Congressional Republicans tried and failed to repeal Obamacare at least 70 times before Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona quite dramatically shut down the last major effort to repeal it and replace it with nothing. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia circulated this memo presenting a proposal on federal voting rights legislation that his party has been trying so desperately to pass. Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when Union troops made their way all the way to Galveston, Texas. During today`s signing ceremony, Biden made a point of highlighting a 94- year-old woman named Opal Lee, who had spent decades of her life fighting to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And we will make sure that we cater -- we will cater you some brisket. We will make sure that that brisket is available. Would you come if we do the barbeque?
ANNETTE GORDON-REED, PROFESSOR OF LAW & HISTORY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I would absolutely come.
REID: Well, I wish you a happy Juneteenth. Thank you so much for being here.
GORDON-REED: Thank you for inviting me. Thank you so much.
REID: Thank you very much. All right, and that is THE REIDOUT. That is Annette Gordon-Reed and that`s THE REIDOUT. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
MAXWELL: The Supreme Court makes it clear. Tonight, how Obamacare survived the latest Republican attempt to deny health care to America.
Then, the compromise by Joe Manchin on voter protections that is already a no go with Republican senators.
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I actually think when Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin`s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams` substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.
MAXWELL: And history is made in the White House with the first new federal holiday in nearly 40 years.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history.
MAXWELL: The congresswoman behind the Juneteenth holiday Sheila Jackson Lee joins me live when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: Good evening from Washington, D.C. I`m Zerlina Maxwell in for Chris Hayes.
From the very beginning, from when Democrats first started talking about universal health care up until President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, dismantling that law has been the number one policy agenda item for Republicans.
Congressional Republicans tried and failed to repeal Obamacare at least 70 times before Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona quite dramatically shut down the last major effort to repeal it and replace it with nothing.
But they did not just try in Congress, they also took it to the Supreme Court where it was shot down multiple times.
In 2012, Chief Chief Justice Roberts surprised everyone and sided with the more liberal justices in a 5-4 decision upholding the law.
And then, again, in 2015, it survived another challenge. But the margin expanded to six to three. When Donald Trump became president, he made repealing Obamacare his number one policy goal.
And even after Senator McCain`s late-night thumbs down, Trump and the Republicans, they kept trying to find new ways to dismantle the law. They landed on getting rid of protections for people with preexisting conditions even in the middle of a pandemic, a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.
It is why Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and it`s also why Republicans rushed to confirm her only weeks before the 2020 presidential election. Something Democrats were very, very clear about during her nomination hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): This well could mean that if Judge Barrett is confirmed, Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA provides.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): It seems every time you weighed in on legality of the statute, you come to one conclusion, the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans are scrambling to confirm this nominee as fast as possible, because they need one more Trump judge on the bench before November 10th to win and strike down the entire Affordable Care Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: For her part, Barrett dodge just about every question that came her way. But Donald Trump has had -- has happy -- was happy to admit that he expected the Supreme Court to toss out Obamacare even as he claimed he wanted to protect people with preexisting conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, I got a follow-up on the preexisting conditions, this is such a big issue for voters.
TRUMP: It is a big issue from --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In point of fact, your administration is about to go to the Supreme Court to argue to throw out the rest of Obamacare, which includes the protections for preexisting conditions.
TRUMP: That`s right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, your administration is in court right now trying to get rid of that protection.
TRUMP: In order to replace it with a much better health care at a much lower price. And always, under all circumstances, we are going to protect the Republicans.
And I mean, maybe I changed the party a lot over the last three years. But we will protect people with preexisting conditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: Well, today, the Supreme Court announced its decision in that case Trump was referring to and Obamacare survived again.
It was the largest margin of defeat for Republicans so far with Trump nominees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett agreeing with majo -- with the majority to preserve the law in a 7-2 decision.
Now, this decision does not permanently guarantee the Affordable Care Act or protect it going forward. And Republicans, they`re not sure how to gut it -- try to gut it again, but the decision is a victory nonetheless.
