'The president is willing to negotiate' on infrastructure bill: Jennifer Granholm

George Stephanopoulos interviews Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on "This Week."
6:53 | 04/11/21

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Transcript for 'The president is willing to negotiate' on infrastructure bill: Jennifer Granholm
There's more money in their electric cars than roads and bridges. What is your definition of infrastructure? It can't be too small because what we're talking about now needs to be transformative and it has to be big. I think it's more likely that we will have a package that is not paid for, and is less robust. We'll be open to new ideas and good faith negotiations, but here's what we won't be open to. We will not be open to doing nothing. The debate over president Biden's plan. Let's join in now with one of thcabinet secretaries, secretary Granholm. Thank you for joining us this morning. You heard the round table right there. It seems there are two courses ahead of the president right now. Stick with the big package and try to get Joe Manchin on board, and break it up into smaller pieces and get Republicans on board. Let's talk about the first path first. What's the pitch to Joe Manchin to get him to buy off on this big package? Because so much of this package will help not just west Virginia, but the states like West Virginia that have been historically mining fossil fuels, extracting fossil fuels. Republicans and Democrats agree on the importance of not leaving communities behind where the market has moved in a different direction like in coal, and so this will help to train people who are in that industry to move to these new technologies that are not a whole lot different from the skills that they may be using in mine and coal. It will help to make sure that these industries are able to remove carbon from their emissions. So there's a lot in there that helps these states move to the future in addition to roads and bridges and in rural states, broadband. And transmission. So much in here to love. You say in addition to roads and bridges. You heard Chris Christie there saying that the president is not being fully truthful about what infrastructure actually is. Yeah. This -- I mean, what is infrastructure? Historically it's been what makes the economy move. What do we need to ensure our citizens are productive? You need transmission and you need lights in people's homes and offices and make sure people can go to work if they have an aging parent or a child. This is, you know, as the president said this week, that infrastructure evolves to meet the American people's aspirations, and it's not static. In 1990, we wouldn't have thought that broadband was infrastructure because it wasn't on the scene yet. We need that in every pocket of the country. The president wants to negotiate with Republicans, and he wants to see a common vision for the future. Chris Christie talked about -- talking about the future. We don't want to use past definitions of infrastructure when we are moving into the future, and by the way, when other countries are investing significantly in their infrastructure to overcome us. Research and development, that's also part of a manufacturing infrastructure that we have seen go. We're at a 70-year low in terms of manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the economy. Bottom line is, Chris -- I mean, Chris. I'm sorry, George. We have to move forward. I know. I apologize. But anyway, bottom line is we have to move forward and we have to look forward and we have the win the future, and this is the biggest investment in the Fure of America that we have seen in our lifetime. It seems like the ceiling for Republican support is about $1 trillion which is less than half of what the president is proposing right now. Is the president willing to talk about a package about that size? Maybe break up the big package into several pieces? The president is willing to negotiate what this looks like. He knows that -- that his current plan is going to be changed. That's the nature of compromise. So whether it is in one big package or several packages, he wants to talk to Republicans because again, a lot of the Republicans that he's talking to, have actually introduced bills that are consonant with what's in this package. At the end of 2020, there was a massive energy act of 2020 that was hugely bipartisan that made authorizations for investments just like this stuff. So I don't know how you can say in Texas that it's not important to invest in transmission grid. These are things Democrats and Republicans know need to happen. It's a question of the process to get to the finish line. The Obama administration looking back spent too much time on health care when it wasn't possible. How much time is the president willing to give the Republican party to see if there really can be bipartisanship before he goes for a Democrats alone strategy on reconciliation? First of all, you could get a bipartisan solution on reconciliation too by the way, but I do think the president wants to give it the time necessary to see if he can achieve that bipartisan support. So, you know, hopefully there will be progress by memorial day. I know that he wants to get this done by summer. So, you know, not doing something is not an option. He wants to see this happen, and we are still $8.4 million -- million jobs in the hole before the covid crisis hit. We know we need to move and we need to move quickly, but we also want it to be bipartisan. We are still in the hole, but the economy is starting to grow. Do you think that will make it more difficult to get the support you need right now? Well, you know what, George? Even though the economy is growing, it's excellent, the execution that was made in getting shots in people's arms and money in people's pockets. That was the rescue package for covid, and this is the recovery. Because we have disinvested in our nation for so many years, the fact that we have seen a 40% decline since the 1960s in infrastructure, we have -- we are competing globally. If we want to win this race and, you know, standing up for example, fabrication facilities for semiconductors. That's in this package too. If we don't do, that you better believe we're going to lose the ability to do electric vehicles and technology that's important. Making the battery supply chain for the batteries for electric vehicles here in the united States instead of relying on other countries. We need to make these investments. We need to make the investments at the size of the need for America to win, and so that's what this is about. He does not want to see it diminished to a point where we're not going to achieve what we need to achieve for this country, and our people. Secretary Granholm, thanks for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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