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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 7, 2022 11:59am-3:12pm EST

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children. we need to focus on directing the root cause of homelessness. on that mental health needs, poverty, addiction and housing insecurity. every new yorker deserves access to affordable housing whether the risk of homelessness or those who struggle to pay the rent on time each month. we not only face tremendous hardship but housing crisis also contributes to escalate that possibility out of the reach of many. and that's why i'm launching a new five-year housing plan to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes. >> we are leaving this program to take you live to the u.s. senate to honor our 40 year commitment to bring you live coverage of congress . lawmakers will resume the confirmation of president biden's nominees.
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no votes have beenscheduled during this session. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2 . >>
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toward greater unity and cooperation, enabling them to find creative strategies to keep our nation strong. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, january 7, 2022. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable chris van hollen, a senator from the state of maryland, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of transportation, amitabha bose of new jersey to be administrator of the federal railroad administration.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota is recognized. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i come to the floor today to speak in support of legislation that is critical to our democracy, the freedom to vote act, which i introduced this year with many senators who worked together through the summer to come up with a bill that would make a difference for our country, with input from secretaries of state across our country, election experts, in order to give the people of this country the right to vote, to protect the right to vote, and to make sure that they understood that they can vote anywhere, from any zip code in a safe way. because right now, sadly, mr. president, that is simply not the case in many states in our country. if you're in south carolina
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right now and you want to get a mail-in ballot, and you have covid or you're in the hospital, you have to get a notary public to sign off on your application to get that ballot. or if you're in georgia and you don't register, you're a new resident there, you moved there from another state, and you're in a big election and you think i'm going to vote in the final place, you're no longer allowed to register in the last month as you were in the past during the runoff election. or, as we saw in the last election in 2020, in houston, in that county, five million people, there was only one dropoff box in the entire county. here's a county with five million people, only one dropoff box. there are places in states where you wait in line eight, ten hours in the hot sun just to
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exercise your right to vote. and that is why, through the year we worked together, senators, of course leader schumer who brought us together and senators manchin, merkley, king, tester and warnock, different senators coming from different parts of the country with different political views on certain issues, but we came together and cosponsored this bill which is supported by every member of the democratic caucus. i want to thank all of them for their ongoing hard work to get the bill passed and also to thank senator schumer, durbin, kaine, and merkley for joining me on the floor today in support of this bill. the freedom to vote is fundamental to all of our freedoms, which why we call it the freedom to vote to act. it ensures people are franchised and government is accountable to the people. but today this fundamental right
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that is the very foundation of our system of government is under attack. since the 2020 election, we have seen a persistent and coordinated assault on the freedom to vote in states across the country. i just viewed a few examples of the laws that have changed, the attempts that have been made in nearly every state with over 400 bills to change those laws. but then there have been direct threats. local election officials, many secretaries of state have told me that they're having trouble now recruiting people to run their election day and election month facilities. why? because there's threats. there have been polls and studies that have showed that election officials in inordinate numbers are the victims of these threats. one republican commissioner in philadelphia, election commissioner who recently left his job, they actually put his
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family's names, young kids' names, a picture of his house, his address on the internet so that people could target his very family. the e-mails, the voice messages left, the one left for katie hobbs, the secretary of state of arizona, we will hunt you down, katie. we'll hunt you down. these attacks on our local election officials and also members of congress of both parties are record number, 9,600 in the last year, which is double or triple what it has ever been. you cannot look at the incidents of january 6, of that insurrection on its own. these threats of violence have continued into the year, and why is that? well, we know there is this enormous lack of trust right now
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in the election system. we know that people have wrongly been told, have been given misinformation, have been motivated, as we saw as those people marched on the mall on january 6 to believe that somehow our democracy and our voting system is a fraud. now we know that's not right because we hear it from republican and democratic local officials all the time. president trump's own homeland security election head, after the last election said it was the most secure in the history of america. that was president trump's appointee. former attorney general barr made it very clear that there was not widespread fraud in the last election of any kind, but yet this lie continues, and people sadly continue to believe it. and what is the most sad is that elected leaders in states, a
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number of states -- not just one or two -- multiple states are passing laws with the false tenet of fraud and literally taking away people's right to vote, kicking them off of voting rolls. people who for years have gone to one polling location who now can't figure out where they're supposed to vote. people in georgia who suddenly have been told after the last election did it differently, that they have to write their birthday on the outside of an envelope. anyone that's asked to write a date on an envelope for a ballot, one would assume it's the date that you are putting your ballot in the mail. but, no, it's your birthday. that's the kind of thing we're seeing across the country. as one court in north carolina once said about previous efforts to suppress the law, it is discrimination with surgical precision, state by state by
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state. these attacks on our democracy demand a federalist response. just as we saw in the 1960's with civil rights legislation, at some point the federal government had to step in. and in fact, our own founding fathers actually anticipated that this might be necessary, because right in the constitution it says that congress can make or alter the laws regarding federal elections, as clear as can be -- make or alter the laws regarding federal elections. so what we're talking about here, with some minimum standards in place for how you do early voting, for the fact that you can register, for the fact that you can have dropoff boxes, make or alter the rules for federal elections.
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when you have states, certain states messing around to the extent that they are with the clear intent that they have, this is the moment that we look to the constitution for guidance, and it is right there. and this is why the need for action could not be more serious. and this is why, as leader schumer has announced, we will be moving to advance the freedom to vote act next week. with state legislatures beginning to convene for their 2022 legislative sessions this week, with plans to pass more bills that will restrict voting, and with primaries for the 2022 election just around the corner, we cannot wait another moment. yesterday we gathered in this chamber to mark one year since the violent mob of insurrectionists stormed into this capitol. i can see everything like it was in technicolor. when we came back into this chamber. the desks, everyone looking in
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their desks to see if anything had been taken. the videos we saw which only a few hours before people had invaded this chamber, and the walk that the vice president and i took through the broken glass, spray painted statue with the young staff members with the mahogany boxes containing the last of the electoral ballots. and as i said two weeks later at the inauguration, this is the moment when our democracy brushes itself off, stands straight, moves forward, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all. you just said that pledge, mr. president, in this very chamber. the pages said that pledge in this very chamber. to me, those are not just empty words. they are a pledge that we must keep. election officials, as i note, across the country have been targeted by an overwhelming increase in the number of threats. we cannot keep that pledge for liberty and justice for all in a
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democracy if we can't have fair elections and literally people who are just doing their jobs, whether in this building or out in mississippi, or out in pennsylvania, or in arizona get threatened just for counting votes. we actually even heard from the republican kentucky secretary of state recently in a hearing that senator blunt and i had about how difficult it is to fill those jobs. so in light of all of this, let's talk some baiftions -- basics about what the freedom to vote act does. it strengthens protections for federal workers by making it a federal crime to intimidate election workers. it protects election officials from improper removal by partisan actors. it puts a standard in place so you can't throw them out because you don't like what the results were, what the votes were they counted. it establishes a statutory right
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to vote to have their votes counted. and it protects against sham audits like the one we saw in arizona and the ones being advanced in wisconsin, michigan, texas, and pennsylvania. it's worth noting that even though these so-called audits aren't using reliable methods, in arizona the sham audit actually found president biden had a larger margin of victory and the first round in texas found nothing that could have changed the outcome in the election. a few weeks ago we gathered for the funeral for a great man who be served many years in this chamber -- senator dole. and president biden reminded us of something he had once said when the debate in this chamber, when there were actual debates, were raging about civil rights legislation. and bob dole said this -- no first-class democracy can treat people like second-class
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citizens. no first-class democracy can treat people like second-class citizens. we are a first class democracy. and yet, as i note, 19 states have passed 34 bills that include provisions to restrict voting and state legislatures are looking at even more. the need for federal action is urgent. but as we have seen in states like georgia, florida, iowa, mobility, and texas -- montana, and texas, we're up against a coordinated attack aimed at limiting the freedom to vote. examples, i've used a few already, i'm going to keep using them throughout the weeks ahead, the new law in georgia shortens runoffs by five weeks and prevents new voters from registering to vote during a runoff election. in iowa, a new law cut the days of early voting by nine days and closes the polls an hour early. that was after the state, in the words of its own republican
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secretary secretary of state, shattered its voter turnout record last year. if that shattered the voter turnout record, senator kaine, to have an hour extra why then take the hour away? a new la in -- law in montana says you can no longer register to vote on election day. yet, that same-day registration, i know because my state is proud of our same-day registration, we have the highest turnout nearly every election, 15 years that was in place in montana. 15 years. don't tell me it was some new thing they weren't used to. 15 years. as part of this coordinated, nam attack on voting they took -- national attack on voting they took it away. in 2020, the texas governor limited counties, including harris county, which lass as many people as nearly my entire state, to that one ballot dropoff box. we cannot hold free and fair elections with laws and procedures like these. yes, there is the issue, the
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horpdous issue -- the horrendous issue of messing around with how the votes are counted, getting rid of the nonpartisan boards and allowing partisan legislatures to count, and sham audits. all of that is covered by our bill, and it is a big problem. but if you rig the elections before the votes are even counted birk making it -- by making it impossible for certain people to vote, in the words of our great colleague, reverend warnock, some people don't want some people to vote, dos it even matter if you count them if they're not allowed to vote in the first place? that's why americans need the freedom to vote act, which builds on the framework put forward by my colleague and former west virginia secretary of state, senator manchin, last summer. as i note, it reflected the work, hard work of many, many senators, including ones in this room today, the senator from oregon, senator merkley, senator from virginia, senator kaine.
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we can't just sit back and allow for five weeks to be cut from the georgia runoff period during which over 1.3 million people voted in 2021. or allow for beam to be pre-- people to be prevented from registering to vote for runoff elections when nearly 70,000 georgians registered to vote during that time. protecting elections against subversion won't bring back same-day registration on election day in montana, unless at the t we do the work from the beginning, on which nearly 8,200 montanans use in 2020 to register or update their registration. that's a lot of people in montana. it won't ensure that over 60 million registered voters in texas have access to dropboxes. it's simply not enough to just focus on counting the votes if you want to pro investigate things that -- protect things that matter to people. the best of the best is what the
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american people want. they want to be able to vote in the safest way possible that works for them. one poll found that 78% of americans, including 63% of republicans, this is from april, 2021 pew, support making early in-person voting available for at least two weeks before election day. that's exactly what this bill does. 68% of american, including 59% of republicans, support making election day a national holiday. pew poll, april 2021. that's what this bill does. 61% of americans support automatic voter registration, pew, april 2021. that's what this bill does. where if you go in to get your driver license, huh? why would you have to then give the state, when the state has all of your information, would you you have to go in and register again? while senator republicans claim that this bill is unpopular, there are people in their own
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party, time and time again, who have supported these provisions. how about, for instance, utah, where nearly the entire state is mail-in balloting? but in other states, like i mentioned in south carolina, you can't get your mail-in ballot without getting a notary public? that's why the constitution says that for federal elections, the congress can make or alter the rules regarding federal elections. for decades we know voting rights has been a bipartisan issue. in 2006, the voting rights act, i know senator durbin, the author of this bill, who has worked so hard on this, was reauthorized the voting rights act, was reauthorized by a vote of 98-0. but right now, when we look at changes to the voting rights act in response to a court case out of the supreme court, it's so necessary to update that bill right now, only one republican,
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senator murkowski of alaska, voted to even advance that bill to allow for debate. only one was willing to debate it. let's be clear -- when article 1, section 4 of the constitution empowers congress to make our alter rules for federal elections at any time, at any time, i believe it's in there for a reason. i don't think they just put that in there for, oh, let's throw this in, you know, very few words of a constitution for the greatest democracy the world has ever known. no. it was in there for a reason. this is the reason. we get to one more thing, then i'll turn it over to my colleagues, and that is the need to look at the senate rules for voting. so, i would argue that maybe the people in this country, the hundreds of millions of the people of this country, that their voting rules might be just a little, tiny more important than our voting rules in this
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chamber. but nevertheless, acknowledging that, our voting rules have changed many, many times. since the beginning of the senate, the rule governing debate have changed multiple times. throughout history there have been over 160 exceptions to the 60-vote cloture, including nominees, reconciliation, disapproval of arms sales, even the number of votes needed to end debate has changed. i am very interested in making this place work. i don't think people would spend all this time getting elected just to come here and stop bills from happening, then go home. but that's pretty much what's going on right now in this chamber. i look at those pages. i think about they came here to watch these grand debates and were supposed to be the greatest deliberative body of all time. instead, we basically have a empty room. this is the moment to protect voting rights, and yes, we acknowledge to do it, because
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sadly we don't have the bipartisan support we've had in the past for voting right and for protecting people's rights. we have to do it this way. and there is nothing magical about the rules as they are now. if there were, there wouldn't be 160 exceptions and they wouldn't have been changed multiple times. i'll end with this, protecting the freedom to vote has never been easy. throughout our country's 245-year history we've had to course correct to ensure that our democracy, for the people, by the people, always lived up to our ideals. last year, when speaking in philadelphia, president biden called the fight to protect voting rights the test of our time. we owe it to ourselves and future generations of americans to ensure that our democracy is protected. with that, i thank you, mr. president, and i turn it over to my colleagues.
