The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Joe Manchin that aired on Sunday, Dec. 18. 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we begin with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He is in Charleston. Good morning to you, Senator.
WEST VIRGINIA SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Good morning, Margaret. How are you?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m doing well. I’m glad you could join us. You wrote this letter to President Biden this week, saying there would be a complete loss of operational control at the southern border, once Title 42 ends in about three days. So what more can the administration be doing? And what can Congress deliver in the coming days?
SEN. MANCHIN: Well, let me just say the border is- we have a crisis at the border, everyone can see that. I think everyone realizes that something has to be done. 42 needs to be extended until we can get really, truly immigration reform. Immigration reform will not happen in our country until we all come, both sides of the aisle, Democrats, Republicans and the administration, that you have to have total border security. Security is the name of the game–
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the courts ordered for 42 to be struck down.
SEN. MANCHIN: I understand that. The President needs to use every bit of power he has as an executive to find a way or ask for an extension. The President can basically, I think, ask for that extension. I think his administration is doing that or will do that. I sure hope they do. But we need an extension until we can get a viable answer for this. Right now, this is unattainable. This is wrong. You can’t do this to the southern border. John Cornyn, my friend, Senator from Texas, they’re on the front lines, they’re the largest border we have, state that borders Mexico, and it just- it’s unattainable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But what can Congress deliver in terms of emergency funding? Because as we understand it, unless a Supreme Court steps in, Title 42 is going away.
SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah, well, again, the executive order, we could pass a piece of legislation, emergency piece of legislation, if we could all come to an agreement that basically Title 42 has to be by law extended and have the President sign it immediately. I guess that could be done. We’re going back in Monday. And I- it’s just- it’s a crisis. When you have a crisis. it seems like we can manage under a crisis in a bipartisan way. It’s a shame that we’ve come to this gridlock.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said recently that you have a worker shortage in West Virginia right now. How do you get to bipartisan legislation on legal migration when you are about to face a Republican-controlled House that’s vowed to impeach the Homeland Security secretary?
SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah, well, first of all, that’s- it’s an unfair charge against Ali Mayorkas because I think the gentleman is- is very competent, he can do a good job. They just need to unleash him, let him do his job. That’s what I have said before and I’ll say it again now. With that, we have got to do basically immigration reform. My-, my state of West Virginia needs more workers, We need people that want to come here for the right reason, to provide for their family a better quality of life. My grandparents- great grandparents brought my grandparents here in 1900, on both sides of the aisle from Italy and Czechoslovakia for that opportunity. I’m- I’m a product of that. And we have so many people that want to come to our country, there has to be a legal pathway forward. That’s all we’ve been talking about. The 2013 piece of legislation that we worked on and passed in a bipartisan way in the Senate, never got a vote in the House. Use that as the building block. That was a piece of legislation that was responsible and reasonable and it basically all centered around border security, but it gave a legal pathway forward to come into this country, work your way to legal citizenship. That’s what we need.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will see in the new Congress if that becomes possible. You, on the energy security front, have also been raising concerns. You were the critical vote that helped the President get his green energy plan passed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA, that really ticked off Republicans, as you know. But you also said you had a second deal with Democratic leaders, endorsed by the President, to backup a bill to speed up permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects. Why did this collapse?
SEN. MANCHIN: Well Margaret, first of all, there was no second deal it was all one deal. It was basically how do we have energy security? First of all, the IRA is a historic bill, the Inflation Reduction Act and so is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has about $100 billion of energy concerns in that, that me and my staff and the Energy Committee worked on. We wrote the bill- basically IRA portion of that bill, as far as the energy. But you know, when you talk about inflation reduction, it brings down drug prices. It brings down basically insulin prices, life saving insulin. It brings down healthcare costs, it does all those things. But on top of that, we need more energy in the market. I know it’s been touted as a “green deal” or this- that’s the farthest thing from the truth. It is a bipartisan energy security. You cannot be the superpower of the world if you don’t have energy independence. And energy independence means energy security and national security. That piece of legislation that we wrote and worked on, basically takes a double path, 10 years certainty, that we’re going to have fossil fuel, the horsepower that runs our country, the cleanest in the world. We don’t have to go to Iran, the most prolific terrorist supporters in the world, we don’t have to go to Venezuela, who has very little oversight on environment. We can produce the fossil in this country to be totally independent, and help our allies with the cleanest fossil in the world. And while at the same time, we’re investing records, amounts- investments, we’re not spending and throwing money at it, we’re investing it to bring you the new technology for the future of the world. That’s what that bill did. That’s a very important piece of legislation. It’s something that I worked with–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you were trying to get permitting for drilling and projects sped up with this other bill. And- and 10 Democrats voted against the permitting bill, only seven Senate Republicans did vote with you. Have you talked to the President about trying to revive it?
