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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 19, 2022 2:00pm-6:01pm EST

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answer to president trump. the fact that dejoy had supported president trump's election was just enough for the other side to concoct a highly implausible election tampering plot. now, after the election of president biden, we heard no more about the problems with the postal service maybe not delivering mail. the necessary business transformation to make sure that the ballots did arrive to be counted on time, that business transformation resumed after an election pause to allay irrational concerns stirred up
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by partisans. we have heard precious little about this alleged threat to democracy since the election. now, had the election gone differently, i suspect that we would have heard a lot more. however, the effect of that scare tactic still lingers to this very day. however, along that line, i hear from iowans who dropped off their absentee ballot for the first time scared that their vote would not have been counted if mailed because of that the conspiracy theory against dejoy that somehow the postal service was not going to make sure -- was going to make sure a democrat ballot didn't get delivered. now, my state of iowa is one of the few states that uses the postal service's intelligent bar
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code on ballot envelopes. that helps the postal service expedite the ballots and allows iowans to track their ballot until it is delivered to the county auditor. iowans continue to be able to vote absentee would great confidence that their vote will count. so it makes me very sad that some were convinced otherwise as part of a political con game prior to the 2020 election. this denigrating of our election process for short-term political gain is disgraceful. now, i see the current false claims about state laws suppressing votes in the same light. whether democrats believe that their up to the -- their own talking points or whether it is
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a cynical attempt to paint republicans as anti-voting, these false claims undermine faith in the democracy. i yield. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i'd like to go back a little further in history than last year's warmed-over conspiracy theories that we just heard my friend from iowa talk about. i so appreciated senator bennet's discussion of sort of the history of voting rights and the history of this body. the american public certainly doesn't know what cloture means. the american public doesn't know all that much about the filibuster either. but go back a few decades. the filibuster was used to suppress the vote. the filibuster was used by many people in my political party,
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back when too many democrats were on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of civil rights. it was used by southern segregationists. it was finally overcome by some northern republicans with a whole bunch of northern democrats. but then think what else the filibuster has been used for. the filibuster was used in the 1970's and 1980's to protect big tobacco in kentucky. the filibuster was used to protect big oil. now it's used to protect wall street. the filibuster is used to protect big tech companies. the filibuster is used in case after case after case to protect big drug companies. so we know the whole purpose of the filibuster has been to protect the most affluent, the most privileged, the wealthiest corporate interests in this society that just get their way in this body day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. now, this weekend -- and many referred to this -- we honored
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dr. martin luther king. we heard a lot of words extolling his legacy. those words for many who are, for whatever reason, not supporting voting rights today, those words sounded pretty empty. few people told the story of dr. king in memphis, why dr. king was in memphis. in early february of 1968, a sanitation worker -- sanitation workers in memphis, some of the most abused, taken advantage of workers in our country -- mostly black workers doing a dirty, difficult job in a segregated city with a very racist mayor who let that be known in the ensuing months -- these sanitation workers were not even given rest periods, particularly when they were in white neighborhoods. there was no place to go.
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two workers in early february in a rainstorm got in their garbage trucks to protect themselves from the rain for a few minutes. the garbage drug malfunctioned. those two workers, underpaid with no real benefits and no insurance and no help for their families, those two workers were killed. dr. king went to memphis the first time to help lead that strike, to join the striking workers. the second time he went back, that's when he was assassinated. dr. king understood the dignity of work was intertwined with voting rights. worker rights and voting rights always went together. dr. king insisted no job is menial if it pays a decent wage. in those -- and those sanitation workers, as i said, low wages, no benefits, no health insurance, no retirementings none of that, few days off. dr. king said, what does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated work counter if
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he doesn'tern enough to afford a sandwich? he said, no work is menial if it pays an average wage. we can't get there if workers cannot vote. i don't mean just workers who put on a tie and sit sat a desk. the vote should be open to everyone. i mean all workers, whether you punch a clock, whether you swipe a badge, whether you work for tips, whether you're on salary, whether you're raising children, whether you're taking care of aging parents a. we know who powers our economy. it's workers. it's not the rich donors and the corporate contribute theirs fund the politicians who are pushing for gerrymandering and voter suppression and the takeovers of local election boards. it's workers. i think about what we did in the senate last week, with some difficulty but ultimately it worked. we unanimously passed a
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resolution honoring the custodians and the maintenance workers. we had talked often about the police officers, some of whom gave their lives, dozens who were injured, all who were courageous. we honored them, as we should. we also last week, though, passed a resolution honoring custodial workers and maintenance workers. they get little recognition. they work for too low pay. last january, one year ago, she is workers, largely black and brown workers, many of them immigrants, were forced to clean feces off the wall, clean up off the destruction of the white supremacists and restore dignity to our capitol after domestic terrorists ransacked it. the insurrectionists destroyed the black and brown workers cleaned up. the carpenters and maintenance workers, painters, union workers all, rebuilt. last week we came together to honor their service. they deserve more than words, more than gratitude. so often they and other working people don't have much of a
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voice in this country. they don't have the high-priced lobbyists that come here. many of you have looked down the hall and seen in front of senator mcconnell's office, you've seen the lobbyists lined up, who always seem to get what they come for. workers don't have corporate lobbyists. they aren't going on campaign donor retreats. but workers should have a vote or should have the vote. the voters' booth is where all of us shoos have an equal voice. it's not surprising that politicians who pass corporate tax cuts, the same politicians who do the handout for the wealthiest one percent, don't want lots of workers to vote. we know who voter suppression and elections subversion is aimed at. it's at the parents working two jobs to pay the rent and make sure their kids have a decent meal with no, no control over their work lives and work hours if they don't have a collective bargaining agreement. it's students, people who don't
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get a day off, seniors in nursing homes, home health care workers who care for them. so often these are women of color working the graveyard shift after coming straight from their second job. we know whose votes these i guess mr.s want to throw out -- we know who is votes threes politicians want to throw out. what does senator casey and atlanta senators senators warnock and ossoff have in common in they are diverse places with a whole lot of black and brown workers. all of it comes down to this. these politicians with aens to cherry-pick their voters rather than the voters picking their elected officials. through gerrymandering, through voter is up expression, through meddling in the local election board, politicians want to chick and choose whose votes are counted. president trump cared my state twice by eight points. my state is about a 46%-47%
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slightly republican state now. for the last decade, in 2012 or, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, not one of those districts changed because republicans with their corruption and with their skill at drawing maps drew those maps in ways that there was no real fair elections. we know whose votes they don't want to count. it's the votes of the low-paid and overlooked, who power this country yet don't have much power. the votes who might demand fewer tax cuts for rich people and an increase in the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit, the largest tax cut for families in our nation's history. 90% of families in colorado in georgia, in new jersey, in hoe owe and all over this country, 90% of families of children get
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at least a $3,000 tax cut because of what we did in this body when we said no more republican freight trains carrying tax cuts down the track. we were going to give tax cuts to moderate-income people and working families. the votes -- these votes of people who hold politicians accountable, the votes of people who understand the dignity of work, if you say you support american workers, you support their right to vote. i ask my colleagues of both parties, come together to protect the right of every american to have a voice in this country, no matter who you are, no matter where you work, no matter where you live. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, madam president. i did not intend to speak today. i came down here to p listen to the speeches of some of my completion for two hours this morning -- colleagues for two hours this morning and asked to get an opportunity to get on the list of senators who are going to speak today.
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i just wanted to go back and revisit the comments and talk about the path forward after this vote occurs today and i hope fails to change the filibuster rule. i think senator tester was the one who said he knew of a voter who waited eight to ten hours to vote. that's unacceptable. we need to change that. i would also say that probably over that eight to ten hours they were in a long line far beyond any restrictions they had for electeering so they could have food and water. some could have heard that speech sand thought that someone was starving or thirsting for eight or ten hours. if if you've ever been to elections, i've been there handing out my pushcart 50 feet out handing out water. the american people need to know that happens every day. if there are states that have restrictions, i hope that's something i have to moment to talk about as we move forward.
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we also heard senator klobuchar say that 160 times the rules have change add. the fact of the matter is, they have never changed for the legislative calendar, which is what we're talking about, without regular order. it happened seven times. and it happened because the majority members, democrats and republicans, thought we should modernize the rules. but we did it through regular order. it's never been done before. in fact, two notable examples where the nuclear option was used was once by then-majority leader harry reid and followed up by then-majority leader mitch mcconnell. if that's not the best indicator of what will happen to this body, nothing is. remember when senator reid said we're just going to carve out a little bit of the executive calendar to make it easier for district judges to get elected. that's all we're going to do. why on earth does anybody believe that that carve-out wasn't going to result in the ultimate nuclear option for the executive calendar? that's why you have justice
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gorsuch, justice kavanaugh, and justice barrett. that's why you have them. it's through political physics here. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. and if you vote to nuke the legislative filibuster, you might as as well build a wall straight down this body. because any time democrats or republicans hit the trifecta and we have the white house and we have the senate and we have the house, the minority's voice will count for nothing. and even worse, the voices of the vocal minority at either end of the political spectrum will have a disproportionate impact on what we vote on and pass out of this body. if you think it's hard getting the voting rights bills passed today, think how hard it's going to be for you to stand down your most extreme base -- we've got our own -- on things that are not good for this country that the vast majority of american people will not support. we will go to an every two-year
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or four-year cycle of huge swings for the first time ever in this nation's history. so i hope that last week most of you had the opportunity -- i was in the chamber, but if you weren't, i would ask you to go back and listen to senator sinema's speech. some people would have just spiked the football on our side of the aisle saying it looks like she'll preserve the filibuster and we can move on. but what i heard was a member calling on us to bridge the gap and make progress. that's what i heard. on voting rights, i think we can. i think the american people need to know that if this fails today, it's not the end of discussion of progress that we need to make. my staff said we don't want you to put this board up because we're afraid that will tip your hand on things that you're having discussions with. i've had a number of discussions with members on the other side of the aisle. we have legitimate problems that we need to fix. we need to make it harder to cheat and easier to vote. we need to reform the electoral
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count act that with all due respect to the majority leader, i think he said it's unacceptable and insufficient and even offensive because he said scorekeeping matters little if the game is rigged. if the game is rigged, that sounds like what president trump was saying just about 18 months ago. now we've got both sides of the aisle talking about how the game is rigged. what we're doing is creating more discontent and we're actually suppressing people's interest in voting because they think their vote won't count. that's what's being said in this chamber today. that's what we have to stop. there are a number of things that we can do. i voted against all the objections of my seven democratic colleagues on january 6. stand by it proud. i was proud to certify that election. but since 2001, the electoral count act has been weaponized. you had 14 house members object in 2001. you had 31 house members, a senate member object in 2005, you had seven members object in
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2013. we had 138 members and seven senate members object in this last election. we have to make it clear that the vice president in this ministerial position, there should be a higher bar. for the certifying agencies across the states to say you can't change the rules after the election is held, that's what we should be talking about. we should be talking about making it easier to vote. i don't know why new york rejected by a 58-42 margin, same-day registration last year, but they did. the voters went to the polls. i'm reminded of you saying that the legislature overturned it. now is the legislature in new york going to overturn 58% against same-day registration and 54% against no-excuse absentee ballot. i've got no excuse abcee ballot -- absentee ballot in
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north carolina. after the tensions cool, incidentally the day republicans change the rules for the filibuster is the day i resign from the senate. i believe i have a number of members on my side of the aisle that would never do it. you don't have to worry about the argument now if you don't change it now they'll change it when we hit the trifecta. it's not going to happen. senator kaine, i think i was naive. when i signed that letter saying after president trump called for nuking the filibuster 34 times, i said get me on a letter to preserve the filibuster. i went home and i was attacked. i've had the protesters, i've had the censure proposals at county g.o.p.'s, state g.o.p.'s, and i stand by it and will stand by it as long as i'm here. but i feel a little disappointed and a little betrayed by the fact that the 32 members on the democrat side all but one say things have changed. they have not changed. we can't let this filibuster change. we need to work on making it easier to vote. we need to work on making it
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harder to cheat. there are reasonable solutions that i think both sides of the aisle can agree to, and the american people need to know there are people like me and other members that are going to fight for that after this vote hopefully goes down today. let's not build a wall between our two chambers. let's continue the relationships we have. i had five conversations with members on the other side of the aisle this morning talking about legislation we're working on, a visit to north carolina to spend some time together outside of the political caldron we're in here now. helping somebody out with a vote in judiciary for a judicial nominee that you otherwise may be incented to vote against. let me tell you, if you want to destroy that opportunity moving forward, vote to nuke the filibuster, vote to have any rational basis for working with members when one of us hits the trifecta. but i do hope after this vote fails today that members will answer the call to fix what's wrong with our system. fix the electoral count act. make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.
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thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: madam president and colleagues, i'm going to talk for just a few minutes about vote by mail. i think senator klobuchar will probably be joining me. now, madam president and colleagues, i am the first united states senator to be elected completely by mail. the second united states senator elected completely by mail was my friend, republican gordon smith, a senator well known to many here in this body. so the country looked up, and its first experience, colleagues, with vote by mail was thoroughly bipartisan. one democrat, one republican
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who, as it happened after running against each other, got along very well and did a lot together. so as the country began to get its arms around vote by mail, it was bipartisan, and the bipartisan efforts to build on it really took off. it took off all across the country until president donald trump got elected and began to spew all these lies about vote by mail. so then something that was completely bipartisan suddenly became very partisan. and what i want to do is rebuild that bipartisanship.
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my colleagues seem to say that's what they want. and the fact is vote by mail is the gold standard for casting an informed vote, particularly for working people, seniors, and others who would like the time, the opportunity in their living rooms, in their kitchens to look at the ballot, consider the various alternatives. and in that effort now, to undo the damage done by donald trump to vote by mail, and in the name of restoring bipartisanship, which is what it's all about. i can just tell my colleagues, our late secretary of state dennis richardson used to say he was about the most conservative person who ever lived.
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he basically told donald trump to go fly a kite when it came to vote by mail. dennis richardson, our late secretary of state, an arch conservative, said the reality is there hadn't been fraud. it worked very effectively. you're off base. so in the hope of being able to restore that bipartisanship, i just want to ask a question of the distinguished chair of the rules committee. then i'll wrap up very quickly and we can move on. we have had an awful lot of revisionist history with respect to vote by mail. senator klobuchar, i know the rules committee under your leadership has dug into the history. colleagues, utah, bright red utah votes by mail. so, senator klobuchar, take us through that history. ms. klobuchar: thank you, senator wyden. i want to thank you. we know oregon was the first
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used by mail for a federal election. although i think senator padilla, great members of the rules committee, from california, would tell you that in fact california and washington first allowed any voter to request a mail-in ballot in the 1970's. since then what has happened, utah -- utah considered a red state by all accounts, has mail-in balloting in for nearly all of their voters. we have seen this across the country. today 34 states allow any voter to request a mail-in ballot. and during the pandemic, 45 states actually allowed this to happen without an excuse. so what happened during the pandemic is that we saw 11 states that didn't typically allow all voters to request a mail-in ballot do so. sadly, ten of them have already started rolling this back for the next election. we know that this is a really safe and good way to vote,
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whether there is a pandemic or there isn't a pandemic. and the key is voters got used to it, they liked it, and attempts to roll this back and to make it harder to vote are the wrong way to go for our country. and instead we should be assuring that everyone, regardless of their zip code, regardless of their state, should be able to vote by may believe. thank you for the question. mr. wyden: madam president, let me just close very quickly. the fact is we can bring about the bipartisanship that many of my republican colleagues have been talking about over the last four and a half hours. it is doable. it is possible to do it in a way that builds on a practical gold standard for informed voting, used in oregon, used in bright red utah. and its what we had until 2020 when donald trump tried to
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preempt the progress we were making because in every rally he would talk about all this fraud, for example. fraud, madam president, the last analysis of fraud in oregon is, 0.0001% of all votes cast. so we can get back to what the republicans have been talking about over the last four and a half hours. but the way you're going to have to do it is they're going to have to go to donald trump and tell him, look, we just don't agree with you on this. and that's the kind of leadership that we need. we saw it in oregon, we saw it in utah. we've seen it now from sea to shining sea. that's what it's going to take. i want my republican colleagues to know we will meet them more than halfway, but they're going to have to start taking on donald trump's lies on these issues if we're going to have that bipartisanship that my colleagues have been talking about this morning. thank you, madam president.
