MSNBC continues its coverage of the deadly shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan and U.S. Representative Diana DeGette are interviewed. GOP senators defend lack of action on gun control crisis. The filibuster record is 24 hours and 18 minutes on the Senate Floor set by segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond to try to stop and failing to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957. People have been crossing the southern border illegally by the millions and hundreds of thousands every year for most of our lives.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
Rachel, I went to the grocery store today, as was planned yesterday before there was a mass shooting at a grocery store, and I walked around the store thinking things I never thought of before. How do we get out of here? If we have to get out somewhere other than where we came in, and I don`t think we thought about our grocery stores that way before.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know, I was thinking along the same lines when I was reading the initial eyewitness accounts yesterday, before we really knew the full scale of what had happened. People talked about finding the ways to the staff areas of the floor, off the floor, people running through the stock areas and jumps off the loading docks, to try to get away yesterday.
And reading those eyewitness accounts yesterday, I realized, I worked stocking shelves. I have been in those sorts of places in stores.
But in a panic, would you know to do that? Would I know to do that? Would I have my wits about me to try to save myself and the people I was with that way, we shouldn`t have to think about these things in civilian life. But that is how we have to live as Americans in part because our political system is too broken to ever fix the problem.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, we have to think about all the different things wherever we go, and the list of places we have to worry about expands. It just constantly expands.
MADDOW: Yeah. Indeed. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
Well, American mass murderer came to the grocery store yesterday. And now we know, when we enter stores in America, we have to be alert of every possible route of escape from that grocery store. We have to go to a grocery store the way kids go to school in this country.
After they have been trained on what to do when mass murder comes to the elementary school or to their high school. Colorado taught us to worry about our schools 20 years when 13 people were killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Colorado taught us how to worry about escape routes in movie theaters when 12 people were murdered in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, eight years ago, and now grocery stores.
We have also of course in the meantime learned about churches. Our first guest tonight, knows what it`s like. He knows what the families and the loved ones of the people murdered in Colorado yesterday are going through what they went through last night, what they`re going through today, what they`ll go through tomorrow. He knows what the day after is like.
He knows what the year after is like and he knows what eight years after is like. His son was murdered in that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and he is now a member of the state legislature trying to reduce gun violence. But he faces a political party that does everything it possibly can to make sure that American mass murderers are the very best equipped mass murderers in the world.
He was nice. That is how Karina Keo (ph) remembers 20-year-old Denny Stong. On Facebook, Denny wrote, I am a grocery store worker. Friend says he was a kind soul with a funny sense of humor and unique interest.
Denny Stong was the youngest person murdered in the King Soopers grocery store yesterday.
Neven Stanisic was 23-year-old son of Serbian refugees, came to the United States in the 1990s. He was in the store yesterday to repair a Starbucks machine. He had just finished with the job, and sitting in the driver`s seat when he was shot dead. A friend think he might have been the first victim.
Rikki Olds was a 35-year-old manager at King Soopers. Her uncle Bob Olds described the agony last night. Quote: We had to wait and agonize over her fate for several hours after calls to the police department and every local hospital and the coroner`s office, we finally received a call back from the coroner`s office.
Rikki`s aunt, Laurie Olds, wrote on Facebook, the Lord got a beautiful angel yesterday at the hands of a deranged monster.
Tralona Bartkowiak went to King Soopers to pick up a prescription. She was 49 years old. A friends said on social media, she was the kindest and sweetest lady. Her brother Michael said his sister was, quote, just a beam of light.
Teri Leiker worked at that grocery store for about 30 years and on Facebook, she said her job was her, quote, favorite thing to do.
Her friend Alexi Netson (ph) wrote, Teri was most selfless, innocent, amazing person I ever had the pleasure to meeting. To think Teri was murdered while simply doing her job angers. The fact that a man decided to take away so much from so many in a matter of seconds angers.
If you don`t think we need gun reform, you`re wrong. We can`t to movie theaters without fear. We can`t go to school without fear. We can`t go to music events without a fear. Now add going to the grocery store to that list.
