Full transcript of "Face the Nation," March 31, 2024


On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Ed O’Keefe: 

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
  • Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott
  • House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Turner 
  • World Food Programme executive director Cindy McCain
  •  Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Cardinal Gregory, and the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Ret. Reverend Mariann Budde  

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”   


FACE THE NATION
March 31, 2024
10:30 AM

ED O’KEEFE: I’m Ed O’Keefe in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: A bridge collapse in Baltimore is the latest crisis in America’s transit system, and an Easter Sunday reflection on faith in America.

Cleanup is under way at the Port of Baltimore this weekend following the sudden and deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after a cargo ship crashed into one of its pillars.

(Begin VT)

GOVERNOR WES MOORE (D-Maryland): The nation’s economy and the nation’s workers are relying on us to move quickly and move together.

(End VT)

ED O’KEEFE: We will get the latest from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. We will ask whether the nation’s roads and airports are ready for the travel surge this spring.

Then: Ukraine is pummeled by a fresh barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks. We will ask House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner about the timeline for aid to Kyiv, Israel and more.

Plus, the head of the World Food Program, Cindy McCain, joins us to discuss the dire hunger crisis in Gaza.

And, finally, we will hear from two faith leaders about the power of hope.

(Begin VT)

RIGHT REV. MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE (Episcopal Diocese of Washington): Sometimes, we have to walk toward the light even when it’s still dark.

(End VT)

ED O’KEEFE: It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning. Welcome to Face the Nation. Margaret is off. And happy Easter.

We begin this morning with that terrible accident at Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. It remains in the Patapsco River, but crews have taken the first step of cutting into the twisted steel and stabilizing the wreckage, so divers can find the four remaining workers, presumed dead.

The Coast Guard says its priority now is to create a smaller channel so at least some ships can pass through and access the port, which remains closed.

For the latest we’re joined by the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg.

Mr. Secretary, happy Easter. Thank you for spending part of it with us and good morning.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (U.S. Transportation Secretary): Happy Easter. Good to be with you.

ED O’KEEFE: Part of the reason we wanted to chat with you is because, you know, we have this incident in Baltimore. We’ve seen parts of planes falling out of the sky. You’ve described the fact that it’s a national crisis that more than 40,000 people are killed in car accidents each year.

We’re going to work our way through some of this. But let’s begin in Baltimore. How long is it going to take to remove that ship, clear out the debris, and reopen the channel?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: We haven’t received a timeline yet.

But what I can tell you, is the work is now under way. Parts of the non- federal channel are already being worked on. And there is a 1,000-ton capacity lift crane on a barge being put into place now. There’s another 600-ton crane on its way to back it up.

This is going to be a very complex process. There are, even now, forces acting on that steel. So it takes a lot to make sure that it can be dismantled safely, to make sure that the vessel stays where it is supposed to be and doesn’t swing out into the channel. But it has to be done, because that is the only way to get into most of the Port of Baltimore.

And, of course, it’s important not just to the people and the workers of Baltimore, but to our national supply chains, to get that port back up and running as quickly as possible. Then you have the process of getting the bridge back up. That’s going to take longer, but that work is already getting under way as well.

ED O’KEEFE: And is there any sense of how long it would take to rebuild that bridge?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: We haven’t received estimates on that yet either. I can tell you the original bridge took about five years to build.

But that doesn’t necessarily inform us about the timeline on the reconstruction. A lot goes into how that reconstruction will be designed, how the process is going to work.

Right now, we don’t fully know everything we need to know about the condition of the portions of the bridge that did not collapse. Obviously, that work is under way right now.

ED O’KEEFE: To that point about funding, we’ve heard that it sounds like most of this is going to be paid for by the federal government, either about 90 percent, 80 percent, depending on how it works, the rest by the state. Where’s that money going to come from?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: So, we’re using an authority called the emergency relief. This is through our Federal Highway Administration. That’s how we got those first $60 million out, and there will be more where that came from.

Now, it is possible we may need to turn to Congress to supplement that fund. That has happened in the past. If you remember the 2007 bridge collapse in Minnesota, ultimately, about $260 million put together, including funds that were put through Congress on a bipartisan basis.

And I hope and expect this too will be a bipartisan priority.

ED O’KEEFE: So, what exactly would be the pitch to any skeptical lawmaker who says, why on earth should we have to pay for this?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, the pitch is, your district could be next.

And, also, this has historically been bipartisan, and I’m not just reaching back to bygone eras. Remember, the infrastructure package itself, President Biden’s infrastructure plan, went through on a bipartisan basis. A lot of people didn’t think that was possible when we got here in 2021. But the president never gave up on the idea.

And, sure enough, a lot of Republicans were willing to cross the aisle, work with President Biden, work with Democrats to get this done.

ED O’KEEFE: On another matter, this past week, Boeing announced some big changes in its leadership. The CEO, the board chairman, the head of the commercial airplanes unit are all leaving by the end of the year.

Are those changes enough to satisfy concerns about the company?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, one personnel change or several personnel changes are not the same thing as what we most need to see, which is a change in culture.

Whoever takes these new leadership positions and everybody else at Boeing, especially those senior leaders who are accountable for the planes that – that Boeing produces and the work that that company does, they need to demonstrate that they put safety first.

FAA has been putting Boeing under a microscope ever since this incident happened in January, and, frankly, there were a lot of concerns about what the FAA administrator saw in the course of those visits and in the audit.

He gave Boeing about 90 days to come up with a comprehensive plan to show that they’re on the – the path to deliver the right kind of quality and safety. We’re about 30 days into that. There are regular check-ins. And FAA is not going to allow Boeing to increase their production until they demonstrate that they can do it safely.

ED O’KEEFE: You know, Thursday was the busiest day of the year so far, at least in terms of TSA screenings, because we’re seeing an uptick now ahead of spring break. We’re in the midst of spring break for a lot of people.

But given these aviation incidents, the blown-off door on the Alaska Airlines plane, the panel that fell off a Delta flight recently, what would you say to those who are scared to fly right now?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I would say that, every time I step onto an airliner, whether I’m going to look at a bridge, or whether I’m flying somewhere with my husband and kids, like we will be later this week, I know that I’m participating in the safest form of travel in America, and that what makes it the safest – safest form of travel in America is all of the work and all of the people who stand behind that, including the men and women of our FAA.

We’re talking about an extraordinary safety record. And just think about this mode of travel. It involves being propelled by flammable liquids and a metal tube through the sky at nearly the speed of sound and, again, is the safest way to travel. That is because of extremely rigorous standards and processes for inspection.

And that’s why, so far, since this administration arrived, there have been about three billion passengers getting on airplanes in the United States and 100 percent of them getting to where they need to go.

ED O’KEEFE: I know, when a lot of people see you on television these days, they may still think to themselves, “Oh, I wonder if he still wants the big job one day.”