SEN. MANCHIN: Let me tell- It has to be passed sooner or later, everyone knows that. They keep saying we’ll get a better deal when the House goes Republican. I say to my Republican friends and colleagues, you’ve had the entire gambit from 2016 to 2020, when you had the President being Republican, the House, and the Senate. You tried permitting, you have one Democrat, me, I’m the only Democrat that voted for major permitting reforms. So we know the lay of the land. Mitch McConnell knows basically the structure and how the legislature works and how the Senate works better than most. With that being said, we had a perfect situation here, 40 Democrats voted for permitting reform, which they had not supported before. And there was a majority, only- only seven Republicans voted for something that all 50 had supported before. So you tell me, is it about policy or is it about politics? Something’s wrong, and this is why people are so upset with what they see going on in Washington. Permitting reform, basically, with what we did with the inflation reduction, and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Margaret, if- that all doesn’t come to fruition, unless you’re able to do things. We’re the only civilized country in the world that takes two or three times longer than anybody else. And if we don’t do something on permitting reform, then the pipelines that we need to carry the energy that we demand, and also the transmission that will help carry the new technologies of the future, won’t be done in time and that money will be stranded. That’s what we’re dealing with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll see in the new Congress, if you can get that done. I mean, you were pretty fired up after this failed. You said “I serve in an independent voice, not a political party. What is clear now than ever is party politics are paralyzing our ability to unite.” You talked about “toxic tribal politics,” why are you staying a member of this tribe if it’s so toxic?
SEN. MANCHIN: Well, here’s the thing about it. You know, I really don’t put much, much validity in the identity of being a Republican or Democrat. I think we’re all Americans. You know, I used to- I grew up in an age when, if you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all acknowledged that we had a problem. We all had different ideas of how- to how to solve the problem. But we were all trying to solve the same problem. It has, it has basically, basically transitioned itself to now to where, how can we blame somebody else? How can we create a problem and blame somebody for it that makes them unpopular? That’s not what I signed up for. That’s not what I signed up for. And I speak out, I speak out against the Democrat Party and against the Republican Party when it’s wrong and basically people are sick and tired of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you do- Well, you said recently, you consider yourself “strictly an independent,” do you see an advantage in this environment to becoming unaffiliated? To becoming an independent?
SEN. MANCHIN: Well, let’s see how basically these two pieces of legislation which are really historic, as the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. Let’s see how that plays out. If people are trying to stop something from doing so much good, because of the politics thinking that somebody else will get credit for it. Let’s see how that plays out. Now, I’ll let you know later, what I decide to do. But right now, I have no intentions of changing anything except working for West Virginians, trying to give them more opportunities, better quality of life, and basically making sure our country is energy secured. That means national security, we’ll be the superpower of the world. I’m not going to be relying on other parts of the world or other countries to delivering energy for what we need for our economy and our defense of our country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That sounds a little bit like warning the Democratic leaders that you’re considering something in the future there. You said let’s see–
SEN. MANCHIN: Margaret, let me just say- if I can say this to you.They know how independent I am. The “D” does not saddle me to everything the Democrats want to do is what’s right. I don’t think the Democrats have all the answers. I don’t think the Republicans are always wrong, and vice versa. I don’t look at things that way. Where I came from is basically, how do I survive and make it better and the quality of life that we can extend to more people? That’s it. And if Republicans have a good idea, and I like it, I’m with it. And if I’m the only Democrat, which I’ve been many times, I feel very comfortable and come home and explain it. On the other hand, you got to speak truth to power. But when the Democrats are doing something, and on this one right now, with the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s a shame it went through only reconciliation. That was a bipartisan bill. You can walk and chew gum, provide more fossil energy cleaner, provide more investments into the cleaner technologies. That’s- that’s what’s coming and that’s what we have to embrace.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time this morning, and I hope you have a good holiday.