Former Minnesota Senator Al Franken was one of the key votes in the passing of the ACA. He is now the host of the Al Franken podcast and he joins me now. Thank you so much for being here. Your Senate win made Obamacare possible --
AL FRANKEN, FORMER MINNESOTA SENATOR: Thank you, Zerlina.
MAXWELL: Your Senate -- thank you for being here.
MAXWELL: -- possible. I apologize, we`re on a slight delay. So, let me just get asked the question, and then I`ll let you give your complete answer.
What are the lessons learned in your view in terms of how to pass progressive legislation that will be upheld in courts?
FRANKEN: Well, that`s a tall order to figure that out because they stack the court. They pack the court with Federalist Society judges during Trump and with really partisan, unqualified judges. And so, they are this -- the federal court now is very partisan.
Part of what we have to do is we have to confirm our own judges. We, you know, unfortunately, Mitch McConnell made it very clear that if in 22 they pick up the majority, that he will not allow a Biden nominee for the Supreme Court to get to -- will get heard, just like Merrick Garland. And that puts a lot of pressure I think on on Justice Breyer.
You know, in retrospect, I think Justice Ginsburg probably should have retired so we wouldn`t have Coney Barrett, we`d have someone a lot more even handed or perhaps progressive.
So, that`s one of the lessons we learned, is that they pack the courts and it was all Federalist Society 100 percenters. And so, we better confirm judges faster and consider getting back to those two judges that they stole on the Supreme Court.
MAXWELL: In terms of that McConnell strategy, essentially, what he did to your point is pack the federal bench with conservative jurists. Does that complicate the potential for a progressive Biden agenda if we`re able to see the Biden administration pass some of the things that are on the table? What happens when they`re challenged in court, and we have all of these conservative judges on the bench?
FRANKEN: I think it`s a real fear. This was -- they got rid of the blue slip. You know, what the blue slip is? If, for example, President Trump nominated a circuit court judge for my Minnesota circuit, I said -- I didn`t hand in my blue slip, which is saying, I don`t want this guy.
Normally, I would go back to my state, form a committee to select someone who is respected by everybody, it`s a Republican -- because it was a Republican president, but that created a federal court that was respected.
They got rid of that, and as a result, this court is extremely partisan, including people like Justice Kavanaugh who during his question and answer in the second round there, said he was going to take revenge.
I mean, this is -- this is a very, very hard to anticipate what that kind of -- what those kind of judges are going to do.
MAXWELL: And in terms of looking forward, right, that in some ways, we`re looking forward and the laws are passed and they`re going into the court system, but in order to even get there, the laws have to be passed.
So, in order to pass laws, we need to change the filibuster, and you have a plan to do that. And you`ve said that changing the threshold to 55 votes is the way to go. Senator Manchin is actually interested in this idea. Tell us how that would work.
FRANKEN: Well, Joe has said that he will not get rid of the filibuster, but he`s open to modify it. That`s one modification going to 55.
What Norman Ornstein and I have been suggesting is that instead of requiring 60 to stop the filibuster as we do now, right now it takes one senator to filibuster and takes 60 to stop it.
What we`re suggesting is you need 41 senators, in this case it would be Republicans to go to the floor, and that -- and stay on the floor and do a talking filibuster, which means they`d have to stay there. And I know my colleagues, they don`t want to do that.
And so -- and Joe, also in this tape that was revealed by the intercept where he spoke to no labels, suggested and said that he was open to that. And that was very heartening.
MAXWELL: Yes, it seems to me that anytime he`s saying he`s open to an idea, that`s progress from where we currently stand, which is nothing is happening on many of the items on the Biden agenda.
And what in your view needs to happen in the last minute here for all the Democrats, the Senate Democrats to get on the same page in order to pass some of this critical legislation, that`s also a piece of this too, the Democratic party needs to be locked in lockstep?
