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tv   U.S. Senate Senators on changing filibuster rules for voting rights bills  CSPAN  January 12, 2022 8:21am-9:37am EST

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not even begun to consider how that would work. if the democratic leader tries to shut millions of americans and entire state out of the business of governing, the operations of this body will change. oh, yes. that much is true. but not in ways that reward the rule breakers. notno in ways that advantage ths president, this majority or their party. i guarantee it. >> mr. president, later today president biden will be speaking in georgia as part of democrats effort to convince the american people that voting rights are under attack so they can justify the attempt to abolish the senate buster -- filibuster to
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pass their artisan legislation. a noted democrat operative once famously said that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. he metou of course that a crisis could give you the opportunity to push things through that you might not be able to get done in the ordinary course of things. it's a lesson democrats have learned well. last march, for example, democrats use the cover of the covid crisis to pass a so-called covid v relief bill that had vey little to do with covid relief and had lots to do with expanding the role of government and providing payoffs to democrat constituencies. unfortunate for democrats would come to the elections legislation is no crisis for democrats to exploit. answer democrats expect the past year busily trying to manufacture one -- spent -- i say the past you but democrats have actually been claiming there's a a voting crisis forh longer. the source of the election built
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that we will likely vote on this week is h.r. one, election but to say it was first introduced by democrats back in 2019. back then democrats told us our election systemro was broken and that we needed to build this bill to fix it. after all, republicans won the last president to election and be a favored democrat candidate. surely, surely that meant that t our system was in trouble. but then the 2020 elections came along and democrats won the presidency and a majority, albeit a narrow majority, in both houses of congress. voter turnout was massive and a pew research center poll found that 94% of people found it easy to vote. 94%. so all of a sudden it was pretty difficult for democrats to claim
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that our system was broken. but they still a wanted to pass the election legislation so the came up with new crisis. a number of states past updates to the voting was partly because of thes challenges and special circumstances that arose as a result of the pandemic. the democrats decided that these commonsense mainstream updates represented an unprecedented attack on voting rights. and georgia, which is one of the first to enact voting legislation, has become the poster child forth democrats company to convince americans that their voting rights are in danger. so what terrible voter suppression measures are states imposing? well, one provision of the georgia law that has come in for a lot of democrat outrage is its measure forbidding powerful political organizations from providing individuals with food or water within 150 feet of a
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polling place. yes, apparently preventing partisan political organizations from providing lunch to voters threatens the very stability of our entire democracy. now, nothing in georgia's law prevents outside groups from providing food and water to individuals outside 150-foot radius. and georgia's law explicitly allows nonpartisan election workers as opposed to political groups to make water available to voters. and, of course, i amur pretty se any voter can bring his or our own food and water -- his or her -- but none of that has prevented democrats and suggesting the rules about a fod and water distribution of polling places represent a great threat to voting rights. ironically, state of new york has a similar provision in its election law prohibiting any
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refreshment or provision to a voter at a polling place, except if the retail value of what is given is less than one dollar, and the person or people providing it is not identified. yet i don't see the democrats traveling to new york to decry the threato to democracy posed y the new york legislature. trench after georgia passed its voting law president biden got up and attacked the law for supposedly ending voting polling to prevent working people from voting. he made that accusation repeatedly. the problem, there was exactly zero truth to his claim. in fact, as the "washington post" fact checker kyle pointed out, and i quote, experts say the net effect of the new early
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voting rules was to expand the opportunities to vote for most georgians, not to limit them, in court. that from the washington post fact checker. let me repeat that, mr. president. experts say the net effect of the new voting rules was to expand the opportunities to vote for mostt georgians, not to limt them. the fact checker gave the president four pinocchios, rating the column reserved for whoppers for his false claim that the law was designed to keep americans from voting. i would also like to point out that not only is a lot georgia's electionaw law -- mainstream georgia's laws are actually more permissive in some respects been voting laws in some democrat states. georgia offers no excuse to absentee voting.
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the democrat leaders home state, senator schumer's home state does not. in fact, voters in the democrat leaders home state actually just rejected a ballot measure would have allowed no excuse absentee voting. i guess the democratic leader thinks that those orders are trying to destroy our democracy. georgia also has way more days of early voting than the democrat leader's home state. so does arizona, another state that is come under fire from democrats for updating its election laws. and yet, red states, according to democrats, by the states attempting to suppress votes. it's also important to note that the georgia law was written to address concerns from republican in democrat voters, including
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concerns raised by stacey abrams, affiliated groups over georgia group. mr. president, there's no question, no question we should make voting easy and accessible. but there are a lot of different ways to do that. and states can have different requirements and still all offer ample o opportunities to vote. also i think my democrat friends need a little perspective check. there are countries where individuals consider it a privilege to be up to stand in line to vote in a free election. even if someone didn't provide them with food and water. of course, no one wants voters to to stand in long lines and attacked georgia's election laws would make it less likely that
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they have to. democrats dramatic claims that a long line or a lack of a dropbox or say night as opposed to ten day voting, threaten the right to vote in this country are nothing short of absurd. i have faith that americans are capable of voting even without the democrat party providing them with a boxed lunch. mr. president, there's no election crisis in this country. this past election, biggest turnout in american history in 120 years. you have to go back to the year 1900 to find a time with the election turnout in an american election was equal to or exceed what we had in 2020.
