'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 4th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 4, 2015
Guest: Alex Padilla, Jim McGovern
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
In big-time politics, even when you`re a big-time successful national
politician, you have good days but you also inevitably sometimes have bad
days. And today for a few really big-named politicians who want to become
president, today for a hand full of those guys, it was a bad day.
First of all, spare a thought for Marco Rubio, senator from Florida.
Some genius in the Marco Rubio for president operation today signed him up
to do a fundraising dinner in Connecticut. And at one level, that`s fine,
I`m sure the Connecticut Republican Party is delighted to have Senator
Rubio speak at their event. I`m sure Senator Rubio was delighted to be
asked to appear at the big annual fundraising dinner for the Connecticut
state Republican Party.
But if you are Marco Rubio and you are vying for the Republican
presidential nomination in 2016, it should not be beyond the capacity of
your campaign staff to recognize that it`s probably not a good idea for
you, Marco Rubio, to be the keynote speaker at this particular event.
This is the event. For 37 years, the Republican party of Connecticut
has held this annual fundraiser and for 37 years it`s been held in honor of
and named after Jeb`s grandpa. Celebrate 37 years of the Prescott Bush
Awards dinner, keynote speaker, Marco Rubio.
Prescott Bush, Jeb`s grandpa. So, that must kind of suck for Marco
Rubio, right? He`s doing that tonight, the dinner in honor of Jeb`s
But even before Marco Rubio got to that part of his schedule today, he
also had a scheduled appearance on the FOX News Channel, which is obviously
a very friendly environment for him, and he was on one of FOX`s daytime
chat shows, that is the not hard edged environment, even for FOX. They do
a show that there is a whole bunch of women on the set and just one man.
That`s the whole idea of the show. Poor guy.
Not a tough political environment for Marco Rubio today, but then on
that show, this is what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The nation expresses
a desire to become a democratic nation, particularly one that we invaded, I
do believe we have a responsibility to help them move in that direction.
But the most immediate responsibility is to help them build a functional
government that can actually meet the needs of the people and from that,
you would hope it would spring --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That sounds like nation building.
RUBIO: Well, it`s not nation-building. We`re assisting them in
building their nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s the -- that screen shot will be preserved forever in the
history of this presidential campaign. This is the moment, this is the
place where Marco Rubio explained patiently that this is not nation
building, this is something totally different than nation building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Well, it`s not nation-building. We`re assisting them in
building their nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Marco Rubio, I should just (AUDIO GAP) Marco Rubio is actually giving
up his seat in the United States Senate in order to make this run for
president and this is how he is running for president. It`s not nation
building, we are assisting them in building their nation.
So, Marco Rubio had a bad day.
Also today was not a great day for the serving governor of New Jersey,
Chris Christie. Part of the reason Chris Christie had a tough day is this
letter from the U.S. attorney for the state of New Jersey, federal
prosecutor in that state. In this letter, the prosecutor basically clears
the way for a new subpoena in the criminal trials that are going to happen
around the whole bridgegate -- members of his administration allegedly
shutting down access lanes on the George Washington Bridge a couple of
years ago for political reason.
This new subpoena that has been green lit today by the U.S. attorney
in New Jersey, it potentially opens up a whole new world of information
that nobody has had access to before about what happened in the bridge
shutdown. I mean, those criminal trials in the bridgegate thing were
already going to be looming throughout most of the most important time that
Chris Christie will be trying to run for president.
With this new development today, we now know those trial are going to
have access to more insider stuff from the Christie administration than we
ever thought we would get to see. So, that is not good news for Chris
It`s the kind of good news that means he`s going to have lots more not
good news for months and months to come.
On top of that, there is also, there is also this -- Governor Christie
made a decision to play softball at Yankee Stadium last night, and that
itself is not a bad thing. It was for a good cause. Looks like he had fun
at the event.
But honestly, this is probably not the way he wanted people to think
of him, as he is gearing up to announce he`s running for president of the
United States, right? There is that rule that President Obama jokes about
which is that presidents and candidates should avoid putting things on
their heads, right, at photo ops.
Same thing goes probably for athletic outfits of various kinds, right?
I mean, John Kerry doesn`t mind being seen in his crazy biking outfits
that`s because he`s never running for anything ever again, he knows how
badly it hurt him that he was seen in his wind surfing get up when he was
actually running for president.