FRANKEN: Well, part of what Joe was saying in that tape was he`s very disillusioned about the vote on the January 6th commission. And a couple of those votes, for example, on his bill, say, and Joe might say, you know what, they aren`t bipartisan, we`re not going to do it that way. And that might move Joe and might move Kyrsten Sinema toward the kind of modification that will make fili -- will make them invest, have skin in the game when they filibuster. There`ll be a lot fewer filibusters.
McConnell filibustered more executive nominees during Obama than had been filibuster in the previous history of the United States.
MAXWELL: That is a really interesting fact there, and I think we`re going to leave it there. But it`s something to keep in mind when senators go to bed at night and wonder if there should be reforms to the Senate to the filibuster.
Senator Al Franken, thank you so much for being here and starting us off tonight.
FRANKEN: Thank you so much, Zerlina.
MAXWELL: For more on today`s (INAUDIBLE) decision, I`m joined by -- I`m joined by Melissa Murray, a professor at New York University School of Law and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Melissa, can you break down for us the court`s reasoning and today`s ruling on Obamacare?
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: So, it`s a very technical opinion, it doesn`t focus at all on the merits of this case, whether the ACA is in fact unconstitutional. It really focuses on the right of the plaintiffs here, the group of individual plaintiffs and a group of states to bring this case in federal court.
So, the decision was on standing. So, this idea that federal plaintiffs have to have standing a true injury in order to bring your case in federal court and here it was determined that there was no injury that could be redressed by federal court adjudication. So, it was a very technical jurisdictional opinion, doesn`t address the merits of the case at all.
MAXWELL: How surprising though is it to see Justice Roberts, Thomas, Cavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority on this case.
MURRAY: That actually was quite a surprise. And I think it speaks to the chief justice`s skills in continuing to keep the conservative wing of the court, which has now grown to a super majority in check, even as it has the numbers to do what it likes.
So, this was a surprising opinion. Again, the fact that it was decided on jurisdictional grounds suggests that he found a narrow way to bring them all together, and essentially avoid the bigger question.
But the fact that there are two justices on the court who are willing to go on record for demolishing the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a global health crisis really is striking as well.
So, again, nothing could be more important in this particular moment than health care. And yet, we had two justices willing to demolish the ACA.
MAXWELL: That is particularly striking. What does the Supreme Court`s decision tell us about the security of the ACA going forward on that central issue?
MURRAY: So, I think this is a utter of much debate. So earlier today on MSNBC and other platforms, a number of people said that this is the end, the Republicans were going to reel it back. This is baked in and these entitlements will endure because people have expectations to them.
I think that`s probably right. But we also said in 1992, after Planned Parenthood versus Casey reaffirmed Roe versus Wade, that the right to an abortion was also baked in.
But we saw over the next ensuing years that the court would ship ship ship away at abortion rights. It wasn`t a full-frontal attack on Roe, but a slow piecemeal unraveling of it.
And so, you could imagine that although there won`t be full frontal attacks on the ACA, you could have very surgical attempts to demolish certain aspects of it, like the contraceptive mandate, for example.
And over time, that could whittle away the ACA`s benefits and protections such that it really is toothless by the end of it.
So, again, we have an existential crisis when it comes to abortion rights. Right now, we could see the same thing over time here with the ACA as well.
MAXWELL: I brought up with Al Franken the fact that Republicans have put so many conservative jurists on the federal bench in terms of not just reproductive health care, but also the Obamacare cases. There are other things that President Biden wants to do that could lead to legal challenges. Is that something that Democrats who are pushing for this agenda? Is that something they should keep in mind as they pass these bills into law?
MURRAY: Absolutely. We saw this over the summer of the Democratic National Convention, it was basically a litany of progressive legislation. But no one talked about the fact that in most of those cases, those progressive gains in Congress had been gutted by decisions in the Supreme Court.
So, you can`t keep and maintain your Democratic agenda regardless of what happens in Congress. If you have courts and not just the Supreme Court, the lower federal courts as well, that are in hospitable to those progressive moves.
So, again, the courts as Senator Franken said have really tilted to the right over the course of the last four years. The Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative supermajority.