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what there is is a partisan democrat election bill that democrats have wanted to pass since long before the georgia legislature reformed its election laws because they think it will give them an advantage in future elections. and you don't have to take my word forha it. not one democrat is openly admit democrats want to passiv a fedel election takeover because they they think it will give their party an advantage in the next election. mr. president, if democrats were really concerned about the security of our democracy or the integrity of our elections, if they really cared about affirming america's fate and our electoral systems they would not be seeking to break the senate rules to pass a totally, totally partisan election bill on a totally partisan basis.
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a partisan federal election takeover is not going to do anything to strengthen americans faith in our system. contrary, it will so mistrust and division and heightened partisanship. instead of changing tools to gain an advantage in the next election i would suggest my democrat colleagues instead try coming up with an agenda that would appeal to a p broad majory of americans perhaps stand starting with a plan to address the inflation crisis that democrats help create. that would be a far better use of their time s than undermining faith in our electoral system with a partisan rules change in a partisan federal takeover of elections. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. >> the clerk will read -- will
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call the roll. [roll call] >> the senator from south carolina. >> thank you. let me know when ten minutes -- give me ten minutes, thank you. >> we are in a quorum call, send it. >> oh, ask anonymous consent to terminate the quorum call. >> without objection. you. thank you, mr. president. i speak today two topic. >> number one, the the substance of the bill which is i guess yet to be known, regarding the voting rights which i consider to be a federal takeover of state elections, and the concept
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threat of changing the rules of the senate to do away with the legislative filibuster as we know it. and i would say to my democratic colleagues, this has been going on for quite a while. the constant threat by senator schumer to change the rules to pass whatever legislation y'all and come up with. all i can say is things were different when we were in charge. we had the house and the senate and the white house. president trump constantly urged senator mcconnell and all of us on o the republican side to change the rules of the senate so he could pass his agenda unimpeded. anything that came out of the house which is under republican control could fill the republican senate with republicans with her it was
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pretty put my democratic colleagues that was not a good outcome i thought for the country but i guess for them. we signed a letter april 7, 2017, 61 signatures, 28 republicans, 32 democrats and one independent, and the letter sent to senator mcconnell who was the majority leader, and the minority leader was senator schumer at the time, urging both leaders that no matter what differences we have had regarding executive nominations and judges, we should preserve the minorities rights under the so-called legislative filibuster it apparently it made perfect sense to my democratic colleagues that the senate not change to accommodate donald trump and his wishes. i was assuming that the
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statement by our democratic colleagues was about the institution, not just about the trump presidency and the times in which we live in 2017. apparently i was wrong. except for, a handful. and to senator sinema and manchin, you have led from the front, not from the rear, taken your fair share of criticism as you have opposed changing the senate rules to accommodate the voting rights bill. and it's been, argument goes,, that this is so fundamental to democracy voting that the said as to give way. all i can say is that when many of us were in your shoes, we didn't make an excuse for a piece of legislation that we thought was critical to the future of the country. and it would be easy to find an
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exception here and there and everywhere toer the point that e rule ends with the exception. and i appreciate your steadfast, steadfastness in that regard. and apparently as yous read the news, a few more democrats are becoming publicly unnerved about changing the legislative filibuster, just a handful, and were supposed be in over the weekend i think, maybe even into monday, to have the change, rules change your but that may be in flux now because it appears a handful of democrats are showing some distaste for changing the rules. i don't know why they are coming out now. i appreciate it. i don't think it would be very popular in certain states to change the rules of the senate
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that would pave the way for the most radical agenda in my lifetime. i don't know if that's got something to do with it or there's a newfound religion here by a handful. to the left, i won't forget this, i was one of the 28 republicans that signed a letter to the leaders of the senate asking that the institution maintain the legislative filibuster him not because it benefited me personally, because i thought it benefited the american people. the day -- will have wild policy changes. when we are in charge we will go down one road. when democrats are in charge people go to another road, and there will be just an unnerving aspect of this, in my view. and i think for well over a century the senate has presented these wild changes, and that
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means you don't get what you would like as conservatives. the same people who are applauding my resistant to changing the filibuster today were all over me when we were in charge wanting me to change the filibuster. i understand that. ideological people want p their way, as it don't particularly care howy they get it. most americans have a more balanced approach but how the legislative process works and i think over time the requirement to get aro handful of people frm the other party to pass legislation, particularly major legislation, has served the country well. there are things that we would do completely different than our democratic friends because we havews different views, and some of these ideas just never make it through the senate. and every now and then we'll comew up with solutions to our problems out of bipartisan, because we have to, , as long as
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the legislative filibuster isso around. so the idea of changing the legislative f filibuster would pave the way if democrats have all branches of government here to make d.c. and puerto rico estate. and i think they would. it paves the way for increasing the number of justices on the supreme court, because liberals don't like the current makeup. i think it would be a move to abolish the electoral college, which would be devastating for south carolina, and to all the people in his body adding two more states may serve your interests but it certainly dilutes the power you have as an individual state. so the legislative filibuster is a stop sign to the most radical agenda i've seen since i've been up here. and it was a stop sign to the trump agenda, and you just fill in the blanks. this effort by senator schumer
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to abolish the legislative filibuster under the guise of a single exception is cynical, and i think a sign of desperation. i like senator schumer. i've been able to work with him, immigration and other hot button issues, but the truth of the matter is this all started back when president bush's judicial nominees were filibustered en masse led to the gang of 14, spearheaded by senator byrd, sort of one of the icons of the senate, to make sure that filibustering judges would be done only in extraordinary circumstances. we broke the law logjam, wea couple of good conservative judges as part of the compromise, and that held until it no longer held. in 2013 i got a call from senator schumer, i willal never forget it, that we're going to push for rules change when it comes to court of appeals and is
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a court judges, i think think in 2013. i remember the reaction i had to senator mccain and they were able to do that, and when president trump became president and had a couple of democratic -- excuse me, a couple of supreme court vacancies tol, fi, they were all filibustered starting with gorsuch. the point that we change the rules so he could get some people on the court that i think were highly qualified. so the bottom line is when it comes to judges, the ship has sailed. executive appointments, maybe that should have been changed. the fed and the judiciary i think will be detrimental over time. the most ideological elements of each conference will have a large say about what kind of judges we put on the court, and you will see a change over time from the righthe and the left, because you no longer have to reach across the aisle to put a judge on the court.
