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tv   Congressional Black Caucus Holds Press Conference on Voting Rights  CSPAN  January 12, 2022 8:06pm-8:49pm EST

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for serious readers. learn, discover, explore, on cspan2. ♪ ♪ next congressional black caucus with a news conference on voting rights. the senate to change the filibuster rules to allow a vote on the john lewis advancement act. from capitol hill this is a 40 minutes. [inaudible] [background noises]
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[background noises] >> thank you for joining us today. i am congresswoman joyce beatty i have the distinct honor serving as the chair of the congressional black caucus become today at united something we have a long history of fighting for, debating, and yes winning. that is voting rights. it is no secret or surprise to you when we say the fierce urgency of now, voting rights. we are calling on the senate's to vote. we are calling on the senate to have that debate. because we want to pass the john r lewis voting rights advancement act. want to advance the freedom to vote acts.
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we know how much we have fought for. yesterday i was proud to join president biden and vice president harris in a place of profound civil rights and voting rights history. to advocate for the most foundational sacred thing that i can think of that makes me emotional. what i think of as a black woman, i can stand here today before you, asking us to do something the past five presidents have done and for white republican presidents, reauthorize the voting rights act too. so real question you should ask your self is a what happened? what happens with this last president that got us to where we are today? that my colleagues will not
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stand up and pass the voting rights act? is it because we win? is it because we vote? that is what you should ask yourself. let me end by saying the president made it very clear, where do you stand? do you stand with doctor martin luther king or george wallace? do you stand with john lewis? do you stand with abraham lincoln or jefferson davis. we stand here civil rights leaders, advocates, legislators, lawyers, we stand here fighting for the people. so today i'm going to bring several members up.
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we are going to do something a little different. we are going to do the full house one minute with the exception of our leader dorothy. [laughter] and then i'm going to ask my members to join me congresswoman sheila jackson will join me, former chair of the cdc, it's good to have our good friend back will join us to help address questions. with that congressman james clyburn. >> thank you very much madam chair. i do not think there are any issues more emotional with members of the congressional black caucus and our constituents than the issue of voting.
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i do not believe there is any group of people other the congressional black caucus who are really practical when it comes to the process. no one is more practical than we are. and that is why when we sent the for the people act, hr-1. in hr for devoted to the senate and we saw significant reticence on the part of various senators when senator joe manchin expressed support for the people act except he had some misgivings about parts of it.
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so when he decided that he could put together legislation that he thought would be bipartisan and he proposed what he called the freedom to vote act, every member of this caucus lined up in support of it. demonstrating the practicality of the political process. so the freedom to vote act is not our bill. we agreed to support senator joe manchin's bill. that is what this bill is. and we are finding some real issues trying to figure out why is it that when we decided
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to support his bill he seems to be supporting a filibuster of his own deal. that to us is very disconcerting. finally, i think all of us in the progressive black caucus are very understanding of our history. the 14th amendment gave us rights of due process. and equal access. but it was the 15th amendment took another memo to the constitution to give free slaves the right to vote. that amendment passed on a
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straight party line vote. so we take exception, grave exception if anybody us the legislation cannot have credibility unless it is bipartisan. you were saying that is about credibility. so we are asking all of our friends inside and outside the congress to be careful with that. that is not what history teaches us. and i am please to yield to chairman jefferson. >> thank you, thank you madam chair for your leadership and all of the members of the congressional black caucus. the right to vote is precious. the right to vote is sacred. the right to vote is central to the very integrity of our
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democracy. you cannot have a government of the people, by the people and for the people unless every single american has the unfettered ability to choose their representatives and fully participate in american democracy. the voter suppression epidemic has been on leased by the radical right is unacceptable, unreasonable, unfathomable unconscionable and on american. we must crush it and we will crush it. that is why it is essential, it is important, it is necessary with the fierce urgency of now to pass the joe manchin freedom to vote act and the john robert lewis voting rights advancement act.
