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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.

 

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Congress Elections U.S. Senate

Senate Democrats Say They Have A Way Of Passing Voting Rights Bill Without Touching The Filibuster

Though it may have seemed that Senate Republicans were going to be able to filibuster the For the People Act voting rights bill indefinitely, news from Democrats on Capitol Hill is giving the legislation new life.

On Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” and was asked what other options Democrats might have for passing voting rights legislation. Klobuchar replied:

“Well, there`s a lot of things. We`re working on an infrastructure package right now. And there’s going to — you know, there’s the bipartisan group that’s negotiating hard, but there’s also going to be a second package, and we can include election infrastructure in there.”

Yes! Election infrastructure would include money for securing our elections and providing funding for states to expand their voter registration efforts while also assuring federal oversight of states that are trying to make it more difficult for people to vote.

John Stoehr then followed up on Klobuchar’s remarks:

Reconciliation only requires a simple majority to pass the Senate, meaning that if all 50 Democrats voted in favor and all 50 Republicans voted against, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote and the For the People Act would become the law of the land, making all of voter suppression laws in various states (Georgia, Texas, etc.) invalid because federal law always trumps state.

Also this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the Justice Department will file suit against Georgia for their package of voter suppression bills that passed the general assembly earlier this year and were promptly signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R).

 

All of this is certain to infuriate Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Once the Senate parliamentarian signs off on the election infrastructure bill, a vote can be held and the For the People Act will become the law of the land.

Democrats are about to pull off a something worth celebrating: Making sure every eligible American voter can vote easily and without interference from Republicans.

Suck on THAT, Moscow Mitch!

 

Categories
U.S. Senate WTF?!

Lindsey Graham Outs Members Of His Own Family – As Lazy

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham, there are members of his family who are too lazy to work because they’d rather stay home and collect unemployment benefits.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Graham asked Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, about the temporary COVID-19 unemployment benefits. Young responded that the current unemployment level is the lowest since the pandemic began.

The South Carolina senator suddenly interrupted, remarking:

“(The) enhanced unemployment benefit is deterring people from re-entering into the workforce.

“There’s a lot of jobs out there that are unfilled and will never be filled until you change the benefit structure.”

Young told Graham:

“I understand the logic. But I’ve also not met Americans who would prefer not to work. There’s a dignity to work in this country.”

But Graham was having none of it:

“So the bottom line is I think there are people out there that are not bad people but they’re not going to work for $15 and hour if they can make $23 unemployed. That doesn’t make you a bad person. If you’re working for $15/hour that makes you almost a chump.

“I think we incentivize people not to work because simply they make more money. I’m not blaming them, I’m blaming us.”

But not everyone was buying what Graham was selling, no matter how much he was willing to pay an hour, and they let him know they thought he was flat-out lying to make his point:

As usual, Lindsey is completely full of shit. No wonder he’s a Republican.

Categories
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.

 

Categories
Congress Joe Biden U.S. Senate

Joe Biden Has Found A Way To Beat Mitch McConnell At His Own Game

Just as he did when Barack Obama was president, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to obstruct every piece of legislation that comes from the Biden administration, and he appears to have most Senate Republicans on board with the plan.

But what McConnell forgot to factor into his scheme is that President Joe Biden also served in the Senate for decades and knows how the upper chamber of Congress works, which means he has a distinct advantage over the Senate Minority Leader, who is now almost powerless to do anything other than make speeches.

Take for example the White House’s infrastructure package, which Biden continues to insist he wants to have Republicans support, so he keeps talking and negotiating with them.

As NBC National Political Reporter Sahil Kapur explained Wednesday on MSNBC, Biden is reaching out to the GOP because he wants to keep every Senate Democrat on board:

“He has to negotiate with Republicans, he believes, Democrats believe in order to convince the centrist holdouts in the Senate. And also, the House, which doesn’t get quite as much attention, they want to pursue bipartisanship as well. They want to go home and say they did everything they could. The key thing to know is when president Biden is negotiating with Sen. Caputo, he’s really negotiating with Mitch McConnell. There are not ten Republican votes unless you get Mitch McConnell’s signoff for anything major.”

And there’s another strategy in play when it comes to what Biden is doing regarding McConnell: It gives the president flexibility to cut deals on the side with the GOP that also serve to undermine McConnell and weaken his already tenuous hold on his caucus:

“(Biden) can potentially come to an agreement on a number or something like that, but translating that to actual legislation to get ten Republican votes is a much more complicated task. The White House’s challenge here is to figure out whether to cut a deal with Republicans. At best, he can probably get a small deal that falls far short of his target and try to do something separately with Democrats or maybe do the whole thing alone he thinks that could undercut the big package.”

President Biden would love to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but he doesn’t need a single Republican as long as he keeps all 50 Democrats on board. Then he can use reconciliation and get a massive infrastructure package through Congress with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote in the Senate.

Mitch McConnell is irrelevant and he knows it. And at the moment Joe Biden is besting him at his own game, proving that while the Kentucky Republican may well be a master Senate tactician, he’s met his match in this president.