tv U.S. Senate GOP Senators of Voting Rights the Filibuster CSPAN January 13, 2022 2:23am-2:54am EST
so it is the senate's responsibility to protect the country. this institution was constructed as a firewall against exactly -- exactly the kind of rage and false hysteria we saw on full display yesterday. it falls to the senate to put america on a better track. it falls to us. so this institution cannot give in to dishonorable tactics. we cannot surrotundaer to this -- surrender to this recklessness. we have to stand up, stand strong, protect the senate, and defend theiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: right now we are
on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. we're about to step into the abyss. i want to talk for a few minutes why we're on that precipice and why we're looking into that abyss. let me first ask a fundamental question. what is the crisis that calls for the undoing of two centuries of tradition? are senators merely doing their jobs as legislators, responding to a generalized public calling for the abolition of the filibuster? clearly not. it is not the american people at large who are demanding detonation of the nuclear option. the nuclear option is being pushed largely by the radioactive rhetoric of a small band of radicals who hold in their hands the political fortunes of the president.
constitutional scholars will tell us that the reason we have these rules in the senate -- unlimited debate, two-thirds to change the rules, idea that 60 have to close off debate -- is embodied in the spirit and rule of the constitution. that is what the constitution is all about. we all know it. it is the senate where the founding fathers established a repository of checks and balances. it's not like the house of representatives where the majority leader or the speaker can snap his fingers and get what he wants on important issues -- what he wants. on important issues that the founding fathers wanted -- and they were correct in my judgment -- the majority should not always govern. the senate is not a majoritarian
body. the bottom line is very simple. the ideologues in the senate want to turn the founding fathers -- what the founding fathers called the cooling saucer of democracy into a rubber stamp of dictatorship. they want to make this country into a about a nan that republic -- into a banana republic, where if you don't get your way, you change the rules. are we going to let them? it will be a doomsday for democracy if we do. i, for one, hope and pray it will not come to this, but i assure my colleagues, at least speaking for this senator, i will do everything i can to prevent the nuclear option from being invoked, not for the sake of myself or my party but for the sake of this great republic and its traditions.
those are powerful words, but they're not mine. every word of my speech today was originally spoken by our esteemed colleague, the senior senator from new york, chuck schumer. senator schumer spoke so eloquently in defense of the senate's rules and customs and traditions and the fortunes of -- when the fortunes of his party looked a little different. my, how times have changed. now it's senator schumer's fingers that are hovering over the nuclear button ready to destroy the senate for partisan advantage. think about it. the narrowest majority in senate history wants to break the senate rules to control how
voters in every state elect senators. could there be a better argument to preserve the senate's rules, customs, and traditions? so before it's too late, let us reflect on the wise and eloquent words of senator schumer, words that are as true today as they were when he spoke them, even if senator schumer is singing a different tune today. madam president, i yield the floor.
mr. blunt: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: madam president, the senate is designed to be a place where the members of the minority, the members of the minority party, and the millions of americans they represent are heard. in this senate, the minority couldn't be any bigger. if the minority was any bigger, we'd be a the majority. this is a 50-50 senate, and no time to take away the protections that the senate for almost 200 years have afforded to the minority. the considerations given to the minority are important not only to the senators and the millions of people they represent, i think they're represent to how the country moves forward. i serve in the house. i like the house. i watch the house as closely as any senator does. and every time the house
changes, the house passes a pretty -- a bunch of pretty dramatic legislation and comes to the senate, that dramatic legislation they passed in the house doesn't go anywhere in the senate. and when the house changes again -- and it has a number of times in the last 20 years -- when the house changes again, the other side comes in and passes legislation that reverses all of that and maybe even do a little dramatic legislation of their own. that also doesn't go anywhere when it gets to the senate. if all laws were passed by a simple majority, there'd be the potential for the majority to rewrite the country's laws constantly no matter how small the shift in power was. it's always a mistake frankly to act like you have a mandate if you don't have one. it is a mistake for the country to change direction dramatically before the country has had time to think about that.
