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NBC's Todd Frets Congress Not 'Mature Enough' to Revamp Voting Rights Act

Appearing on MSNBC moments after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Voting Rights Act, NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd wrung his hands over the prospect of Congress having to make adjustments to the 1965 law: "I don't think Congress is mature enough to do this right now, to be perfectly blunt. That the political, ideological, sort of the way some of these members conduct themselves, I am a pessimist on their ability to do something like this." [Listen to the audio]

Was Todd referring to both Republicans and Democrats? His remarks seconds before that declaration seemed to reveal which political party was on his mind: "...inertia [against the Voting Rights Act] is going to be what, particularly some Republicans, who believe this should be left to the states, that there shouldn't be the federal government involvement that there is when it does have to do with issues regarding voting."

Todd went on to proclaim:

A functional Washington would approach this in sort of this holistic manner, saying, "Okay, we know we had problems on election day. There were too many lines. People waited too long. Now we've been ordered by the Supreme Court to rewrite how the map works when it comes to pre-clearance." A functional Washington would look at this in a big way and say, "You know what? This is an opportunity to fix what is a messy, flawed, voting system."

Here is a full transcript of his June 25 appearance on MSNBC's Jansing & Co.:

10:30AM ET

CHRIS JANSING: I want to go to the White House and NBC's Chuck Todd. Chuck, I don't know if you've gotten any reaction from there yet. We also know the President is – you're obviously coming to us from the bureau there in D.C., our chief White House correspondent. The President obviously meeting with the leadership of both the House and Senate later today, so that's one opportunity presumably for this to come up. Have you heard any reaction yet from the White House?

CHUCK TODD: Well, look, I imagine we are going to hear from the President on this. Remember, you know, one of the things he did right after the election, Chris, is he set up a commission that's headed up by both the lead lawyers for his campaign and for Romney's campaign, to talk about the issues that took place, for instance, on election day. What's wrong with the issues having to do with lines and all this stuff. And that is a separate issue from the Voting Rights Act, but at the same time, the way some of these states made decisions on how to conduct the election, how to – what they put on the ballot, how long – how long early voting was, things like that. This is all of the parts of the conversation that Reverend Al [Sharpton]'s been referring to. That Marc Morial's been referring to.

And the question is, does the President use this as an opportunity? He's going to have to own this. He's going to have to drive this. Because it's not going to come from Congress, inertia is going to be what – particularly some Republicans, who believe this should be left to the states, that there shouldn't be the federal government involvement that there is when it does have to do with issues regarding voting. So in order to beat back inertia, the President's going to have to own this, he's going to have to be big about it. Is there more people does he bring in? Does he create some sort of commission that includes a bipartisan group of governors to help put together of like, "Okay, how do we write the modern map?" Since pre-clearance is something that the Supreme Court says is constitutional and needs to be done.

JANSING: Yeah, and obviously one of the things you think about when you even say that, Chuck, is it's another opportunity for things to get, you know, mired in, you know, controversy, and for things to be slowed down at a time when our experts are saying to us time is of the essence here.

TODD: I think time is of the essence. And, Chris, frankly I think all of us that watch Washington, I don't think Congress is mature enough to do this right now, to be perfectly blunt. That the political, ideological, sort of the way some of these members conduct themselves, I am a pessimist on their ability to do something like this. But they're going to have to. And, you know, this is one branch of government...

JANSING: Well, we said that about immigration, too, that they're going to have to-

TODD: ...telling the other branch of government, "Go get it done. Go get it right." And it's probably going to have to – the way immigration worked, how did it work? Gonna have to go to the Senate first, see if there's a bipartisan consensus. But if I'm the President, if he – he's going to – he's going to have to own it, he's going to have to drive this to get this fix done. And he's going to have to go outside, you know, go find a bipartisan coalition of state governors who them – you know, so that you create this concept of the state's rights meeting with what should be done, you know, what should have federal oversight, how should all this work.

A functional Washington would approach this in sort of this holistic manner, saying, "Okay, we know we had problems on election day. There were too many lines. People waited too long. Now we've been ordered by the Supreme Court to rewrite how the map works when it comes to pre-clearance." A functional Washington would look at this in a big way and say, "You know what? This is an opportunity to fix what is a messy, flawed, voting system."

JANSING: Alright, thank you so much, Chuck Todd.