tv U.S. Senate Sens. Mc Connell Durbin on filibuster voting rights CSPAN January 11, 2022 10:38am-11:01am EST
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>> this week on this floor we are poised to witness something that is never happened before in living memory, an attempt to attack the core identity of the senate by a sitting majority leader. the senior senator from new york once said nuking the filibuster would quote, turn what the founding fathers called the cooling saucer of democracy into the rubberstamp of dictatorship. he said it would make the country into a banana republic. a doomsday for democracy, he said. now he wants to trigger that doomsday himself. when i was majority leader some of my own party urged me to break the senate for a own parties short-term gain. my answer was a single word, no.
less than four years ago the senior senator from illinois said nuking a legislative filibuster quote, would be the end of the senate as it was originally devised and created, going back to our founding fathers. now he wants the senate to end on his watch. the last time senate democrats were in the minority, 32 of them signed a letter demanding the legislative filibuster stay in place. now many of them say they want to break this institution. the excuses put forward for this behavior are entirely fake. the supposed justifications are simply false. the senate democratic leaders are trying to use a big lie to bully and the rate their own
members into breaking their word, , breaking the rules, and breaking the senate. we are going to spend all week sounding the alarm on the radical takeovers that some democrats want to pull off. they want to silence millions of americans and take over the senate so they can take over elections, so they can take over america. leading democrats say they want to break the senate because of a sinister anti-voting plot that is sweeping america. of course this is totally fake. it does not exist. their current control of congress and the white house were decided in 2025 the highest turnout in 120 years. 90% -- 94% of voters said voting was easy here more americans say current voting laws are too lax than say they are too
restrictive. confronted by the facts, the democratic leader says they are of course irrelevant. he says the entire nuclear push is occasioned by what a few states did in 2021. this is utter nonsense. the the senator from new yorks been publicly laying groundwork to nuke the senate rules since back in 2019, before the 2020 election. more than a year before the 2020 election, the democratic leader was flirting with nuking the senate rules if he got the power so he would be able to ram through bigger changes. now none of this was occasioned by what state legislatures did in 2021. this was actually a year's long quest for power in search of a
pretext, and though the historil attacks on state laws are fake as well. the state of georgia passed a voting law providing for more in person early voting in new york provides. it allows for no excuse absentee voting, which new york prohibits. if there was not a voting crisis and democratic run new york six months ago, then there is no crisis in georgia now. if georgia is a banana republic today, then new york has been and still is a banana republic. there is zero logic here. zero consistency. in the state of texas, democrats are hysterical because the state rollback some unusual covid specific exceptions to their prior procedures such as universal drive-through voting and 24 hour voting.
so if the bar for voting rights now requires the possibility of voting in person at 3 a.m., how many blue states in america meet that bar? none of these things existed in texas before 2020 and neither widely exist in blue states. every historical claim that our democracy is in crisis rings hollow. more americans today say that president biden's election was legitimate. now listen to this, then said the same thing about the prior president in late 2017. more americans today say that president biden's election was legitimate then said the same about the prior president in late 2017. yet, democrats are trying to use their fake hysteria to justify breaking senate rules so they can seize control of elections
in all 50 states. that's what they are up to. historically, the said as they can up elections legislation on a careful, bipartisan basis. we have made sure not to travel on the right of voters and the proper roles of local officials. in 2002 we passed the help america vote act by a vote of 92-two. 92-two. chris dodd and i authored that bill. interestingly enough the only dissenting votes came from then senator hillary clinton and current democratic leader chuck schumer. 92-two. well, that's a pass election reform if there are actual issues that need tackling. you do it carefully. you do it thoughtfully. bipartisan committee work, regular order. our colleagues are not doing
anything like that. they are trying to ram through sweeping partisan legislation that the first drafted and introduced in its first iteration back in 2019. democrats say they're concerned about efforts to disempower the appropriate local elections officials. it is actually their bills that would disempower local officials by washington democrats appoint themselves the entire country or to elections on steroids. democrats say they're concerned about overturning election results. well, it's in their bills that would overturn election results, overruling the common sense of voting laws decisions people across the country have picked for their own state. a case in point. the democrats latest bill would force the entire country to adopt two practices, same-day registration and no excuse
