Seth Meyers on failed voting rights bill: ‘Republicans are waging war on democracy’

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Late-night hosts discuss the GOP’s filibustering of a voting rights bill and the supreme court’s rejection of Trump’s request to seal material from January 6


Seth Meyers

Late-night hosts tore into the Senate’s failure to pass voting rights protections this week, and in particular two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who supported the measure but refused to end the filibuster that allowed Republicans to block it.

To recap, “Senate Republicans representing a minority of Americans filibustered voting rights legislation favored by a majority of Americans, which would’ve passed if not for the filibuster,” Seth Meyers explained on Thursday’s Late Night. “So Senate Democrats, who represent a majority of Americans, then tried to change the filibuster, but they couldn’t because two Democrats who voted for the voting rights bill also voted to keep the filibuster, which prevents them from passing the voting rights bill they support.

Related: Colbert on Trump’s ‘pattern of possible fraud’: ‘Certainly more believable than a pattern of business’

“And let me be clear: that is a sentence that makes no fucking sense whatsoever,” he continued. “I hope at the very least this is a moment when we can step back to fully digest just how ass-backwards our system is.”

Meyers noted that the opposition from all 50 Republican senators was “sad but predictable”, but the refusal by Manchin and Sinema to end the filibuster, the procedural rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation to a final vote, in the name of bipartisanship was “especially infuriating”.

“When it comes to voting, there’s only one side,” he said. “Republicans are the ones waging war on democracy. You can’t compromise with the side that’s doing the damage. When you’re putting out a fire, you don’t call the fire department and the arsonist and see what they can work out together.”

Trevor Noah

On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah mocked Manchin’s speech on the Senate floor defending the filibuster as playing an “important role in protecting our democracy from the transitory passions of the majority and respecting the input of the minority in the Senate”.

“Joe Manchin is right, everything in the Senate should be as difficult as possible,” Noah deadpanned. “If Democrats want to pass a bill, Chuck Schumer should have to carry it through a stage of American Ninja Warrior first.”

Though both Sinema and Manchin have said they support the voting rights bill, “they just don’t support making sure that they pass”, Noah noted. “Which, when you think about it, is actually so inspiring, you know? Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema believe so strongly in the power of voting that they use their vote to block voting rights for the entire country. They were unvoting voting by voting.”

“What Joe Manchin is saying is: I want to help you out of the water. I’m not going to throw you a rope, but I want to throw you the rope,” Noah concluded. “And any drowning man would agree, it’s the thought that counts.”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert observed the first anniversary of Joe Biden’s term in office. “It seems like just yesterday our democracy was being held hostage by a cabal of obstructionists who didn’t want every vote counted. Oh wait, that’s yesterday,” he joked.

The anniversary was not a good day for the former president, as the supreme court voted 8-1 to reject Donald Trump’s request to keep the National Archives from releasing documents to the House select committee on 6 January. “He’s losing so much, he’s going to get tired of losing,” Colbert joked.

Among the material Trump wanted to keep hidden are proposed talking points for the then press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, a draft text of Trump’s speech for the “Save America” rally preceding the attack, and a handwritten note concerning January 6. The note’s author is unknown, Colbert noted. “All we know is that it was written on a burger wrapper.”

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel blasted Senate Republicans for uniformly rejecting new legislation for voting rights which would ensure more Americans are able to vote. “Republicans want to add restrictions to voting because they are worried about voter fraud, even though it’s almost completely non-existent,” he explained.

“Hey, you know what, you guys believe climate change is non-existent, right? How about coming up with some restrictions for that? Let’s compromise on this,” he added.

After the vote, the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, “poked his little old head out of his shell to accidentally say what he really means” about his reasons for blocking the measure. Asked by a reporter how he would respond to people of color worried about their right to vote, McConnell answered: “The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

“He means ‘regular’ Americans – the pink ones, like him,” Kimmel noted.

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