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thank you. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. durbin: i want to thank the senator from minnesota. she is extraordinarily talented legislator and works well in a challenging political environment, and she has tackled this issue with a ferocity and intensity which is seldom seen in the united states senate. it is fitting that she did and that she continues even to this day, because of the gravity of the issue. but we are fortunate to have her leadership, extraordinary leadership to bring us to this moment where we're facing the issue of voting in america. mr. president, i started on capitol hill at the lowest possible level, as an intern in the office of the united states senator paul douglas of illinois. i was a college student at
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georgetown university. senator douglas had served in world war ii. he volunteered at the age of 50 to enlist in the marine corps. fought, worked his way into a fighting position in the south pacific, and on the island of okinawa and was shot up, and his left arm dangled by his side the rest of his life, much like bob dole. he has referred to that left arm as his paperweight. he had a way of running a senate office, which would be impossible in these days, but he insisted on signing every letter that went out of his office. and he would read them, make notes, which i thought were illegible, but they were his efforts to send personal greetings along with the letters. you can imagine, they stacked up the letters each day, his staff did, as they typed them, used carbon paper back in the day. he would come in at 5:00 at his conference table with a large
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stack of letters and start to pull them. of course, with one arm, he needed help. that's where i showed up, and the other interns. sat next to him, pulled the letters as he signed them. and we were told by the senior staff in the office that as interns, in that capacity, that we weren't supposed to talk to this great man, because he had important thoughts going through his mind, and we shunned -- shouldn't interrupt him. lo and behold, he would open the conversation, with me and others. we felt really fortunate to have a chance to just speak to him for a few minutes. so, i would prepare, every time i was going to play that role, to read even more about his background so i knew what he had been through. i can recall the day when i worked up the courage and said -- they called him mr. d. mr. d. -- mr. d., i read somewhere that before franklin roosevelt was elected president
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of the united states that you were a socialist and follower of norman thomas and other american socialists. why were you not a democrat? he said, dick, he said, in those days, he said, the democratic party was the party of southern democrats, who were not good on civil rights, and big-city bosses, who i always fought in the city of chicago. so socialism was a good alternative for a progressive like me. i think he used the word liberal, a liberal like me. but then came roosevelt and opened the door for a lot of us on the liberal side to become part of the democratic party, the new democratic party under his leadership. i always remember that, and thought that in the course of american history, so many times the tables have turned, and they're turning on this very issue of voting rights. because, if you look at the history of voting rights in this
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country and the suppression of voting rights, particularly toward african americans, i am sorry to report that it is my democratic party, one i'm very proud of today, which was guilty of so many sins in the past when it came to discrimination against voters when it came to voting. and that, to me, was a reality that is now interesting today, because the tables have turned. the republican party, the party of abraham lincoln, was the party by and large that bought for voting rights for the -- fought for voting rights for the recently liberated african american populations of a the civil war and the democrats in the south that resisted it. i want to commend a book to those who are following this debate. it's entitled "one person, no vote" and the book is written by carol anderson, who's become a friend of mine. carol is a professor in african
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american studies at emory university in georgia, and she writes the history of reconstruction and jim crow. i want to read just a small section of this book to put in perspective what was happening. here it was, a civil war in this country, with over half a million americans dead, with inflamed feelings on both sides of the war, and afterwards, for the first time, african americans, because of the war and because of constitutional amendments, were going to be enfranchised, actually be allowed to vote. and of course, when they did turn up in great numbers, they ended up electing their own and electing people who were sympathetic to their cause. well, there was a backlash, primarily among democrats in the south, and that backlash led to jim crow during reconstruction and the suppression of the right
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to vote. it was horrible. i want to read one part of this book and carol anderson's book "one person, no vote." she writes, that became most apparent in 1890 when the magnolia state passed the mississippi plan, an array of understanding clauses and newfangled voter registration rules all intentionally racially discripple i tribut dressed up of bringing integrity to the voting booth. this feign innocence was evil genius, they swooned at the thought of bringing the mississippi plan to his state of virginia especially after he saw how well it worked, he rushed to champion a bill to the legislature to eliminate the darky as a political factor in
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less than five years, end of quote. glass, whom franklin roosevelt would be described as an uncon constructed rebel, planned to inevitably cut from existing electorate four fifths of the negro voters in have virginia. will it not be done by fraud and discrimination. glass answered fraud, no, discrimination, yes. discrimination, that is precisely what we have proposed to discriminate to the very extremity permissible under the constitution with the view of the elimination of every negro voter without imperilling the white electorate. well, the louisiana plan -- mississippi plan, rather, was picked up by other states. in louisiana, for example, where
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more than 130,000 blacks had been registered to vote in 1896, after the application of these lawtion, the -- laws, the number jumped from 130,000 to 192. african american voters plunged to fewer than 3,000 in just three years. i'm sorry to say these were democrats in the south leading the charge. i'm sorry to say that was part of the history of my party. it is history, it does not reflect what's going on today. now there's a con -- conscientious effort by the party to reduce the ability to vote. why would they do this? in the last presidential election in 2020, we had the largest turnout in the history of the united states, exactly what a democracy should celebrate. instead we find state after
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state dominated by republican legislatures and governors trying to reduce opportunities to vote. why? why wouldn't we make it as easy as possible for every eligible american to vote? justice roberts, in his confirmation hearing before the senate judiciary committee, i remember, he talked about voting being the right that is the preservative of all other rights. it is so fundamental. you would think that we could accept the premise that if this democracy is to work, the electorate should speak and as many as possible should participate, but today we have the opposite, an effort by 20 states or more to reduce opportunities to vote and in reducing those opportunities, many people will be denied their chance to speak when it comes to the election. mr. president, congress and our nation marked the first anniversary of one of the darkest days in american history
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yesterday, the january 6 insurrection, the day american democracy was nearly lost. that day an embittered, defeated president trump sent a murderous mob to attack this capitol and overturn an election he had lost. i was honored to join my colleagues yesterday and speak to the bravery of the capitol police, the washington, d.c., metropolitan police and the national guard who battled not only to defend this building but to defend this i way of life and -- this way of life and our government. they faced down violent extremists for hours, then du joured vicious -- endured vicious attacks with fists, chemical sprays, baseball bats and other weapons, it is because of their courageous sacrifice that our democracy survived.
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five police officers died over the next six months, as these officers will tell you, january 6 was not a normal day for tourists in the capitol despite what congresswoman andrew clyde, republican of virginia claimed. in the -- and the threat of january 6 is not over. for a few short hours after the election, many of our republican colleagues denounced the violence and our former president who provoked it. sadly lawmakers quickly changed their tune. in a matter of days more and more were intimidated to change the president's big lie that the 2020 election was somehow not legitimate. since january 6 we've seen a torrent of bills introduced in republican-controlled lectures to restrict voting rights.
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republican lawmakers in nearly 20 states, including georgia, arizona, and florida, have passed laws making it harder for millions of americans to vote. some cases making it easier, and this is so critical, for politicians to overturn election results they don't like. let's be honest, these laws are not about preventing voter fraud, they are giving politicians the chance to pick and choose the votes they want to count. does that sound like what we lived through after the civil war in the 19th and 20th century. our republican colleagues have resurrected the age-old battle cry they were using those those days, states' rights. they say that congress has no authority to protect citizens whose voting rights are under attack. they are wrong. they have not taken time to read
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history or the constitution. inside the desk of this chamber is a little book, the united states constitution. it's article 1, section 4 of that constitution which says the times, places and manners of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof, but the congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations except as to the places of choosing senators. when you think about what we're trying to do here and the senator from minnesota described it, we are setting out to establish the standards by law for the choosing of federal election. fast forward about 80 years after that sentence was written, the civil war had come to a close and the 15th amendment was ratified to protect the
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rights of newly freed slaves, including the right to vote. what does that say, section 2 of the 15th amendment, congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. it couldn't be stated any more clearly. preventing states from denying citizens their right to vote is not constitutional overreach, it is urgent constitutional obligation and we must honor it. the international institute for democracy in electoral systems is a think tank in sweden. every year it has ranked the world's nations in order of commitment to democracy. in 2021, for the first time ever, the united states ranking fell to what the group called a back sliding democracy. they said that an historic turning point came in 2020, 2021 when former president donald
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trump questioned the legitimacy of the election in the united states, we call it the big lie. if we in this senate fail to denounce this big lie, do you know what america's future will look like? it won't be a government of and by the people, it will be a government ruled by political strongmen. these new voter suppression laws are a coup in slow motion, they are a continuation of the january 6 attack on this building. it is designed to decide your future and deny it. ask yourself this, if the american people don't decide the outcome of the election, who will? i'll tell you. political partisans, special interests, the rich, and the powerful this senate has the responsibility to protect the power and rights of american voters in our democracy. there are two commonsense proposals in the senate to do that. i'm honored to cosponsor both.
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the first is the bipartisan, thank you, senator murkowski, of alaska, john lewis voting rights act. it would protect the civil rights movement. for decades democrats and republicans have worked together to reauthorize and update the voting rights act as senator klobuchar mentioned earlier, there were times when more than 90 senators would vote in favor of the reauthorization of that act. it reached a point in the house of representatives where i believe the only republican congressman who would stand up and continue to vote for the reauthorization of that act was the representative of wisconsin, he has since retired. republicans and democrats have worked together to reauthorize and update the voting rights act. this new version named in honor of the great onlewis, -- john
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lewis would restore the full strength of that which was decided by the conservative majority on the supreme court. i worked with senators leahy, murkowski, and klobuchar. the freedom to vote act would preserve the integrity of our election that would limit voting access, including same-day voter registration and establishing election day as a federal holiday. what's behind all of that? a basic premise, eligible voters should not face obstacles in voting. we ought to make it easy for them. isn't it an embarrassment to you? it is to me to watch the newscast show people standing in line literally hours to vote. bless them for their determination to exercise their rights as citizens in this country, but shame on us, this great nation that we would make
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it so inconvenient and so difficult and now state legislatures across the nation are doing even worse. i'm grateful to senator merkley who's here and senator klobuchar for leading efforts on this legislation. this legislation is and it -- will protect every voters' access to the voting box. there is no guarantee that they will vote for democrats or republicans, but isn't it the american democracy to leave it to people to make that choice, not legislatures. why are our colleagues using the filibuster to prevent the senate from even beginning debate on these bills? it goes back to that old states' rights argument. some republicans argued that the proposals would amount to a federal takeover of our election system. to those republicans, i would
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say, open your desk and read. it's a baseless claim. it is -- we cannot stand idly by as republican and state legislatures act in a wave of voter suppression returning to that grim, dark period of american history. we cannot accept the senate is powerless. later this month we are going to honor dr. martin luther king jr. throughout the civil rights movement, dr. king would quote a phrase from thomas ar lyle who -- carlyle who wrote, no lie can live forever. how much longer will we allow mr. trump's big lie to tear america apart? how long will we allow this, a senate rules that has been
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changed 160 times. the only obstacle standing in the way of stopping this voter suppression is the filibuster. but let's be clear, there is no senate rule more important than our constitutional right to vote. americans have gin their lives to defend our constitutional rights. no one has ever been asked to risk their life to defend the senate filibuster rule. for our republican colleagues to feign outrage about the rules and norms of the senate, i ask them to think about a year ago this week, where were these precious norms when the leader of the republican party, president trump, and when some of our echos of the big lie and where were the rules when they
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installed president donald trump to the presidency against the will of the american people. right now this is not just another political debate. the future of american democracy is at stake. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia is recognized. mr. kaine: mr. president, i am so proud to be on the floor with my colleagues, senator durbin, senator merkley, senator klobuchar to work on this issue of such great importance, and aid like to now -- and i'd like to now discuss the john lewis act and the freedom to vote act, issues that the senate will soon take up and that the senate needs to pass. we have tried to bring these bills to the floor in recent months. the minority party has blocked the effort to even consider the bills with the sole exception of one republican, the senior senator from alaska, who has been willing to vote to proceed to consideration of the lewis act. some of the most epic moments in the history of this chamber have
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come as we grappled with voting rights. after the civil war, the debate surrounding the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were epic struggles about the nation's new recommitment to the equality principle after the civil war and those struggles included dramatic discussions about voting connected to both the 14 segregate and 15th amendment -- to both the 14th and 15th amendments. the struggle for women's suffrage culminating in the passage of the 19th amendment in the senate, was also a pivotal moment for this body. i believe the most dramatic voting rights struggle in the chamber was the passage of the 1965 voting rights act. civil rights activist john lewis and others were savagely beaten on the edmund put it is bridge in march of 1965.
