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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 8/6/21

Guests: Heather Long, Marc Veasey, Christina Propst, Lipi Roy, Andrew Young, Nikema Williams, Andrew Aydin, Maria Teresa Kumar, Errin Haynes


U.S. economy adds nearly 1 million new jobs in July. U.S. unemployment rate hits new pandemic era low of 5.4 percent. DCCC Chair Maloney warns Dems could lose the House in 2022. 11-month-old baby with COVID airlifted 150 miles due to shortage of hospital beds in Houston.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari, thanks - thank you very much. Well, the Biden plan is working, that`s who President Biden responded today to the new jobs report. The U.S. added 943,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate, well, that dropped to 5.4 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: while our economy is far from complete and while we have - doubtlessly we`ll have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the Delta surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working, the Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward.

We got a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery.


CAPEHART: As soon as tomorrow one of the key pillars of President Biden`s economic agenda, the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill could get a final vote in the Senate. According to an analysis released last month, the legislation could create close to a half million jobs by 2024.

So it`s no wonder that 65 percent of Americans support the infrastructure bill, according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll. In fact, much of President Biden`s agenda is equally as popular. The same Quinnipiac Poll found that 62 percent of Americans support the $3.5 trillion Democrats only reconciliation bill.

But despite the broad popularity of the Biden economic agenda, the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, well, he is warning Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections that the party`s in trouble.

But POLITICO reports that at a closed-door lunch, Congressman Maloney warned Democrats that they would lose the majority if the midterms were held today. "Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney followed that bleak forecast, which was confirmed by multiple people familiar with the conversation, with new polling that showed Democrats falling behind Republicans by a half dozen points on a generic ballot in battlegrounds districts. Moloney advised the party to course correct ahead of 2022 by doing more to promote President Joe Biden`s agenda."

Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this about congressman Maloney`s comments.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I`m very confident that we will win the House. I in terms of the specific, what he was zeroing in on, always run scared.


CAPEHART: Always run scared. Leading off our discussion tonight is Heather Long, Economics Correspondent for the great Washington Post. Heather, thank you for coming to the "Last Word." So I have to - I`m wondering if the unemployment data that was collected in the first half of the month, before we started having the surge of Delta variant related COVID cases, how that how the Delta variant is going to complicate the economic - the economic recovery and the Biden administration`s economic forecasting going into Q3 and Q4.

HEATHER LONG, THE WASHINGTON POST ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT: It`s a great question. There is definitely a lot of concern about how the Delta variant is going to impact hiring. Obviously, one of the big - two biggest things holding people back from returning to jobs and returning to employment has been childcare issues, and we`re already seeing a lot of camps and childcare is close. There`s still 1.5 million moms who haven`t been able to return to work because of childcare issues. And the other one is people are just reluctant to go back when the health situation looks a little scary.

And so while hiring was incredibly strong this summer, some of the best numbers we`ve seen since last summer, and that unemployment rate falling, the number of long term unemployed going down. There are certainly concerns about what August, and especially September can look like.

CAPEHART: Heather, you mentioned childcare being an issue, keeping people from - particularly women out of workforce. We had Republican governors who thought that the $300 a week pandemic unemployment federal - unemployment federal supplement was keeping people out of the workforce, and therefore they ended it. Is there any evidence that that ending the $300 a week supplement, increased employment in those states?

LONG: It might have helped a little bit, but there`s no evidence that ending that caused any widespread boom in employment. We, certainly, so far have not seen some huge surge in those states that ended it early. What we have seen that`s kind of interesting, though, is in states that did pull back early like a Missouri, what you see is fewer teenagers get hired and more workers in, say, their 30s and 40s, do come back to work. But, again, the overall total - this is not the silver bullet to get people back to work, that`s for sure.

CAPEHART: And one more quick question for you, Heather, and that is this. In terms of inflation, which lots of people - economists were worried about, are we - can we suss anything out about inflation from the unemployment numbers from the fact that 943,000 jobs were created?