the bureaucratic whiplash could be enormous. the economic impact could be enormous, of changing policies on regulations and taxes and poms and everything in a dramatic way, every time one side gets a small advantage over the other side. for the past year we've heard a constant refrain from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle that the legislative filibuster, the supermajority to move, to finalize a piece of legislation must be reformed. at the present moment we're hearing it must be reformed for only maybe for elections, have a carve-out for elections. just a few weeks ago it must be reformed to have a carve-out for the debt ceiling. i'm sure if we did either of those things, in a few weeks we'd be talking about a third carve-out. and what are we doing it for? we're doing it for what i see is
a federalization of the election process. when asked in a morning consult "politico" poll that was just released today -- so this is something the american people have just weighed in on today. when they were asked which of the three voting ideas where polls should be a top priority of the congress in the voting area, one was reforming congress' role in counting electoral votes. one was expanding voting access. one was expanding oversight of the state changes in elections. they were all beaten by none of the above. none of the above got more votes in that poll than any of the top -- some of the top priorities the democrats are talking about. we hear that we have to extend the voting rights act. we even have titled the voting rights act after a person who i served with in the house, i
traveled with, i had a close friendship with, john lewis. thatthat would be a good reasonr me to vote for the voting rights act. and certainly i voted to extend voting rights act before. i'd vote to extend the voting rights act today. and i'd be more happy to vote for it if it was the voting rights act & just happened to be name for john lewis. the voting rights act in 1965 was 12 pages. the extensions have all been about the same size. this bill has another 110 pages of additional legislative things that don't deal with the principles of the voting rights act at all. they deal with the federal government taking over the election process. we've seen our colleagues talk about this in one bill after another. i think their motives -- the
motives are pretty transparent right now. it is another way to break the filibuster. but we hear that the laws that states are passing -- and by the way, the laws that the states have been -- the states have been passing election laws for the whole country, as it related to their state, for a little over 200 years now. the constitution was pretty specific in who would conduct elections in the country and who would set the rules and regulations in the country for those elections. but we hear that these laws are very restrictive. these laws are laws that the legislature leaned forward, as they should have in my opinion, in a pandemic that in at least 100 years we've never conducted an election like the pandemic experience we were in. so they leaned forward, they allowed things that had never been allowed before -- more mail-in voting, voting from your car, voting from a parking lot,
all sorts of things -- and then those same legislatures looked back at what had happened as a result of that and said, do we want to keep all of this, as if we were going to have a pandemic every year? or do we want to keep part of it? and in every case that i've looked at, the changes in election law make it easier to vote in 2021 than it was in the last election before the pandemic. i'd encourage all of my colleagues, such sudden experts on utah and iowa and other election laws, to look at the 2018 election laws and see how they compare. what legislatures did is exactly what you'd hope they'd do. respond to a crisis, and when the crisis is over let's evaluate how much of that we want to keep as part of our permanent system and how much was only in crisis? what do these laws do?
in utah, the state legislature determined that the chief election official of utah could get the names of deceased individuals and give them to county officials who would take their names off the rolls. that's listed as one of the things that makes it harder to vote. harder to vote for dead people. that's fine. i actually asked this question in a hearing of someone who -- one of the election monitoring people who said this was difficult. i said what about that? they said, the social security is often wrong. well, if anybody is going to get something straightened out pretty quickly, it would be a living person who no longer is getting their social security check because the social security administration had them on the list of people who were deceased. what a foolish argument that was for that to be a repressive thing. in georgia, the state legislature adjusted their mail-in ballot deadline to ensure voters who requested a
mail-in ballot got their ballots with enough time to cast them. they brought their date more in line with the advice of the u.s. postal service. the truth is that lots of states did this, states like georgia and florida now include specific provisions in state law that allow the use of drop boxes. in fact, they have to have at least one in every county. there were no drop boxes in georgia anywhere before the 2020 elections. now there have to be drop boxes everywhere. and it has to be understood where those locations can be found. states like iowa and georgia implemented more early voting days than the so-called freedom to vote act would require. in fact, these states had more days of early voting than many states that have democrat-led legislatures luke new york and connecticut -- like new york and connecticut and the president's home state of delaware. they also forget that many --
they also forgot that many republican states have already implemented no-excuse absentee voting. so i was an election official for 20 years. i am absolutely confident that nobody takes the security of the elections and the confidence in the elections and the ability to register and vote in an easy way more seriously than people who are directly answerable to their neighbors if they're the local official or to the people that vote for them if they're the state official. president obama said in 2016 that the diversity of this statewide system was one of the strengths of our system, the state-run system, and one of the reasons it would make it really hard for any outside entity, any foreign entity, any outside group to truly try to rig a national election.
