Meet The Press Broadcast (Full) - March 28th, 2021 | Meet The Press | NBC News

Meet The Press Broadcast (Full) - March 28th, 2021 | Meet The Press | NBC News

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[Music] this sunday the fight over guns there's a shooter active shooter get away that mass shooting in boulder colorado 10 dead i don't know how to go to work and like see the spot where my friends died and like be okay once again familiar arguments from democrats this is not about getting rid of the second amendment it's simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws and republicans what i'm not attracted to is something that doesn't work why can't congress pass even popular new gun safety legislation my guest this morning republican senator pat toomey of pennsylvania and democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut plus violence against asian [Music] americans asian american members of congress meeting today with the families of the victims of the georgia spa shootings we want to make sure that this is investigated as a hate crime and not just as a bad day i'll talk to the leader of the delegation congresswoman judy chu of california also voting access under assault georgia republicans pass sweeping laws changing voting access that democrats say targets black voters it's un-american it's anti-democratic we have to resist it we're actually expanding the right to vote in georgia now you're not hearing that from the other side could this be the fight that leads to the end of the filibuster joining me for insight and analysis are republican strategist al cardenas nbc news investigative and consumer correspondent vicki nguyen new york times white house correspondent peter baker and heather mcgee of the civil rights advocacy group color of change welcome to sunday and a special edition of meet the press from nbc news in washington the longest running show in television history this is a special edition of meet the press with chuck todd [Music] a good sunday morning the satirical website the onion follows a ritual whenever there's a mass shooting in this country running this headline no way to prevent this says only nation where this regularly happens there's truth and humor and in this case it's a dark truth consider march 16th eight people including six women of asian descent killed in and near atlanta march 17th five shot in a drive-by shooting in stockton california march 18th eight people shot in gresham oregon and new orleans march 20th two killed 17 wounded in mass shootings in philadelphia dallas and houston monday 13 killed another five wounded in boulder colorado detroit and cleveland tuesday two killed six wounded in aliceville alabama and atlanta friday six killed 25 wounded in chicago memphis philadelphia and virginia beach yesterday one killed 13 wounded in river grove illinois chicago and yazoo city mississippi all that since the spa attacks it was compiled by the nonprofit group gun violence archive which defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot not including the perpetrator after a high profile incident u.s politicians follow their own ritual democrats say enough is enough time to get an assault weapons ban passed republicans say enough about gun control this is a mental health problem and we need to protect the second amendment and what happens nothing gets done for a year we have been obsessed with a pandemic and our medical system has done a brilliant job attacking that problem but when it comes to our epidemic of gun violence our political system has no answers innocence is gone from newtown as a country we have been through this too many times to orlando you just hear that to actively do nothing is a decision as well to sutherland springs i personally have gotten a little tired of the statements following these tragedies that we need to do something to parkland we want to send a message to these politicians that they that they cannot allow this to continue to las vegas we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by to el paso i think we can have some really meaningful background checks to atlanta a white male what is he wearing i don't know please come okay women that look like me are constantly being attacked were being harassed and now we're being killed to boulder a shooter active shooter get away get back there have been 2805 mass shootings since the gun violence archive began compiling data in 2014 and they have become more frequent when it comes to considering tighter gun laws the response by most republicans in washington has been a never-ending cycle of wash rinse repeat unfortunately in washington emotion i think often leads to bad policies we need to really focus on the facts before we take hard positions this is not the time to jump to some conclusion not knowing the full facts in 2004 the 1994 assault weapons ban was allowed to expire and even after a mass shooting at sandy hook elementary school in connecticut left 20 first graders dead president obama was unable to win passage of tighter gun restrictions the a's are 54. the nays are 46. all in all this was a pretty shameful day for washington that's despite growing support for some gun restrictions in an nbc news wall street journal poll conducted in 2019 after mass shootings in el paso and dayton 89 percent supported expanding background checks to all gun sales and transfers 76 percent supported red flag laws to help law enforcement remove guns from those posing as an imminent danger to themselves or others 75 percent supported a voluntary gun buyback program 62 percent supported banning assault weapons the house passed two