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apply that to legislation and again it would be devastating. to the country and this body to not require some form of consensus when it comes to legislation,gi and deny the majority the ability to require that consensus. as to voting rights itself, i think this is the most hyped manufactured issue in a long time. this is a problem in search of -- is not a problem and solution in search of a solution. the manufactured. states are supposed to run elections. in myhi state, i think we do a prettypr good job. there are some c efforts change election laws throughout the country, as more and more people vote by mail, i think it is incumbent that share the same photo identification requirements by voting by mail as you do in person.
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it would be so easy to manipulate that system. the bottom line here is, this is an effort by the democratic leader to basically say that republicans at heart are a bunch of racists when it comes to voting, that the reason they're having tohe do this is that stas are changing laws to disenfranchise people. disenfranchise people of color and minorities. i found that incredibly offensive. i mean, just beyond offensive. in my state which is 30% plus african-americans we have robust opportunity to votes come all these laws that are being changed, government voter integrity i think are necessary in the times in which we live. but the bill coming before the body, whatever it is, is a federalization of the election
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process. it's not about in franchising the voter. it's not in franchising the ability of the left to take over the electoral process to skew it to their favor and i think almost all of us see it that way over here. as a republican, particularly from the south, you sort of get used to being called a racist. it's never pleasant but you sort of get used to it. it's the cheapest form of politics. very unsavory people my state, i went through the process in 2020, and hope i've worked a life to convince only some people whatever flaws i have being a racist is not one of them, and to clothes this exerciser -- close -- and some kind of moral imperative that if we don't do this bill, then people throughout the country will lose they right to vote because republicans at the end of the day don't want people of
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color to vote is beyond offensive. and the details and that we can get back to some sense of regular order around here. but i will end with this. when the shoe was on the other foot, most of us didn't do this. your country needs you right now to speak up. if you support changing the legislative filibuster one time for the voting rights bill, you support the end of it because there will be no end to the exceptions. and most of you over there have been hiding in the corner letting other people take the arrows. it's time for you to speak of. i actually hope we have about because i want to know what people are, who i can count on and who i can't, what's transactional and about the body. time will tell. i yieldme the floor to senator cornyn.
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>> mr. president? >> the senator f from texas. >> mr. president, considering the way democratic friends talk about the state of voting rights in america, it is easy to see why some people have expressed concerns. because if you took them at face value you might be very worried about the state of voting rights in our country. but there's more to the story than that, which i will hope to
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explain here in the next few minutes. for example, when it comes to the alarmism about voting rights, look no further than the democratic majority whip, senator durbin from illinois, who said there is an insidious effort to suppress the rights of voters of color. senator schumer the majority leader, senator from new york has had the right to vote is under attack in ways which have not seen in generations. president biden himself has said there is a 21st century jim crow assault on the right to vote. if you were to take these at face value and accept them, obviously you would be very concerned about the state of voting rights. but there's more to the story, as i said. if you just listen to these statements you would thinku' tht
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the states, the 50 states had just -- literacy test on voting. you would think subjective determinations of quote good moral character that existed before the civil rights movement had somehow spun back to life. you might even wonder if the supreme court of the united states has struck down the voting rights act itself. but obviously none of these things are true. mr. president, there is simply no concerted effort toor attempt to prevent voters of color or any eligible voters from casting their ballot. and the voting rights act, one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation's history, is alive and well. i think the voting rights act has done more to change our country for the better than any other piece of legislation that i can think of.