Now that you’ve been closer to it, working alongside a president, is it still something you aspire to?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I certainly have a new perspective on just how demanding that job is, watching President Biden deal with so many concerns, challenges and opportunities for this country.

And I’m proud to be a small part of the big team that helps him get that done. I sincerely don’t know what – whether I will run for elected office of any kind again. What I do know is that I have been asked to take on a big job. I’m honored and humbled to do it. It’s hard, it’s rewarding, and it’s taken about 110 percent of what I have to give right now.

ED O’KEEFE: All right, well, we are honored and humbled you spent part of your Easter with us.

Our best to Chasten and the kids, and we’ll talk again soon.

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Thanks very much. Good being with you.

ED O’KEEFE: We turn now to the mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for spending part of Easter with us. We appreciate it.

After this bridge collapse this past week in your city, what is the most urgent need right now in Baltimore?

BRANDON SCOTT (D-Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland): Well, the most urgent need, because our focus will always be on those families, I’m focused on the total impact on humans, right?

And that begins with the loss of life. That then goes to what’s going to happen for those families and then the economic realities following this. And that’s where our focus is going to continue to be. We have the salvage operation under way as of yesterday, with one crane and one barge working to start to cut some of the bridge out.

That work is happening through the unified command. But we are and always will be focused on the human impact of this tragedy.

ED O’KEEFE: Well, let’s talk a little bit about that.

What more can you, as a city, be doing for those four families, and then, more broadly, for the roughly 15,000 workers whose jobs are tied in one way or another to the Port of Baltimore?

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Well, listen, I said from day one that my office would be there to support the families in every way possible.

We already set up a fund that now has over $300,000 into it for those families, and we will support them throughout this. That could mean that they need ongoing trauma care. That could mean, in the future, they need help with different jobs and things like that.

But we also have to focus on the impact to the workers and the businesses at the port. I first have to be thankful to President Biden for having the SBA allow us now to have these businesses apply for grants through SBA to be able to keep their business open, keep those folks employed.

ED O’KEEFE: You’re talking, when you say SBA, about the Small Business Administration…

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Yes.

ED O’KEEFE: … that’s offering now loans of up to about $2 million to the affected companies.

You know, ultimately, Congress is likely going to have to get involved in some of this to provide federal relief. What, if any kind of direct outreach have you done to lawmakers in both parties to try to make the case for what Baltimore needs?

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Well, listen, I have the best congressional delegation in the United States Congress.

I don’t have to reach out to them because they’ve been there on site, talking with us, talking with the impacted individuals. And we know that they are going to do everything in their power to bring back resources for this tragedy that doesn’t just impact the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

This port is the number one port for cars and farm equipment. So this matters to folks in rural North Carolina, in Kansas, and Iowa. This matters to the global economy. And it does not – this should not be something that has anything or any conversation around party.

ED O’KEEFE: Secretary Buttigieg told us that there’s still no sense of how quickly this cleanup will happen or how quickly the bridge will get rebuilt. What happens to the economy of Baltimore in the meantime?

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Well, right now, that’s the things that we’re looking at, right?

We’re looking at how we’re going to off-load some of the stuff that is in the port and maybe use our partners at Tradepoint Atlantic to help with some of that. I will be meeting with labor leaders and the actual workers myself tomorrow to talk about what kind of other support that they need, while we all wrap our heads around and figure out how we can support them and keep as much commerce flowing as possible. This is going to be a long road. This is not going to be a sprint.

ED O’KEEFE: This was a tragic accident.

But it seems, these days, when something like this happens in this country, there are always conspiracy theories and a lot of misinformation thrown around and, in the case of this accident, some downright nasty things said about you online this week.

I have got to ask you. One of the wilder things is some conservative critics blamed the bridge collapse on diversity, equity and inclusion policies in Maryland, diversity, equity inclusion better known as DEI to a lot of people.

They called you, some critics, the DEI mayor. What did you make of that when you heard it?

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Well, as I have said, already this week, we know.

Listen, I am a young black man and young black mayor in this country. We know that there are a lot of racists and folks who don’t think I should be in this job. I know that. I have been black my whole life. I know how racism – racism goes in this country.

But my focus is always going to be on those people. I didn’t want to be out there that night asking – answering questions about DEI. I’m worried about the loss of life. We know how ridiculous that is. Those folks are afraid, as I said this week, to use the N-word. This should not be even in conversation.

We have to remain focused on the mission at hand and continue, from my vantage point, to prove those people wrong about people that look like me by doing my job in the best way that I can and ignoring the noise of folks who simply want to be divisive and are afraid that their way of life, where people that don’t look like them and think like them can be in control can be in power and actually be better at the job.

ED O’KEEFE: Well, we thank you for spending some time on this Easter talking to us about the situation.

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT: Thank you. Happy Easter.

ED O’KEEFE: Face the Nation will be right back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: Thanks for sticking with us.

We go now to the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, who joins us this morning from Dayton, Ohio,

Congressman, Chairman, good morning to you.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER (R-Ohio): Good morning.

ED O’KEEFE: Our understanding is that Speaker Johnson plans to hold a vote on funding for Ukraine aid when Congress returns a week from tomorrow. Is that still the plan?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, and, first off, happy Easter. I was at Westminster Church in Dayton celebrating with Christians around the world Christ’s resurrection this morning. And I appreciate you having me and that you have included a faith piece in your – in your report today.

With respect to Ukraine, I mean, this is one really where I think the world has seen that this is a war of aggression by Russia, that this is authoritarianism versus democracy, that just the – the brutality that is occurring, that the murderous nature of what Russia is doing has to be responded to. We have to continue our support.

The speaker has made it clear that he supports Ukraine, both directly to Zelenskyy. Publicly, he’s made these statements, and to the secretary- general of NATO. The – the speaker has made very clear statements that, when we get back, it’s the next top agenda.

After having just passed all the bills that fund the federal government, I believe this is going to have overwhelming support in Congress, and we will put a bill on the – the president’s desk.

ED O’KEEFE: Is it going to have overwhelming support from fellow Republicans, or are you going to have to make tweaks to the legislation as currently written to either include loans that Ukraine would have to pay back or potentially tuck in something regarding border security to get it across the line?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, I think there already is significant and very strong support among Republicans, and certainly across Americans across the country.

Now, as this package moves, certainly, there going to be some discussions in both the Senate and the House. I have had discussions about the border itself. And, certainly, there have been discussions about the manner in which the nonmilitary, the humanitarian aid, is structured.

But I think, overall, we’re going to get a package that is going to be negotiated with the Senate and the – and the White House, so that we have a bill that the president can sign.

ED O’KEEFE: Will whatever gets done pass before Congress takes its next weeklong break, which is scheduled to begin around April 22?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, it’s certainly my hope.

