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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Interview With Vice President Kamala Harris; Interview With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hope and struggle. A guilty verdict in the case that exposed deep cracks in America, as more police shootings shock the nation.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are all a part of George Floyd's legacy.

BASH: Are things going to change? Vice President Kamala Harris on the weight of responsibility she feels -- next.

And key vote. President Biden prepares to lay out his priorities to Congress, infrastructure, new taxes, gun control. The hard part starts now.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Why don't you take the greatest need that we have and do it on something that we all agree on?

BASH: The man who holds the key to Democratic priorities, Senator Joe Manchin, joins me in moments.

Plus: starting point? As critics from within the GOP say they worry about the party's future, a group of moderate senators say they are trying to find compromise. Is a deal possible? Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito joins to discuss me ahead.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering just how much things have changed.

In the days since George Floyd's family and communities across America celebrated the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict, the nation has felt both hope that things are changing and despair over new police shootings.

Now a bipartisan working group in Congress says there is momentum to make real progress on policing reform, an effort that failed just last summer. And the White House says police reform will be a key part of President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, part of an ambitious agenda he hopes to pass with the slimmest majorities in the U.S. Senate. As the nation waited to hear from the Chauvin jury, I spoke

exclusively with Vice President Kamala Harris about her history-making role, the weight of the responsibility that brings, and how and when President Biden seeks her advice.


HARRIS: Nine minutes and 29 seconds, right? We all watched that video.

Many of us watched it multiple times. And people are in pain over what we all saw in that video. And, in fact, it was in large part because of that case that, together with my then colleagues Cory Booker in particular and then on the House side Karen Bass, that we wrote the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

And I really do hope that the United States Senate -- the House has passed it -- that the United States Senate will take it on and have the courage to take it on, because there is no question that we have got to put an end to these moments where the public questions whether there's going to be accountability, questions whether there's going to be the kind of fairness that we should all expect and deserve in all of our lives and, in particular, as it relates to people of color, with a particular emphasis on black and brown men in the criminal justice system, as it relates to policing.

This verdict is but a piece of it. And it will not heal the pain that existed for generations, that has existed for generations among people who have experienced and firsthand witnessed what now a broader public is seeing because of smartphones and the ubiquity of our ability to videotape in real time what is happening in front of our faces.

And that's just the reality of it. And that's why -- that's why Congress needs to act. And that's why they should pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

BASH: This is really a moment in America.


BASH: Racial tensions, as you just mentioned, they are really palpable.

Your experience, your life experience, is different from every one of your predecessors.

HARRIS: Mm-hmm.

BASH: How is that bringing itself to bear right here in the White House?

HARRIS: Well, I think that, first of all, you will recall that, when Joe Biden asked me to join him on the ticket, he did so with a sense of intentionality, of purpose, knowing that he and I may have very different life experiences, but we also have the same values and operate from the same principles. But it was something that I know he was very intentional about in terms of asking me to run with him and to serve with him, which is that I will bring a perspective that will contribute to the overall decisions that we make.


He and I are in almost every meeting together, have made almost every decision together. I'm not going to talk about our private conversations, of course, but I can tell you that it is often the case that, as I will ask his opinion about things, he will ask my opinion.

And through that process, I think that we arrive at a good place. And, ultimately, of course, he is the president and he makes the final decision.

BASH: Do you feel a special responsibility, given the fact that...

HARRIS: Listen, I carry a great, great weight of responsibility, knowing that there are so many people, again, the generations of women who fought for and imagined there would be a woman vice president or a woman on the ticket.

And I think of that all the time, in terms of the responsibility I have to hopefully make them proud. I carry a great sense of responsibility for all of the young girls and boys of color, those who identify in some way because maybe no one expected something of them, but they expect a lot of themselves, to do well and to do right and to do good.

So, yes, I carry a great, great sense of responsibility, if not the seriousness of the responsibility, to be in this position and be a voice for those who have not traditionally been in the room.

BASH: You mentioned police reform...


BASH: ... a couple of times.

The House, of course, has passed the bill that you were a co-sponsor of when you were in the Senate. But it doesn't have -- there's not a high hope for it to pass as is in the United States Senate.

So, you talked about the fact that you have a special responsibility. The president talked about the fact that he would always have the backs of African-Americans in this country.

So, will you and he get more involved in the informal negotiations going on, and, if so, how?