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the presiding officer: the mr. whitehouse: madam president, this past weekend is our annual reminder as a country of the courage and suffering and sacrifice and passion and love and energy that so many of our fellow americans put into protecting our democracy. when in a democracy one group of citizens can deliberately, purposefully make it more difficult for another group of citizens to vote, they have put a dagger into that democracy. we cannot let that happen. and i'm here today to focus in particular on one voting right that we have in this country, and that voting right is when you're voting to know what the hell is going on around you in that election. to know who is saying what.
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to know who the players are around you. if we're supposed to sit here as americans and just act like indolent consumers, passive in this democracy, that's not the way it's supposed to work. citizenship is an office, and that office has duties. and the duties include being informed of what is going on around you. and what is stopping american citizens from knowing what is going on around them is the cascade, the torrent, the nile river of dark money that has begun to flow into our democracy since citizens united. it wasn't enough that the republican members of the court let unlimited money flow. they then had to refuse to react when that unlimited dark money
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went underground, when it went dark, when it became anonymous. they have had chance after chance to fix it, and they've refused, and we are left with this mess. of matters -- it matters that citizens know who's talking in a democracy. in my circuit, the first circuit court of appeals where jack reed and i have occasionally an opportunity to elect a president, there is a dean, a reagan appointee, he's a very distinguished judge and he has said it's crucial that the electorate can understand who is speaking and thus to give proper weight to different speakers and messages when deciding how to vote. that curable right is denied to
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americans wholesale because of an unprecedented dark money campaign of interference in our democracy. you see it whenever it's election season, you're watching a television show and suddenly your tv screen is occupied by advertisement that somebody is a bum, somebody is no good, that somebody is terrible and it smears then and at the end it says, this was brought to you by americans for peace, puppies and prosperity. some imaginary group that was cooked up just to launch those advertisements, and whatever filth those advertisements are contained is then disappeared with the end of that front group. it's the political equivalent of
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toilet paper. you flush it when you're done with the filth and whoever's behind it keeps their hands clean. so we now have a tsunami of slime, as one writer put it, flowing through our country and it is denying our citizens the most fundamental right when it comes to vote which is knowing who is doing what to whom. in this bill is the disclose act that would fix that. if you spend more than $10,000 in an election, you have to report it. and i don't care had you how many -- care how many shell corporations and phony trusts and 50-c-14, if you block your identity, our bill will get through it. it super drills through however many screens you put up and the american public will at last, once again, know who is really talking to them in their elections. dark money, madam president,
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takes away voters' right to know who is talking to them and what's going on in their democracy. it is a fundamental right. and, unfortunately, doesn't end there. because the other rights that my colleagues have so eloquently talked about to get to the ballot to be treated fairly at the ballot, to not be harassed on their way to the ballot, to get a ballot mailed to you, the republican efforts around the country to attack those rights to suppress votes those ways, you know how that's being done? it's being done with dark money. we know it because they've been caught. it's not a matter of debate or dispute. when these enterprises are set up to deprive what reverend
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warnock calls some people -- some people of their right to vote and when the laws are done so that that is accomplished against, particularly against african american voters with what one voter called surgical precision. it is not happening at random, it is happening because anonymous amounts of -- of anonymous money is coming in. heritage action, which is the current state of the heart, you set up a phony 501-c-3 and 501-c-34, and the heritage foundation and 501-3-3 and heritage action is 501c-4, and they were talking to the secret
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donors and they said, we work quietly with the legislators, we made sure activists were calling the state legislators, getting support, showing up at their hearings, giving testimony. in some cases we actually drafted the bills for them or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots from the bottom-up type of vibe. she said and we did this with little fanfare. honestly nobody noticed. my team looked at each other and were like, it can't be that easy. well, the disclose act will stop it from being that easy to have an out of state dark money campaign and get them to pass voter suppresser laws without the state legislatures know who
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is behind this. i am not making this up. it is on tape. the only one are the friends at the honest election project, which doesn't actually exist. what exists is something called the 85 fund, and the 85 fund is allowed under virginia law, senator kaine, to have a fictitious name and to operate as if it is braiting under the fictitious name which helped to stock the court with right-wing judges but the other one is the honest elections project and honest election project action are the pair that work on this. money has poured into this effort and the honest elections project has been smack in the middle of it. in 2012, 77% of its money came through donors trust, which is a
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great identity laundering device, in 201488%, 2015, 84%, in 201784.6%, in this 2020, the year that the honest election project waged dark money donor suppression, they received over $45 million identity laundered through donors trust and much of that money came from one single $19 million contribution. somebody wrote a $19 million check to suppress votes. folks, if we don't get to ot bottom of this, -- to the bottom of this, we're going to have a real problem on our hands. and when we get to the bottom of this, the american public will be with us because they hate this, you can be a bernie bro or
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tea partier, you can agree that dark money has no place in elections. the they did whatever minioning they do together and their conversation got out to jane mayer, who wrote about it and this was the issue they said to each other, we can't dirty this up. no matter how hard we try to put a good spin on this, voters hate dark money corruption. our voters hate it just as much as their voters so this is our chance to fix this, to take out the dark money behind the voter suppression effort in all of these states. this isn't happening, folks. it is being done and we've got to pay attention to who is doing it. and when we do, we'll restore that fundamental voting right of all americans to know who is
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talking to them in their elections, to have ours be a democracy without masks, without subterfuge and without dark money. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: would my colleague yield for pa brief comment? -- for a brief comment? mr. whitehouse: gladly. mr. schumer: i want to thank my colleague, this is very much part of our bill, it is universally or virtually universally supported and it is one of the great scourges of our politics. if we don't move forward on these bills, we're not going to be able to do this because we will not get the kind of bipartisan cooperation on this horrible horrible situation that all of us agree should be changed. i want to thank him for his amazing efforts over the months
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and years. mr. whitehouse: thank you, leader, much appreciate it. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president, for -- madam president for the opportunity to talk about something important to all americans and especially from americans from the deep south who happen to look like me. as i listened to the president talk about stopping something that he called jim crow 2.0, i found irritation rising in my souls. as i keep hearing the references to jim crow, i ask myself how many americans understand what jim crow was. i am so thankful -- thankful that we are not living in those days, but just for those who
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don't appreciate the jim crow that was, it was a time when my grandfather born in 1921 would experience that if he were still alive. he could tell stories of the jim crow era. an era for a black person to vote, you can -- you had to pass a literacy test. it would be a test just not on reading, it was a test, do you know who your governor was 20 years before you were getting ready to vote. it was would include the threat of being lynched, literally killed because those in power wanted to stop black folks from realizing and fully participating in the greatest nation on earth and exercising what i believe is a fundamental responsibility an right of americans the right to vote. it would include beatings and the power of intimidation, the loss of your job if you dared to
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show up to vote. and so when i hear my president and your president and the president of these united states a week or so ago talk about jim crow 2.0 and using it as the poster child of this new jim crow south being the georgia voting law, i rushed to read the law one more time so that i could understand what in the world is he talking about. i'm here this morning, this afternoon because i had a conversation with the south carolina naacp about two hours ago and they enkiewdged me to come to -- encouraged me to come to the floor and make my comments as public as possible so people would understand what i have read in the georgia law and compare it to the jim crow south. so what do we know about the
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georgia law, and i read the law. what we know is that the controversy that the president spoke about and the controversy we heard senators speak about, it is illegal to get water while waiting to vote. now, that claim has been proven false. it is not illegal to get water while waiting in line, and it's false. the only time you can't get water while waiting in line to vote, according to georgia law, is someone campaigning for someone -- campaigning for someone, you can't bring them water, if you're an election worker, you can bring them water. that is false. if that is the threshold of the new jim crow era, it looks nothing like the past. however, even that is false. what else is in that georgia law that is supposedly the poster child of voter suppression?
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it allows for early voting to include now the souls to the polls where you have sundays where you can vote early. in fact, 17 days of early voting. more early voting than the president's own home state or new york. it allows for mail-in ballots without an excuse. the same thing that was turned down by the voters in new york. no excuse, on-demand mail-in ballots is now the law in georgia. new drop boxes. at pre-pandemic it was ill illegal to have a drop box in georgia, now it is legal to have a drop box in georgia and voter i.d., supported by 60% of african american, 60% of hispanics, and 60% or more of
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the majority population. after going through point by point and realizing in south carolina that minority turnout was stronger than the overall turnout in south carolina, and two out of three african americans senators in the united states senate today represent those southern states. it's hard it -- hard to again nye -- deny progress that two out of the three come from the southern states that people say are the places where african american -- african american votes are being suppressed. not to mention the fact that 2020 was a banner year for minority participation in the greatest nation on earth from a voting perspective, and that is, my friends, good news. the democrats' proposal would
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allow for the supporters of bernie sanders and their tax dollars to go into my reelection account. i oppose that. it would undermine voter i.d. laws across our country. i oppose that. it puts unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of our elections. americans oppose that. and walking in on the day of the election, registering to vote without any verification is something i, too, oppose. and so, madam president, when i think about the important issue of voting and when i think about the issue of voter suppression, it lands on my front porch. because as a guy who has voted in the deep south all my life, as a person who was born in 1965
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with a mama who understands racism, discrimination, and separate and not equal, the grandfather who i took to vote and helped him cast his vote because he was unable to read, to have a conversation in a narrative that is blatantly false is offensive not just to me or southern americans but offensive to millions of americans who fought, bled, and died for the right to vote. so if we're going to have an honest conversation about the right to vote, let's engage in that based on the facts of the laws that are being passed, not the rhetoric surrounding those laws, where it looks like power is more important than people. i'll close with this. the civil war of this nation started in my hometown.
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one of the most powerful and popular senators in the history of america was strom thurmond. 2010 when i ran for congress. i ran for congress in the place where the civil war started, and i ran for congress in a republican primary against the son of strom thurmond. i won that race not merely because of would i am but because of who we have become as a nation. the evolution of the hearts of america and the hearts of southerners could not be more clear on a day when the son of a single mother, mired in poverty, runs against the son of one of
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the most famous senators in the history of the country and comes out victorious. i would love for us to have a conversation about what we're doing for americans as opposed to this negative false narrative of what is happening to america. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: i have deep and tremendous respect for my friend from south carolina. i'm not a senator from the south, but my family hails from the south, from monroe, louisiana, to alabama, to north carolina. i know my roots and i know the challenges of jim crow and thank god we are not in a time of jim
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crow. the history that my friend talked to i know i know this history and i know my colleagues in the senate know this history. we're all not blind to what happened in terms of racial oppression going back to the founding of this nation. the constitution the people have been waving around, it's hard not to read that and not see that many of the compromises were based upon an acquiescence to that original sin of this nation, slavery. we know the violence of what he said and talked about. i'm frustrated that we can agree that there has been overwrought language on both sides of the political aisle around this issue, but we should be focusing in on the facts.
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i have a hard time listening to people that want to talk about this issue and don't talk about facts. in the united states today, it is more difficult for the average african american to vote than the average white american. that is not rhetoric. that is fact. we know that black voters on average are forced to wait in line twice as long as white voters. we began this session today swearing an oath to that flag saying that this would be a nation of liberty and justice for all. where is the justice in a nation that there is on average for a black person twice as long to vote? it's factual. but let's keep going because i heard my colleague speak.
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during the 2016 presidential election, residents of entirely black neighborhoods waited to vote -- they were 74% more likely to spend 30 minutes at their polling place relative to entirely white neighborhoods. that's a fact. similar racial disparities were observed right before the pandemic. in the 2018 midterm elections a brennan center report found that latino voters waited almost 46% longer than white voters. and black voters about 45%. the report also found that latino and black voters were more likely than white voters to wait in the longest of lines on election day. you could go into state after state and you will see who waits factually on longer lines. georgia. are we going to reduce this to
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just being about water? i find that law offensive but that's not the thing that offends me most. you want to know what's going on in georgia right now? they have a historical pattern of dwindling polling places in the diverse areas with some voters in georgia waiting up to ten hours in predominantly black neighborhoods. think about this for a second. you want to talk about voter suppression? you're working a job. you're taking care of young kids. and you're going to give up a day's salary in georgia to vote? you want to talk about a modern day poll tax? and my friends on the other side are saying that race is not an issue here?
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i'm going to continue with facts because i was flabbergasted that someone could stand up here and say there's not a different experience for blacks and whites for voting. i'm just going to continue to read the facts. since vel by v. holder that eviscerated the voting rights act that people like goodman, cheney died for, black voters in georgia have faced disproportionately longer lines and fewer polling places. the average number of voters per polling place have grown 40% in diverse atlanta metro since 2012 and voters in black neighborhoods waited nearly ten times as long on average after polling places were closed in neighborhoods. i'm looking for an amen from my
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colleague from georgia. i mean, in what country are we where a certain minority in predominantly minority communities has to wait ten times as long? and so when you read -- and i've heard my colleagues read these laws. they read well, what's wrong with having no drop boxes because hey, we didn't have them before the pandemic? what's wrong with not having that many days to vote by mail? what's wrong with these things is obvious because they're not designed for voter protection. they're not designed to help voters have more access to the polls. they are designed to suppress the vote and create these longer lines. that is the obvious result. and if you can't see that, i'm flabbergasted.
