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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript


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Joining us now is Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Senator Brown, thank you for being here. I appreciate your being
willing to talk to us about this.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Sure. Of course.

MADDOW: Am I -- am I wrong to think that there`s not going to be a
big change to what we`ve come to accept as normal, which is Republicans
requiring a 60-vote supermajority on everything in the Senate?

BROWN: I think you were generally right. I think that there will be
-- I mean, the steps -- we didn`t do as much as many of us wanted to do. I
think it`s small progress. I think the Senate will be -- will work a
little better than it did. I think the -- we`ve got some things done in
the Senate.
In the House, the problem more than anything, Rachel, has been this
rule in the House, that the House majority, John Boehner, won`t move unless
he has majority of Republicans. So, we`ve sent the currency bill over,
we`ve sent the foreign bill, we`ve sent some transportation bills and some
bills that would move the country forward that have died there even though
they could have a majority.
So we are going to keep the pressure on in the Senate. I think that
last time, as you pointed out, it was a handshake. This time it was in
writing if the progress isn`t significant, working with a group of people
that want to stop the president of the United States and they will find
ways in the rules even with improvements, to slow things down. But I think
this was a step tonight. I wasn`t nearly what I know a lot of my friends
wanted it to be.

MADDOW: I think the disappointment from people who are Congress
watchers is that everybody thought that Democratic senators were so fed up
with that 60-vote supermajority threshold for everything that when you guys
got the chance to change it, you would pounce on it.
Is -- was that perception just wrong? Do senators just not mind this
as much as you thought that we did?

BROWN: Well, I think a lot of us. I think the votes weren`t there to
move in that way. There weren`t enough senators -- I`m not blaming any of
my colleagues in particular -- but there weren`t enough to take the bigger
steps that Senator Merkley, Senator Udall, and some of us wanted to take.
I think -- and this is not to deflect what you wanted to say, but I
think if you listened to the inaugural address as you did, I heard your
comments, one of the -- one of the things that I took out of that is we`re
going to see the president use his executive powers as much as he`s allowed
under federal law and under the Constitution, the more aggressive way than
last time. Even if we had reformed the Senate as well as we wanted, we
still would have had problems in the House. obviously -- I`m not begging
off the question.
But I think the president -- you are going to see the president use
the executive powers that are within his constitutional legal authority. I
think the progressive agenda is going to be driven that way that even if we
could get things to the Senate, which we will still do from time to time,
especially judges and appointees, presidential appointees, I hope, but
would it had gotten to the House, I think you`ll see some good news coming
that way.
That`s what I heard in the inaugural address that the president wants
to move on climate change, wants to move on voting rights, wants to move on
gun safety, and I think he will figure things out. I think the White House
is looking at those kinds of things. Labor law, Larry Cohen was on earlier
talking about some of this, I think it was on "ED SHOW", not yours, I`m not
sure. But, those kinds of things I`m hopeful the White House sees a path
to move the country forward.

MADDOW: Do you think immigration and gun reform which the president
has put forward as these temporal first priorities for this first term,
that they can move in the Senate?

BROWN: Well, I think -- I think immigration can move on the Senate.
I think that a number of these, that we can still get in the Senate,
because have a way sometimes of getting over the 60 votes or speeding up
the process and the House still doesn`t move on it.
So, I think that perhaps immigration gets through this, I feel good
about it getting through the Senate. If it doesn`t get through the House,
the president is going to use executive powers that he has. I mean, it`s
not ever as good using and evoking any executive powers, executive orders
and other things, not as good as the Congress passing something.
But, you know, it is going to be pretty hard and a lot of public
pressure on Boehner and on the Senate as there should be as the president
pushes us. But I think the president is going to use, the next four years,
use the bully pulpit. The Republicans are going to say, he`s out
campaigning. I think he is out pushing his agenda and he needs to go over
the heads of the Republicans in the Senate and House to do it.
So, I`m pretty optimistic that this going to be a pretty activist
presidency more in that sense than it was in the first term.

MADDOW: Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio -- I like talking to
you about stuff that I`m excited about. And I`m particular like talking to
you about stuff that I`m not excited about, because you`re such a straight
talker with us. I really appreciate your being here.

BROWN: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks a lot.

BROWN: Thanks always. Thanks, Rachel.


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