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the building frustration of those denied votes in many states together with that shocking instance of violence coalesced into a final push to get a comprehensive voting rights bill approved. president johnson addressed a joint session of congress on march 15, just eight days after the attack on john lewis, and he threw his support behind the voting rights act. the senate began floor consideration of the bill on april 22, and after more than a month of vigorous debating, filibustering, fighting, amending, the bill passed, and it passed in a dramatically bipartisan fashion. democratic support was 47-16. republican support was overwhelming 30-2. the house passed its own version in july. a conference report was passed, and then accepted by both houses in early august, and president
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johnson then signed the bill in a ceremony attended by rosa parks, john lewis, reverend dr. martin luther king jr., and many other legislative and civil rights leaders. the voting rights act that was fought for so hard in this chamber and passed in 1965 is viewed as the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the history of this country. it ushered in dramatic increases in voting turnout, more opportunity for racial minorities, not only to vote but also to run for office. studies have drawn a direct connection between the act and concrete actions to provide more government services to communities that had long suffered from public disinvestment. it's obvious -- when all citizens are protected in their rights to vote, then government becomes more responsive to all citizens.
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the 1965 act was strongly bipartisan, both in its passage and in the frequent reauthorization over the years, most recently in 2006. but since 2006, really beginning with the obama presidency, the republican party has essentially done a 180 in its long support of expanding the franchise. hostile supreme court rulings in shelby v. mississippi and brnovich v. the democrat national committee, have put the burden back on congress to fix the voting rights act, but in contrast to previous history where republicans would join with us in those efforts, efforts to fix or improve the act have foundered because now otorepublican party is unwilling to support voting -- because now the republican party is unwilling to support voting rights. i talk about the voting rights act because it is notable to me for two reasons.
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it came at a time when efforts were being taken to disenfranchise african american voters is. and there was a culminating event -- shocking violence against john lewis and others as they tried to press for voting rights, and that violence galvanized the nation and this body into action so we could protect voting and protect our democracy. history repeats it is. today we're seeing a full-out attack on voting in our entire electoral system. now it is not just limited to southern states. now it is not just directed solely at african american voters. now it is not just an attack led by bigoted state or local officials in one region. the attack emanated from the previous president, with years of attacks on the integrity of american elections, attacks that ratcheted up into the closing phase of the 2020 election. president trump, after losing
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that race, then went on a wild search for a way to hold on to power making up lies about the election, spearheading meritless lawsuits in many states to challenge the result, directly asking election officials to find him enough votes to win key jurisdictions, even trying to strong-arm his own vice president into violating his constitutional oath so that he would deliver a victory to the losing candidate, and just as in 1965 there came an unforgettable episode of violence directly related to the attacks on our system of election. the capitol itself was attacked on a particular day and hour for a particular purpose -- to stop the certification of the electoral outcome. more than 100 police officers were injured that day as a result of this attack on our democracy. five virginia law enforcement officers lost their lives as a
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result of that day. the violence wasn't just a riot, it was violence designed to disenfranchise the 80 million people who had voted for joe biden and kamala harris. that singular event ranks among the largest disenfranchisements in the history of this country. history repeats itself. attacks continue in republican state legislatures all across this country, as has been demonstrated by my colleague effortsare under way to make it harder to vote, to make it easier to challenge and intimidate voters with the hope that it will discourage their participation, to interfere with the counting of votes, to interfere with the certification of elections by duly sworn elections officials. these are partisan efforts only occurring in states with republican leadership, and they
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pose a grave threat to our democracy. the violence of january 6 also continues in a tremendous spikes in threats to those public servants that serve as election officials, threats to their lives, threats to their families, all designed to intimidate those who won't bend to the will of the former president and those who have been dragged into his full-scale assault on our democracy. and so the senate stands at the same moral crossroads where we stood in the spring of 165. -- the spring of 1965. there is an assault on voting and elections, on the very system of democracy that distinguishes our nation, the assault has led to shocking and cataclysmic violence, specifically designed to disenfranchise millions of people. and the question for the senate is -- what should we do about it? in the john lewis act and the freedom to vote act we find a
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solution for the moment just as the senate found in the voting rights act a solution for its time. it restores the preclearance section by coming up with a fair process for determining which jurisdictions must seek preclearance of voting changes. no longer is it limited to certain geographies or states with long histories of discriminatory electoral practice. instead, every region and community is treated the same, subject to preclearance for a fixed period of years following any voting rights violation and able to avoid preclearance if there have been no such violations. the freedom to vote act sets minimum standards for access to the ballot in federal elections, mandates campaign contributions, requires nonpartisan redistricting for congressional seats, and provides remedies to block partisan efforts to take power away from duly sworn election officials. it's designed for the dangers of the moment and will both protect
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people's rights to vote and give them confidence that their vote will be counted and that an election result will be accurate and fair. it's high time we take up these bills and pass them. and the floor debate should be vigorous, with an opportunity for colleagues to make their case and offer amendments. the nation is watching us and needs to understand where every member of the body stands on this critical issue. i acknowledge one sad reality of this likely debate -- protecting votes rights is unlikely to attract republican support, as it did in 1965. i hope i'm wrong. i would be very happy to apologize for being wrong. but i've had enough conversation with my republican colleagues -- and i've watched their votes on the floor as we brought this up before. i think i understand what they will like lay do. but even if we a get no republican support, we cannot shrink from the task. the moment is too meaningful a
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how for any evasion. if we pass this bill, it will be good for republicans and democrats and independents because it's good for democracy. as i close, i'll just bring up a recent example to show why expanding voting is not just good for one party. we just had a governor's election in virginia in november of 2021. my preferred democratic candidate lost. but the election in a bigger way was good for democracy because the turnout in the election went up by 25% over the turnout in the governor's race four years before. more people participated. that he is a good thing. why did the turnout go up? the turnout went up because democrats earned control of both houses of our state legislative chamber and made a set of changes much like the changes in the freedom to vote act to make it easier for people to participate and give them confidence in the integrity of the ballot and certification of results. and guess what?
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when democrats did that, turnout went up by 25%. and the winner wasn't a democrat, the winner was a republican. doing things like the freedom to vote act isn't partisan, even though the vote in here is partisan. it's good for all. that increase in turnout by 25% almost set a record in virginia. there was only one governor's race war -- where the turnout was even bigger. it was in 1969. my father-in-law, liywood holton had run for governor in 1965 and lost. he ran again in 1969 and won and the turnout went up by 65% between his two reagan administrations. that's -- between his two races. that's the one in aests is the record in virginia. why did turnout go up? because the sing rights act was passed. and because the u.s. supreme court in harper v. virginia in
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1966 struck down poll taxes as a precondition of voting in state elections. so fancy that. you make it easier for people to vote, you remove discriminatory obstacles in their way, and more people participate. not necessarily good for democrats. not always good for republicans. but always good for the health of a democracy. and that's why we need to pass these bills. mr. president, i yield the the presiding officer: mr. presi
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dent. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. schumer: mr. president, i usually don't give such lengthy speeches, but today i'll be on the floor for a little while. i have 12 sections to my speech. the first section, this is on voting rights, of course. the first section is the history, equality, democracy, and the founders' vision. and i begin with a quote. to understand political power right and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men and women are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions, and persons as they think fit within the bounds of the law of nature without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other person.
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john locke published those words in england anonomously, anonomously exactly 100 years before the constitution of the united states came into effect. a very, very long time ago, at least to the human mind. they were published not in the era of republics, but of kingdoms. not of presidents, but of monarchs. not of citizens, but rather subjects. it was an era when many argued and took up arms for the idea that the king derived power from the decrees of heaven. and here john locke said no, political power in fact comes from free individuals. these words were circulated for years in secret -- in secret -- because to hold these views back then was treason. locke went further. the natural state is also one of equality in which all power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, and no one has more than another.
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it is evident that all human beings are equal amongst themselves. these words, these ideas, a third of a millenia old, but it's right there staring us in the face -- all men and women are naturally free and all men and women are naturally equal. i'll admit this may be lofty stuff, but history lessons matter, because these ideas were the p initial blueprints for a different sort of political order that would shape here in this continent, articulated a century later in the words of the declaration of independence. these were the original ideas for what would inspire the framers to create not a kingdom, but a republic, a democratic society, a place where people equal in rank decide their own leaders in free and fair elections. it reminds me of the words of james madison as well, quote, who are to be the electors of
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the federal representatives? not the rich or the poor, not the learned more than the ignorant. not the haughty heirs of distinguished names. the electors are the to be the great body of the people of the united states. section 2, american history is a long march towards universal suffrage. that's the noble side of our early history. worthy of remembering and pursuing to this day. there is of course a more complicated, more frustrating reality, one we should not be afraid to admit and to recognize and one we hide from, or worse, try to erase at our own peril. we all know that when our country was founded, mass participation in representative gotcha might have been the object of the founders but it certainly was not a practice. immediately excluded were 700,000 enslaved men and women counted as three-fifths of a
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person for the purposes of congressional allotment but zero-fifths of a person for all other matters of human dignity. women too were left out. also cast aside and brutalized were those who lived on this continent for thousands of years before the colonial era, for whom full participation in political life and practicalty has never, never been made real, even to today. and through it all, through it all voting requirements were left to the states to choose for themselves so that depending on which side of the state boundary you lived on, a different set of rules might apply to you determining your worthiness to choose your own leaders. so despite madison's sentiments at the time of our constitution's ratification, you had to be a white male, oftentimes protestant landowner to vote. by the election of 1800, more than one in ten americans were
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even eligible to vote. of the 16 states then in the union, all but three limited suffrage to property holders or taxpayers. and here's another truth too -- despite all that, the story of democracy in america has been a long march, a very long, torturous march towards universal suffrage. in america, our wholly struggle has been to take these words of our framers, to take the idea that everyone should live freely and equally and to make it real in whatever way the people can make it real. it's an exercise in making better what was once woefully imperfect, of having hope that we can make even more progress in the future. indeed this is written into the very, very first statement of our constitution -- making a more perfect union. so from the get-go generations
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of americans have sought to establish the united states as a democracy. we fought a bloody civil war to end slaveryy. women organized and reached for the ballot. the civil rights movement brought an end to the vicious segregation of the mid 20th century. and here in congress -- yes, in this congress -- we passed the voting rights act, the national voter registration act, and the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th amendments top expand the franchise until there were no more boundaries. we all know unfortunately the march has not always been linear. throughout our nation's history moments of significant progress have been followed by reactionary backlash. that backlash takes many forms. white supremacy, tyranny, demagoguery, fear, and political violence, and much, much more. today it lives on in the internet, in the dark corners of online places that deal not in truth but in conspiracies
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that i would call whacky or bizarre if they were not so darned dangerous. they live in the cascade of deranged propaganda we see emanating from certain cable news networks. unfortunately it seems, led by one party, compelled by the most dishonest president in history, we are entering another one of those dark periods. that is what we're talking about here today on the senate floor. section 3, the origins of the big lie. mr. president, if there's anything else besides free and fair elections that have been central to our national political character, it's been our largely unbroken fidelity to the peaceful transfer of power. peaceful transfer of power. you can't talk about voting
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rights and free and fair elections and democracy without also presupposing that the leaders are willing to step down when their terms are over when they've lost elections. thankfully our leaders have by and large honored this tradition, whether that has been in victory or in defeat. nobody likes losing, but sometimes you have to move on. that's life. but then came donald trump. like many before him, trump ran for reelection in 2020 and lost his race. in fact, he lost to joe biden by seven million votes and 74 college, lech tral college votes -- electoral college votes. i shouldn't have to say that but it's the truth and sometimes the truth gets distorted around here. rather than accept defeat, rather than follow in the noble tradition of those who came before him, donald trump rejected the results of the 2020
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election and claimed without a shred of evidence, without any evidence that the election was rigged, that it was stolen, that it was a conjob unlike anything we've ever seen before. he planted the seeds of that lie long before the election even happened. yes, the big lie was born then. to this day -- section 4 -- the big lie is just that. it's a lie. it's not a misinterpretation. it's not one person looks at it one way, one person looks at it the other, as some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want us to believe. it's just a lie. to this day there's not a shred of evidence supporting the fantasy that donald trump won the election only to have it stolen from him. as a general principle, an extraordinary claim should come with extraordinary proof. we haven't seen anything close to proof in the 14 or so months
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since the 2020 election. on the other side of the aisle, the biggest, biggest, loudest talkers about the election being stolen have not presented any facts. it's appalling. so let's examine the record. first, donald trump has had plenty of chances to prove his allegations in the court of law in virtually every instance he has failed. let me read an excerpt from "usa today" published last year on the day of the insurrection. quote, the president and his allies have filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking to overturn election results in states that the president lost. a little further it reads, quote, out of the 62 lawsuits filed challenging the presidential election, 61 have failed. 61. 62 lawsuits in a little under two months.