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so to be frank, the facts so we don't support our democratic colleagues alarming rhetoric about the state of voting in america. this narrative of widespread voter suppression is nothing more than a scare tactic to achieve a political outcome. our colleagues across the aisle have introduced many differentns versions of their federal takeover of state elections bill, but the justification seems to always change. first they said it was a matter of election security. then a voter confidence, and then and now a way to remove prevented people from voting. today, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim that this legislation is necessary because the states have passed new laws that restrict voting access. so let's just take a look at
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what some of those laws entail. one of those laws in my state of texas where the goal is pretty simple, which is to make voting easier and to make it harder to cheat, texas already offers two weeks of early voting in person, and the new law didn't make any changes in two weeks are too gradual and vote in person before election day. hardly a restriction on people's access to the ballot. this log did, in addition to make sure that people are two weeks to vote in person early, extend voting hours in more than 60 different texas counties, and clarify the voters who were in line at the time the pulse closed would still be able to cast their ballot. doesn't sound like voter suppression to me.
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but the law also took some measures to reduce opportunities for fraud, for mischief. texas voting systems must now be tested before an election to ensure there are no technical difficulties. i'm sure all of us are familiar with the occasional problem with voting machines. technical difficulties that need to be fixed to make sure it counts, each legitimate vote. and we did make sure that the voting rolls reflected only qualified voters. in other words, voters who were removed from the voting rolls. my state like others has clarified that the temporary pandemic related measures were not intended to be permanent. we did take some extraordinary precautions in the midst of covid-19 to make sure people have access to the ballot. but these are hardly restoration
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of thes status quo anti, before covid-19, hardly an example of voter suppression. well, i mentioned texas and its expansive right to cast your ballot in person. and to make sure that everybody in line when the pulse closed still cast their ballot or another state that's come under fire is a georgia. matter of fact, the attorney general of the united states has sued both texas and florida under the -- and georgia under the voting rights act. and, of course, president biden is highlighting the georgia laws because he's visiting today doing what i've never seen a president to before, and that is villainize estates new voting law, which to me is a bizarre thing or a sitting president to do come to travel to the state for the purpose of villainize inc. that states laws. i doubt he will mention the fact
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that georgell actually extended early voting to 17 days. that's not an example of voter suppression, trying to restrict people's access to the ballot matter fact that's much more generous than what president biden's home state of delaware has offered in terms of early access to the ballot. so these clearly are not examples of jim crow voter suppression. these are common sense measures designed to encourage people's confidence in the integrity of the voting systems and to make sure that they are both accessible and secure. these efforts should not be villainized. they should be applauded, and they shouldn't be twisted beyond recognition, trying to manipulate the facts and order to achieve their political
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outcome. if the state voting laws then are not designed to restrict access to the ballot, you might wonder whether there was a pre-existing problem. so let's have a look. did voters actually have a problem casting their ballot? during the last election. well, following the 2020 election, the pew research center conducted a poll of voting experience, and it found that the vast majority of voters, 94%, 94% said that voting was easy. i don't think you can get 94% of the people to agree that the earth is round anymore, but here we had 94% of the voters who voted with ease in 2020. this is a stark contrast with
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the claimed assault we've heard so much about from our colleagues onft the left. left might lead you to believe there is no nationwide assault on voting rights. if there were, every person in this building wouldig be lined p to defend the right to vote, not just democrats. mr. president, this is a manufactured crisis designed to achieve a political outcome. there are plenty of safeguards already in place to prevent discriminatory voting laws from taking effect. the most important of which i have already said is the voting rights act. because of this legislation, the justice department has the authority to take action against any state, any political entity that discriminates on then basis
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of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. this is been the case for i have century and no one, no one wants to weaken or eliminate those protections. unfortunately, some of our colleagues on the left have misrepresented the picture of voting rights in america to justify this partisan power grab. the legislation they have introduced this more to enhance their own power than it does to address voting rights. these bills aren't about supporting disenfranchise voters or fighting voter suppression, because there is no nationwide assault on the right to vote. notwithstanding what some have claimed. this is simply about enhancing the political power of the democratic party. they want to seize state
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constitutional authority to manage their own elections and use it for their own benefit. that's one of the most curious things about this debate that we are hearing from some of our democratic colleagues. they want to actually vote for a nationwide one-size-fits-all standard to the detriment of the own state voting laws. it's pretty strange to come here representing a state, let's say, i was in the shoes of the democrats. if i were to come here and say my state has passed voting laws and i represent my state but i want the federal government to take over the voting laws and to suppress and supersede the voting laws in my state. that's what our democratic colleagues are asking for. president biden apparently,
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rather than changing the voting laws in his home state of delaware, , wants the federal government to create a one-size-fits-all answer to voting rights in america. again, something that's inconsistent with the constitution, and makes no sense at all. well, to make matters even worse, someg of our colleagues are even advocating blowing up the senate in order to achieve their goals. because they know they don't have 60 votes in order to close off debate. now, the 60-votevo requirement s the subject of a lot of conversation, but, frankly, it makes good common sense. in a country as big and diverse as america, do you really want to have a partisan minority -- majority of 51 writing the laws