We’re too a – as President Zelenskyy has made clear to Speaker Johnson, we are at a critical point. The CIA director and the secretary of defense, everybody has made it clear that we are at a critical juncture on the ground that is beginning to be able to impact not only morale of the Ukrainians that are fighting, but also their ability to fight.

Putin knows this. This is obviously an area where we cannot allow Putin to win. Our – our European allies are saying that Putin’s goal is a war beyond Ukraine with Europe. We need to stop him in Ukraine.

ED O’KEEFE: On that point, in an interview this past week with CBS’ Charlie D’Agata, the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy said his country will lose the war to Russia if he doesn’t have American support.

I’m just curious, given your strong support for Ukraine, in your assessment, how much damage has already been done by congressional inaction?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, it certainly has been difficult.

We have certainly seen an emboldened Putin, but we have not seen significant losses of – or of territory on the battleground in Ukraine itself. We certainly see it strained. We have seen a lack of ammunition. We have seen even rationing of ammunition, which is just heartbreaking, and certainly has an effect on their ability to fight.

But even beyond just the issue of this supplemental and getting weapons systems replenished, we need to give them longer-range weapons systems. The White House has been hesitant to do so. Congress has called for that. President Zelenskyy has called for that.

What this would do is – would allow them to back off the Russians. Currently, the Russians have weapons systems that are attacking from distance into the Ukrainian side right on the front line. This would give the Ukrainians ability to push the Putin back and hold that front line.

ED O’KEEFE: You’re talking about Patriot missile batteries and other longer-range missiles that the president has said is, at least for now, a step too far because it could provoke Russia into…

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: It’s the ATACMS. It’s the ATACMS.

And I think it’s a long-range, three-kilometer – it’s kilometer ATACMS. Those, I think the administration is on the verge of being willing to provide. They have already provided Patriots, which, of course, is the air defense system that really is so critical for Kyiv right now.

ED O’KEEFE: Got it.

So, bottom line, because it’s – you seem pretty hopeful this morning, but if we come back to you in a month, your thinking is, the House will have passed this, the Senate will have passed this, the president will have signed off on it?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: There are a majority of members of the House, a majority members of the Senate, including over the 60 votes that are needed, and a willing president to sign a package that would deliver this necessary aid to Ukraine.

And I’m certainly hopeful we find a vehicle as quickly as possible to get that done. Speaker Johnson has certainly committed himself to that.

ED O’KEEFE: You think the speaker’s willing to put his job on the line in order to get this done? Because he is facing some threats from fellow Republicans.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Unfortunately – yes, of course.

Of course – unfortunately, the chaos caucus has continued to want to stop everything that occurs in Congress. It’s not as if they have an alternative plan. They – they’re just against those things that are necessary and that we’re doing. This is necessary for national security.

Hakeem Jeffries, the minority leader for Democrats, has made it absolutely clear that he will not join with rebels in the Republican side to take down Speaker Johnson on this. And I think we’re certainly going to see broad support in Congress to get this job done.

ED O’KEEFE: Speaking more broadly about Congress, 20 Republicans have announced their plans to retire from Congress so far this year. By the end of April, five will have departed in the middle of their terms.

Are you aware of any other Republican members heading for the exit soon?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: No.

And this obviously is very unfortunate. This has been a very strange time period, where we see that the – the Senate is at 50/50. We see the House at 50/50. Even the presidential race has run basically at 50/50. It’s almost unfolding that way perhaps again.

And it shows that we can have radical fringes, even radical individuals who don’t really have an ideology or an agenda, other than chaos, that can cause disruptions. And that’s what we have seen. That certainly makes it difficult for people who just want to get the job done.

In the area of national security, I think Speaker Johnson’s made it, you know, very clear that he – we have his support to get national security agenda items done. And I think we will.

ED O’KEEFE: You mentioned it is Easter Sunday. You said you have been to church this morning.

I got to ask. President Trump this past week unveiled what he calls the God Bless the USA Bible, which not only has the words of Scripture in it, but also the text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a few other things.

Do you think it’s appropriate for the former president, for the likely Republican nominee to be selling such a product?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: You know, I haven’t really seen that. I have heard some people talk about it.

I think I’m more concerned about the White House restricting the ability of children to put religious symbols on Easter egg – Easter eggs for the Easter egg roll at the White House. You know, I – I’m – I’m glad that CBS gives people the right to express their religious freedom.

I can’t imagine that we’re certain – in a situation where the Biden White House is restricting, especially that of children, their ability to express their religious freedom.

ED O’KEEFE: OK, but you wouldn’t buy a copy of this Trump Bible, would you?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: I’m not writing a check for that.

ED O’KEEFE: OK.

Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, thank you for spending time with us this morning. We will see you soon.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Thank you.

ED O’KEEFE: And we will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: We have learned that at least two of the people killed in the collapse of the Key Bridge were originally from Guatemala.

Last week, we sat down with the president of Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo, while he was in Washington and asked why so many of his citizens are leaving to come to the United States.

(Begin VT)

BERNARDO AREVALO (Guatemalan President): Almost 20 percent of the Guatemalans living today are abroad, and mostly in the United States.

This is a huge amount of our population. They are doing so particularly from those regions where you cannot find work or economic opportunities.

ED O’KEEFE: You said in your meeting with the vice president yesterday – quote – that you recognize that “many of the problems we face are structural and longstanding and cannot be solved in a short period of time…”

PRESIDENT BERNARDO AREVALO: Exactly.

ED O’KEEFE: “… nor without support and cooperation from the United States and other key international friends.”

With respect, why should the United States keep sending money to help Guatemala?

PRESIDENT BERNARDO AREVALO: I – what we are trying to say is fundamentally about – cooperation is not sending money.

Cooperation can be by creating conditions in which we can invite you to invest in Guatemala and establish factories, works that can begin to produce and create jobs.

(End VT)

ED O’KEEFE: It was a helpful conversation there with President Arevalo. You can see the rest of it on the main page of the Face the Nation and CBS News YouTube channels and on the CBS News app.

We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: On this Sun – Easter Sunday, we will be right back with the latest on the crisis in the Middle East, the head of the World Food Program, and a conversation about faith amid division in America.

We hope you will stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: I’m Ed O’Keefe in Washington and this week on “Face the Nation,” a bridge collapse in Baltimore, the latest crisis in America’s transit system, and an Easter Sunday reflection on faith in America.

Cleanup is underway at the Port of Baltimore this weekend following the sudden and deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after a cargo ship crashed into one of its pillars.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE (D-Maryland): The nation’s economy and the nation’s workers are relying on us to move quickly and move together.

ED O’KEEFE: We’ll get the latest from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. We will ask whether the nation’s roads and airports are ready for the travel surge this spring.

Then, Ukraine is pummeled by a fresh barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks. We’ll ask House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner about the timeline for aid to Kyiv, Israel, and more.