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i'm sorry, it's hard. this is not my turn to speak and forgive me, to my colleagues, but i am flabbergasted that the republican party, the party of the 14th amendment, the party that once fought for equal access to the polls is now creating this ruse that every 19 states, that the states that are passing these laws, 19 states, this is not about voter protection. donald trump's own person said the last election was the safest, most secure election in american history. this is not about in-person voter fraud. study after study has shown that you're more likely to be struck by lightning. this is about lies. i'm sorry, this is about lies and they're targeting groups. i'm going to go on with the
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facts. but i just want to talk about students for a second. i heard senator jon tester. i heard my colleagues from new hampshire. and they're not hiding the ball, folks. they're not -- they're not trying to tell us oh, we're concerned about it. as early as 2011 state republican house speaker at the time in new hampshire, senators, you know william o'brien? can i gel a hallelujah there? promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students calling them kids voting liberal. voting their feelings with no life experience. i hear what you're saying that this is -- all these laws are innocuous on their face, but if you start looking at the legislative record, you see
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groups are being targeted in this country. polling places are diminishing on college campuses. voter i.d. laws are being created so complex in midwestern states that they're saying you can't use a four-year i.d. it's got to be a two-year i.d. that's some of the laws that are being passed. can somebody be witness on that. and i hear this rhetoric where people pull out one law. well look at this law. this is just about shrinking the days or this is so innocuous on its face. and i know there are people at home, thinking to myself hey, that doesn't sound like a big deal. maybe republicans have a point. no. let's return to the facts. i'm going to go to texas because i heard the senator from texas accuse this body of creating rhetoric that was divisive. you want to know what's divisive
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to a country that's -- that says e. pluribus unum above where the presiding person is? you want to know what is divisive? is telling people in the congresswoman's state that if you live in a predominantly minority area, we're going to remove polling places and change laws so that black folks disproportionately are waiting five, ten, 15 times longer. facts. the burden of long lines in polling places, closures in texas and the post-shelby county area often falls disproportionately on black and latino voters. congresswoman, approximately 750 sites texas has closed since shelby v. holder. 542 were in the 50 counties with the fastest growing black and
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latino populations. don't lecture me about jim crow. i know this is not 1965. that's what makes me so outraged. it's 2022. and they're blatantly removing more polling places from the counties where black and latinos are overrepresented. i'm not making that up. that is a fact. i'm not going to stop, because i'm tired of hearing that this does not have to do about singling out certain populations in our country -- students, native americans, -- and not others. i'm not accusing anybody. please, let's not throw around the defense where we crouch in defensive postures. i'm not accusing anybody of
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being racist. i'm just speaking to the facts in our country that i know motivate everybody here. 99 of my colleagues know it is wrong to create barriers for some populations and not others, under the guise of a lie that there's a voter security problem. let me continue. i'm sorry, congresswoman, to keep talking about texas. in the presidential primary on march 3, voters at the historically black texas southern university in houston waited not an hour, not two hours, not three, four, five, waited six hours. at a poll of texas voters conducted just in 2020 election, underscored the disparity of nonwhite voters facing casting
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their ballots. i'm sorry, senator kaine, you were very good when you talked about that sign of 98% of people happy. i sat here stunned. i was wondering who they were polling. because they were not polling black and latino voters in texas when they did that. let me give you the facts. 48% of black voters and 55% of latino voters in texas found it easy to vote. but that leaves a lot of folks that didn't think it was easy. white voters actually 65% think it's easy to vote. everybody's not happy. people who wassity in six-hour -- who wait in six-hour lines are not happy. i just want to give a couple more facts. let's go to my dad's home state, north carolina, was one of the
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states most affected by poll closures. there were 158 fewer polling places in 40 counties with large black communities, and african american voter participation dropped 16%. why? well, my friend bennet said this, we still live in a country where the economic disparities between blacks and whites is what it was in the 1960's. and so, if you're a black struggling family and your option to vote means standing in line for ten hours compared to predominantly white counties where the wait is longer, you don't go vote. and that's not just black folks. the stories about disabled voters, with about one in seven or one in eight pointing out it's hard for them to vote because of physical impediments. that's discriminatory against them.
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that doesn't mean people here are anti-disabled. we're not throwing those labels around. i'm just talking about the facts. and so, i just want my colleagues to know that i can pull story after story of these states, the 19 that are passing these laws, if you pull them out and want to read them absent context, you're going to try to obscure the larger picture that's going on in our nation, is that we are seeing entirely republican legislatures, entirely republican legislatures passing laws that are disproportionately impacting certain groups by the facts. and so i want to close with this, because i love what -- on the march across the edmund pettus bridge they were stopped, beaten back. they tried to go again with
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king. again blocked by alabama state troopers. but they finally got to their destination to protest voting rights. i love what king said there. he talked about those people whose hearts were discouraged because they hadn't passed voting rights. and i know there's going to be a lot of people this day that feel that kind of discouragement. but reverend warnock, king gave one of his best speeches that day, where he asked people how long are we going to have to wait? not long. because the truth, i'm thinking about the lies we're hearing now, the big lies, the lies of in-person voting, where the truth crushed to the earth will rise again. don't lie and say there's not a disparate voting reality for blacks and whites in this country right now. the facts speak differently. don't lie and say that these laws are not being done in a way to make it harder for students to vote.
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don't lie and say that we are a nation that should be doing more to ease access as opposed to putting up more barriers, because to go on more barriers is anti-democratic. those lies will not live forever. i do believe still that the arc of the -- the arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice. i still believe the best of our democracy will come out if people do not give up and are not discouraged. i ask my colleagues right now to continue on the floor today, to tip to tell the -- to continue to tell the truth of what's happening in your states, to continue telling the truth of what's happening in our nation. because we will win this fight. i don't know how long it will take, but that will be determined by how dedicated we are to the principles of this democracy. we must live in a nation where everyone is equal, not in
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rhetoric or in slogan or in salutes, but everyone is equal in the experience they have to participating in democracy. the vote is the bedrock of our nation, is the foundation of the country, and it does have cracks that need our repair. whether we get down on our knees in prayer or we stand tall, let's continue the work of this democracy so that freedom and justice does roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. forgive me, my colleagues, for speaking well beyond my time, and i apologize if i dem on straichted too much emotion. thank you, mr. president -- madam president.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: thank you, madam president. confidence in our elections is vital to self-governance, and voting is a fundamental right. this is something that democrats and republicans can agree on. article 1, section 4 of the constitution states that, quote, times, places, and manners, unquote, of congressional elections, quote, shall be proscribed by the states. over the last year, my democratic colleagues have introduced and tried to pass several versions of what they call the voting rights legislation. the for the people actened a the
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for the freedom to vote act. but these wholesome titles seriously are misleading. the bills are partisan, are partisan power grabs that will give the federal government unprecedented power over our elections and weaken the ability of state legislatures to administer their own election laws. federalizing election procedure would export traditional state authority to the federal government and defer decisions on how citizens elect their congressional representatives to congress. this is inherently less responsive and less accountable. this legislation would undermine state legislatures by sending taxpayer dollars to political candidates for the house of representatives, weaken popular state voter i.d. laws, and make updating voter laws to ensure accuracy more difficult. according to a gallup poll 80% of americans support voter i.d. laws. yet, under this legislation states would be required to accept essentially any document that includes a person's name as
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a valid form of i.d. if you wanted to dispel the notion that voter fraud occurs in our elections, this is not a good start. one size fits all solutions, that approach that is what the democrats are pushing, is completely unfit for kansas and for the country. perhaps even more alarming, and this is the point that i would make more, i hope, strongly than what i just said, more alarming than this federal election takeover is the democrats' proposal -- proposed eng means of passing it. president biden, majority leader schumer, realizing the limitations of their slimmest possible majority in the senate have advocated for weakening the filibuster. the ability for the senate to debate legislation until 60-vote threshold is met. ironically, democrats utilize the filibuster vote margin last week to vote sanctions on russia's nord stream 2 pipeline. making use of the same 60-vote
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threshold they're so determined to demonize. the filibuster protects the minority. it doesn't necessarily mean republicans or democrats. it may mean just somebody with an odd idea. it may mean rural, where i come from, or urban, where other members of the senate come from. it may mean the ability for a member of the senate to speak on behalf of his or her constituents and advocate for their views. it allows every senator to have the opportunity to garner more information to seek out sponsors of a bill, to have conversations and to pull people together before we decide on how to proceed on legislation. but the filibuster does more than that. it forces us -- i'm sorry it's necessary to for us, but it forces us to work together. freedoms and liberties are protected by process. in today's world, too many people want the outcome regardless of how the process works. that process is called the
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constitution of the united states, and in our case there's rules of the united states senate that require a 60-vote for legislation to be considered and passed by the united states senate. in the circumstances that those are eroded, those process issues , really i want to highlight that again. it bothers me so much that in so many circumstances we set aside process because we want an end result. but in doing so, we erode the personal freedoms of kansans and all americans and those freedoms and liberties are diminished as a result. i would tell -- it's unusual for me to have as many of my colleagues on the floor as there are today while i speak, and in this case most are democrats. i would say that if we want to change the united states senate, and i'm a critic of the way that we do business here, i've never enjoyed serving in the united states senate in which it worked well. if we wanted to do something
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that would actually make a difference as compared to change the process by which we consider legislation, how about having committees that actually do their work? how about having hearings and markups and debate? give me the chance, give all of my colleagues the chance to participate, to participate in this democracy of developing legislation. but how many times have i voted on things that are garnered, put together, patchworked together, created by the leadership of the senate or the leadership of the house or working together, a bill that is proposed by the white house? i want to have ownership. even if i don't get my way, at least i had the opportunity, and it is the committee process that allows us to do that. and instead of fixing something fundamental, as fundamental as the congress of the united states, and having committees that work, we're going to change the process by which we can get to a bill or pass a bill and reduce the roll that people who have different ideas play there
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that outcome. give me ownership of legislation through a committee process. don't take away my ability to better represent kansans and americans and people in the minority by changing the 60-vote rule. americans voted for a congress that is nearly a 50-50 split between the parties in the house and a precisely 50-50 split in the senate. i don't think americans voted to give one party free reign to implement an unprecedented power grab to nationalize elections and fundamentally reshape the way the senate passes legislation. thankfully there's a bipartisan opposition to weakening the filibuster, a majority of senators agree it would bring about massive uncertainty for americans who don't want to be subbed to the -- subjected to the dramatic political swings when one election occurs when one party is in power, then the next party is in power. there's so much uncertainty in this world, because there was
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never the consensus to build a 60-vote margin for a piece of legislation. we must have confidence in our elections. it matters. i want everyone who is legally entitled to vote to be able to vote. & i understand that voting is a fundamental -- and i understand that voting is a fundamental right but cannians know what's best for kansans and congressional democrats would be wise not to underestimate our resolve in making our own determinations. madam president, i yield the floor. ms. baldwin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: thank you, madam president. thank you for covering the presiding chair for a little longer than usual it allow me to -- to allow me to make a few words, make an address to the senate. i rise because it is time for the senate to stand on the side of protecting our very democracy and the freedom to vote.
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you know, this used to be a bipartisan issue, and i was proud to know the history that the voting rights act of 1965 passed the senate 77-19. and in 1982 when it was reauthorized, extending it, president reagan said, i pledge that as long as i'm in a position to uphold the constitution, no barrier will come between our citizens and the voting booth. and this bill is a vital part of fulfilling that pledge. when i served in the house of representatives, the dean of the wisconsin delegation, representative jim sensenbrenner, a republican, led the bipartisan effort for the voting rights restoration and amendments act of 2006. you know, today we can't even get a vote in the senate on the
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voting rights act. why have today's republicans walked so far from those that came before them? there's a simple answer. too many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to stand up for democracy and instead chose to stand on the side of donald trump and his big lie about the 2020 election being stolen from him. it wasn't. trump lost fair and square, and president biden won, and that's simply a fact. and to suggest otherwise is a fraud that undermines people's faith in our very elections. enough is enough. we must act. we have the responsibility to do so. the threat posed by this big lie is all too real, and in my home state of wisconsin, we have a
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stark example of it. i come from a purple swing state. we have had many, many closely decided elections in recent history. in 2000, vice president gore won the state by less than 6,000 votes, a mere .22% margin of victory. four years later, john kerry carried the state by about 11,000 votes, a .38% margin. in both cases, despite these narrow margins, those elections went smoothly and were fair. their outcomes were not disputed. george w. bush declined to request a recount. no credible person, let alone the leader of a political party or elected official, claimed the election in wisconsin wasn't fair, free, and properly decided by the voters. once again, in 2016 we had a pretty close presidential election in wisconsin and another equally close one in
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2020. president biden won wisconsin by about 20,000 votes a margin of victory of about 6.3%. in 2020, wisconsinites exercised their right to vote in record numbers, more than 75% of eligible wisconsinites voted. wisconsin voters broke the record for highest turnout ever measured in the state with every one of wisconsin's 72 counties producing an increase in turnout benefiting both presidential candidates. wisconsin's state and local officials and citizens volunteered from both political parties, did heroic work to ensure our election was smooth, safe, and fair. they took important steps to make our election system work safely and securely for all voters while the covid-19 pandemic raged in my home state. wisconsinites cast their ballots for democrats and republicans up and down the ballot, and after
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wisconsin county clerks in all 72 counties canvassed the results, joe biden won with a margin of over 20,000 votes. the voters of wisconsin chose joe biden and kamala harris to receive our state's ten certified electoral vote oz. but the scrutiny of those election votes through the channels provided by law continued. after an official vote count showed trump lost, his campaign requested a recount and targeted wisconsin's two more diverse counties -- milwaukee and deign. when the recount was completed, it came as nobody's surprise that it didn't change the outcome. trump lost and president biden won. the votes had been counted and recounted, but that did not stop president trump from filing a lawsuit trying to throw out 220,000 legal votes in
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wisconsin. fortunately, our state's highest court rejected this attempt to disenfranchise wisconsin voters and find more votes for himself. as two wisconsin supreme court justices wrote, concurring with the majority decision dismissing trump's campaign case, the evidence shows that despite a global pandemic, more than 3.2 million wisconsinites performed their civic duty. more importantly, as it relates to this lawsuit, these voters followed the rules that were in place at the time. to borrow a metaphor, wisconsin voters complied with the election real book. no penalties were committed and the final score was the result of a free and fair election. but that wasn't the end of the road for republican efforts to sow distrust in the 2020 results in wisconsin. in february 2021, a committee of
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the republican-controlled wisconsin state legislature by a party-line vote directed the nonpartisan legislative audit bureau to review the administration of the 2020 election. the bureau, according to its report, spoke with the staff of the bipartisan wisconsin elections commission and surveyed all 1,835 municipal clerks and 72 county clerks in the state. they also reviewed a host of records regarding the election including sworn complaints pertaining to the election that had been filed with the elections commission. in october, the bureau issued its report which did not find any evidence of widespread voter fraud or wrongdoing in the location. separately, a conservative think tank, the wisconsin institute for law and liberty, conducted its own review of the election. their report released december 2021 also concluded that there was no evidence of widespread
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voter fraud in wisconsin. in fact, -- or, the fact is that our bipartisan wisconsin voters commission conduct add free, fair, safe, and secure election just as local elections clerks did across our state. trump has still not provided any credible evidence of voter fraud or election irregularities. in fact, federal judges appointed by trump rejected on the merits his false claims about the wisconsin election. despite all of this, the republican leadership of the wisconsin legislature authorized yet another sham process to question the integrity of the 2020 elections. with a budget of at least $680,000 taxpayer dollars to boot. i would be remiss if i didn't point out that this unnecessary partisan charade came shortly after the former president
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called out these republican leaders by name for trying to prevent a forensic audit of the election results. this was no mere coincidence. wisconsin state republicans named michael gableman to lead this effort after he fay mustily said, and without evidence right after the november election, that it was somehow stolen. that's who's leading this probe. in august, gableman traveled to arizona on wisconsin taxpayers' dime to learn about that state's widely discredited audit supported by the cyber ninjas. then he was off to south dakota. the presiding officer: senators please take your conversations off the floor. ms. baldwin: then he was off to south dakota to attend a symposium on voter fraud led by my pillow choreography and infamous conspiracy theorist mike lindell. in no effort to show
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nonpartisanship or to be a neutral arbiter, gableman hired partisan actors, like head of the group that asked the supreme court to throw out the results of wisconsin's election and forced the wisconsin legislature to certify electors instead. gableman has issued wide-ranging subpoenas to local officials in wisconsin's largest cities and even threatened to jail them if they fail to comply with this taxpayer-funded promotion. -- promotion of trump's big lie. and separately, the republican leader of wisconsin's assembly elections committee began her own set of investigations issuing subpoenas to clerks in milwaukee and brown counties and later the -- the latter being the home to green bay. she had also traveled to arizona and in a press release announcing her inquiry stated
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that wisconsin similarly needs transparent, full, cyber forensic audit. to put it simply, there has been a constant drumbeat undermining the integrity of our elections in wisconsin since president biden was duly elected. casting doubt and undermining confidence in our elections has real consequences. it has led to harassment and threats of the hardworking state and local elections officials who worked tirelessly during an unprecedented public health crisis to make sure wisconsinites could safely and securely exercise their right to vote. elections officials across the state have received dangerous threats and harassment for simply doing their job. the executive director of the milwaukee election commission reported being told she deserved to be hung in the public square
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received a threatening letter at her home calling her traitorous and a profane insult that i will not repeat on the the floor of the senate. and she received a profanity-laced voicemail telling her she should be convicted and hanged. another wisconsin clerk reported being called every name you can imagine and receiving threats that led a local police department centering to conduct a security review of the clerk's office and the clerk feeling the need to install a camera at her house for security. in rock county, wisconsin, the county clerk's office asked for protection from the local sheriff in the wake of angry calls after a news report had misstated the county's votes. one of the members of the wisconsin elections commission had pictured of her home posted on social media and received threatening messages about her
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children. even elected officials are attacking the role of these individuals in administering our elections. a republican sheriff has called for the five members of the bipartisan wisconsin election commission to face criminal charges for guidance they provided during the pandemic about collecting absentee ballots from nursing homes. madam president, let's be clear. on january 6, 2021, donald trump not only incited a violent insurrection against our democracy, he also incited an ongoing attack on voting rights across america. across the country we've seen more than 400 bills that restrict access to voting that have been introduced in 49 states. in wisconsin, the republican-controlled state legislature has advanced
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legislation curtailing voting rights and putting up barriers to make it harder to vote. last year they passed measures that would make it harder for voters to turn in their absentee ballots. they have passed legislation that threatens efforts -- that threatens elections officials with felonies for assisting voters with minor issues on their ballots and they want to make it harder for people with disabilities who cannot make it into the polls to exercise their right to vote. thankfully our wisconsin governor has vetoed these measures. despite drop boxes being a safe, secure, and effective way for voters to turn in their ballots and have their votes counted, and despite previous support for their use from republicans in the state legislature, trump's big lie has pushed them to now oppose the use of drop boxes statewide.
