From Sen. Mark Warner’s office:
SEN. MARK R. WARNER ON CNN’S STATE OF THE UNION: PASSAGE OF HISTORIC INFRASTRUCTURE BILL “LONG OVERDUE”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that he helped negotiate. He also discussed the results of Virginia’s gubernatorial election, and ongoing negotiations around the budget reconciliation package.
On the passage of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
“The voters in Virginia and the voters of America gave us the presidency, the Senate and the House. They expected us to produce. They’ve been hearing about this bipartisan infrastructure bill for months and I’m very proud of the bill. I was one of the so-called ‘Gang of Ten’ that put it together. Is it perfect? No. But it is the first time in 50 years, 50 years we’ve made this kind of investment.”
On the ongoing budget talks:
“I think what the American people wanted was to do rational pragmatic things. That’s what I tried to do when I got elected governor 20 years ago when Virginia was a very red state. I think the initial plan against COVID in March was what the economy needed and Americans wanted. I think the infrastructure investments were long overdue, but I do think coming out of COVID, when virtually everybody’s life has been dramatically changed, thinking about and putting forward proposals about child care, about preschool, to get folks back into the workplace, to recognize that we’ve been talking about bringing down the cost of prescription drugs for 30 years, and we’re finally going to do it and recognizing we’ve got to grapple with climate change, I actually think that is what the American public hired Joe Biden to do, and I think once we do it, I think you’ll see the president’s numbers dramatically improve.”
Video of Sen. Warner’s interview on State of the Union can be found here. A transcript follows.
CNN’s State of The Union
DANA BASH: Joining me now is the Democratic Senator from Virginia, also former Governor of Virginia, Mark Warner. Thank you so much for joining me, Senator. So you also have been calling for this bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass for months. Had that happened, would Terry McAuliffe be the governor-elect of Virginia right now?
SEN. MARK WARNER: Dana, you know, what a difference a week makes. If we were having this show a week ago or two weeks ago, remember we’ve had two major things happen. One, a great jobs report, 531,000 new jobs, another couple hundred thousand jobs added in preceding months. If we could have had this bipartisan infrastructure bill which Larry Hogan is right, the House could have passed it in August, we could have spent the last three months going around Virginia talking about clean water systems, improving our transportation system, making sure our airports didn’t appear to be third world, making sure every home in Virginia had high speed broadband connectivity. We’ve got a lot of coastal areas, finally the federal government’s stepping in on resiliency. Or an issue like the country is going to buy 25,000 new school buses over the next five years. Chances are they’re going to be electric. Wouldn’t it be great if we made those buses in America or in Virginia? We have money for that in this infrastructure bill. So yeah, I think if we could have been talking about that win, and showing the kind of job creation that actually has been taking place, things might have been different.
BASH: Different in that you think Terry McAuliffe could have pulled off a win?
SEN. WARNER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, this was — the voters in Virginia and the voters of America gave us the presidency, the Senate and the House. They expected us to produce. They’ve been hearing about this bipartisan infrastructure bill for months and I’m very proud of the bill. I was one of the so-called “Gang of Ten” that put it together. Is it perfect? No. But it is the first time in 50 years, 50 years we’ve made this kind of investment.
BASH: So the flipside of what you’re saying is that the Democrats who control Congress, the Democrat in the White House, by not getting this done, they’re responsible for Terry McAuliffe’s defeat.
SEN. WARNER: What I’m saying is I wish the House would have moved earlier, but all of us know, I know as well, we need to pass the second half of the president’s agenda as well. I wish we would have spent less time talking about top line numbers and more time talking about what’s in it. For example, we all know we want to see the economy come further back. We want to deal with the supply chain issues. Part of dealing with the supply chain is getting folks back to work. One of the most important ways we can get people back to work is if we have child care that’s affordable, and universal preschool. That will get particularly women workers back into the workplace. Trying to make sure we all get vaccinated, make sure that people feel safe. Those are things – particularly at least the preschool and child care are part of the president’s second part of this agenda.
