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Transcript: Sen. Tim Kaine on "Face the Nation," November 7, 2021

Kaine says Democrats "blew the timing" of Biden bills
Kaine says Democrats "blew the timing" of infrastructure and spending bills 07:59

The following is a transcript of an interview with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine that aired Sunday, November 7 2021, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Senator Tim Kaine, who joins us from Richmond. Good morning to you, senator.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Hey, MARGARET, good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president says he is confident that this spending bill, the Build Back Better Act will pass the House mid-month, but it just got bigger. Paid leave is back in it. Prescription- prescription drug pricing is back in it. Modifications to state and local taxes. So, doesn't this reopen another battlefront?

SEN. KAINE: Well, I- I- MARGARET, I think the president got the infrastructure bill to his desk this week, that's going to do great in Virginia, port improvements, broadband improvements, transportation, both doing good things for the economy and hiring people into good jobs and then the education and workforce bill that I've worked very hard on. It's going to pass. I think congressional Democrats blew the timing. We should have passed these bills in early October. If we had, it would have helped Terry McAuliffe probably win the governor's race. It would have been good for President Biden, but we are going to get these bills done. They're great for every zip code in this country, and I'm really excited to be working on them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But on that issue of paid family leave, does it end up in or out of this bill? It- it wasn't quite clear from the White House; You did hear Cedric Richmond say there just aren't the votes. Will there be?

SEN. KAINE: Well, I would say- I would say Cedric is wise not to completely predict what 50 Democratic senators will do. As you know, this bill will get zero Republican votes, just like the American Rescue Plan in March that produced such good benefits for every zip code. No Republicans would support it.--


SEN. KAINE: --And this bill won't get Republican votes, either. So, what will 50 Democrats agree to? I am a strong supporter of paid child and family leave. But remember this, MARGARET, everybody who- who cares about paid child and family leave also cares about the child tax credit. They care about affordable childcare. They care about pre-kindergarten.--


SEN. TIM KAINE: --And in that bucket of issues that matters to families and children without being able to predict that everything that everyone wants will be fully funded for as long as we want that bucket of issues for families and kids is going to be so powerful, I think this will be the biggest pro-child bill that will have been done in the history of this country will be to children when Social Security was to seniors. So, I'm confident about that, even if some pieces of it are still being negotiated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Well, those pieces are important since all 50 senators have to be on board with it. But let's talk about the state that you are a senator from and used to run as governor. Last week, a Republican took it for the first time since 2009. How worried should Democrats be? What are the lessons that they need to learn from what happened in your state?

SEN. KAINE: Well- well first, it was a Republican win, a close win, two points, and I got to give it to the Republicans. After being shut out for 12 years in every presidential, federal and state race, they were hungry. That's what happens when a party loses, they get hungry and then they win a close race. But here's what I think really, really was- was tough. And I mentioned this earlier. I think congressional Dems just blew the timing of the infrastructure and workforce and education bills. Bluntly, we blew it, and I'm not talking about progressives or moderates or the House or the Senate. The congressional Democrats have majorities in both houses, and the American public expects us to deliver.-- 


SEN. TIM KAINE: --We delivered big in March, but that was eight months ago if we had done both of these bills in early October. Terry McAuliffe would have had so much to sell. Relief is coming in terms of lowering childcare costs, prekindergarten. There's going to be infrastructure to hire people to fix our port and our airports and improve our roads instead with a narrow majority. A lot of people start to think, let's see, I can hold out for the one thing I most want, or I can hold out to kick out this one thing I don't like. And Democrats blew the timing. And as you know, MARGARET politics- in politics, timing is important. We'll get the bills done, but we're going to get them done weeks after the election. We should have gotten them done weeks before the election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know, over the summer, the Democratic candidate who you mentioned, Terry McAuliffe, he said part of the problem was that President Biden was just not very popular. Is the president drag on the party?

SEN. KAINE: Well, look, if a president can get two legislative houses of his own party to deliver, the president suddenly becomes pretty popular. And I know the president in the White House has been frustrated with this as well. Here's my prediction, MARGARET. You're going to see the infrastructure bill. It's on its way to the president's desk--


SEN. KAINE: --He'll sign it. I hope he does a bipartisan signing ceremony. You're going to see us get this education and workforce bill to his desk. And then what people will be saying about Joe Biden is he had probably the most consequential first year of anybody who's been president in recent times. Last week, the elections on Tuesday weren't good, but you also had a record job report. Vaccines available for children. Infrastructure bill going to the president's desk. We think a foundation is being laid to really move us ahead for President Biden and the American people. Again, I'm just- I just regret that even though Sen. Warner and I were telling our colleagues guys, don't be the dithering and delaying party, be the doer party. Folks didn't wake up to it. They're waking up to it now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let's look at the messaging from the Republican candidate who didn't run a single ad against the president. Actually, he didn't even talk about Joe Biden. What he did talk about, the things that showed up in our exit polling here: He led on the economy and jobs, led on education, led on taxes. And in fact, the soon to be governor, Mr. Youngkin performed very well in the suburbs. He did better with white women voters. That message seemed to really work for him. So how do you beat that playbook?

SEN. KAINE: Well, here's- here's what I would say. Virginia is the best state for business in the United States. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates and the- one of the highest median incomes in the U.S. under Democratic leadership. So maybe what we need to do is be better at selling our accomplishments. So, I've certainly said that the White House, when we get the infrastructure bill and the education workforce bill done, we have to make sure that we implement it right. Joe Biden did that as vice president when we did the recovery package at the beginning of the Obama administration, we got to implement it right and then we have to go out and sell our success. And you're right, Glenn Youngkin did OK in the suburbs, but some of the suburbs we're talking about. Terry McAuliffe won Loudoun by more than 10 points. Glenn Youngkin made Loudoun School Board kind of a front and center issue. We won handily. We won Prince William handily. We won Henrico handily. We won Fairfax overwhelmingly. You're right, there were some jurisdictions where we didn't perform the way we used to. But I do attribute that to Democrats in Congress not delivering. And again, the Republicans were hungry. When you lose every year, we have an election every year, and when you lose 12 years in a row, well, people want to win. And more power to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you, quickly, assess the Trump factor here? Is that what drove rural voter turnout? You had this sort of endorsement from afar.

SEN. KAINE: Yeah, it's- it's- it's an interesting one. I think the fact that Youngkin kept Trump out of the state proves smart because Virginia is a battleground state. It's not a blue state, but Virginia Republicans are no dummies, and they saw Trump coming a mile off. He's not a Virginia Republican kind of candidate because they viewed him as kind of an anti-science know-nothing. So young. Kaine's decision to basically keep Trump out of the state was smart. Some of the Trump voters still wanted him to win, but Trump was locked on the sidelines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, I got to unfortunately cut you off because I have to hit this break but thank you very much for all of your insights. And we'll talk more about this later on the show.

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