bills this month extending background checks to most private gun sales and lengthening the time the fbi has to complete a background check to a minimum of 10 days the united states senate i hope some are listening should immediately pass the two house pass bills that close loopholes in the background check system 61 percent of americans say they want the senate to pass the house bills though republicans whose support for gun restrictions has eroded are evenly split the legislative solutions have been perplexing and as as i said i shared joe manchin's opposition to the version that passed in the house still democratic leader chuck schumer promised this week to bring that bill to the floor this is a different senate we are going to debate and everyone's going to have to vote well joining me now is senator chris murphy of connecticut who has been designated as the point person for senate democrats on the issue of guns senator murphy welcome back to meet the press morning so uh you've reportedly said you are working on the boldest legislation possible you know the word i want to focus in on it's the word possible what do you believe is possible right now i i'm not interested in getting 50 votes in the senate i'm interested in getting 60 votes that's what is required to pass a piece of legislation today and so i've been instructed by senator schumer to work over the next several weeks with democrats and willing republicans to try to get a bill that expands background checks that can pass they can get votes from both sides don't count us out i think the politics have shifted dramatically since 2013 even since 2016 the last time that we had a vote on background checks remember 2019 after el paso and dayton we came very close to passing a background checks expansion proposal that president trump actually drafted and put before the congress it was the ukraine scandal that got in the way but i've gotten a lot of calls from republicans in the senate who don't want to fight this fight any longer because the nra's authority is fading the anti-gun violence movement's impact is increasing i think we have a chance uh look i i i hear your opt uh your optimism there but you understand why there's so much skepticism i mean do you need 10 republican votes there have been two votes unmentioned to me combined and i'm counting pat toomey's vote twice combined you've gotten eight votes on that by the way and is that still the best vehicle essentially some form of mention to me that can get through in your mind that even is possible to find the 10 republicans well the mansion to me proposal was written in 2013 and if you remember it was negotiated with the nra uh under the belief that the um i don't know that we need to bring mansion to me back before the senate but listen let's be honest you are going to have to make some adjustments you're going to have to make some reasonable accommodations if you want 10 republican votes and i am already talking to republicans who are not unwilling to sit down at the table and the reason for that chuck um is that um it's harder to win seats today if you are an a rated nra member of congress they lost a lot of those seats in 2018 and there's a reason mitch mcconnell didn't put anything like this up for a vote since 2016. he just doesn't want to have to force his members didn't want to have to force his members to choose between the gun lobby and 90 of their constituents i want to talk about what compromises my i was intrigued by a quote we included in in my opening piece there from mitch mcconnell when he said i share joe manchin's opposition to the house bill we know that joe manchin and john tester i believe in particular two senators from more rural states um the the house version of a background check bill would there's some parts of private sales that they seem to be concerned with uh is the house version of this bill too broad to get 60 votes in your opinion i i think it's uh unlikely that hr 8 as it's written today um can get 60 votes but i don't think it has to change very much in order to get the sufficient number of votes you are right that there's a small number of democrats and a bunch of republicans who may want to see the list of exempted sales expanded perhaps to include more family members but i think it is important to listen to exactly what mitch mcconnell said right he said that like joe manchin he opposes the version that passed the house not that he opposes expanded background checks and as you know mitch mcconnell is always very careful about what he says yes he does eight years ago he would have said he absolutely opposed expanding background checks today he's much more careful about his words because he knows there might be 10 members or more of his caucus who want to support uh a modified version of the house bill that still is a massive expansion of the number of sales that are or still a big expansion of the number of sales that are included in the background check system we've spent almost our entire time about what some would describe as a modest change in our background check system we haven't talked about new regulations about uh the guns themselves the debate the fact that um the the gun that was used in boulder is is somehow called a pistol um and those things are is actually regulating the gun itself a political impossibility right now um i think right now our best chance to get something passed is universal background checks and i think that the theory of the case is that once we convince republicans that the sky doesn't fall for you politically when you support a reasonable expansion of something like background checks you