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Transcript: Senator Joe Manchin on "Face the Nation," August 1, 2021

Manchin: Senate wants to pass infrastructure bill this week
Manchin: Senate wants to pass infrastructure ... 08:30

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia that aired on Sunday, August 1, 2021, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: The Senate is reconvening this afternoon to resume consideration of a roughly one trillion dollar infrastructure bill. One of the Democrats leading the bipartisan negotiations is Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Good morning, Senator. 

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Good morning, JOHN. Good to be with you in person especially.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah, exactly. It's great to have you with us. So this isn't just an infrastructure bill. The president of the United States said this signals to the world that our democracy can function. So it's got a lot on- on its shoulders here. 

SEN. MANCHIN: It sure does. 

JOHN DICKERSON: And it's not done yet. What is the next set of steps for this to become law?

SEN. MANCHIN: JOHN, it's- it's 99 and nine tenths finished. They're drafting it. The text will be done. Hopefully we'll introduce it today. We'lll vote on it tonight. We'll start the amendment process hopefully on Monday if not. But we want to be done by Thursday. We want to move on, OK?

JOHN DICKERSON: But it's not just the Senate that speaks. The House has also--

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: --has a role.

SEN. MANCHIN: Oh, yeah. No, I'm just saying it moves on from the Senate. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. But for it to become law, it's linked up with this other piece of legislation, the budget bill. Do you not see that it's linked together?

SEN. MANCHIN: I've- I've always believed that everything that should- should rise or fall on its own merits. When you had- you just said something, the president of the United States tells the whole world. This is the president's bill. This is all of our bill. It's a Democrat, it's every Republicans' bill. There's not an infrastructure need in the country that has an R or D name on it. And that's what brings us together, 80% popularity. So, yeah, we should be doing it.

JOHN DICKERSON: But the president also has other ideas about the country and in fact, says they're vital after this pandemic.

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON:  And those are all contained in his other budget bill. 

SEN. MANCHIN: Right. I understand.

JOHN DICKERSON: So that's vital to him, too. And Nancy Pelosi has said only until the Senate passes that other budget bill will we let this infrastructure. So that's a roadblock it seems.

SEN. MANCHIN: I would never, ever, ever try to advise Speaker Pelosi on how she runs the- the House. I think she does a marvelous job and- and she'll do what she thinks is best for the House. But the bottom line is we've got a bill that 80% of the public, 80% of the public, we have a bill that mostly every Democrat and every Republican should be supporting. But the infrastructure bill- so we'll see. It should go and fall or rise on its own. I really have said that.

JOHN DICKERSON: But what you're saying is the House should pass their infrastructure and then you go through the process.

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON:  You meld it and the president votes on it. They shouldn't hold it up.

SEN. MANCHIN: I would not think that that would be the best thing to do for the public right now. We're trying to show the whole world that we can operate. We're trying to show the country that we're back and we can do things in a bipartisan way. This is one of the big things. We don't expect to do the next bill bipartisan. That's reconciliation.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

SEN. MANCHIN: That's strictly party line vote. And I said we will go on budget resolution. Let's look at the whole bill. But don't forget, we've got inflation. We've got a $28.6 dollars billion debt. We have $4 billion a day growing in debt. All this should be considered before we just jump in. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, before we get to that budget bill. You mentioned a test of democracy. The first test is whether Republicans and Democrats can work together.

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: Seems like the second test of democracy is this three-legged race you're in with House liberals, which is can Democrats agree that this other budget bill is not linked to infrastructure? Or can Joe Manchin sign on to a budget reconciliation that Bernie Sanders also agrees with? 

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, it's all about compromise. That's what we've- this has been a compromise. And we've been working on this for six weeks and we finally come down to the last day of the last hour to get it finished. It takes compromise. You have to trust each other. You have to work. I respect my colleagues who believe something a lot different than I do. And I'm willing to listen and learn. And if we can find that compromise, we'll find it.

JOHN DICKERSON: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, leader of the- or one of the leaders of the progressive movement in the House,--

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: --has said she's got 10 progressives who will block infrastructure unless you over in the Senate passed this budget bill.

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, you know, sometimes maybe you'll have 15 or 20 Republicans that will see a good bill. Maybe there might be 100 Republicans in the House that says, my God, I like this. Guess what? It takes care of my transportation. It's the greatest jobs bill we've ever had. It runs for five to 10 years. It gives you total growth each year to try to stimulate the economy. So you know what? Everybody had that- that was the- there was a Hastert, remember the Hastert Rule?

JOHN DICKERSON: Sure. 

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Only Republicans can vote by majority.

SEN. MANCHIN: That's crazy. I take a win whenever I can get it.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah, well, now you're advising Nancy Pelosi.

SEN. MANCHIN: No, I'm not. No, I'm not. No, I'm not. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask--

SEN. MANCHIN: Never do that.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about this budget bill. It has inside of it a lot of the president's priorities. It's clocked in at about $3.5 trillion.