LONG: Well, here`s my favorite data point from this July jobs report. For the first time ever grocery store workers and restaurant workers, the average pay is now above $15 an hour. We have never seen that before for some of those typically lower paying jobs.


LONG: That`s obviously showing some inflation - some wage inflation moving up. That`s a good thing. We want to see more low wage jobs become more livable wage jobs. Obviously, that restaurants are turning around and passing those costs on and this is the biggest question and headache for the Biden Administration going forward? Is inflation going to come back down later this year and early next or not?

Keep an eye on rent prices? I`ve been watching those they have been rising. It`s a critical component of so many family budgets. If those don`t tame, I think they`re going to have issues.

LONG: Wow, grocery workers getting above $15 an hour, that`s a data point that I did not expect. Heather Long, thank you very much. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas. He is Vice Chair for Strategy at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Congressman Veasey, welcome to the "Last Word."

OK. So congressman Maloney has said that if the election were held today, Democrats would lose the majority. Are you that pessimistic?

REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): Look, you always have to take - holding on to your majority very seriously. But I also think that we do need to make sure that we`re counting these economic numbers that you just talked about - I mean, 5.4 percent unemployment, you`re looking at job growth in a very spectacular way here.

Even in Texas, we were doing very well here and had a lot of growth before the pandemic and continued to have some growth even during the pandemic. And things are really picking back up here. It`s something that you can almost physically see when you go out and about in Dallas and Fort Worth every day. And so we need to make sure that we`re touting these numbers, and that we`re talking about the president`s infrastructure plan, because it`s going to put even more people back to work.

And if you`re conservative, hey, I think, that you got to be happy, because the last time the economy was doing this remarkably well, and it turned around so quickly, you had a president saying that it was morning in America, and he`s someone that is obviously very well liked on that side. And I`m talking about Ronald Reagan.

And so, every - these are numbers that everybody should be able to get behind.

CAPEHART: So when congressman Maloney says to your conference that we have to "course correct," what does that mean? Does that mean talking more forthrightly about the President`s economic agenda? Or is it something else?

VEASEY: I don`t want to guess at exactly what Chairman Maloney was speaking about. But I think that, that we need to drive these numbers home and talk about the fact that the economy is doing so well under Biden. And one of the reasons why it`s doing so well is, I believe, is that he took getting shots in people`s arms very seriously.

The last president really sort of wavered on this and, and told people that maybe COVID really wasn`t real and that - you - take Lysol, it would fix it. I mean, just a bunch of crazy things like that. And having a president be very serious about this and speak to the American public in a very sobering way, I think helped drive the numbers up, which in turn, helped bring the unemployment rate down. And again, we need to make sure that we are driving that message home.

CAPEHART: All right, Vice Chair, I hear what you`re saying. But you got two things that are going against you. One is historical, it`s the midterm jinx. That not since 2002, has a president in power in their first term has had his party not lose the majority. That was when President George W. Bush was in the White House, he didn`t lose the majority in the House. He actually gained seats in Congress.

And the other thing, which is even more potent, is that you`re now facing redistricting. And I remember talking to election forecaster, Rachel Bitecofer in preparation for my show, "The Sunday Show," where I asked her, OK, so which House races are you looking at? Which one should we be paying attention to?

And she said that is almost impossible, one, because of redistricting. And two, once the districts are redrawn, Democrats stand to lose 10 seats in the House before a vote is even cast. So how do you go up against those two twin tidal waves?


VEASEY: Well, first of all, let me just say, we got to put the guardrails back up on the Voting Rights Act. I don`t think that there`s any question about that. I`m from a state that was under Section 5, that was under preclearance. And it`s one of the reasons why the Democrats have the amount of seats that they have in Texas right now. The Republicans were going to draw a far more seats for themselves in 2011, but we were able to get that overturned, because of Section 5.

