Sen. Chuck Schumer says he's not going to let America 'regress' on voting rights

"We're working very hard trying to persuade [Sens.] Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema," the Senate majority leader tells "The View."
6:57 | 01/11/22

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Transcript for Sen. Chuck Schumer says he's not going to let America 'regress' on voting rights
- From voting rights to filibuster reform and President Biden's sweeping Build Back Better plan, Democrats have a lot to deliver on. Yeah. So Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, is joining us with his plan to get things going and get things done. Welcome back, Senator Schumer. Welcome back to The View. - Whoopi, I'm glad to be back on The View, and I'm glad you're back on The View. I'm glad you recuperated. - Well, thank you. You've vowed to call a vote on major voting rights legislation in time for Martin Luther King Day next week. I just want-- I want to ask you this because it's irritating me to the n-th degree. Why are we still talking about my right as an American to vote? I still feel like, suddenly, Black people still are where we were under the Emancipation Proclamation. What is happening? Why are we still fighting this this way? What's-- - Well, here's what's happening-- - What's going to change? - --Whoppi. You're 100% right, and it's not just staying the same. It's going to get worse if we don't do something. What's happened is this Donald Trump spread the big lie that the election was fraudulent. Of course, it wasn't. He had no evidence. But state legislatures - only Republicans, very partisan, no Democrats - are now making it harder for people to vote based on that false big lie that the election was fraudulent. But they're not aiming it at everybody. They're aiming it at People of Color. They're aiming it at poor people. They're aiming it at students. They're aiming it at the elderly. They're aiming it at disabled. So we have proposed legislation called the Freedom to Vote Act, two pieces, and the John Lewis Restoration Act. That would allow the Justice Department to come in, as it has always done, when states have taken away the right to vote. You all know what Jim Crow is. And what we've proposed is that the Justice Department could come in and undo these bad laws. Let me tell you a few of them. They want some people - if you want to vote at home, you're disabled, you're elderly - to have to get a notary public to come to your house and pay money to vote. If you're a student, in some states, they want to make you register your car in that state and go to the Motor Vehicles Bureau, which could be an hour and a half away. In a city like Milwaukee what they're trying to do-- what they've tried to do is say there should be only one drop-off voting location, even though it's a city of a million people. And they often put this location, or in other states, where there's no transportation, where there's no parking. So they're deliberately trying to suppress the right to vote. That is vital to America. This is just not another political dispute. This is about what America is all about, the right to vote. When the Constitution was founded, you had to be a white male Protestant property owner in most states to vote. We've made progress. We're not going to let them regress. We're fighting to make that happen. And one other point, Whoopi. Voting rights always used to be bipartisan. Ronald Reagan was for voting rights, George H. W. Bush was for voting rights, George W. Bush. But now that Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party with his big lie that the election was stolen, they're all bowing down in obedience to him and allowing these despicable things to happen unless we stop them. - Well, Senator, we just spoke during Hot Topics about President Biden's speech later today in Atlanta. Stacey Abrams, one of the most prominent advocates for voting rights and current Democratic favorites in Georgia's governor race is not going to attend today's event. She's citing a scheduling conflict. And there are also a number of voting rights groups in the state that are not going to be attending that speech, saying that President Biden has taken a long time, perhaps too long, and not prioritize that issue. So what do you say to your fellow colleagues, like Mark Kelly and Manchin and Sinema, who are being, in my view, pretty obstreperous on this issue and those Democrats that are saying this push is really late and a little too little? - Well, look. I'm glad-- [CLEARS THROAT] I'm glad Joe Biden is going down there to Atlanta today. He's going to give a-- [CLEARS THROAT] Excuse me. He's going to give a very, very strong speech. And I say to all of my colleagues, and my Democratic colleagues in particular, this is not just another political issue. This is about the future of how America functions. And if we allow the voting rights to be rolled back, sort of like they were in Jim Crow, our democracy could really wither away. If people don't have faith that elections are fair, then our democracy-- the root of our democracy is free and fair elections, and we all abide by the results until Donald Trump. And now we have to fight back. So I'm saying, even if the Republicans don't join us, we have to do it ourselves. And that will involve, as you mentioned, as Whoopi mentioned, changing some of the rules. But we've changed the rules in the past. Even Robert Byrd - who was Joe Manchin's mentor, one of the great traditionalists in the Senate - changed the rules nine times. He said, Byrd, when circumstances change, the rules have to change. The circumstances have changed because we have these horrible laws being passed, and we're having the Republicans, every single one in the Senate, not joining us. I asked four times to have a bipartisan vote to just debate this bill, and not a single Republican would vote to debate it. So we couldn't debate it. - Now, Senator, Republicans have already blocked multiple attempts at passing these bills over the last year. But there has been some bipartisan support for a more modest reform of the Electoral Count Act, which is what President Trump's allies wanted to use to invalidate the 2020 election. You've called that "unacceptable, insufficient, and even offensive." Why not try to compromise on that and launch some sort of win here? - Well, we have to-- I don't mind-- I'm listening to any ideas. The trouble with the Electoral College Act, of course, is all these laws are aimed in 2022 at the House and Senate. The Electoral College Act, as you know, only affects the president and it's in 2024. There's not the urgency. But second, to do something on the electoral college is fine, but it's no substitute for preventing people from voting, for making it so much harder for people to vote. Do you know, one of the laws in Georgia, what it says? It says if-- often, in minority areas, you have to wait for hours online, four or five, six hours. And in white suburban areas, you don't have to wait hardly at all. They now say it's a crime if someone wants to give you water or a sandwich as you're waiting online to vote. The Electoral College Act doesn't undo any of that. So is it something that we might consider? Yes. But not as a substitute for these vital, vital provisions, which will keep the right to vote and prevent voter suppression. - Maybe it's time for the magic pen from the president.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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