Mitt Romney did his charity boxing match where he went shirtless in a
boxing outfit against Evander Holyfield, and, you know, God bless him, that
was great. But there was a reason that Mitt Romney did that after making
clear he would not be a candidate for office again. There was a reason he
didn`t do that while he was still running, while he was trying to convince
everybody to pick him to be their presidential nominee.
So, I don`t know, Governor Christie, this was a choice. You did not
have to do this.
Also, today was probably not a great day for John Kasich who is one of
those guys on paper who ought to be a high-flying, top tier potential
candidate. He`s a former very high profile, very conservative member of
Congress. After he got out of Congress, they gave him his own show on the
FOX News Channel. They thought over at FOX that he was such a good
politician and so conservative and so charismatic and so telegenic that he
ought to be a TV anchor.
John Kasich is really well connected in the party not only in his home
state of Ohio, but across the country. He is now the governor, the sitting
governor of the great swing state of Ohio, the current governor of that
But today was a bad day for Governor John Kasich because of this --
these were the results of the new FOX News national poll of the
presidential candidates that came out today. And yes, at this point in the
race in any reasonable year, under any reasonable strategy, nobody should
care about national polling -- except for the fact that this year we have
to. And the candidates really have to, because of the debates, because FOX
News is organizing the first Republican primary debate and the way they`re
deciding who is going to make it into that debate, who`s actually going to
be allowed into the stage, is that they`re only taking people who crack the
top ten in the otherwise meaningless and totally non-predictive national
polls. That`s what they decided to count on.
Well, in the new FOX News national poll out today, John Kasich,
governor of Ohio, former FOX News host, doesn`t crack the top ten. And so,
he`s therefore on track to not be included in the first Republican
presidential primary debate, even though that debate is going to be on FOX
News, his former employer, and even though that debate is going to take
place in his home state of Ohio where he`s currently the governor.
But at this rate, he is not going to be invited to participate in that
debate. He`ll be watching from home, which awkwardly is the governor`s
mansion. This is very sad, right? I mean, John Kasich hasn`t technically
Heading into today, there were nine officially declared Republican
Party candidates. The next candidates who have set a date for their
announcement and earn themselves dotted lines on our chart, they are in
order in terms of when they`re going to announce, next Donald Trump on June
16th. Bobby Jindal, after him, on June 24th. Sometime after Bobby Jindal,
we are expected to hear from Congressman Peter King and from Governor
Kasich, then your sister-in-law getting in, then the three guys who drive
trash trucks, then a Cheney or two, and a whole football team, then my mom
and Mr. T., then that Muppet, Janice, the one with the nice eye shadow.
Come on, eventually we`ll be reporting on who`s not running.
But the latest official entrant into the race, the tenth major
Republican candidate to declare officially that he`s running is the guy who
jumped in today, and that`s former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He made his
announcement that he was getting in. It was kind of exciting.
Would you like to hear the official Rick Perry for president country
rap song? You would like to hear this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA PERRY, RICK PERRY`S WIFE: Please welcome my husband, Rick
RAP SONG: Republican voter, Rick Perry let`s protect our border, to
anyone who believes in the USA, Rick Perry all the way
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rick Perry, country rap song and all made his big
announcement today and even with the song, it went pretty well.
It was apparently really excruciating hot inside the airplane hanger,
where he announced. You can see, he`s a little sweaty.
Wayne Slater at "The Dallas Morning News" tweeted, "Maybe not so smart
to do Perry announcement in metal airplane hangar in June at 100 degrees."
Quote, "Perry is sweating like an east Texas rice farmer."
So, it was uncomfortably hot and he was sweaty and did have a crazy
country rap song, Rick Perry supporter. But, eh, honestly, as
announcements go, we`ve seen a lot of them already, there`s going to be a
lot more still to come. As announcements go, it went fine, it went fine.
No big mistakes in the speech, he spoke in front of a C-130, a C-130
airplane, which unusually for a big political announcement was not a random
non sequitur, or vaguely insulting, right, like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
using an aircraft carrier as the backdrop of their big announcement, even
though neither of them had ever served in the military, let alone the navy.