If we`re not able to put the guardrails back up on Section 5 and get the John Lewis Act passed, then you`re going to see the Republicans attempt to draw three new seats in Texas alone. And if you look at Arizona, you look at Florida, you look at North Carolina, you look at Georgia, they really want to try to run the score up in those States. And when I say run the score up, not just Democrats versus Republicans, they`re going to be discriminated against Hispanic and Black voters in these States by taking away their opportunity to choose the representative of their choice.

And so, we absolutely have to take that seriously, because we`re going to redistricting, I don`t want to - definitely don`t want to underplay redistricting. Its looming very large in 2022.

CAPEHART: Congressman Veasey one more question for you. And it pertains to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who was warning the party in 2016. Hey, hey, hey, pay attention to Donald Trump, the guy - he could win. Well, now she is saying that Democrats aren`t "breaking through." Why don`t you think Democrats aren`t breaking through? I guess, particularly, they`re in Michigan in Debbie Dingell district?

VEASEY: We should always listen to Debbie. She`s one of our DCCC Co-Chair. She does a great job. She has her pulse on the people of Michigan and does it in a great way. And, you know, we need to sit down and talk and see what we need to do. I mean, look, it`s 2021. We have until November of 2022 before we have an election.

But we`re going to we`re talking about these things now. We`re talking about messaging. There`s going to be a lot that`s going to be done between now and the end of the year to get ourselves and find out what`s - what is important for the American public? I think, obviously, again, driving these numbers home on the economy, and what Biden is doing is going to be hugely key.

But there`s a lot going on right now in America. People are concerned about COVID-19 and what have you. But once we get into full campaign gear, it`s my opinion, that the American public is going to be paying very close attention to the Democrats. And when we roll out what we`ve been doing, and what the President`s been doing, I think it`s going to be something that a lot of people are going to like, not just Democrats either, Jonathan. I think that it`s going to have broad appeal, mass appeal, and that we will see those results play out in 2022.

CAPEHART: Congressman Marc Veasey, we will find out and we`ll have you back to give us your assessment. Thank you for joining us tonight.

VEASEY: Absolutely.

CAPEHART: Coming up the latest on the Delta variant, including the rise of some young children, including babies being hospitalized for COVID, especially in places where the adults around them are not vaccinated. That`s next.



CAPEHART: Parents are at another inflection point now that the highly contagious Delta variant is making its way through the United States. Our next guest Dr. Christina Propst, Pediatrician in Houston, Texas, says quote, "in the past two months, I have hospitalized more babies, particularly babies under three years of age than I had in the prior three years."

Yesterday, in Texas, an 11-month-old girl with COVID, who was having seizures had to be airlifted to a hospital 150 miles away, because there were no pediatric beds available in Houston.

Next week, millions of students will return to school in Texas and across the south, including in States where officials have prohibited requiring students and teachers to wear masks. In Texas cases and COVID hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks. But the Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, is still refusing to require masks in schools.

And yesterday, Texas Education officials announced that schools will not - well, get this, will not be required to do contact tracing if a student gets infected with COVID.

Joining us now Dr. Christina Propst, Pediatrician in Houston, Texas, and Dr. Lipi Roy, an Internal Medicine Physician. Thank you both very much for being here. I`m just stuck on that last piece that I just read that. Making it hard. Where is that? And that`s the schools will not be required to do contact tracing if a student gets infected with COVID. Dr. Propst, how irresponsible is that?

DR. CHRISTINA PROPST, PEDIATRICIAN: It is extremely irresponsible, and so frustrating for parents, for teachers, for medical professionals here in Texas. That is, obviously, going against the Centers for Disease Control recommendations regarding contact tracing. And we`ve got our hands full already, and school has not even started yet.

CAPEHART: And Dr. Roy, to you as well, your view on what is happening in these states.

DR. LIPI ROY, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Jonathan, it`s good to see you. And what we`re seeing unfortunately is ongoing polarization of what we already know is a global infectious disease outbreak. It is beyond infuriating to see some of these elected officials continue to politicize what is clearly a health crisis that is now affecting - critically affecting young children, including infants.