BASH: So those are two of many provisions in the other bill that is now waiting to get passed in the House. Is there anything that you want to change? Because as you well know, it takes every single Senate Democrat to vote yes for this second bill to ultimately pass.
SEN. WARNER: Well I think things like child care, preschool make a lot of sense. Lowering price of prescription drugs. I talk a lot about insulin. I got a Type One diabetic daughter, I can afford to pay for insulin. Many families cannot. This new bill will cap insulin for every family at about $35 a month. That is an enormous benefit to many millions of families, making sure we take the appropriate moves towards making sure we have a cleaner energy dealing with climate change. I think one of the things that’s kind of thrown us all for a loop, I think most all of us, the vast majority of Democrats thought that the way we would pay for most of this is by getting rid of some of the Trump tax cuts, going head and raising corporate rates, capital gains and rates for folks like me at the high end. The fact that is not the case means we’ve got to get the pay-fors right and I think that will still take a bit more time. But I’m prepared to vote for this bill once it gets out.
BASH: You’re prepared to vote for it. I just want to take it up to sort of 10,000 feet and ask you about something that your fellow Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger had to say. She said that President Biden and his agenda– about this. She said “Nobody elected him to be FDR, elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.” So are you misreading what Americans wanted out of this president, out of the Democratic caucus, Democratic Congress that is now in control?
SEN. WARNER: I think what the American people wanted was to do rational pragmatic things. That’s what I tried to do when I got elected governor 20 years ago when Virginia was a very red state. I think the initial plan against COVID in March was what the economy needed and Americans wanted. I think the infrastructure investments were long overdue, but I do think coming out of COVID, when virtually everybody’s life has been dramatically changed, thinking about and putting forward proposals about child care, about preschool, to get folks back into the workplace, to recognize that we’ve been talking about bringing down the cost of prescription drugs for 30 years, and we’re finally going to do it and recognizing we’ve got to grapple with climate change, I actually think that is what the American public hired Joe Biden to do, and I think once we do it, I think you’ll see the president’s numbers dramatically improve.
BASH: I want you to listen to what Democratic strategist James Carville had to say about what he thinks went wrong for Democrats.
BASH: Are Democrats too woke, Senator?
SEN. WARNER: Listen, I don’t support defund the police. As a matter of fact, I think you saw Democrats all around who are successful, the new mayor of New York you’re going to have on, he’s talked about investing additionally in our police forces. Are there ways that we need to make policing more community-based? Absolutely. Did the notion of what happened in Virginia where, there is not a school in Virginia that teaches critical race theory, but Governor-elect Youngkin stirred up the cultural pot there. I hope he governs in a different way. I want him to succeed.
BASH: Can I stop you for a second. That is true that it’s not in the Virginia curriculum at all. But did Democrats miss a chance to signal to parents in particular that they understand their anxieties? I talked to democratic candidates and others who say that they didn’t really have a good answer to questions about children and not only what they’re being taught in schools but the anxiety as we come out of the pandemic.
SEN. WARNER: Dana, I think Glenn Youngkin touched a nerve that was felt in Virginia but frankly felt all over the country. And I think sometimes our response, yes, we need to make sure that we increase teacher pay. As a matter of fact, we put — the federal government has put more money into education both under Trump and under Biden, in the last 18 months through COVID than ever in our history. I do think we need to acknowledge that it’s been hell for every parent living through COVID, disrupting their life. I think we need to thank our teachers, I think we need to thank our school board members and I think we needed to have acknowledged the challenge that parents have felt and that we need parents’ involvement in their kid’s education and candidly when we think about additional funding for school, I think one of its most important things we need to have talked about and should be talking about is I think a lot of those kids and a lot of folks, frankly, that have been working in schools are going to need some mental health assistance. I think the aftermath of COVID is not going to be simply solved as we get these schools reopened but getting schools reopened does require the kind of hard choices this president has made about vaccines.
BASH: Well said, Senator. Thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.