In the latest episode of Ray-ality TV, Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) weighed in on a variety of topics. Some of the subjects include H.R.1, the Supreme Court and the Build Back Better Act.
The Democrats started off the 117th Congress by introducing H.R.1, also known as the For the People Act of 2021. Cicilline is in favor of this bill saying, “We assigned this bill the first bill number because we consider, as a caucus, to be the number one priority because it kind of affects everything else. And that is to make sure people have the right to vote, to have their vote counted and to remove obstacles to voting.”
Cicilline further explained, “It also provides a piece of my legislation included which is automatic voter registration so we can remove one hurdle. It allows for early voting, it allows voting by mail. There are efforts all across the country to make it more difficult to vote so that politicians can pick their voters rather than the other way around. And H.R.1 is really a response to that, to make sure that every citizen of this country who is eligible to vote is able to vote and have their vote counted.”
H.R.1 addresses gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a tactic used by both Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats have gerrymandered states like Illinois and Maryland. The Republicans have gerrymandered states like Ohio and Indiana.
Democrats typically blame Republicans for gerrymandering but rarely mention their own extreme gerrymandering as often. Cicilline explains why the Republican gerrymanders are heard more often, saying, “Gerrymandering where essentially, elected officials choose their voters rather than voters choosing their elected officials is a terrible problem in this country. And you have districts that you look at that are just drawn so they keep one member in here and one member there, it’s a terrible system. I think the reason you hear more about [it on] the Republican side is because they’re much better at it and they control state legislatures that are much more brazen about what they do.”
Cicilline continued, “I think there are unfortunately some examples where the Republicans have really abused the district drawing lines [process]. That is not to say Democrat legislators haven’t done the same. I just think the reason you hear about it more is the Republicans do it more often and they do it better, kind of in a more egregious way, or worse, I guess. But it is a terrible practice, we ought to eliminate it. H.R.1 gets rid of it, which I think is great.”
Aside from H.R.1, another priority on the Congressional Democrats’ radar is adding more justices to the Supreme Court. Cicilline gave his current position on whether there should be more justices added to the Supreme Court, saying, “My position has been consistent. I want to await the outcome of the commission the President put together to study reforms of the court before making a decision about that bill [to add more justices].”
Cicilline added that he believes the Senate Republicans packed the Supreme Court. He cited the Senate Republicans jamming through the last three justices nominated by President Trump while not even considering President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Questions transitioned to the Senate filibuster.
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) eliminated the filibuster with the nuclear option to pass President Trump’s nominations. The precedent that allows this started when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) set it in 2013 for lower-level court nominees, invoking the nuclear option. During the Trump Presidency, Senate Democrats used the filibuster hundreds of times for a number of bills.
Cicilline explained his position on usage of the filibuster in general, saying, “My position on the filibuster has been clear. I believe the filibuster is an undemocratic, Jim Crow artifice. And it ought not be in place. It allows the minority in the Senate to overrule the will of the majority in this country.”
Cicilline and his congressional colleagues want to pass the Build Back Better Act, furthering President Biden’s agenda.
“The Build Back Better is really the President’s vision for rebuilding the economy. And rebuilding the economy in a way that reached everyone. Women, and particularly, women of color have been devastated by the pandemic and by the economic disaster that followed. Build Back Better removes a lot of obstacles that prevent women from getting into the workforce. It has universal pre-k, affordable child care, job training and lowers prescription drug prices and healthcare costs.”
Cicilline added, “And the best news is it’s completely paid for by making sure the wealthiest Americans and the most successful and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
Additionally, Cicilline and I spoke about non-political topics such as what he misses about his time as mayor of Providence and characteristics he thinks Rhode Island is best known for.
To view the full interview, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OVKoYkfKmY.