Transcript: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on “Face the Nation”, November 21, 2021
The following is a transcript of an interview with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that aired on Face the Nation on Sunday, November 21, 2021.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is coming to us. Good Morning. Senator, thank you for being here.
SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So I would like to come to a few items on the agenda. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was with us last week and said it doesn’t look like paid vacation will be on the final Build Back Better bill. That’s because of the opposition from Senator Joe Manchin. How can you change his mind
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Well Joe Manchin has come a long way on paid vacation. If I talk to him about the subject for about three weeks now and at the beginning of our conversations, he didn’t know much about paid vacation and he asked a lot of really smart questions, how would you do it? build it What would it look like? He really wants it to be a deserved benefit, something that sustains itself, and so am I. And he really wants something that will last for generations. So I’m optimistic that Sen. Manchin and I can continue to talk about ways to include paid vacation in this bill because, in the long term, he wants it to be non-partisan. But I’ve looked up and spoken to all of the Republicans interested in paid vacation and none of them have any interest in what they want to do, which is that deserved achievement idea. So I think Sen. Manchin and I can hopefully get together in the next few weeks to find something that could be included in this package. That would be a single Democratic suggestion that we could start with something – something humble, maybe, that we could start with paid vacation and then work long term with these Republicans on a bigger idea to get the great idea of ââa full 12 weeks of paid vacation for everyone accomplish life events for all humans when they have to meet family needs, be it a new baby or a sick loved one or a dying parent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So humble, you mean four weeks?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: I would be grateful if we could follow House’s suggestion. I think this would be a great start to a universal paid vacation for all people, for all workers, and we know that paid vacation helps people get back to work. We know when it’s parental leave, parents, mothers are 40% more likely to get back to work when they have paid leave, which is due to Sen. Manchin’s concern about wanting to strengthen our social safety nets. He wants to strengthen social security. This is how paid vacation works. It gets people back to work. It enables people to stay at work even in family emergencies. Sometimes if you don’t have paid vacation and there is a family emergency, all you can do is quit. If you have to quit your job, getting it back on is very difficult. So, if your main concern is strengthening social safety nets like social security, paid leave is one of the solutions. And so I hope that if I can use the next three weeks to really impress Sen. Manchin, that some things can only be done with Democrats, this is the only time now, maybe in the next decade.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the proposal in its current form would cost 200 billion over 10 years. Senator Manchin also said he was worried about social security, and that’s the same thing. Speaking of deserved accomplishments, how would you actually accomplish it?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Well, I’d like to work with Sen. Manchin on some of the ideas he has. He likes employer-employee contribution systems. Many states across the country already have this through unemployment insurance, disability insurance. There are ways to create this program–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Like New York State.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Right, and what Senator Manchin is doing right now is that he endorses every aspect of the Build Back Better proposal how to pay for it. So he’s in the driver’s seat how to pay for these suggestions. And so I just hope that it can stay open to include some paid vacation provisions as that is the only moment that paid vacation gets done. The bipartisan ideas you have – he has, they’re not going to work out with the Republican senators interested in paid vacation today because they don’t. You are not interested in a universal plan. That’s a well-deserved benefit because I’ve talked to them–
MARGARET BRENNAN: For you-
SEN. GILLIBRAND: So I think Senator Manchin now has a vision for what he wants to do. In my opinion, it is the only way to bring this demo-only proposal forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And he would like to come and answer some of the questions you are raising about how to do it. One of the other sticking points is the tax cut for high earners, which would definitely interest your constituents in New York, to raise the upper limit for the so-called SALT deduction, state and local taxes. Is that something you need to stick with it?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: So for Sen. Schumer and me and the senators from those states that have very high local and state taxes, like New York, New Jersey, California, when President Trump proposed his $ 1.5 trillion tax cuts. He really did it in a way that did disproportionately harm to these big states.
MARGARET BRENNAN: He lowered the cap to 10,000.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: He did, and it hurt many middle-class families in New York, especially in places like Westchester and Long Island, where a firefighter and teacher would have been harmed if that deduction had been reduced to such a low ceiling were . So we are trying to restore that cap to all middle class wage earners, and the House has reached a compromise to cap that cap at $ 80,000. We want to keep that in the Senate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I would like to ask you about some of the numbers we showed viewers at the beginning of this show about economic and President concerns. Most of the Infrastructure Act will not come into force until 2023, 2024. Build Back Better, as we know let’s talk about it, it’s not finished yet. So what is the message you have on getting the economy right now, and how to tell voters you can actually get this if they stick with the Democrats, if they stick with the unified government? Because you don’t have much time before these midterm races.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: We’re doing everything we can to cut costs for everyday families because people’s costs are increasing. You have these macro powers because of the pandemic which are very difficult to fight. So what these bills do is that the infrastructure bill fixes some of the supply chain issues because–
MARGARET BRENNAN: – Not right away.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: But at least you are investing in ports and investing in ways to fix the supply chain problems that we had. Second, the Build Back Better bill can help reduce prescription drug costs. It’s one of the biggest costs that many families have, especially our seniors. This can reduce childcare costs. They know how expensive childcare is. Affordable daycare, universal pre-k. That will take from zero to five and make it more affordable for families. It is for a lot of families.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you really think the Democrats have already been able to explain that to the voters?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Well we are.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re still talking about a bill that we don’t know what’s in or what’s in it.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Well, the push and pull of what is in the invoice and what is not in the invoice will be resolved in the next few weeks. And once we’ve signed this law, we can explore our states and districts and talk about why affordable daycare is important. I know that when families have to spend 20, 30, 40% of their income just on childcare, what is done for families when sometimes they don’t have a second or third child. Sometimes they have to quit their jobs because it is cheaper to stay at home. This means that parents cannot be wage earners. That means there is less money going into the economy. This means that they cannot grow and make more money in their careers. It stifles economic growth. It is very bad. So an affordable daycare center is one of the fundamental infrastructure investments we need to get more people to work. In this way, we are reducing the costs for people in terms of housing and childcare as well as prescription drugs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That takes time. Before I let you go though, I want to make sure I ask about any sexual assault by the military. You were confident that you could do this. Are you confident that this will remain in this Defense Act?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: So we have our military justice reform that takes all serious crimes out of the chain of command and makes a decision on whether these crimes will be directed to trained military prosecutors who are impartial and bring justice to survivors of sexual assault and other serious crimes. That is now in the Senate draft. The only time this does not become law is when four men come out behind closed doors in a conference. And that would be a cheek, because this law is supported by 66 senators,
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you worried that it will be like that?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: – including Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz who will be on your show, Liz Warren and Bernie Sanders. How many bills in America are these four people supporting? Not many. And on the House side, it is supported by 220 members of the House. That–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Yes.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Democracy shouldn’t be avoided. This shouldn’t be done behind closed doors in the middle of the night. It should be allowed, and everyone should make sure their voice is heard on the matter. If we want justice for soldiers, justice for sexual assault survivors, and justice for all female soldiers. You need this reform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right Senator, thank you for coming in.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Thank you, MARGARET.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.