And so, again, the question of the composition of federal courts will continue to loom large.
MAXWELL: Melissa Murray, thank you so much for being here tonight. Please stay safe.
MURRAY: You too.
MAXWELL: Ahead, why Stacey Abrams says she is supporting Joe Manchin`s voting rights compromise and how Republican senators are trying to kill it quickly. That`s next.
MAXWELL: Last night, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia circulated this memo presenting a compromised proposal on federal voting rights legislation that his party has been trying so desperately to pass.
It was an encouraging move because earlier this month, he announced that he would not support the sweeping voting rights bill, known as the For The People Act, as it currently stands.
And Democrats, including voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, endorsed Senator Manchin`s compromise, signaling the party might be willing to get behind it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS, VOTING RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I am endorsing the fact that we now have a list of priorities and that Joe Manchin is at the table and he`s part of the conversation. It`s an important step forward as we tried to protect the freedom to vote and protect access to the vote that all 50 Democratic senators are part of the conversation. I think that he makes common sense opportunities available for compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: But, Mitch McConnell, of course, swiftly rejected the compromise on behalf of Senate Republicans today, writing, "The plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams is no compromise."
And Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri who Manchin recently called a "good friend", also publicly shut down the proposal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLUNT: I actually think when Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin`s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams` substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: So, the questions remain, can Democrats come together to pass any meaningful voting rights legislation?
Judith Browne Dianis is the executive editor at the Advancement Project National Office, a racial justice and civil rights organization. And Meagan Hatcher-Mays is director of Democracy Policy at the progressive advocacy group Indivisible.
Judith, what are the specifics of the Manchin compromise and what is left out that may cause a rift with progressives?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT NATIONAL OFFICE: So, hi Zerlina first, but the -- so, the Manchin compromise has some things in it like making Election Day a federal holiday. No partisan gerrymandering and move it over to kind of computer generated maps.
But it also has some things in it, it does have voter I.D. in it but it seems like it`s a more flexible voter I.D. than we have proposed in the past, which has been very restrictive, but it has some problems.
One of those problems is that it significantly weakens the Department of Justice. And they`re -- when they go after states that have -- that have discriminated. And so, and then it allows local officials to do purging in a much more aggressive way.
And so, it`s a problem. I think a lot of people saw it as a start, including Stacey Abrams. But at the end of the day, it doesn`t matter, the GOP has shown you who they are. They`re saying we don`t want to compromise. We don`t want your bill because the thing we have to remember is that they are the party of states` rights.
And so, they don`t want the federal government in the business of making sure that voters are protected against state voter suppression laws.
MAXWELL: It`s an important context and Meagan, that was pretty fast. The whiplash going from Stacey Abrams endorsing Manchin`s compromise to Mitch McConnell and Roy Blunt coming out and being like, yes, just kidding.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believed all 50 Republicans would oppose Senator Manchin`s slimmed down elections compromise. Do Democrats keep falling for the okey doke (PH)? Do you think that Republics are making the mistake of trying to capitulate to Republicans over and over and then nothing materializes?
MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS, DIRECTOR OF DEMOCRACY POLICY, INDIVISIBLE: Right, yes, they at least want to be able to check it off the list that they talked to some Republicans and they gave it a good faith effort to try to get some Republican support, but they never do. They never get that Republican support that they try so hard to get.
This isn`t really bad approach not just because it`s folly to try to convince Republicans to let people participate in democracy, it`s a huge time waster as well. And time is one of the most powerful tools the Republicans have right now in this trifecta. Wasting time is one of the best things they can do to block Joe Biden`s agenda from being enacted into law. And it`s really critically important that Democrats stop falling for it.
Because we really don`t have much time and you know, we`re running up on some really significant deadlines here. Census data is going to be released in August. States are going to start drawing congressional maps. Some of these maps are going to need to be finalized by February of 2022. And then the midterms are just around the corner after that.
