WATCH: Rep. Davids on The Last Word
Representative Sharice Davids, one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress, says, “Paying attention, learning the issues, showing up, listening and really trying to be as engaged as possible with tribal communities is going to go a really long way to helping address some of the disparities we’ve seen over centuries.”
- The New Dem's priorities for the American Jobs Plan
- The impact the American Rescue Plan is already having in our country
- The importance of Native representation in government
- How we are combatting voter suppression in Kansas
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids of Kansas. She is the vice chair of the New Democrat coalition. She was among a group of lawmakers who met this week with White House senior staff to discuss policy priorities for the American Jobs Plan.
Congresswoman Davids, thank you for being with us tonight.
REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): Good to be here.
VELSHI: Let`s talk about, first of all, this concept of governing for people who didn`t necessarily vote for you. You know this well coming for - - being a Democrat from the state of Kansas these days. What is it that is working in your opinion after a conversation that you had at the White House this week with the -- you met with senior White House officials this week? What is it that`s working for you?
DAVIDS: Look. I think that right now what we are seeing is an administration with President Biden who has done what he said he was going to do. He`s been laser focused on making sure that we`re getting vaccines into people`s arms, for getting money into people`s pockets. We are getting folks back to work. And a lot of that was because of the American rescue Plan.
And I think that when people look at the job that this administration is doing, that those of us in the House and the Senate who are working hard to help get relief to people who need it the most that`s the kind of stuff that people are going to want to see regardless of what party they`re in.
One of the issues that Joe Biden has pointed out in some of his executive actions is that he`d really like a lot of these things done legislatively. And that`s one of the topics I understand that you discussed with the White House. How to get some of the priorities of fellow Democrats who are like- minded, how to get that stuff done through Congress.
DAVIDS: Yes. You know, when we went to the White House this week, as the New Democrat Coalition. One of the things we highlighted was the fact that we are one of the largest caucuses in the United States Congress.
And when you`re talking about getting legislation across the finish line you have to be working with people who are willing to talk to anybody who`s pushing for good policy.
Look, I have said the entire time that I have been in office that I`m willing to work with anybody if we`re talk about getting policy done that`s going to be good for the third district in Kansas, good for the state of Kansas and good for our country.
And the New Dem Coalition, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- we`re all focused on that and so is the Biden administration.
VELSHI: Jill Biden has actually been in Navajo Nation this week talking Navajo women about their needs. The Associated Press writes "The trip was Biden`s third to the vast reservation and her inaugural visit as first lady. She`s vowed to work with the Navajo Nation and all tribal nations in a recognition of their inherent sovereignty and political relationship with the United States."
This, of course, is a topic that has become much bigger under this administration. And with your former colleague Deb Haaland now as a cabinet secretary. How does this -- what does this look like to you? What is success for tribal communities and Indians in America look like?
DAVIDS: I mean certainly we have seen a huge leap forward with the confirmation and appointment of now Secretary Deb Haaland to the Department of Interior. You know, I think it`s important to note that when the federal government used to interact with tribal governments it was through the Department of War. And now what we`re seeing with the Department of Interior is having a person who not only understands it from the legal perspective but also from a lived experience.
Having Congresswoman Haaland -- Secretary Haaland there is -- I`m definitely missing her out of the House -- having her there is historic and for so many different reasons but certainly having a Biden administration whether we`re talking about President Biden or the First Lady paying attention, learning the issues, showing up, listening and really trying to be as engaged as possible with tribal communities is going to go a really long way to helping address -- to helping address some of the disparities that we have seen over centuries really.
VELSHI: I want to talk to you about voting rights stuff because we`ve been talking about that a lot tonight. Your governor in Kansas has vetoed a number of GOP -- or a couple of GOP election bills saying that they`re designed to disenfranchise voters. The quote from her is that "This is a solution to a problem that doesn`t exist. It is designed to disenfranchise Kansans and make it more difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud."
What`s your view of how this goes? You are the only Congressional Democrat in the state.
DAVIDS: Yes. No, look. Kansas has been dealing with voter suppression issues for a while. Folks might remember that we had Chris Kobach as our secretary of state and so we`ve been kind of pushed back against --- trying to push back against voter suppression for a while.
I`m very, very glad that the folks in my home state in Kansas were able to see that Governor Kelly was going to be the person who would help get us on the right track in our state and she demonstrates that time and time again vetoing these awful voter suppression bills is just one more example of that.
VELSHI: Chris Kobach is founding father of nonexistent voter fraud fears. So yes, you guys come by it honestly in Kansas. Congresswoman, good to see you.
VELSHI: Thank you for being with us.
Congresswoman Sharice Davids is the vice chair of the New Democratic Coalition. She`s a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is Democratic representative from Kansas.