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tv   Washington Journal Steve Cohen  CSPAN  November 4, 2021 11:48am-12:00pm EDT

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reporter: are house democrats approaching a put up or shut up on this? announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more, including spark light. >> the greatest town on earth is the place you call home at spark light, it's our home, too. right now we're all facing our greatest challenge. that's why sparklight is working around the clock to keep you connected. we're doing our part so it's a little easier to do yours. >> sparklight supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. hannah: now joining us from capitol hill is representative steve cohen, a democrat from
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tennessee, he represents memphis and he is a member of the progressive caucus. congressman cohen, we've been spending the first hour this morning looking at some of the messages and lessons learned on tuesdays, from tuesday's awelcomes. tuesday's election. what did you learn or what did you hear? guest: as a democrat it wasn't pleasant and pleasing but wasn't as terrible as many of the pundits say it was. there hasn't been a virginia governor re-elected for i think about 45, 50 years. there hadn't been a new jersey governor re-elected for a time similar to that, maybe greater, and yet the democratic governor was re-elected, which is historic. he might not have run to the levels of biden but he was re-elected and that was historic. and mcauliffe came close, he lost, if he had not made that comment about parents shouldn't have anything to do with
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determining their children's education, i suspect he would have won. and been the first governor in 45, 50 years to be re-elected. it was close. balls and strikes -- with these pundits, was it a w, was it an l? you have to look at how close a w it was or what went into it. if you lost the game because you had three pass interference calls, you might have had a heck of a game and everybody did well but three problems with the defensive backs. i don't think it was that bad and trump came out a real loser in that the republicans ran way ahead of him and it should tell the public that trump did not get the support after lot of people because people realize he is a pathological liar. so i think the prospects of him winning in 2024 are not good. he might get the nomination but
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not get elected because people realize how terrible a human being he really is. host: we have a headline we'll read to you and i think you can figure it out. democrats say passing their agenda is a must but history says it won't help them in 2022. guest: it is a must. we should have done it three or four months ago and i've been kind of an outhigher in that i advocated and have been a progressive the entire 15 years i've been here but a realistic politician and i know sometimes you play the hand dealt you and you know when to hold them and know when to fold them. and we needed to take that victory with the infrastructure bill and get it passed and have something to give the american people and move the economy forward. the infrastructure does it. that's unfortunate. we will pass it tomorrow or today and we might pass the
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build back better bill. whether it becomes law or not is another issue but that's always an issue and shouldn't have held up the infrastructure bill. you don't hold up one thing that's good for something else you're hoping for. you take what you can get when you can get it in politics and you pass it. host: the infrastructure bill will be coming before the house today you think? guest: i suspect so. we'll have a 3 1/2 hour caucus this morning to discuss what's in it. the pay it forward change will be an improvement and there have been decisions on immigration and additions on family leave and there's something in there on prescription drugs that speaker pelosi worked out with senator cinema and these are three popular issues, particularly family leave and prescription drug negotiations. those are in the 70's and they're bipartisanship and biracial and you name it, they're vegan, not g.m.o., all the good things.
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host: what about the john lewis voting rights act, what's the status of that? guest: unfortunately and sadly it's not got any republican support at all and the only way to pass it will be to break the filibuster, whether senator cinema and manchin will agree to do that for the voting bill and manchin has a voting bill and republicans wouldn't let that be debated as well. i don't know. i like senator manchin, we consider him a friend and know senator cinema and i hope they realize voting is the bedrock democracy rests unless we open the ballots the most wholesome way possible we're not doing our primary job to allow the government to flourish and it only flourishes with the people's input. host: i realize you're in the house but what do you think of changing the rules of the filibuster? guest: i think they should be changed. just about every legislative body i'm familiar with in the
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world operates on majority rule. . there is nothing in our constitution that says anything about a majority. this is a rule that came this rule came up for keeping slavery. there were smaller states when the country was created and got more power because they wanted to continue the most important economic engine they had going which was slave slavery. ry. got 3/5 counted for the slaves, even though they did not get any rights and they could not vote. they gave slaveholding states more they gave the slave holding
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states be illegal in this country. the existence of the slaves continued the process that continued the evil pernicious institution of slavery. evil institution of slavery. host: do you think california having two senators and tennessee having two senators is equal? guest: obviously not, and it should not be. the senate was a representative of the states. senators were appointed by state legislators. they picked two people from the state to be senators. we amended the constitution to provide for direct election of senators. we have had it for 100 years but it is still set up with two senators from each state. i think the biggest discrepancy -- it is like 80-1 the
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population, but to each have two senators. the small states have more power. you throw on top of that the filibuster, you need 60% of the senate to do anything, and then you have holds that senators can put on bills that are mysterious. senators can individually hold a bill and stop it from going forward. individual senators have power beyond what they probably should have. power beyond what anybody should have. the small states have inordinate power because of the filibuster rule in the way it is set up, two senators regardless of population per state. the people elected the house members and every member of the house is elected by the people. the senate was appointed by the
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legislatures and the legislatures were not these noble public servants. i was a legislature for 24 years and did the best i could, but a lot of people in legislatures over the years have been basically run by the speakers of the house or the speaker in the senate, that is where the power did lie and they were often influenced by special interest. they looked out for big oil, banking interest or whatever it was depending on the state's economic interest, and they held up or changed legislation to benefit their state. host: representative steve cohen , currently in his eighth term. he is a democrat from tennessee. he is on the transportation committee. let's take some calls. we are talking about the congressional agenda.
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oklahoma, republican, you are first up this morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i have enjoyed your program today and i have enjoyed speaking to you, and i am glad you are on the transportation committee. i feel like the senate, they need to. you have your representatives, and you need the two to take care. what i was calling about, i have first some truckers call, i was raised in oklahoma. we are talking about huge, huge tanks. they have always been full. my sister called me and said they now have no drops of oil in those tanks. it has all been shipped to the gulf. he said you better fill up your cars and gas will go high
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because there is no oil. host: i will take the opportunity to rephrase her question, do you think rising gas prices hurt the democrats at the polls? guest: they did. inflation in general has hurt us. it is mostly because the supply chain has been held up in large part because of the pandemic and workers in foreign areas cannot produce. the ports have held up the supply chain, as well. we put a lot of money in the economy to help working people. >> the rules committee is


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