absentee voting, that the citizens of new york state had as ballot measures last november. new york, deep blue new york, rejected the most. so you had to ask yourself, why are washington democrats refusing to accept the decision of new york voters? why are they trying to set aside these election results and overturn the people's rule? our democratic colleagues have also talked about a so-called voting rights bill. this is a bill to turn the partisan attorney general into a national elections as art. the attorney general would longer have to sue states in win in court. he could end up doing an end run around the legal system and push states around without having to persuade a judge first. so i'm sure i democratic colleagues would have reacted well if republicans had tried to break senate rules so that bill
barr could micromanage elections in blue states. i'm sure that would have gone swimmingly. on their side of the aisle. but ultimately, madam president, the issue at stake this week runs deeper than this fake hysteria. even deeper than voting law. breaking the senate itself and nuking the filibuster would cause a massive political power outage for many millions of american citizens for entire states. so the filibuster not just about what bills are blocked. it's also the sole feature that gives millions of americans in a voice at all in the legislation that does pass, whenever there is one party control.
and no appropriations, funding bills, the ndaa, rescue packages like the cares act all could be done on a one-party basis, thereby eliminating the influence of every state in america represented by a member of the minority. for decades, both senators and citizens have been able to take for granted that everybody gets a voice, even when they don't have divided government. it's this unique feature of the senate that is blown up millions and millions of american voices will cease to be heard in this chamber. a radical senate takeover for a radical elections take over, for a radical takeover of our
nation's future. what the democratic leader wants to do would not protect our democracy or our system of government. it would destroy a key feature of american government forever. and senators on both sides know it. >> madam president? >> senator from illinois. >> madam president, i i listed carefully to the republican leaders statement about the institutions of the senate,
traditions of the senate, the rules of the senate, the precedence of the senate, and why we are duty-bound to follow them. but i but i couldn't get the out of my mind as he spoke. the image of that news that came to us one day the supreme court justice antonin scalia had tragically passed away. and we all remember what happened next. it was the same republican leader who sent the word out to his republican members, don't even entertain the possibility that president obama is going to fill the vacancy on the supreme court. we are going to keep this vacancy open in the hopes that we can elect a republican president to fill it. now, that was eight months at least, maybe ten months before the election. and it was a first time in history of the united states that a republican leader of the senate used his power to browbeat his members not even to meet with merrick garland, the
president nominee, president obama's nominee. they wouldn't even entertain an office meeting with him to discuss it. it was out of the question. the supreme court was going to eight members and not one more, because the was an election coming and republican opportunity in that election. and so that's what happened. you remember it well and i do, too. so when i hear about preserving the sanctity of traditions in the senate, i can't help but remember that vacant seat on the supreme court for almost a year. i cannot help but remember that in the last year of obama's presidency that he was denied the opportunity which of the president routinely were given to fill a vacancy on the supreme court. that was the reality, and now there is a question of the future of the filibuster and i will concede that the filibuster has been part of the profile of the senate for a long, long time for many decades.
what the senate republican leader fails to note is that the use of the filibuster is out of control. we now have filibusters threatened on everything in sight. it was by design, not by accident. and it was by design to slow down the business of the senate to stop the production of the senate, and that's why day after weekly date in this chamber is empty. nothing is happening. because the filibuster usually looming over the body. and for those who want to restore the senate to an actual legislative body with actual debate and amendments on the floor, we are being told by the republican leader that we are somehow denying the basic birthright of the senate. and we know that is wrong. we know that the senate, as many of us remember it, has changed. dramatically. with 25 years ago that i came to the senate. we voted a lot.