Plus, the head of the World Food Program, Cindy McCain, joins us to discuss the dire hunger crisis in Gaza.

And finally, we’ll hear from two faith leaders about the power of hope.

RIGHT REV. MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE (Bishop of Washington): Sometimes we have to walk toward the light even when it’s still dark.

ED O’KEEFE: It’s all just ahead on “Face the Nation.”

Good morning. Welcome to “Face the Nation.”

Margaret is off. And Happy Easter. We begin this morning with that terrible accident at Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. It remains in the Patapsco River, but crews have taken the first step of cutting into the twisted steel and stabilizing the wreckage so drivers can find the four remaining workers, presumed dead.

The Coast Guard says its priority now is to create a smaller channel so at least some ships can pass through and access the port, which remains closed.

For the latest, we’re joined by the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. Mr. Secretary, Happy Easter. Thank you for spending part of it with us, and good morning.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (Secretary of Transportation): Happy Easter. Good to be with you.

ED O’KEEFE: Part of the reason we wanted to chat with you is because, you know, we have this incident in Baltimore. We’ve seen parts of planes falling out of the sky. You’ve described the fact that it’s a national crisis, that more than 40,000 people are killed in car accidents each year. We’re going to work our way through some of this.

But let’s begin in Baltimore. How long is it going to take to remove that ship, clear out the debris, and reopen the channel?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: We haven’t received a timeline yet, but what I can tell you is the work is now underway. Parts of the non-federal channel are already being worked on, and there is a 1,000-ton capacity lift crane on a barge being put into place now. There’s another 600-ton crane on its way to back it up.

This is going to be a very complex process. There are even now forces acting on that steel, so it takes a lot to make sure that it can be dismantled safely, to make sure that the vessel stays where it is supposed to be and doesn’t swing out into the channel. But it has to be done because that is the only way to get into most of the port of Baltimore. And, of course, it’s important not just to the people and the workers of Baltimore, but to our national supply chains to get that port back up and running as quickly as possible.

Then you have the process of getting the bridge back up. That’s going to take longer, but that work is already getting underway as well.

ED O’KEEFE: And is there any sense of how long it would take to rebuild that bridge?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: We haven’t received estimates on that yet either. I can tell you the original bridge took about five years to build, but that doesn’t necessarily inform us about the timeline on the reconstruction. A lot goes into how that reconstruction will be designed, how the process is going to work.

Right now we don’t fully know everything we need to know about the condition of the portions of the bridge that did not collapse. Obviously that work is underway right now.

ED O’KEEFE: To that point about funding, we’ve heard that it sounds like most of this is going to be paid for by the federal government, either about 90 percent, 80 percent, depending on how it works, the rest by the state. Where’s that money going to come from?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: We’re using an authority called the Emergency Relief. This is through our Federal Highway Administration. That’s how we got those first $60 million out, and there will be more where that came from.

Now, it is possible we may need to turn to Congress to supplement that fund. That has happened in the past. If you remember the 2007 bridge collapse in Minnesota, ultimately about $260 million put together, including funds that were put through Congress on a bipartisan basis. And I hope and expect this, too, will be a bipartisan priority.

ED O’KEEFE: So what exactly would be the pitch to any skeptical lawmaker who says, why on earth should we have to pay for this?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, the pitch is your district could be next, and also this has historically been bipartisan, and I’m not just reaching back to bygone eras. Remember, the infrastructure package itself, President Biden’s infrastructure plan, went through on a bipartisan basis. A lot of people didn’t think that was possible when we got here in 2021, but the President never gave up on the idea, and sure enough, a lot of Republicans were willing to cross the aisle, work with President Biden, work with Democrats to get this done.

ED O’KEEFE: On another matter, this past week Boeing announced some big changes in its leadership. The CEO, the Board Chairman, the head of the commercial airplanes unit are all leaving by the end of the year. Are those changes enough to satisfy concerns about the company?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, one personnel change or several personnel changes are not the same thing as what we most need to see, which is a change in culture. Whoever takes these new leadership positions and everybody else at Boeing, especially those senior leaders who are accountable for the planes that Boeing produces and the work that that company does. They need to demonstrate that they put safety first.

FAA has been putting Boeing under a microscope ever since this incident happened in January. And frankly, there were a lot of concerns about what the FAA administrator saw in the course of those visits and the audit.

He gave Boeing about 90 days to come up with a comprehensive plan to show that they’re on the path to deliver the right kind of quality and safety. We’re about 30 days into that. There are regular check-ins. And FAA is not going to allow Boeing to increase their production until they demonstrate that they can do it safely.

ED O’KEEFE: You know, Thursday was the busiest day of the year so far, at least in terms of TSA screenings, because we’re seeing an uptick now ahead of spring break or in the midst of spring break for a lot of people. But given these aviation incidents, the blown-off door on the Alaska Airlines plane, the panel that fell off a Delta flight recently, what would you say to those who are scared to fly right now?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I would say that every time I step onto an airliner, whether I’m going to look at a bridge or whether I’m flying somewhere with my husband and kids, like we will be later this week, I know that I’m participating in the safest form of travel in America and that what makes it the safest form of travel in America is all of the work and all of the people who stand behind that, including the men and women of our FAA. We’re talking about an extraordinary safety record.

And just think about this mode of travel, it involves being propelled by flammable liquids in a metal tube through the sky at nearly the speed of sound. And, again, is the safest way to travel. That is because of extremely rigorous standards and processes for inspection. And that’s why so far since this administration arrived, there have been about 3 billion passengers getting onto airplanes in the United States. And 100 percent of them getting to where they need to go.

ED O’KEEFE: I know when a lot of people see you on television these days, they may still think to themselves, oh, I wonder if he still wants the big job one day. Now that you’ve been closer to it, working alongside a president, is it still something you aspire to?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I certainly have a new perspective on just how demanding that job is, watching President Biden deal with so many concerns, challenges, and opportunities for this country. And I’m proud to be a small part of the big team that helps him get that done.

I sincerely don’t know whether I will run for elected office of any kind again. What I do know is that I’ve been asked to take on a big job. I’m honored and humbled to do it. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. And it’s taken about 110 percent of what I have to give right now.

ED O’KEEFE: All right. Well, we’re honored and humbled you spent part of your Easter with us. Our best to Chasten and the kids. And we’ll talk again soon.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Thanks very much. Good being with you.

ED O’KEEFE: We turn now to the Mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott. Mr. Mayor, thank you for spending part of Easter with us. We appreciate it.

After this bridge collapse this past week in your city, what is the most urgent need right now in Baltimore?

BRANDON SCOTT (Baltimore Mayor): Well, the most urgent need, because our focus will always be on those families. I’m focused on the total impact on humans, right? And that begins with the loss of life. That then goes to what’s going to happen for those families and then the economic realities following this. And that’s where our focus is going to continue to be.