can move on to other interventions but yeah we should be having a broader conversation right now because you know in connecticut it's not just universal background checks that protects our citizens we require you to get a permit before you buy a pistol something that had it been in effect in these states might have prevented one of the shooters from getting a gun we include all assaults not just felony assaults on the prohibited list of purchasers for firearms that likely would have stopped the shooter in colorado from being able to get a weapon so it's not just background checks there's a whole host of other inventions that lead to states like connecticut having much lower rates of gun crime than other states one of the i think bigger impediments that you may have is the courts um and i hear this all the time oh i i you know from from various member uh members of the senate i'd like to introduce x but the courts will strike this down there has been a a sort of some might call it a radical sort of um altering uh uh interpretation of the second amendment over the last 30 years how much does that make it that much harder to even pass any gun legislation if the second amendment is is considered a civil right i think it's a worry um part of the reason that many of us were strongly in opposition to nominees like brett kavanaugh and amy coney barrett is because they likely hold this radical interpretation of the second amendment i do think that restrictions on assault weapons are in jeopardy with this supreme court i don't think that expanded background checks are a problem as i read some of the more radical decisions that have been made by people like amy coney barrett at the lower court level i still believe that scalia's opinion in which he says the second amendment certainly allows for you to stop criminals or people with serious mental illness from getting guns i i don't think that's in jeopardy of being overturned by the court is this the issue that could break the filibuster i think that republicans have to argue as a means of defending the current rules that the senate can still work under the 60 vote requirement i think republicans may be looking for issues to prove that democrats don't need to obliterate the filibuster here's their opportunity an issue which has 90 percent support which doesn't require them to shift their position their current position um to a herculean uh level they can pat they can help us pass an expansion of background checks and prove to democrats and the country that the senate can work at a 60-vote threshold senator chris murphy the point man for senate democrats on the gun issue senator murphy thanks for coming on and sharing your perspective with us thanks and so we're going to talk senators pat toomey and joe manchin a republican and democrat they co-sponsored a bill to expand background checks that was defeated twice as you heard us talk about both in 2013 and 2015. it is an indication of just how difficult it is even to pass gun safety bills that the public supports and senator toomey joins me now senator welcome back to meet the press morning chuck so um i don't want to i uh my title is moderator but i'd also like to be mediator here i heard senator murphy seem to indicate a lot of movement here on this and some optimism that 10 republicans would be found you yourself have expressed some optimism that you think there are nine other republican colleagues of yours i'm curious senator murphy's last comment there which i'm sure you heard that this could be a way to sort of sort of stop this filibuster talk uh and prove that hey you know what it isn't the impediment that that people think it is is that helpful in your efforts to find nine republicans well chuck i've got a lot of respect for senator murphy but i have to say i take a different look at this some of our democratic colleagues are simply making a shameful attempt to really ruin uh what remains of the functioning of the senate and do long-term damage to the country you know two years ago the democrats pretty much universally supported keeping the filibuster barack obama was in favor of the filibuster now when the different party is in control suddenly it's become a racist tool how ridiculous the fact is the bill that passed the house that doesn't even have 50 votes in the senate joe manchin is on record opposing that so there are not even 50 votes you could get rid of the filibuster tomorrow and you still couldn't pass that bill so what we need to do is try to find a place where we can land a place where there's some common ground i have long believed as as i've told you many times the place where we ought to be able to get that done is requiring background checks on commercial sales that's where i know senator manchin is and there are republican senators who are interested not because it's some bank shot to prevent the democrats from abusing their power with respect to the filibuster but because there's some substantive support is the your issue with the house bill and i know senators mentioned in tester do you have do you share their same concerns on this issue of private sales or do you think there is a way to to include some form of a background check in that too you know there are there are different mechanisms there's new technology that makes these various mechanisms possible that weren't possible before you're not going to get to 60 votes with legislation that requires a when a father wants to sell his gun to his son to have to get a background check so i still think the best way to do this is focus on commercial sales you know between the sales that already occur at licensed