Manchin: We have to get back to the business of the people

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 19, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  We have had Senator Joe Manchin joining us, a West Virginia Democratic senator.  

Senator, much is made of this back and forth among Democrats and Republicans and particularly coming alive and well and heated in these confirmation hearings, but that the two sides are far apart, just like they were far apart in the Barack Obama years and that will continue ad nauseam.  

Do you think that will be the case?  What happens to the days of reaching across the aisle?  A pox on both houses, I guess.  But what do you think is going to be the -- the environment is going to be like in this Trump administration to come?  

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-WEST VIRGINIA:  Well, Neil, I think things will settle down.  I really hope so.  You know that.  And I'm working as hard as I can to make sure that we start remembering why we're here, who sent us here and for what purpose they sent us here.  

That's what we have got to get back to, the business of the people of this great country of ours and the states we represent.  West Virginia sent me here to work with this president, this president-elect Trump.  That's who was legitimately elected as our president and to make sure we can do everything we can do give them an opportunity to take care of themselves and their family and keep our country safe.  

So, I'm going to do that.  And I'm hoping that we all come back together. So, we will get through this.  And maybe hopefully next week or the couple weeks from now, we will be on regular order, whatever that may be.  We hopefully will be there.  

CAVUTO:  Regular order that sounds intriguing.

But you have a lot of heat, Senator, when it was one of those rare confluence of events where President Obama was coming up to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats about doing anything and everything they could to save the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement, the same day vice president-elect Pence was coming to talk about repeal and what kind of alternatives could come up.  

And you opted to meet with the vice president-elect.  And Democrats were furious at you.  Has that calmed down?  

MANCHIN:  Well, yes, here's the thing.  

I thought both were wrong.  I had heard President Obama was coming to speak to us concerning the health care, affordable health care.  And I thought it would have been great to invite everybody, whether they come or not. Invite everybody.  Bipartisan.  

Well, that didn't happen.  He only spoke to the Democrats. Then I understood the vice president, Pence, was coming up, elect, and he was only meeting with the Republicans.  So I said this is not right.  I'm not going to attend.

So, I just reached out on the spur of the moment and I said I would like to reach out and talk to Vice President Pence and let's start making this bipartisan.  He was gracious enough to accept it.  He met me immediately. We had a nice conversation.  It was our first meeting.  We have met since then and we're going to try to find a pathway forward.  It's the way it should be.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

One of the paths that is going to be tested, I guess, sir, is what is going to be done now with the Affordable Care Act itself.  Republicans have made clear they want to repeal the darn thing.  There's a fight over how quickly to get the alternative plan in there.  But you have heard the CBO study that is out that says a lot of people, millions of them, at a minimum anywhere from 18 million, to, if you move it forward to 2026, 36 million Americans who could be without insurance.  

Of course, that's presupposing there's no replacement plan.  What did you think of that?  

MANCHIN:  Well, you know, first of all, president-elect Trump has said he doesn't want to repeal it unless there's something to replace it or repair it with.  

This is my stance.  I'm not going to vote to repeal it.  And if I'm one Democrat, they're going to need eight Democrats whenever they want to start replacing it.  So we ought to work together now.  And I would encourage my friends on the Republican side not to repeal it.  

Let's look at repairing and fixing, well, because we know there's a lot of parts that need to be repaired.  It truly does.  


CAVUTO:  But they already have the votes.  And they have proven it in test votes, sir.  They have had the votes in the Senate and the House to repeal it.  

MANCHIN:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  You think that would be a mistake without an immediate replacement?  Is that right?  

MANCHIN:  I definitely think it would be a mistake, because I would say this to my friends again.  

I wasn't here in 2009 when they passed it.  The Democrats passed it with 60 Democrat votes and not one Republican vote and we have been split ever since.  My friends on the Republican side are about ready to repeal it and throw it out with 51 Republicans votes and not one Democrat vote.  That's as bad as what -- how it got here.  

And I hope they don't repeat that mistake.  And here's the thing, Neil. They can repeal it with 51 votes.  They got the votes to do that.  To repair and fix it, it is going to take 60 in most instances.  

That means you are going to need at least eight Democrats.  That is going to be a much heavier left, and then you can be left without anything.  And, next of all, if they start taking away all of the taxes that paid for the Obamacare and the 30-some million people left without any coverage at all, you're going to bust the budget cap.  

So I'm just saying be very, very careful what you're doing.  

CAVUTO:  How do you think, Senator, Donald Trump will do as president?  I guess I have heard all sorts of advice for him on his address tomorrow.  
What do you want to hear?  What do you want to see?  What do you expect he will do in those first hours, let's say, as president?

MANCHIN:  Well, Neil, I think basically I have always said you have to get your financial house in order first.  

You can't do anything.  I can promise, running for elections and running for any office I have run for, I can promise you everything that you want to hear that sounds good.  Then, when I get elected, how am I going to be able to deliver and perform?  Unless I have a sound financial standing, and my financial house is in order, I can't do it.  

Right now, we're $20 trillion in debt.  I think President Trump is going to come in and basically, look -- basically, the corrections that need to be made, our trade policies, how much money are we losing.  Can we grow the economy 3, 3.5, maybe 4 percent vs. 2, 2.5?  That's tremendous.  

Can we start paying down debt?  Can we secure our nation by making our military strong?  Can we take care of the people that are in need?  But everyone has to provide and perform.  I think there's a lot that can be done.  I'm excited.  You're always excited with change.  

Neil, I'm looking for the opportunities we have to improve and to fix and repair.  That's the opportunity.  If people are looking at how they can stop, then that's their fault, and maybe we're not here for the right reason.  

And let's take advantage.  Let's see if there's some changes.  I think that President Trump wants to reach across the aisle.  He's told me he does. I'm willing to sit down and get to work and find out that pathway forward. Hopefully, we will have eight or 10 or 12 Democratic senators that will work with us, make something happen.

CAVUTO:  All right, we will watch closely.

Senator Manchin, thank you, as always.  Good seeing you again.

MANCHIN:  You, too, Neil.  Thank you.  It's good to be with you.

CAVUTO:  All right, Senator Joe Manchin.


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