So, again, I get the impulse to at least try to demonstrate that you`ve given it a shot, but we`re reaching the point where it`s just driving the car into the same wall over and over again and we really just don`t have time for that.
MAXWELL: Judith, do you think Democrats understand the sense of urgency of activists like Meagan at Indivisible and others who have been on the ground trying to push their senators no matter what state they`re in to do something about voting rights? Do they get that sense of urgency that is so so clear on the ground?
DIANIS: Well, Democrats may not understand the urgency that we feel in the voting rights movement, but they will feel it in the fall of 2022. And they might feel it in a really bad way.
Because I mean, as Meagan said, we have redistricting coming up, don`t forget, we have a Supreme Court case that`s coming down in the next couple of weeks that could actually kill the rest of the Voting Rights Act that exists.
And so, when we move into 2022 and those fall elections, you know, for more barriers to be in place is going to be a problem.
So, I mean, we have litigation in advance of projects involved in cases in Georgia and Florida. We are part of black -- the Black Voters Matter bus ride that`s coming to D.C., and we`re doing all that we can.
But now, it`s time for the Republics to step up. It`s time for Senator Manchin to understand that the house is on fire, and you got to stop playing with people that don`t want to play with you.
MAXWELL: Yes, I feel like you probably don`t want to play with people who don`t want to play with you. It`s an early lesson you learn in life. And you just sort of move on to people who like you, right? I mean, why keep trying if people don`t like you?
Meagan, is filibuster reform necessary to get movements on anything? I mean, I`m doing the math, so you still need 60 votes. And I don`t know -- I don`t see 10 Republicans, how do you get to 10?
HATCHER-MAYS: I don`t see one Republican for the Manchin compromise or S1 as it currently stands, we absolutely need to get rid of the filibuster.
And I think one thing I`d say actually to your previous question about whether or not Democrats are feeling the urgency? I agree, they will. But I do think they are right now. I think, you know, For The People Act in its current form is incredibly popular. Like in End Citizens United polls showed 79 percent of the people in West Virginia support this bill.
We wouldn`t be here today if it wasn`t for activists in West Virginia who were regularly in contact with Joe Manchin even after he had put out that op-ed saying he was not going to vote for the -- For The People Act earlier this month.
That shows that organizing works. We`ve moved this far just in two weeks because activists in West Virginia, especially black activists, and activists of color, the NAACP down there did a lot of work to really impress upon Joe Manchin the significance of the For The People Act, but we cannot pass it if the filibuster as we currently note it -- know it is in place.
The good news is, as Senator Franken mentioned before, this leaked recording from the no labels donors, lunch or whatever it was, he did indicate that he`d be open to some changes which is good, because not even his pal Lisa Murkowski, who had signed on to his letter about reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, seems to be anywhere in the mix on this For The People Act compromise.
MAXWELL: Right, I just don`t see how you get to 60. But, maybe somebody out there has magic math that I`m just not aware of.
Judith Browne Dianis and Meagan Hatcher-Mays, thank you both for being here tonight. It`s great to have you.
Coming up, tomorrow will be the first Juneteenth federal holiday. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on the long road it took to get here and what it means in this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I have to say to you, I`ve only been president for several months. But I think this will go down, for me, one of the greatest honors I will have had as president, not because I did it, you did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: The last time the U.S. got a new federal holiday was in 1983.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House of Representatives today voted in favor of a 10th national holiday, the third Monday of every January to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. It would be a paid day off for the 2.8 million federal workers. This is as far as the legislation has gotten in the 15 years since King`s assassination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: Congressman John Conyers first proposed the legislation to establish MLK Day in 1968, just four days after Dr. King`s assassination. It took 15 years to finally pass in the House and head to President Reagan`s desk.
Reagan had initially opposed making Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday because he argued that basically, every marginalized group would want their own tribute and "We could have an awful lot of holidays if we start down that road."
Reagan finally signed the holiday into law on November 2nd, 1983 though the day wasn`t officially celebrated until 1986.
