Transcript for Sen. Bernie Sanders calls move to block voting rights reform bill 'a total outrage'
Once again, senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of history along -- alongside Donald Trump, the big lie and voter suppression, to their enduring disgrace, but I want to be very clear about one thing. The fight to protect voting rights is not over. So that was majority -- senate majority leader chuck Schumer refusing to wave the white flag on the subject of voting rights after Republicans shut down a vote yesterday on the for the people act. Joining us now to shed some much needed light on this, and the host of other -- the other of other pressing issues, the always candid and delightful senator from Vermont, and senate budget committee chairman, Bernie Sanders. Hello, Bernie. How are you? It's so nice to see you. We love having you here. Thank you very much. Good to be with you. Yes. So last night Republicans unanimously blocked this key vote on the Democrats' sweeping voting rights bill. They refused to even debate this legislation. So much is at stake here. Our own democracy maybe. If you can't get the Republicans on board, and you can't break the filibuster, what happens now? Is there any clear path forward? Let me just say this. I think what Republicans did yesterday is a total outrage. All over this country, look. We can disagree on issues, on health care, education, climate. We should not disagree whether or not Americans have the fundamental right to vote, whether you're black, whether you're young. Whether you're Latino, whether you're disabled, and what Republican legislatures and governors are doing all over this country in a totally cowardly way is making it harder for people to vote. That's how they think they're going to win elections and that's how they're going to act. In my own view, we got 50 votes yesterday in an important proposal to protect voting rights. I do believe we should initiate an end for the filibuster on that bill, and with the vice president we can have the 51 of majority votes that we need in order to protect the rights of American people to participate in a democratic political process. Senator, and you tweeted yesterday that now is the time for majority rule in the senate. We must end the the filibuster, pass sweeping voting rights legislation and protect our democracy. You know, you would have 51 votes to do that if you could get Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board with ending the filibuster. Even given what happened yesterday, and you see the Republican obstructionism that's happening, how do you convince them to get on board? How do you do that? Well, it's not just me having to convince them. I think you're seeing people all over this country making the case. Look. This is not just another issue. This is the bedrock of American society, and this is whether or not people can participate in the political process, and what we're saying is Republican governors and legislatures are undermining the American democracy from one end of this country to another, and that is unacceptable. There is a pressure, grassroots pressure being put on both Manchin and Sinema, and I hope that they will end up doing the right thing and supporting those of us who understand that we've got to act decisively right now. Senator, as the senate budget chairman, you're working on your own massive spending package from everything from human infrastructure to medicare expansion to immigration and climate change, but the price tag is an estimated $6 trillion. Now that's causing some sticker shock even among members of your own party, and you'll need every single democratic vote to get this done. These issues are all so important, but can we really afford to spend that much right now? Well, I think we cannot not spend that amount of money. Look. Let's recognize where we're at right now. We passed the American rescue plan at a time when this country was facing the worst pandemic in 100 years and an economic meltdown, and that legislation went a long, long way to easing the anxiety, putting $1,400 a person, $5,600 for families of four, and it helped them through this difficult time. We expanded the child tax credit. We expanded unemployment and so forth, and it was a success. It helped us move the economy forward. Right now what the president wants, and what I want is for us to begin to deal with the structural crises that this country has ignored for many, many decades. What do I mean? We got an infrastructure that is collapsing. Everybody knows it. Roads, bridges, water systems. We need massive amounts of affordable housing and low income housing to be built. We're the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave. The only major country. Today there are women who give birth and have to go back to work a few days later because they don't have any paid time off. Our child care system is an absolute disaster. We have kids who cannot afford to go to college or are graduating deeply in debt, and on top of all of that, how do you ignore the incredible destructive threat of climate change which is ravaging our country and the entire world? These are issues that cannot be ignored. Now what I am proposing is that we pay for all of the ongoing programs that we want to develop, and that means continuing the child tax credit which is so important to working families, helping them raise their kids, fully funding and paying for child care, paid family and medical leave, et cetera, but right now is also a time to invest in infrastructure because interest rates are at an historically low rate. So if you want to rebuild our bridges and roads, deal with climate, now is, in fact, the time to do that. Senator Sanders, you have been a vocal critic of certain Israeli policy, still acknowledging and times even celebrating Israel's right to exist of the jewish state, but some of your surrogates and supporters have taken things in a different direction, publicly pronounces themselves as anti-zionist. Do you agree with the Israeli rhetoric? I'm not talking about criticizing specific Israeli policies, and it has contributed to the rise in attacks against jewish-americans because I interviewed the victim of an anti-semitic attack in New York City, and he is deeply dissatisfied with the response from Democrats. Well, look. Anti-semitism is a serious and growing problem not only in this country, around the world, but it is obviously unacceptable, and we have to combat it in every -- in any and every way. My own view in terms of American policy toward the Middle East or Israel and the Palestinians is that we need an even-handed policy. It cannot simply be 100% pro-Israel, that we have to understand that in gaza for example, you have 60% youth unemployment. You have a horrendous situation which was only made worse by the recent war. So what I want to see is our country play an even-handed role, and I want to see the United States work with other countries to try to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians to together to bring about some peace in that region.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.