Teri Leiker was 51 years old.
Suzanne Fountain was 59 years old and worked as a financial adviser at Boulder Community Health. She helped people deal with Medicare.
"The Colorado Sun" says Suzanne Fountain was an accomplished actor with credits in a number of regional theaters. "The Denver Post" theater critic found Suzanne Fountain, qoute, utterly compelling in the role of Laura in the glass menagerie.
Randi Miler (ph), Colorado playwright and director, paid Suzanne the ultimate compliment for that actor. He said she was very, very talented, and very smart, a pro, the real deal. She also had the combination of smart, talented. A person you can be locked in a rehearsal hall with for 30 days.
Kevin Mahoney was 61 years old. Kevin`s daughter, Erika Mahoney, said she was, quote, my hero. On Twitter, Erika said, my dad represents all things love. I`m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer. I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter.
Lynn Murray was a former photo director for magazines including "Cosmopolitan" and "Glamour". She moved to Boulder with her news husband and two children in 2002. Her husband John McKenzie (ph) told "The New York Times", I just want her to be remembered as just as this amazing, amazing comet, spending 62 years flying across the sky.
Jody Waters was 65 years old. "The Colorado Sun" says the kind of person who everyone knew. A friend said she was super engaging, dynamic, and beautiful.
Eric Talley was 40 years old and working in information technology when he decided to join the Boulder police force 11 years ago. He was the first Boulder police officer to arrive at the scene of the shooting yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MARIS HEROLD, BOULDER POLICE: I feel numb. And it`s heartbreaking. It`s heartbreaking to talk to victims, their families. You know, it`s tragic.
This officer had seven children, ages 5 to 18. I just had that officer`s whole family in my office two weeks ago to give him an award.
I can tell you that he is a very kind man and he didn`t have to go in policing. He had a profession before this. But he felt a higher calling.
And he loved this community. And he`s everything that policing deserves and needs. He carried about this community. He cared about Boulder Police Department. He cared about his family. And he was willing to die to protect others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the president of the United States said this about the heroism of Officer Eric Talley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT FO THE UNITED STATES: He thought he would be coming home to his family and seven children. But in the moment the act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That is a definition of an American hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan whose son was killed in the Aurora movie theater mass murder in 2012.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Tom.
You are now a representative in the Colorado legislature, so I will be calling you Representative Sullivan.
Tell us what the families are going through tonight -- the day after, the night after.
STATE REP. TOM SULLIVAN (D), COLORADO: You`re starting to make the arrangements. Family -- now that the names have gone out, you don`t have to announce what happened to anybody. Everybody else is going to know.
You`re going to find out who wants to come to town. You`re starting to look for -- what kind of service you`re going to have. You`re figuring out funeral arrangements.
You have to get time off of work. You have to let others know. And you`ve got to come up with capsulized, you know, two minute quotes about what the last 27 years of your son`s life has meant to you, because that`s what you`re going to get asked a lot about.
O`DONNELL: I heard you say today that you don`t know when you get that call, when you get that word, that your son has been killed, your family member has been murdered this way, you don`t know that the news media is going to be asking, others will ask to you, you what is the last thing you said to him? What is the last thing he said to you? You don`t know you have to memorize that?
SULLIVAN: That`s right. I mean, you know, especially with your children. I mean, you expect them to be around all the time. So you don`t -- you don`t think that you have to remember the last time that you saw him and the last time they wore something.
You don`t have to -- you don`t think you have to remember to keep that extra -- that text message they sent you or to keep that phone message that they left on your phone, to say they can`t make it over tonight or something, because, you know, you might not ever get another one.
O`DONNELL: Also, joining the discussion tonight, Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado. She was the prime sponsor of legislation in the last Congress to ban the sale of high capacity gun magazines.
And, Congresswoman DeGette, you represent the district that includes Columbine High School. You`ve been through all the mass murders in Colorado in the last 20 years.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO): So, it`s DeGette, Lawrence, but good to be with you.