firearm dealers all of which require a background check and what we consider commercial sales advertise sales gun shows and on the internet that covers a vast vast majority of all transactions and it would be progress if we had background checks for those categories do you believe we have too many guns circulating in america and if you do what is a solution to that problem now i don't think the answer is too many guns chuck um if i have four or five guns and i buy two more did did america become a more dangerous place i don't think so um i'm not a dangerous person my focus has always been make it more difficult for people that we all agree shouldn't have firearms make it more difficult for them to get firearms that is violent criminals the dangerously mentally ill that's what we should focus on and trying to understand what drives the madness that we've seen again uh recently and and all so often that leads to these horrific mass killings you know whether whether a law-abiding citizen owns three guns or four that has absolutely no impact on anybody's safety so it really is in your mind the background check is this something you think that can be done quickly or or should the fbi be given eight to ten days if necessary we know that sometimes the the the need for speed has actually become a problem in these gun sales um that's that's extremely rare but it does happen uh look i think we need to have a mechanism that allows this to happen very quickly it is possible there are some circumstances where a person may may decide they need a firearm and they need it in a hurry um they might have a completely legitimate need for that so i would like to see us improve the mechanism so that we don't have these delays i guess i go back to the two many guns i understand what you're saying in an individual but when you look at our numbers compared to the rest of the world you know why do you think we lead by a factor of of 10 and then some when it comes to just the number of weapons circulating in this country for there's a whole variety of reasons chuck but i i don't think that that's what causes the violence there are communities that are have horrific levels of violence every day there's there's criminality and and using weapons is part of that um look that's we ought to be asking ourselves why do we have high levels of crime generally one last question i want to ask you about the voting rights issue but i want to play a statement from your colleague on the democratic side of the aisle rafael warnock here's what he had to say about voting rights we wouldn't have to have this debate about the filibuster at least on this issue if the folks on the other side would do the right thing and stand for voting rights i want to separate out hr1 from the john lewis voting rights act do you believe there is enough there are 10 republicans to do an updated version of the voting rights act something that used to be fairly easy to get done in a bipartisan way i know the issues with hr one and i'm trying to separate the two where are you on this so i haven't i haven't drilled down on uh this distinction that you're making uh the democrats have been driving this message on h.r hr1

and i think we ought to be asking our democratic colleagues why are they so insistent that we not have any mechanism to verify that a person seeking to vote is in fact the person that they say they are why are they so insistent that people ought to be able to go ballot harvesting maybe go through a nursing home and get a couple of hundred ballots that just happen to be uh whatever they are i mean the there is a completely false narrative about so-called voter suppression you look at the georgia law there's no voter suppression sunday voting is still allowed there's an expansion of in-person voting there's no requirement that you have a reason for a mail-in ballot all you need is some some verification of id and so does every department of transportation in in america for in order to drive so does every airline if you're going to get on a plane so this has been a false narrative entirely chuck and and i'm afraid it's all about trying to get rid of the filibuster we're not going to be cowed by being called racist over policy that has nothing to do with race i i i understand your point of view there i'm just curious so do you think it's a good look for the party that after a presidential loss after the former candidate basically creates a false narrative and lies about why it happened that these law that these laws are getting changed under a false pretense that's not a good look for the republican party is it not well well chuck look i was very critical of president trump uh along the way after the election as as i think you know but we should be honest about this we made very dramatic sweeping changes to accommodate the circumstances of a global pandemic that had huge implications and some of those sweeping changes include provisions that are really actually tough to verify the accuracy of the vote and we have an awful lot of americans who are worried about the integrity of our system so some common sense measures like requiring an id to get an absentee ballot or to vote that just makes a lot of sense senator pat toomey republican from pennsylvania i always appreciate you coming on and sharing your perspective with us thank you sir thanks for having me chuck when we come back remembering the victims of the spa attacks in georgia i'm going to talk to congresswoman judy chu about anti-asian american violence as our special edition of the battle over guns continues [Music] welcome back to our special edition of meet the press