I mean, in Rick Perry`s case, he did serve in the Air Force and he did
fly that specific kind of plane. He flew C-130s as a pilot in the Air
Force. It made sense to have a C-130 behind him. Finally, right?
Rick Perry entering the 2012 presidential race when he got in four
years ago, he ended with really high expectations and he promptly tanked.
But because he tanked so badly in 2012, he actually enters the 2016 race
with a lot of motivation to not tank again with low expectations, right,
from everybody else because he did so badly the last time around. He`s got
nowhere to go but up, right?
Still, though, even on Rick Perry`s big announcement day which he
handled well, he did get stepped on from two different political
directions. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has received a ton of
attention recently for refusing to admit that he`s actually running for
president, refusing to set a date for his announcement. Jeb Bush chose
today as Rick Perry was taking the stage to make his announcement about his
own big announcement. So Jeb Bush chose today to announce that he will be
formally entering the presidential race on June 15th. So that was stepping
on Rick Perry a little by, right?
And from the other direction, while Rick Perry was making his own
Texas announcement today, announcing his own run, he also got stepped on by
Hillary Clinton, who we`ve known ahead of this had also scheduled a big
campaign event in Texas today on Rick Perry`s big day.
But today, Hillary Clinton made things doubly hard for Rick Perry by
doing something that nobody really ever does on the campaign trail at this
point in the campaign. Hillary Clinton today doubly stepped on what Rick
Perry was trying to do when she did something unheard of. She actually
made big and surprising legitimate news with what she did in Texas today
while she was raining on Rick Perry`s hot and sweaty rap country parade.
Nobody was expecting what Hillary Clinton did today, but she did it.
It was big news and that`s next.
MADDOW: We knew yesterday with the topic of Hillary Clinton`s big
speech today was going to be. We knew yesterday that she was going to be
talking about voting rights today. We then had a further hint this morning
about what the tone of those remarks would be when her campaign sent out a
long, detailed dossier complete with snappy graphic hitting almost all of
the Republican candidates for things they have done in office to curtail
voting rights, particularly minority voting rights.
But then in her speech today in Houston, Texas, I`m not sure anybody
expected Hillary Clinton to let rip on the subject like she did today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What`s really going on
in our country. Because what is happening is a sweeping effort to
disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people
from one end of our country to the other.
North Carolina passed a bill that went after pretty much anything that
makes voting more convenient or more accessible -- early voting, same-day
registration, the ability of county election officials to even extend
voting hours to accommodate long lines.
Here in Texas, former Governor Rick Perry signed a law that a federal
court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against
minority voters. He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted.
In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed
legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote.
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation to extend
And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities
conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election
in 2000. Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to
stop millions of American citizens from voting.
What part of democracy are they afraid of? I believe every citizen
has the right to vote and I believe we should do everything we can to make
it easier for every citizen to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We knew today that Hillary Clinton was going to be talking
about voting rights. We did not know that she was going to let rip against
the Republicans she`s running against for the presidency but also
Republican-led states across the country for the way they`ve gone after
voting rights, particularly over the last few years.
But then after ripping her Republican opponents in red states across
the country for what they`ve done on voting rights, she then also made
legitimately totally unexpected surprising news about not just what
Republicans have done wrong in her eyes, but what she thinks ought to be
Now, we heard yesterday that she was going to propose every state in
the country ought to have at least 20 days of early voting before Election
Day, so we knew to listen for that. We did not know she was also going to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: And I believe we should go even further to strengthen voting
rights in America. So, today, I`m calling for universal automatic voter
registration, every citizen in every state in the Union --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Everyone, every young man or young woman should be automatically
registered to vote when they turn 18 --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Unless they actively choose to opt out. If you`re an eligible voter
and want to be registered, you should be a registered voter, period.
Now, Oregon is already leading the way, modernizing its system, and
the rest of the country should follow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton speaking today at Texas Southern University
You know what? The race to win the presidential nomination is going
to be much more interesting on the Republican side than the Democratic side
this year, and it`s just because of the two sides, right? It`s Hillary
Clinton and a hand full of other people running for the Democratic
On the Republican side, it`s every well-known Republican in the
country who is not currently under indictment and even one who is, Rick
Perry. I mean, it is inherently more interesting on the Republican side
because nobody has any idea what`s going to happen on Republican side, and
that will be amazing to watch and amazing to cover this year. It will be
an amazing display of just political kinetic activity on the Republican
side. I get it.
