Elections U.S. Senate Voting Rights

Democrats Have A New Voting Rights Bill That Meets With The Approval Of Hesitant Senators: Report

After months of debate and delays on the fundamental issue of voting rights in the United States, it appears that Congressional Democrats finally have a bill that has the blessing of hesitant senators such as Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Krysten Sinema (AZ).

The New York Times reports that top Democratic leaders will meet today to discuss the legislation:

“President Biden and the top Democrats in Congress are expected to meet at the White House on Friday to discuss their party’s faltering efforts to pass major voting rights legislation, according to two congressional aides familiar with the plans.”

The new voting rights bill, according to the Times, would eliminate the specter of a filibuster:

“Democrats are close to finalizing a scaled-back bill that activists hope could be a battering ram in the fight over the filibuster. The party is also readying legislation to reinforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and lawmakers have discussed tucking voting provisions into the $3.5 trillion budget plan advancing in the Senate, which they can push through unilaterally over the opposition of Republicans. But the G.O.P. is largely opposed to all three.”

The new legislation includes 15 days of early voting, ends gerrymandering of congressional districts, expands mail voting, and has a voter ID provision. It would also require that super PACs disclose who their donors are and would effectively neutralize Republican voter suppression laws that have been passed in states such as Georgia and Florida.

It also appears likely that the voting rights legislation will be included in the upcoming $3.5 billion infrastructure bill that will be passed using budget reconciliation, meaning Democrats would only need all 50 votes from their senators. The deciding vote would then be cast by Vice President Kamala Harris in her role as president of the Senate.

Democrats are not giving up on voting rights, and given the fact that Republicans seem intent on cheating in order to win elections, the passage of a voting rights bill is more critical than ever.


Congress U.S. Senate

Chuck Schumer May Have Found A Way To Change Joe Manchin’s Mind About Nixing The Filibuster: Report

Thanks in large part to the massive stubbornness of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), major portions of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda — voting rights, expanding access to affordable health care, and repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — remain on the shelf, unrealized and threatening to bring progress to a grinding halt just five months into Biden’s term.

Could there be a way to convince Manchin and his Arizona counterpart, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, to finally give in and agree to major reform of the Senate filibuster?

According to a report from the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have found an antidote to Manchin’s recalcitrance:

“Democrats are about to embark on a strategy to try to demonstrate to those reluctant colleagues — and to the public at large — that the filibuster is being abused by Senate Republicans intent on depriving them and President Biden of crucial legislation.”

How will this be accomplished? By bringing extremely popular legislation to the Senate floor and letting reluctant Democratic senators see just how complete Republican obstruction is and how it must be overcome:

“Mr. Schumer said he intended to bring the filibuster showdown to a head beginning next week, by forcing votes on a series of measures that Republicans oppose, including one that was blocked by a Republican filibuster in 2014 that seeks to ensure that women and men receive the same pay for equal work. Mr. Schumer hinted that he could also bring forward legislation on gay rights and gun safety. Most immediately, he promised a vote before the end of June on a sweeping voting rights bill that Democrats say is needed to counter new Republican-led voting restrictions being enacted in states around the nation.”

With that strategy, Schumer and other Senate Democrats believe it will soon become clear that only by nixing the filibuster can anything be accomplished in the upper chamber of Congress:

“The idea is to show Democrats refusing to change the filibuster rules that Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, are going to stand in the way of legislation that has widespread support, and that the only way to win their adoption is by overturning the rules.”

It’s the very same strategy former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used when faced Democratic resistance to amending and update filibuster rules:

“It is replicating a strategy that Harry Reid, then the Senate majority leader, employed in 2013 to persuade fellow Democrats to blow up the filibuster for judicial and executive branch nominees. He purposefully lined up a series of votes on highly regarded nominees to the influential United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. When Republicans repeatedly blocked them, Mr. Reid gathered enough Democratic support to change the rules by a majority vote.”

June, it seems, could be the make or break month when it comes to implementing the Biden agenda, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) noting:

“It is all building toward a showdown on voting rights, and voting rights are the precondition to every other issue being considered fairly in our country. I do believe a historical moment is about to arrive by the end of June on the Senate floor.”

The bottom line is this: If Manchin and Sinema don’t want to actually accomplish something for their constituents and the nation, they should forego running for reelection.


Congress U.S. Senate

Senate Democrats Destroy Mitch McConnell’s Favorite Delaying Tactic By Using His Own Strategy Against Him

For decades, pundits have hailed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as the master of the Senate, a man who knows how to use the upper chamber of Congress to accomplish anything his party chooses to do.

But that’s simply not true. All McConnell is good at is obstruction and delay, which is great when you’re in the majority but isn’t helping the GOP one damn bit now that they’ve lost control of the Senate.

As Greg Sargent notes in a fascinating piece he wrote for the Washington Post, Democrats have just proven that they can get things done and McConnell can’t do anything but whine:

“In the early morning hours on Friday, Senate Democrats passed a measure laying the groundwork to move President Biden’s big economic rescue package via the reconciliation process, by a simple majority. Republicans are already thundering with outrage.

“The move does indeed pose a serious challenge to Republicans. But it’s one that runs deeper than merely moving toward passing this one package without them. It also suggests a reset in dealing with GOP bad-faith tactics across the board — and even the beginnings of a response to the Donald Trump era and the ideology loosely described as ‘Trumpism.'”

And yes, McConnell started whining right after Democrats passed the bill via reconcillation:

“The minority leader railed that Democrats have ‘set the table to ram through their $1.9 trillion rough draft,’ adding: ‘notwithstanding all the talk about bipartisan unity, Democrats are plowing ahead.'”

It’s called progress, Mitch. It’s what the voters sent Democrats to Washington to accomplish.

All McConnell ever did when Republicans ran the Senate is confirm judges and block every other piece of legislation that would have improved the lives of Americans. He used the filibuster like a cudgel and now that he no longer has any power or relevance, he’s complaining.

You see, Mitch McConnell loves to bloviate about bipartisanship, but as Sargent correctly explains, he wants no such thing. He merely wants the illusion of reaching across the aisle:

“McConnell’s underlying claim is that Democrats should allow their plan to be subject to a supermajority requirement via the filibuster, to facilitate bipartisanship. The idea is this: If a partisan majority can’t pass things by itself, it must reach out for bipartisan support; if it can, it won’t. And doing the latter would betray Biden’s promises to seek ‘unity.’

“This is a scam. The reality is the other way around: In McConnell’s hands, the filibuster has actually made bipartisanship less likely.”

But what Democrats did early Friday morning actually makes bipartisanship more likely, and that would mean McConnell has become not only irrelevant, but utterly useless, as unnecessary as a third wheel on a bicycle:

“The paradox here is that using reconciliation — moving to pass something by a simple majority — actually could bolster the conditions for good-faith bipartisanship. GOP senators who might be gettable will no longer have a built-in incentive to oppose a particular bill. It’s likely passing anyway, so the lure of helping the party by opposing it — because the Democratic president will get blamed for failure — isn’t nearly as strong.”

Americans want Congress to do something, anything, to revive the economy and help them hold on until things improve. They’re hungry for government to work for them, not just for the multinational corporations and billionaire hedge fund managers.

Joe Biden was elected — along with two new senators from Georgia — to heal the nation and get things done. To act like adults. And that’s a direct threat to Mitch McConnell and the crumbling GOP. It’s no wonder they’re starting to turn on each other.