focusing on gun violence later this morning members of the congressional asian pacific american caucus we'll visit the three asian owned spas in georgia where a shooter killed eight people six of whom were women of asian descent the march 16th attack was the most violent and deadly of the thousands of anti-asian attacks that have occurred during the pandemic congresswoman judy chu is the chair of the caucus and she joins me now from atlanta before she spends the day there congresswoman thank you uh for coming on thank you let me start with the issue of of dealing with both the access to guns and this issue of rising xenophobia in america and i want to focus specifically on the issue of hate crimes because georgia has a hate crimes law but whose job is it to decide what is a hate crime and i think that that seems to be an issue that we're dealing with in the in in georgia what say you on this issue well this is exactly the reason why we have our congressional delegation coming down to georgia we are going to be tracing the steps of this shooter we are first going to cherokee county where the shooter targeted this spa called young's asian spa and in fact we're only steps away he purchased his nine millimeter handgun with no waiting period then we are going to drive the 27 miles to the two other asian spas which are side by side where he was able to shoot even more people and it becomes clear to us all three spas were asian spas where there was a certainty that if he shot into them he was going to kill asian women and so to us it is clear evidence that this is a hate crime but what we are concerned about is whether local law enforcement will indeed prosecute this as a hate crime that's why we are calling upon the department of justice to ensure that there are the resources necessary to provide the evidence to declare it a hate crime and that includes interviewing witnesses in their own languages looking at the media to see whether they are for instance reading the evidence in the korean media which apparently has some some statements of that sort and whether they are looking at the shooters social media and history it says you say you want to bring the justice should you have to bring the justice department here or again i go back to what georgia passing this hate crimes law should this should this be what they're able to do should it not have to fall on the on the on the department of justice it should not have to fall on the department of justice but let me tell you that our whole hate crime system in the united states is quite flawed out of the 15 000 local law enforcement agencies in the united states only 15 percent even report hate crimes to the fbi so there's wide variation in terms of whether local law enforcement even pays attention to hate crimes or whether they think it's worth the trouble to declare something a hate crime because they think it may be more difficult to prosecute and in fact we are very concerned about uh cherokee county sheriff's statements early on in which they said that this was a bad day or that this person had a sex edition addiction and therefore casting doubt as to whether this was a hate crime and saying these statements mid investigation thus casting even further doubt as to whether this was a hate crime and you know you sit there you're you're poisoning the jury pool uh potentially um when when you're saying these things i'm curious if the issue of this lack of reporting also um conforms to these uh polling numbers i want to share with you and this comes on the issue of of asian american hate 10 percent over the last year have experienced hate crimes or incidents so far 31 percent of asian americans worry about being hate crime victims 30 percent would be very comfortable reporting the hate crime and it's that last one i want to talk to you about because of that of the other groups measured asian americans were the least comfortable reporting hate crimes that they're that that is that was the biggest takeaway that there was a lot of of of nervousness in the community for reporting a hate crime how do you change that we need to send the message out to all our asian american community that it's important for them to report these hate crimes that it is safe that it is confidential and that in fact they can get resources from the entities like the stop api hate website which has taken it under his wing and in fact there are 3 800 hate crimes and incidents that have been reported since the coronavirus first started so that is just the tip of the iceberg but we know that there is under-reporting going on because of the fear that our asian-american community has nonetheless i want to send the message out there to everybody that they need to report it and they will feel certainly less isolated if they do so um one last thing i want to ask you about and we've talked about this before and that is the issue of as we as we have an adversary in this country with china and our political leaders speak we know all of the damage former president trump did with his language but how politicians talk about the chinese communist party your colleague stephanie murphy a democrat from florida said this we have to be able to make a very clear distinction that our adversary and competitor is the chinese communist party not the chinese people and certainly not the asian americans who live here and who have contributed so much to this country when we attack americans of asian descent we attack ourselves she goes on to argue that you're actually going to alienate vietnamese and other important asian allies of us if this goes on what do you say to your colleagues well