SEN. MANCHIN: We voted for that and offered that. But it takes more than that. As far as you look at immigration problem. You have people that came to the country the wrong way for the right reason. They brought children in here that have been here and been productive, They're educated. They're in our military. They're in so many facets of our economy and doing a great job. Don't they deserve an opportunity for a path to be a citizen of this great country? If the president or his hard right-wing would look at that in a little bit more compassionate way, I think it would break down the problems that we have no the barriers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A path to citizenship in the next three weeks?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well that would be- for Dreamers and DACA- that was- he offered the DACA the three years. We're saying, can't those people deserve- 10 years that's a long pathway. A 10 year pathway that would really help an awful lot in order moving forward. Right now we're just caught in between and betwixt. The only way you're ever going to stop this, Margaret, from ever happening again- if- if one thing comes out the three weeks- of this three week negotiating. We have a piece of legislation says we'll never shut down again. And you know how you're going to do that? If we basically ever inflict this pain on ourselves again. They don't get paid the day, The legislators do not get paid. I guarantee you there will not be a shutdown. People in- in Washington didn't feel the pain.It was the people outside of Washington, all the federal workers and all the millions of people depending on the services

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president called you wonderful because you were, I think, the only Democrat who signed on-

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: -to a bill that actually went nowhere but included the five point seven for his border wall.

SEN. MANCHIN: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you vote for a border wall as he describes it again?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well I have voted for, and I will continue to vote for, a structure that's in a whole- holistic approach not just by itself. You know when you talk about twenty-one hundred miles of border you're not talking about twenty-one hundred miles of walls, fencing, or anything else. You're talking about smart- they've talked about smart technology. More agents that we need, more sensors at points of entry, all these things. But also there is a pathway forward. The people that are here for the right reason- if you want to get rid of the people that came, created harm and the wrong reason, you got to be able to keep them out when you send them out. So, an immigration reform has to be part of it. Just putting money towards a structure is not going to do the job that needs to be done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What- what you're trying to be reasonable here, but as you've heard there are threats overhanging this in the next three weeks. I mean the chief of staff said the president would be willing to shut down the government again. He also said he doesn't really want to but he could declare a national emergency. If- if he goes that route of declaring a national emergency, does that ultimately backfire or does that get this done?

SEN. MANCHIN: Here's the thing -- we had six -- Here's what people seemed to fail to understand. We went through the process of going through appropriations. I'm on Appropriations Committee. There's 12 appropriations as far as different issues that we work on and the funding. We passed five of them. There were seven left. The one in contention was basically homeland security. We met the request of one point six billion dollars. That changed when it went to the house to 5 billion came back. So they were going to put basically a 30 day C.R. on that one and let the other six pass. That would've kept 90 percent of government open. That's what should have been done and I think - I've never seen people held hostage. This many millions of people on the economy of our United States being threatened because we have a disagreement on one issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You, until recently, served on the intelligence community-- committee.

SEN. MANCHIN: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you make of Roger Stone's indictment?

SEN. MANCHIN: Oh I think that-- I mean we have all the confidence and faith in Bob Mueller. I think he's doing his job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a pattern emerging that you're seeing here?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, I'm very much concerned. I would be very much concerned. People involved with that campaign and all the people that've said that they've lied and it's proven they lied to Congress. This is not going to be tolerated, cannot be tolerated and they should be prosecuted to the fullest amount that's allowed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're on armed services. There are 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The secretary of state says there's really good progress in talks with the Taliban. Taliban says, the U.S. may withdraw troops within 18 months. What do you make of that timeline?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well the timeline-- I'm not sure about the timeline they're talking about but I think it's time to get out of Afghanistan. I always have. Now Syria's a complete different story. I don't think we should be leaving Syria because of so much at stake and all the players there. But in Afghanistan, I want to make sure we keep Bagram Air Force Base. I think that's a main point of-- for us to be in that part of the world. I hope that we stay there, in that part but not at 14,000 strong. We can do our job and do it well but we have no more reason to be there than-- I think it is time to leave.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you Senator.

SEN. MANCHIN: Thank you Margaret.

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