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and if that's not good enough for some people. let me read further from the article. some cases were dismissed, says the article, for lack of standing. others based on the merits of the voter fraud allegations. this decision comes from both democratic and republican-appointed judges, including federal judges appointed bid president trump. so trump and his allies went to court to try and make the case for voter fraud and virtually lost at every turn. now let us move from the courts to what actually happened in the states during the 2020 elections. across the board state officials in states both red and blue and in fact states that hopefully made the difference in the election all said the same thino voter fraud. here's what the republican secretary of state in nevada said in april of last year -- the state g.o.p. concerns, quote, did not amount to etch den chair support for the
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contention that the 2020 election was plagued by widespread voter fraud. no voter fraud in nevada. in arizona, secretary of state hobbs said last year, quote, there's absolutely no merit to any claims of widespread voter fraud, unquote. and just this week, just this week, the election department of maricopa county, the largest county in arizona, headed by a republican, with released a 90-page document delivering a point-by-point refusal of claims of voter fraud. their conclusion? the november 2020 election in arizona was administered with integrity, and the results were accurate and reliable. this has been proven throughout statutorily required accuracy tests, court tests, hand counts performed by political parties, and postelection audits. no fraud in arizona. let's turn to georgia. the secretary of state in georgia published an op-ed in
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"the washington post" last year to defend his state's results. he wrote, georgia's voting system has never been more secure or trustworthy. they had multiple recounts in georgia, importuned by trump supporters. they had a hand recount. the result was the same every time. no voter fraud in georgia. in pennsylvania, one pennsylvania republican legislator said the following about his own party's efforts to conduct a tsao so-called -- a so-called forensic audit, the attempt runs head long into a unmistakable truth. donald trump lost pennsylvania because donald trump received fewer votes. no fraud in pennsylvania either. wisconsin, the same story. "newsweek," quote, g.o.p. aligned group finds no evidence of wisconsin voter fraud after 10-month investigation. it reads, a close review,
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including a hand count of roughly 20,000 ballots, from 20 wards, uncovered no evidence of fraudulent ballots or widespread voter fraud, the report reads. our hand review found that the counts closely match those reported by the wisconsin election commission. the review found no evidence of fraudulent ballots. and then we have michigan, and by now, mr. president, i expect you know how this is going to end. last summer, the g.o.p., the republican-controlled state senate, released a much-anticipated report examining allegations of fraud within their own state. according to the "detroit news" the report's main author, senator ed mcbroom, a republican, said he found no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud, contradicting months of assertions from some members of his own party, including former president donald trump, unquote. so, mr. president, let's just
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take a moment to review -- no voter fread in -- fraud in nevada, arizona, pennsylvania, georgia, no voter fraud in michigan. it's clear, the reason donald trump is not in office today is because he didn't receive enough votes to win the election. it's that simple. it's indisputable. the courts said so. the states say so. the facts say so. indeed, even donald trump's own administration said so. a month after the election it was none other than former attorney general bill barr himself, who made clear that the president was lying to the american people. in an interview with the a.p., the associated press, about a month after the election, here's a quote -- barr told the a.p. that u.s. attorneys and f.b.i. agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and misinformation they've received, but to date we have
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not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different -- effected a different outcome in the election. bill barr, donald trump's aco light, said that. months later, barr said, my suspicion all the way was that there was nothing there, it was all b.s. i will note that mr. barr used a different word at the end of that quote, which i'm not repeating here. but this is the attorney general, the president's ac aco light who sided with him, even he said there's no fraud. how can so many people still cling to this? elected officials, responsible elected officials. they're doing damage, true damage, to our republic. true damage. i rarely agree with the attorney general. on this, he's on the mark. the big lie is b.s. b.s. so let me state once again, though it should hardly need repeating, that the 2020
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election was not in dispute. donald trump did not have an election stolen from him. nothing about 2020 was rigged, as he says. but today, today, a frightful amount of americans still believe what mr. trump is saying is true. tens of millions of americans, a minority, yes, but a sizable one that cannot be ignored. that are is the big lie, in a nutshell. to them, it doesn't matter that there's no substance to these arguments. to them, it doesn't matter that the president's own allies have debunked it. they want to believe it anyway, and believe it they do. and donald trump, about the most pernicious president we've ever had -- not about, the most pernicious president. no president has done this. will -- well, he understands that. he understands from the moment the polls closed on election night all he had to do was repeat the lie again and again
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and again, and it would take a life of its own. and now, mr. president, sadly and troublingly, greatly troubling us, troubling the whole country, the big lie is poisoning our democracy. poisoning it. conspiracy theories spreading online, cable news anchors spewing false hoodsand jeb rating -- and generating a sense of rage among their viewers. when the courts regused to back the former president, the states refused and his own administration refuses to back him, he was left with one last ditch effort to hold on to power, to get the vice president to reject the results of januar. by now, we all know about the dreaded tweet he posted in december of 2020 -- big protest in d.c. on january 6, be there. will be wild.
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what a sad documentation this all is, in the 2st century america -- in the 21st century in america. section 5, it was donald trump's big lie that soaked our political landscape in kerro -- in kerosene and the rally struck the match. then came the fire, and all of us were here, one year ago yesterday, to watch the fire burn. yesterday, many of us spent much of the day recounting what it was like to be here in the capitol on january 6. i want to commend my colleagues for doing so. but mr. president, it is shameful my republican colleagues had to come to the floor to speak as well. january 6 was every bit as an attack on them as it was on anyone else. it was shameful my republican
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colleagues did not come to the floor to speak as well. they did not come to the floor. this room was empty on this side of the aisle. january 6 was every bit an attack on them as it was on anyone else. all of us suffer when democracy's assaulted. this is not a party matter. so i want to thank my colleagues who did come to the floor yesterday, and to everyone across the capitol who showed their stories yesterday. many of these stories are painful to visit, but they radiate with the light of truth, and i applaud them all. of course, we also pay tribute to all those who put themself in harm's was i to protect us and this building -- our capitol police, our d.c. metro police, our national guard. they were outnumbered, unprepared, and largely left on their own, but they held the line. when rioters cleared out of the building, another wave of heroes
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came in, the men and women who work as the maintenance staff, as technicians. they came in, into the night, without complaint, and brought the capitol back to life, so that we were able to continue to count the votes and not let this insurrectionist mob stop american democracy from proceeding forward. those who came in represent the best of us, the best of us. section 6, the disease of the big lie lives on. the attack on the us capitol may have been limited to a single day. the attack on our democracy, unfortunately, has not ceased. since last year, there have been no outright attempts to storm this building, to undo the will of the people, thank god. but the disease of the big lie continues to spread. donald trump has not changed his tune. he keeps insisting that our democracy somewhere rigged and our elections have been riddled with voter fraud. he did it as recently as
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yesterday. in fact, he was going to have an entire press conference on it before calling it off. it was reported that his own republican colleagues didn't want to hear him spew his lies on this day that has become so sacred to so many. this, what donald trump does, is poison. the consequences of the former president's words continue to erode our democracy, day by day. and if the enemies of democracy fail to get their way with baseball bats and pipe bombs, they have now turned their focus to a much quieter, much more organized effort to subvert our democrat process from the bottom up. in other words, a slow motion insurrection, but equally insidious and ultimately more damaging.
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slow-motion insurrection. democracy experts alarmed over g.o.p. takeover of election machinery -- of g.o.p. takeover of election machinery. that's the a.p. i want to read the following from the a.p. in the weeks leading up to the deadly insurrection at the us capitol on january 6, a handful of americans, well-known politicians, obscure local bureaucrats, stood up to block then-president trump's unprecedented attempt to overturn a free and fair vote of the american people. but in the year since, trump-aligned republicans have worked to clear the path for the next time. the article continues -- in battleground states, that's the headline here, in battleground states and beyond, republicans are taking hold of the once
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overlooked machinery of elections, while the effort is incomplete and uneven, outside experts on democracy and democrats are sounding alarms, warning that the united states is witnessing a slow-motion insurrection. slow-motion insurrection. with a better chance of success than trump's failed power grab last year. they point to a mounting list of evidence -- candidates who deny trump loss are running for offices that could have a key role in the election of the next president of 2024. the evident are -- efts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 result for years to come. this, mr. president, is the heart of the matter of why we are here today. the insurrection that occurred a year ago yesterday is still going on. it may be slow motion, but in all likelihood if we do nothing about it far more damaging to
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this republic than even the insurrectionists were on the 6th. voter suppression in the states, section 7. it merits repeating again, 2020 was the safest election we've had in a long time. a record number firefighter americans cast a ballot that -- a record number of americans cast a ballot that year, over 159 million people. as i've said already, there have been no indications that the result was anything less than free, fair, and accurate. despite the fact that the 2020 election was free, fair, and accurate, in the year following the 2020 election at least 19 republican-led legislatures suddenly decided to rewrite the rules that govern the way people vote in their respective states. at least 33 new laws have been passed across the country that will, as i will sprain in a -- explain in a moment, have the effect of making it harder to
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vote, harder to register to vote, and worst of all potentially empower partisans to arbitrate outcomes of future elections, instead of nonpartisan election workers. hundreds, hundreds more search laws were proposed, and they may very well get enacted in the near future, particularly if we don't act. now, the republican leader has pointed repeatedly to the 2020 election as proof there was no effort to suppress the vote. this is nothing but a sleight of hand from the republican leader. he ignores that the problem today is not about what happened during the 2020 election, it's what happened after. so, leader mcconnell, web you say there was no -- when you say there was no problem in 2020, why do we need to change it? and why do you ignore all the changes occurring after 2020? it's sophistory. one more time, it's amazing, the republican leader has argued that the 2020 election is proof there's no effort to suppress the vote in america, but
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that's -- but it's not what happened during 2020 that we're arguing. although donald trump calls 2020 the big lie. mcconnell here is contradicting him. although, he never does it directly, for many different, nonadmirable reasons. so any objective observer will admit that different rules had made it harder for people to vote, but the danger is not then, it's what states have done after the 2020 election, teefn though some states tried do it before. we need to be clear, the volume of the election laws is not an innocent coincidence. it didn't just happen springing up in every state on its own.
