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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MATTHEWS: OK. Senator Udall, coming out of this election, you can
say the president, if he is re-elected will have 52, at the most, senators,
if he`s lucky, 51, 52. If he loses and Romney comes in, he`ll have 50, 51
senators. You`ll have enough. But nobody going to have 60.
And therefore nothing is going to get done again for another two
years.

How can anyone defend that 60-vote rule that the filibuster entails?

SEN. TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I don`t think you can defend
it. I think that`s the reason we need filibuster reform. We led the fight
last time. We got 46 votes to change. If we had 51, we could have changed
the rules and I think we would have a much more responsive institution.
The Senate could be working on doing the things the American people want it
to do.

MATTHEWS: Why can`t you just pass a motion to bring back the motion
to move the previous question, end debate, and forget the other rules?
Just bring that rule back.

UDALL: Well, you could do that. There are a variety of things. The
important thing I think would be to do what I would call a talking
filibuster. Where, like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington," you got to put some effort in, in order to do the delay, let
the American people know why you are holding everything up.

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t previous senators get rid of that rule? That
you have to sleep out there, you got to go in the bunk beds in the back
room. You got to -- I remember how it used to be, they brought the bunk
beds in. You have to go around the clock rotating a number of senators who
were filibustering, had to be talking. Why did they get rid of that, the
real filibuster?

UDALL: Well, we could do that today. We could still if we had the
will to require people to come in and go through the debate. The problem
is, it`s very one-sided. The majority has to produce 51 senators to be on
the floor at all times and the minority only has to have a couple of
senators there. And so, that really is a one-sided contest.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

UDALL: And when we have tried it, when we have tried it, they have
ended up caving in, and allowed certain things to move forward.
But the central issue here is, Harry Reid has now said that the
agreement, the gentlemen`s agreement isn`t working. And that`s big.
Because it`s normally taken leaders to get reform in the Senate and what --

MATTHEWS: Last word, last word. We got to go right now. I`m sorry.
Last word, Ezra. Your thoughts. Do you think based upon what you`ve
been able to study -- any chance this will be declared unconstitutional,
the filibuster?

KLEIN: I don`t think it is very likely. I don`t think it`ll be
likely in the short term.

But one real quick thing, if Romney comes in with Republican
Congress, remember budget bills can be protected from filibusters so the
Ryan budget for instance can be passed with 51 votes, but you couldn`t do
immigration reform that way.

MATTHEWS: By the way, it`s already written in my commentary. I`ll
be back with that in one minute. This is an asymmetrically (INAUDIBLE),
Democrats can`t produce positive government because of filibuster but
Republicans can still cut, cut, cut using reconciliation. If you want to
be negative, keep the filibuster.

Thank you, Senator. We`ll have more time for you next time. Senator
Tom Udall, thank you for coming on.

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