HARRIS: Well, we have made our position clear, each of us. And, as an administration, we have made our position clear.

But it is for the folks in the Senate to work together to resolve whatever may be differences of opinion about the details of the legislation. But I think there's no question that the American people, in a bipartisan way, realize and want that there will be some reform of the system.

BASH: More broadly, there have been at least 50 mass shootings in America in a little over a month.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: Your administration has made clear that infrastructure is the next big legislative priority.

Why not guns? Anthony Fauci told me over the weekend that gun violence is a public health emergency.

HARRIS: Well, I would disagree.

We, actually, as an administration, have taken action. The president issued executive orders, for example, on ghost guns. And there is only so much, however, that a president can do through executive action.

This president, Joe Biden, has a longstanding history of speaking very clearly and unambiguously about the need for smart gun safety laws back from the time that he was in the Senate through today.

But I guess that emphasizes the point that, both he, when he was in the Senate, when I was in the Senate, same thing, we were pushing for legislation. Congress has to act.

BASH: Exactly.

HARRIS: Because we have to codify -- that's a fancy word for make permanent, make the law that we agree we should have background checks. That's just reasonable gun safety laws.

We should have an assault weapons ban. Assault weapons have been designed to kill a lot of people quickly. They are weapons of war. And Congress has to act, Dana.

I mean, I was recently in Connecticut. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and the governor there, so many people, the families of Sandy Hook. You know, I honestly thought, I honestly thought that, when those babies, 20 6- and 7-year-old children were slaughtered, I really thought Congress would act. I thought that would be the thing. And it didn't happen.


BASH: But do you think it can happen? My question was about...

HARRIS: It has to happen. It has to happen.

BASH: But my question was about your priority as an administration, pushing it harder.

HARRIS: But it is part of our priority. We have to multitask, so not one to the exclusion of the other. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: President Biden gave Kamala Harris her first major assignment as vice president, and critics are seizing on it. I will ask her about that next.

And in a divided Senate: The whole Biden agenda could depend on him. Senator Joe Manchin is with us ahead.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

Close to 100 days in, and Vice President Kamala Harris' role inside the Biden administration is taking shape. The president has said he wants her to be the last person in the room when he makes a big decision.

And he recently made her the point person on one of the biggest challenges facing his young presidency.


BASH: Let me ask about immigration.

HARRIS: Of course.

BASH: President Biden tasked you with leading diplomatic efforts to work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries...

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: ... to address the root causes of migration.

HARRIS: Mm-hmm.

BASH: How do you define success in this role?

HARRIS: Yes, it's a great question.

Well, let's first talk about what it is. You know, I come at this issue from the perspective that most people don't want to leave home. They don't want to leave their grandparents. They don't want to leave the place where they grew up, where the -- they speak the language, where they know the culture, the place where they're -- the place that is home.

Most people don't want to leave home. And when they do, it's usually for one of two reasons. They're fleeing some harm or they cannot stay and satisfy the basic necessities of life, such as feeding their children and having a roof over their head.

[09:15:12] That's the -- that is part of -- a big part of what is going on. So, I look at the issue of what's going on in the Northern Triangle from that perspective.

And then my take on it is that we have got to -- understanding that, we have to give people some sense of hope that, if they stay, that help is on the way.

And that brings me to then my focus, which is, for example, I convened a group of members of our Cabinet, secretary of agriculture, secretary of commerce, the head of USAID, which is our aid organization. Tony Blinken, secretary of state, was a part of it. Jake Sullivan was a part of it.

And bringing together members of our Cabinet to do what, for example, is going to happen out of Commerce, which is, they're going to convene a trade mission, virtually now, and the hope is in person later, with Agriculture. Tom Vilsack is going to increase our focus and our resources around helping the farmers in that region who have been devastated by crisis in terms of climate and drought.

USAID, we're increasing our disaster response because, again, of the hurricanes. So, this is the kind of work that has to happen. The kind of work that has to happen is the diplomatic work that we have been engaged in, including my calls to the president of Mexico, the president of Guatemala.

And we have a plan to actually have another meeting coming up soon. And, in that regard, it is...

BASH: Are you going to go there?

HARRIS: Yes. We're working on the plan to get there. We have to deal with COVID issues, but I can't get there soon enough, in terms of personally getting there. And then, and then we have to also look at the piece about community-based organizations.