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no. over the course of the year, we heard the same justification for many of these laws. state republicans said we need to preserve, quote, election integrity, oaf and over again -- over and over again. they said we need to safeguard against voter fraud. but, mr. president, take a look at the actual policies that are now law and tell me if they have anything to do with election integrity. reducing polling hours and polling plates within a state, which is the law in montana and texas. what does that have do with election integrity. limiting the location of voting drop boxes, now in georgia. what does that have to do with election integrity? making it harder to vote, that is the law in texas, iowa, new hampshire, and montana, shortening the window to apply
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for a ballot in iowa and kentucky. risking the use of faulty, risky or potentially faulty voter purchase, in louisiana, texas utah and new hampshire. increasing barriers for voters with disabilities, which is the law in alabama and texas. telling disabled people it's going to be harder for you to vote, what does that have do with election integrity? here's an especially egregious one, limiting early voting days or hours, georgia, iowa, texas. and, of course, as many have condemned for months criminalizing giving food and water to voters waiting in line to vote, that's the law in georgia and florida. when republicans say it's a crime to give voters some food
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or water in line, do they think they are preventing fraud by denying people a snack? it's kafca-esque. we need to remember all the proposals they twried to pass but not diebl to -- tried to pass, but not able to do to date. they tell us about the new intentions about the new reforms. the most reprehensible were in the attempts of states like georgia and texas to eliminate early voting on sunday, a day where many church-going african americans go early to the polls.
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do -- we know what they are up to. what an astonishing coincidence, outlawing voting when african americans sponsor get out the vote. have they shown it creates more fraud than others? no. it is aimed at suppressing certain types of people from voting. policies like these have nothing to do with election integrity. when you say you can't vote on sunday, it's the same intention of those old restrictions that used to require african american to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar before they were allowed to cast a ballot. what regretion. -- many of our republican colleagues reject the ideas.
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as one state representative in arizona said when defending republican voting, everyone shouldn't be voting. that's what he said. i wonder who everyone was. he said we don't mind putting security measures in that won't let everybody vote, but everybody shouldn't be voting and every now and then the simple truth makes its way to the surface. when you lose an election, you're not supposed to stop people from voting even if they didn't vote for you. that's democracy, my republican friends. that's democracy. you lose an election, you're supposed to try harder and win over the voters you lost. instead republicans across the country are trying to stop the other side from voting. that tears apart, rips apart the very fabric of our democracy. so let's be abundantly clear,
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these anti-voter laws are on the books only because their author cited the big lie and tried to succeed when the election failed. a slow-motion insurrection. that's all it is, equally, if not more damaging, to our republic. section 9, election subversion, disenfranchising millions of americans is bad enough, but there's actually another more sinister component to this these laws, republicans aren't just trying to suppress the vote, they are trying to subvert the vote and the democratic process itself. it's not enough that they make it harder for people to vote. they are making it more likely that those who do vote they could see their ballots called into question, subjected to unwarranted and dangerous scrutiny and maybe get thrown out entirely in kansas,
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arkansas, georgia, republican legislatures trying to give more power to themselves and other partisan bodies to undermine, override or neuter bipartisan election boards and county election officials. in a number of states, they've already succeeded. last august, a report from abc news voted that ten new state laws have shifted laws from nonpartisan election officials to partisan entities. why? it's obvious to figure that out here's what abc news said. among the dozens of election reform laws challenging rules regarding how voters cast ballots, several have diminished secretary secretary of state's authority over election to highly partisan bodies such as state legislatures themselves or uneven bipartisan election boards. a separate report from protect democracy, a nonprofit founded
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by former white house and d.o.j. officials warned last summer, many state legislatures are pursuing a strategy to criminalize and interfere in an election administration. their course of action threatens the foundations of fair, professional and nonpartisan elections. let's go through some of the examples. in arizona, abc news reported last august under a new law passed by the republican legislature, the democratic secretary of state, katie hobbs, can no longer represent the state in lawsuits defending its election code. the power lies exclusively with the republican attorney general, but only through january 2, 2023, when coincidentally hobbs' term ends. that is the law in arizona. in georgia, secretary of state brad raffensperger has been fired it from the -- fired from the state election board after
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refusing to go along with president trump's request to find enough votes to secure him a win. aballing, my republican friends -- appalling, my republican friends. president trump calls up and asks the secretary of state of his own party to find enough votes. he gets fired and they are all defending him or shrugging their shoulders or putting their heads in the sand. i've never seen anything quite like this. by the way, for those who don't know it the state election board in georgia is responsible for, among other things, investigating voter irregularities. amazing. just amazing. there are other examples across the country. let's turn to text. according to the voting rights lab, a particular sinister new policy is the law, the recently elected omnibus bill, sb-1,
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increases the likelihood of partisan poll watchers disrupting polling places and counting locations. the bill increased the ability of poll watchers to move freely throughout an election location, including areas containing voters waiting in line, checking in or casting blots. again, it's helpful to look at those pernicious proposals but have not been enacted to lwcf. one bill in arizona would have given flat out the state legislature the authority to cancel the certification of electricitiors by a simple majority vote. so looking through the record, conclusion is not in doubt. republicans across the board justify these new laws by saying they want to make it easier to vote but harder to cheat, but when you're looking at what they are doing, it's perfectly clear
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that they are doing the opposite -- exact opposite, making it harder to vote and easier to steal an election. and this, my friend, is the tip of the ice beg. these state -- iceberg. these state legislatures will return to session and keep going all importuned to donald trump's big lie and what is missing is enough profiles and courage, enough people whether it's in this senate chamber or the house chamber and those who said i want to be a republican, i want republicans to win, but i'm not going to stoop to this level of beginning to dismember our democracy. let's make a final, crucial point about what we're seeing playing out in states. everything -- everything i just described at the state level is being done on a partisan basis. this is a republican con job with zero efforts being made to get any input from democrats.
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should state republican legislatures keep going, should we in this chamber fail to do something about it or respond with insufficient force, our democracy could very well cross a fatal point of no return. and then the unthinkable becomes real, democracy erodes and could, horrors of horrors, vanish as it has in other nations in the course of world history. and what history shows us when these pernicious activities starts, when a mob starts, when a leader lies to gain power, if people don't rise up, it happens. america, don't be complacent. this is happening and it's a great danger and in many other countries that devolve to dictatorship it starts in ways similar like this and the majority of good people said, we don't have to worry about it.
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well, we do. that's why we're here. that's why senator merkley and i and klobuchar have taken to the floor today. section 10, the senate will vote again on voting are rights. so, mr. president, what's the way forward? do we accept these developments as inevitable? do we say it's not so bad? do we look the other way? do we tell ourselves this dark cloud will pass and the disease of the big lie will just cure itself? we can't. the risk is too great. what we must do is remember the words of our great friend john lewis, who shortly before his death said, when you seeing is that is not right, you must say something, you must do something. democracy is not at state, it's an act and each generation must do its part to help build what we call the beloved community.
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well, right now the senate is being called to take action. so as soon as next week, we intend to bring up legislation back to the floor of this chamber to protect our democracy and sure up the right to vote. everyone in this chamber will once again have the opportunity to go on record. will republicans join democrats in a bipartisan manner to move forward on defending democracy? as soon as next week they will be called on to give us an answer and they know the eyes of history are watching. maybe a few idealogues don't, but most of them and next week our republican friends will be called to give us an answer. if there is any fight that this body should know how to win, it's protecting our democracy, it's strengthening our right to vote. throughout this chamber's history, in the aftermath of the
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civil war, during the 1906's, throughout the second half of the 20th century, passing voting rights legislation has been one of the senate's crowning achievements, and now, in this moment of peril for democracy, the senate now needs to work to pass the freedom to vote act. we need to work to pass the john lewis voting rights advancement act. we must get both done so we can send these bills to president biden's desk and they can be signed into law, preventing undoing the pernicious activities that i have documented in the past hour. for months -- for months -- we have tried to get our republican colleagues to join us. after all, voting rights should not be partisan. it hasn't been in the past. it has been supported by george w. bush, hardly democratic
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sympathizers. we've tried to continue in that bipartisan spirit. we've tried no less than four times to begin a simple debate here on the floor about this matter. we've lobbied our republican friends privately. we've gone through regular order. we've attempted to debate them on the floor. we have presented reasonable, commonsense proposals in june, august, october, and november. each time i personally promised my republican colleagues and my democratic colleagues -- particularly the two who have some doubts -- that they would have ample opportunities to voice their concerns, offer germane amendments, and make chaplains to our proposals. -- changes to our proposals. at no point did we ever ask our republican friends to vet for our legislation. -- to vote for our legislation. we've simply been asking them to begin debating, just as the senate was intended to do. off the floor, we've held public hearings, group discussions with
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senators, and one-on-one meetings with the other side to try win some support. senators manchin and kaine and tester and durbin and klobuchar and leahy and many, many more have all met with republicans to initiate a dialogue. at every turn we have been met with resistance. next week we'll try again. they will go on record again. but, of course, obstruction is all we've been able to see so far. as an aside, one of the arguments we hear from the other side is that this is an attempt at a federal takeover of our elections. the sophistry, the dishonesty is legion much the founders -- is region. the founder oz, who my republican colleagues invoke about it is time to confirm a right-wing judge, wrote in the constitution that the congress precisely has the power to pass laws to determine the time, place, and manner of federal elections.
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this is nothing new. we've done it over and over again with amendments and with legislation. bipartisan. the problem isn't simply they oppose our proposals for voting rights l they now even refuse to support legislation they embraced in the past including the policies in the john lewis voting rights advancement act. remember, the voting rights act was reauthorized five times through its history, including by presidents nixon, reagan, and bush. many of my republican colleagues have worked in the past to improve preclearance provisions similar to the ones contained in our latest proposal. if it was good enough for republicans back then, republicans who were true conservatives, it should be good enough for our republican friends today. but they won't even support that. in fact, they won't even support a vote to open debate.
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the sole exception in ten months has been our colleague, the senator from alaska, once on four votes. but where is the rest of the party? -- of abraham lincoln? down to the last member, the rest of the republican conference has refused to engage, refused to debate, even refused to acknowledge that our country faces a serious threat to democracy. leader mcconnell this week seemed to refer to laws i talked about earlier as mainstream here on the floor. what is he talking about? maybe they're mainstream and failed democrats, but his proposals are unacceptable in the united states. so it is clear that the modern republican party has turned its back on protecting voting rights. the party of lincoln is increasingly becoming the party of the big lie. not just donald trump but just
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about everybody here, with the rare exception. section 11, restore the senate. so, mr. president, the senate is better than this. a simple look at our history shows we're better than this. the same institution that passed civil rights legislation, the new deal, the great society, and the bills of reconstruction which should be more than capable of defending democracy in the modern era. but today the partisanship, the big lie, the looming specter of donald trump and his vindictiveness, his dishonesty is a shadow that's cast over this chamber and leads to the gridlock we have. this chamber is not capable of functioning when one side's strategy for legislation is inflexible, total, unthinking,
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unwilling to admit fact and actually mawing up lies. -- making up lies to buttress the big lie, such as the federal government shouldn't be involved in how federal offices are voted for. the senate is no longer a cooling saucer. it's a deep freezer. anyone who's been here for more than a few years now the gears of the senate havousified. the -- havousciified. the -- have ossiified. but some measures a, the filibuster again -- let me say it again, by some measures, the filibuster is used as much as ten times today compared to the past decade. my colleague from oregon is an expert on this. some might wonder if any of the great accomplishments of the past would have had a chance of passage today. would the social security act
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pass the modern senate, medicare and medicaid, civil rights? we sure hope they would, but it is difficult to see with the way the chamber works this day. as i've said since the fall, if this sort of obstruction will continue, i believe the senate needs to be restored to its rightful status as the world's greatest deliberative body. it was that in the past. it's certain float that now. it earned that title precisely because, yes, debate is a central feature of this body and always will be. but at the end of the day, so is governing. so is taking action when needed, once the debate has run its due course. this is an old, old fight in this chamber. over 100 years ago the great senator of massachusetts, henry cabot lodge said that, vote, to vote without debating is perilous, but to debate and never vote is imby sill. to vote without debating is
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perilous. but to debate an never vote is imbecil. we should heeds those word today and democrats are currently exploring the paths we have available so if does what is intended -- debate, deliberate, amend, and vote. if republicans continue to hijack the rules of the chamber to protect us from protecting our democracy, then the senate will debate and consider changes to the rules on or before january 17, martin luther king jr. day. as we hold this debate, i ask my colleagues to consider this question. if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can democrats permit a situation in which republicans can pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote but not allow the united states senate to do the same?