Hospitalizations, to take a step back, have increased 40 percent in the past week nationwide. And to apply - specifically to the South, 50 percent of the new cases are originating from seven States in the South, including Texas. This is really tragic. We know how to prevent these infections very successfully by mass vaccination of adults. That`s the best way to protect children and infants, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Dr. Propst, as I mentioned before, you`re coming to us from Houston, Texas. And I`d love to know from you what does a pediatric patient with COVID go through? We know what it means for adults, the problems - breathing. But for what for a child, an infant, what is that experience like for them?

PROPST: It is so variable. The youngest child I have treated with COVID-19 in recent weeks was a five-week-old. I have had, of course, teenagers. So, it really - there`s a huge range, both in age and in presentation.

Worst case scenario, of course, children can face respiratory failure, and require intubation and intensive care. Pneumonia - COVID pneumonia, certainly we see that in pediatrics as well. And currently, about a third of the pediatric patients hospitalized here in Houston and in Texas, are requiring critical care, intensive care stays.

CAPEHART: Dr. Roy, what would you tell people who still believe that children with COVID aren`t heavily impacted by COVID. That it`s not a big deal.

ROY: I would encourage them to listen to people like Dr. Propst and other pediatricians and doctors and specialists and frontline health care workers and parents of children who are struggling, who are sick, who are getting hospitalized, and sadly, who are dying.

The thing is, Jonathan, and I already know what the pushback is going to be. A lot of the people - some people are going to say, well, wait a second, I thought you all said that COVID doesn`t affect children.

The reality is, is that SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus. We are still learning about it every single day. Scientists from around the world are publishing new data almost every day. The CDC and other international health agencies are trying to learn from the scientists. Detail - go through the details of the data, and then publish it to the general public.

That, they`re doing it in record time. But it requires patience from - really from the public. But at the same time, it requires the public to just trust the scientists and the health - public health advocates and experts. And the data that we - that`s very clear, is that vaccinations are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

If you are eligible, please get the vaccine. It is the only way to, not only protect children, but also immunocompromised adults and other adults who for medical reasons cannot get the vaccine. This data is very clear, Jonathan, people just need to follow it.

CAPEHART: That`s actually a very good point that you just made to remind people that this is a novel virus, meaning it`s brand new and scientists are learning. But the important thing is that they are sharing the knowledge with us pretty much in, as best they can, in real-time. And that`s why we seem to be having these conflicting messages - don`t wear masks, wear masks, don`t wear masks, wear a mask.

That is that is why Dr. Propst, in Texas Have you met parents who are concerned or afraid their children - to send their children to schools without masks?

PROPST: Absolutely. There are pediatricians who are extremely concerned about sending their children to school, this coming school year. We are in a situation, unfortunately, where our governor has really tied the hands of local municipalities, public health departments, school districts, and mandated that mask mandates are illegal.

And school districts will be fined if they require students to wear masks, which is exactly what the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control explicitly recommends. That students, staff, faculty at schools, universally mask, whether they are vaccinated or not.


And we have to keep in mind as, that vaccination - again, vaccination and masking are so key. Children under the age of 12 currently are not eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For them masks really are their last best hope. And if they are in a school environment where masks are not required, it really leaves them vulnerable.

I would also urge parents, please, if you have a child who is eligible to be vaccinated, please have them vaccinated. Have this discussion with your tween and teen. 12 years old and up, they get it, they understand it, they have far less of a problem masking then so many adults do. And it is so crucial that we get our young adults, our tweens and our teens vaccinated.

Currently in Houston, only 28 percent of students 12 to 17 years of age are fully vaccinated - less than a third and school starts on the 23rd.

CAPEHART: We are out of time but as we go to break, I would love for us to put up the USA Today front page, which is just stark there. And that headline, "We are Failing When Another. This is America`s fourth COVID-19 surge. It didn`t have to happen. Let`s end it now." And we`re going to have to end this segment now. Dr. Christina Propst, Dr. Lipi Roy, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Coming up. Republican governors and states where Delta is raging have made elementary school their new political football.