We have the salvage operation underway as of yesterday with one crane and one barrage working to start to cut some of the bridge out. That work is happening through the unified command. But we are and always will be focused on the human impact of this tragedy.

ED O’KEEFE: Well, let’s talk a little bit about that. What more can you – as a city be doing for those four families? And then more broadly, for the roughly 15,000 workers whose jobs are tied in one way or another to the Port of Baltimore?

BRANDON SCOTT: Well, listen, I said from day one that my office would be there to support the families in every way possible. We already set up a fund that now has over $300,000 into it for those families. And we will support them throughout this. That could mean that they need ongoing trauma care. That could mean in the future they need help with different jobs and things like that. But we also have to focus on the impact to the workers and the businesses at the port.

I first have to be thankful to President Biden for having the SBA allow us now to have these businesses apply for grants through SBA to be able to keep their businesses open, keep those folks employed.

ED O’KEEFE: You’re talking, when you say SBA, about the Small Business Administration that’s offering now loans of up to about $2 million to the affected companies. You know, ultimately, Congress is likely going to have to get involved in some of this to provide federal relief. What, if any, kind of direct outreach have you done to lawmakers in both parties to try to make the case for what Baltimore needs?

BRANDON SCOTT: Well, listen, I have the best congressional delegation in the United States Congress. I don’t have to reach out to them because they’ve been there on site talking with us, talking with the impacted individuals. And we know that they are going to do everything in their power to bring back resources for this tragedy.

That doesn’t just impact the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland. This port is the number one port for cars and farm equipment. So this matters to folks in rural North Carolina, in Kansas, in Iowa. This matters to the global economy, and it does not. This should not be something that has anything or any conversation around party.

ED O’KEEFE: Secretary Buttigieg told us that there’s still no sense of how quickly this cleanup will happen or how quickly the bridge will get rebuilt. What happens to the economy of Baltimore in the meantime?

BRANDON SCOTT: Well, right now, that’s the things that we’re looking at, right? We’re looking at how we’re going to offload some of the stuff that is in the port and maybe use our partners at Tradepoint Atlantic to help with some of that. I’ll be meeting with labor leaders and the actual workers myself tomorrow to talk about what kind of other supports that they need while we all wrap our heads around and figure out how we can support them and keep as much commerce flowing as possible. This is going to be a long road. This is not going to be a sprint.

ED O’KEEFE: This was a tragic accident, but it seems these days when something like this happens in this country, there are always conspiracy theories and a lot of misinformation thrown around. And in the case of this accident, some downright nasty things said about you online this week. I’ve got to ask you, one of the wilder things is some conservative critics blamed the bridge collapse on diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in Maryland.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, better known as DEI to a lot of people. They called you, some critics did, the DEI mayor. What did you make of that when you heard it?

BRANDON SCOTT: Well, as I’ve said already this week, we know, listen, I am a young black man, a young black mayor in this country. We know that there are a lot of racists and folks who don’t think I should be in this job. I know that I’ve been black my whole life. I know how racism and racism goes in this country. But my focus is always going to be on those people. I didn’t want to be out there that night asking, answering questions about DEI. I’m worried about the loss of life. We know how ridiculous that is. Those folks are afraid, as I said this week, to use the N word.

This should not be even in conversation. We have to remain focused on the mission at hand and continue from my vantage point to prove those people wrong about people that look like me by doing my job in the best way that I can and ignoring the noise of folks who simply want to be divisive and are afraid that their way of life where people that don’t look like them and think like them can be in control, can be in power, and actually be better at the job.

ED O’KEEFE: Well, we thank you for spending some time on this Easter talking to us about the situation.

BRANDON SCOTT: Thank you. Happy Easter.

ED O’KEEFE: “Face the Nation” will be right back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: Thanks for sticking with us. We go now to the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, who joins us this morning from Dayton, Ohio.

Congressman, Chairman, good morning to you. Our understanding –

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-Ohio): Good morning.

ED O’KEEFE: – is that Speaker Johnson plans to hold a vote on funding for Ukraine aid when Congress returns a week from tomorrow. Is that still the plan?

MIKE TURNER: Well, first off, happy Easter. I was at Westminster Church in Dayton celebrating with Christians around the world, Christ’s resurrection this morning. I appreciate you having me. And that you’ve included a faith piece in your report today.

With respect to Ukraine, I mean, this is one really where I think, you know, the world has seen that this is a war of aggression by Russia, that this is authoritarianism versus democracy. That just the brutality that is occurring, the murderous nature of what Russia is doing has to be responded to. We have to continue our support.

The Speaker has made it clear that he supports Ukraine, both directly to Zelenskyy. Publicly he’s made these statements, and to the Secretary General of NATO.

The Speaker has made very clear statements that when we get back, it’s the next top agenda. After having just passed all the bills that fund the federal government, I believe this is going to have overwhelming support in Congress, and we’ll put a bill on the President’s desk.

ED O’KEEFE: Is it going to have overwhelming support from fellow Republicans, or are you going to have to make tweaks to the legislation that’s currently written to either include loans that Ukraine would have to pay back, or potentially tuck in something regarding border security to get across the line?

MIKE TURNER: Well, I think there already is significant and very strong support among Republicans, and certainly across Americans across the country.

Now, as this package moves, certainly there are going to be some discussions, you know, in both the Senate and the House. I’ve had discussions about the border itself, and certainly there have been discussions about the manner in which the non-military, the humanitarian aid is structured.

But I think overall, we’re going to get a package that is going to be negotiated with the Senate and the White House, so that we have a bill that the president can sign.

ED O’KEEFE: Will whatever gets done pass before Congress takes its next week-long break, which is scheduled to begin around April 22nd?

MIKE TURNER: Well, it’s certainly my hope. We’re too, you know – as President Zelenskyy has made clear to Speaker Johnson, we are at a critical point. The CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, everybody has made it clear that we are at a critical juncture on the ground that is beginning to be able to impact not only morale of the Ukrainians that are fighting, but also their ability to fight.

Putin knows this. This is obviously an area where we cannot allow Putin to win. Our European allies are saying that Putin’s goal is a war beyond Ukraine with Europe. We need to stop him in Ukraine.

ED O’KEEFE: On that point, in an interview this past week with CBS’s Charlie D’Agata, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said his country will lose the war to Russia if he doesn’t have American support. I’m just curious, given your strong support for Ukraine, in your assessment, how much damage has already been done by congressional inaction?

MIKE TURNER: Well, it certainly has been difficult. We have certainly seen an emboldened Putin, but we have not seen significant losses of territory on the battleground in Ukraine itself. We certainly see it strained. We’ve seen a lack of ammunition. We’ve seen even rationing of ammunition, which is just heartbreaking and certainly has an effect on their ability to fight.