But one of things we do get from the Democratic side in moments like
this, which the bell way would otherwise never get to in a million years is
taking policy ideas that are being innovated in the blue states, remember
them? Innovated in the blue states, and thinking of them and talking about
them and proposing them as models for the nation.
When Tim Pawlenty was governor of Minnesota, he had a Democratic
legislature in Minnesota and the Democratic legislature passed a bill that
would have automatically registered people to vote in Minnesota. You`d be
automatically registered unless you opted out.
Tim Pawlenty was a Republican governor and so, he vetoed it when the
Democrats in the legislature sent him that. That was 2009.
This year, it was blue state Oregon, which had a Democratic
legislature and a Democratic governor who had just been kicked upstairs
having been a Democratic secretary of state, who liked the idea of
automatically registering everybody in the state to vote. And so, Kate
Brown, new governor of Oregon, enacted this first in the nation law to
register everybody to vote. You have to try not to be registered.
She signed it in March. They think it`s going to add 300,000 people
to the roles in Oregon, people eligible to vote but weren`t signed up,
300,000 people in one swoop.
And now, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is putting that
forward as the model for the whole nation, the model the whole nation
should follow. And it`s going to be amazing to hear all the Republican
candidates try to explain why that`s a terrible idea, that everybody would
be registered to vote.
But she`s also just given a huge shot in the arm to people who want
that Oregon model to be in place around the country. In particular, she`s
given a shot in the arm to the next state that wants to do it, another blue
state, but not just any blue state. It`s the most populous state in the
Yes, Oregon added 300,000 people to the roles when they did this year.
If California does it and does it, if California does it and they`re trying
to, they would add millions of people to the roles if they can implement
that same policy, which Oregon has already done, which Hillary Clinton said
today should be done nationwide.
Joining us now is Alex Padilla. He`s the secretary of state of the
great state of California. He`s sponsoring that effort in California to
try to move the state effectively toward automatic voter registration in
Mr. Secretary, appreciate your time tonight. Thanks for being here.
ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you for the
And great point, the exact number, by the way, is an estimated 6
million new Californians on the voter rolls if we can adopt that Oregon law
here in California, which is frankly simply modernizing the current motor
voter law that a lot of us are familiar with.
MADDOW: How hard would it be to do? I mean, the reason it`s so
important in California is not necessarily because of the partisan
outcomes. I`m sure we could extrapolate some partisan outcomes from this,
although they don`t seem like the most important thing, and they don`t seem
The reason California seems so important is it`s just so freaking many
people. I mean, adding 6 million people, how hard would it be for the
state to do?
PADILLA: Not difficult at all. In fact, what we`re talking about is
modernizing the motor voter law that`s been on the books for more than 20
years, when motor voter was first passed in Washington, D.C. -- let`s
remember what the fundamental premise was. That government has a role to
play in facilitating people being registered to vote because that`s good
for our democracy.
In this day and age, knowing that we have the information being
gathered at the DMV when people are applying for a driver`s license or
renewing a driver`s license, let`s share that information much like our
online voting registration tools that exist in many states currently does,
and let`s make voter registration an opt-out. We have a fundamental right
if you`re eligible to be registered to vote and cast a ballot, we don`t
have to go through the hoops to opt into or right to free speech, and we
don`t have to opt in to our right to be not be discriminated against, we
shouldn`t have to opt into be on the voter rolls.
So, by creating opt out versus in, we facilitate people`s
participation and they don`t have to miss any deadlines to be able to vote
in the next election.
MADDOW: What do you think the odds are? What do you think the
likelihood is that you`re going to be able to get this passed? What kind
of a timeline? What kind of a task list do you have to get through in
order to get this done in California?
PADILLA: So, to implement the measure, it does require approval of
the legislature and the governor. The good news is the bill working its
way through the legislature has cleared the first house, state assembly and
will now be considered by the state Senate in the next couple of months.
And hopefully on the desk of the governor come August or September.