there are far too many stereotypes in the united states where asian americans have been painted for a very long time as foreigners in their own country so just making broad attacks against china unfortunately sweeps in many people in fact it actually sweeps in the people of china many of whom may want to have greater freedoms in china so yes if you're talking about china you should talk about the policies of the chinese communist party and distinguish it from those of the people of china and certainly you must distinguish it from the people of america asian americans who uh are u.s citizens who are legal permanent residents and who are very very loyal to america and many of whom have this as the only country that they know judy chu democrat from california uh really appreciate you coming on again you're coming from atlanta where you're going to spend the day retracing the steps of this killer congresswoman thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective thank you when we come back those new restrictive voting laws republicans passed in georgia that are pending in other states democrats are calling them the new jim crow they're a strong pushback from patoon the panel is next [Music] welcome back the panel is with us republican strategist al cardenas he's the co-founder of the institute of institute of politics at florida state university nbc news investigative and consumer correspondent vicki nguyen new york times chief white house correspondent peter baker and heather mcgee of the civil rights advocacy group color of change and author of the new book the sum of us what racism costs everyone and how we can prosper together welcome all vicki i want to start with you we're dedicating this show to the gun issue we spent a lot of time on what happened in atlanta with asian american hate and you know that's what happens sometimes as we as these gun incidents happen is that we vacillate between debating the issue of guns or debating the motive and that is and and the fact is we've got to deal with both at the same time um which i think what happened in atlanta underscores yeah and you heard representative judy chu talking about how the shooter obtained his gun without any sort of waiting period so that is certainly one layer that could add to a perhaps a delay would it have prevented the shooting perhaps not maybe it would have delayed it another 10 days i think what is frustrating for many people who are looking at the nexus of gun violence and now also this potential hate crime is when is it going to stop when will you be able to change the way americans view gun ownership and that might never happen because we are a country that loves our guns americans make up 4.4 percent of the world's population but own 44 of the world's guns that's according to a new york times survey so unless or until there is any sort of amendment to the constitution that changes gun ownership these little legislation changes that take first of all forever to pass feel like pennies being dropped in the ocean just delaying and delaying and delaying how many years has it been since sandy hook what did you just tell us at the top of this show how many shootings have we had just since atlanta that most of us have no idea about and let's not forget the most gun violence that affects americans are actually suicides a lot of veterans taking their own lives access to guns is is inseparable from these shootings but what is our tolerance level as americans you know heather you write this in your book about this issue you call it this america's unhealthy obsession with guns has always been intertwined with our history of racial violence but in recent years right-wing media and increasingly radical national rifle association have aggressively marketed to white fear of terrorists of home invaders of criminal immigrants and of inner city thugs it has led to the to the um expansion of these stand your ground laws arguably um and i think that was another reference you were making there when as vicky was talking it immediately brought to mind what you wrote here this is intertwined how do you disaggregate well it's intertwined because first of all the department of homeland security just said that the most persistent and lethal threat to our homeland is far-right white supremacist domestic terrorism but it's not just those extreme cases as you showed so well chuck the majority of the american people want stricter gun laws including many republican voters and yet because of the often sort of dog whistle racist campaign tactics of the now bankrupt and on the run nra and the right-wing politicians that they pay for and fund you've got this sort of winding up and weaponizing of white fear which keeps the majority of white voters voting for a republican party that does the bidding of the gun lobby and we still aren't as safe as we could be effective gun safety measures keep us safe and it's been 25 years since the federal government passed federal gun safety laws look there is some evidence that the politics al of this is changing i want to run a quick mash here i mean democrats won swing districts in 2018 uh and some in 2020 on the issue of guns take a look i never expected to be in congress but then my son was murdered [Music] my tragedy turned to purpose gabby trusts anne to stand up to the nra and fight for stronger gun laws these are the weapons that i needed when i was fighting in iraq and afghanistan and now they're tearing our communities apart suburbs of denver al suburbs of tucson suburbs of atlanta and i know that among the few republicans that are supportive of these gun regulations are in south