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that affect 330 million people? oldies up after the next election, the next majority unto those or to change them in some other way? wouldn't you want a mechanism that forces us to do what we might consider to be a natural which is to build consensus and build bipartisanship to make sure the laws we pass are not only adequately debated and fought out but they could endure beyond the next election because they enjoyed the support of bipartisan majorities. that's what the 60-vote cloture requirement is really about. .. s don't succeed and forcing us to do what i believe is in the best of interest of the american people which is force us to work together to achieve bipartisan con sen us. -- consensus. well, the election takeover bill may be the first one our
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democratic colleagues try to pass, if >> that they would weaken the filibuster, but it won't be the last. it isn't going to be a one and done and voting laws and everything else just kidding themselves and the american people. if the democrats have a carve out, that would be nothing stopping them from resurrecting from the take over bill and passing them on a completely partisan basis. and previous looks at the bill would have been the bipartisan election commission into a partisan body. they would have mandated ballot harvesting and seized state's constitutional authorities, these are the types of radical measures that we could see under what our colleagues call
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a modest carve out. if our democrat colleagues eliminated the bipartisan 60-vote requirement, the flood gates of partisan legislation would surely open. our colleagues tried to pass legislatures that would go to trial lawyers. they pushed bills that imposed crushing legal penalties on those who refused to comply with social norms. if the filibuster 60-vote bipartisan filibuster vote were eliminated, republicans would have no way of stopping these bills from becoming law and that-- and it doesn't stop there. the threat doesn't stop there. think of the most controversial bills that our democratic colleagues have proposed. they could add new states to the union. d.c. statehood, puerto rican
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statehood. they could pack the supreme court. cites with justices. they could pass laws that ip infringe on the second amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. the right of abortion up until the time a baby is delivered in the third trimester. they could impose job killing taxes and kick-start the green new deal. so what's at stake here this week is far more than the fate of one or two bills. our colleagues are proposing to put a thumb on the scale to benefit the democratic party. if the filibuster, the bipartisan 60-vote requirement was eliminate, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would haven checked power to write the laws affecting 330
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million americans. we know they're already willing to manufacture a voting rights crisis to increase their own power. if they're willing to do that, what aren't they willing to do? i know i'm not alone, mr. president, saying i hope we never find out. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> the majority leader. >> would from texas, a request, a request, i'd like this chart. >> you have the floor so-- >> would my colleague, i would yield to you, i have the floor. mind if i follow your chart?
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great. thank you. i'll hold it. now, my colleague-- now, my good colleague from texas says 94% of voters said voting was easy in 2020. so, why don't we keep it that way? isn't it true that all of the changes that we are arguing about are post-2020? isn't it overwhelming likelihood that the numbers, these changes are allowed to go into effect will go way down. so, yes, we agree. keep the 2020 laws, maybe we should improve them, but right now what we're combatting is a series of legislators, 19, 33 laws that will make this number surely go down because it makes voting less hard. so i do agree, 2020 worked out okay. i guess my friend is saying the big lie is false because donald trump said it was fraudulent,
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the election results. i would thank my colleague for his chart and will be using it again. >> mr. president, toss the senator yield for a question? >> i sure would. >> can you give me an example of one of the laws passed in georgia or texas since the 2020 election which you believe is suppresses the right to vote? >> there are a long list of them which i've listed in my speeps. let me just give one or two. one, making early voting places and drop-off voting places many fewer. number two, taking in the largest county, democratic county, african-american county in georgia and taking away the bipartisan ability to collect those votes. three, in georgia, making it a crime that if you're standing on line you can't be fed and the lines, by the way, according to the reports i get, are much longer in
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african-american communities than in white suburban communities, making it much, much harder, much, much -- making it a crime, rather, to give people water or sandwich. so, i'm going to now give my remarks, but i thank my colleague for the question. >> mr. president. >> and the floor. >> mr. president. >> ask one more question, clarify. >> last question. >> your response. >> yes. >> is the senator suggesting that battle harvesting is-- should be required in all 50 states that is the ability of a partisan or a participant in a political election to go around in nursing homes or to other vulnerable populations and collect ballots and turn them in? >> if the person-- if the gentleman would yield, as long as there's no fraud, if a person in a nursing home can't get to the polling place, and want to vote and someone collects their ballot, nothing wrong with that, that's good. that makes it easier for them to vote. all of these things that they bring up, no evidence of fraud,
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none. donald trump has not produced any evidence of fraud. he lost my 7 million votes. and yet, he's saying he won the election, and we all know what's motivating our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. to donald trump, i guess most of them know that the election was not stolen the big lie doesn't take effect. trump has such power over the republican party, such power that they do what he wants and the legislatures and here in the senate and i would remind my good friend from texas that his fellow texans, george h.w. bush, george w. bush proudly supported extension. voting rights act. proudly extend or did that, it was bipartisan until donald trump came over and in my opinion, poisoned the republican party on voting rights. we could use a little resistance to donald trump. we see it from a good number of republicans out in the country. we see it from a good number of republican commentators, but we