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in fact, there is now a push to override guidance from the wisconsin elections commission to make drop boxes for legal ballots illegal in wisconsin. at the same time, the republicans in the state legislature are advancing a redistricting proposal that will double down on wisconsin's unprecedented level of hyper partisan gerrymandering. where politicians pick their voters instead of people choosing their elected officials. not to be outdone, "the new york times" has reported that my fellow senator from wisconsin, quote -- and this is a quote -- believes democrats cheat. this false accusation was accompanied by a proposal from this u.s. senator to change the rules in wisconsin and have the republican-controlled legislature seize control over the administration of our
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elections, taking this nonpartisan process out of the hands of our bipartisan, independent state elections commission. as was reported, quote, senator ron johnson, a republican, said that g.o.p. state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control over federal elections, claiming that they had the authority to do so even if tony ebers, a democrat, stood in their way, an extraordinary illegal decision struck down by a supreme court decision and a 1964 ruling by the wisconsin supreme court and quote from "the new york times. " for my part, i believe voting rights are fundamental to our democracy, and that is why i will keep on working to pass the john lewis voting rights act so
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we protect the right to vote. we must ensure that regardless of where you live in this country, you have the same access to the ballot box and faith that our elections are fair and safe. i yield back. mrs. blackburn: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. my democratic colleagues are continuing what started last week with spending hours trying to convince members of their own party, both here in this chamber and across the country, that they had no choice but to blow up the senate rules by firing a partisan torpedo at the filibuster. now it appears, from what we heard, that they used demeaning, shaming words, and really went about weaving quite a
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frightening tale about what would happen if their democratic colleagues did not cave on this issue. that tale was no more based in reality than the vile accusations of racism that they had hurled at those who opposed single-party rule. when this insulting narrative collapsed, they tried a new approach and said that this is a carr ofout for an emergency change to election law. i fully believe when someone is going to tell you who they are, you should believe them and over the past year we have watched joe biden and the democrats throw self-control out the window and leverage emergency after emergency to expand their
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power. joe biden signed more than a dozen executive orders in the very first hours of his presidency knowing that if he did not do this, these policies would never see the light of day. the people -- and that is the people of this country -- hadn't seen fit to give his allies in congress the majority that he needed for his agenda so he waved his pen and conjured up a mandate for himself. and now his democratic allies in the senate are prepared to do the exact same thing on behalf of a bill that would federalize elections in america, stripping away protections for the ballot box and invice president-electing -- injecting uncertainty into the voting process. now, who asked for this? no one. if the american people wanted
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this, they would have given the democrats the majority they needed to get it done, but they didn't and, in fact, i hear from tennesseans every day who want it to be easier to vote and harder to cheat, not the other way around. but based on what i've seen, i've come to the conclusion that what the people want no longer seems to matter to our democratic colleagues. we can daycare today's event as proof that if people don't see fit to give them power, they will come and take that power and turn the senate into a rubber-stamp they can deploy when an executive order just won't get the job done. that really frightens tennesseans because they can see
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what is coming down the path. open borders, court-packing, gun control, the green new deal, abortion on demand, socialized health care, speech restrictions, federalized elections and more out-of-control spending and, yes, higher inflation. we know that this is the future, that the democrats are -- this is the future that democrats are laying out for america. it is the future they see for our children and grandchildren because these policies are the policies that they have fought for since long before joe biden took office. do we really think that this attack on the senate rules will stop with an election law takeover? the american people don't think it will. tennesseans do not think that it will. as i said, when somebody shows you who they really are, you
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ought to believe them. and as i've said previously, this is no way to run the world's greatest deliberative body, but this is exactly how the democrats are choosing to go about trying to destroy it. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the junior senator from delaware. mr. coons: madam president, why are we here? why is this senate, dedicating this en -- senate dedicating this day on the floor? we are here to talk about two critical voting rights bills. it's our fourth try. it's our fourth try. the three previous times we have tried to get on this bill, there's been a filibuster on the motion to proceed, an obscure procedural standing that prevented us from getting to this bill. we are finally on it. and there is a challenge in this
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chamber and this country to explain and articulate briefly why this is such an important moment and why it justifies, in a tension between -- inattention between two of my kor are principles -- core principles to find bipartisanship as much as possible and protect foundational principles, the right to vote, and through that right to make progress towards justice and inclusion in our society that i choose the latter. we have seen, madam president, across our country in recent months and years, ever since shelby county, supreme court case, blew a hole in the center of the voting rights act in 1965, the most powerful civil rights law in our country, eroding and undermining access to the ballot. and in the months since the 2020
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election, tragically we've also seen now state legislatures take up and pass laws designed to change who counts the ballot, who certifies an election. voter suppression and voter subversion, access to the ballot box and who counts the votes. every one of us here -- is here because we were elected. everyone wants to know or should want to know that we want a free and fair election in which as many americans in our state voted. why we want barriers to americans with disabilities, americans speaking different languages, americans working full time and strained by their work and family commitments, americans who are black or brown, native american, or hispanic, why would we want to have any suspicion that election to this body relied in some part on suppressing or miscounting those votes?
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madam president, today i'm going to speak just briefly, if i can, about how today is really about a frayed bipartisan consensus. some of my republican friends and colleagues have spoken about how we have to continue and hang on to and respect the rules of this senate, especially the 60-vote threshold to moving forward on policy changes and i long defended and respect that concern. but we are also principally here about working together to protect access to the ballot box. we heard just now from a colleague the accusation that this is a partisan federal takeover of elections, yet several of our colleagues read and reminded that it is the constitution explicitly gives to ensure federal elections are free and fair.
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when the first senate gathered, think about who was in the room. think about the qualifications to vote, how narrow they were, property white men. think about the arc in the change of our generation, with a huge amount of struggle, ultimately the moral question of who can vote and whose vote can be counted has slowly, through sacrifice changed. there was for 50 years, from 1965 when earned through blood and sacrifice on the edmund pettis bridge, the voting rights act was signed into law by president lyndon johnson, there was 50 years of consensus in this body that the voting rights was a sacrosanct protection. it was authorized five times, in 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and in
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2006 unanimously. no wonder then that my friend and predecessor at this desk, our president, seems to struggle to comprehend how a republican party that included strom thurmond when he chaired the judiciary committee voted over and over and over to reauthorize the voting rights act. yet today as we debate the john lewis voting rights advancement act, we don't have a single vote across the aisle to move this forward. how did this consensus so hard won fray so quickly? in short it's because of a lie, it's because of a misrepresentation that millions of illegals are voting, famously said by our past president, but to undermine that voter fraud has been undermining our
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election has been adopt across our country and spread and caused a fundamental break. there's also been action by the new conservative majority on the supreme court, first in 2013 in shelby county where they took out the section 4b formula that eviscerated section 5 clear clearance to prevent against voter suppression and last year, brnovich versus d.n.c. when six conservative judges concluded that a state law in arizona that has an impact on hispanic and native american voters could stay on the books. we should make sure there is no widespread voter fraud. and on the judiciary committee my colleague from illinois and others have led hearings to confirm that there is no widespread voter fraud, as my colleague, the former secretary of state, spoke to earlier and
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the freedom to vote act, which is the other bill in front of us, benefited from modifications by senator manchin of west virginia, also a former secretary of state to ensure that we protections in terms of voter i.d. i will also briefly, and i know i need to conclude, respond to accusations by several of my colleagues that delaware's voting laws are not yet at the highest standard and i will say it is true my state has a long, brutal, tragic history of race relations that were not their best and our voting laws have just now come to be up to the federal standards we are hoping to make the standard for our whole country. let me ask this question. in the midst of a pandemic when state after state has adopted changes to voting ballot boxes and no-fault vote by mail and same-day registration, why would states move those back? the pandemic isn't over.
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in november millions of medically vulnerable americans will be looking to vote. why would we end these new provisions to provide access to the ballot box. let me make two last points and conclude. as i traveled to a dozen countries in the last years, i heard about the concerns of the health of our democracy. we must take action to protect the right to vote in this country. and last, we should not make the last casualty of this dread pandemic rolling back voting access. if i must choose between a fundamental principle learned through five congressional civil rights pilgrimages spent with john lewis that vote sg a moral question and continue to hold to a role, i will choose the former and embrace a change that is as narrow and temporary as possible
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and will restore debate on this floor. as i marched across the edmund pettus bridge for the last time with john lewis, he stopped and turned and said to all of us in his halting voice knowing he was in his last weeks, never give in. never give up. never become hostile. hate is too great a burden to bear. stay hopeful and keep marching. it is my hope, madam president, that our debate today, our votes today will give strength and lift and truth to the service and the life and the sacrifice of congressman lewis. thank you. mr. scott: madam president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from florida. mr. scott: madam president, unlike many of my colleagues often speak about any family here on the senate floor. as most of my colleagues know, i grew up poor and spent years of my childhood living in public housing. i never knew my biological dad and my mom and my adopted father did the best they can for our family with the very little they had. i think that a small part of my
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life is well known but what may not be known to many people is that my parents were democrats. sadly the democrat party my parents belonged to no longer exists. today's democrat party would be totally unrecognizable to my parents just as it is to millions of americans all across our country right now. i am a proud republican and i'm trying to expand my party. but i still believe in the benefits of our century's old two-party system. it makes our nation stronger, pushes us -- both sides, work together and leads to progress. that's why the filibuster is so important. as a rule the filibuster embodies what is most essential to the survival of our republic. it weakens the sometimes attractive nature of tribalism and bolsters the important stuff and need for consensus on crafting policy. the filibuster protects our democratic process. that's why the founders designed the senate to operate this way,
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as a cooling saucer that could resist the temptation of political expedience si that leads our country to wild swings and policy imposition. i make this point not only to highlight the foolishness with doing away with this rule as my democratic colleagues would like to do but draw attention to the abandonment of democratic principles we see in today's democratic party. madam president, i take no joy in saying this but today's democrat party has become the new anti-democracy party. the terrifying examples of this are all around us. packing the supreme court, pushing a radical federal takeover of state elections, ignoring our laws on border enforcement and criminal prosecution, and forcing unconstitutional vaccine mandates on american workers. none of these things give more power to the people we are elected to represent. what these dangerous ideas show is that today's democrats don't believe the people are capable of getting their right. democrats don't think they can win enough elections to control
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a majority in the senate. senator schumer said as much just last week. he said that if the democrats don't pass their corrupt politicians act, they will lose their majority. a party that once prided itself on being a voice for working americans like my parents is now turning to authoritarian tactics to pose its will on government by force because it does not trust the decision voters will make. and trying to pack the supreme court democrats are saying they do not trust the decisions of state legislatures, bodies comprised of the people's representatives and pushing the federal takeover of state elections democrats are showing they know their ideas are too radical to win the approval of voters so they need to leave the back door open for fraud and the delusion of votes to win votes and stay in power. that's why they want to give noncitizens, those here illegally and may be dangerous criminals the sacred right to vote. in pushing an unconstitutional vaccine mandate, democrats are making it clear they don't trust the american people to make
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smart decisions for themselves and their families when it comes to their own health. and the eyes of today's democrat leaders, disagreement is intolerable. there are no more opponents, only racists. they allow no room for compromise because all who disagree are evil, bigoted and backward. when the ruling class strips the people of their voice, democracy dies. when the elites in washington decide they know better than the families they're supposed to represent, our american experiment fails. madam president, it is sad day when i think about how unrecognizable today's democrat party would be to my parents. not because it has evolved or modernized but because it's abandon thed principles it once fought so hard to protect. i'm sure these words will upset many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. i hope they do and i hope it drives them to drive their party back to where it belongs and on the needs of american families. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i'm not sure where to start having just heard my colleague from florida. i just have to say that who he is describing, i don't recognize either because i don't recognize that at all of anyone that is here. and i just want to start by thanking my democratic colleagues, first of all, for voting for the american recovery act that among many other things is helping to focus on ways to bring down the cost of food and our food supply chain to help fix it and a number of other issues that unfortunately not one colleague on the republican side voted for, not one. so we've heard a lot today about how we should be focusing on the american people. i think there would be a collective amen from our side about that. and we would love to have our
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colleagues join us, frankly, in that effort. but nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than preserving our freedom to vote as americans, and that's really what the debate and the votes are all about today. we know there are people willing to use violence to stop accurate, legal certifications of our national presidential election. and how do we know this? because we were here. we were here a year ago on january 6 and witnessed the violence and the death and the destruction. we also know there's a coordinated republican effort across the country to limit the freedom to vote and make it easier to intimidate and remove election officials who will -- won't do their bidding. and how do i know this? because it's happening in michigan as i speak. today's vote on the legislation in front of us is the
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fundamental act we must do to stop this destr -- this instruce partisan movement. we also know in order to make this happen, we have to return the senate to its original principle. the original principle of majority vote. our nation's founders had a lot of opinions about the type of country we should be and the type of government we should have. at times the discussions got heated and not just because it was summer in philadelphia, senator casey, but they were actually wearing wool at the time. so it got heated in a number of different ways. however, there was one thing they agreed on. government should be run by the will of the majority, not a nominority, not a king. they agreed on this because they saw what happened when a nation is held captive to the views of the minority. the very first constitution of the united states, the articles
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of confederation, was frankly a dysfunctional mess. that's why they gathered in philadelphia to try again and to get it right this time. and getting it right meant majority rule. james madison said that the majority rule is fundamental to our democracy. thomas jefferson said that the will of the majority is an all -- is in all cases to prevail. and in federalist 22, alexander hamilton wrote a lengthy description of the problems that arise when a minority can override the will of the majority. the founders didn't have an opinion on the senate filibuster because it didn't exist. it didn't exist. however, over time senators figured out they could slow down legislation through unlimited debate. and we know that at first the filibuster was rarely used,
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mainly by southern senators who wanted to block civil rights legislation. over time it's evolved from a procedural tool into a weapon and we all know this. and this weapon is increasingly used to stop our nation from making progress on issues that are so important to the american people, so important to our families, and crucial to the future of our country. we're here today because the most basic freedom in our democracy is the freedom to vote. and across the nation republicans are pushing legislation to take that away, including in michigan. in 2020 michigan voters clearly and resoundingly chose joe biden to be our president and kamala harris to be our vice president in the largest voter turnout in our nation's history. they won by more than 150,000 votes and that's 14 times more than donald trump's margin was
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in 2016. now, i very much appreciate my friend, senator thune, saying he accepted his first loss to the senate. none of us like to lose. it's not fun. but president trump should have done the same thing. but instead donald trump's campaign and his allies filed eight lawsuits in michigan, lost every single one of them. and in the only case that was appealed to the michigan supreme court, the court declined to hear the case despite having a majority of republican justices. the people in michigan voted. michigan republicans and democratic counties verified the vote. and our state on a bipartisan vote certified it. and there is no evidence of fraud that would suggest we need legislation to now restrict our voting. so why are michigan republicans
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trying to make it harder to vote with 39 different bills that they've introduced? well, they just don't like who michiganers voted for. because they didn't like the result, michigan republicans decided to target michigan voters. it's part of a nationwide assault on this fundamental right that my friend, the late congressman john lewis called precious, almost sacred. that's why we must pass the freedom to vote john lewis act today. i know that some folks think that any legislation we pass to protect the freedom to vote must be bipartisan to be legitimate. but when it's time to vote, we're told not one republican will join all 50 democrats, 50 democrats in voting for the freedom to vote john r. lewis
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act. therefore, they say the bill shouldn't pass. yet the attacks on democracy in michigan and the other states are strictly partisan. in michigan republicans are even using a loophole in our constitution to go around the governor's veto and take away people's freedom to vote without her capacity to veto the legislation. and they're doing it by a simple majority. and they're doing it with not one democratic vote, not one in michigan. but they're still doing it. republicans are making it harder for people to vote using a simple majority, yet we are told that protecting people's freedom to vote needs a super majority to do it. that makes no sense. and wait. i think i hear hamilton, jefferson, and madison ruling over -- rolling over in their graves.