florida yeah well listen i think politics is the art of it possible we listened to senators murphy and toomey just earlier in your show i think the art of it possible is heading us towards universal registration and also i think that if you want to own an ar-15 which is the weapon used in in most of our recent mass murders i think you ought to do like in a driver's license if you want to if you want a license to drive an 18-wheeler you got to go through a process if you want a license to own an assault weapon you got to go through a process i think there are very few republicans who can argue that so let's let that law pass first uh show some bipartisanship and move on to to the next restrictions so i don't think we can do a full wholesale gun reform i think those are two reasonable steps you know peter i i heard i heard what i think al heard too um between murphy and toomey is there is a there's common there's a way to do this it sounds like the question is is there the will to take an incremental step because it is to many uh advocates for more gun safety incremental yeah i think you're right chuck i mean we're arguing about background checks and the truth is you know that's a fairly modest proposal compared to a lot of the things that gun gun control advocates would like to see uh the idea of an assault weapon ban uh in congress is pretty much off the table even president biden essentially acknowledged that this week this past week during his press conference but you're right i mean you would think that there's a way that the two parties come together something that they could both agree on the nra's power is in decline they're big they're busy fighting you know working on bankruptcy but you know we've seen this before as you showed in your opening i mean if the slaughter of 20 children at a school in connecticut if the slaughter of high school students in florida didn't prompt significant change it's hard to see whether that happens now joe biden peter i want to follow with you quickly joe biden seems they seem to be focused on rolling out the infrastructure plan you know does it need the president's shoulder to get even a modified version of this background check bill be voted on does he need to make it more front and center yeah i think he does obviously and what he said this week when he was asked about it uh was i you know as as al said the art of the possible he suggested timing is important and the implication was he meant that it wasn't time uh to devote a lot of resources to that right now he said he went immediately to talking about infrastructure because that clearly is front and center on his agenda right now well let me pause the conversation there it's been a busy week we got a lot of different issues to get to and i'm hoping to get some issues on the next round with you guys including voting rights and immigration coming up the kind of optimism though about the future we haven't seen for some time believe it or not stick with us for that welcome back data download time after a difficult year we're seeing something we haven't seen in a while a little bit of optimism last week gallup released data showing the percentage of americans satisfied with the direction of the country was at its highest point since last may 32 hey that's not great but it's up from 11 in january which was one of the lowest ever on record it was bottoming out in the aftermath of the attack on the capital and there are signs of positivity on the economy as well this week marked the first time the number of initial unemployment claims dipped below 700 000 after a high of almost 7 million at the end of march 2020. the successful vaccination program plus coveted relief checks arriving and bank accounts are surely partly responsible for this uptick in basic optimism about our country's direction there are lots of big challenges ahead for president biden as we've been discussing and the goodwill generated in the early months of his administration should offer him political capital that he's going to need for those fights ahead how will he use that capital when we come back georgia and the fight over voting rights stick with us welcome back and now to the issue of voting rights heather mcgee you saw at the end of my interview with senator toomey he made a sort of an impassioned defense of some of these uh some of these ideas out there about voter ids in particular here and i i'm curious can you separate the ideas that maybe he's putting up with what appears to be the motive behind all of these changes at the state level is it is it even possible to separate the two well this is what happens when people who can't win a fair election try to rig the rules to make it harder for eligible citizens to vote this is what you see happening and it is a racist logic it is an old tradition in this country of targeting policies that we know disproportionately impact black and brown voters we know that black and brown voters for example are less likely to have a government-issued photo identification and yet this is the way that systemic racism so often works today it's also true that when you look at white americans who are young white americans who are low income one out of five of them don't have a photo id issued by the government and yet are there any less eligible citizens with the right to vote the idea of voter fraud is something that happens .0003 of our elections um and yet it is a big lie instead we have the the for the people act that actually could address this creeping corruption in our democracy whether it's the big flood of secret money the partisan gerrymandering or this desire to rig the