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by any means necessary including reforming a filibuster rule stripping and racist history and in jim crow. on this issue make no mistake when it comes to the protection we shall overcome. last week we marked a one year since insurrectionist stormed the u.s. capitol to overturn a democratic election. in the weeks before the attack some republicans made despicable false claims against voters and my state of nevada. but they failed. the insurrection failed and in the years since nevada has made protecting of voting rights our sacred mission. today the congressional black
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caucus is here to use our power and our message to call on her senate colleagues to protect the freedom to vote, seize this moment. pass the john r lewis advancement act. pass the joe manchin freedom to vote act. guarantee safe, secure, free elections for all americans. the world is watching us and now is the time to stand up for our democracy. >> hi i am congresswoman i probably represent alabama the seventh district which includes the historic city right birmingham selma and montgomery. it was in my hometown of selma 56 years ago john lewis in the foot soldiers to shed blood on the bridge for equal right of all americans to vote. but as we know, all bottles have become new again a state
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legislatures across this country erect deliberate barriers to the ballot box. trying to silence a certain group of people. these laws may not require us to count how many jellybeans are in a jar, but modern day voter suppression is no less pernicious. yesterday was honored to join president biden and vice president harris and madame leader of the congressional black caucus joyce beatty. as the president spoke of an urgent need to protect the sacred right to vote i applaud the president for being unequivocal both in his statement that any necessary we must change the rules of the senate and pass the voting rights act for our nation is at inflection point. voting rights will go to the senate floor in must pass. on the anniversary the cusp of the martin luther king
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celebration day there can be no celebration. not without liberation, without freedom, without the right to vote. as we have prepared to observe the birthday of reverend doctor martin luther king let us remember justice delayed can be justice denied. the time to act is now. nothing is more fundamental of our democracy in the sacred right to vote. the time to talk is over. it is now time to act. >> my name is : i represent texas 32nd district. i am proud to be her with my colleagues. i'm also former voting rights lawyer. some judges were not going to get a good ruling from. we knew the courts might not
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be on our side. but we always had the law. we had the voting rights act. we do not have that protection right now. it's going to have to be us in the congress there's nothing more important after our capitol was attacked people trying to overthrow democracy, after a rash of laws have passed across this country to try to make it harder for certain americans to vote. the state of texas is arty the hardest state in the country to vote, they just went and made it harder. but now is the time to act. believe us, believe us when we tell you i have spoken to voters were disenfranchised. i see the light go out of their eyes the belief in our democracy believe them. we have to restore our
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democracy and this is the time. we cannot let a central, a senate rule that is based and used almost exclusively to prevent civil rights. to prevent us from rising to this moment. i know all of us in the congressional black caucus will do everything we can. we are calling on the united states senate. we are calling on a percentage of youth centers in particular to rise to this moment, pass your own bill senator manchin. pass the john voting rights advancement act. give us let the chips fall where they may in the next election, thank you. i am val demings representing florida tenth congressional district. the greatest nation to hold
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america to its promise? a stand today remembering my parents my father was a janitor and my mother a maid. my dad used to go to work seven days a week to make ends meet for our family. but i cannot remember a time when my parents did not cast their vote. they sought as their >> duty. my parents understood their vote they did not have a lot of money their name was not on a building people did not rise when they walked into the room, their vote mattered. and it mattered just as much as the richest man or woman in town. we can talk about healthcare we can talk about civil rights we can talk about women's rights. we can talk about social security, medicare, education.
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everything we care about if we do not protect the right to vote. we are not going anywhere. we are dang sure not going back. we will use every tool, every tool within our power to protect the precious sacred right to vote. >> good afternoon param job rep is in the great state of colorado as representative reminds us in just a few days tens of millions of americans will commemorate martin luther king jr.'s birthday part of all of the insightful things martin luther king imparted us with during his time on earth is one quote that's resonate with me and i expect so my colleagues which is at the time is always right to do
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what is right. the time to safeguard voting rights, to protect voting rights and to advance voting rights is now. not next year, not next month, not next week. here and now. and in the face of over 400 laws that have been introduced in the last year to restrict voting rights in florida, and in texas, and iowa, and in georgia, all across the country near the stakes cannot be higher. so to our colleagues in the senate we simply say that the eyes of the world are on you. the world is watching. the country is watching. in the congressional black caucus is watching. we hope you will do the right thing. >> good afternoon. i am jones representing new
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york's 17th congressional district. our democracy is in crisis. the insurrection at the capitol on january the sixth of 2021 told us that. now the same party that insight said that violent attempted overthrow of the federal government, because of the deep unpopularity of its policies is seeking to disenfranchise large swabs of the american electric chief among them black and brown voters. there is a way to stop that from happening. we must pass to joe manson's freedom to vote at the john r lewis voting rights advancement act. we are faced with an existenial question about whether we will have a representative government for we the people living into this upcoming year. and the answer can be yes. but only if we use the limited time we have available to us. only if we use the power the
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american people have given to us to secure the fundamental right to vote. we note voting rights are preservative of all other rights and nothing comes close to being as important. certainly not a filibuster of accidental origin that has been a weaponize to block the same kinds of civil rights legislation that we are simply trying to enact into law today. this is legislation previously noncontroversial in the early 2000 sprayer member marching with naacp as a young activist to reauthorize the original voting rights act which was done unanimously in the senate, when did that ever happen? nearly unanimously in this chamber. we have got to do the right thing. we've got to prevail upon with the help of the president of the united states have been the worst of filibuster reform of centers and cinema to rise to this occasion and to make
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an exception for the purpose of saving our ailing democracy, thank you. hello. i am congresswoman lisa blunt rochester. the purpose of the state of delaware. i am the last of the one minute. and it is really hard, it is unbelievable that we are standing here. today, the congressional black caucus is here to say the time is now. i was fortunate yesterday to travel with the georgia delegation, so many members of the congressional black caucus it. and our chairwoman joyce beatty who has exhibited incredible leadership and this
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shown the country all of us will stand up and fight. even go to jail for voting rights. i was honored to hear our president in our vice president the first woman, the first african-american and asian american speak about the urgency of now that has unequivocably talk about how they deal with january 6, talk about how high the stakes are. i think everybody here pretty much summed it up. it is about access, people having access to the ballot which martin luther king talked about give us the ballot. it is about suppression. and trying to stop people from getting water on eight voting line when they are just trying to exercise that right. it is about subversion, stealing elections.
