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Bob Dole called the Senate 'bent,' but seven years later it's closer to being broken

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Bob Dole attends a Veterans Day ceremony
Bob Dole attends a Veterans Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial on Nov. 11, 2016 in Washington.Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — In a 2014 interview, Bob Dole complained about a Congress where Republicans refused to work with Democrats, about a Senate that was “badly bent” but not broken, and about a Republican Party that was lacking an agenda.

Seven years later — as President Biden speaks today at Dole’s funeral service in Washington — things have only gotten worse.

“Well, there's some Republicans now in the party who don't, you know, don't want to cross the aisle work with the Democrats. They don't really want to do much of anything. I mean, they're got some in the House that their primary goal is to get rid of John Boehner as speaker. I don't know, I thought I was a conservative," Dole said back in 2014 on MSNBC. "But what I believed in [was] getting things done working with Democrats,”

When asked how you fix a broken Senate, Dole added, “Well, the Senate's may not be broken, but it's badly bent. And this is going to take some strong leadership from both parties.”

And then he said this about the Republican Party: “We got to have an agenda, we've got to have something people can be for something that resonates with the voters. And whether it's health care, whether it's immigration, it's got to be a package of issues that people are concerned about.”

In 2014, the environment on Capitol Hill was pretty grim — legislative stalemates, partisan bickering, a government shutdown the year before.

In 2021, it’s become worse.

Senate passes bill averting debt default

And it’s become worse because THIS is the good news. “The Senate passed a bill Thursday that will enable Congress to lift the debt ceiling and avert what would be the first-ever default in U.S. history,” NBC’s Sahil Kapur and Frank Thorp write.

More: “The legislation, which already cleared the House, passed the Senate in a 59-35 vote, winning the support of 10 Republicans and every Democrat in attendance. It now heads to the White House, where President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law.”

And: “The bill would create a special process to suspend the filibuster on a one-time basis and enable the Senate to lift the debt ceiling with a simple majority. That means it can be done quickly with only Democratic votes and a tiebreaker from Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate.”

As Politico’s Burgess Everett notes, “10+ Republicans will vote to break the filibuster on a bill that exempts the debt ceiling from a filibuster but would not vote to break a filibuster on a debt ceiling bill.”

The Jan. 6 Committee had a productive week

Over the last several weeks, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol hasn’t had much to show for its work.

Uncooperative witnesses. Court battles. Witnesses invoking their 5th amendment rights.

But Thursday’s developments demonstrated that the committee has had a productive week.

It received key documents and texts from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; it heard testimony from multiple witnesses; and on top of it all, the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Trump in the legal fight over documents.

As NBC’s Garrett Haake tweeted, yesterday was the “best day for the January 6th committee in a good long while.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2.6: How many times more Nevada Democrats switched their party registration to join the GOP, compared to Republicans switching to Democrats, per the Nevada Independent, over the last three months.

15.5: What percentage of the 161 congressional seats where redistricting has finished that were decided by fewer than 10 points in the 2020 presidential election, per a Politico analysis.

28: How many years Brian Williams, who signed off from the network on Thursday evening, has been with NBC.

49,673,062: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 111,070 more since yesterday morning.)

797,279: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,167 since yesterday morning.)

477,433,765: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,705,366 since yesterday morning.)

49,900,089: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,003,743 since yesterday morning.)

60.5 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

71.8 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Health and Human Services secretary has been out of the spotlight despite the global pandemic.

The Jan. 6 committee has postponed its deposition with longtime Trump advisor Jason Miller.

New York Attorney General Tish James is ending her gubernatorial bid.

With Dr. Oz gaining steam on the right in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, Democratic Dr. Val Arkoosh wants to be his foil.

New York City is poised to approve a plan to grant green-card holders and “DREAMers” the right to vote in municipal elections.