so i've got more to say. i'm going to submit the rest of my remarks for the record. i'm sure there will be more time to talk about this next week. ballot harvesting, 62% of people in one poll are opposed to ballot harvesting. ballot harvesting is when you ask somebody to give you their ballot and say i'll turn it in for you. maybe. who would now? -- who would know? if it never gets to the counting place, it just got lost in the mail. one of the reasons it might have gotten lost in the mail is the ballot harvester knows in all almost certainty that the way you marked your ballot is not the way the ballot harvester would prefer to have the ballots marked. 70% of americans support voter
maintenance that's eliminated in many ways by the law being proposed. one went so far as to tell states the kind of paper their ballots would be printed on. if you really want to make it easy to impact an election, be sure that somebody knows the exact paper that every entity in america prints their ballots on and gets some of that to use to try to subvert the election and make the election less secure. so we're going to hear a lot about this over the next couple of days. i certainly would welcome the opportunity to have more time, and i'm sure i will have more time to talk about what is in these, what's in these bills, both the state bills and the federal bill, as opposed to what people are saying is in both bills. and i would yield the floor. mrs. blackburn: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. the senator from missouri is
exactly right. we're going to hear so much about this, and the reason is as the american people hear about this so-called election bill, what they're realizing, it is not something that's going to make their local election safer. it is something that is going to put that power into washington, d.c. now, what we are hearing from the majority leader and the democratic leadership is they've got to get rid of the filibuster in order to push forward this election bill, adding states, packing courts. all of this laundry list of a socialist agenda that they are planning to execute. so what i want to do today for a couple of minutes is just walk us down memory lane as to what people have had to say, our democratic colleagues have had to say about the filibuster.
now in may of 2005, then-senator joe biden came to the floor, and he vigorously jumped into the middle of a debate over the filibuster. he said that things would go very wrong if his colleagues decided to blow up the rules to get their way. what's interesting about senator biden's position is that it had almost nothing to do with his policy goals. and here's his quote, and i quote, folks who want to see this change want to eliminate one of the procedural mechanisms designed for the expressed purpose of guaranteeing individual rights. and they also have a consequence and would undermine the protections of a minority point of view in the heat of majority excess, end quote.
he understood at that point in time the importance of preserving the senate's institutional power and abiding by standards that not only welcome but require deliberation and compromise. well, what a dimps a -- what a difference a few years in a senate majority can make. today we're having the exact same debate, but the power my democratic colleagues won in the last election has changed their minds about breaking the senate to get their way. the problem is the senate is not broken. it does not need their changes. but the rules no longer matter to the majority leader, even though he said as recently as 2017, and i quote, let us go no farther down this road. i hope the republican leader and i can in the coming months find a way to build a fire wall
around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the senate and the house. without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the house, much more subject to the whims of short-term electoral change. well, my, my, my, how about that. he understood the dangers of legislative whiplash even when he was in the minority. so did my colleague, senator durbin, who said in 2018 he believed that ending the filibuster would, and i'm quoting him, be the end of the senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our founding fathers, end quote. well, i would ask the gentlemen from new york and illinois what happened here?