And still, there were plenty of holdouts with some of the strongest resistance coming from the state of Arizona.
Things sort of came to a head in March of 1990 when the NFL gave Arizona an ultimatum. They said recognize MLK Day as a holiday or you lose the Super Bowl in 1993.
Arizona lawmakers put a referendum on that ballot that November to make it a holiday, but the measure lost. And four months later, the NFL rescinded its selection of the of Tempe as the site of the 1993 Super Bowl.
It wasn`t until the year 2000, 17 years after it was signed into federal law that all 50 states agreed to observe MLK Day. Though Mississippi and Alabama still combined the holiday for the celebration of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Because of course, MLK Day was the last new federal holiday signed into law until today, when President Biden made Juneteenth celebrating the day when black people were finally liberated in Texas, the last bastion of the Confederacy an official federal holiday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Juneteenth, marks both long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come.
This is a day profound in my view, profound weight and profound power. A day in which we remember the moral stain that the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: The bill to establish this new federal holiday took a lot less time to make it to the president`s desk than the bill to establish MLK Day.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee introduced it in February and just four months later, it became federal law. The Congresswoman joins me live, next.
MAXWELL: Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when Union troops made their way all the way to Galveston, Texas. And that is when the enslaved people living there learned that they were now free.
Mind you, this was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
So, if you are a federal worker, you should know, most of you will get the day off tomorrow, because President Joe Biden signed a bill today making Juneteenth a national holiday set to take effect immediately.
During today`s signing ceremony, Biden made a point of highlighting a 94- year-old woman named Opal Lee, who had spent decades of her life fighting to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We`re blessed. We`re blessed to mark the day in the presence of Miss Opal Lee. As my mother would say, God love her.
I have the honor of meeting her in Nevada more than a year ago. She told me she loved me and I believed it. I wanted to believe it. Ms. Opal, you`re incredible. A daughter of Texas. Grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
On Juneteenth, 1939, when she was 12 years old, the white -- a white mob torched her family home. But such hate never stopped her any more than it stopped the vast majority of you I`m looking at from this podium.
Over the course of decades, she`s made it her mission to see that this day came. It was almost a singular mission. She`s walked for miles and miles, literally and figuratively, to bring attention to Juneteenth, to make this day possible.
I ask, once again, we all stand and give her a warm welcome to the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: Afterward, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas sent this tweet with Opal Lee and the President of the United States after signing the historic Juneteenth federal holiday legislation.
And Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas joins me now.
What do you want people to reflect on during their time off for this brand new federal holiday?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, I think it`s very important for us to find an opportunity to be somber, to seek knowledge and to have a Jubilee and a joyful time.
What I`m so excited about, those who`ve never heard of Juneteenth now have a moment of reflection. We have seemingly had an opposition to be able to discuss slavery. We`ve talked all around it.
Even as we discuss H.R.40, the Commission to Study Slavery and Develop Reparation Proposals, for some reason, people think we should not talk about that period of our life.
One thing the president said, a nation shows its greatness when it can also talk about its era, its tragedy, its brutality and the incidence of slavery, it was brutal.
So, I hope that this will be a unifying -- a unifying day and it`ll begin tomorrow, where no matter who you are, and someone looks up at you, your daughter, your son, and they asked, what is your Juneteenth, and you can say what it was, but you can say it`s also a day of freedom and it can bring people together. That`s what I hope Juneteenth year after year will be.
MAXWELL: That makes me think of this controversy though over critical race theory. And I`ve been marinating a lot on why Republicans are obsessed with banning this in schools, even though it`s actually taught in law school and in graduate school, not in elementary school?
But I think that even the parents that are coming to the school board meetings and saying they don`t want their kids to learn this, they`re doing that out of fear. They don`t want to -- their kids to learn about racism in school.
OK, well, shouldn`t the parents be teaching their children about this part of American history no matter what background, all parents? Is that your view as well?