But even beyond just the issue of this supplemental and getting weapon systems replenished, we need to give them a longer-range weapon systems. The White House has been hesitant to do so. Congress has called for that. President Zelenskyy has called for that.

What this would do is it would allow them to back off the Russians. Currently, the Russians have weapon systems that are attacking from distance into the Ukrainian side right on the front line. This would give the Ukrainians ability to push Putin back and hold that front line.

ED O’KEEFE: You’re talking about Patriot missile batteries and other longer-range missiles that the President has said is, at least for now, a step too far because it could provoke Russia into –

MIKE TURNER: It’s the ATACMS. It’s the ATACMS. And I think it’s long range. It’s kilometer ATACMS. Those, I think the administration is on the verge of being willing to provide. They’ve already provided Patriots, which, of course, is the air defense system that really is so critical for Kyiv right now.

ED O’KEEFE: Got it. So bottom line, because you seem pretty hopeful this morning, but if we come back to you in a month, your thinking is the House will have passed this, the Senate will have passed this, the President will have signed off on it.

MIKE TURNER: There are a majority of members of the House, a majority of members of the Senate, including over the 60 votes that are needed, and a willing president to sign a package that would deliver this necessary aid to Ukraine. And I’m certainly hopeful we find a vehicle as quickly as possible to get that done. Speaker Johnson has certainly committed himself to that.

ED O’KEEFE: You think the Speaker’s willing to put his job on the line in order to get this done? Because he is facing some threats from fellow Republicans.

MIKE TURNER: Yeah, of course – of course. You know, unfortunately, the chaos caucus has continued to want to stop everything that occurs in Congress. It’s not as if they have an alternative plan. They’re just against those things that are necessary and that we’re doing – this is necessary for national security. Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Leader for Democrats, has made it absolutely clear that he will not join with rebels in the Republican side to take down Speaker Johnson on this. And I think we’re certainly going to see broad support in Congress to get this job done.

ED O’KEEFE: Speaking more broadly about Congress, 20 Republicans have announced their plans to retire from Congress so far this year. By the end of April, five will have departed in the middle of their terms. Are you aware of any other Republican members heading for the exit soon?

MIKE TURNER: No, and this obviously is very unfortunate. This has been a very strange time period where we – you know, we see the Senate at a 50- 50, we see the House at 50-50, even the presidential race was run basically at 50-50. It’s almost unfolding that way perhaps again.

And it shows that we can have radical fringes, even radical individuals who don’t really have an ideology or an agenda other than chaos, that can cause disruptions. And that’s what we have seen. That certainly makes it difficult for people who just want to get the job done.

In the area of national security, I think Speaker Johnson’s made it very clear that he – we have his support to get national security agenda items done, and I think we will.

ED O’KEEFE: You mentioned it as Easter Sunday, you said you’ve been to church this morning. I got to ask, President Trump this past week unveiled what he calls the God Bless the USA Bible, which not only has the words of scripture in it, but also the text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a few other things. Do you think it’s appropriate for the former president, for the likely Republican nominee to be selling such a product?

MIKE TURNER: You know, I haven’t really seen that. I’ve heard some people talk about it. I think I’m more concerned about the White House restricting the ability of children to put religious symbols on Easter eggs – Easter eggs for the Easter egg roll at the White House.

You know, I’m glad that CBS gives people the right to express their religious freedom. I can’t imagine that we’re certainly in a situation where the Biden White House is restricting, especially that of children, their ability to express their religious freedoms.

ED O’KEEFE: OK, but you wouldn’t buy a copy of this Trump Bible, would you?

MIKE TURNER: I’m not writing a check for that.

ED O’KEEFE: OK, Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, thank you for spending time with us this morning. We’ll see you soon.

MIKE TURNER: Thank you.

ED O’KEEFE: And we’ll be right back with a lot more “Face the Nation.” Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: We’ve learned that at least two of the people killed in the collapse of the Key Bridge were originally from Guatemala. Last week we sat down with the President of Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo, while he was in Washington and asked why so many of his citizens are leaving to come to the United States.

(Begin VT)

BERNARDO AREVALO (President of Guatemala): Almost 20 percent of the Guatemalans living today are abroad and mostly in the United States. And this is a huge amount of our population. They are doing so particularly from those regions where you cannot find work or economic opportunities.

ED O’KEEFE: You said in your meeting with the Vice President yesterday, quote, that you – that you recognize that many of the problems we face are structural and long-standing and cannot be solved in a short period of time.

BERNARDO AREVALO: Exactly.

ED O’KEEFE: Nor without support and cooperation from the United States and other key international friends. With respect, why should the United States keep sending money to help Guatemala?

BERNARDO AREVALO: I – what we are trying to say is fundamentally about – cooperation is not sending money. Cooperation can be by creating conditions in which we can invite you to invest in Guatemala and establish factories, works that can begin to produce and create jobs.

ED O’KEEFE: It was a helpful conversation there with President Arevalo. You can see the rest of it on the main page of the “Face of the Nation” and CBS News YouTube channels and on the CBS News app. We’ll be right back.

(End VT)

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: On this Easter Sunday, we’ll be right back with the latest on the crisis in the Middle East, the head of the World Food Program, and a conversation about faith amid division in America. We hope you’ll stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

Cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas are underway again today in Cairo as the conflict nears the sixth month mark. In Jerusalem, Easter traditionally draws large crowds. Celebrations are muted this year because of war.

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams is there.

(Begin VT)

HOLLY WILLIAMS (voice-over): In the church of the Holy Sepulcher this morning, where many Christians believe Jesus was buried, they celebrated his resurrection. Easter is a time of hope for Christians even with the Holy Land in the grip of war. Jerusalem is a contested city claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians. Now members of the tiny Christian minority, around 15,000 believers, say they are under attack.

There’s been a spike in assaults by Ultraorthodox Jews including spitting at Christians and even desecrating this graveyard.

ALESANDRO SALEMA (Palestinian Christian): We have here the (INAUDIBLE), it’s named Casa Nova.

HOLLY WILLIAMS (voice-over): Alesandro Salema is a Palestinian Christian who showed us around Jerusalem’s ancient Christian corridor.

It’s a difficult time for Christians in Jerusalem.

ALESANDRO SALEMA: Yes. It’s really difficult because you see, it’s no people, no pilgrim. The situation here is so bad.

HOLLY WILLIAMS (voice-over): Around a thousand Christians live in the Gaza Strip where they are hoping simply to stay alive. Many have taken shelter inside churches in Gaza, praying for protection. But one church compound was hit by an Israeli airstrike in October, killing at least 18.

In Tel Aviv last night, anti-government protesters filled the streets near Israel’s Ministry of Defense, angry at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to bring the remaining hostages home. By some counts these were the biggest demonstrations against Netanyahu’s government since the war began.