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don't see it in the senate and i'm not going to yield for a further question. as i begin my remarks. >> mr. president-- >> let me for the following figure. >> mr. president, to a question. >> majority leader. >> thank you. >> mr. president, let me begin with the following figure. 55 million people. that's the estimated number of eligible voters that now live within states that have passed legislation restricting the right to vote and potentially undermining the electoral process. today president biden will travel to one such state, georgia, home to one of the most egregious voter suppression interruption laws we've seen in a long time. i believe the president will give a strong speech and alert that we in the senate change the rules that so that we can prevent the awful and nasty laws to be implemented. in the nation he'll use the bully pulpit to make the case
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that the time has comfort time for the senate to pass and whatever steps are necessary to change the rules to accomplish that goal. the senate is going to act as soon as tomorrow. it's my intention once again to bring legislation to the floor to fight back against the threat to democracy and protect people's access to the ballot. once again, i urge my republican colleagues to take up the flag of the traditional republican party, not only of lincoln, but of h.w. bush and w bush, and have a debate like the debate we just had or discussion we just had. if republicans continue to hijack the rules of the senate to prevent voting rights from happening, if they continue paralyzing this chamber to the point where we're helpless to fight back against the big lie,
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we must consider the necessary steps we can take so the senate can adapt an act. for the past few months, senate democrats have been holding talks within our caucus to discern how we can best move forward to restore the function of the senate. and more importantly, pass legislation to defend democracy and protect voting rights. last night, i held another round of talks with a number of my colleagues about the path forward. and we did so again this morning. over the past few days, our republican colleagues have escalated their attacks against our efforts to pass voting rights legislation. listen to this one. last night the republican leader worked to place a number of gotcha bills onto the legislative calendar as some sort of payback as pursuing legislation to protect the sacred right to vote. he was basically saying, that here of 18 bills that democrats
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don't like, let's go for 50 votes on those. well, i propose to the republican leaders in unanimous consent request that it would be perfectly fine with us taking votes on his bills on a simple majority threshold if in exchange he agreed to do the same for the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights act. of course, the republican leader immediately objected. immediately objected to having all of them done with 50 votes. the 18 bills he proposed and our two voting rights bills. the republican made clear last night that the true way on the other side isn't about the rules of the senate, rules they were perfectly happy to change to pursue their own objectives when they were in the majority. republicans in truth are afraid of the possibility that legislation to defend democracy, to fight the power of dark money, and protect voting rights could move forward in this chamber.
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as i mentioned to my colleague from texas, that's not all republicans, that's not republicans out in the country, a lot of them want to protect voting rights, but it's the republican party as now run by and fair to say run by donald trump who has pop propagated the big lie, even though he has no evidence, nor have the commentators to that effect and now we have at least republicans in the senate and the house and in lots of state legislatures completely going along with this big lie. and the danger there is that-- democracy. if people of color, if young people, older people, people in urban areas feel their right to vote is diminished compared to other people because they're not aiming this at everybody, democracy begins wither, we've not seen an assault on voting
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rights since the days of the old south. since the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, why would we want to regress? why would we want to regress? so we must fight back. now, i understand our republicans are going to continue through various speeches to claim any efforts by democrats to undo these voter suppression laws would make it easier for americans to vote and by the way, i remind my colleagues, that's been the grand tradition of america. when the constitution was written, most states you had to be a white, male protestant property owner to vote. no one says let's go back to those days, and in america with our march to freedom and march to equality, embodied in our constitution and great minds of
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founding fathers, the greatest group of geniuses, not regression, but march forward. we democrats want to continue that march. we want to stop these types of laws. so the leaders-- so the republican leader doesn't have much to say who has latched onto a talking point and he said the big lie is actually the warning of voting suppression that comes from democrats even though there are so many laws that are obviously done to suppress votes and a lot of these republican legislators say it openly. so i'd say to the republican leader, his attempts to misdirect from the danger of donald trump's big lie and try to say it's democrats who are doing it is gaslighting, pure and simple. no evidence. no evidence. the leader did it again yesterday and today on the floor, implying one more time that because the 2020 election was indeed successful, somehow voters suppression doesn't
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exist. now i answered my friend from texas when he held up that chart, are the republican leader examples to distract from the real, unmistakable changes taking place in the states and i would ask the republican leader, the republican senator from texas, and all the other republicans, if the 2020 election was a successful and secure, as safe as he says it was, then why have republicans state legislators rushed to make it harder for people to vote in the aftermath of the 2020 election and why can any republican cling to the view that the election was stolen, donald trump's big lie when john cornyn, my friend from texas was up with a chart saying the 2020 election was successful and the republican leader said the same thing. doesn't that rebut donald trump? doesn't that rebut those who came to the capitol motivated by the propagation of donald
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trump's big lie. and the legislators who want to make it harder to vote if the 2020 election was successful. despite the republican leader's best efforts, i have yet to hear from my republican colleagues why it's okay for states like georgia to make it a crime to give food and water to people waiting on line at the polls, when we hear that in minority areas and urban areas, the lines are much longer than in rural areas. i have yet to hear from republicans why states like texas and arizona have made it a felony, a felony for nonpartisan election workers to send in unsolicited mail ballot applications for voters. what's wrong with that, what's wrong with encouraging people to vote. the participatings in elections is much higher in western countries than in ours. and again, texas didn't just prohibit nonpartisan election workers to send mail ballots out to voters, they made it a felony, a felony.