LEE: You know, what we should be teaching is truth. We help people in bondage. We had a brutal history, meaning America. There were masters and slave. The Constitution did not grant us citizenship or even status as one human being, but we survived. And we had the Harriet Tubman of the world, the Sojourner Truth of the world. We had the Frederick Douglass of the world.
And so, that is the beauty of America. We were resilient, we should tell that story. Brutality comes with survival and success. And then, we need to tell the story that the day that we were free shows America`s compassion and love for freedom, the day of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
The president, Abraham Lincoln who did not survive this period indicated that a nation divided cannot -- against itself cannot stand.
And so, Juneteenth is a reckoning that we wanted to survive as a nation, and we freed the slaves. That`s a beautiful story, even in the backdrop of the brutality. And I hope as we go over and over again, Opal Lee wants to have a Juneteenth museum.
Al Ed was out of Houston, Texas who was the father of Juneteenth in the state of Texas. Those are good stories. And I worked on this for 12 years.
First, as a commemorative acknowledgement, telling the story of Juneteenth. Now, look where we are today, an amazing vote in the Senate and an actual vote in the House of Representatives, 415 persons.
You know, I think the real question on this critical race theory is why we are so afraid of race? Why is it the third rail? When we are better when we talk about it, when we understand it, and only acknowledge that my race should not be any more difficult to discuss than the pilgrims pride.
Then, of course, our friends who are truly Native Americans, or Latinx, or LGBTQ or the Asian community, or the South Asian community. America, you`re an experiment. Show the world your experiment is working.
Juneteenth today, with tears in my eyes when I made that gavel last night. And today, shows America and shows the world that we can accept our difference. And we can establish what freedom is all about.
You know, the world admires that in us, why shouldn`t we run after it and grab it? Why should we pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, why should we fix the upside-down voting rights that doesn`t exist anymore because of 43 states plus?
I wrote the Voting Rights Act and reauthorized with my colleagues back in 2007, 2008 when George W. Bush signed it, why can`t we fix that? Why can`t we pass a bill that talks about studying slavery and the disparities that exist today? Why can`t we talk about social equity, social justice and racial equity?
This administration has begun this. I`m so glad the president said that if he looks back over his legacy, this may be the greatest honor for him that he`s ever had and that is establishing Juneteenth as the 11th holiday, federal holiday and 38 years after Martin Luther King, Jr.`s holiday.
MAXWELL: The image of Vice President Kamala Harris holding Opal Lee`s hand is beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes today.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much for making the time tonight. Please stay safe.
Still ahead, D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone was beaten and tased during the attack on the Capitol. So, why is one Republican congressman afraid to even shake his hand? That story, next.
MAXWELL: One of the many enduring dramatic images from the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6th is this moment, when members of Congress and security personnel barricaded the door to the House Chamber. That was to keep the mob out of -- out of there and the rioters in the hallway.
The man you see highlighted here in that group, that`s Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia. He was only sworn in office three days before this and yet, he stood up and defended that door. Which is why it was very strange when during a hearing last month, Congressman Clyde compared the rioters to tourists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): Watching the T.V. footage of those who entered the Capitol and walk through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn`t know the T.V. footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: And then, at the Capitol yesterday, Congressman Clyde refused to shake hands with one of the police officers who protected the Capitol that day and suffered a concussion and a heart attack.
The Republican Party has long portrayed itself as pro-police, so why are they behaving like this now after police officers saved their very lives on January 6th?
Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and has been calling for a commission to investigate what happened on January 6th, he joins me now.
Congressman, behind the scenes, what`s the vibe on Capitol Hill? What`s been the sense among your colleagues that not shaking hands with a Capitol Police officer that saved your lives, and also refusing to support a bipartisan commission is beyond the pale even for this current Republican Party?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yes, that`s right. And I mean, the -- thanks for having me on, Zerlina. It`s -- it is beyond the pale, right? You didn`t mention the fact that, you know, a number of I think it was almost two dozen Republicans voted against giving a gold medal, a Congressional Gold Medal to the people who saved their lives.