So, for example, this week, in addition -- or next week, in addition to meeting again with the president of Guatemala, I will be meeting the following day with the community-based organizations in Guatemala -- they call them, basically, civil society -- to figure out how we can better assist what they're doing on the ground in a way, again, that they can give the resources to people who naturally want to stay at home and give them some sense of hope that help is on the way.

This is the work that we're doing. But it's not going to be solved overnight. It's a complex issue. Listen, if this were easy, it would have been handled years ago.

BASH: Well, that's what I was going to ask you.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: When President Biden said, would you like to do this -- or not would you like to -- you will do this, did you say, oh, gee, thanks, Mr. President? HARRIS: No, he asked me to do it...

BASH: Yes.

HARRIS: ... just as he was asked to do it.

Joe Biden, as vice president, had -- was asked by President Obama to focus on the Northern Triangle. And he has asked me to do and to carry on the work that he did.

And you get back -- get back to the question that you have asked. We're making progress, but it's not going to evidence itself overnight. It will not. But it will be worth it. And I will tell you, part of my approach to this is, we have got to institutionalize the work and also internationalize it, which is why, for example, I'm working with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.

And we're going to be increasing the requests we're making of our allies in the United Nations, because, again, this is about the Western Hemisphere. We are a neighbor in the Western Hemisphere. And it is also about understanding that we have the capacity to actually get in there, if we are consistent.

Part of the problem is that, under the previous administration, they pulled out, essentially, a lot of what had been the continuum of work, and it essentially came to a standstill.

BASH: You're rebuilding it?

HARRIS: We have to rebuild it.

And I have made it very clear to our team that this has to be a function of a priority that is an American priority, and not just a function of whoever happens to be sitting in this chair, because, for example, looking at, again, the root causes, extreme weather conditions has had a huge impact on one of their biggest industries, which is agriculture, including drought, right?

And so a residual point, not only about the economic devastation and what we need to do to assist with economic development and relief, but it's also they have got extreme hunger there and food insecurity, and so what we need to do to address that...

BASH: Yes.

HARRIS: ... because, again, if parents and if children cannot literally eat, if they cannot have the basic, essential things that everyone needs to live, of course they're going to flee. And that's what we're seeing.

BASH: President Biden always said that he wants you to be the last person in the room...


BASH: ... particularly for big decisions, just as he was for President Obama.



BASH: He just made a really big decision, Afghanistan.


BASH: Were you the last person in the room?


BASH: And you feel comfortable?


And I'm going to add to that. This is a president who has an extraordinary amount of courage. He is someone who I have seen over and over again make decisions based on what he truly believes -- based on his years of doing this work and studying these issues, what he truly believes is the right thing to do.

And I'm going to tell you something about him. He is acutely aware that it may not be politically popular or advantageous for him personally. It's really something to see. And I wish that the American public could see sometimes what I see, because, ultimately -- and the decision always rests with him, but I have seen him over and over again make decisions based exactly on what he believes is right, regardless of what maybe the political people tell him is in his best selfish interest.

BASH: We're almost at 100 days.

Tell me something that has surprised you, that you never thought that you would see, hear or feel personally, as the vice president of the United States.

HARRIS: We are going to lift half of America's children out of poverty, Dana. How about that? How about that? Think about that.

I can't tell -- and maybe it's obvious -- how much that means, how much -- what that will mean. That's good stuff. That's really good stuff.

BASH: Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

HARRIS: OK. Thank you. Thank you.


BASH: And coming up: It is now more than 60 mass shootings in just six weeks in America. Is there finally momentum in Congress to act?

Senator Joe Manchin is here next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

President Biden is set to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress this week and lay out his priorities to a nation still fighting a pandemic and exhausted by a string of mass shootings, while coming to a reckoning on racial justice, Biden's big sell, to rebuild and reinvent the nation's infrastructure.

Joining me now for an exclusive interview is the man who holds the key in the Senate to whether any of that can get done, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Thank you so much for coming in.

MANCHIN: Well, good morning, Dana. Good to be with you.

BASH: Nice to see you in person.

MANCHIN: Yes, it's great to be in the studio again.

BASH: Yes.

So, you said this week the best chance for bipartisan infrastructure is to focus on what you call conventional infrastructure, roads, bridges, water, broadband. Key Republicans introduced a proposal, $600 billion, targeted to the issues you're talking about. Do you support it?