CAPEHART: Parents trying to protect their kids from COVID won a victory over the Republican Governor in one state today, while Republican officials and two other states were getting in the way.

A judge in Arkansas today temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a law that bands mask mandates by governmental entities. Two parents file the lawsuit challenging the law, which would have prevented schools from requiring masks, even as children returned to the classroom and Coronavirus cases in Arkansas are skyrocketing. Here`s what one of those parents Veronica McClane said on this program earlier this week.


VERONICA MCCLANE, SUING ARKANSAS TO OVERTURN MASK MANDATE BAN: It came to this because we have a majority Republican legislature, and they are digging their heels in and politicizing the public health of Arkansans. Masking and vaccines are the only thing that are going to get us through this we have to stop playing political games and put the lives of our children at the forefront of this pandemic.


CAPEHART: Arkansas isn`t the only Republican led state playing political games as the highly contagious Delta variant surges across the country. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning masks mandates in March and this week the Texas Education Agency said schools do not have to inform parents of a positive COVID-19 case in school insane.

In Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has refused to impose any policies to slow the spread of the virus, even as Florida now leads the nation in COVID hospitalizations. President Joe Biden has a message for these governors.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say to these governors, please help. But you`re not going to help at least get out of the way.


CAPEHART: Get out of the way. Joining us now are Maria Teresa Kumar President and CEO of Voto Latino, and Errin Haynes Editor-at-Large at "The 19th" both are MSNBC contributors, so COVID cases are up, up 68 percent in Arkansas 97 percent in Florida, up 209 percent in Texas, the Republican Governors of the States outright blocking local governments from setting safety policies. What good does that do, Maria Teresa?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT & CEO VOTO LATINO: And sadly, what they`re doing is that they`re trying to perpetuate this idea that government is trying to interfere in personal choice. But in fact, if you do not wear a mask, you are exposing not just yourself and your loved ones, but you become a vehicle of death and destruction.

And that is not an exaggeration just by how this current Delta variant is exposing everybody very quickly. Your previous guests talked about how children as young as five months are being encouraged - having tubes fit into so that they can breathe this is a problem.

And I have to tell you, when I step back, and I look at the demographics of Texas, we`re 50 close to 54 percent of the kids in classrooms are Latino, where the majority of kids in Texas classrooms are kids of color.

It begs the question, why isn`t the governor actually putting these children and their families at the forefront? It begs the question to dig a little deeper when you look at all the nefarious activities that this prep - that this Governor Abbott has been doing against communities of color from disenfranchising them at the voting booth from trying to talk about Latinos as invaders in their state.

And the list goes on. And you have to look at it through that lens to recognize that this, at least in Texas has a clear mandate that doesn`t want to keep communities of color healthy and safe so that they could self- determine themselves and make the right decisions for their families.

CAPEHART: Wow! Errin Haynes, I would love for your reaction to what Maria Teresa just said.

ERRIN HAYNES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE 19TH: Well, Jonathan, you know, I really appreciate you asking me because you know, as journalists, and we have to continue to sound the alarm on this. There are no both sides in this.

A core tenet of our profession is to minimize harm and this country`s relationship with literally cost lives.


HAYNES: I mean look, today`s USA Today cover which you showed broke my heart because we know that making mask wearing a matter of personal responsibility or asking people to be honest about their vaccine status as a matter of the Honor Code is not working.

You know whether it`s voting rights or vaccines to Maria Teresa`s point, leaving it up to the states to decide what is best, it`s a harmful strategy. Both of these crises are in need of a national solution and voters of - across the country have every party want leadership on this issue.

You saw those moms in Arkansas, people of conscience are standing up and that is what is really going to turn the tide, frankly, on both of these issues, voting rights and vaccines.

Look, I mean, really, the message is if you care about the economy, if you care about your children`s education, if you care about going back to concerts or having wine with your friends or Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year`s Eve, like you should want your friends and family to get vaccinated now.