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today we each will choose to protect every american's freedom to vote or allow those supporting the big lie to limit people's freedoms and undermine our democracy. and today we will choose to stand with our founders and our constitution as written or maintain senate procedures that are seriously broken. it's time to restore the senate to majority rule as it was intended by the founders so we can protect, protect the american people's right to vote. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from kansas. mr. marshall: madam president, as everyone in this chamber knows, the filibuster requires a
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super majority, 60 votes to proceed on most issues in the senate. the filibuster is truly the essence of this deliberative body. it's what makes the senate the senate. it's what forces collaboration, long-term solution, and prevents a partisan roller coaster ride of ever-changing laws and rules every two years. the filibuster puts the brakes on hasty legislation, it helps prevent unintended consequences, which comes with most every new law. i ask america this -- do you want more laws or less laws? do we want more certainty from our government or less certainty arguably, the best speeches to keep the filibuster in place have been made by presidents and senators from across the aisle. nothing is more convincing than my democrat friends' own words. president obama, then senator obama said, in a floor speech here in 2005, and i quote, but
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the american people sent us here to be their voice. they understand that those voices can at times become loud and arguative, but they also hope we can disagree without being disagreeable. and at the end of the day, they expect both parties to work together to get the people's business done. what they do not expect is for one party, be it republican or democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party's told to sit down and keep quiet. and i'm still quoting president obama here, the american people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows if the majority chooses to ends the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put a end to democrat debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse. and i end quoting president obama -- and in that same year, our current majority leader stated from this very floor, and i quote the majority leader again, we are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional
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crisis. the checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporatedly the nuclear option, the checks and balances which say if you get 51% of the vote you do not get your way 100% of the time. it's amazing. it's almost a temper tantrum by those on the hard right. again, still quoting the majority leader, the current majority leader, that is not becoming of the leadership of the republican side of the aisle, nor is it becoming of this republic. that is what we call abuse of power. and i end quoting the majority leader, if the current democrat majority party jams this through, they will live to rue the day, possibly as soon as next year. but for now, my colleagues across the aisle are kowtowing to the radical left base, the tail is wagging the per verbial dog. sadly, 25 of my colleagues across the aisle have flip-flopped from a position they staked out in writing just four years ago. but thank goodness that one senator who signed the letter
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has remained true to his word. what has happened to change the mind of these 25 senators? why is the national immediate media -- media not asking them the same question? because it would point out the hypocrisy. let me remind them all, as president biden once state thod this body, that removing the 60-vote threshold, and i again quote from president biden, quite frankly, is the ultimate act of unfairness to alter the unique responsibility of the senate and to do so by breaking the very rules of the senate. but simply, the nuclear option would transform the senate from the so-called cooling saucer of our founding fathers talked about to cool the passions of the day to a pure ma juror torrian -- ma juror torrian party. the senate is not meant to be pure majority, at its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or bill, it's about compromise and moderation. i end that quote of president biden. these men and women of noble
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character in their heart of hearts, do they truly believe in making this rule change that will forever alter the way our government functions? the way our founding fathers intended it to be? what will they say to the people of their state when the shoe is on the other foot, when republicans hold the majority in the senate once again and the republicans show them how the hog eats the cabbage? i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i come to the floor today in defense of what, in essence, is the very essence of our democracy and the voting rights of all americans. our dear friend, someone who i had the privilege of serving with in the house of representatives, the late john lewis, took a beating on a bridge in selma for the right to
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vote. surely, we in the senate can muster a shred of his courage to protect that right. there are no other rights without the right to vote. it is through the right to vote that freedom rings, that justice reigns, and opportunity arises. as we all know, this monday was dr. martin luther king day, and we have to remember his words. he said, quote, the vote is the most powerful instrument ever, ever devised by human beings for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison people because they are different from others. that's what he called the right to vote. humanity's greatest instrument for advancing progress.
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well, the time has come for us to defend it. #w now, my colleagues who oppose our voting rights legislation have had ample time to make their opinions heard. soon it will be time to end debate and hold a simple up or down vote on the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act. after all, the state legislatures passing voter suppression laws across the country are doing so with simple majorities. conservative majorities that, in many cases, were borne out of decades of partisan gerrymandering. and how about the supreme court? it was a simple majority vote of 5-4 that gutted the voting rights act. that was the law john lewis and others risked their lives for on bloody sunday. the voting rights act of 1965 ended discriminatory tactics
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that not only blocked black voters from their ballots, but other minorities too, including latinos. shortly after the civil war, latinos held greater political power in states like california, tex, arizona -- texas, arizona, but as jim crow spread throughout the south they were pushed out of elected positions and threatened with violence for their continued participation. the voting rights act transformed our country for the better. it created the diverse, multiracial democracy we live in today, and i know that my story, the son of first-generation refugees who came from nothing and rose to become one of 100 united states senators in a nation of 350 million people, is only possible because of the civil rights giants who came before me. the voting rights act ended jim
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crow era voting laws, and its preclearance provision stops states from resurrecting them in the future. states and localities with ugly histories of discrimination had to get preclearance from the justice department before tampering with their voting laws. yet in 2013, the supreme court's 5-4 ruling in shelby county essentially said that racial progress rendered the need for this oversight obsolete. obsolete. as if racism no longer exists in this country. late supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg said it best. she said ending preclearance when it is continuing to, quote, stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet. indeed, that ruling opened the floodgates for new voter
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suppression laws. my colleague from new jersey often cited texas, texas, home to millions of black and latino voters, resurrected a strict photo i.d. law that had been struck down just the year before. then north carolina slashed early voting and ended same-day registration with the law that the 4th circuit found was, quote, intentionally, intentionally written to disenfranchise black voters. and other states like alabama started reducing polling locations in minority communities. these measures may not look like poll taxes or literacy tests, but they are the tools of oppression just the same. their intent is the same -- to depress turnout among minority voters. and they threaten the promise of our vibrant, multiracial
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democracy. now, throughout this debate i've tried to sit here several hours, i've heard our republican colleagues question, well, why after record turnouts in the last presidential election would we feel the need to revisit voting rights legislation? well, the answer is pretty simple -- if republicans systematically were not tearing down the laws that gave rise to the record turnout, then maybe this wouldn't be necessary. but that's exactly what they have done in state after state. voting rights used to enjoy broad bipartisan support here in the senate. indeed, republicans and democrats stood together for decades to reauthorize the voting rights act, most recently in 2006. in fact, i want to quote one of my colleagues on the day of the last reauthorization. he said, quote, america's
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history is a story of ever-increasing freedom, hope, and opportunity for all. the voting rights act of 1965 represents one of this country's greatest steps forward in that story. every american must have freedom of political expression, including the free, unfettered right to vote, closed quoten those words -- closed quote. those words were senate minority leader mitch mcconnell who spoke those words on that day. he was one of 16 republicans who proudly voted for the 2006 reauthorization but stand in the way today, 16 republicans who still are present in the united states senate, including not only he, but senators grassley, shelby, crapo, collins, burr, inhofe, graham, thune, cornyn, blackburn, blunt, boozman,
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capito, moran and wicker. that's right. 16 republicans who supported the reauthorization of the voting rights act still serve in this body today. so to them, i say join us. join us. what's changed? what was right then is clearly right now. join us. and we could pass the voting rights advancement act with a bipartisan, supermajority, no change of the rules necessary. just join us as you did in 2006. well, we know that won't happen. not today, not since our democracy has been flooded by a torrential downpour of lies. earlier this month we observed the one-year nifort of the january 6 insurrection. a president's violent mob nearly overturned a free election and tried to overthrow the u.s.
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constitution. shots range out -- rang out in the capitol. the confederate flag waved through its hallowed halls. that never even happened during the civil war. a new jerseyan and capital police officer, brian sick nick, was -- brian sicknick was drenched in bear spray and later died. imagine using a toxic substance intended to fend off bear attacks on a fellow human beings. beating officers within inches of death. inflicting such painful trauma that multiple officers have since ended their own lives, all because one man could not accept defeat, a man with an ego so big he could not fathom losing by seven million votes, an ego so big he manufactured a lie to match it, a lie so big it inspired violence and nearly brought down the constitution.
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that lie should have died within minutes of the former president speaking it. instead, it lived. the big lie lived to grow even bigger, thanks to a republican party that is no longer a party, i believe, of principle, but a party of feely to -- fealty to a wanna be despot. since then, the most even tie democratic laws since jim crow have taken the nation by storm. last year, 19 states passed nearly three dozen laws undermining access to the ballot box. it is as if they're trying to codify the big lie into law. in arizona, georgia and other states, they've made it harder to vote by mail. something that my colleagues have talked about, that americans have been doing for decades, and the republican g.o.t. efforts long embrace it as a way to succeed. they're also removing drop boxes
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in minority communities under the bogus claim they invite fraud. so when it's in reverend warnock's community or senator padilla's community, or cory booker's community, or my community, somehow that drop box invites fraud just simply because it's in our community? another lie straight from the mouth of a defeated president -- that many states are reducing early voting days. when you add up all these restrictions, what do you get? longer lines at the polls, people giving up, folks who have to get home to their kids, workers who can't afford to take a day off. to the partisan architects of these laws, their size of resignation, that's music to their ears. they want to make voting so inconvenient for working people and communities of color that
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they don't even bother. the georgia state legislature gave itself the power to remove election officials that were elected by the people if they don't like what they see. simply put, these laws gave state legislators new tools to disregard -- disregard -- the will of the voters. so i've come to the conclusion that since republicans cannot win elections with the power of their ideas, they're doing everything they can to change the rules of the game so they can win anyway. in doing so, they are taking us back to a time and place where justice -- injustice prevailed, a time and a place that i certainly don't want to go back to, nor do i want my children or grandchildren to go back to or those who i represent to go back to. finally had as chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, i would note that when we see an attempted coup or
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creeping authoritarian abroad, we call it democratic backsliding. now other countries are wondering, is that happening to the united states? dictators around the world are jumping for joy. this is what they want to see, democracy and disarray. in fact, last november the institute for democracy and electoral assistance added the united states to a list of backlieding democracy -- backsliding democracies for the first time ever, ever. look, democratic self-government only works when all parties consent to be governed by whoever wins the most votes. those how elections work. we can debate the corporate tax rate. we can disagree about financial aid funding. we can differ over health care policy. but the outcome of a fair and free election, the sanctity of the right to vote?
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these are not up for debate. voting rights are the foundation of this entire democratic enterprise, this great american experiment. it's time every senator looks into their soul and decides how they want to be remembered when future generations remember this perilous moment in our history. this legislation will protect the rights of all of our voters, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, latino and asian, indith in the event, immigrant, republican, democrat, the single mom exhausted but relieved that her neighbor could watch the kids so she could make it to the polls, the warehouse worker who can't afford a day off but winds up taking one anyway, the african american woman who signs her name on a
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mail-in ballot. she remembers life before the voting rights act of 1965 and she will never forget the sacrifices of those who marched for it, who bled for it and even died for right to vote. now, i'll just say a final thing. we all take an oath to the constitution. it's required under the constitution to be sworn in as a member of congress. and in that constitution an amendment that is seen only as it relates to a different time in history but is very clear and very powerful -- the right of citizens of the united states who vote shall not be denied or abridged by the united states or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and the congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. these rights enshrined in the
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constitution under the 15th amendment, they are certainly being abridged. they are certainly being affected in a way that we could not fathom in the year 2022. how shameful it would be if we let it slip through our fingers and be buried under an avalanche of one sore loser's lies. how shameful it would be to violate our oath to the constitution, to that 15th amendment, in order to preserve some rule that is not in the constitution and certainly is not as enshined as that right to -- enshrined as that right to vote. i hope that those who joined us in 200 will be there today to vote with us on the republican side. and if that fails, then i hope we will change the filibuster
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into a talking filibuster so the nation can see who stands on the side of ensuring the franchise of that right to vote for every american. i yield the floor. mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, something i've been hearing a lot lately from members of the media, from many of my democrat colleagues here in the senate, and even from the president of the united states is that democracy is at stake, that democracy will die if we don't make drastic changes to our election system, that we are just one election away from the end of the experiment our founders began in 1776.
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if my colleagues really believe that our democracy is teetering on the edge of the cliff, that it's going to fall over the edge unless we transform the way we run elections across the entire country, then they need to be able to tell the american people why. but instead all i'm hearing from democrats, even from the president himself, is that democracy is on its deathbed, that americans are no better than george wallace or jefferson davis if they dare to question that and that the only solution is for one party to rewrite the rules of the united states senate to pass a completely partisan federal takeover of state and local elections. those are truly some wild
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claims. if you take these assertions at face value, i can see why some americans might be concerned about the state of voting rights in this country, but not a word of what they're saying is true. the good news, mr. president, is that most people live in the real world where america has shattered records in voter turnout in the 20 election. 66 -- in the 2020 election. 66% of eligible voters cast a ballot, the highest level in 120 years. that translates to 156 million americans, the most in history. in my state of nebraska, 76% of voters cast a ballot in the last election. we've been proud to be a no-excuse state for absentee
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voting for years, since long before the pandemic. we have that law because we want to make it easier for nebraskans to vote, and there are many other states that don't require voters to provide a reason before voting by mail, not just nebraska. across the country, turnout was up in the last election regardless of race, class, or any other demographic. and according to pew research, 94% of 2020 voters, they said voting was easy. yet democrats still say that voter suppression is rampant in the united states. the logical response to that is to ask, okay, where? in georgia, democrats say. after georgia passed a new law last year, things have
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apparently gotten so bad that the president picked atlanta to give a recent speech on the issue. but if you listened to president biden's speech, you might have noticed that he barely talked about the georgia law at all. and when he did, he twisted the law into an unrecognizable caricature, into jim crow in the 21st century. he has shamelessly and intentionally misrepresented the georgia law for months, and his speech last week was no different. but something he didn't say in his speech is that the georgia law extends early voting to two and a half weeks. that's longer than blue states like california and new york, and it's longer than the president's home state of
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delaware, which current a louse for zero early voting days. maybe he should have given that speech at his house in delaware instead of in georgia. and he didn't say the language in the georgia bill that requires voter i.d. for absentee ballots is very similar to a bill that passed the senate almost unanimously in 2002, the help america vote act, with president biden voting in favor. so if the georgia law is the best democrats can do, then there is simply no evidence for the idea that republican state legislatures around the country are trying to restrict voting rights. with that in mind, here's a friendly suggestion for the president.