I feel confident not just because it`s good for the democracy, but
frankly, from an administration`s standpoint, I want all the states in
America to hear this -- it`s probably a more secure way of registering
voters and more efficient way of registering voters. And for government
and others, imagine the time, energy, resources we invest in registering
people to vote, we can now shift that into voter education and improving
MADDOW: Alex Padilla, secretary of state of the great state of
California, fascinating and will be hugely consequential if this happens.
Thanks for helping us understand what you`re working on. Appreciate it,
PADILLA: Thank you, Rachel.
It is -- it is amazing how little attention in policy terms any of the
blue states get, right? I mean, red states have been innovating in
Republican policy over the last few years in this incredibly aggressive way
that`s absolutely shaped the contours of what it means to be a Republican
politician, everything in terms of the radical anti-abortion stuff to the
anti-voting right stuff to the anti-union right stuff. All that stuff has
been playing out in the red states and it`s become the agenda of the
Republican Party. They don`t do it in Washington. They do it in the
Same thing, the mirror image has quietly been happening in the blue
states. They`ve been innovating, too. Nobody talks about it as the agenda
of the National Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton took a big step toward
that changing today.
It`s kind of exciting stuff particularly if you`re a liberal.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, 2012, obviously, was a good election year for Democrats.
President Obama got re-elected to the White House. Democrats across the
country did really well up and down the ballot generally speaking.
But on that same night in one very purple swing state, voters bucked
the Democratic tide, and they elected themselves in 2012 a very, very
conservative Republican governor. The guy they elected had campaigned for
governor by promising there was one thing he definitely absolutely would
not do if he got elected -- no way, no how, he would never do it, wouldn`t
Tonight, that governor is about to do that one thing he promised he
would never ever do and that story is next.
MADDOW: In 2010, Republicans took over the North Carolina legislature
for the first time since the 19th century. And then, two years later in
2012, they got the trifecta -- Republican statehouse, Republican state
Senate and they hoped Republican governor.
But the Republican candidate for governor in North Carolina, Pat
McCrory, wanted to assure people in that fairly purple state, that even if
they elected him, even if they gave the whole state government to the
Republican Party, the state, you know, wouldn`t go off a cliff and become
like completely "700 Club" Republican crazy, right? Pat McCrory wanted to
be seen as a businessman, as a pragmatic guy, as a former mayor of the
state`s largest city.
He`s specifically wanted everybody to know North Carolina that he
wasn`t one of these fire breathing Republicans on right wing social issues.
He didn`t care about that stuff. He said specifically on abortion, that he
would refuse to sign anything as governor that would restrict abortion in
that state. If he got elected, he would refuse to sign any abortion
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: If you`re elected governor, what further restrictions on
abortion would you agree to sign?
Start with you, Mr. McCrory.
PAT MCCRORY (R), THEN-GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: None.
MODERATOR: All right.
MODERATOR: Can`t really do a follow-up for that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He didn`t say nine, he said none. I would agree to sign no
for the restrictions on abortion. Next question?
Well, guess what happens next? He gets the governorship and six
months after he get sworn in, Governor Pat McCrory signs a new bill
restricting access to abortion in North Carolina. Tada.
Although after signing that one, he did bring a plate of cookies to
pro-choice activist who are protesting outside his governor`s mansion at
the time. So, that made it better. Cookies always do.
Well, now again today, Governor Pat McCrory is set to sign another
anti-abortion bill in North Carolina. This latest one imposes a mandatory
72-hour waiting period on women who want to get an abortion. There`s no
medical reason for that at all. It`s one of the longest waiting periods in
The new bill forces abortion providers to hand over to the state
government detailed records of the abortions that they do, including
literally your ultrasounds. They have to be sent to Pat McCrory now to the
Your doctor has to hand over those records because what, there is
somebody in North Carolina state government reading these medical scans for
some governmental purpose? But they go in the file. We`re keeping them,
So, Pat McCrory, Mr. "I will sign no new restrictions on abortion", is
about to sign a second round of new restrictions on abortion. That is
But also in North Carolina tonight, we`re still waiting on something
too creepy, even for Pat McCrory. North Carolina Republicans are trying to
pass a bill over the Governor McCrory`s veto, which would let government
officials refuse to let public officials marry couples in that state on the
basis of their own personal religious objections. So, if the country
magistrate objects to your marriage on religious grounds of any kind, then
too bad for you that magistrate doesn`t have to give you a license.