And I`m particularly honored to be with my cherished friend, Tom Sullivan, who I think is really an American hero.
I mean, every time something like this happens, you`re right, Columbine was my district, and I was in Congress when Columbine happened.
And every time something like this happen -- and Colorado has had a disproportionate amount of this -- every time it happens, Tom Sullivan and hundreds of other people in Colorado are re-traumatized. It`s a tragedy that just happens over and over.
O`DONNELL: And, Representative Sullivan, this is what -- the killing of your son is what moved you in politics, isn`t it?
SULLIVAN: Yeah, I had no aspirations to do this. But when that happened, and I went to Washington, I testified, I tried to talk to people. They weren`t taking my calls. They weren`t doing things that I thought needed to happen.
It became very apparent to me that I needed to get on the inside. I needed to be a part of that, that was actually writing the legislation and fighting for the victims of gun violence.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman DeGette, you have signed on to the job where you must never give up and you must never entertain thoughts of giving up. People watching from the outside and watching Congress over the last 20 years since Columbine, do not know how you keep trying to advance this cause.
DEGETTE: We have to. We have to for Tom`s son, for those ten people who perished yesterday. We have to keep it up.
And the American public is with us. The two bills the U.S. House passed the last week, just on background checks, not radical bills, those two bills, they are in the Senate now. Maybe we can pass those bills but as the president said today, we have to be bold. We have to do much more. We have to ban assault weapons like the one that was used yesterday. Like the one that was used in the Aurora shooting, and we have to ban high capacity magazines.
There`s a lot we can do, I believe the NRA is losing power in Washington but not quickly enough, because ten more people were killed yesterday, and eight people were killed in Atlanta last week.
O`DONNELL: Representative Sullivan, the city of Boulder had banned the kind of assault weapon that was brought into that supermarket yesterday, and large capacity magazines. But a judge had blocked that -- that ban, there by allowing in the last week, at least one of the weapons to be purchased by the person who went into that supermarket yesterday.
SULLIVAN: Yeah, that`s right. That is why we were incumbent on getting help from a federal level. We`ve already passed background checks in the state of Colorado. We already passed high capacity magazine limits.
We need help from the federal government to do things like banning assault rifles and those other types of things. Ninety percent of the American public is behind background checks but the last time it was brought to a vote, we could only get 56 percent of the sitting senators to be able to vote for it. And that`s wrong. They`re not listening to the public.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman DeGette, it`s not going to get through the United States Senate if those filibuster rules remain in place.
DEGETTE: I think it`s becoming more and more clear about many of these issues. And certainly the Founders did not intend for 60 to be the new 50. Every single bill, the Republicans are blocking.
So I think it`s a growing understanding we`re going to have to have some kind of filibuster reform in Washington. But even then, the families in Colorado and other states have to keep up the wonderful work they have done, the Sandy Hook families, everyone, to let people know this is so important.
It can`t just stop with background checks. We really have to reform the system. It`s like Tom was saying, is even if we banned assault rifles in the state of Colorado, someone can just go over the state lines and buy one and bring it here and shoot people in a grocery store in Boulder.
And so, that is why you really to have a national law. We had laws like this before and they worked.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Diana DeGette, thank you for joining us tonight.
And Colorado Representative Tom Sullivan, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and Representative Sullivan, we are very, very sorry for your loss.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
DEGETTE: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, it`s as if America`s mass murderers have the very best lobbyists in government, because the federal government continues to make sure that America`s mass murderers get whatever they want, whatever they want. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The United States senate, I hope some are listening, should immediately pass the bill to close loopholes in the background check system. These are bills that receive votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House. This is not, should not be a partisan issue. This an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. And we have to act. We should also ban assault weapons in the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from Missouri, and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize- winning columnist for "The Washington Post". Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Senator McCaskill, tell us what it`s like in the Senate, the day after one of those mass murders, when you have one of the parties in the Senate seemingly determined to make sure that American mass murderers continue to always be the best equipped mass murderers in the world.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYIST: Well, there is always, after one of the tragedies, a sinking sensation that somehow we are missing the fact we are the only country in the world where this is happening. I mean, the idea is, if all have guns, we`re going to be safer. No, we`re not, especially high capacity magazines and weapons that are designed to kill many, many people in the flash of an eye.