CAPEHART: And yet, we`ve got some of these folks, some of these Republican Governors who don`t have the eye - their eyes on keeping their citizens safe. It would seem some have their eyes on running for the White House, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who`s expected to run for president in 2024 has been especially for in his approach to the pandemic.

And "The New York Times" says he`s taking a political gamble. I`m going to read this to you. In the latest surge over - if the latest surge overwhelms hospitals leaving doctors and nurses unable to properly care for the younger, almost entirely unvaccinated people packing emergency rooms and intensive care units.

Mr. DeSantis` purged as a Republican Party front runner with higher aspirations could be in serious trouble. It goes on. If, however, Florida comes through another virus peak with both its hospital system and economy intact, Mr. DeSantis game of chicken with the deadly pandemic could become a model for how to coexist with a virus that is unlikely to ever fully vanish.

Maria Teresa I just find it is unconscionable that we are talking about the pandemic in this way. And yet we have a governor who is seems to be looking at the pandemic in just this way.

KUMAR: Every single governor right now is looking at it through the lens of - Republican governors are looking at it through the lens of their political game, their political capital. We have to recognize that there is a swath of Americans who are misinformed, through disinformation, through Fox News, perpetuating the wrong idea that this that the vaccine doesn`t exist or that - I`m sorry that the COVID is actually is not as harmful and that the vaccine is actually something that impedes their rights and their choices.

And these Republican governors are betting on that disinformation to rile up a Republican base that`s dissent that`s not informed. And that is not only cruel, but it takes away the agency of parents to make the right decision for their families.

There`s not one American that should be that should applaud these tactics, because their antics for self-promotion, and not leadership and not taking at large the importance of protecting their citizens and their constituency. What DeSantis is doing right now is not only unconscionable, but it`s politically and morally corrupt.

CAPEHART: And Errin, last question to you in terms of the current occupant of the White House, is he doing enough to stem the tide of now what we`re now calling the fourth surge of the of the virus?

HAYNES: Well, Jonathan, I mean, look, President Biden is continuing to use the bully pulpit to urge people to get vaccinated to wear masks. Certainly, our scientists in this administration are urging the same the CDC is issuing guidelines, and our government is doing its part.

I think the question really is, you know, at the beginning of this pandemic, we were asking ourselves, are we all in this together more than a year later, right now, we see that we know the answer. We are not, not for our parents, not for our grandparents, not for our grandchildren, not for those frontline workers that we applauded in the beginning, and who are now exhausted and exasperated and flu.

Frankly, deserve better from those of us who they may have to save because of our own negligence or because of the negligence of strangers. So you know, I think that is President Biden is continuing to urge that, you know it, but in lieu of us heating, you know, what he`s saying from the bully pulpit? You know, we have to ask what more the administration can or shouldn`t be doing.

CAPEHART: Real fast.

KUMAR: And Jonathan, just very briefly I was at the White House on Tuesday with a group of folks and the president highlighted the importance of communities and peer to peer conversations.

And if you encounter someone who is hesitant to take the vaccine, show them love and show them that you want them to be part of, you know, part of your community and that is going to be what changes people`s minds and the president recognizes that and is one of the things that he is promoting.

CAPEHART: Show them love. Maria Teresa Kumar and Errin Haynes, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, what it will take to get voting rights legislation passed in the Senate?


CAPEHART: Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams and Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa will join us next.


CAPEHART: 56 years ago today, the most significant piece of legislation protecting voting rights in America was --in American history was enacted. President Lyndon B, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law effectively removing Jim Crow era rules that blocked the vast majority of African Americans from voting.

The road to the last passage was the culmination of more than a century of battles for African American voting rights. Andrew Young was Martin Luther King Jr.`s Chief Strategist at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He was there for it all.

So how did it happen? How in an era where people were more openly and vocally racist, and when some United States Senators supported segregation, did such landmark legislation get passed through Congress and signed into law by the president.