MANCHIN: Well, it's a good start. It really is. And I'm glad they did it, because it came out of EPW Committee, which is -- Tom Carper and my colleague Shelley Capito is basically the ranking member.

And they have worked it together. So, we know it has bipartisan support. We just have to look to see if we have gotten everything in there that we need. And we will be working on that together. So, I'm very, very pleased with that.

And this is the way we start negotiations. And they have put their best foot forward, but it's a starting point.

BASH: Yes.

MANCHIN: And it's not the finishing line.

BASH: So, you say that. And, clearly, there is a lot of work to do.

But I want to ask kind of more of a big picture...


BASH: ... because there seems to be a bit of a disconnect on how to define infrastructure here.

President Biden has broader ambitions.


BASH: He, for example, has a plan inside his big proposal that includes $400 billion for in-home care for elderly Americans and those with disabilities, also billions more for childcare facilities.

Do you support that?

MANCHIN: Well, here's the thing. All the things that he has stated that's needed is needed.

To what extent, we have to go in that and go through the process of having our hearings and looking at a markup in a committee, and then seeing, having professionals come in, going to the floor with an amendment process.

By that time, you're going to have all different sides coming to agree -- hopefully to agree on something.

Just take what we did last week, which was the hate crimes bill. Who would have thought we would have gotten 94-1? Think about that. People wouldn't have expected Democrats and Republicans to be in unison on that, and we did. But it had a process on the floor.

BASH: But -- yes. I hear what you're saying. It's hard to find bipartisanship.

But one would think that condemning hate crimes against Asian Americans and others...

MANCHIN: You would think all these things make sense, OK?

BASH: Right. But this is -- these are real policy differences.

MANCHIN: Well, these policies here...


BASH: But do you think that those things...

MANCHIN: I think they should be separated.

BASH: You do?

MANCHIN: I do think they should be separated, because, when you start putting so much into one bill, which we call an omnibus bill, makes it very, very difficult for the public to understand.

When you talk about infrastructure, they understand infrastructure. Internet is a new infrastructure that we didn't have before. And it should be. But you're talking about transit, airports, the rail systems, the lines as far as our electricity, which is the grid system.

All of these things need upgrade. And we have to make sure, with the new energy coming on, that we're able to get it to market. So all of this has to be incorporated. That's infrastructure, what we would call traditional infrastructure.

The human infrastructure is something that we're very much concerned about. And when you think about all that we have done in the last year, and plus the COVID bill this year, American Rescue Plan, an awful lot has been done in there too.


So, we have to see what the effects of all that is.

BASH: So, just to be clear, it sounds like you're supporting a smaller package with what you deem traditional infrastructure.

MANCHIN: It's targeted, more targeted, Dana.

BASH: And would you tackle everything else with 51 votes through the reconciliation process?


I -- if people would just think about, if we go through the process that we're supposed to -- we never used to use filibuster. And reconciliation is only used for budget.

And that's why you have the guardrails put on with the Byrd Rule. So, we have to get back to getting it into the committees, let the committee chair and the members of those committees work at the jurisdictions, whichever it comes to. I'm chairman of Energy. Energy projects would come to me.

Then we would work it, give it back to the majority leader. They put it on the floor with an open amendment process that's germane. Once you go through all of that -- you know, Byrd -- Bob Byrd, when he was majority leader, used to keep us here Friday night, Saturday, until we got it...

BASH: That was a long time ago.

MANCHIN: Well, that's -- yes, things worked.

BASH: Different culture.

MANCHIN: Things worked.

BASH: President Biden is going to give his first speech to Congress this week. He's going to call for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to combat poverty and expand childcare.

One in five children in your home state of West Virginia live in poverty. So, do you think that raising taxes to help those who need it most is doable?


MANCHIN: I think we can find a balance.

But when you have reports from professionals that say that $400 billion to $1 trillion not even collected and the loopholes we had -- we have eviscerated the IRS. They don't have the guts or basically the firepower they had before.

All of these things should be explored before we start just raising taxes exponentially.

BASH: So, you don't support raising taxes at all right now?

MANCHIN: Oh, yes, I always support, basically -- I'm supporting anything that makes common sense and is reasonable.

BASH: So, does raising taxes...

MANCHIN: But if you're just saying raising taxes for the sake of raising taxes, and not collecting what taxes have already been owed, and we're not closing loopholes...