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if he truly believes, in spite of all that, that democracy itself is at stake in a way it has never been before, the last thing he should want is for the voting laws of all 50 states to be overseen by the department of justice and a partisan attorney general. that power should remain with state-level secretaries of state, state legislatures, nonpartisan local officials, anyone but one official at one department in one branch of the federal government. in other words, he should want exactly the election system we have now. our decentralized system with buy-in from a diverse group of advices is what allowed states to adapt to the pandemic and achieve voter turnout, a record
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turnout, in 2020. but the democrats' federal election takeover would give the u.s. attorney general the power to oversee every state's electoral process, and it would turn the federal government into a piggy bank or house candidate. everyone running for election in the house of representatives would have access to federal money through a new program designed to help them fund their campaigns. the federal government would match contributions 6-1, meaning money that belongs to taxpayers would go to politicians with views that many of those taxpayers may oppose. this partisan takeover would require states to allow felons to vote once they're out of prison, overruling the states that already have laws in state
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preventing this. and if democrats have their way, they will mandate that every single state offer same-day registration at every polling place in the nation. if you live in a state that has decided that that's not a good idea, well, too bad. mr. president, it's clear that the majority leader wants to get rid of the filibuster to accomplish all of this. but what democrats are trying to do in congress right now is the best argument i could ever imagine for keeping the filibuster. think about it this way -- let's say we're talking before the 2020 election and i told you that republicans would retain the presidency and the senate and we would win back the house, but the senate would be split 50-50 and we would barely have a majority in the house. in fact, republicans are going
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to have the slimmest majorities in congress in more than a century. but guess what? republicans are going to try to pass bills that most americans don't fully support anyway. and we're going to dismantle a rule that has promoted bipartisanship and compromise in this body for nearly 200 years to accomplish it. be honest, mr. president, you would say that's outrageous, and you would be right. it is outrageous. you would be begging those of us on the other side of the aisle to leave the filibuster untouched. and if you think way, way back into the past, all the way back to 2017 and 2018, republicans are in the same situation that democrats are now. we had a republican president and a majority in both chambers of commerce. we had bigger majorities than
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the democrats have today. the former president even outright asked us to abolish the filibuster, and that brought many, many democrats to the floor praising the filibuster, saying it should never be abolished. but we didn't abolish it for the simple reason that burning down 200 years of bipartisan history for a few temporary victories is shortsighted at best and institutional arson at worst. and don't think that by presenting this talking filibuster, americans won't see the democrats' efforts for what they really are -- a ploy to abolish the 60-vote threshold for legislation, to abolish the need for bipartisanship.
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because in reality, it will only take a majority vote to pass controversial bills. nebraskans can certainly see through this. in nebraska, state senators have to speak on the floor to filibuster a bill before our legislature. but to overcome a filibuster in nebraska, you need two-thirds of senators to vote to end debate, not the simple majority that leader schumer has proposed before this body today. nebraskans have benefited from the consensus building and the moderation and developing good legislation this rule promotes for nearly 100 years.
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we know that it works. the 60-vote threshold in the united states senate does exactly the same thing for all americans. so i urge my democratic colleagues don't abolish the filibuster. and if democrats won't listen to reason from republicans, they should listen to the president himself. when he was a senator, he said, quote, at its core, the filibuster is not about stopping a nominee or a bill. it's about compromise and moderation, end quote. he's forgotten that now, but that doesn't mean his colleagues who are still here have to forget it. mr. president, senate democrats were happy to use the
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legislative filibuster hundreds of times under president trump. not so long ago it was, quote, the most important distinction between the house and the senate. and without it, the senate would become much more subject to the whims of short-term electoral change, end quote. that was the now-majority leader, and he was 100% correct. but now the democrats are in power. they have changed their minds. today the filibuster is not only no longer essential, but anyone who supports keeping it is called a racist. that is truly incredible and it is offensive. the democrats who supported the filibuster a few years ago clearly weren't being truthful,
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and they aren't being truthful now about the state of voting rights in this country. the problem they're responding to simply doesn't exist, and the solution they have for this imaginary problem would do lasting harm to our democracy. i will be voting against this partisan takeover of our elections. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the president pro tempore: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i'd like to congratulate all the speakers. it's been wonderful stating all their positions. they have done it eloquently. we sure have ■learned a lot inút
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this change happen this way and the senate will be a body without rules. there will be no rules. the senate's greatest rules is the one that is unwritten. this is an unwritten rule and it's the greatest one we have. it's the rule of self-restraint which we have very little of anymore, self-restraint. the rule will be broken along with the cloture rule. if the nuclear option is executed and for that i cannot be a party to that. but there's good news. here's the good news. we don't have to change the rules to make our case to the american people about voting rights, about the john lewis. we don't have to. we really don't. senator schumer didn't have to file cloture to cut off debate. he didn't have to fill the amendment tree to block republican amendments. we're here.
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we could have kept voting rights legislation as the pending business for the senate. today, next week, a month from now. this is important. let's work it out. let's stay here and go at it. i think you all are here. everybody is here. had a lot of good talks did. i'm sure you have a lot of amendments to make and all of us would like to make amendments. we want to see it work again. let's do it. let's go for it. that's exactly what i think should be done. i think the american people really need that and i think we owe that to them. we wasted a year behind the scenes. partisan negotiations back and forth talking through each other, around each other but not to each other. let's have the debate. with democrats and republicans and let the american people decide. the pressure will come. that's what filibusters are about. the pressure is mounted before you make a compromise, a decision, you all decided to go -- one way or another you are going to end that filibuster. and today we haven't seen that.
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just four years ago, 61 of us, 61 senators and myself being one, 33 of us on the democrat side and one sitting in the chamber today. you heard this many times. we sent a lore to senator shiewm -- letter so he -- a letter to senator schumer and senator mcconnell warning them the dangers of the filibuster. preserve the ability of the members to engage in extended debate when bills are on the senate floor while some of the senators have changed their positions. i have not. i respect that this is a twoway street and i would hope you would respect where i am. i respect that you have changed your position on this. i would hope that you would respect that i have not and i have never wavered on this. i do not and will not attack the contents of the character of any anybody who has changed their position and i would hope you would give me the same opportunity and not attack mine. allowing one party to exert
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complete control in the senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart and you don't have to look very far to see how we're tearing ourselves apart. i can tell you every part of this country people are divided now. it used to be we couldn't talk about religion at the supper table. now you can't talk about politics. it's truly become a blood sport and should not be that way. the rest of the world is looking at us. they're depending upon us. they're looking for guidance. they're looking for some stability. if we do this, there's not going to be any check on the executive branch. bob byrd was scared to death of not having a check on the executive branch. even when the executive branch was part of his own party being a democrat. he always said, i do not work for the president. i work for the people of west virginia. and he made very sure of that. and he made sure that every president knew that. and he made sure he held them accountable and they weren't
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going to steamroll over him. the filibuster plays an important role in stabilizing our democracy from the transitory passions of the majority and respected input of the minority in the senate. contrary to what some have said, protecting the role of the minority, democrat or republican, has protected us from the volatile political swings that we have endured over the last 233 years. the role of the minority is what ensures the policies of our nation have input from all corners of the country. we must never forget this is a senate made up of 50 states, a hundred senators. blue states and red states. for those who believe that bipartisanship is impossible, we have proven them wrong. in the last several years we have made historic investments in our nation's public lands, passed trillions of dollars in covid-19 relief, and finally invested in rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. these critical pieces of legislation have had significant impacts on americans across the
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country. they were passed with broad bipartisan support. we can do it again. we truly can. we can make it easier to vote. we must. we can make it harder to cheat. i think we can. we've heard from our republican colleagues who basically agree with us on that. we can reform the electoral count act which is what caused the insurrection. we agree on that. we can fix that. we never witnessed -- we'll never have to witness another january 6. it was such an absolutely deplorable stain on this great country of ours. and we can protect local election officials from harassment and intimidation by making them federal crimes. we can do that. and i know we can do that together. i'm going to leave you with this. may 2010, just a month before senator robert c. byrd died, he died in june of 2010. this is a month before. senator byrd was asked by th then-chairman senator chuck schumer of the rules committee i
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believe at that time to testify about the filibuster before the senate rules committee. because of his unsurpassed knowledge on this subject. and senator capito knew him well, too. she knows how he would pontificate at times with us. but he would say senator byrd began quoting james madison. he said madison said that the purpose of the senate was first to protect the people against the rulers. secondly, to protect the people against the transient impressions to which they themselves may be led and that the senate serves as a necessary fence against such dangers. senator byrd testified that the right to filibuster anchors this necessary fence. he concluded with, we must never ever ever ever tear down the only wall, the necessary fence that this nation has against the excesses of the executive branch and the resultant haste and tyranny of the majority.
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eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out. it wasn't meant to be easy. i cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to washington to unite our country, not to divide our country. we're called the united states. not the divided states. and putting politics and party aside is what we're supposed to do it's time we do the hard work to forge a difficult compromise that can stand the test of time. and that's why we're here. 233 years. think about it. wars, depressions, think of all the hardships this country has gone through, all the people that have suffered and fought for every right we have. we're not going backwards. with that being said we can do better than what we're doing today. we truly can. we must promise the americans for a brighter future. i think we can do that together. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. lankford: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: in the last six years democrats have filibustered 589 bills. and nominations. 589. that was their right as the minority at the time. that right has been protected. it was their right to demand that their voice be heard but it seems like that was then. this is now.
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two years ago when senator tim scott brought us serious policing reform bill to the senate floor to debate at a moment of national debate on supporting law enforcement, democrats filibustered that bill and would not allow open debate on that bill. just last week, just last week 55 senators voted for sanctions on russia as they surround the borders of ukraine. just last week 55 senators voted for that but that wasn't enough and the voice of the minority was protected when democrats blocked sanctions on russia as they threatened ukraine. that was their right to do but it seems like that was then and this is now. this letter in 2017 was sent.
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27 democrat senators wrote a letter to mitch mcconnell and chuck schumer asking there be no changes in the legislative filibuster, including this sentence, that they all wrote together. we are mindful of the unique role the senate plays in the legislative process and we're steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great american institution continues to serve as the world's greatest deliberative body. therefore, we are asking you to join us in opposing any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate as we consider legislation before this body and in the future. that was then. this is now. then senator kamala harris, chris coons, patrick leahy, dianne feinstein, kyrsten -- kirsten jill grand, angus king, mark warner, bob casey, hei
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heinrich, jeanne shaheen, brian schatz, maria cantwell, mazie hirono, tom carper, maggie hassan, tammy duckworth, tim kaine, jack reed, ed markey, debbie stabenow, sheldon whitehouse and bob menendez all asked me to join them in opposing any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of senators to engage in a full, robust, and extended debate. i will. i'd be glad to join you in that. because i believe this body is a unique body in the world just like you did in 2017. i don't know what's changed. debate is still debate. difficult issues are still difficult issues.
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and when my democratic colleagues filibustered almost 600 times in six years, it was their right as it has been for two centuries. this is the one place in american government where the voice of the minority is heard, the one place. this is the one place where minority opinions have to come to the forefront. and a discussion about changing the rules of the senate with simple 51 votes and to be able to shift this to a body in legislation where whoever is ahead on the football game gets to decide the rules for the rest of the game is not really a set of rules at all. and it will fail to protect the voice of the minority in america. this unique thing that we have where even if you lost an election, you know at least your voice can still be heard and you won't be run over.
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and a conversation that is happening in this body today to say we are going to permanently block out the opinions of the minority in america is a wrong decision. and i will join the 27 democratic senators that asked me four years ago to join them in opposing that change. because it's the wrong dire direction. i've enjoyed listening to some of the speeches and i have listened all day to speeches of my democratic colleagues about how broken the senate has become and about how it needs to be restored to its status as the world's greatest deliberative body. i agree. senator manchin just spoke before me, made that same challenge to say let's do it. let's actually engage in debate. let's solve these issues. let's actually work behind the scenes. let's not talk to the media. let's actually talk it each
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other. let's close the door and have a chance to actually work through things and be off the c-span camera and not do the show. let's actually engage in real dialogue. let's solve the issues. that's what we're supposed to do. what we're not supposed to do is to say you know what? i don't want to do that kind of hard work behind the scenes. i'll just change the rules. blame it on you. and walk away. that's not what we're supposed to do as a senate. i've been told today that i refuse to stand on the side of democracy. i was told by president biden last week that i either stand with the republican abraham lincoln or the democrat jefferson davis and i should make my pick. i would say personally for me as a member of the party of lincoln, i proudly stand with abraham lincoln. i'm concerned that my friends on the other side of the aisle -- and i do have many friends on the other side of the aisle -- i'm concerned that somehow they've convinced themselves that when they filibuster, it's
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righteous but when i filibuster it's evil. and that this time it's different and that somehow with the filibuster we can change it a little bit and only be a little bit pregnant, and it'll all be fine. i just don't think it's going to work that way, and i think a century from now writers will look back on this day and will identify what started to crack, when the senate started to say we no longer are going to try; we're going just to become the house and run over the minority. and the voice of the minority in america is no longer going to count. i stand on the side of the filibuster. like senator schumer did in 2017 when he stood right over there and looked in the eyes of senator mcconnell and said, i hope the republican leader and i
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can in the coming months find a way to build a firewall 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. no senator, he said, would like to see that happen, so let's find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation. stand with senator durbin when he said, i can tell you in ending the legislative filibuster would be the end of the senate going back to our founding fathers. we have to acknowledge our respect for the minority. that's what the senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedures. listen, we disagree on some elements in this bill. and i've heard the debate. i would tell you, i've been outspoken to protect the rights of every individual to vote in the our state. i'm proud of the voting laws in my state.
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we have early voting. we have no-excuse absentee voting. we engage people to be able to vote in every community, and we fight very hard to be able to make sure that every place and every precinct has the shortest line possible. that's been a big deal for our state for a long time. if you go back to the 1965 voting rights act and you look across the south at the states that went under preclearance, my state was not one of those because in my state, even in that time of jim crow laws, we were protecting rights of individuals to be able to vote. as it should be. but my state is being thrown under the bus currently. my state is currently being accused by some of my colleagues as being a state that is on the list of 34 evil states that have passed voter suppression laws in this past year. you know what my state's guilt is? we passed a law that past year that state said, if you're going to vote absentee by mail, a you have to request it 15 days
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before the election. we did that because the united states postal service asked us to do that. because the united states postal service said, if a vote -- if a ballot is is going to be mailed out to somebody and get mailed back in time and get counted, we need two weeks of time to do it, not seven days. by the way, my state is on the list of the 34 evil states doing voter suppression, but the state of new york passed the exact same law and somehow they're not on the evil list. but they also followed the encouragement of the united states postal service to give 15 days for the ballot to go out and to come back. my fellow colleagues, that's not voter suppression. that's making sure every vote counts. but somehow my state is on the list. we do get a little frustrated when we get accused of being racist, when we disagree on some issues in this bill.