CAPEHART: By 2019, I was privileged to hear Andrew Young explain how it happened. And I was lucky enough to hit record in time. Andrew Young told the story of a meeting between Martin Luther King and President Johnson, Reverend King was pushing Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act. But Johnson said he couldn`t ask Congress for another big vote on civil rights after he championed the Civil Rights Act the year before.


ANDREW YOUNG, ON STORY BEHIND SELMA MARCH: Coming back from Martin`s Nobel Prize trip. We stopped off in the Washington. We were scheduled to see President Johnson. So we went in and made a case for voting rights. And President Johnson said that he agreed with everything Martin said.

But he just didn`t have the power. He must have said at least 10 times in the conversation, "I agree with you Dr. King, I just don`t have the power. I agreed with the President. We came out and I said this. And he said no and I said "Well, what are you going to do? And he said, "We are going to get the president some power".


CAPEHART: We`re going to get president some power. Their idea to get the president some power was to organize a march from Selma to Montgomery, and the rest is history. The world saw Alabama State Troopers beat peaceful marches, including a 25-year-old John Lewis and chased them back over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

The televised violence beamed into the homes of Americans later that night, helped a nation find its conscience and galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later, that was the power Johnson needed in 1965.

Now 56 years later that landmark legislation is under assault. Two rulings by the Supreme Court have undermined the ability of the Voting Rights Act to stop the implementation of discriminatory voting laws.

According to the Brennan Center, more than 400 bills restricting voting access have been introduced in 49 states this year alone. There`s extraordinary protests today to get Biden, President Biden some power to protect voting rights, and that power can have many forms.

Voters in Georgia did it when they got Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff elected to deliver the Senate to the Democrats. Democratic legislators in Texas did it when they left their lives behind in Texas to come to Washington to raise hell about voter suppression.

And tonight, Democratic Senators are working on voting legislation. That doesn`t happen without the power given to this issue through protests doesn`t happen if people don`t wait in long lines to vote for senators Warnock and Ossoff. It does not happen if Texas Democrats had stayed in the chamber and let the original a much worse Texas Republican voter suppression bill pass in May. This fight could use more power, no doubt. But the fighters are still working on getting it.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Nikema Williams of Georgia who sits in the seat once held by the great John Lewis and Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa, I thank you both very much for coming to "The Last Word".

Congressman Williams, let me start with you. One do you have any - you have any scuttle on what`s happening in the Senate right now when it comes to voting rights?

REP. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): Jonathan, I wish I knew exactly what was going on in the Senate. Unfortunately, the good people of Georgia elected me to represent the Fifth Congressional District right now I`m sitting in the office that was once held by John Lewis, working very late with my team here.

And we just had a conversation today with Ambassador Andrew Young; he came in to give my team a pep talk about what it means to serve this very special district. And we haven`t given up hope. We`re still calling on the Senate to do what they know needs to be done.

This should not be a partisan issue. This should be about democracy, about standardizing the right to vote and making sure that everyone in our country has access to the ballot. So I am still hopeful. But I know that I have to be resilient.

And with that hope and continue to do the work. Congressman Lewis taught us to dramatize the moment. And that`s what you`ve seen by the marches by the arrests that are happening on the Hill, and by the conversations that are continuing to happen.

And by my friends from Texas, who fled their homes to make sure that we could have the right to vote. We`re dramatizing the moment because that power doesn`t seem quite yet to be there. But we started with the election in Georgia and we`re going to continue giving power to the people until we get this done.


CAPEHART: Well, before I go to Representative Gina Hinojosa, I wanted to ask you my follow up question was going to be how impactful has it been to have the Texas Democratic Delegation with the Texas State Legislature in Washington all this time pushing on voting rights.

WILLIAMS: So I think when they initially fled, people saw it on the news and didn`t really think how long it will last? I flew back early in a week that I wasn`t even in Washington, just to host my friends in Texas, my co- conspirators for justice for dinner, to talk about what our next steps were what needed to be done.

You`ve seen them meet with the Vice President, and more people are paying attention. And I think people expected this to be just a moment on the map that was a social media hit, and then it was done, but they`re still they`re giving everything at home to make sure that we can press forward.

