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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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MADDOW: Republican Senator Mitch McConnell today on why Democrats should not change the Senate rules in order to stop his minority Republican Party from controlling what happens in the Senate.

Joining us now for the interview is Sherrod Brown. He`s the Democratic Senator from Ohio who just won reelection by a big five-point margin even though he got buried under $60 million in ads run against him by dark money conservative groups. Senator Brown, congratulations on your reelection. I haven`t seen you since.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Thank you, Rachel. And I heard you call the race on your show, so thank you.

MADDOW: Tada! Senator, if you are going to be in the Senate for another six years now, I have to ask you directly, should the rules in the Senate change
there on day one in January?

BROWN: Yes, absolutely. The same gentleman you just listened to, Mitch McConnell, talked about the dysfunction or what would happen in the Senate. That`s what`s happened the last four years. He was the same gentleman who two years ago that after the 2010 elections, that his number one goal was to defeat the president of the United States in the next election. And he did everything to do that, including invoking filibuster time after time after time after time.

We have never seen anything like the four years of blocking action in the Senate. That`s been the real abuse of power. Not we want to do where we want to get the Senate moving so it could enact the people`s will. We`re asking just to begin to debate these issues. They block issues from even coming in the floor to debate. That`s what Senator Merkley and Senator Tom Udall have been advocating for some time. Senator Reid is now supportive. I feel good about our chances in a month or so.

MADDOW: I always hear from beltway folks that no majority party should ever want to change the rules about this because you will wish you hadn`t when your party becomes the minority. If you and the Democrats were
in the minority some time during the next term of yours, could you live with the rule changes that the Democrats and Senator Reid are proposing right now?

BROWN: I could, because I think that the public -- I mean, after elections, the public thinks some things should happen. It`s pretty clear the public spoke loudly this year.

They reelected a president who carried almost all of the swing states, won by 100 electoral votes, picked up Senate seats where the numbers were stacked against us in terms of the number of Senate seats on the ballot, going back to 1964 numbers literally. And picked up House seats and didn`t win a majority because of redistricting, if you look at all the numbers of House votes for Democrats and Republicans across the country.

So, it`s clear the public wants something done and McConnell doesn`t want us to do any of these things, to move any of this forward. And that`s the importance of making the Senate a more functional body so that we can confirm judges. There are so many empty judgeships that could be doing the
people`s business but they`ve been blocked with issue after issue after issue, just bring them forward and debate, speak your piece and let the votes fall where they might.

MADDOW: And Senator McConnell`s big, long floor speech about this today and those very incendiary quotes from Senator Tom Coburn, Senator John Cornyn, they are really shaken the bars of the cage here. They`re talking about burning down this institution essentially if you guys are able to go forward and change these rules.

What do you think the Republicans might do? Could they do real damage to the institution if they decided that they were going to pull out all the stops to stop the Democrats from doing this?

BROWN: I think they can do symbolic things. I heard what you said about Senator Coburn, he`ll go to the floor and talk and talk and talk, and that`s fine. That`s sort of the old fashioned filibuster. But after he`s done and he will be done at some point, maybe somebody else will do the same. But at some point, we begin -- we change the rule, begin to vote on things. We see up or down votes on the people`s business.

And I think the public, I heard -- most people don`t talk about process when you`re out campaigning or out at town hall meetings, but I heard so many times, what are you going to do so the Senate can actually get things done?

The public wants things done. They don`t care a lot about arcane Senate rules and rule 22 and what used to happen in the Senate. They know the Senate is a more dysfunctional body than it`s been in years and years and years and they want to see something happen. They want -- they voted for change and we want to be able to move forward.

MADDOW: This is something that gets discussed forever, but when I talk to senators such as yourself, when I talked to other people who are involved in the process that would make this potentially happen, it feels like this year, it`s the real deal.

We`ll see if that`s true.

BROWN: It`s our best chance.

MADDOW: Sherrod Brown, Democratic senator from Ohio -- thank you,
sir. It`s great to see you.

BROWN: Thanks.

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