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: You've expressed some concerns about that cost. Is it the cost or is it paying for it that you--

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, they're saying it's all paid for. Now, If it's all paid for, you look at it in a different light, OK? There's a lot of great things in there. I've seen some of the things that need to be done and want- and we all want to be done. But you get to the point like you do in your own private life, well can you afford to pay for it? So if- I never voted for the 2017 tax cuts, OK? I've explained to Senator Schumer and everything. We've had good conversation. He's been great about trying to move this infrastructure, the traditional infrastructure. Right now, he really has been pushing this, saying let's get a bill done. Now on the other bill, I've said let's look and see. You're going to make adjustments to the tax code. Are we still going to be competitive? Can compete in a global market, if we can't--

JOHN DICKERSON: In other words, do taxes raise so high on business that they end up going to other countries?

SEN. MANCHIN: That's exactly- and basically we have a downturn in the economy and inflation skyrockets. We have problems. You have to be careful about all that.

JOHN DICKERSON: A lot of times- and this happened on the infrastructure bill. You can find ways to pay for things that are a little fuzzy. So let's say it gets paid for. There are other things in this bill that might be- need to be worked out between you and your fellow Democrats. The environment is one of them. There are a lot of--

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: What concerns you about the environmental provision? 

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, my concern is basically being realistic and being practical about what's going on in the world. Within the next 10 years, 90%  of pollution is going to come from one continent: Asia. And China is going to have 3,500 coal fired plants. In America they make you believe- we only have 504. There are 6,600 operating and they're building another 1,063, none in America. And they're telling you- making you think that, well, if you get rid of all the coal-fired plants, it basically solves the pollution. It doesn't.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, It's- it's a big signal to the rest of the world. And-- 

SEN. MANCHIN: The rest of the world is not going in that direction. We're the only country. If we get out of the fossil business, there will not be any R&D research and development. We have $12 billion dollars for carbon capture sequestration. If you don't do that, you're not going to save the climate.

JOHN DICKERSON: But what they would argue is the clock is ticking.

SEN. MANCHIN: The clock is ticking and we're working.

JOHN DICKERSON: If you wait for carbon sequestration, that is a long time from now--

SEN. MANCHIN: No, no, no.

JOHN DICKERSON: --and it might not even work.

SEN. MANCHIN: No, John. We know- we know it does work. What we haven't been able to do is been able to do it in a more practical, profitable way to where it doesn't break the bank. So once we find that new- unlock that new technology, then that's a whole 'nother game changer. We can get there. We're close.

JOHN DICKERSON: Can you come to compromise with the liberal members of the Senate on these issues of the environment--

SEN. MANCHIN: I would like to think so.

JOHN DICKERSON: --or does Joe Manchin, who once shot an environmental piece of legislation in a campaign ad, is it going to be too hard to get on you board?

SEN. MANCHIN: You know, the reason I shot that campaign ad? Shot that ad- that piece of legislation? They were asking us to do things that technology hadn't even been developed in. But now we have scrubbers, low NOx boilers and baghouses for mercury. Once we're able to have a valued use for the- for the carbon and make it into solid products to where we can use it for value added that'd be great.

JOHN DICKERSON:  You think you can come to a compromise with Democrats who have said Senate Democrats have said this is central to this bill passing?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, I can tell you one thing. I've always come to compromise. I've always tried to find the middle. Now, if they don't want to find the middle, that'd be up to them. I can always find that middle. But if you think you're going to eliminate your way to a cleaner environment, I don't totally disagree. You can innovate your way to it and the rest of the world will follow if you have the technology that they know they'll use.

JOHN DICKERSON: Two other quick questions I want to ask you. The president has said he wants to see some immigration provisions as a part of this budget bill, including taking care of the Dreamers, those who were brought over here by their parents.

SEN. MANCHIN: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: Are you okay with that being included?

SEN. MANCHIN: First of all, I have- I- I was a solid supporter of the 2013 immigration bill that passed with 68 votes bipartisan in the Senate. I'm still there. I think we should have a pathway to citizenship, should take care of our Dreamers, and we need those workers and those people basically in our- legally in our system.

JOHN DICKERSON: Final question is on this eviction moratorium. It's lapsed.

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah. 

JOHN DICKERSON: People could be evicted as soon as Monday. How can Democrats who are in charge of the White House, the House and the Senate fumble this?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, there's no reason we should, but basically there's $20 billion or more that haven't gone out the door. We have to make sure that we watch the fraud that is involved. There's been a lot of concerns about that getting the right people. But if there's money there then we can help people as they're getting their life back, Vaccinations are plentiful. Everybody can have a vaccination. Job market, we have nine million jobs aren't fulfilled. Everybody should get back into normal flow. Be careful, get vaccinated, wear your mask, do whatever you have to do. Get back into the flow. And we should basically extend and help those who need it.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator Joe Manchin, thank you. You're going back to work in the Senate.

SEN. MANCHIN: Thank you, JOHN.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with a lot more. Stay with us.

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