It`s supposed to be an anti gay bill but broad enough in its language
that it would let local officials block marriages between people of
different religions or divorced people or even interracial marriages.
Anything some local officials was contrary to his or her religious beliefs,
they could use as a basis to say no to your request to a marriage license.
So, Governor McCrory vetoed this, Republicans in the Senate already
overrode that vote. Republicans in the House are apparently now waiting
for some of their absent members to return to the state capital so they,
too, can take a vote to override the veto and pass this law that would put
North Carolina in the business of letting local officials block interracial
One of the Republicans they`ve been waiting on for this vote is
Representative Craig Horn. He`s been away in London specifically because
he was attending a convention of Winston Churchill enthusiasts. He`s now
come back from his Churchill conference, and as he`s talking to the local
press, this is how he`s been describing his principled Churchillian stand
on the North Carolina marriage law that they have been waiting on him to
vote for. He says this, quote, "As I try to do all the time, I wait until
the very last minute to make my final decision."
Winston Churchill would be proud. And North Carolina, your fate is in
The House did not take up the veto today, even though they`ve had it
on the docket today. They`ve moved it to the calendar for Monday. It sits
there under the category of unfinished business.
We`ll keep you posted on this one.
MADDOW: It was three days after 9/11. It was September 14th, 2001
and Congress was taking a vote to authorize the president to use military
force around the world to respond to the 9/11 attacks, and you don`t often
see a vote that looks like this on anything, but this was the vote in the
Senate that day, 98-0. Not a single Senate vote against that global war
authorization. It was unanimous.
Here is what it looked like over in the House. Same thing, almost --
420 yes votes and one no. It was not unanimous in the House. The tally
was 420-1 -- one solitary vote against going to war.
That vote came from Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California
who went to the floor that day to explain why she stood alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I`m convinced that military action
will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United
States. Let`s step back for a moment, let`s just pause just for a minute
and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does
not spiral out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For the record, since that vote, since that vote which
authorized immediately the invasion of Afghanistan, since that vote, we are
now approaching year 15 of our war in Afghanistan.
We also have troops fighting in Iraq. We have troops flying bombing
raids over Syria and U.S. forces operating in Yemen and Somalia and
Pakistan just to name a few.
Barbara Lee is used to standing alone, especially on matters of war.
She`s unafraid of standing alone on these matters. She always has been.
But right now, Barbara Lee is waging another fight about another war
and finds herself in a similarly lonely position. The war that the U.S.
military has been waging for the last ten months against ISIS in Iraq and
Syria without authorization from Congress.
Congress is constitutionally obligated to declare a war, right? But
in this case, Congress is decided to pretend like it`s not their job.
President Obama asked Congress to authorize this war in January. Since
then, they`ve done precisely nothing.
But this week, Barbara Lee attempted to change that inside the house.
On Tuesday, the appropriations committee was marking up the defense
spending bill and Barbara Lee proposed adding language which simply said
that "We the Congress have a duty to debate and authorize wars."
It didn`t say we must vote by such and such date, it didn`t say we
should vote in any particularly way, it didn`t say actually Congress should
do anything. It simply said, basically as a reminder, hey, Congress, we
acknowledge it`s our job to declare war. It`s just basically just a
reminder of what is in the Constitution, an assertion of what congress`
But that reminder was apparently a controversial enough idea that it
generated a ton of Republican opposition. Interestingly, did not generate
unanimous Republican opposition, Barbara Lee is used to standing alone.
She`s happy to do it when she needs to, but she got some backup, even from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I
rise in support of the gentlelady`s amendment.
I think the gentlelady`s point is absolutely correct. We have a
constitutional obligation here. We`re handing over war-making authority to
the executive branch to all future presidents with both hands. It`s a
gigantic mistake not to do our job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma basically saying,
you know what, I`m with Barbara Lee on this. She`s right. This is our
And when the Barbara Lee amendment came up for a vote, in the
Republican-led House, it passed. It passed in that committee by a vote of
29-22. A handful of Republicans supported it. Barbara Lee won. She got
her colleagues to agree that yes, this is their job.
The whole war thing is Congress` job to make a decision on. She got
them to agree it`s their job.