So, it is -- and by the way, we came very close to meaningful gun safety legislation with a bipartisan bill. We came within a few votes after Sandy Hook and we didn`t get there. The NRA was at its apex of power, and I think Diana`s right. The NRA is on the ropes right now, and we have the ability to force votes now which we did not have. We have the ability of forcing the Republicans to vote against bills that 90 percent of Americans wants. That`s what we should be doing repeatedly to drive the message home, that the Republicans are carrying water for the gun lobby and not for Americans who want to shop in a grocery store without fear.
O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, as some Democrats are now pointing out, this is a country where it is easier to get a gun than it is to register to vote or vote. You have to wait longer in a voting line in Georgia than you do to buy a gun in Georgia. This is the country where it is easier to get a driver`s license than to -- than to get a gun. And so, those comparisons seem to mean nothing to Republicans.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They mean absolutely nothing to Republicans. It is absurd. So people -- they will divert and distract, the Republicans will, they said, well, let`s talk about mental health. They don`t actually really want to talk about mental health. But let`s talk about other things, anything other than the guns.
What`s the difference? You know, why it does not happen all the time in Japan? Why does this happen all the time in Germany or in Italy, or any where in the world?
My answer is the insane number of guns and kinds of guns that are circulating, and in private hands in the United States. A wash in guns and nobody even tries to keep track of them, and we sell like candy. It is -- it is obscene, yet, you and I had the conversation before. We had the conversation several times before.
And that`s what`s so maddening. That`s what`s so frustrating, because, you know, I think in deep in her hearts, we know keep in our hearts, we know how it`s going to come out. Those Republican senators, especially the ones who are there now -- it`s worse than it was a few years ago when Claire -- when we almost got reasonable legislation. The Republican Senate is worse now, and more beholden to single issue Republican primary voters whom they are afraid of, afraid to rile.
And so, I think they will potentially move less now than they would have a few years ago. It`s really depressing.
O`DONNELL: I want to turn to the big roadblock in the Senate, the Senate filibuster rules. But let`s squeeze in a break right here. We will pick it up with the filibuster rules after this break.
O`DONNELL: The video we are about to show you comes with this footnote.
Mitch McConnell is not a historian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you argue the filibuster is not rooted in racism? Historians differ on this. Are you concerned about the perception? If it`s used against advancing voting rights, certainly the public perception is that Republicans are going to use this tool to make it harder for black people to vote.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Yes. Actually, historians do not agree. It has no racial history at all. None. So there`s no dispute among historians about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Back with us Former Senator Claire McCaskill and Eugene Robinson. And Eugene, no racial history at all.
The filibuster record, 24 hours and 18 minutes on the Senate Floor set by segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond to try to stop and failing to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and we could go on and on.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We could, yes.
Yes, the ghost of Strom Thurmond is laughing at that absurdness bringing up his (INAUDIBLE). Of course, it does have a racist history.
Look, you know, Claire may have a different view having served on the Senate but I`m not fan of the filibuster, and especially now with the Senate is just a small less efficient version of the House where the votes are along party lines. And nobody, you know, the minority doesn`t try to meet the majority halfway.
So I would be perfectly content if Democrats just got rid of it. At the minimum, they need to modify the filibuster rules and make them talk and make the minority produce 41 votes on the floor to hold up legislation for something like that.
But something`s going to happen. This is a ridiculous situation.
O`DONNELL: It Claire, it sounds like what we`re hearing from Chuck Schumer is that they are going to go to the Senate floor with something. It might be H.R.-1. It might be the voting rights bill. It could be one of these gun safety bills.