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we have some disagreements on whether felons, as they walk out, should be able to vote immediately. that's been state-to-state decisions is. i understand some states do that. some states do not. my state hasn't voted for folks that are convicted sex offenders and rapists and murderers the day they walk out of prison to have their voting rights returned. by the way, some of the folks on the democratic side of the aisle, your state has not either. if this bill changes that, can we have an honest conversation about convicted rapists walking out of prison and voting next week, whether that's something that should be restored right away, even during their time of parole? we have disagreements on voter i.d. we have disagreements on same-day registration. we apparently have disagreements on whether we should have house candidates for federal office get to take a salary from
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federal tax dollars while they're running for office and get a 6-1 match where the 6 is the federal dollars and the 1 are the private dollars if you're running for the house of representatives. no, i don't think i'm a racist because i disagree with whether house candidates should be able to take a salary from federal tax dollars while they're running for office and get a 6-1 match. but that's what i'm being accused of consistently. we have a disagreement on automatic registration of voters. apparently there are some other disagreements because even in the bill itself, it gives a waiver for people that are illegally present in the country who accidentally get registered to vote. that it gives them some immunity in that process. we have disagreement on how much control unelected folks are going to have on redistricting. we just have disagreements on these things. can we not have disagreements and debate these things out?
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and not be called a racist in the process? that you're joining with jefferson davis if you disagree whether house members should be paid while they're running for office out of federal tax dollars? i don't think this is about voting rights anymore. i think this has become about power. i don't have any doubt that we need to protect the voting rights of every single individual. that's why i'm grateful the 1965 voting rights act is there. but i want to make sure that we're protecting our republic and that we stay engaged in what it a to actually -- in what it takes to actually guard day to day how we vote, how we make decisions, and that we admit there are differences in voting between alaska, oklahoma, and new york.
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now, again, we disagree on some things, and there are some things in this bill that even some of the folks in this room, theirs own states don't agree w the state of new york doesn't allow same-day registration. they just voted on that in november and goat h. -- and voted it down. the state of new york doesn't allow no-excuse absentee ballots. my state does. the state of new york doesn't allow people to bring food and water to people in line. listen, let's debate the issues. let's take the time that is needed to resolve it. let's actually resolve it. we talk a lot about division and things that are hard. if you don't mind me taking a bit of a detour, there are
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things we disagree and agree on, some of them profoundly. one of them i want to mention as well. you know, this week would have been betty white's 100th birthday. talk about america's sweetheart, i can't find a soul that doesn't like betty white. if you find somebody that doesn't like betty white, will you let me know who that is because that is one hard heart. everyone loves betty white. betty white spent 70-plus years raising money in support for the humane society, overwhelming support, millions of dollars that she raised. -- for the humane society. and there was broad support for puppies and kittons -- kit tens, who disagrees with betty white's puppies and kittons?
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we've got common ground already. we see some things so similar and some things so different. hard issues at times. let me give you a rorschach test. can i do that? you know the rorschach test, the inkblot. let me give you a rorschach test. what do you see in that picture? i see a child. when i look at it, that looks a lot like a baby to me. now, you may look at it and say, i don't see it. i see a castle or i see clouds. but in this particular rorschach test, it happens to be a modern
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sonogram of a child. why do i bring this up? why do i bring this to the floor today? it is fascinating to me on the floor today, as a republican i can be accused of not caring about the challenges of voting in america when i'd be willing to ask the question, does this child get to vote 18 years from now? or does she get disposed of? what happens to her? i do believe every life matters, no matter how old or how young, how small or how big, regardless of race or color or national origin or sex or ability. all people have inherent value. all people have worth. and all should be protected in america. this is the united states of
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america, and that child matters. 49 years ago the roe v. wade decision was made. this friday is the 49th anniversary actually. that's why i about it up. there will be tens of thousands of students out in march for life. it will be an absolutely spectacular display of value of human life. in 1973 just a few months after the decision was handed down, nellie gray and some other pro-life leaders decided one way they could continue the national dialogue about children was to march for life until roe v. wade was overturned. and i'm going to march with them again this year. and it'll be freezing cold again this year, like it usually is in late january. a lot has changed since 1973. science has changed the conversation on abortion where it used to focus on cells and
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fish and viability -- and tissue and viability. now since recognizes that babies can feel pain, have a beating heart. that child already has fingerprints, that age right there. by conception, that child has d.n.a. that is different than the mom and the dad. every single person in this room was once in your mom's womb and the only difference between you now and you then is time. that's it. and i'll be very blunt. my greatest hope is after 49 years this'll be the last march for life in a roe v. wade america. that this will return back to the states to be able to make decisions, and my state will step up to this rorschach test and will say, that looks like a baby to me, and will start
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protecting the value of every single child. we brought bills to this floor that have been filibustered, bills on conscience protection. just giving the rights of a nurse, of a nurse who told her employer, i don't want to perform abortions, i have a conscience issue with that, then was hired and later her hospital said you have to participate in this abortion. we have laws in america that protect that. they just have no teenage at all. and so individual -- they just have no teeth at all. and so individuals do get forced to perform abortions against their wishes. we've brought bills to the floor
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sayings that if a child was actually born alive in, they had to get medical care. but it got filibustered and blocked. by the way, i wish the people in this room had the opportunity to meet some of the folks that have had the opportunity -- that i've had the opportunity to be able to meet that are abortion survivors because i hear from people all the time, that never happens, that never happens. i'd like for you to meet some of them. that literally have survived a botched abortion, that they were delivered alive and someone in the room took them to the hospital in their own vehicle usually and survived. i wish you had the opportunity to be able to sit down with dr. alvi at that king -- alvita king. the daughter of dr. king was a great civil rights leader and,
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yes, the niece of that dr. king you're thinking of, who is an outspoken proponent for life. she speaks often of grace to people. i wish we had the opportunity to be able to talk more about chemical abortions and what's actually happening in that industry, where people are literally being mailed drugs from all over the world to be able to perform an abortion at their home or their dorm room a hotel room. where this child is being delivered into a toilet and flushed. and where we have a much larger incident of deaths of moms on chemical abortions than there is on surgical abortions. and the statistics that have been kept which, by the way, were blocked from being kept other than just deaths, from 2000 to 2017, 3,800 what they
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call adverse effects from chemicals abortions occurred. why do i bring this all up? i bring it up because this week we're going to remember 49 weeks of roe v. wade and we're going to start a dialogue in the days ahead and what that rorschach test is, is that a baby or tissue? and we'll have to face that reality. i bring it up because it's a rare moment for us to have a real bipartisan conversation today. as the body knows, it's not often we all sit in our chairs and actually talk to each other. we typically talk to each other through the media rather than talk to each other in here. i brought it up because the conversation about her has been filibustered over and over and over and over again. and we don't get to have real debate about her. we just move on.
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when do we get to have a conversation about her? that's a real dialogue, and determine what direction we go as a nation. for her sake, i hope it's soon. because she matters. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the president pro tempore: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. i disagree with the last speaker's characterization of the issue he was bringing up, but i want to stay focused on voting rights, because this is an important moment for the united states senate. our opportunity to debate the need for voting protection and voting rights. but i do want to make one comment. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have said that they welcome an opportunity to debate voting rights legislation and
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talk about ways that we can get this bill in a way that we can get bipartisan support. the majority leader several weeks ago offered a motion to proceed on voting rights, filed cloture so that we could get on the bill and have the type of debate that my colleagues now are telling us that they want to have, and not a single republican voted to proceed on voting rights legislation at that time. so i find it a little bit disheartening to hear this newfound desire to start taking up voting rights when we've been negotiating and talking and debating this issue for now this entire congress. we also have an historic opportunity to vote on voting rights if we take advantage of that opportunity. i represent the state of maryland, and i know we talked about 19 states that are moving in the wrong direction on
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protecting voter rights. maryland is not one of those states. in fact, the maryland legislature has taken steps to make it easier for voters to be able to register and cast their votes. and the voting rights act was authored by my congressman, congressman john sarbanes. and i'm proud of the work that he has done because marylanders recognize that we administer elections locally, but we need national standards. and that's why this legislation is under consideration. mr. president, after the civil war and reconstruction, powerful officials sought to nullify the political outcome of the civil war. they passed laws and institution policies that enforced segregation. and we all know those laws -- the jim-crow laws, black code that institutionalized segregation, aimed at
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disenfranchising minority voters, poll taxes and literacy tests and voter intimidation, rationalized by protecting our national security or voter integrity. thanks to courageous leaders, we were able to reverse those laws. by presidents such as harry truman in 1948 in integrating our military. by our courts in the landmark decision in 1954, brown v. board of education, marylanders are proud of thurgood marshall, a native son of maryland, the role that he played in arguing that case before the supreme court. and by our congress with historic action in 1964 to pass the civil rights act, in 1965 the voting rights act, 1968, the fair housing act. today we are now seeing a renewed effort for jim-crow type laws aimed at disenfranchising
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targeting voters. my colleagues have talked about it and i'm not going to repeat it because time is running short. aimed at minorities to prevent them from being able to cast their votes. marginal groups are targeted because those who are enacting these laws think that it will help them politically. why now? the answer is pretty simple. the 2020 elections, an election where more people voted than ever before, judged to be the most secure election in american history. but because donald trump lost, for the first time in the history of this nation, we had the loser claim that the election was stolen in order to rationalize his loss. that big lie is what motivated legislatures to pass laws to make it more difficult for vulnerable people to be able to
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vote, to effect election results, presenting a clear danger to our democracy itself on voter integrity and the confidence that voters, that our system is actually working. now is the time for the senate to show courage, to debate as we're doing today, and vote on two bills -- the freedom to vote act sets minimum federal standards with state administered election laws. we've gone through all the different provisions. i'm not going to go through them again, but p we need to have these national standards because of the actions in these 19 states and other reasons such as the dark money that my colleague from rhode island pointed out, or voter intimidation issues and restoring democracy. there are so many issues that are in that that are important to restore voting confidence. and we need to pass the john r. lewis voting rights advancement act to restore the voting rights act because of the supreme court decision, and restore
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precertification. and has been pointed out by my colleagues, this historically has been supported by both democrats and republicans. i think one republican vote to proceed to this, for those who are saying they're willing to debate this issue. today senators will have the opportunity to vote to be on the right side of history. the senate filibuster prevented the passage of civil rights legislation to reverse the jim-crow laws until finally in 1964 the filibuster ended, and the senate voted. by invoke -- invoking cloture wn vote now to protect voting rights amendments. we can do it now by passing cloture and be on the right side of history. if cloture is denied, we'll have the opportunity to restore the senate to its best traditions, to debate and vote, to require those who want to use rule 19 -- and rule 19 is our filibuster rule -- to
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actually be on the floor and debate. no more pocket filibusters. the senate rules changes that we've all been talking about -- i've been listening to my colleagues -- let me just talk a little bit about changing senate practice. let alone a constitutional issue such as voting rights should have priority over any of the procedural issues that we have here on the floor of the senate. and let alone restoring the senate to a working body should have priority over the interpretations of some of our rules. but let me talk about the rule itself. if you look at the 20th century, basically legislation was considered on the floor of the senate through comity and debate and compromise, and we were able to bring issues to the floor for a vote. rarely, very rarely was a
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filibuster used. why? because you had it -- you had to come to the floor and talk. it was very time-consuming. it took a lot of time off the senate floor. it was inconvenient for the member to have to stand up here and talk. so we were able to come together. it wasn't through a cloture vote that it ended. it ended because people didn't want to go through the inconvenience of talking, or we were able to resolve it. so we're talking about restoring the senate to its best traditions. many have talked about we're going to change the filibuster rule. no, we're not suggesting changing the filibuster rule. the filibuster rule is come on the floor and speak. it's the cloture that's the 60 votes. you don't need cloture if you run the clock on filibuster. what we need to do is prevent dilatory actions, and that's why the leader's point is going to be important. but we're trying to restore the
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senate to a body that can work together by requiring the members to come to the floor and speak and vote by how the framers of the senate rules intended at the end of the day. and to my friend from west virginia, this gives us the chance to start to work together. i couldn't agree with you more. we do need to come together in a bipartisan way. let our committees work. we need to look at senate rules. but we first need to move on action. and this is a fundamental bill that we need to move forward. the leader is framing this in a very narrow way so we can get this bill moving, use this as an example, work together democrats and republicans, so the senate can restore its practices, so we all can be proud members of a body that debates and votes. that's what we can do, respecting each member's rights and respecting minority rights. i urge my colleagues to support cloture.
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and if cloture fails, to support the leader's point, and be on the right side of history. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the president pro tempore: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: inflation is at its highest level in 40 years, drug overdose deaths at record levels, the murder rate at the highest since the 1990's. and the president of the united states just green lighted vladimir putin to invade and china is continuing aggression. so what have the democratic floor leader and senate democrats spent the last two months doing? trying to overturn 200 years of senate rules and customs so that they can do things like ban voter i.d. nationwide and use your tax dollars to support political campaigns. they tell us that americans are living under jim crow 2.0, and they cite the recent georgia election law as proof. let's investigate this so-called
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vote suppression law. under the new law, the state of georgia will have 17 days of early voting. if this is jim crow 2.0, then i have bad news, because the democratic leader's home state of new york and the president's home state of delaware were engaged in what i guess you call jim crow 3.0 last year because new york had nine days of early voting and delaware had no days, zero days of early voting. next i've heard complaints that georgia has reduced the number of ballot drop boxes in the state, even though they now require every county to have a drop box, as was not the case as recently as 2018. and that georgia has added new security measures to prevent fraud. once again, i hate to break the news that the democratic floor leader's home state of new york had zero ballot drop boxes, and the president's home state of
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delaware allowed for just five last year. and of course one of the democrats' favorite claims is that all those terrible republicans down in georgia have stopped campaign and political workers from giving food and drimptions -- drinks to people waiting in line at the polls. where could georgia have gotten such an idea? as it turns out the democratic leader's home state of new york also has a nearly identical law banning such electioneering near polling places. the democrats also say that voter i.d. is a kind of new jim crow. that might surprise the 69% of black americans who support voter i.d. now, what are they up to? this is an especially good question given the letter that
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28 democrats still in the senate signed on april 7, 2017. to the leadership around here, urging them to oppose any effort, any effort to stop the senate's tradition and custom of extended debate. some of those senators are on the floor with us at this moment. i see the junior senator fromle illinois -- from illinois and the junior senator from hawaii and the junior senator from maine. the presiding officer, for that matter. many more were down here earlier. and, mr. president, i would invite, through the chair, any of those senators, if they would like to engage in a colloquy why they have changed their position since they signed that letter on
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april 7, 2017. i guess i don't have any takers- a senator: will the senator yield? mr. cotton: i will certainly yield. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: i signed that letter. let's talk about the letter itself. we are united in the ability to preserve the ability for members to engage in extended debate when the bills are on the senate floor. i agree with that. the bill on the floor today will allow extended debate. there are two points that have caused me to modify the position that i took on this letter. one is the nature of the issue that's before the body. if we were here talking about immigration or gun control or any of the other many issues that we consider, i wouldn't be taking the position that i am. i believe that the rules of the
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senate are important and that extended debate is an important part of the senate process. however, we're talking about fundamental structural changes that i believe in spite of your comments that in many states across the country are compromising the ability of our people to express themselves in an democracy. i consider that qualitatively different than a policy difference. and that's why i am here today to talk about revising the rules, not blowing up the filibuster, but to get back to what the filibuster actually means. and that is extended debate. i'm all for extended debate until we're exhausted, until we've made a deal, until we've come to a compromise, but the problem is the filibuster, as we
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define it today, is a distant cousin of the real filibuster. the radical change in the filibuster isn't what's being discussed to date, it was made in 1975 almost by accident. in 1975 they were debating whether it should be two-thirds of senators present and voting or a lower number. and they compromised on 60 senators of sworn members. that was the focus of that discussion, and i talked to parliamentarians involved in that discussion. i asked the specific question, did they really realize what they were doing by creating the mail-in, dial-in, no effort filibuster? and the answer was no. they didn't discuss it, they didn't think of that. so what i'm talking about here today and what the proposal that will be on the floor later is to do exactly what this letter says, extended debate -- extended debate, and that's why i believe that what we're
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proposing today is in the deepest tradition of the united states senate. what we are trying to scale back is the cheap, easy, dial-in from your office 60 votes de facto supermajority requirement which is not in the constitution which the framers expressly did not agree to. they put in a lot of checks and balances, two houses of congress, two-thirds voting on treaties, two-thirds voting on an amendment, confirmation of the president -- the president, the congress, the independence of the courts. all those were checks and balances. one of them was not a supermajority requirement in the united states senate. hamilton and madison expressly said that that would turn democracy on its head.
