The following is a transcript of an interview with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, that aired on “Face the Nation” on July 23, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to the current governor of the state of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy, who joins us from Middletown. Good morning to you, Mr. Governor, I want to pick up on some of the things we just discussed there, including when it comes to transgender care in your state because I know your administration has sued three New Jersey school districts for adopting policies to tell parents if their children are showing signs of changing their gender identity. Why is Mr. Christie wrong when he says parents are the ones who knows- know best here and they should be involved?
NEW JERSEY GOV. PHIL MURPHY: Well let me say unequivocally, I will not be going to Chrischristie.com. Listen, we took these actions, because it’s the right thing to do to protect these precious young people. This is a complete culture war, and by the way, Chris Christie was really bad for the LGBTQIA+ community, and he underfunded public education by 9 billion, with a B, dollars. So, with all due respect to the governor, I’m not sure he’s got much of a leg to stand on. But parents are always involved. It- it’s certainly in our administration, they’re always at the table, and they always will be. But let’s be smart about this. Let’s protect the rights of these precious kids. Let’s do things the right way, the American way. And- and I think if we do that, in a spirit of respecting everyone’s rights, protecting the LGBTQIA+ community, we’ll land in a good place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one of the attorneys for a school board board in Marlboro, one of these districts, said that this blocking of a school counselor or a staff member from telling a parent about this is a violation of a constitutional right for a parent to direct and control the upbringing of their children. Why isn’t that compelling?
GOV. MURPHY: Obviously, parents are the- the existential reality in the upbringing of any child without question. I don’t deny that for one second. But let’s not violate the Constitution- constitutional and civil rights of precious young folks in many cases, who are coming to grips with life as they- as they grow up and grow older, let’s be respectful of that. Let’s be all in this together as opposed to this, us versus them, this demonizing. And when that happens, invariably, it’s the LGBT community that gets it, particularly trans folks who get behind the eight ball.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about what’s happening in your state, but you are also a Biden surrogate. And yet you decided this week to sue the Biden Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Association to stop something called congestion pricing, which is meant to cut back on pollution and traffic by charging drivers when they enter Lower Manhattan. A lot of people in your state commute there. If you are a green governor, how can you oppose this policy that was signed off on by the Biden administration?
GOV. MURPHY: First of all, I support Joe Biden unequivocally. We do so much together, on this one we don’t see- see it the same way and at the end of the day, the buck stops with me for standing up for the residents of our state. Secondly, this will worsen pollution in New Jersey. Congestion pricing, the MTA in New York City has admitted it. This is a financial fix, more than it is an environmental fix, and the loser here, right now, are New Jersey commuters and New Jersey communities, and I will not let that stand. We have in fact filed suit against the Federal Highway Administration. God willing, we can land in a good place and it’s not like we don’t have good bona fides, Margaret, we have the number one- since we got here six years running, the number one environmental track record of any state in America, we care deeply about it. This is bad for the environment, in New Jersey, not good for it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If it’s bad for the environment, then tell me why the MTA said that the 4000 page environmental assessment was, “supervised at every stage and specifically approved by the Biden administration.” The governor of New York says this thing is- is happening, environmentalists have studied it.
GOV. MURPHY: Yeah, not so fast, with all due respect. They took a shortcut at the Federal Highway Administration, what they should have done with us at the table given how this impacts New Jersey, and this is what we’re suing for, is to do what they call a full blown environmental impact study. Now, it may take a while but it’s worth it. And at the end of the day, listen if we had had the two new rail tunnels built under the Hudson River which by the way Chris Christie canceled, or if we had the shiny new Port Authority bus terminal, which again he dragged his feet on, we would be in a different place with- our commuters would have alternatives. Those alternatives finally are coming to pass but it’ll take a while longer. At the moment those don’t exist.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That was- that was an interesting turn back to Chris- Chris Christie on that. I’ll give you that. On the politics front, since you’re there. I lived in New York a long time, so I know this issue, but for those who are elsewhere in the country, let’s go national here. Nikki Haley in particular has focused in on the Vice President, Kamala Harris, in a lot of her rhetoric, and she’s done it as a way of pointing to President Biden’s age. The RNC is posting, frequently, clips from her speeches, flubs, they are really taking aim at her. Why do you think Republicans have calculated it is a good strategy, and that the Vice President makes Democrats vulnerable?
GOV. MURPHY: I mean, this is a classic us versus them playbook, that the- unfortunately, the other party too often than not wheels out. And it’s frankly offensive. She is an icon. She is an icon in the South Asian community, in the African American community, among millions of women in this country. I frankly think it’s offensive and I think at the end of the day, it’s a losing strategy. Folks want to focus on the- the strength of our country, the Biden Harris team has delivered 13 million jobs, over 50- it’s been over 50 years since unemployment has stayed this low, under 4 percent. The investment in infrastructure, the investment in communities, at the end of the day, the record will win out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Governor, thank you for sticking with us and I know we’ve had audio issues, so I appreciate your patience. We’ll be right back.