Interview with Senator Mark Warner

Interview with Senator Mark Warner

By John King, USA - June 6, 2012

KING: But job creation is a policy issue that bridges the aisle for some lawmakers. Take Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who said this in an e-mail this week: "We can not allow election year politics to interfere with smart, reasonable efforts to strengthen our economy and jump-start job creation. We want to demonstrate that Congress can get something significant done even during an election year, when we're willing to put partisanship aside and work together."

He's promoting a bipartisan jobs bill with some Democrats and even Republican senators like Marco Rubio.

Senator Warner with us now live from Capitol Hill.

So, Senator, you have a bipartisan plan. Why can't you get everyone to vote on it today? Why does the election get in the way?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, John, the senators who are sponsoring this -- we call it Start-Up 2.0 -- are all new guys. And I think we didn't get the memo that we are supposed to take presidential election years off.

This bill that we have got isn't going to solve all the problems. But it really goes and looks at where job creation has taken place in the last 20 years; 80 percent of all the new jobs in America have come from start-up companies, not just technology companies, restaurant chains, Under Armour, the sporting wear company.

But they're start-up ventures. So a few months back, we passed a bill to try to get those companies greater access to capital. Start- Up 2.0 basically says, let's make sure we can also compete for world- class talent.

So, when American universities train graduate students in engineering and math and science, we don't have enough native-born Americans. We train people from abroad. And what we are saying is, rather than sending them home, if there are jobs open here that Americans can't fill, let them have those jobs here in America.

Go ahead and staple that green card, that -- to -- the visa to that graduate degree. If you want to start a business, let's do that as well, an entrepreneur, basically, if you can show that you can actually raise money and hire companies here or hire Americans here.

Again, not going to completely move the needle, but if you look at where job creation has taken place, this is some place to start. And we don't need to wait until after the election.

KING: You say that and I'm going to borrow your language.

You say the new guys want to do this. So, I am going to say the old guys are getting in the way. When you talk to your leader, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, or when the Republicans talk, they would have to go through the House speaker, John Boehner, to get the Republicans to work.

What is their answer? Because what you have had in the last few months -- you have watched this. The Republicans in the House have passed a whole bunch of bills, they say, that would create jobs. There are some ideas in them I know you like. The Democrats have passed a whole bunch of bills in the Senate or several bills in the Senate and have ideas in the Senate. But they say it is the Republicans. The Republicans say it is the Democrats. Why does the election prevent some action?

WARNER: Well, it does make you scratch your head.

And you got to look for incremental progress. We came together about a month-and-a-half ago on this -- it was called the JOBS Act. It was a capital access bill, ability for these start-up companies to raise money in an easier fashion.

The president supported it, the House supported it. We passed it in the Senate. And it's signed into law.


KING: So why do they tell you go away?

If you go to your leader -- you're a Democrat. Let's focus on Harry Reid. When you say, come on, give me a chance, why does he say stop, not until after the election?

WARNER: Look, I think that he will give us a chance, and we need to show some more support with this.

We started with four co-sponsors. We have now got a companion bill in the House. I'm going to get some more additional co-sponsors. We have got tech companies and business groups across the country saying this. I think that we will see it and get a chance to get it on the floor.


WARNER: We also need, John, to do some of the other things that should be basic blocking and tackling. The Senate passed, again, bipartisan, 75 votes, a two-year transportation bill three months ago. This should be a no-brainer.

We are seeing the summer season where highway contracts need to be let, particularly in Northern states, where those jobs can't be done during the winter season. We are going to miss the whole construction season if we don't go ahead and give the predictability on a two-year transportation bill.

The House needs to step up and do that. This is one those ones that is a complete no-brainer.


WARNER: And, finally, then last point I am going to try to make on this is, we also need -- and this time, I get I would say there will be -- I get some pushback from both sides. We still need -- the biggest thing of all that we could for job creation is to put in place a real deficit reduction plan that will generate additional revenues, that will do entitlement reforms that we need, and try to give confidence to that $2.5 trillion in private sector capital that is sitting on the sidelines right now looking for some place to invest.

They can't invest in Europe. It's a mess. China, India are declining. Even Brazil had a very bad quarter. America -- if we did a debt deal, America would take off. We have got to find that common ground to do that.

KING: I don't think you have a prayer of getting that big one done before the election, Senator. But I will stay in touch as we go forward here. I would like to see some progress for the unemployed Americans out there...


KING: ... and to prove Washington can do something, but don't think so, my friend. We will stay in touch, though, as we go forward.

WARNER: You have got to keep at it, though.

KING: Senator, thanks so much for your time tonight.

WARNER: Thanks, John. 

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