New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on “Face the Nation”, July 23, 2023

The following is a transcript of an interview with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, that aired on “Face the Nation” on July 23, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the current Governor of the State of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy, who joins us from Middletown. Good morning to you, Mr. Governor, I want to revisit some of the things we just discussed there, including in regards to transgender care in your state because I know your administration has sued three school districts in New Jersey for adopting policies to tell parents if their children are showing signs of changing gender identity. Why is Mr. Christie wrong when he says parents know best here and should be involved?

GOVERNMENT OF NEW JERSEY. PHIL MURPHY: Well, let me say unequivocally that I’m not going to Chrischristie.com. Listen, we took these steps because it’s the right thing to do to protect these precious young people. It’s a complete culture war, and by the way, Chris Christie was really bad for the LGBTQIA+ community, and he underfunded public education by 9 billion, with a B, dollars. So with all due respect to the Governor, I’m not sure he has a leg to stand on. But the parents are still involved. It is certainly in our administration, they are always around the table, and they always will be. But let’s be smart about it. Let’s protect the rights of these precious children. Let’s do things the right way, the American way. And- and I think if we do that, in the spirit of respecting everyone’s rights, protecting the LGBTQIA+ community, we’ll land in the right place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one of the attorneys for a school board in Marlboro, one of those districts, said that preventing a school trustee or a staff member from telling a parent is a violation of a parent’s constitutional right to direct and control their children’s education. Why is it not binding?

GOV. MURPHY: Obviously, parents are definitely the existential reality in any child’s upbringing. I don’t deny it for a second. But let’s not violate the Constitution – the constitutional and civil rights of precious young people in many cases, who attack life as they grow and age, let’s respect that. Let’s all be in the same boat rather than that, us against them, this demonization. And when that happens, invariably it’s the LGBT community that gets the hang of it, especially trans people who end up behind the eight ball.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you what’s going on in your state, but you’re also a Biden surrogate. And yet, you decided this week to sue Biden’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Association to end what’s called congestion pricing, which aims to reduce pollution and traffic by charging drivers as they enter Lower Manhattan. A lot of people in your state go there. If you are a green governor, how can you oppose this policy that was endorsed by the Biden administration?

GOV. MURPHY: First of all, I unequivocally support Joe Biden. We do so many things together, on this one we don’t see it the same way and at the end of the day the responsibility falls on me to stand up for the residents of our state. Second, it will make pollution worse in New Jersey. Congestion pricing, the New York MTA has admitted. It’s a financial solution, more than an environmental solution, and the losers here, right now, are New Jersey commuters and New Jersey communities, and I won’t let that stand. We actually filed a lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration. God willing we can land in the right place and it’s not like we don’t have good faith, Margaret, we have number one – since coming here six years in a row, the number one environmental record of any US state, we care deeply. It’s bad for the environment, in New Jersey, not good for him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If it’s bad for the environment, then tell me why the MTA said the 4,000-page environmental assessment was “supervised at every step and specifically approved by the Biden administration.” The Governor of New York says this thing is happening, environmentalists have been studying it.

GOV. MURPHY Yeah, not so fast, with all due respect. They took a shortcut at the Federal Highway Administration, which they should have done with us at the table given the impact this is having on New Jersey, and that’s what we’re pursuing is to do what they call a full environmental impact assessment. Now, this may take some time, but it’s worth it. And at the end of the day, listen if we had the two new railroad tunnels built under the Hudson River, which Chris Christie by the way canceled, or if we had the new Port Authority Bus Terminal, which he again dragged his feet over, we’d be in a different place with-our commuters would have alternatives. These alternatives are finally coming to fruition, but it will take a little longer. At the moment these do not exist.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It was- it was an interesting throwback to Chris- Chris Christie on that. I’ll give you that. Politically, since you are here. I lived in New York for a long time, so I know this issue, but for those elsewhere in the country, let’s go national here. Nikki Haley, in particular, focused on Vice President Kamala Harris in much of her rhetoric, and she did so to indicate President Biden’s age. The RNC frequently posts snippets of her speeches, duds, they’re really targeting her. Why do you think Republicans calculated that was a good strategy and that the vice president makes Democrats vulnerable?

GOV. MURPHY: I mean, it’s a classic us versus them playbook, that the – unfortunately, the other side rolls too often. And that is frankly offensive. She is an icon. She is an icon in the South Asian community, in the African American community, among millions of women in this country. I honestly think that’s offensive and I think ultimately it’s a losing strategy. People want to focus on the – the strength of our country, the Biden Harris team created 13 million jobs, over 50 – it’s been over 50 years since unemployment has been this low, under 4%. Investing in infrastructure, investing in communities, ultimately the record will win.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Governor, thank you for staying with us, and I know we’ve had some audio issues, so I appreciate your patience. We will be back.

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