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democracy ultimately is about majority rule and there should be minority rights. the minority should have every opportunity to speak, to offer amendments, to discuss, to offer germane amendments, i might add, to discuss, debate, but ultimately not have a veto. that's really what it comes down to here. do you have al rule that says the minority actually is in control of the legislative process? that's not what the framers intended. it's antithetical to what the framers intended. in fact, one of the reasons for the constitutional convention was the dysfunction of the articles of confederation and one of the reasons cited for that dysfunction was a supermajority requirement. so, yes, i voted -- what i supported three years ago i still support. the language is full, robust,
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and extended debate and that's what's going to be proposed later on and i would -- if you guys will vote for it, this debate can go on, as it should, for weeks and perhaps months because it's that important. but i don't have any apologies to make. if i have to choose between a senate rule as it works now, which as i say, is a distant cousin of the real filibuster and democracy itself, i'm going to take democracy every single time. mr. cotton: i thank the senator from maine to explaining the change in position. i was not seeking an apology, just an explanation since ri have not heard -- since i have not heard that. the senator from maine said it is about the nature of the issue at stake. there is nothing about the issue at stake or whether it is
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immigration, gun control or in this case election take overby laws. the senator from maine referred to the cheap and easy filibuster. i don't necessarily agree with that characterization, but i would say that was the kind of cheap and easy filibuster that was in place in 2017 when 28 democrats signed this letter. i will also point out that i wouldn't -- i heard the characterization that the current filibuster was created by accident in 1975. we can have a debate. but the rules and customs under debate today go back to the second decade -- the second decade of the united states senate and perhaps the more importantly, every time those rules have been modified, up to and including the most recent changes on the legislative calendar, they've been modified in affordance with the rules, not using -- in accordance with the rules, not the nuclear
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option, breaking the rules so we can change the rules. we have the senior senator from colorado, we have the senior senator from new hampshire, we have the senior senator from montana, and we have the letter's chief democratic author, the junior senator from delaware. i asked earlier through the chair if any senators would like to change in their position. if they would like to join in the colloquy -- a senator: will the senator yield? mr. cotton: i will. mr. merkley: i am struck by your comment that in all previous situations -- in all previous situations that the rules had been modified by a change of the
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rules that was done through the regular rule process. because i would encourage you to read up on your senate history. this is not the case. under senator byrd's leadership, nine times this chamber changed the interpretation of existing rules and they didn't do it through a formal rules change process. they did it with an interpretation of the chair being sustained or by reversing the interpretation of the chair. and you've been here when a nuclear option modified the rules, your party led the effort to change the requirement for closing debate on the supreme court. and you've been here, or i think you were here, your colleagues were here, they changed the rules, not by changing the rules formally but by reinterpreting
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it through the nuclear otion by reducing -- option by reducing debate on district judges and your side changed the rules on how reconciliation is done in order to do tax cuts for the rich and then kent conrad on our side advocated change back and your side in preparation for the trump tax cuts of 2017 changed the rules again. at least let us understand that both sides, democrats and republicans, have resorted to reinterpreting the rules on various occasions. just a point of clarification that your statement was wrong. mr. cotton: i appreciate the comments of the senator from oregon and i want to commend him for principle consistency on this. he did not sign the letter. one of the earliest conversations i had with any senator in 2015 was with the
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senator from oregon about these questions. he had the reservations about the cloture rule and extended debate. he has not changed his view on that position. so i commend him. he mentions the nuclear option on the supreme court. of course that simply followed what the former senate democratic leader harry reid did in 2013 on the executive calendar. that happened in february or march -- this is 2017. this letter was written in april of 2017. but if there's no more extended debate on this question -- i would invite the senator from virginia, through the chair. mr. kaine: mr. president, if i might respond. senator cotton, what angus said and i'm so glad senator lankford
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stayed in the room because you said we changed our position. i'm glad you put it up, because others were saying that without it. we are united in our determination to preserve the ability of noams engage in extended debate when bills are on the senate floof. we couldn't even debate this bill. you guys wouldn't let us. you kept using the 60-vote block on the motion to proceed so we couldn't get on the bill. in the five years since 2017, many of us have come to realize this is what we want, but the current abuse of senate rules is blocking us from having discussions about voting rights or about matters that you think are important. this is -- this is still what we want. we want the ability to have extended debate when bills are on the senate floor and that is what the motion will eventually
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be about when we vote on it later today, to move to a talking filibuster instead of a secret filibuster. the way to look at the rule change that we're going to contemplate later is if you really love the filibuster, and the word filibuster isn't in this letter at all, but if you really love the filibuster, do you demand that it stay secret or should it be carried out open publicly in view of the voters and your senate colleagues? that's what the vote will be. we have -- we have listened to those of you who said, don't abolish the filibuster, don't nuke the filibuster, don't blow up the filibuster, don't weaken the filibuster, and the only change we propose is that the filibuster be a public filibuster, not a secret one. you stood on the floor and asked if we would join you in that operative phrase, engage in extended debate when bills are on the senate floor, the
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combination on the block of the motion to proceed together with the paper pocket filibuster where people do not have to show up to speak, much less to vote, we can restore the filibuster, frankly, to what it was during the vast majority of the senate's history and require that people actually do it and be accountable to their colleagues and to the public, and that's what we propose to do. mr. cotton: mr. president -- mr. president, i invite the senator from colorado to engage in colloquy. the presiding officer: the senator from -- the president pro tempore: the senator from colorado. a senator: i would also say -- mr. bennet: i want to be very clear that i don't want this place to turn into the house of representatives. i think that would be a huge mistake, and -- but it is it not behaving the way that the founders designed it to behave and the history, you know, admittedly is opaque, but it is
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very clear to me that the modern abuse of the filibuster represents very little in the way of traditional senate practice or what the framers were considering. so i can imagine finding ourselves in a place where actually have extended debate and a public filibuster like we used to have. everybody remembers the movie version of that. they actually did that on the floor of the senate versus the secret filibuster that acts as a perpetual veto by the minority on the majority. something that the framers clearly were trying to avoid. and at the same time gives the minority the chance to hold the floor, persuade the american people of their point of view, amend legislation in ways that is unimaginable in the house, and then in the end gives the majority the chance to actually
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make a decision so we can effectively compete with countries all over the world that aren't held up by the kind of veto we're talking about. there's not a legislative body in the world that i'm aware of except in any of the other countries with which we compete that has a filibuster. so i'd say that other piece of this, the idea that we're going to seesaw back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, i think the reality that's not what happens in other places that don't have a filibuster. and i believe we have the opportunity if we're actually having a public debate not sitting in our office or, you know, off fund raising but instead having a public debate on the floor of this senate that the american people can actually begin to hold people here accountable again for their position. on health care or guns or whatever it is. we don't ever get the chance to do that here because we never even have a debate in the world's most deliberative body.
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so if we've got to -- if we've got a disagreement tonight about the form of all of this, my hope is that in the wake of this, if we're not successful, we actually do the american people a favor by creating a set of rules that actually will make this place work. i have been here now for 12 years. it's hard to believe. and i can tell you the senate doesn't work. it can't get its basic business done much less make hard decisions. and i think we can do better than that. and i hope we will. mr. cotton: mr. president, the senator from oklahoma was directly addressed and i believe he would like to engage in a brief colloquy. mr. lankford: thank you. to my friend through the chair, to the senator from virginia, thanks for the engagement. we'll continue to be able to engage me. part of our challenge on dealing with this dialogue today is none of our side has actually seen the proposal tonight. it's a secret proposal that's coming out that all the conversation is this restores
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the talking filibuster. we're like really? what does it say? and then in the next i guess couple of hours, there's going to be a proposal pop and say here it is. we're changing the rules of the senate with a 51-vote when we even haven't had the opportunity to see it. so we talk about trying to be able to bring dialogue and debate on all these things, that's not dialogue and debate on the rules. that's trying to ram through a change with a straight 51 that none of us have even seen. and as we go through this on the -- you mentioned before on the letter that's out there, you're correct, i read the letter, not definitely read through the whole letter but i could have brought a bunk of quotes from folks that i see around the room that made statements like i will never change the legislative filibuster or i am 100% opposed to changing the legislative filibuster or we should not change the filibuster using the nuclear option. so there were lots of other
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quotes from lots of other interviews because around 2017 when the letter came out, there was lots of media that asked point blank what do you mean by that. so there's a lot of clarification with it. you're right, i read the letter and has vague language but i could have read lots of quotes that we have that were very, very specific on it. the end of the day is if we're going to solve the issues in the senate, we're actually going to have to work together to solve the issues. what makes us the greatest deliberative body is that not 51 can do what they want. would will make us a great deliberative body is when we actually have to talk to each other wh. i was elected in 2014, most of the phone calls that came to me personally between november and january were some of you that called me. and said my name is. we're going to disagree on a lot of things but let's start working now on what we'll agree on. if we start doing away with these rules and just move it to a 51 basis, those conversations end. and it's not a deliberative body. suddenly it's a we can get what we want with 51 body.
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that's the house. that's why we bring it up. i yield. mr. cotton: mr. president, before i move on from this letter, i have to note that as i've said several times, 28 democrats in the senate today signed that letter. 27 of them changed their position. there's one signatory who didn't change his position, that's the senator from west virginia. not only did he not change his position from that letter he signed, he's been consistent from the very gipg. he was also -- very beginning. he was also here in 2013 when we started down this path on the executive calendar. and there are differences to be sure between the executive calendar and the legislative calendar. but the senator from west virginia is the soul signatory still in the -- sole sig story still in the senate who has still been consistent throughout. i want to commend him for that. i want to note for the record that the senator from arizona, apparently the only democratic
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senator who will oppose this maneuver did not sign the letter in 2017 because they was not in the senate in 2017. so, mr. president, in conc conclusion, why are we doing all this? why are we going down this road? is it because this legislation is so popular? this issue is so important? you would think it was the top issue on the minds of the majority of americans. but no. according to gallop, only 1% of americans list elections and federal election takeovers as their top priority. maybe the majority of americans support the procedural maneuvering here tonight, the overturning of 200 years of senate rules and customs. nope, wrong again according to a recent cbs poll, barely a third of americans support this. and while we're waiting here for the democrats' doom charge to overturn 200 years of senate rules and customs and federalize
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our elections, americans are dealing with very real, concrete kitchen table issues. our people are getting poorer. inflation rose by 7% over the last year, the highest rate in 40 years. wages are failing to keep up. inflation might not be so bad for some of the millionaires around here with their stock portfolios and their real estate but for most americans it's crippling and it's most crippling for those who can least afford it. i shouldn't have to point out that people are dying in our communities all across the country. murder was up by its highest record level in the keeping modern records and it's up again this year. at a time when we also have a hundred thousand americans dying of overdoses, the highest number ever recorded, another grim record. america is being overwhelmed on our southern border. border patrol is stopping more than 175,000 illegal immigrants
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at our southern border each month. we can only guest how -- guess how many more are getting through. these are all real problems that the american people have told us repeatedly they want us to address. but we haven't heard much about those problems. we're not here in session this week to debate those problems. the democrats apparently don't want to acknowledge these crises because they created these crises and they have no solution for these crises. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presidi -- the president pro tempore: the senator from new hampshire. a senator: just briefly, mr. president. i know i was scheduled to speak but i want to respond as one of the signatories of the letter. i associate myself with everything that the other sig takers -- signatories have talked about in terms of wanting to restore the senate's tradition of extended debate on issues of grave importance to the american people. ms. hassan: but let me be clear about the reason that i now
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support, an adjustment to the long-standing rules of the senate. and it is because i never imagined when i signed that letter that not a single member of the republican party would stand up for our democracy since january 6 when we saw an acceleration of state laws that would allow partisans to overturn the impartial count of an election. we need to address the issues that so many of us have talked about here. the people of new hampshire, the people all across the country, they need us to address pressing issues like lowering the cost of prescription drugs or making it easy for families to afford child care. but if we do not have a functioning democracy where people know that when they vote,
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that vote will be impartially counted and upheld and the people who are defeated will accept defeat so that they can have an accountable elected representation in washington, then there is no democracy. and when i signed that letter, i never imagined that today's republican party would fail to stand up for democracy. i was raised by a veteran of the battle of the bulge. he would talk to us at the breakfast table and the question was, what are you going to do for freedom today. big question to ask elementary schoolkids, to be sure. but he had a right to ask it as does every veteran who has fought for this country, including my colleague senator cotton. but the republican party and the
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democratic party must unite to stand for freedom and to stand for an accountable democracy. because without that, the rules of this body do not matter. i yield the floor. the president pro tempore: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: mr. president, i can't think of a more important thing to be debating here in these chambers than the right to vote. but we cannot even get to that. we can't even get to that. because of the use of the filibuster to prevent us from having a vote, a discussion on the voting rights act. in america the path toward justice has always, always been intertwined with the right to vote. progress and enfranchisement have always been braided together. billy clubs, whips, barbed wire,
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wrapped tubing, that's the way -- john lewis at the edmund pettus bridge in selma because it's never been easy. it's never been easy to fight for enfranchisement or to fight for that right to vote. there's always been a price to pay by those who focus on justice. shouted slurs, explosions of tear gas, pained screams and the clap of clubs against bone. those were the sounds that filled the air and lewis and hundreds of americans tried to march forward as they tried to bring their country forward one step at a time. most of us in this room know that those mothers and fathers of the civil rights movement, what they did for us that day. they raised their voice on that bridge so that fellow americans could raise their voices at the ballot box. and tragically we also know that many in this chamber today appear unwilling to do their
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part to protect the rights those heroes fought for. more than a half century ago in this very building, senators from both sides of the aisle came together to pass the voting rights act, a bill designed to protect black americans, to protect all americans from the kind of racial discrimination that was so common in state-run elections at that time. of course, it's not possible to list out all the changes that have taken since that moment. more and more civil rights advocates stood up and sat in. more and more americans marched through and laid down in the streets and the moral arc of the universe that dr. king spoke of led to a little more justice with every hard-earned right they secured and every fight that they won. but sadly, damningly one other change stands out as i speak here today. more than 50 years after the
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voting rights act became law, we can no longer say that a bipartisan majority of the senate is willing to protect the most basic tenet of our democracy. heck, we don't even have all of the senators in the room to discuss this. every american's right toe make their voice -- to make their voice heard is so critically important to our democracy. we can't say this because senate republicans have spent the past year blocking every democratic attempt to even begin debate on strengthening voter legislation. even as republicans and states around the country pass more and more restrictive voter suppression laws aimed at silencing the voice of the people, we still struggle and beg to have this debate, and they will not vote to allow us to do so. republicans in georgia made it illegal to preempty torely mail out absentee ballots to registered voters, a law that hurts all groups that rely on voting by mail to communities
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with color and americans living with disabilities. it it also hurts military members living overseas. i myself voted by mail when i was serving our country in iraq. after all, i was a little busy flying combat missions, so i don't know if i would have had the chaens to request an -- chance to request an absentee ballot 15 days before the election if my unit had not assisted in that effort. not every unit may do that. so not having their ballots mailed to them would make it immeasurably harder for troops to vote wherever they may be serving. i can't understand why republicans want to make it harder for brave americans defending our democracy abroad to participate in it. but that's what they're doing. i can't understand how my republican colleagues can sit here today and ask paid staffers and pages to bring them water at exactly the temperature they like with or without ice, sparkling or not sparkling, as they make their voices heard on

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