Ships carrying more than 300 tons of food aid headed to Gaza yesterday, and this past week the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to allow the unhindered access of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, saying that famine is, quote, “setting in there.”

(End VT)

ED O’KEEFE: Our thanks to Holly William’s reporting from Jerusalem.

One of the international aid groups working to get relief into Gaza is the World Food Programme and on Friday we asked its executive director, Cindy McCain, what needs to change on the ground so her teams can operate there.

(Begin VT)

CINDY MCCAIN (World Food Programme Executive Director): We need access. We need full unfettered access. And right now we don’t have that. We can occasionally get a few trucks in. We can occasionally get up all the way to the north. But it’s not consistent and it’s not to scale either. All of the other issues regarding maritime and air drops and all those are all good. We need any way to be able to get food in and any way we can.

But they can’t take it to scale. We really need access to the road and we need to be able to get up to the north all the way without caught at checkpoints and turned around.

ED O’KEEFE: I read the World Food Programme estimates simply addressing the basic food needs will require at least 300 trucks to enter Gaza every day and distribute food especially in the north as you mentioned. But you’ve only managed to get about nine convoys of trucks in since the start of the year. That’s nothing, right?

CINDY MCCAIN: It’s nothing. It really is. We were able to, yesterday, or today I guess it was, get nine trucks in, period. We also were part of an air drop today that was 6.1 metric tons. That’s nothing. We just cannot continue this way. As you know, famine is imminent in the north. And so unless we can really convince our diplomatic groups and our political groups around the world to help convince the Israelis that we must get in and we must do it in a sustained and unfettered way, we can’t – people are going to die otherwise and they are already dying.

ED O’KEEFE: When you or your colleagues speak with Israeli officials about getting that access, what is the reason they’re giving you why they are not letting you in? Do they not understand the situation or is there some other reason?

CINDY MCCAIN: Well, I’m not sure where the mistake has been made. But I do know that there’s been accusations that somehow the U.N. isn’t doing their job which couldn’t be further from the truth. So I think, again, it’s politics, I think it’s something that – you know, various factions are involved in. All I want – all I need to know is when and where we could take the food in and make sure that we could distribute it. That’s what I want to know from the Israeli government.

ED O’KEEFE: You’re especially concerned as well about what’s happening in parts of Africa, specifically Sudan, South Sudan and Chad. And you said this could become the world’s largest hunger crisis. Why is that?

CINDY MCCAIN: Well, quite frankly, it’s a forgotten crisis now. Sudan is no longer paid attention to in the world media. And things haven’t stopped there. People are still fighting. There is no food. We have no access. And we’re also fighting a climate change issue there as well. So it’s almost a combination of a perfect storm. With 2.2 million refugees across the borders in various countries especially Chad and the funding sources that we have right now and our ability to be able to fund, it just isn’t matching.

We don’t have enough money and we need to be able to make sure that we can feed the refugees that cross the border and also get access into Sudan from the western side, the southern side, through South Sudan and through the north. We’ve got to get food in there as well because it can be and will be – I hope not and I pray not – the next largest humanitarian crisis that we will know.

ED O’KEEFE: And not only humanitarian crisis, you suggested it could be a real national security risk for the United States, right?

CINDY MCCAIN: Very much so. People migrate. You know, the bad guys get mixed up in all of this. Food is the major element here in being able to keep populations stable and keep healthy as well. With those two things not tended to, then people migrate, they run, they take their families, they do anything they can to feed their families.

ED O’KEEFE: You’ve made an interesting point that I think is a good reminder to all of us, that these hunger crises around the world are not being caused by natural disasters, but by manmade events and conflict, and nowhere right now, perhaps at least in this hemisphere where we sit, is that most apparent than in Haiti. What is the situation there as you understand it?

CINDY MCCAIN: It’s catastrophic. We at WFP are still in there and we still are working in the north somewhat and somewhat down towards the center. But it is a very dicey situation. We are continuing our school feeding programs but once again, as you’ve seen, there have been evacuations of U.N. personnel out of there. It’s just a – again, this is a diplomatic solution. This is a manmade crisis and we need a diplomatic solution to it. And we need it now, we need it right now.

ED O’KEEFE: You know, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you, while we have you, about the death of the late senator Joe Lieberman who of course was such a good friend to you and to your late husband. What did he mean to the McCain family?

CINDY MCCAIN: Oh, he was Uncle Joe to my children. He was a friend to my family, and I had the extreme opportunity of watching two men together not only navigate the difficulties that the world offered up to them as – in what they did, but also watched them solve problems together in a way that was gracious and kind and loving towards humanity. And I had the good fortunate being able to call him my friend, too.

ED O’KEEFE: Executive director Cindy McCain of the World Food Programme, thank you for joining us.

CINDY MCCAIN: Thank you for having me.

ED O’KEEFE: And we’ll be right back.

(End VT)

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: On this Easter Sunday, we thought today might be a good opportunity to reflect a bit on faith in America especially given all the trouble the world is facing.

We spoke on Thursday with the Catholic Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Cardinal Gregory, and Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Right Reverend Marianna Budde, and we began by asking them how they counsel parishioners through these tough times.

(Begin VT)

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE (Bishop of Washington): I would say that we are a part of a broad Christian faith that encourages us to trust and to believe that fundamentally our God is a God of love and that God, the source of all that is good in the world, is with us. And that doesn’t negate or soften the reality of the struggles that we face and certainly the difficulties of the world. And in fact, the witness of Jesus would say, no, go to those places, be present, be open, and trust that the worst that happens isn’t the final word.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY (Archbishop of Washington): One of the things that I would – I try to remind our people of is that in spite of the difficulties that we are currently facing, and they are serious, and they are deep, but they are not the way that God intended his creation. In the Book of Genesis, repeatedly it says that God, after creating the heavens and the earth, he looked at it and saw it was good.

That’s the statement that we need to remind our people of, that God’s creation is fundamentally good, flawed by sin, flawed by our hatred and violence, but still substantially a good creation.

ED O’KEEFE: Got to be hard for people to appreciate that or to be reminded of that, whether they’re dealing with something personal or they’re seeing what’s happening in their communities or in the world. And certainly there is plenty of good that goes on. But there is –

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: It requires practice and discipline to focus on goodness and to be a source of goodness. It is not hard to be negative. It’s not hard to be even cynical about the world. That’s actually really easy to do. People of faith are called to a higher – are called to set our gaze higher and to be – to be those who are not only looking for good, but actively trying to promote it.

ED O’KEEFE: It’s been four years since essentially the world locked down in the midst of the pandemic.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Yes. Yes.

ED O’KEEFE: And that’s when the two of you really began to do a lot of your work together. You’re no strangers to each other.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: That’s right.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Right.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: We met the weekend before everything shut down.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: We got in just under the wire.