CAPEHART: So Representative, Gina Hinojosa the floor is yours. What are your - what are your next steps?


CAPEHART: It looks like we - yes go ahead, go ahead, representative.

HINOJOSA: We continue to urge the Senate and urge Congress to act and pass voting rights legislation. Now we have bought time we have held the line in Texas, but our governor has already called another depression session for tomorrow.

It starts at noon tomorrow in Texas. And so they are hell bent on passing legislation that will make it harder for eligible Texans to access the ballot box. And that is why we need federal legislation to protect not just Texans but all Americans and their freedom to vote.

CAPEHART: Representative Hinojosa is you going to stay in Washington even though the next special session is going to start tomorrow at noon? Are you staying in Washington? Are you going to go back to Texas?

HINOJOSA: Well, I`ll tell you we`re here to work in Washington for as long as the Senate is working. Our job is here. This is a front on which we can win. In Texas we can only buy time but we are the minority party and there`s only so much we can do there.

CAPEHART: All right, Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa and Congresswoman Nikema Williams from Georgia. Thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, it has been a year since we`ve lost the honorable John Lewis. But he is still teaching the next generation of students and activists how to get into good trouble?



CAPEHART: There was a project the Late Great Congressman John Lewis was working on in his final days. "Run: Book One" a graphic novel he helped create illustrates Congressman Lewis`s story and the story of the Civil Rights Movement after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law 56 years ago today.

Congressman Lewis wanted the graphic novel to inspire future generations to remain involved in the Democratic process. Joining us now is Andrew Aydin Co-Author of "Run: Book One" he is digital is - a Digital Director and Policy Advisor in the U.S. House of Representatives and Served Congressman Lewis`s Office for 13 years Andrew, thank you for coming to "The Last Word".

What`s the one event from post 1965 civil rights, the civil rights fight you think people should know about?

ANDREW AYDIN, CO-AUTHOR "RUN: BOOK ONE": I think people forget that two days after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, John Lewis went down to Americus, Georgia, and he protested a church for - because it was still - it was still segregated. And he got arrested and he went to jail.

And that same night in America as the Klan held their largest hooded March that they held in decades. And it shows exactly how quickly the pushback was coming about to the voting rights acts passage?

CAPEHART: And what message would Congressman Lewis have for the Texas State Representatives who are in Washington still right now fighting the Texas voter suppression bill?

AYDIN: Congressman Lewis would tell them to keep pushing, keep fighting, don`t get - don`t get down, it`s going to be a hard struggle. But you got to keep pushing for those left out and left behind. And so he would say keep going, you`ve got this.

He would love what they`re doing. And I think this would be something that would be very meaningful for him to witness.

CAPEHART: And you know, what was it saying, Andrew, never give up. Never give in.

AYDIN: Never give up. Never give in. Never give out. Keep the faith and keep your eyes on the prize? Sorry, I`ve spent so much time with him over the years.

CAPEHART: I`m so glad. I`m glad to ask that question. And I`m doubly glad that you actually did the impression because that tells me that you really know the man because that was part of his part - of his repertoire in the - one literally one minute we have left. What`s your favorite memory of Congressman Lewis?

AYDIN: There`s so many but I think the one that I remember most is anytime something went well, like after we found out you know, March had been on "The New York Times" bestseller list or when we got a great review or something like that from one of the books.

Congressman and I would celebrate with a coke with grenadier because you know, he didn`t have many vices, but he did have a bit of a sweet tooth and he loved that. And so that`s what we would celebrate with.

CAPEHART: Well, that is a great - that is a great memory to have Andrew Ayden thank you very much for coming to "The Last Word". The book is called "Run: Book One", and it is out on Tuesday. But right now, it is Friday night and that is tonight`s "Last Word". I`ll see you Sunday morning on the Sunday show right here on MSNBC. But don`t go anywhere because the 11th hour with Brian Williams starts right now.