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we are the conscience of the congress, the congressional black caucus. many of you have seen, i carried this on day one, i cared at the day of the insurrection, i carry it to atlanta. it is from georgia. it was the oath that allowed my ancestor to have the right to vote. it took brave people to stand up and vote to end slavery. the reality is, had there not been encouraged before, we would not be standing here. and so today we say to the members of the senate, to pass the john robert louis advancement act, to pass the freedom to vote act.
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to know this is not just about a policy, this is about our entire democracy by way of life. i am proud to be a member of the congressional black caucus. and i am proud to say this is our power, and this is our message to the senate, thank you. >> thank you to all of my colleagues. we will take a few questions but let me just say thank you to my colleagues. it's always the right time to do what is rice. the fierce urgency of now and one last one front martin luther king, doesn't matter where you stand in the time of comfort and convenience. it is the action that you take during the time of challenges
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and controversy. it is the time and now to take that action. elected officials, do not hide , and don't not support voting rights and dare to celebrate king's birthday, stand with us. we will take questions and asked them to join me at the podium. are there any questions? will ask you to monitor the questions for us. [inaudible] [inaudible] is there pressure on them? secondly will be here tomorrow, and you think that's going to change the on the speech earlier this week? what is plan b? rex first of all when we say
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yes, yes, yes. yes on behalf of the congressional black caucus and the majority whip say he hasn't met with manchin and talked with those senators. i talked with cinema, a colleague of mine when i came in as a freshman to congress. we have had a number of conversations. if a conversation with senator manchin and let me say the congressional black caucus brought senator schumer into our official caucus meeting where we have had a dialogue. he was a most gracious yesterday and taking time from his meetings to talk with me multiple times. we are conversing for they know where we stand and we have seen progress. we brought them into the carcass we started talking about it had to happen now before the king's breakfast we wanted to see action.
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within 48 hours he was talking to the media for the king birthday. and i take great pleasure thing that happened because of us. we have not been silenced. so to your questions, we met with the president, the vice president, congresswoman lisa blunt rochester said, we flew out on the plane with them. i will assure you going and coming back one conversation, being more engaged making the debate and taking the vote. now i'll go to you and then go back. >> in your conversation with senator you wish they would've moved sooner on this was this is something that been taken up last fall with the john
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lewis writes voting rights bill? >> clearly we want voting rights. we cannot look back to what did not happen before, certainly you work hard the houses done their job we voted on it we pass it in the house. we would have liked that to have taken place it didn't here we are now. don't anything to that? >> let me just combine the two questions that have been asked. i think you need to take a clear look at us we love our fellow members but you are looking at black faces. you are looking at faces that are the direct target of the lack of voting protection. i stand here i believe as the first member who lost her district in redistricting that was pointedly attempting to
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eliminate two black members who happen to be members of the congressional black caucus. i am not imagining, i am speaking. so here's what i think in terms of both of your questions. there is no doubt we have lived and breathed in constantly been involved in discussing from the very minute terry sue introduced this bill and before. i was here for the reauthorization back and then to thousands, helped write it and it was everybody together. you have to ask the question, why went five of the members of vote in 2020 were so full of color you had the big lie on the insurrection. and so i do not want this to be looking this way at the congressional black caucus court do we wish they had done earlier? there are two obstacles, members and the senate her
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willing publicly to say they are opposed. and then the republicans who have a race as a blinder they cannot see. so i simply want you to say i think the answer is we are here now today. let us have the courage of our convictions today. i sent a five page letter to senator manchin i've given him enough time to respond i'll make it public now. it only suggests if he could have the courage that succeeded from virginia because they did not want to support slavery. we've done everything we could were very grateful to the president and vice president grateful to majority leader schumer into our chair. the question needs to be asked of those who are stopping the vote in the senate can you