BASH: But what if you did it together?

MANCHIN: Well, you will look at everything together and make sure.

And you look at the -- basically, the scope of the program of how much they want, and see if that's necessary or needed. But...

BASH: I guess my question is, if there's somebody out there wondering if their taxes are going to -- if they're wealthy, part of the half of the top 1 percent, wondering, are my taxes going to be raised, and looking to you, Joe Manchin, to answer that question, what's the answer?

MANCHIN: Oh, I think that, basically, you will be paying your fair share if your taxes are raised.

But, basically, have you been paying your taxes at all, the way you're able to report, being in the super wealthy? Or have you been able to use different pass-throughs and different bypasses or loopholes that have been in the system? We're going to close all those. We have to.

BASH: Senator, I talk to Democrats who tell me the reason President Biden's ambitious agenda is so big and so bold is because they understand history.

And history shows that the president's party, if they have majorities in Congress, as he does, oftentime lose that in the midterm elections. And that's why they have a small window to get things done, they believe, as possible.

So, they believe that you're one of the main roadblocks on getting those goals accomplished.


BASH: How do you respond to that? MANCHIN: I'm not a roadblock at all.

The best politics is good government. I can't believe that people believe that, if you just do it my way, and that'll give us some momentum to get through the next election.

But when you do something that everyone tags on to -- and I have seen good things happen. The people voted against it took credit for it when they went back home.

We won't give this system a chance to work. I am not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours or, basically, this democracy of ours or the republic that we have. If we have a 51-vote threshold in the Senate, the same as the House, the House wasn't designed to be partisan. The House was designed to be hot as a firecracker.

We were designed to cool it off. And that's the founding fathers. It was a brilliant, brilliant strategy they looked at. So, why can't we try to make this work?

If you have the violent swings every time you have a party change, then we will have no consistency whatsoever.

BASH: I want to ask you about the issue of guns.


BASH: You're talking a lot about bipartisanship. You have had a bipartisan plan to expand background checks for some years.

We have seen -- I talked to the vice president earlier in the week. I said, it was 50 mass shootings in six weeks. Now it's up to 60...

MANCHIN: It's awful.

BASH: ... in six weeks.

More than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. So, where is the urgency on this? Shouldn't this be a really important, key priority for you...


BASH: ... as somebody who wants to work across the aisle?

MANCHIN: But every time a bill comes out, Dana, every time a bill comes out, it's far in scope.

We have basically took a bill way back in 2013, myself and Pat Toomey, and we worked on it, and had good bipartisan support. Then we lost it right in the last week. NRA was against it. But, basically, we call it common gun sense.

And now we have a group working together. You have got Chris Murphy doing a great job. Chris is looking for that balance.

BASH: And is that doable? Is that balance doable right now?

MANCHIN: I sure think it is doable that we can find common gun sense.

You have to understand, law-abiding gun owners aren't going to loan their guns or sell their guns to strangers. But we have so many loopholes in the system.


Can't we just fix what's broken?

BASH: That's what a lot of people are asking.

MANCHIN: Well, that -- we do.

But then we get a bill that has everything but that. It has that and a lot more. And you just -- they just can't take the commonsense approach to fixing the things that are broken, and then move from there.

BASH: Before I let you go...


BASH: ... you crossed party lines this week. You endorsed Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

I know she's your friend, but you disagree on a whole lot of things, from the GOP tax cut bill...


BASH: ... to the individual mandate, which she voted to repeal, Amy Coney Barrett.

Why did you endorse her?

MANCHIN: Well, basically, when you have someone such as Lisa Murkowski that is just this solid -- and when I say solid, looks at the issue, not afraid to make and step out and make a decision. She's done that and done it so well over many, many years.

Her and I have been friends, and we have had great conversations. And there's no gotcha moment. There's no time when she's ever basically gone just along party lines for the sake of party lines. She gives it a good, strenuous thought process.

And I think people like Lisa Murkowski should be in the Senate. And I'm going to support the people that I do. I don't look at the party lines saying, that's a barrier for me. Party line -- the country is what my concern is, and having the best people to make a decision.

There's so much we can do together. You can't throw out, you just can't throw out the purpose of us being in the Senate. There's two senators for every state, little Delaware, little Rhode Island, big California, big Texas, big New York. BASH: Yes.

MANCHIN: Why? They don't want the big person beating up on the little person.