Go to the Senate floor, get rejected on a cloture vote by the Republicans, then go back into conference with all the Democrats and say we can`t allow this to happen. We have to make our move and pull that cloture threshold from 60 votes down from 51.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, here is what they should start by doing, and that is forcing votes on public policy that is wildly popular in this country. Whether it is of gun safety or whether it is minimum wage or whether it is the reimportation of prescription drugs, there is a long list of public policy issues that get wide public bipartisan support.
Tee those up for votes, get those votes first. But let me tell you how it cannot end. And remember, I don`t need to tell you, Lawrence. You`ve taught me about politics.
Politics is not checkers. Politics is chess. And what people have to remember, there has to be a plan here.
Joe Manchin is never going to be beat by a progressor candidate. He`s in a state that Donald Trump won by 40 points. He is an aberration in West Virginia today. So we only have 50 votes. If Joe Manchin decides to walk to the other side of the aisle, Mitch McConnell is back in charge.
We have to win more seats in 2022. So what we can`t do in this process is start a civil war in the Democratic Party. Because if we do, then we see Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and North Carolina all slip from our grasp and we`re in a situation that if something happens with Joe Manchin or if he doesn`t run again, or Jon Tester or any of the other Democrats that are in Republican states, then we`re back with Mitch McConnell calling the shots and we can`t force votes.
So there needs to be a plan here, and it`s not as simple as we can flip Joe Manchin because that is a lot harder than people think.
O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, we remember when there was a 50/50 Senate, and a Republican senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords walked across --
ROBINSON: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: -- the aisle and in one day, the entire place just flipped.
ROBINSON: That`s right. That`s how (INAUDIBLE). And you know, McConnell and Schumer switched name plates and that is not what Democrats want to see.
So Claire is right. No, there cannot be a civil war inside the Democratic Party. The Democrats have to move forward together, and maybe they have to move forward in steps.
I think maybe voting rights is the issue on which you could get Democrats to move forward in steps and maybe you can bring along Joe Manchin.
O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson and Senator Claire McCaskill, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight.
ROBINSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, is it a crisis if it happens every day? And I mean, every day of your life. People have been crossing the southern border illegally by the millions and hundreds of thousands every year for most of our lives. Why do some people suddenly think that`s a crisis?
O`DONNELL: "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island. From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
That lyric was written and sung by perhaps the most liberal American song writer in history, Woody Guthrie. And when I was kind learning that song, I never wondered how the Navajo people felt about that, or the Sioux. Or the Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts where I was growing up.
"This land was made for you and me." When I was a kid, I never wondered how the Mexican people felt about that song since California was once Mexico, and Woody Guthrie`s gulf stream waters? We`re not always the southern border of this country. We purchased Louisiana in 1803 from the people who stole it from the tribes who were there before them. So no, this land was not made for you and me.
But by the time Woody Guthrie started singing that song during World War II, fact and fiction had blurred into the mythology that this land was made for you and me.
This land was not made for you and me and so we had to seize it. The current 2,000-mile southern border is really only 109 years old in its current form because Arizona and New Mexico did not become states until 1912, and so their southern borders did not become the southern borders of the United States of America until 1912.
The Rio Grande River did not become the southern border of the state of Texas until 1848 when we seized the land from Mexico in war.
All of our current southern border was taken by force from Mexico in war. And borders established by the seizure of land in war are borders that have had problems throughout history to put it mildly.
And when you seize the most valuable land in a country, you will cause a permanent, massive economic dislocation in that country, and that`s what we did to Mexico.
The most valuable land in the world ever permanently seized in war is California. If California were a country, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world, fifth richest economy in the world. California is rich in agricultural resources, manufacturing, international trade.
The discovery of gold brought California its first big surge in fortune seekers and fortune seekers continue to come to California to pursue their dreams and pursue gold trophies awarded by the movie business which chose to locate in a place named Los Angeles by its Spanish-speaking settlers.
The movie business is located in Los Angeles because of the 12 month a year sunshine they needed for film making and because California had every kind of exterior they ever wanted to aim a camera at from snow capped peaks to deserts to beautiful beaches.
