Senator Joe Manchin on “Face the Nation”, June 4, 2023

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, which aired on “Face the Nation” on June 4, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. Senator, welcome back. We really got down to the wire here.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: It’s good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you were…

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, it’s too bad we’re doing this. Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know. When you were with us in March, I remember you telling President McCarthy and Joe Biden that they just had to stop bludgeoning. And they had to start negotiating. How badly did the Democrats miscalculate in the meantime?

SEN. MANCHIN: I think it’s harmful. It shows you that the far left was pushing so hard not to even negotiate, not to even talk about it. You know, hold on, hold on, hold on. It’s not who we are in America. The process of democracy, you sit down and–


MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they said the Republicans were hostage takers, right?

SEN. MANCHIN: How can you be a hostage taker if you’re basically talking about shouldn’t we recognize that we have unmanageable debt? Shouldn’t we understand how we got here so fast and so high at $31.5 trillion? The trajectory is out of sight if we do nothing. So I want to give credit to both sides, to the negotiating teams. When you have Garret Graves and Congressman Graves and his team, on behalf of Kevin McCarthy, did a terrific job. And when you basically have – you have Shalanda Young, you have Steve Ricchetti and Louisa Terrell working on behalf of the president. They are good people who worked together to make this happen. It’s a shame we didn’t recognize it much sooner.


SEN. MANCHIN: Three months ago, at least, and not falling on the tightrope when it kind of throws uncertainty into the market, where we are here the reserve currency of the global market – the reserve currency of the world has to have a stability where people believe it’s–it’s safe.


SEN. MANCHIN: You can’t play those games.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, you… you also have an integrated energy project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, that runs through your state. It also runs through Virginia and Sen. Tim Kaine said it’s a gooey way to handle it. It was his word, because it bypasses the courts and forces the government to seize land from people in a hard-hit part of his state. How do you respond to that?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, first of all, Tim Kaine is my dear friend and a good person. He and I were governors together, so we understand our two states very well, and the area of ​​southwestern Virginia that he’s talking about is entirely, my whole state is demographic in that sense. First of all, it’s been studied for more than eight years, eight years. Today, after eight years, much of this land has already been purchased and people have been paid. Fair market values ​​and they negotiated and paid. Then it went through eight NEPA reviews. Eight. He’s been in the court system nine times. And then again, Margaret, these processes or these projects cannot move forward unless the FERC commission determines that there is a need. Now three times they have issued a need for this product regarding more gas in the market.


SEN. MANCHIN: Then Jennifer Granholm and this administration released a statement saying it’s the national interest. People in the Carolinas pay 10 times more than we do in West Virginia for the gas we produce. It’s ridiculous for them to have that.


SEN. MANCHIN: A hell of a hold on them, and also helping the rest of the national markets secure as far as energy goes. You must be independent. You need to be secure. This is a big project that will help, not just West Virginia–


SEN. MANCHIN: But the whole energy security system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, that’s interesting, because last month you said you were going to block all EPA nominees from Joe Biden – President Biden until he shuts down a radical climate agenda. But he just greenlighted a whole bunch of fossil fuel projects, including this one. You have been very critical of the president in recent months. Does this change your point of view? Are you ready to endorse them?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, the main thing is that I’m going to work whenever I think we’re going in the right direction. What you just saw are basically the extremes trying to run this operation, the government of the United States, the extreme left and the extreme right. It was the environment that brought everyone together. It was basically reacting to people saying enough is enough.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it wasn’t a yes. When I asked you to approve it, though.

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, the main thing is that I’m not involved in the political process right now, with all the things that we have to do. Everyone thinks first of politics. I don’t know. It’s not about politics. It’s not about my re-election, or anyone else. We have a lot of work to do. And we still have permits to do.


SEN. MANCHIN: We have geopolitical unrest around the world. We have to support Ukraine, we have to make sure we put our finances in order and bring inflation down.


SEN. MANCHIN: But if you put politics into it, I guarantee it. You won’t get any decision on this.


SEN. MANCHIN: I don’t think we would have done this bill.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To solve all these licensing issues. Because you only have a fraction of it in this bill. You want things that will help accelerate energy infrastructure that enables both fossil fuels and clean energy. Do you need a second term?

SEN. MANCHIN: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you need a second term to get these things done? I mean, another term – excuse me, are you running for re-election?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, basically you have to keep working. We can do it now. We are about to do that right now. We could have done it last year, but politics kicked in and we couldn’t. And now here we are, we’ve done part of it. We basically made some reforms with regard to licensing.


SEN. MANCHIN: And now what we can do is basically make sure that we’re able to get the pipelines and the delivery system that we need to have clean fossils across the country independent of the energy, and also to be able to invest in technologies – cleaner technologies with less carbon, but we will need more transmission.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know, why…

SEN. MANCHIN: I’m all for the energy policy above.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know why I asked it that way because –

SEN. MANCHIN: I can support that from wherever I am.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Wherever you are. You leave your options–

SEN. MANCHIN: Yeah I know. I know exactly why.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know why. Because, Jim Justice, your governor, Republican, he comes for your job. He stated. And I know you said you were going to take your time until the end of the year to decide. But isn’t he at least six months ahead here? Don’t you need to tell people what your plans are?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, here’s the thing, Margaret, you just said – I am – I am – about my job. My job is to do what I can to help the people of West Virginia and support this great country of ours and defend the Constitution. This is really the root cause of my work. It’s not up to me to be re-elected.


SEN. MANCHIN: Now, if I run, I will win. And I’m looking at everything I can to help my country be stronger, more moderate, more centrist governed, than anything I’ve ever done. That’s what I focus on. Because I know that’s where the right decisions are – look what happened here. We have come to the edge of the abyss. But this is the first time I’ve seen the House working with Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries and his team working with Kevin McCarthy and his team to get things done. I read about it when it was Tip O’Neill and President Reagan. Now I have seen it. And I also saw President Biden and his team come back to the middle, moving away from where the left had pushed them. So basically it was the medium that brought them together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well- that’s what- Joe Manchin, there’s always more to talk to you-

SEN. MANCHIN: That’s where we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: More to tell you. And I want you to come back and talk to us when you decide if you’re up for re-election. Or that other option you said the last time you left open, maybe. A presidential campaign.

SEN. MANCHIN: Everything is open, everything is on the table and nothing on the table. But hey Margaret, one thing I wanted to tell you, we need a risk assessment team, a risk management team. For the United States of America to come to a tightrope every time, we should take this seriously every day. What is the risk we take if we don’t –


MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk – I want to talk about this with one of our next guests, the CEO of Bank of America, so stay with us.

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