In the Senate, the minority always has input. And it has to stay that way.

BASH: Senator Joe Manchin, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

MANCHIN: Thank you for having me.

BASH: Thanks for coming in.

MANCHIN: Uh-huh. Bye-bye.

BASH: And the last two-term Republican president slams his party and what is to become under Donald Trump. So, do moderate Republicans still support President Trump?

Senator Shelley Moore Capito joins me next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

Some Senate Republicans are counting and countering President Joe Biden's trillion-dollar plan, his actually $2 trillion infrastructure plan, with one of their own, a sliver of the size, and it's only $600 billion, focusing primarily on transportation, like roads and bridges, with other areas, like broadband, Internet and drinking water.

They're calling it a starting point.

Joining me now is a Republican leading the effort on the counteroffer, Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Senator, you unveiled your own $600 billion infrastructure bill, a number you have called a good starting point. But President Biden is pushing for a $2.3 trillion bill.

So, if this is all about bipartisan compromise, are you willing to go over a trillion dollars to meet Democrats in the middle?

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): Well, I think we have to look at the comparison of the two plans.

We really narrowed the focus on infrastructure to really look at physical infrastructure, roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems. The president's bill, the $2.2 trillion, goes far afield from that. So, where I think the first starting point we need to have is, let's

do an apples-to-apples comparison of the physical infrastructure, core infrastructure of his plan with how it matches up with what we have put forward.

The president asked for our plan, and we thought it was really important to put a marker in to show what we thought was important, what's going to be the job-creating infrastructure plan, and how much it would be.

So, I think we're at a really -- and all indications are, it's time to really start putting the pencils to the paper.

BASH: So, just to follow up on that, if the apples-to-apples match and you come to an agreement, you are open to a midway point just on the money?

CAPITO: Well, we're open to looking at these -- all these different areas, as long as it's paid for, as long -- we have always done this bipartisan, this physical infrastructure piece. And there's no reason we shouldn't be able to get to an agreed amount at this point.

I don't know where that is right now, but at least we're talking and we're starting to talk, and we have gotten some good signals back that this is the direction the White House and others want to go.

BASH: You have said that infrastructure should be fully paid for. But you also say increasing the corporate tax rate is a non-negotiable red line.

So, would any tax hike be acceptable to you?

CAPITO: Where I think it's important for folks to know how we have paid for the ideas we have on the table, we have got, of course, the gas tax, which is the trust fund, which is a declining resource.

We also have user fees. We have folks using our roads and bridges and other infrastructure that aren't really paying in for the maintenance and use of those highways. That would be electric vehicles or hydrogen or some hybrid. So we build that into formula.

I think too an idea that we need to look at is to look at the COVID dollars that have already been appropriated and move that towards infrastructure, let our cities and towns use that money for roads and bridges for their match.

So, I think we have got some really good ideas that doesn't -- that don't incorporate raising any taxes, but simply looks at the users and the consumers of infrastructure and says, let's pay with this with dollars that we generate from those entities.

BASH: Have you heard from the White House since you released your plan?



Yes, I have. Yes, I have, very encouraging signs. I saw what Jen Psaki on her -- in her comments. And I have talked with others. And we are circling back on Monday to figure out the best strategies forward. I have talked to our ranking members. I have talked to my committee chairmen. I have talked to Democrats. This is an active conversation, and I think that it's a good beginning.

BASH: You have said that you expect climate change to be part of these infrastructure negotiations.

You're a Republican who believes the climate crisis is real, and you say that you want to be part of the solution. President Biden is proposing $174 billion for electric cars in his plan. Are you open to that?

CAPITO: Well, the last highway bill that we passed, which is one of the anchors of this plan, does have infrastructure in there for electric charging stations and innovations around electric vehicles.

Where I differ from the president is, I don't think we need $160 billion to incent people to buy electric vehicles. I don't think that we should be building the charging stations throughout this country, when private -- private entities are going to be the beneficiaries of having charging stations at their different stopping points along the highways.

And I think they should play a part here. So I think that's where we really start to really separate on E.V.s. I'm all about moving forward with the technology and creating an electric vehicle economy. That's fine.

But let's let the private sector participate in that. That's where I think has the best -- the best possibilities of really making the most out of our, not just private dollars, but public dollars as well.

BASH: I want to turn to the issue of police reform.