And so imagine -- imagine if California were still a part of Mexico. Imagine how much stronger Mexico`s economy would be and how many of us would be trying to get into California.
Hopeful immigrants have been coming to our southern border ever since we seized the land to create it. They know their ancestors lived on this land not too long ago. And when they come to a place as blatantly named as New Mexico, they are emphatically told that this is not Mexico anymore and that they are not welcome here.
They never stopped coming since we created our current southern border. They have been coming and crossing the southern border legally and illegally and helping to feed this country by working in bountiful agricultural fields of California that used to belong to Mexico. And they have done that work without thanks and without adequate pay. And they have kept this country fed and they have delivered so much food into the world marketplace that California feeds more countries than just the United States.
And our government has always told them not to come -- always. There are few words that headline writers like better than crisis. If something is a situation or a continuing problem or a multidecade problem, it will appear deep inside the newspaper, if at all. But if something is a crisis, it gets page one.
And so the news media now, along with the Republican Party, want you to believe there is a crisis on the southern border that wasn`t there last year or the year before or for all of your lifetime.
Tom K. Wong works at the southern border. He is a professor at the University of California at San Diego and the author of the recent book, "The Politics of Immigration, Partisanship, Demographic Change and American National Identity".
In "The Washington Post" today, Professor Wong writes, "The customs and border patrol has recorded a 28 percent increase in migrants apprehended from January to February 2021 from 78,442 to 100,441. News outlets, pundits and politicians have been calling this a surge and a crisis. The CBP`s numbers reveal that undocumented immigration is seasonal, shifting upwards this time of year. During fiscal year 2019, under the Trump administration, total apprehensions increased 31 percent during the same period, a bigger jump than we`re seeing now.
What we`re seeing in other words isn`t a surge or crisis but a predictable seasonal shift. As the word "crisis" kept getting repeated in new coverage of the southern border the 1990s, a Democratic President Bill Clinton did not just increase the border patrol. He doubled it.
It went from 4,028 border patrol officers in the first year of his presidency to 9,212 and that did not stop people from coming. And then the next president, a Republican, doubled the border patrol again from 9,801 in 2001 to 17,499 in 2008. And that did not stop people from coming.
And then President Barack Obama took office and kept increasing the border patrol to a high of 21,344 and now for tonight`s trick question, which president was the only one since 1993 to reduce the number of border patrol officers? Answer, Donald Trump.
From the peak number of officers set by President Obama, the number during the Trump presidency dropped by about 2,000 to 19,437. And in every one of those years when the border patrol was doubling and doubling again and increasing again under President Obama in every one of those years, people kept coming to our southern border seeking entry, legally and illegally.
The permanent fact that people tried to cross that board illegally has sometimes been called a crisis and sometimes not. If the measure of presidential success at the southern border is stopping and quickly dispatching back into Mexico everyone who tries to cross that border illegally, then every American president has failed since the current version of our southern border was established in 1912. Every president has failed if that is the standard.
Managing a border established by land seized in war is always difficult -- permanently difficult. And some people will occasionally call it a crisis, even though what they are calling a crisis has been happening every single day of their lives.
In the White House, what makes policy on our southern border endlessly challenges is the attempt to combine enforcement with compassion and humanity. That is what Joe Biden is trying to do. For years, the Trump policy was to combine enforcement with cruelty. Republicans believe that compassion creates a crisis for the country but cruelty does not.
A senior senator from Texas criticized Joe Biden for emphasizing quote, "the humane treatment of immigrants". Republicans oppose humane treatment. Republicans believe that humane treatment of immigrants is a crisis.
And that is the real crisis that we are now confronted with as a country. The moral crisis of a political party that represents a sizable minority of Americans now stands in opposition to humane treatment. The Republican Party position is to oppose compassion and humanity and that is a crisis for this country because the worst governing regimes in the history of the world have all been opponents of humane treatment. The worst of the worst.