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understand doctor king's words and i close with he says we shall overcome. the universe is long but it bends towards justice, thank you. if we get that done if he thanks that way if he is courageous all of this will be for not to get rid of the filibuster thanks. >> will go there, there there will have to close out. reporting about potentially using a bill with the senate, do you have a reaction is a persistent do you think? >> i do not know it's a new. certainly if you look back their history we have done all kinds of things. we do what we want to do. certainly there is always been an opportunity and our process you can you can bring a
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process vote to the floor you can have a deal in the house and put a bill in it and send it back then. comment to the senate make reference to the nasa bill. we have done that through our history. for us we are very clear we want to vote we want to send it to the president. so however it can happen i think mr. clyburn said we are not going to hold ourselves to whether it's a bipartisan or the process but i do not want to be flippant, i want a deal i went past. as the senate process for however they get it done we went signed by the president, next recollects what he said your constituents and voting rights advocate as the midterm elections. >> i felt sorry for those on the other side. for those who did not support this.
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we are very clear. our constituents understand where we are. our constituents understand at all levels, they understand victory and they a black president elected because they voted and they stood in line for five -- seven hours to vote. you have heard the president himself say thank you majority whip clyburn. thank you south carolina thank you great people for voting overwhelmingly to elect him that god is our first female black asian american vice president. people know that and people understand that. who should be afraid of those who won't stand up for voting rights? we are sitting in a call you can print this shame on you for not doing this. black folks will vote no matter what.
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it's not what's going to happen to us, it's what's going to happen to them. >> if the filibuster and it's able to pass would you be concerned the filibuster having a future republican congress to implement voting laws this time it could be on a national level. >> let me just say if you expected me too count what might racist colleagues and folks on the other side have been doing doesn't matter if there's a filibuster or not they are going to do what they are going to do look at january the sixth and what happened. look at some of the laws they are putting in place it. so for us it's the urgency of now. for us it's getting the voting rights law passed signed by the president. i worry about two years want to get to two years.
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the something you wanted to say? >> i want to thank our chair, our caucus leader, are whip, all of the members of this distinguished caucus that are with me and around me to just underscore and perhaps put in historical context why this means so much to all of us. thirty-four years ago in this building a young john lewis stood with me as we went to a press conference on knowing what we were going to deal with. one of the questions that came up is what is the priority of the congressional black caucus? and john and i because we had
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a way of linking arms stood at the podium almost in unison said it's the right to vote and have every vote counted and have the protection of those rights. he never ever wavered. so when there was an opportunity to leave congress and give up what a lot of people the trappings of power, john and his late wife and i sat down together and said you really are going to have to accept this offer from naacp. you're going to have to leave the congress going to have to go out into the hinterland and do on the outside but both of us in so many others have been trying to do on the inside. and so i left to head up the naacp for almost ten years. and at work in every state in this nation on the notion of a
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very basic concept that he held up to his desk that was near and dear to his with every expectation that would be counted. with iron eight me too come back after being 24 years and to see john and the state he was in when i got back. he called and said my friend you come back from a cold. that fight talked about in 1987 is still very much alive. so when the chairwoman talks about the visceral meaning of this to all of us or the gentlewoman from delaware or anyone else it is not contrite it is what we believe it's what we feel it's in our dna. it's what we are compassionately committed to no matter what. trust me, john lewis is in
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this room right now. his spirit 34 years later still resonate in this building. the tragedy, the tragedy is we are now fighting the same fight that many of us thought were behind us. senate of the united states will be forced, hate to even say that. they are being forced to take a vote on this. it is convenient everyone will be judged by history on how they stood on how they acted how they voted in the rights across americans to vote and have those votes counted would in fact come before them. i urge everyone in the senate to think about the things that have preceded you and all of us. to think about the nation, to
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think about the history of segregation, jim crow the history of when you cast the vote in the senate you are casting it to do away with those things not to reaffirm them, thank you madam chair for. >> thank you. our power our message. thank you all for coming. to all the members thank you. [inaudible] [background noises]
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