BASH: Your fellow Republican Senator Tim Scott proposed a compromise on so-called qualified immunity that would allow individuals to sue police departments, but not individual police officers.

Do you support that?

CAPITO: Well, I definitely support Senator Scott's efforts.

I was on the Justice Act that got caught up in politics in the fall. I think he has redoubled his efforts and is working across the aisle. I think the time is now. I think there's a real, a real -- and it's probably past due, but a real want to get this done, and I think to get it done right.

But we have got to make sure that we are still recruiting in and have the possibilities of having what is a core, I think, function of our government, which is a law enforcement that protects us.

Qualified immunity is definitely a hot button issue. I think the way that Senator Scott has formulated some revisions to qualified immunity is on the table right now. I know he's in active negotiations on this piece. And I know that's a big piece of this.

BASH: And do you like what you have heard about it?

CAPITO: Yes, I like what Senator Scott has put forward.

I think other things that we had in the Justice Act would -- eliminates choke holds, and it makes a registry so that you're not passing bad cop to bad cop. There's a lot of really good things in there that I think are going to be the core of any kind of justice bill that we pass.

I know there's different ideas. There's the George Floyd Act and others. So we will be looking at that to try to find ways to move forward.

BASH: I want to ask about vaccine hesitancy, Senator.

Polls show almost half of Republicans don't want to get a vaccine. I want you to listen to your fellow Republican Senator Ron Johnson and what he said about getting vaccinated.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): If you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?

What is it to you? You have got a vaccine, and science is telling you it's very, very effective. So, why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?


BASH: He went on to say he's -- quote -- "highly suspicious" of what's happening here.

Do comments like that hurt your push for Americans to get vaccinated, especially hesitant Republicans?

CAPITO: Well, I definitely think that comments like that hurt.

I believe that we should all have confidence, that we should -- to not just protect ourselves, but our communities and our neighbors. We should get vaccinated. And I wouldn't say that only Republicans have hesitancy.

I think that there are some folks that are unsure. And when we saw what happened over the last week with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that really sort of chills people that were maybe waiting.

So, no, I disagree with my fellow senator. I think we ought to move forward. West Virginia has done a great job in this area, but we're starting to find that we have more vaccine than we do have people who are willing to step forward.

So, I'm trying to do whatever I can to say, it's safe, it's reliable, and it's really about you and your neighbor. And that's what we need to take into consideration.

BASH: Speaking of fellow Republicans, another one, Liz Cheney, was under fire, you remember, for voting to impeach President Trump.


There is a "New York Times" report that some of her male GOP colleagues made what some women in the room considered sexist attacks. One compared it to when you -- quote -- "look up into the stands and see your girlfriend on the opposition's side."

As a Republican woman yourself, when you heard about that, what did you think?

CAPITO: Well I can tell you what, that Liz Cheney is one strong woman.

And I think she has a terrific insight and great, strong backbone. So I don't think any -- anything -- any comment like that could even touch her in terms of offending her.

I mean, people have to just stop with the casual comments that are hurting, that they don't realize the ramifications of it. I don't know. I mean, I feel like, as a woman leader, I'm going to be just as strong as a man. And whatever the side comments are, I just don't pay attention to them. We have just got to keep moving forward here.

BASH: Last question.


BASH: You called President Trump's actions during the January 6 insurrection disgraceful. And you said history will judge him harshly.

Would you support the former president if he runs again in 2024?

CAPITO: Well, I think that is a really premature question.

And I think January 6 still is very vivid in many of us who were at the Capitol that day, in our minds, as a very sad day for our country.

The Republican Party is strong. We have got a lot of folks who are not just looking to lead into 2022, but into 2024. So, we will see. I hope that President Trump plays a role. I don't know whether he will run or not, but we can sort that out as time goes on.

Thank you.


Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, appreciate it. CAPITO: All right, thank you.

BASH: Some good news to share now, all of us here at "State of the Union" want to welcome it's newest member of the CNN family, Oliver Sterling Arzoumanov. Born this week to our executive producer Abigail and her husband Alex. Oliver and his mom are both doing great and ready for Oliver to get to know his big brother Nicholas.

Abigail he is precious. We can't wait for both boys to be old enough to realize how truly remarkable their mom is.

Thanks so much for spending your Sunday morning with us. Make sure to tune into Jake Tapper's newly expanded weekday show starting tomorrow. That is "The Lead" and it now airs from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

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