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this asymmetry cannot hold. if senate republicans continue to abuse the filibuster to prevent this body from acting, then i would plead with the senate -- particularly my colleagues on this side of the aisle -- to dapt. -- to adapt. and we must adapt for the sake of our democracy so we can pass the legislation i talked about earlier. in conclusion -- last section. now as i near the end of my remarks, let me appeal to an important moment from history. in the aftermath of the civil war and as the nation began the colossal work of reconstruction, america was more divided than at any point in history. i'm reading grant's biography now. it was hard to imagine that a single nation could endure after the bloody conflict of the previous four years. at the time, the congress set to work on granting newly freed
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slaves the basic freedoms that had long been denied to them. back then it was the party of lincoln which a century and a half later bears little resemblance. these freedoms were enshrined in the 14 segregate and 15th amendments. granting due process and the right to vote to all citizens regardless of color or race. today these amendments rank as some of the greatest and most revered accomplishments in congressional history. they are proof that our country is capable of living up to its founding promise if -- if -- we are willing to put in the work. but at the time the minority party in both chambers refused to offer a single vote -- a single vote -- for any one of the civil rights legislation put forth during reconstruction. not one vote, not one vote. and it was, of course, the
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democratic party that was not offering the vote. they argued these bills represented nothing more than the partisan interest of the majority, a power grab, if you will, from vengeful northerners. but that didn't stop the majority. if basic freedoms meant going it alone, they knew they had to do it. to the patriots, this wasn't partisan. it was patriotic. and the american democracy is better off today because the patriots in this chamber at the time were undeterred by minority obstruction. on this day, on this day, the day after we marked the one-year anniversary of an armed insurrection at the u.s. capitol rooted in a big lie that is eroding our democracy, the question before the senate is, how will we find a path forward on protecting our freedoms? in the 21st century?
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members of this body now face a choice. they can follow in the footprints of our patriotic in this chamber or they can sit by just as the segregationist-oriented democrats in the post-civil war era did and try to have democracy unravel. i do not believe that we need our democracy to unravel. i do not believe it is the ultimate destiny of this country. it is a grand country. as the founding fathers called it, god's noble experiment. i believe -- i truly believe -- our democracy will long endure after these latest attacks. i believe that because of what i said at the very beginning of my remarks -- the long history of this country is a long march towards expanding our democracy, towards making more perfect what our
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found'd founders sought to establish. it took millions of americans hundreds of years to make this country what it is today. americans of every age and color and creed who marched and protested, who stood up and sat in, americans who died defending democracy in its dark eight of and lowest hours -- in its darkest and howest hours. oliver wendell holmes told his war-weary audience that whether one accepts from fortune and will lookdown ward and scale or will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is yours to command is to bring to your work a mighty heart. i have confidence that americans of a different generation -- our generation, those of us in this chamber -- will bring to our work a mighty heart, to fight for what is right, to fight for the truth, to never lose faith,
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and to protect the precious gift handed down to us by those brilliant framers and by the grace of god, i know that our democracy shall not perish in this hour but, rather, endure today, tomorrow, for generations to come.
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i'm pleased to be here with my colleagues today to emphasize the incredible importance of voting rights as the foundation for our democratic republic. senator klobuchar of minnesota, who spoke with the perspective
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of the chair of our rules committee and her experience in the state of minnesota; senator durbin who so understands the challenges from his decades of public service and service in this chamber; senator kaine of virginia who brought forth some of the challenges over time that have existed, targeted black americans; and senator schumer who just took us on a tour through history, bringing us to that point, saying let's make sure that our democratic republic does not perish, that it endures, that that responsibility sits on our shoulders. mr. president, there are more than 4,500 words in the constitution, but the three that matter most are the first
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three -- we the people. our founders printed those words in super-sized font to say this is what it's all about, that we do not take our government power and authority in america as descended from kings or the elite or the powerful. our government takes its authority and power from the people up, and h that is accomplished through the ballot box. we are a nation with a government, as president lincoln so eloquently said, of the people, by the people, and for the people. that's why the ballot box is the beating heart of our democracy. it's the ballot box that is the physical manifestation of every
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american's sacred right to have a voice in their government through their vote. because, as lyndon johnson told us, the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised for breaking down injustice. for 245 years, since our declaration of independence, through war and depression, through civil strife and terrorist attack, our democracy has persevered. it's weathered storms, storms -- through those storms it's continued to shine as a beacon of light to the world. as ronald reagan so fondly spoke of it, to serve as a beautiful, shining city on the hill. all the while, through
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generation after generation, we've worked to expand access to the ballot box, recognizing that the vision of the constitution wasn't fulfilled until every american had the ability to exercise their right to vote. and for most of our lives in this generation, we haven't really worried about the strength of our democratic institutions. we've read about presidents around the world writing a new constitution and throwing the old out without process of wiping out the clause that limited them to two terms or to one term and continuing on. a show put on in terms of elective function that was just a cover story for authoritarian power. but here we thought we have practiced for more than 200
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years, converting the power of the people into representative democracy and decisions made through the house and senate and the president of the united states. we took for granted that they work because they had worked for generation after generation, election after election, year after year. but now in recent years we come to realize that we shouldn't have taken the strength of our institutions for granted. we've come to see all too clearly that these institutions are fragile. we have seen the relentless efforts to undermine faith in our institutions. we've seen the attacks on our free press. we've seen the siloing of channels of information into different 24-hour cable news networks. and we've seen the echo chamber of social media. we have experienced the impact that has occurred attacking the
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basic right to vote being torn away by the highest court in the land, to political leaders deliberately lying to and deceiving the american people and fanning the flames of hate and bigotry, of division and discrimination for their political gain. then just over a year ago we saw it culminate in a violent mob of extremists stirred up and unleashed by a man who couldn't face the reality of his electoral loss, and that mob stormed this very building to stop the wheels of democracy from turning. i was sitting here in this chamber, and i well remember the agents rushing down the center aisle up to the podium to
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sweep away the vice president to safety, wondering why they were running down the aisle, because that doesn't happen here in the senate. we heard the sounds of people outside these doors and wondered what was going on. we saw our sergeant at arms team start to lock the doors of this chamber, all of it just an extraordinary moment. and then because we have smartphones, we started to understand what was going on outside of the capitol and inside of the capitol. later we learned of the incredibly valiant acts of an officer named eugene goodman, who as the first wave of the mob ascended the staircase that's just outside the chamber in this direction, proceeded to essentially challenge the leader of that group, shoving him slightly and backing up away,
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down that hallway to move the mob away from entering the double doors that were close by, buying more time for the security of this chamber. it's hard to believe that men and women in this building were chanting for the death of nancy pelosi and the death of the vice president of the united states of america, calling for him to be hanged. because we started to understand the threat, i heard whispered phone calls to loved ones saying i'm okay, i think i'm fine. we saw fear and pain in the eyes of some of our staff who were simply doing their job, to help our democracy function that day. and we know how that day lingers
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in the hearts of our capitol police officers. and i continue to grieve with them for the trauma and loss they endured, and to appreciate so much the service they rendered. the insurrectionists on january 6, 2021, came all too close to stopping democracy in its tracks that day. here in the chamber, we were ushered into a safer location, and along with us went the three ballot boxes pictured here. the picture that i took when i was pleased to see these ballot boxes that traveled with us to safety because the mob did enter this chamber. and had these boxes still been here in the well of the senate, they would have opened them and they would have destroyed those
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ballots because that is what they were intent on doing, was to destroy the ballots from various states to alter the outcome of the election. but they couldn't get to them because they were safe with us. these boxes were crafted by really, real artists who work here in the senate, and there is a new box, a larger box, because some of the states were sending larger certifications of the ballots, the electoral college ballots from their state. we were determined to return to the chamber that evening, to come back here, reclaim this chamber from the mob, replace these boxes in the well of the senate, transport them to the house through the rhythm of counting the electoral college votes, and make sure the certification of the election went ahead.
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and it did. we completed our work. the house and senate certified the election results. the physical attack on our national temple, our revered capitol building was intended to prevent the counting of ballots, the most important act marking the transfer of power from one president to the next. you know, our leaders in the early phase of our country weren't sure that this system would survive. would the sphirs president of the united -- first president of the united states declare that he would continue beyond the bounds of the constitution regardless of an election, or prevent the election from happening? it's one of the motivations behind supporting george washington as the first president because people had faith that he would honor the vision in that constitution and set the rhythm for the generations that followed. and he did.
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so on january 6, 2021, one year and one day from now, democracy held barely, but it held. but though it held on that day, the attack on our federal elections has continued nonstop through the year that has followed. and this is a question we now face. in state after state republican legislatures are erecting barriers at the ballot box to make it more difficult for specific groups of americans to vote, making it more difficult for native americans to vote, for black americans to vote, and for college students to vote. it's our responsibility in the face of these attacks on the right to vote, to say hell no,
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we will not let any group in america be blocked from voting. we'll guarantee the right of every citizen to exercise the most fundamental right of a citizen? democracy, the act of putting a ballot into a ballot box. that is why we must pass, without delay, the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights act. the 2020 election was free. it was fair. it was secure. in every analysis, in every court hearing, in every recount, in every audit, we have found that the election of 2020 was free and fair and secure. we have seen that proven time and time and time again.
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it was the most scrutinized election ever held in this country. it was also the election with the largest turnout ever in this country. more than 159 million americans cast a ballot. but instead of celebrating the integrity of that election, that beautiful display of democracy, the embodiment of the way the people -- of the we the people republic, some in our country have spent this past year trying to undermine our republic, to lie about it, to tear it down, to tear down what so many have worked and fought for, marched and sacrificed for over 245 years. these forces can not win by the power of the ideas, so they want to change the rules. they want to rig the vote.