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these states have made it a crime, a crime for election workers to proactively helping people vote. where is the justification. where is the evidence of this massive fraud that donald trump talks about? no one gives any. and yet, they predicate their policy moves here in the senate on that. and to date i've heard no explanation from the other side, states like texas, iowa and montana, poll hours. and in iowa curt by nine days, how does that make the election more secure? why is that in the grand tradition of making it easier for americans to vote? and in georgia, according to the atlanta constitution journal, the leading newspaper of atlanta, the number of absentee drop boxes in four large counties in atlanta, in the atlanta area, will drop
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from 111 to 23. 111 to 23. one. justifications is that these boxes are no longer helpful, but this ignores the fact that over 300,000 voters used them in the last election, the last successful election, according to my friend from texas. republicans know that most of the people who use those drop boxes, of course, were democrats, they tend to use them more and that's why they cut them off. and the examples go on and on, unfortunately, mr. president. this is not just a one off or one state or another, this is a massive campaign which if we do nothing will continue and get worse. states like texas, new hampshire, montana, have passed laws making it harder, harder to register to vote. states like alabama, iowa and texas passed laws with barriers to people with disabilities. in one, lincoln county is
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trying to limit polling places to just one in the whole county. just one place to vote for an entire county causing people to potentially drive as many as 23 miles to cast a ballot. this wouldn't make voting easier, turns it into a burden. the truth is, republicans can't defend the laws and they're not going to mention them here today. let's hear some republicans defend the laws and point to the massive fraud that they say motivates them to do it. it's bunk, bunk, the policies put forward have one purpose only making it harder for younger, poorer, non-white and typically democratic voters to access the ballots to give republicans the partisan advantage at the polls by making it harder for democratic leaning voters to vote. again, in a democracy when you lose an election, you figure out why and try to figure out the voters you lost, you don't
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stop that, that autopsy in autocracies, places like hungary where donald trump just endorsed who is whittling away democracy in hungary. it's cynical for republican colleagues to argue because the voter suppression laws don't spell out their intentions in the open that there's nothing sinister at play, but these laws have real impact, potentially divisive. in arizona, mr. president, your state, the secretary of state has concluded that new laws could purge as many as 200,000 voters from early voting list and as you know better than me, arizona has a long tradition of early and mail voting. i think it was set up by republicans, if i'm not wrong. in georgia, over 1.3 million voters used absentee ballots in the last election, could now be affected by the restriction. some democrats in iowa argue if today's voter suppression laws had been in effect in 2020,
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over 6500 absentee ballots would not have been counted in the last election. this isn't all difficult to comprehend when we pass laws that raise barriers to voting fewer people end up voting, that's a fact. so as the president will say later we're approaching a decisive moment for voting, long been bipartisan in the chamber. voting rights act of 1964 was one of the crowning achievements not only of the civil rights era, but in the history of this chamber, it's in no way to say that senate will pass laws that will make it easier or simpler or safer for american citizens to exercise their most fundamental right. that's been part of the grand tradition of this country. usually, as i mentioned, several times before, bipartisan. i'll add, as we proceed, we cannot hang our hats on the false hopes of inadequate or
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sometimes solutions, substituting the electoral count act for much-needed reforms john lewis voting rights act is insufficient unacceptbly, obviously doesn't affect the house and senate, obviously it's not immediately urgent because it's 2024. but most importantly, score keeping matters little if the game is rigged and with state republicans empower themselves to arbitrate the results of future elections instead of it being arbitrated by what traditionally has happened in america by nonpartisan election workers. so we need to work in this chamber to pass real solutions that go to the heart of the problem. we need to proceed with the john lewis voting rights act. we need to proceed with the freedom to vote act. all of us in this chamber must make a choice how we do our
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part to preserve our democratic republic, and we can't say that democracy will work out in the end if we don't work to defend it as we must pass the bills so democracy can long endure. to continue to block these efforts is endorsement of donald trump's big lie, which unfortunately is alive and well in 2022. i yield the floor. >> senator from alabama. >> i ask unanimous consent to complete lie remarks before the scheduled recess. >> without objection. >> thank you. mr. president, last year ended
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with the best christmas present that this congress could have given to the american people, the democrats failing to pass president biden's reckless tax and spending spree. but sadly, the democrats failure doesn't seem to have made them realize the reality they're operating in, a 50-50 senate, where they have to actually work with both sides of the aisle to delivery bipartisan wins for the american people. they have now pivoted from a reckless tax and spend spree that would break the piggy banks of americans, to wanting to break the longstanding rules of the united states senate. they have set their sights on changing the very core of this institution by eliminating the legislative filibuster. so americans may not even know what the filibuster is. the senate follows many rules
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and procedures to pass legislatures and the filibuster is an important tool that gives the meantime party the ability to voice concerns and help shape any bill the majority may bring up. the filibuster serves as a check against the majority party wishing to act without input from the minority. basically, with the filibuster, the majority has to work with the minority. that's the bottom line. voting to end the debate on a bill that's commonly referred to as ending a filibuster, simply means that the senate agrees that there's been enough debate, including amendments, and it's now time to take a vote. and as one of the senate rules, it requires 60 votes to end debate and move to passing the bill. even if you are familiar with the complicated senate procedures, just know that the