rules so that eligible citizens can't vote and the only way the republicans can justify what is a bipartisan actually majority of the american people support the provisions of the for the people act the only way the republicans can justify opposing it and these 250 unpopular laws at the state level is with this big lie vicki your one of your day jobs for us is as a consumer reporter and i look at these voting laws that we've seen some of them restricted it's sort of we had we had been sort of moving in the direction of make this thing being more pro-consumer a little more convenience for the consumer in this case voter and it is sort of in this way it's sort of this is now anti-consumer or anti-voter it's a you know make it harder it's sort of antithetical to what every other sort of process we deal with in america is about well the push to online or mail voting i should say was huge during the pandemic maybe a silver lining because the turnout the access for people but of course it raised a lot of questions about fraud and look voting is confusing that's why nbc news launched this whole plan yourvote.com to help walk people through every state it's something different i lived in so many states over the past 20 years as a journalist and there's no centralized way of registering for your ballot sometimes you do it at the dmv sometimes you've got to mail it in it's confusing at best for someone who's tuned in and paying attention we also know that the data shows people of color are disproportionately affected by restrictive or changes to a voter voter access right um the barriers are already very high so you look at um the brennan center they found black voters actually wait on average 45 minutes longer in line to vote latino voters 46 minutes longer than white voters just to cast a ballot in person on the surface you think what's wrong with having to show an id we show an id for so many things to verify who we are but listen to heather's point the amount of voter fraud used to justify the need for an id which is hard to get which can cost money which sometimes requires people to produce a birth certificate there are all these hoops that people have to jump through and as as heather pointed out so many people support access making it easier for the voter making it easier for the consumer and also you said chuck the optics on this are not good georgia passing 89 pages of voter reform after losing those two positions what does that tell you about what's really at the crux of this well they did add a couple of days of weekend voting which is good right well al cardenas our home state of florida the governor bragged about the voting system and yet they're changing it why yeah well look uh these 20-some voter reform laws being proposed in in all of these states are all about providing cotton candy to the far right base that they believe that donald trump big lie about the elections being fraudulent that's all that is in reality and i agree with heather and i agree with vicki but look the most of the voter suppression takes place under the radar for example in georgia minority voters had to wait eight more times than white voters in their particular voting precincts because they're less voting machines less employees less people who help out in the process most of the voters oppression that takes place is run under the radar of laws and so forth yes i agree that we need to have a revamp of a voting rights act if it was timely in the 60s is even more timely now but you need to look more at voter suppression at the local level that's where it's really hits hard an important point there peter baker i want to just for our remaining moment here um you've been in that white house you've been in a white house press conference gazillions of times there was a lot of commentary about the lack of covet questions today there's actually we're on an uptick in covet cases plus 40 40 there but was that really sort of a larger reminder that that actually kovid is being managed pretty well by joe biden right now and the public's fairly satisfied yeah i think look there probably could have been should have been a kobe question is still a huge issue in this country even though things are looking better but i think you're right to the extent that it's a sign of how we are beginning to change covet of course has come to consume that white house this white house and the previous white house for a year now it's been the dominant issue with only a few exceptions for more than 12 months so you're right the fact that now there are other issues being put to the present is a sign that we're you know beginning to look at things that have been put to the side for so long but are still actually real big challenges for this country whether it be north korea immigration uh you know russia and china there's so many issues out there that didn't get looked at over the last year because we had such an extraordinary crisis going on and now the crisis feels like it's on a path toward uh at least a better place but you're right that we probably still should be asking about it because it's not over yet i guess this is one way of our return to normalcy is we realize oh my god we've got a lot of problems we've got to face up to and we did our best today to try to focus on one or two of them thank you all terrific panel that's all we have for today thank you for watching for those celebrating happy passover and we'll be back next week because if it's sunday it's meet the price more americans watch nbc news than any other news organization in the world

2021-03-30 23:56

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