Now, there is the matter of making them do their job, right? It`s not
just an academic exercise, right? Congress ought to be voting on whether
or not American troops should be there in that military fight against ISIS
and why they should be there and what they should be doing, and what the
strategy is, and getting Congress to do that, to actually debate this, that
gauntlet has been thrown down by Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern of
Massachusetts. He and Barbara Lee and Republican Walter Jones have now
introduced a resolution that aims to force the House of Representatives to
finally debate the war. To force a debate on whether the troops should be
pulled out of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, since their mission
has not been authorized by Congress.
Congressman Jim McGovern on the House floor today delivered a
withering indictment of how Congress has blown this issue so far. Watch
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Our servicemen and servicewomen
are brave and dedicated. Congress, however, is the poster child for
cowardice. Either Congress needs to live up to its responsibilities and
authorize this war, or by its continuing neglect and indifference, our
troops should be withdrawn and come home. It is that simple.
All we witness is dithering and whittling and complaining and whining
and blaming others, and the complete and total shirking of responsibility
over and over and over again. Enough. Enough.
If this House doesn`t have the stomach to carry out the constitutional
duty to debate and authorize this latest war, then we should bring our
troops home. If the cowardly Congress can go home each night to their
families and loved ones, then our brave troops should receive that same
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.
Congressman, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
Appreciate your time, sir.
MCGOVERN: Happy to be with you.
MADDOW: In the House, the way the rules is work is that if you`re not
in the majority, which Democrats are not, it is perceived that you
essentially have no power, the Republicans can do whatever they want. We
have seen a little bit of bipartisan interest in these matters that you and
Barbara Lee and Walter Jones and others are raising.
Do you think you can force a debate on the war against is?
MCGOVERN: Well, I do. And I should point out, we tried to force a
debate before we get into this latest war, and the Congress and House
overwhelmingly sided with us, saying if we`re engaged in sustained military
operations, we ought to vote to authorize it. That never happened. We`ve
been involved in the war for ten months.
But Barbara Lee and Walter Jones and I have a resolution that is part
of a special procedure within the War Powers resolution which allows us to
force a vote and a debate on whether or not we should withdraw our troops
from hostilities when Congress hasn`t authorized them. And we`re going to
push this issue.
And, Congress, the leadership has a choice. They can actually
deliberate and come out with their version if an AUMF, and if not, then
they`re going to be forced to debate and vote on what we have proposed.
But I think it is not on an abdication of our constitutional
responsibility, I think it is our moral responsibility when it comes to
issues of war to debate war and to vote on it and to take a stand.
You know, war is a big deal. And we ought to treat it as a big deal
and unfortunately, in Congress, war has become all too easy, and I regret
that very much.
MADDOW: You know, I`ve been watching some of the 2016 debate with
interest about this matter, because I wonder as inane as some of our
presidential politicking and that kind of level of fighting is in our
politics, there has been a lot of political fighting, partisan fighting
about the war against ISIS, whether it`s being well fought, whether or not
it was smart to do what we`ve done, whether we should be doing something
else, whether or not the sacrifices in these ten months thus far have been
for naught or whether they`ve actually accomplished anything.
Does that afford you any leverage in terms of getting particularly
more Republican support for a debate? I mean, I don`t mean you should do
it just for partisan reasons. I know you have principled reasons for doing
it, but I wonder if that gives you a way to make more people interested in
making this an issue in Washington?
MCGOVERN: Well, I think there are some thoughtful Republicans, you
know, who believe that we have to live up to our constitutional
It`s ironic that the Republican leadership in both the House and the
Senate every day get up and complain about President Obama not consulting
with them or using executive action. But yet, when it comes to the issue
of war, they`re only too happy to do nothing.
And I think for a lot of members of Congress, unfortunately, it is
convenient to do nothing. I think some members of Congress don`t want to
take this tough vote -- and I can understand that. I mean, a lot of people
mistakenly voted for the Iraq war feel burned and would just assume stand
on the sidelines and be a critic and not have to take responsibility.
But it`s wrong. And we have, you know, brave dedicated men and women
who we`ve put in harm`s way and we ought to debate this war and I
understand that people are skeptical. I`m skeptical. I`m not thrilled
with what the president has proposed.