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filibuster is important because it protects the deliberative nature of the senate. it ensures we function as an institution rooted in compromise, common ground, and a sense of unity. we represent all americans not just a few. looking back on the history, you will see it's been utilized as a standard senate practice by republicans, democrats, and independents alike. it's so important that in 2005 senator schumer, who you just heard speak, said quote, the idologues in the senate want to turn the finding founders, calling the cooling saucer of democracy into the rubber mark of dictatorship. yes, he said that doing away with the filibuster would effectively create a
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dictatorship. more recently in 2017 senator schumer doubled down on the need to keep the filibuster in a letter to leader mcconnell. in his letter, senator schumer argued for the protection of, quote, existing rules, practices, and traditions as they pertain to the right of members to engage in extended debate on legislation before the united states senate. to sum that up, he said no way should we cancel the filibuster. that letter was signed by 33 democrats, many of whom are still serving in this senate as we speak. one of the signers that served at that time that signed this document is now the vice-president of the united states. it's not just the vice-president who has warned against ending the filibuster. in 2005 on this very floor,
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senator joe biden warned that if the ability to filibuster were abolished, done away with, the senate would become the house of representatives. i recognize that both sides of the aisle have at some point diminished the filibuster on nomination votes. 2013, then senator harry reid lowered the vote threshold for presidential appointments other than supreme court nominees, to 51. in 2017, the republicans turned around and lowered the standards to 51 for supreme court nominees. based on that the left may call our opposition now hypocritical, but there is a big difference between legislation and nominations. including policy and our budget
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and nominees. debating legislation should include input from all senators and be subject to compromise through the amendment process in order to be made better. nominees' qualification are not subject to input or change. voting on a nominee is a, take it or leave it vote. you can't change their background or qualifications with more debate or more amendments. that's why they moved the vote to 50. but the filibuster on legislation portion forces the majority to take into account the minority's position and to make the changes necessary to earn their support. so now that the democrats seem to be changing their tune on the legislative filibuster, it might be worth asking, what has caused the democrats to flip-flop?
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and why now? well, there's one notable reason. between 2017 and 2022, who has control of the white house and congress now? back in 2017 when the democrats were in the minority, they understood the value of the minority's vote. but now they are in the majority and all bets are off. they want to race through their party's big government socialist agenda with a little or no debate or opposition as possible. and senate democrats have embraced the radical win at all costs game plan for passing their progressive agenda and they intend and will break the senate if they do it. democrats say their war on the filibuster has to do with
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strengthening voting rights. and they want to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. if that were true, democrats wouldn't have any problem passing this on a bipartisan level. we all want to safeguard our elections so that all americans have confidence in the integrity of our country's election process. but if access to the ballot box were an issue, it might come as a surprise that the 2020 election saw the largest voter turnout in over a century. the democrats are simply operating under a false idea. the states should run our election system. not the federal government. what's more, they will tell you they're embarking on this crusade to save our democracy, but the problem is, they want to do it by blowing up our
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democracy, blowing up this room. ending the filibuster means we would govern only by majority rule. stifling the voice of all minority and millions and millions of people that voted for the people that are in here in the minority. instead of saving it, this is one party rule would be the end of our democracy as we know it, instead of including the minority voice in legislation, that should serve all americans, we'd have radical swings back and forth every time the majority changed hands in this room. right now there are few democratic senators who have stood up for the filibuster. they understand the important role of the minority's voice. this is not the house of representatives. they understand the importance of making sure we listen to the
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voices of millions of americans who voted for the minority party, whoever it is. they know what even small exemption or what they call a carve-out could lead to, devastation to this room. so i ask the rest of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, why not join us, save the filibuster? that's what makes us the voice of all americans. why not focus on what you can do to lead in the face of many crisises, actually facing the american people. in a recent poll nearly 50% of americans disapproved of president joe biden's handling of covid. the disapproval ratings were even higher when it came to the economy, taxes, crime, government spending, and immigration. it's clear that right now americans need more adults in this room and more leadership.
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and i can guarantee you that the american people do not want leadership that resorts to changing the rules to get their way. to notch a win. the american people want leaders who actually address the problems they face, like covid and inflation. we cannot allow the failed leadership of big government socialists to be a scapegoat for eliminating the filibuster and fundamentally changing our country for the worst. >> today, military officials will testify on the impact of the continuing resolution on operations. continuing resolutions also referred to as cr are used to avoid a government shutdown by extending government funding at current levels when regular appropriation bills have not been passed. watch live at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span 3. on-line at or
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watchful coverage in our new video app c-span now. ♪♪ >> c-span on the go. watch the day's biggest political events live or on demand anytime and anywhere, on our new mobile app. c-span now, listen to c-span radio and discover new podcasts also free. download c-span now today. >> now washington state democratic governor jay inslee gives the 2022 state of the state address from olympia. he places the state's response to the covid pandemic, but also speaks on challenges posed by climate change, homelessness and aging infrastructure. this is just over 20 minutes. >> good afternoon and welcome, wash washingtonians


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