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so how do you do that? well, the states make laws to make it harder to register to vote. the states make laws to allow those on the voting rolls to be thrown off without them even knowing they've been thrown off, to purge the voting rolls in a discriminatory fashion. you make it harder for early voting. you make it harder to vote by mail. and the consequence of making early voting and vote by mail hard is you direct the voting to election day, and on election day you have a set of time-tested tactics to block the ballot box. what are these tactics? well, one, you understaff the
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precinct, voting location, so the line is very long in places where you don't want people to vote. in georgia, in the last election, in those precincts where the electorate was 80% white, the wait time was an average of about five minutes. in those precincts where the electorate was 80% black, the wait time was about 50 minutes, or ten times longer. this did not happen by accident. what else can be done? you move the location of the precinct voting location so people go to the wrong place in the places where you don't want them to vote. you put them in places where there isn't much parking, so they have to walk a long ways to get to the polling place. you let the machines malfunction and have nor one around to fix -- have no one around to fix
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them, to increase the length of the line. you ban volunteers from giving food and water to the people who are standing in line, hour after hour after hour. you put out text messages saying we're so sorry you missed the vote last week, when in truth the vote is the next tuesday coming, but you make people think they missed the vote so they won't show up. or you put out messages saying we hope you'll vote on this date, which is a week after the real vote, so people don't show up on election day. all of these things happen. and when i read about them happening, i think about how important early voting and vote by mail are. if you want to look at ballots being stolen, the right to vote being stolen, the corruption of voting, look to these corrupt activities on election day. those are stealing the votes. that's where the crime is being
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committed. and that is the crime we need to stop. now, in oregon we were the first state to have vote by mail, and it started with the republican party saying let's get everybody signed up for absentee ballots, because we know we can increase turnout. and then the democrats said, that's a really good idea. let's get all our folks to sign up for absentee ballots. when i first ran for the state legislature half the state was voting by absentee ballot, half at the polls. at the next election, the state said we liked voting by absentee ballot so much, let's give vote by mail to everyone, and it was embraced by both parties. and i remember going door to door, people telling me, we really love not having to worry about the challenges of election day, of parking, of weather, i've got a bad hip and i can't stand in line, i have to pick up my children after i get off work and i won't have time to stand
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in line. why did president trump attack vote by mail? he hated vote by mail because it takes away the cheating on election day that he feels can be implemented to benefit republicans across this country. president trump is the primary proponent of cheating americans out of their right to vote. this chamber has to act. we are seeing the strategies unfold in state after state. last year, 440 bills were introduced, in multitude nuss states, aimed at restricting the freedom to vote. 34 of those bills have been passed into law in 19 states, restricting access to the ballot box, threatening the integrity of our elections. the first week of this new year,
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13 bills were filed in arizona, new hampshire. 88 bills were introduced last year that carried over into the 2022 legislation, including nine states, including swing states like pennsylvania and wisconsin. we can see how prevalent the activity is. you know, when we were wrestling with the right to vote in the 1960's, it was primarily a challenge of the southern united states using strategies targeted at black americans. but now we have the challenge of strategies being enacted across the country, targeting black americans and native americans and young americans. so let's take a look at this, at some of the key swing states. arizona -- for over a decade
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voters have been mailed a ballot now, currently, if you're an infrequent voter and you don't vote early in two election cycles, you can be removed from the permanent early voting list. meaning you no longer automatically receive that ballot, meaning that you are expecting it but you don't get it. when you realize that you have to go to the polls, it may be too late, making it harder for targeted folks to vote by having discriminatory purging of the voting rolls. 70% of arizonans are on that permanent early voting list. 80% of arizona voters cast a ballot by mail in 2020. it's estimated that under this law, 200,000 voters in the state of arizona might be removed from
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the list, and many of them will not realize they've been removed until it's too late. think about how significant that is in a state that president biden won by less than 11,000 votes. what else in arizona? you have the power being taken away of the secretary of state to control election litigation, to defend the ballot box, and it's being moved to the attorney general. now, why would arizona move it from the secretary of state, where it's always been, to the attorney general? well, they're moving it because the secretary of state is a democrat, and the attorney general is a republican, and they want a partisan angle on enforcement of voting laws. i'll tell you one bill there that hasn't been enacted, that really is something very scary
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and to think about. it says essentially that the legislature can revoke the certification of the state's presidential election by majority vote. meaning the state might vote for one person, but the legislature, which is republican, could then vote to assign the electors to the person the legislature wants, instead of who the people of that state want. that is an incredible, incredible perversion, and shows you how far this conversation is going, to create partisan control of the outcome. the election was won fair and square by one person, and the state legislature says too bad, we're assigning our electoral votes to the other person. florida -- florida's enacted an
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omnibus election bill. it attacks mail-in voting. it requires voters to continually renew their request for a mail-in ballot. it used to be that that was once every four years, but now it's continuous. one-third of floridians voted by mail in 2018. one-half mailed in their ballots in 2020. overwhelming majority of those were democrats. so if you take away vote by mail, the thought is you can warp the outcome of the election. their omnibus bill puts up restrictions on drop boxes, requiring them to be supervised in person. they make it hard to drop off your ballots. and the goal, of course, is if you make it hard to drop off ballots, maybe that ballot will sit on your kitchen countser and never get -- kitchen counter and never get filed, and never
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therefore have an impact. and florida, like georgia, has stopped volunteers from handing out food and water to voters waiting in long lines. every time i hear that, i think are we not familiar with the story of the good samaritan, who goes down the road and he sees someone beaten up by the side of the road, and goes over to help that individual and get them to safety and cover the expenses for their lodging and their food. well, here good share samaritans are -- good share tans are outlawed from helping people trapped in line for a long period of time, with food and water. that's not in florida, but in georgia too, so let's turn to georgia. they enacted legislation that attacks early voting. it eliminates five weeks of
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early voting in runoff elections. five weeks. over 1.3 million people voted in 2021's runoffs in georgia that brought senators warnock and ossoff here to the senate. it attacks voting registration. you can't register to vote when a runoff election is occurring. you have to already have registered for the general election. and why did they do that? because 60,000 people -- 70,000 people registered to vote during the 2021 runoffs and more democrats than republicans registered in that period. so pledge dishesly -- pledge additionally, they want to cut that off and virtualryly e-- and eliminate drop boxes. the law says you can have no more than one drop box for over 100,000 registered voters, meaning that four counties that make up greater atlanta metro area will now only have about 20 drop, bos -- 20 drop boxes, a
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reducks to one-fifth of of the drop boxes there before. about half of the absentee voters in the atlanta metro area use those drop boxes. then it says those drop boxes have to be inside early voting sites, meaning they're only available during the hours those early voting sites are open. if you're going to work at 6:00 a.m., you can't drop off your ballot. if you're getting home and picking up your kids, getting home past 5:00 p.m., whenever the early voting sites close, then you can't vote then either by dropping off your ballot at a ballot box. cobb county election official janine laviere said the boxes there, limited number of means, you cannot deploy them in significant numbers to reach the voting population. in georgia also, the law gives power to interfere directly with
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people's votes. the legislature has been given power, the partisan legislature has been given power over the state election board, and the state election board can replace the local election boards, and thereby influence how they behave to the benefit of the republican party. and it also gives the ability of an individual to challenge countless numbers of voting rights to cast a ballot. to sum up in georgia, they are making it harder to get a ballot in the mail, they are making it easier to intimidate voters at the polls and they are making it easier to rig the results after the votes have been cast. how about iowa? iowa, they enacted omnibus
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legislation that takes away nine days of early voting, it reduces it from 29 days. as senator klobuchar pointed out, it says you have to close the polls an hour earlier, making it harder for people who work late into the evening able to vote. it attacks vote by mail. let's turn to montana. montana had -- has enacted hb-176, that eliminates same-day registration. it has been in place 62 years. 82 montanans used the option in election 2020. senate bill 169, also enacted, requires voters who do not have certain specified i.d.'s other
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i.d. hn-506, prohibits the ballot to new voters, an attack on younger voters. why? because younger voters tend to vote more often for the democratic candidate and there is a ban of voting on public campuses, an absolute attack on the ability of college students to vote. why? because they tend to vote more democratic. this strategy of deliberately attacking the ability of vote of young americans, college students, native americans, and black americans to vote is so wrong. it is unethical. it violates the very premus of our -- premise of our
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constitution that gives every american the equal right to participate. new hampshire, one new law the secretary of state has enabled to make up their own system of confirming voter residency so that it's easier to take voters off the rolls. why is that important? well, the republican legislature is going to choose the secretary of state in new hampshire, and ideas have been floated in regard to, let's require residency to be written so that your car has to be registered here if you're a student who is here and students can't afford to reregister the car, so students won't be able to vote, another attack on college students as an example.
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texas -- texas attacks the drop boxes. the new law eliminates ballot drop boxes for 16 million voters -- 16 million. the governor limited counties to just one drop box in 2020. the 4.7 million residents in harris county, where houston is located, have to share one drop box, the population is equal to the entire population of louisiana. it stops voters who availed themselves of curb-side voting from curb-side voting in the future. the legislature eliminated it. i think the point should be adequately clear at this moment that in state after state after state republican legislatures and republican-controlled
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legislatures are creating prejudicial laws to block democratic constituencies that tend to favor the democratic party from voting. this is completely unacceptable and it's up to us to defend the right of every american to vote. now, there are three states where the republican control the house and the senate but not the governorrorship, wisconsin, pennsylvania, north carolina, and we know that changes may well happen there in two years. those governors may be gone. last year the democratic governor of wisconsin vetoed six bills that would have restricted citizens' ability to vote. who knows what will happen next. now, some have said, you know, all of these measures won't make that big a difference. don't worry about it.
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well, i can tell you those who say that are wrong. let's think about how it would affect this senate. let's say those measures could make a 3% difference in the outcome of the balloting. if that was the case, then we would have seven democratic senators who are here today who would not have been here. it wouldn't be a 50-50 senate. it would be 57-43. senatoroff won by 1 point -- ossoff won by 1.2%, senator peets, of michigan, 1.7%, senator kelly of arizona, 2.4%.
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chris yen sinema, 2.4%, senator hassan, 2.4%, senator cortez masto 2.7%. seven senators who would not be here. a huge difference between a 50-50 senate and a 57-43. that's what this is about. it is about the targeting of swing states by republican legislatures to seize control of this body against the voting will of the citizens of the united states of america. this is why we need to set minimum standards that guarantee access to the ballot, minimum standards for vote by mail, minimum standards for early voting, minimum standards for
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registration, minimum standards so people are not purged off the voting rolls without their knowledge. i think about democracy, we -- which we sometimes assume the path more traveled by countries around the world. there was a period over the last decade where we saw a birth of many democracies and we have seen them slide into authoritarianism. the world is not governed by democracies, it is governed by authoritarianism. it takes incredible vigilance to defend the ability of the citizen to participate. and here we are at that moment where we have to defend the ability of the citizen to participate. that vigilance, that responsibility, that weight of preserving our, we the people,
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republic, is on our shoulders. so the freedom to vote act needs to pass to ensure 15 days of early voting, to ensure being as to vote by mail, to provide relief for voters waiting in long lines, to ensure that poll workers exist in sufficient numbers for the polling places and have adequate training to operate them effectively. to take on gerry manneddering through -- gerry manneddering through national standards so that the hallway outside this door reflects the will of the people instead of being rigged for the powerful and the bill is needed to take on dark money, money no one knows where it comes from. now, if you or i donate $100 to a campaign, it's recorded. everyone knows that we donated
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that money. but if the billionaire spends tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, it's done in secret, dark money. americans of every political entity, of democrat, republican, independent know this is corrupt, know this shouldn't happen, know the same thing should apply to the billionaire as the ordinary citizen. we need to pass the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights bill. it that bill restores preclearance. the 1965 voting rights bill, it was a preclearance bill, it said those states that have conducted the violation of rights to vote, cannot be prejudicial on the basis of race. the supreme court has gutted that. the supreme court has operated
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as a supreme legislature of the land and decided it wanted to legitimate out what this body and the house of representatives passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan fashion. the 2013 shelby county decision opened the floodgates to voter suppression and voter repression with laws like i have been talking about. preclearance protects us against those corrupt strategy that's are yet to come while the freedom to vote act probts us against the activities -- protects us against the activities that have already occurred. we need to do both. all of us, democrats and republicans, should be working together as the two parties did in 1965, as they did each and every time, renewed authorization of the voting rights act until now. but now, under the sway of
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president trump, who has become the chief champion of cheating americans out of their right to vote, they have decided to abandon their responsibility to defend the constitution. you know, in july of 1963, about a month after president kennedy unveiled his civil rights act, martin luther king was here in washington, d.c., giving interviews and his words today still ring true. the tragedy, he said, is that we have a congress with a senate that has a minority of misguided senators that want to keep people from even voting. we thought that was cured in 1965. we've gone decades where we're completely united around defending the right to vote, and suddenly we have seen this past year the continuation, the
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assault on the capitol to disrupt the counting of electoral votes has been continued in state after state after state to stop democratic constituencies from exercising their right to vote. rafael war knock, -- warnock, senator from georgia, said some people don't want some people to vote. well, if you have sworn an oath to the constitution, you have sworn an oath to ensure every citizen has a full opportunity to vote. so much depends on the makeup of this body. whether you care about voting rights or attacking climate
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chaos or health care or housing, whether you care about living wages and safe conditions for workers, those decisions are affected by the makeup of this body. and the theory of a democratic republic is that if the majority viewpoint is honored, we will work to address those issues that the majority cares about and the majority does care about health care and housing and good working conditions and environment and clean air and clean water and taking on the warming of this planet. the majority cares about that -- about that. if you take an assault about the majority and minority to express their viewpoints, you have destroyed our democracy. voting rights is different than every other issue.
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on every other issue, if we go off track, then the citizens can say, what have you done? you lose my support. i'm voting for the other party or the other candidate. you promised to take on that challenge and then you didn't. you have lost my support, and i'm exercising my ballot to put people who will actually address the issues we care about. but voting rights is different because that issue is about whether or not the voters actually can exercise their outrage with us if weaver offtrack. if you compromise voting, then the voters no longer have the ability to throw you out, throw the bums out, and bring fresh voices to bear on the issues that they care about. that's why this is so important.
