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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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Let`s turn to Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a co-sponsor of
meaningful filibuster reform.
Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Great to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Give us an update. Where are we at this hour? What can you
tell us?

MERKLEY: Well, as leader Reid talked, he is pursuing both options,
the path of 51 and the path of working out a deal with McConnell.
And I can tell you, it`s so relevant what happened yesterday. The
president stood on the steps of the Capitol right behind me, and he said
the time to act is now. And it kind of brought back the fierce urgency of
now language from a few years ago. And that is completely inconsistent
with a paralyzed Senate.
And so, as we discussed among my colleagues at lunch today, we need
the boldest possible reform. And I think we`re going to get that through
the option of going with 51. Not through the option of working out a deal
with McConnell.

SCHULTZ: So you think that you`re going to get what you want, the
talking filibuster. I mean, there is not going to be anymore silent
filibuster. I mean, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been clearly
reluctant to this point, as I know, to adopt your version of talking
filibuster reform.

MERKLEY: Yes. It`s a gold standard. Folks vote for more debate.
They actually have to make their case before their colleagues, before the
citizens. Take responsibility. Are they heroes or are they bums?
And, often, the feedback we anticipate from citizens will help us get
cloture for debate and be able to move forward.
It is not clear that that will be included under either option. But
in the balance of the pieces, and many are pieces I`ve advocated for,
including getting rid of the filibuster, the motion to proceed, getting rid
of it, going to conference committee, it`s a much stronger construction
under the package that Senator Reid is putting together for the 51 vote
option.

SCHULTZ: Well, this is why as you well know, Senator, but I think the
American people, we need to gather this. Because the table, or should we
say that the level of conversation that`s coming from the minority party
right now about possible obstruction is alive and well.
Here is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: One thing is pretty clear from the president`s speech
yesterday. The era of liberalism is back, an unabashedly far left of
center inauguration speech. If the president pursues that kind of agenda,
obviously, it`s not designed to bring us together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Senator, the Republicans are in denial. All the big issues
out there, they poll in the minority. They`re not with the majority of
Americans on issues.
So, won`t Mitch McConnell abuse the filibuster again if this isn`t
changed? I mean, that sound bite, shouldn`t that be a wake-up call, all
the Democrats in caucus?

MERKLEY: Oh, I fully anticipate that he`ll use every tool at his
hands. Every tool available, if you will. And it`s why he so fiercely
opposes the talking filibuster, because then he couldn`t kill bills in
secret.
The Disclose Act on the floor widely supported, get rid of secrecy in
campaign donations. They filibustered it, but not with anyone making the
case on the floor or before the American people. It was the complete
silent objection, no accountability, no transparency. And the result is we
still have these huge secret pools of funds that are corrupting our
political system.
And it`s bill after bill. It`s jobs bills. It`s getting rid of --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MERKLEY: -- loopholes for oil companies. It`s a whole series of
things.

SCHULTZ: So if these rules are changed, as poisonous as the
Republicans claim they are, will President Obama be able to have a
successful second term? Will he be able to get to climate change? Will he
be able to get to immigration reform without the Republicans getting in the
way?

MERKLEY: Well, I think under -- there is no magic set of rule
changes. But if we go with the 51-vote option, with the most robust form,
it certainly puts us in a much better position because there will be
accountability before the public.
And as you said, the public is with us. They want to end the war in
Afghanistan. They want to create jobs. They absolutely would love to see
us get rid of secret campaign donations, and so on and so forth.

SCHULTZ: Senator Jeff Merkley, great to have you with us tonight.
Appreciate your time.

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