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Let`s turn to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is the only member of
the Democratic Caucus to vote against the so-called filibuster reform.
Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
I`d like you to respond to that fundraising letter of Mitch McConnell. I
mean, are things going to change? Are we going to see the same old Mitch?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Look, at the end of the day, what that
legislation did is made it easier for some cabinet appointees to take their
jobs. That`s important. It`s going to speed up the process in the Senate.
But at the end of the day, Ed, this country faces enormous economic crises.
We`ve got to deal with global warming. We`ve got to deal with education. We
have to deal with deficit reduction.
We are not going to be able to do what the American people want if we have
to get 60 votes. And as a result of that agreement, we`re going to continue
to have to get 60 votes. And that`s why I voted against it.
SCHULTZ: Isn`t Mr. McConnell showing it`s going to be the same attitude? He
beat the liberals.
SANDERS: Yes. No, I think it will.
Look, here`s what has happened. Historically, there was a gentleman`s
agreement in the Senate, and that is that you will not use the filibuster
requiring 60 votes unless it was something really you felt very
passionately about. When Lyndon Johnson was majority leader, he had to use
cloture on one occasion.
Since Obama has been president, Reid has had to use it hundreds of times.
In other words, the Republicans have changed the rules. Any significant
piece of legislation now requires 60 votes. You can`t govern effectively
under those conditions.
What we should have said, if you want to oppose something, go to the floor.
Talk and talk and talk. But when you`re finished, it`s going to be 51 votes
that makes the decision.
SCHULTZ: Senator, you heard some of the comments from my radio show. It was
all over liberal talk radio today. It`s all in the social media.
I mean, how much more abuse must the Democrats take in this process before
they finally adopt meaningful filibuster reform? I mean, we`ve got, you
know, this ruling by the court in Washington on some of the appointments of
President Obama. You can be sure that Mitch McConnell is probably behind
closed doors, smiling about that. He is not there to help the president.
But the question is: why don`t the Democrats realize what is happening
here? They may realize it, but they`re afraid to move forward on it. And
people are frustrated in this country. This is what they voted for.
SANDERS: No, Ed, you know, I agree with you. That`s why I did not vote for
And I think what everybody has got to understand -- and you`ve made this
very clear -- this is not some kind of inside the beltway abstraction about
Senate rules. This is really important stuff, because we have a nation that
is demanding action to create millions of jobs to transform our energy
system, to come up with a fair tax proposal so the wealthy and large
corporations start paying their fair share.
We are not going to be able to do those things and many other things, the
things, in fact, that Mitch McConnell and his billionaire friends are
worried about, we are not going to be able to do that if we need 60 votes.
No, I think what ended up happening is we could only get to the best of my
knowledge 47, 48 votes. That was the reality. There were seven or so
Democrats who chose not to go along with what we call the talking
filibuster, which would have meant 51 votes. And that`s the story.
SCHULTZ: It looks to me like we`re reaching the point where the American
public is growing more aware of filibuster reform that relates to
substantive issues. And this is not a good deal. And it`s going to be very
interesting to see how this plays out.
Next week, the president is going to be going to Nevada to talk about
immigration reform. I mean, do you think that we can get immigration reform
in this country? I mean, are there going to be -- I don`t think there is
going to be -- I don`t think there`s going to be 60 votes for the assault
weapons ban. I think there is not going to be 60 votes for climate change.
What about immigration reform?
SANDERS: Well, I think you`re probably right. And what ends up happening is
if you manage to cobble together some agreement, which does get you 60
votes, what you can be absolutely assured of is that that piece of
legislation is going to be much, much more conservative, much less
effective than it otherwise would have been.
Could we get 51 votes to create millions of jobs and rebuild the
infrastructure? Yes, I think we can. Can we get 51 votes to ask the wealthy
and large corporations to help us with deficit reduction rather than cut
Social Security and Medicare? I think we can.
But can we get 60 votes for those proposals? No, we can`t.
SCHULTZ: Senator Bernie Sanders, good to have you with us this evening.
Thanks so much.
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