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Transcript: Sen. Joe Manchin on "facing the nation," March 5, 2023

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Joe Manchin that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’d like to start the show with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who joins us from Charleston, West Virginia. Good morning to you, Senator. I would like to start–

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Good morning, Brennan. Thanks- Margaret, thanks for having me.

Margaret Brennan: I want to start from that derailment. The president last week praised bipartisan railway safety legislation that would have new rules for trains carrying hazardous materials, increase fines for safety violations, phase in new cars. Will you vote for it? Is it enough?

Sen. Manchin: Yes, so I’m going to support it. We will do it. In 2015, in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, we had a derailment, 27 cars, tanker cars carrying Bakken oil—derailed and derailed and exploded and caused a tremendous problem there and it was very, very dangerous. . It could have been a lot worse, if the tracks had gone a little farther the tracks would have torn up an entire town. But with that, you know, we were recommended that electropneumatic brakes should be something that should be considered to prevent that, routine maintenance checks and auditing and things of that nature. I don’t think any of that has been done. And it’s time we got serious about this. We are moving many, many more products, on rail and on our roads, than ever before. And we have a lot of people who want no pipeline. Pipelines will help alleviate this problem to a great extent with our essential oil in our country and we will use it for quite some time to make it safe. But out of sight they’re thinking, if you don’t have a pipeline, you won’t use the product. Well that is far from the truth. And that’s just the result of not making good decisions. And it broke down in West Virginia and–and–

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

SEN MANCHIN: This is what has broken down across the country, like politics in Washington.


Sen. Manchin: It’s broken, it needs to be fixed.

Margaret Brennan: I want to come back to the power in a moment. You say it’s broken. You gave a fiery speech in the Senate a few days ago. You’re at odds with the White House and many in your own party because you say Democrats need to talk about out-of-control spending and refuse to negotiate. You dinged Republicans for not proposing specific cuts. If you’re a deal maker, where do you find yourself positioned, where do you see room for negotiation?

SEN MANCHIN: Well, Margaret, first of all, I encourage Speaker Kevin McCarthy, I was hoping that he would first take things off the table that don’t cause controversy, but most importantly, sit down with the president and get to the White House, they sat down, a had a meeting I’m much more encouraged by that. But where we can do that is we can’t just go together and talk about how we’ve accumulated so much debt—and in this short period of time, 10 years, Margaret, we’ve accumulated the largest amount of debt. History of our country in the shortest period of time. Can’t we at least know what we did and how we expanded? I know that covid has done it a lot. But you know, we covid-

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

SEN MANCHIN: Problem. And what we need to do is get back to normal, but we’ve gone from spending $3.5 trillion a year to over $6.2 trillion over the last 10 years. That is just unacceptable. you have to sit Anyone who thinks we don’t have a problem in Washington, anyone who thinks politics isn’t broken in Washington is not living in reality–doesn’t want to face the truth–

Margaret Brennan: All right.

SEN MANCHIN: — and true.

Margaret Brennan: So- so what’s the truth here? Because Social Security and Medicare make up about 40% of spending in 2023. If no one touches these programs, where do you find the cuts?

SEN MANCHIN: Well, first of all, get us to work on time. We are told that if we have a budget, we will no longer have a budget. The President is a month late in releasing his budget, which will come out next week. But I don’t see the House or Senate bringing up a budget. And originally by a piece of legislation passed back in 1985, our budget is supposed to have–

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

SEN MANCHIN:- House and Senate by April, first. The president originally submitted in February. and by 30th September. I’m told there are billions of dollars in savings, if we do it on time.

Margaret Brennan: Absolutely. But it’s not-


Sen. Manchin: That’s why I say it’s not working. That is-


SEN MANCHIN: Basically gets a downward trajectory, and–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, there’s more to be done–

SEN MANCHIN: How about capping something–

Margaret Brennan: More than that. I want to say–

Sen. Manchin: Yes–


Sen. Manchin: Capping some discretionary spending.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re right, well, there’s a lot to talk about. But I want to ask you, what is Joe — what is Joe Manchin looking for in this deal? Are you looking for your permit-permitting reform, for example, that the Democrats didn’t deliver even though they told you they’d make a deal? Are you looking to be tucked into a possible bill, this deal you say will be struck between Republicans and Democrats?

Sen. Manchin: Well, rather withholding something, we’re not trying to hide anything basically we’re not allowing and we’re not allowing reform in America, we’re not going to meet the challenges and secure energy independent energy. If you’re not energy secure, you’re definitely not going to be a superpower in the world. And depending on the rest of the world, to provide what you won’t for yourself. That must be done. If you want transmission, if you want pipelines, if you understand that we’re going to have a balanced energy proposal, the deflationary legislation was for energy security. The administration, this administration claims it is strictly an environmental bill. It’s good for the environment. But it is very, very important for us to use fossil energy better and cleaner than anywhere else in the world, for the security we need. That’s what we have to do. And that is what they are avoiding.

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

SEN MANCHIN: You have to allow it, otherwise it’s all over.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you if there seems to be some disconnect between you and the president. You were quoted a few days ago as saying, “We’re in different ball games, we’re not even in the same ballpark on many issues.” Are you going to support Joe Biden if he runs for re-election?

Sen. Manchin: Oh, there’s plenty of time for elections. America’s problem right now. Whenever a cycle is coming we start selecting–

Margaret Brennan: Yes, he is the leader of your party.

SEN MANCHIN: I- I- No, the bottom line is, let’s see who’s involved. Let’s wait until we see who all the players are. Let’s wait until it all comes out. Now my main aim is to work for my country and my- and my state. It is my responsibility. I’m not going to make my announcement for anything until the end of the year. I am not going to make any decisions, what my political position is going to be or where I am going to do my political future. I won’t do it until the end of the year. I have a lot of work now.

Margaret Brennan: Your political future? The question is whether you are personally going to run for re-election to the West Virginia Senate. Your Republican governor, Jim Justice, has said he’s going to run for your seat or he thinks he’s got a good shot at it. Why didn’t you make up your mind?

Sen. Manchin: Basically, I’ve had plenty of time to make up my mind. Elections are not until November 2024. We don’t even file until January 2024.

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

SEN MANCHIN: And running and basically not looking at your problems. We’ve got runaway debt, we’ve got inflation–

Margaret Brennan: Yes.

Sen. Manchin: It’s killing people. We’ve got an unsafe energy. We have a border that is out of control. You’re telling me we’re in the same ballgame, same ballpark? I don’t think so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said let’s see who all the players are when it comes to running for president. You said you’re not running for president. Is that an open question, though? WHO? Who do you think?

Sen. Manchin: I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything about that. The bottom line is that I will make my political decision in December, whatever it may be.

Margaret Brennan: Run for President?

Sen. Manchin: I’m not taking anything off the table, and I’m not putting- and I’m not putting anything on the table. I said that I will decide in January – at the end of this year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ll make a decision later this year–

Sen. Manchin: Simply.

MARGARET BRENNAN: — Who would you support for president–?

Sen. Manchin: What is my political future?

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, but for the President–?

Sen. Manchin: What I’ll be involved with, how I’ll be involved. The decision I will make politically will not be made until the end of the year. I’m focused on fixing what’s wrong with Washington and politics is so toxic. You will talk about this party, that party, what candidate and this candidate. See what you are facing right now. You’ve got inflation. You basically got the power. You’ve got these unsafe boundaries. You’ve got geopolitical instability, and we’re talking about everything but that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We–we have a lot to talk about and welcome back, Senator Manchin. We have to leave it at that because–

SEN MANCHIN: Margaret, I’m happy to come back anytime.

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