ED O’KEEFE: And like many others were able to maintain your relationship, but from a distance of course. How are we doing spiritually in the four years since that began?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: There is an uptick in church attendance. Now, we didn’t begin with a robust assembly to begin with, but we are watching the numbers return. The one cohort that I’m concerned about, two cohorts really, would be our elderly, who are still somewhat hesitant to come out, but the outreach to our young adults, our young people are not approaching organized religion with the same value structure that their parents and their grandparents had. So we’ve got to do more to draw – we’ve got to market the church.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: A couple of things are truly striking. I think the rise of mental health concerns across the country, regardless of religion or affiliation, just – and the sheer numbers. I was listening to someone who is working in the criminal justice system here in the district saying that there is a direct correlation with the rise of youth violence and crime that we’re seeing with the dislocation that young people experienced during the pandemic, when there was just nothing for them.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Right.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: I also feel that perhaps some of the polarization that we experience as a country is – was exacerbated by that and so to the degree that we can be instruments of healing and of friendship and goodwill across the country, I feel like Christians are at our best when we do that.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: If we can model for the world.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Yes.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Not just for the young people, but if we can model for all people that it is possible to have friendships, relationships, and personal affection for people that you have differences with, that’s a wonderful gesture of what we are really called certainly as people of faith to live and to engage in.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: And with the rising numbers, as we see it all across the country, antisemitism, Islamophobia, just the concern, I mean, just – if the interfaith community, the leaders and the churches and the mosques and the synagogues, if we can remember our friendships with one another and stand with one another in these times, we can do a lot. We can do a lot to bring that caustic energy down.

ED O’KEEFE: The two major candidates we have running for president invoke Christianity. I know this gets a little tricky. But we have one who is now selling bibles. That also have copies of the Constitution and a Bill of Rights in them. But the other is the second Catholic president who goes to church every Sunday, who observes the holy days of obligation, and builds his schedule around them, but doesn’t talk at all publicly and is uncomfortable speaking about his own faith.

Are you comfortable with the role and the level of Christianity in our politics today?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Whereas faith used to be the voice, the moral voice that political people, whether they adhere to everything, they would turn to find that the moral compass was faith, I think in some cases it’s the political world that’s beginning to set or claiming to set the moral voice. We’ve switched position. There is a great need, I believe, to place faith in its proper position, which is not necessarily antagonistic to the political arena. But to seize the responsibility of being that guiding principle, that moral light for our people to turn to.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: I’m very concerned about the way the message of Christianity is being distorted in our country right now. I think it’s a cause for deep concern. I feel it’s a – it’s an abuse of the faith. And I have to be very careful because I’m not perfect in my understanding of what it means, A, to be a perfect Christian, I’m not a perfect Christian and I’m not a perfect American, but I think we are walking on very thin ice now.

I would encourage anyone who buys a bible to read the bible and in particular to read the teachings of Jesus, and then to set our policies if we’re going to call ourselves a Christian nation against the highest aspirations that Jesus calls us to.

ED O’KEEFE: In the case of the president, do you get a sense that his regular attendance and adherence to the faith resonates with American Catholics?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: I could say that he’s very sincere about his faith, but like a number of Catholics, he picks and chooses dimensions of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts.

There is a phrase that we have used in the past, a cafeteria Catholic, you choose that which is attractive and dismiss that which is challenging.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Or, as Thomas Aquinas would say, you allow your conscience to guide you.

ED O’KEEFE: Is there something on the menu he’s not ordering, in your view, so to speak?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Well, I would say there are things, especially in terms of the life issues, there are things that he chooses to ignore or he uses the current situation as a political pawn rather than saying, look, my church believes this.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: It’s also possible to be a practitioner of the faith as a public leader and not require everyone that you lead in your country to be guided by all of the precepts of your faith, right?

ED O’KEEFE: And in my coverage of him, it seems that is what he believes.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: That’s what I would interpret.

ED O’KEEFE: Your concern is that he should be more explicit in his own personal belief which is a personal opposition to abortion but an understanding that as a public leader, and in a free society, he’s not to be –

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Right. He’s not to –

ED O’KEEFE: Placing that on everybody else.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: He’s not to place that on everybody else.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Right.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: I’ll just say that I worship with the president when he comes to Washington National Cathedral and I will say the one thing about him that I admire tremendously there is not a funeral of a state’s person or a state person’s spouse that he does not attend, stay through the entire service and speak from the pulpit as in eulogy, and I find that example to be an expression of authentic faith.

ED O’KEEFE: Is there any Biden effect in the pews, perhaps?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: I would not put a lot of emphasis on that.

ED O’KEEFE: OK.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: He does attend church regularly with great, you know, devotion. But he also steps aside some of the hot-button issues or uses the hot-button issues as a political tool, which it’s not – it is not the way I think we would want our faith to be used.

The issues of life begin at the very beginning and they conclude at natural death. And you can’t – you can’t pick and choose. You’re either one who respects life, and all of its dimensions, or you have to step aside and say, I’m not pro-life, I’m, you know, in one side of the equation I feel that I could support this dimension of life, but in others, I would step aside.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: I love the spectrum of life. I think you can be in adherence of the spectrum of life and still respect a woman’s right to choose in reproductive health and including when to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. So I’ll just say that as a Christian I believe that that’s possible and still hold to the full spectrum of life.

ED O’KEEFE: We know in the case of the president, he communicates occasionally with the Holy Father, with the Pope. Do you have any sense that the Pope conveys your frustrations to the president?

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: I would not be at all surprised to have Pope Francis have the opportunity to speak directly to the president regarding that. One of the things that I think Pope Francis does and does extraordinarily well is that he engages people. This past week, Pope Francis met with two different fathers, one Palestinian and one Jewish. Both of whom had lost a daughter during this conflict.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Right.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: And what was absolutely marvelous was rather than turn against each other, they decided with God’s grace to say that this experience of pain that they both had suffered brought them together rather than drove them apart.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: And that is a resurrection story right there.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Yes.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Yes.

ED O’KEEFE: Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Right Reverend Marianna Budde.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Thank you.

ED O’KEEFE: This was fantastic. Thank you so much for spending some time with us. Let’s do it again.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Thank you.

ED O’KEEFE: And Happy Easter.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: Thank you. Happy easter to you.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Happy easter to you.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: And to you.

WILTON CARDINAL GREGORY: Happy easter, my good friend.

RIGHT REV. MARIANNA EDGAR BUDDE: And to you.

ED O’KEEFE: And we’ll be right back.

(End VT)

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

ED O’KEEFE: You could see our full conversation with Cardinal Gregory and Bishop Budde on our Web site and YouTube channel. Just search for FACE THE NATION.

That’s it for today. Thank you so much for watching on this Easter Sunday. Margaret will be back next week for FACE THE NATION. I’m Ed O’Keefe.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

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