But this is a time to have skeptics get up and debate this policy and
question it so we don`t make the same mistakes we made before. I think
what we`re doing, you know, in Iraq and Syria right now, I don`t believe
what we`re doing is necessarily going to produce the results that we`re
being told. I think enlarging our military foot print is going to make
But we ought to have that debate. Whether you agree with me we should
think of a different approach or we should give the president unlimited
powers, at least we should at least agree that this is important enough to
debate and to vote and to have a vote on.
And again, I think it`s cowardly and disgraceful that the United
States Congress, both the House and Senate are not debating this issue and
not voting on it.
MADDOW: If members of Congress and members of the Senate come to
Washington for anything, it`s to make decisions on matters like this.
Congressman Jim McGovern, thank you for trying to force it.
Appreciate you being here tonight.
MCGOVERN: Thank you.
All right. Lots more ahead tonight, including an amazing tale of a
heist that has a happy ending. Heist! Stay with us. Heist!
MADDOW: You know that moment after you`ve searched your wallet --
searched for your wallet everywhere and you have to come to grips with the
fact that it is gone, forever, and you don`t know where? Now, imagine
instead of your wallet, you lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of
irreplaceable pieces of art.
Stay with that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. PETER SCHWARTZKOPF (D), DELAWARE: I remember one day, I
got a phone call, beau had been driving by and saw my car, weren`t many
people in the hall that day. And he called me up and I answered the phone
and he said, hey, are you in your office? I said, yes. Mind if I stop by?
I said come on up.
So, we showed up, he was in his military fatigues, he was on his way
to some maneuver somewhere. And he came in and said, what`s up, he said
nothing, I just wanted to come in and give you a hug. I said that`s it,
you want to give me a hug? He said you`re my friend, I miss you, I don`t
get to see you that much.
That`s the Beau that I knew. That`s the Beau that Carol and I love.
And that`s the Beau that we will miss. And will always remember.
Sleep well, Beau.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Delaware speaker of the house speaking earlier today. Peter
Schwartzkopf, speaking for the former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
He laid in honor today in a flag-draped casket in Delaware`s state Senate
The Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, Beau Biden`s wife and
their two kids, they greeted hundreds of mourners who came out to pay their
respects to the family.
In addition to the service held today, a viewing will be held tomorrow
at a Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware, then, of course, the funeral
mass on Saturday morning where President Obama will be giving the eulogy.
All of these services, the services today and tomorrow and Saturday
have been and will continue to be open to the public.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This story has such a weird ending.
All right. Earlier this year, the Boston Public Library discovered it
was missing valuable artwork, really valuable. An etching by Rembrandt
valued at tens of thousands of dollars, an engraving by Durer valued at
$600,000, two really expensive pieces of art.
It wasn`t just the money, though. I mean, apart from their monetary
value, they were not longer apart of the public holdings. They were no
longer at the museum for people to see.
Now, these two very valuable pieces of art went missing last summer.
The library notified the mayor of Boston. An intense investigation was
launched involving the Boston Police Department, the U.S. attorney`s
office, the FBI.
The president of the Boston Public Library had said that she thought
these pieces weren`t actually gone, gone, they weren`t stolen. They might
have been misplaced. Maybe they would turn up somewhere inside the
library, given time, the right kind of search.
But the pressure was really nuts on this, and there was a lot of bad
press about this and the president of the Boston Public Library came under
heavy scrutiny. Yesterday, she resigned. She stepped down from her post,
leaving the public library after eight years of service, after being really
well regarded other than this stolen art thing.
Well, today, not even a full day after her resignation, they found the
art. And she was right. It wasn`t stolen. It was misplaced in the
They found the Rembrandt etching and the Durer engraving together, row
14B, bay 3, shelf 2. Approximately 80 feet from where they should have
been filed, they found them.
Which is great and exciting news that the Boston Public Library has
found this artwork, good for the city, good for the art, good for the
library. The president, today her resignation stands. But she`s happy she
was able to clear her name.
Today, the library posted this great picture of her, the soon to be
ex-president of the Boston Public Library holding one of the now found
pieces of artwork. That she said would be found. She`s the lady standing
on the left with the super big smile.
Don`t quit. Come back.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
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