The situation at our southern border is permanent. The challenges are permanent and complex. There will never be a president in your lifetime who doesn`t face the challenge of how to combine enforcement with compassion and humanity, especially when it comes to children at the southern borders.
And if we have more presidents like Trump, they will simply eliminate compassion and humanity, while presidents like Joe Biden will be locked in a permanent struggle everyday trying to combine enforcement with compassion and humanity, especially when it comes to children at the southern border.
The situation at the southern border will sometimes be called a crisis and sometimes not but the problem will never be solved. It can only be managed with varying degrees of success because our current southern border was not drawn on the earth by God, and this land was not made for you and me.
O`DONNELL: President Biden chose to celebrate the 11th anniversary of President Obama`s signing of the affordable care act in Ohio today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this anniversary, we should remember just how close we have come to losing that act we fought so hard for. We have a duty not to just to protect it but make it better and keep becoming a nation where health care is a right for all, not a privilege for a few.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Biden explained that the new American Rescue Plan which he signed into law strengthens the Affordable Care act in several ways and dramatically reduces the premiums for health insurance obtained through the Affordable Care Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: For millions who are out of work and have no coverage, thanks to this law, there is an Obamacare plan that most folks can get with zero dollar premiums, (INAUDIBLE) will still be there but zero dollar premium.
Four out of five Americans shopping on the Obamacare marketplace can get quality health care with a premium of $10 a month or less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio. She is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was with President Biden today in Ohio.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. The president doesn`t come to your district every day. But today was the day for you. What was it like to have the president there? And was it helpful to people to learn what these new benefits are in the Affordable Care Act?
REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): Well, first of all, Lawrence, thank you.
Yes, it was great to have the president here today because as you know we are in this healthcare pandemic with COVID-19. So to be able to say that help is here, and to be able to say what he is doing not only in the nation, but right here in Ohio in my district to make sure that some 20,000 people understood that they can get their insurance for zero cost.
And that it opened the doors for some almost 100,000 people to be able to be insured. It takes us back to the 11 years ago.
At the Ohio state university, where I was, and where he was today, witnessing 26-year-olds being told that they could stay on their parents` insurance and have health care insurance, and for those who have pre- existing conditions.
So it was a great thing then, a big deal then, and today it was equally as much a big deal.
O`DONNELL: What are the other elements of the American Rescue Plan that you believe are important to your constituents in Ohio?
BEATTY: I think it`s very important when we talk about the vaccine, that it mitigates the coronavirus that we are making sure that people get not only a shot in their arm to stay healthy.
As you know 529,000 people had died. We also know that people need dollars in their pockets. So being able to get that $1,400 makes a difference to those individuals.
Dollars for small businesses. 41 percent of African-American businesses had closed because of the coronavirus. So it was important when we think about housing, having a roof over your head. We were so pleased that we were able to put billions of billions of dollars in there for homeless individuals, for rental, to make sure that people are not evicted, and also for mortgages, so people can stay in their homes.
And then the child -- tax child credit, the earned income tax credit. It was just so much to make sure we can get to the other side of the pandemic, and still be able to have quality of life.
O`DONNELL: There`s more than $11 billion in benefits in there for the state of Ohio but the Republican Party chair in Ohio says the following. "It`s about Democratic pork. It`s about saving Democratic cities and bailing out blue states. Ohio is not yet a blue state for Democrats.
BEATTY: Well, I think that`s ridiculous. When you look at the dollars that went to state and local government, what happens? It takes care of individuals. When you give individuals money, they put it back into the economy. And think about it. 60 percent of the American people wanted those dollars. And they believed in it.
And I am sure when you talk to constituents who have Republican representatives, they will say that it helped them. It benefited them. We can`t deny that we`re in the middle of a crisis. This pandemic not only affected us from the health care. It affected us economically, and it affected us when we look at the social justices, whether that is environmental or housing.
So it was very important for us to do what we did. It was right for all people.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Real pleasure to have you with us.
BEATTY: Thank you so much. Enjoyed being here.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.