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i'm going to pivot to a little bit of history because for us to be able to vote on voting rights in this chamber, we have a problem, and the problem is the current rule of the senate requires 60 votes to allow us to get to a final vote, a final majority vote. in essence, we have become a chamber where policies cannot be passed except by 60 votes of support. so many think, isn't this the way the senate was designed? isn't this the way that our founders envisioned the senate? didn't they talk about the senate being a cooling saucer, an expression attributed to preyed washington that historians say he never said but
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still that captures the understanding of this chamber; that is, that this chamber would be a little more steady than the house would because we have longer terms -- six-year terms instead of two-year terms. now, it was debated that maybe 12-year terms, maybe lifetime appointments to the senate. but in the end, the founders settled on six-year terms to make that chamber a little less rash to some current trend that might be ill-considered than the chamber down the hall. that's the cooling saucer. and the founders said, because senators will have a larger territory than a house member, they'll have more diverse constituents. they won't just have a city or just rural area. they'll probably have both and have to be thinking about how laws affect the farm, the ranch, the suburb, the city, the manufacturing, all the different aspects of our economy. so senators will have a broader view. that's the cooling saucer. and then the founders threw in
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something else. and they said, and furthermore, we're going to say that senators will be elected indirectly by state legislatures, not by the people. again, give them a little more insulation from citizens being very upset about something that hasn't been well thought through. but never, ever, ever did our founders was this chamber to have a supermajority barrier. and we know this so clearly because they said so, because when they were writing the constitution, they were operating under the confederation congress, and the confederation congress required a supermajority, and it was paralyzed. it couldn't even raise the money to take on shea's rebellion, and so those who were working to design our 1787 constitution said, whatever you do, don't
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embed a supermajority. let's see what they said. hamilton -- hamilton in "the federalist" papers number 22, he said, if a minority can control the majority, the result will be tedious delays and contemptible compromises of the public good. he said, the real impact of a supermajority will be to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government. on another occasion, he summed is it up this way -- he said, if two-thirds of the whole number of members were required, it would amount to necessity of unanimity, the history of every political
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establishment in which this principle has reveiled, is a history of impotence, perplexity, and disorder. why would he say that? because the confederation congress was a setting of impotence, perplexity, and disorder. i don't know what other places around the world he was thinking of, but he was certainly thinking of the government of the united states at that very moment. madison in "federalist paper" 58 said, it would no longer be the majority that would rule. the power would be transferred to the minority. and he was noting that the principle of free government would be reversed. the principle of free government is you go the direction the majority weighs in on, not the minority. but when you require 60 votes to go down path a and without them
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you go down path b, this unthen you go the direction the minority wants. unfortunate done exactly what madison said we must not let happen. we're reversing the principle of free government. so we have seen two things. we have seen that, as the filibuster is used more and more and eating up the time of the senate, we've seen amendments decline dramatically. we've seen, for example, in the 109th congress some 314 amendments that has declined to just 26 amendments in the last congress, the 116th congress. we're currently in the 117th. and why is it? well, senators can't come to the floor and offer an amendment. when i was first here as an intern covering the floor for
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senator hatfield during the tax reform act of 1976, i watched how one amendment was debated for an hour or so, voted on, and then half a dozen to a dozen senators would say to the chair, mr. president, mr. president! the chair was supposed to call on whoever he heard first. at that point it was always man in the chair. that person would offer an amendment. an hour later they'd vote on it. and again an hour later they had seek another amendment. and that debate on the bill might go on for days or days or be spread over a course of unanimousious weeks -- of numerous weeks with other activity. but every senator knew they could whoever an amendment. if they cared about a tax issue, they could offer in this body, and this body would have to debate it, would have to take a vote on it.
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but not today. while the minority leader and majority leader negotiate on amendments, the minority leader wants to protect members from issues they might be embarrassed by. the majority wants to protect majority members on issues they might be embarrassed on. that is not how the founders envisioned this senate. this process of rig 60 votes -- 6 requiring 60 votes, effort not just the 60 votes. it's also the time it eats up. in order to get that vote to close debate, a you have to file a cloture motion, you have to wait an intervening day, so if you file it on a monday, a you have to wait until wednesday. then you -- if it should pass and you close debate, you have to have 30 hours of debate and then if a senator wasn't allowed to vote during those 30 hours, they get another hour.
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so tack on a few more hours. so every cloture motion eats up a week of the senate's time. even if it's successful. well, we are about to see in the charts i'm going to put up how this is destroying the senate. so after 1965, after the voting rights act, the filibuster, the cloture motion lost its racist taint because we had passed the 1965 voting rights act. so senators started to think, well, we can use this on other issues. but, still, it was pretty much under control until the early 1970's. in the early 1970's you saw an crows to about a dozen motions per year in 1971, 1972, 1973. in 1974, it exploded to about two dozen. they reformed it in march of 1975. but that reform actually
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backfired after a few years and senators started to use this cloture motion, this cloture requirement in ways it hasn't been used -- it hadn't been used but rarely in times past. it hadn't been used on motions to proceed on the floor. it hadn't been used on amendmentsment. it hadn't been used on nominations. but let's take a look at how that's changed. let's take a look first at amendments. actually, cloture on nominations. so that one didn't make it through the print on time. but here's the story. on nominations, there were only three cloture motions in the history of the united states before 1975 -- three. after 1975 until now, 852 times cloture has been filed on nominations. 852 weeks of the senate's time
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potentially obstructed. let's look at motions to proceed. before the reform in 1975, only 16 times in our history had cloture been filed to keep a bill from being voted on the floor of the senate. if the filibuster was about enhancing debate, extending debate, here it's being used to prevent debate, prevent a bill from ever being debated. it's very relevant to the election bill we've been talking about because, as majority leader, senator schumer, pointed out, four times republicans have voted to prevent an election bill from being debated, ever getting started. it is the most antidemocratic thing to do and both parties have done it, but it is a practice that needs to end. and it is a practice that exploded in the 1980's, in the
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1990's, in the 2000's, in the 2010's, blocking bills from ever getting to the floor. 175 times in the decade 2010-2020. and looking at cloture motions on amendments, it was considered unacceptable to prevent votes on amendments until the 1970's. and then the practice expanded. so you couldn't actually get your amendment up because of the filling of the tree and negotiating in the two bodies. but if you did get it up, you could end up with it being blocked, because it was blocked by a 60-vote requirement to close debate on the amendment and pratt has continued and -- and the pratt has -- and the practice has continued and gone up and up and up. and how about on final passage?
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final passage before 1975, that is the place -- virtually the only place where cloture was used. that expanded as well. so we are seeing that the cloture motion that takes up a week expanded in every single realm and now we're at an average of more than 100 per year. we don't have 100 weeks in a year. so the filibuster in its best form, it's best form, is the ability of the minority to stand here on the floor and speak to delay action while they use that leverage to negotiate amendments or to negotiate a compromise. and both sides have an incentive to reach a deal. they have an incentive to reach a deal because those filibustering it takes time and effort and that's difficult. and the majority, which is responsible for getting things done, has the goal of not having
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lots of time eaten up by filibusters. so both sides have an incentive to negotiate. but under the current 60-vote requirement, that is not a filibuster. it's a 60-vote requirement. it is a minority veto t and because it is a minority veto, it doesn't incentivize negotiation. it does the exact opposite, especially with the polarized tribal politics of today. the base of both parties wants us to stop the other party, and so we paralyze each other. it's mahatma began day who whom it is attributed the phrase, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. it is the same challenge here if democrats do everything they can to prevent republican ideas from getting into law, to be tested, and republicans do everything they can to prevent the democratic ideas from being tested. then no ideas are tested and no
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issues are addressed, and the legislature fails its responsibility to the people of the united states of america and that's what's happening right now. we are failing our responsibility to the people of the united states of america. there are two ways we can get that election bill, so vital to defending the rights of the americans to vote to the floor of the senate and off the floor. one is to create a carve-out that says we will not apply the 60-vote standard to the election bill because the election bill is too vital. the second is to rehabilitate, reenergize the filibuster, return to the vision that if you want to slow things down, you have to be on the floor speaking and the way that it worked was that you kept that power in
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place by making sure there were continuous speeches one after the other, because if there was a break the chair could call the question. that means it comes before the public. that's a good thing. the public of the united states would see us arguing the pros and cons of whether to defend or not defend the voting rights of americans. they'd see us debating whether to stop billionaires from buying elections or not with dark money. they would see us debating the finer points of stopping gerrymandering so the principle of equal representation would either be honored or not honored. that debate would be healthy for the united states of america. so those are the only two possibilities right now to have an election bill enacted to protect the rights of americans -- a carve-out or restore the filibuster. i powerfully believe the best path is to restore the filibuster.
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the senate is better off by having the rights of minority honored. the ability of minority members to be heard, to slow things down, to seek amendments, to slow things down to seek compromise, to slow things down to make sure a complicated bill has weighed in by experts, to slow things down to make sure the press has been able to examine what's in the bill. that's all positive. that doesn't happen with a carve-out. so i hope we will reinvigorate the filibuster, that all 50 of us will say let's restore the balance in the senate where the minority can slow things down for those valuable reasons, but ultimately cannot block a final vote being taken. this idea was here from the start. the initial senate, 26 members, they had a motion to move the prior question in the
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rule book, but they never used it. so in 1805 when aaron burr directed the rewriting of the rules said we never used the rules so let's take it out because we all listen to each other before we vote. that's a big positive. every member should be heard in this chamber. every member should be able to participate and have the ability to put amendments forward, have their voice heard. we should not become the house. the house of representatives, the majority runs over the top of the minority. it is a better chamber for having the voices of minority and majority weighing in on legislation, have amendments from both parties being considered. that is the reinvigoration of the filibuster in its best light. a year ago and one day a mob
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attacked the presidential election. but in that ensuing year we've had 19 states attack federal elections for house and senate members by changing the rules in their state prejudicially to try to block the young, the college students, the tribal members and the black americans from voting. it is wrong, but it's happening and it's on our shoulders, our responsibility to stop them. earlier i referred to the fact that the path of democracy is not the road most taken. most people in the world operate under authoritarian governments. we have been the shining light to the world to say the right thing in human rights is for governments to flow up from the people, not down from the
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powerful. we've been that light. but if we cannot make this chamber function, then the world does not look at us and say that is the model that we want to follow. if we cannot protect the rights of americans to vote because their names are stripped out of the voting rolls or they're blocked from registering to begin with or blockades are put around the ballot box to make it hard for them to participate, then we are not in a position where the world looks to us and says that system works. so it's incumbent on us to fix it. as i was thinking about these two roads -- the authoritarian role and the republican role and the republican road being the road less taken it brings to me the poem by robert frost "the
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road not taken." two roads diverged a yellow wood and, sorry, i could not travel both. and he goes on to say at the end of the poem, two roads diverged in a wood, and i, i took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. that's how his poem ends. we have taken the road less traveled, the road of power flowing up from the people. it is the right road to take, and it makes the difference. look at the vast difference between human rights being crushed by china, enslaving a million people in xinjiang province, stripping the democratic voice of the people, the right to free speech in hong kong versus the freedom we have in our nation. our road is the right road.
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we have to make it work. and to make it work, we need to pass the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights act, and we need to do it now. thank you, mr. president. of
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes
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each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 3:00 p.m. on monday, january 10. that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. that upon the conclusion of morning business, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the davidson nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: mr. president, if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 3:00 p.m. monday. adjourn:
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to serve as the head of the new administration. also during the session a group of democratic senators discussed voting rights registration. 4:30 p.m. eastern to advance the nomination of alan davidson to be assistant secretary of commerce . later next week the senate will vote on legislation to sanction washington's in other words screen to pipeline. lawmakers may change the set filibuster rule to pass voting rightslegislation . as always follow the senate when we return life here on c-span2. tonight at eastern and oversight hearing on behalf of the department of homeland security has evolved in the 20 years since the september 11 terrorattacks that led to the department's creation .
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posted by house homeland security subcommittee live on c-span2 . online at or watchful coverage on our new video app. >> can human genes be patented and owned? george contreras tackles that question in his book the genome defense. the university of utah law professor tells the story ofa supreme court case that challenged biotech companies right to patent human genes . >> i didn't think the case had a huge chance of success when it was first brought but it rolled on your after year through different appeals and machinations. it became increasingly clear there was really something important going on here and by the time it got to the supreme court i knew that this was going to be a very important


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