we actually had 12 appropriation bills come to the floor of the senate every year. every year. under an open process where any amendment could be offered and debated and voted on. that appropriation bill would go into conference with the house and in doubt doing what it was supposed to do, funding our government. i can't remember the last time that happened. i think it's been ten years now since the senate committee for appropriations to their normal business with the budget resolution and prepared these bills. it's gone. why? why is it can't? was if the tradition of the senate that you can see those bills are gone because of the abuse of the filibuster? any amendment that is offered is threatened with asphyxiation vote requirement, and things grind to a halt. and you know the net result of it. we have something called an
omnibus bill, all the bills with one massive piece of legislation, staff writer let the member look over their shoulders if there's anything of interest and we pass it year after year after year. is that another fine tradition of the senate that we want to protect? i hope not. i hope the senator from kentucky realizes, let me say a word about voting if i can. for as long as we've had this nation there's always been a basic question as to who will choose the leaders. our founding fathers showed a lot of wisdom but they mr. linick into voting, at least by this centuries standards. because they denied the vote to african-americans who were by and large slaves in the culture and they denied the vote to women. and they said basically property of individuals -- with a different view of america's democracy today, and many of us
believe that every eligible person in this country should be given an opportunity to vote that is not a hardship. so in the 2020 election we had a record turnout. the were many of us who felt we should build on that to have an even larger turnout the next election, let the people speak, but the people vote. we have about 20 different state legislatures controlled by the republicans do exactly the opposite, they decided. they decided they would restrict opportunities to vote. too many darn people voted in the 2020 election and the results were not what some of the republican legislators and governors expected. so they decided they want to change it can reduce the opportunity for early voting, reduce the opportunities for registration, reduce the opportunity for same-day registration. they argued that some states have and some don't. well, the bottom line as we see
it on the democratic side is infrequent open opportunity for people across the country who are eligible to vote without hardship, that we ought to do it across the board and that's what we support legislation, federal legislation, ordained and invasion by our constitution to establish standards that would make it easier to vote. the senator from kentucky like to come to the floor and say they've had that these good things. he may be right. why shouldn't they? as far as i'm concerned illinois, new york, hawaii, all states should be governed by standards that give people an additional opportunity to vote. i would rather come down on the side of the larger turnout of the electorate and let democracy speak then the alternative which is being suggested by the republican leader. they want to selectively make it difficult for some people to come and vote. i don't. i think they are wrong.
time and again senate republican leader came to the floor and called things fake. i guess we're not into that characterization and can thank president trump for leading us down that path. what is not fake is this. what the history of the united states the opportunity to vote has been denied, primarily to people of color, the poor year after year and in an effort to try to make sure that election results turn out a certain way. for the longest time my democratic party was guilty of that sin. i readily confess it because history makes it clear. but now that mantle has been passed to the party of abraham lincoln. the republican party which is now trying to restrict the right to vote across the nation. when you heard probably the suggestion in georgia you couldn't provide water or food to people waiting in line, it
probably struck most americans as odd. why would they say that? well, visualize if you will the lines of voters and you will find, your memory is the same as mine, that largely they were minority voters who were standing in line for hours to vote, hours to vote. and so the georgia state legislature and others have said, if you give them water or food, you have violated the law. but them stand in line without any support. really? is that what it is come down to? they fear that if you give a cup of water to someone waiting in line to vote you are buying their vote? i just can't believe the thinking that leads us to that but we know behind it were a lot of situations where machinery and voting places were limited to minority populations. >> we take you live now to the u.s. senate which today's taking
votes on nominees to head the national telecommunications and information administration and the federal railroad administration. also this week it's possible the senate could consider changing filibuster rules regarding voting rights legislation. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the guest chaplain, rabbi moshe feller of st. paul, minnesota, director, upper midwest merkos from st. paul, minnesota. the chaplain: almighty god, masters of the -- master of the universe, the members of this august body, the united states sete