And I think what we`re talking about here, and I think this probably explains the congressman you were just talking about is, you know, just a complete inability to accept the reality, because it is the reality is so damaging to the religion that they follow.
And the religion that they follow, of course, is that Donald Trump is the be all end all. And it is therefore inconceivable that thousands of people who in the name of Donald Trump, at the urging of Donald Trump carrying Trump signs would do what we all know they did. Brutalized police officers, you know, attack the very symbol of our democracy. That is -- I think the term is cognitive dissonance.
And because they can`t accept that, they act in an inhuman way, not shaking the hands of Officer Fanone or voting against the gold medal for these officers or making up fantastical things like maybe this riot was actually started by the FBI.
You know, and -- you know, to the credit of the broader party, most Republicans I think are not that far off the deep end. And this is a -- this is I guess damning with faint praise. Most Republicans are just wishing this would go away, because they know it was just an insane thing that happened. They know that Donald Trump did, and they know that they were complicit by raising all of this uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential election. But it`s -- it results in a lot of very sick behavior.
MAXWELL: There is a lot of chronic cognitive dissonance because all of the Republicans in Congress, I think I`ve said this at least a hundred times on television, they won elections in 2020. Then they showed up, they got sworn in, in Congress, and are there because of the same results they`re calling fraudulent, it makes absolutely no sense.
Do you think there`s any discomfort in the Republican caucus that some of the most extreme elements of their party have taken over? And really, essentially, this point, now that we`ve been through the insurrection already, they`re an ongoing threat to your own safety there on Capitol Hill?
HIMES: Yes, they are. Or I mean, you know, I`m not sure I worry too much about, you know, Lauren Boebert or Marjorie Taylor Greene being a personal threat to me, but the fact that there are millions of people out there in America who are encouraging this behavior, that`s what really worries me.
You know, they`re not -- members of Congress are pretty sensitive to their political interests. And you know, these people, you know, the 20 or 30 of them that are just really inexplicable are doing it because they are actually getting support at home for this. And that`s what really worries me. And I wonder how long will it take?
I mean, how long will it take before Americans realize that a world in which they so hate the other side that they would rather see the constitution shredded in our country turned into an autocracy, then actually hand power over to the other side?
How long does that take to go away? Because if it doesn`t go away, and it hasn`t gone away, we still have a clear and present threat to our democracy.
MAXWELL: Speaking of autocracy, the DOJ politicize during the Trump administration, we just learned in recent reporting that they overreached and started looking at phone data for members of your committee, the Intelligence Committee. Are you at all concerned that some of the same career people that spied on your colleagues will continue to do so or they`re just still in their jobs?
HIMES: I`m certainly concerned that many of them are still in their jobs. I`m fascinated by the fact that everybody who was attorney general at the time, and I guess there were two of them, maybe three of them Sessions, Barr and Rosenstein, all of them say, gosh, I didn`t know what was going on.
Well, you know, either they`re -- either they`re lying, or they`re telling the truth. And there are people still at DOJ who thought that this was an OK thing to do. And this is an OK thing to do if you`re in the worst of the worst of the Banana Republic, but it is not an OK thing to do.
The other thing I worry about quite frankly is, you know, we have not had a commission or any comprehensive look at other elements of the federal government that Donald Trump might have abused for his personal -- his personal advancement.
We know that he was willing to hold up a foreign aid to Ukraine while they were under attack by Russia, he got impeached for that. We know that he wanted to fire Bob Mueller. We know that he suggested or ordered the DOJ to spy on members of Congress, what else? Did he -- did he compromise the IRS? Did he somehow try to compromise the military?
We we need to understand the full extent because if we don`t learn from this, I promise you there are people including some who are running for president who are watching this and say, hey, that`s a pretty cool tool. I wonder what I might do with it.
MAXWELL: It`s a good point about all of the potential abuses of power and certainly the co-equal branch of government. Congress may want to look into that.
Congressman Jim Himes, thank you so much for being here tonight. Please stay safe.
That is ALL IN for this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.