Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that passing federal voting legislation was about keeping the United States “standing in the world.”
Partial transcript as follows:
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I- you may know I am a child of parents who met when they were active in the Civil Rights movement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mmhm.
HARRIS: I- there is so much about this fight for – justice and the ideals of our democracy that are part of my DNA and on the issue of voting, we have seen 18 at least states, over a dozen states that have passed, I’m told 33 laws that are making it difficult for the American people to vote. You know, I’ve been meeting with prime ministers and presidents from around the world. One of my favorite interactions was with the now past Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. She came over for breakfast and we talked about everything that has to do with our relative security as nations and our priorities. And then she asked me about voting. She asked me about voting, and she knew what was going on here, and this is not a subject that was unique to my conversation with her, by the way, in terms of world leaders, because people around the world watch what we do as America, because we have held ourselves out to be a model of the efficacy of the- the ability of a democracy to coexist with an economic strength and power. We have been a role model saying, you can see this and aspire to this and reject autocracies and autocratic leadership. And right now, we’re about to take ourselves off the map as a role model, if we let- if we let people destroy one of the most important pillars of a democracy which is free and fair elections.
BRENNAN: You’re talking about what’s happening in state capitals around the country.
HARRIS: I am and- and but I’m talking about that, and I’m talking about what’s not happening in this Capitol in Washington, D.C., which is the passing of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. We have to- we have to agree- and this is not about saying you should vote for me or you should vote for Democrats. This is about everyone having unfettered access to their right to vote and- and agreeing that this is bigger than one election cycle. This is literally about our standing in the world, it’s about the integrity of our democracy. And I do believe of all the things that are on the headline news tonight, tomorrow, for the next week or months, when our kids look back five- ten years from now, at this moment it will be on our watch that we either stood for and fought for our democracy or not. And that I think that is all at stake right now.
BRENNAN: But you still have the reality of a 50-50 Senate–
BRENNAN: –and you have two senators who say they’re not on board for changing the filibuster in order to try to push this through. So how do you overcome that democratic reality of not having the votes and not having a clear path forward?
HARRIS: And you’re right to talk about the- the structure and the rules of the Senate, and that is real. And we will do, and look at whatever is necessary to push for Congress to take this issue on. And we have to, we have to.
BRENNAN: A carve out to the filibuster?
HARRIS: I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that we are going to urge the United States Congress, and we have been, to examine the tools they have available to do what is necessary to fight for and retain the integrity of our voting system in America.
BRENNAN: It sounds like you’re open, though, to a carve out to the filibuster to get there.–
HARRIS: I –
BRENNAN: –You were when you ran for president on the issue of climate. Are voting rights as important to you?
HARRIS: I believe that voting rights is one of the most significant issues that is facing us as individuals and as leaders today, there’s no question, no question. Voting rights lead to every other right, every other right. And so we need to prioritize it as a nation, all of us and understand why voting rights are important and- and- and insist that our elected leaders preserve these rights. But, MARGARET, realize that what’s happening right now includes that the entire Republican caucus of the Senate have voted against even debating this subject,–
BRENNAN: Right, but so–
HARRIS: –even debating, and I- I just- I think it’s really important that in this conversation about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. on the issue of voting, that we not lose sight of the fact that there is one whole group of people, half of the United States Senate, who are refusing to even debate this issue. Like you can then end up where you are, but stand up before the American people, state your position, defend your position. See if it stands up to logic and reason or your stated, or supposed ideals and values as an- as an American.
BRENNAN: But to that point, you were just in the Senate–
BRENNAN: –and the president spent decades there. How come you can’t pull someone across the aisle on this?–
HARRIS: We are trying.
BRENNAN: Or even Joe Manchin within your own party?
HARRIS: We are not going to give up on these issues, but you’re right. It’s a 50-50 Senate. It’s a 50-50 Senate and so- but it has to be a combination of us as an administration, but also everyone weighing in. And I’m glad we’re having this conversation. I think we have to continue to elevate the conversation about voting rights. Given the daily grind that people are facing, this may not feel like an immediate or urgent matter when in fact it is. And the more we have the opportunity to talk about it, the more I think people will see, yeah, I don’t want an America of the future for my kids to be in an America where we are- are- are suppressing the right of the American people to vote.