Manchin, Murkowski: Endorsing Each Other; Build Back Better Is Dead Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., walks with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as they make their way to the Senate Chambers at the U.S. Capitol on October 06, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 06 February 2022 10:16 AM
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, while stressing the values of bipartisanship Sunday morning, said they'd endorse each other's reelection campaigns, and Manchin stressed again that President Joe Biden's Built Back Better bill will remain dead because it was being pushed without both sides having the opportunity for input.
"The Build Back Better bill has been presented over, what, the last seven, eight, nine months," Manchin, D-W.Va., said on CNN's "State of the Union" during a lengthy joint interview with Murkowski, R-Alaska. "That bill no longer will exist."
Manchin said his biggest concern and opposition was that it did not go "through the process" of committee discussions.
"Whether or not Lisa votes for it, being a Republican, she should have an opportunity to have input," said Manchin. "It should have gone through the committee. These are major changes. Those changes should be a hearing, there should be markup and then you'll have a better product whether your friends on the other side vote for it or not, but they have to have input."
Murkowski and Manchin, meanwhile, both said they'd back each other's election campaigns.
"Alaska could only be so lucky to have her continue to serve them," Manchin said of Murkowski. "She knows I say that. It's hypocritical to work with a person day in and day out and when they're in [the election cycle,] you're supposed to be against them because they have an R or D by their name. If these are good people I've worked with and we've accomplished a lot. Why in the world would I not want to continue to work with them? They've been my dear friends. We get a lot accomplished and the country has fared better."
Murkowski agreed that if Manchin seeks reelection in 2024, she'll back him as well. The Democrat senator, however, has been coming under fire from members of his own party for his refusals on the Build Back Better bill and other Democrat-backed legislation.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which did pass, came about because there was a group of people who said something must be done, rather than just send a message from one party or another, said Murkowski.
She added that in Alaska, there is a deep need for infrastructure money.
"I had to explain to them why, instead of surface transportation, I needed support in Alaska for things like a marine highway system when you have 80% of your communities that aren't connected by land," she said. "I had to listen to people like Mark Warner and Mark Warner had to listen to people like me explain what goes on in our part of the country."
Both senators are also working on election reform, particularly after the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
"When one congressman and one senator can bring a state's authentic count to a halt, it's wrong," he said. "It's not protecting electors when you can change electors before you send them here after the election. This is what we're going to fix. We have a group that's continuing to grow. We're 15 to 20 people that want to be part of it now."
And, Manchin said he believes the legislation "absolutely will pass," even though some people are saying it does not go far enough.
"Some are going to criticize it for not being enough, and others will say too much," Murkowski agreed "We're going to take the Goldilocks approach here. We're going to try to find what's just right. It's not going to be just right for everybody, but will it be a step ahead? Will it be important for the country? Yeah."
Manchin said the group also wants to keep legislation alive that will make it easy for people to vote.
"Every American has absolutely the right to vote and it should be protected by law, but it's not written," he said. "This is what we're looking at if we can do that without infringing…we don't want anybody telling Alaska what your election law should be or West Virginia."
Murkowski on Sunday also acknowledged it's not easy to be a purely partisan politician at this time.
"You've got to be comfortable enough in who you are and who you represent and why you're here," she said. "I'm not here to be the representative of the Republican party. I'm here to be the representative for the Alaskan people, and I take that charge very, very seriously."
Manchin agreed that he doesn't think politics were "designed to be comfortable, but it sure as heck wasn't designed to be miserable…I'm not going to be in a miserable situation when I have good friends I can work with."