what changed their minds so drastically? they've done a 180. i'd ask the same question of many of my democratic colleagues. in 2017, 32 senate democrats -- yes, that is correct, 32, many of whom are still serving in this chamber today -- signed on to a bipartisan letter in support of the filibuster. now they too have changed their minds. it makes you wonder why does everybody -- what is everybody on the democratic aisle drinking these days? this is no way to run the world's greatest deliberative body, but it's a great way to destroy it. and between 2017 and today, 32 senate democrats have changed their mind about how to handle the filibuster. over the past year we've watched joe biden and the democrats
attack more than one institution forming the foundation of this nation. the supreme court, the first amendment, the second amendment, limits on the power of the executive, and now the senate rules have all proved to be inconvenient to their agenda and ending up on the chopping block. that's where they're putting them. my democratic colleagues may be frustrated, but that is just too bad. the senate was not designed to rubber stamp legislation that is so belligerently foolish it can't tempt a single republican vote. not one, no. the senate was designed to protect the american people and the institution itself from shortsighted leadership. my colleagues claim that all they're asking for is one teeny
little carve-out, just one. but i would remind them that there's only so much carving you can do before you reduce the entire thing to dust. and based on their track record, we have no reason to trust that they'll stop carving and put down the knife rather than use it to hold the senate hostage the next time they can't scrunge up the votes to scratch something off their to-do list. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. scott: madam president, since the founding of our republic the senate has existed to encourage extended debate and protect the rights of the minority party. over the centuries as various political parties have risen and fallen from party, the senate's rules have been respected and followed. one of those rules is the
legislative filibuster which protects the minority party's rights by requiring a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation in the senate. unfortunately, many of today's democrats in washington only care about one thing -- radically transforming this nation into a new socialist state. and they'll use any means necessary to keep their grip on the federal government. now we're seeing democratic leadership in the congress wield their majority to push one partisan bill after another without even attempting to get republican input or support. instead of working together with the republican colleagues, thefer searching for ways to make it easier to jam through progressive socialist parties without any compromise. just look at the majority leader's most recent statements on the filibuster. last week the majority leader wrote a letter to all democrat senator explaining his plans to fundamentally and permanently alter the rules of the united states senate and change the legislative filibuster. his statements could not be more
hypocritical or self-serving. the legislative filibuster, which has been in place for decades, has been repeatedly defended as a vital and necessary rule to protect minority party's rights, including by barack obama, joe biden, kamala harris, and even senator schumer. in 2017 senator schumer urged then-majority leader mcconnell to, quote, find a way to build a fire wall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the senate and the house. he went on to say, quote, without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the senate becomes the majoritarian institution like the house. much more subject to the whims of short-term electoral change, no senator would like to see that happen, so let's find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation. madam president, these are the direct quotes from the senator from new york. he called the filibuster the most important distinction between the senate and the house, and now he has turned
his back on it. of course my colleague from new york isn't the only one caught in a bind here by previous statements and actions. let's remember that in 2018 the current senate majority whip, senator dick durbin, said doing away with the legislative filibuster would be, quote, would be the end of the senate as we originally, as it was originally devised and created going back to our founding fathers. he further admitted in, quote, we have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the senate tries to do in its exoms and its procedure -- composition and procedure. in 2013, p 2 senators signed a letter to keep it intact. most of these same senators are still in office today but only one has expressed any opposition to senator schumer's plans to destroy the filibuster now that he is in the majority. and just last congress most of the democrat caucus used the filibuster to block a police
reform bill from my republican colleague, tim scott, and a bill that would protected newborn babies who survived attempted abortions. so my democratic colleagues think the filibuster is great when it works in their favor, but they can't stand it when it blocks the radical socialist agenda, an agenda we know the american people do not support. so why the change of mind? why are they willing to be so blatantly hypocritical and so obviously flip-flop? because they know if they pull this off and pass this radical, dangerous bill to federalize election, it will all but secure their power into the future. that's what we're talking about here. democrats want to push this bill through this bill that will completely upend our current election system and they're willing to abandon their principles and flip-flop on the filibuster if it means permanently maintaining power. senator schumer admitted on msnbc, he said democrat senators are saying things like
i'll lose my election or we'll lose the majority if they don't change the filibuster and pass the election takeover bill. democrats say this is about voting rights. it isn't. the right to vote is more readily accessible and easily exercised by eligible voters across our country than ever before. this is really about federalizing our elections and enacting policies that they think will give them an advantage in future elections. and all along the way they will revel in their hypocrisy and self-righteously pretend they are, quote, protecting democracy. make no mistake, a change to the filibuster won't protect democracy. it will ruin it. madam president, democrats in this chamber can posture all they want, but the american people see them for what they really are -- self-serving, power hungry politicians. we all know that if the democrats' bill was good, if it included policies that had improve our nation's elections, it would pass. but there is nothing in the bill worth voting for. the democrats' bill is an assault on american elections. it will fuel voter fraud, waste
taxpayer dollars on political campaigns and attack ads and make it nearly impossible to conduct fair elections that our citizens can trust. we need an end to this self-serving hypocrisy and we need members who will stand up for what's right. i'm urging my democratic colleagues to see past their party's own partisan short-term interests and ask them to consider the health and future of our democracy. that's what the american people deserve. madam president, i yield the from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i want to applaud the republican leader, the senator from connecticut, for -- the senator from kentucky, for saying what needed to be said. if there is a unique role for the united states senate in our system of government, it is to be the place where debate and deliberation, common sense, and compromise prevail over demagoguery. and, unfortunately, what we heard from prid