When they passed a $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill this month, Democrats in Congress overtook their Republican opposition, using the budget reconciliation process to present a case study on it. happens when they don’t fold back for GOP membership.
Today, as they began hearings on a major voting bill, Democrats were doing a different math. Bill is ineligible for reconciliation and is almost certain to meet deadlock in the Senate, given the threat of a Republican filibuster.
Few, if any, questions divide the country along partisan lines more than voting rights. The debated bill, the For the People Act, was passed by the House on party lines without Republicans voting for it. Knowing that it’s next to impossible to get 10 Republicans to join Democrats in bypassing a filibuster, Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer puts Democrats on a collision course with the existential filibuster debate.
But at today’s hearing, he took the opportunity to narrow the gap between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. “Today, in the 21st century, there is a concerted national effort to limit the right of citizens to vote and truly have a voice in their own government,” Schumer said, later chanting, “Shame! Shame! ”Among Republican lawmakers.
There is a poetic irony and also perfect logic in the fact that a debate on filibuster would result in a franchise law. Not only because filibuster reform involves the Senate changing its own voting rules, but also because the most high-profile uses of filibuster throughout history have often been to block civil rights.
Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia, in a recent Senate speech, briefly linked the Law for the People to the filibuster debate. “It is a contradiction to say that we must protect the rights of minorities in the Senate while refusing to protect the rights of minorities in society,” he said.
Pressure increased among Democratic insiders this week for changes to the filibuster. Senators have started airing their support for the practice’s end, and a report in Axios released today quotes people close to President Biden as saying he was prepared to reverse the maneuver, although the White House has been publicly discreet on the matter.
Just as Democratic senators have been strident in their calls for federal voting laws today, Republicans have been combative in their arguments against the bill. Some have expressed outrage at the legislation’s proposal to end the mandatory 3-3 partisan split in the Federal Election Commission, a move Democrats have deemed necessary to promote reform.
“This bill is designed to permanently corrupt the electoral process, and it is a brazen and shameless takeover by Democrats,” said Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell said states “just aren’t trying to suppress voters in any way.”
West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito argued the bill attempted to fix a voting system that did not need to be fixed, a position that appeared to go against Republican narratives prominent claim that the 2020 election was supposed to be tainted with voter fraud.
But Democrats see an opportunity to advocate for filibuster reform with the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that would establish fundamental national voting rights standards and create independent, non-partisan commissions to manage the Congress redistribution process.
State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would restrict voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, and the GOP will control the redistribution process next year in many key states. . Democrats in Congress see this bill as an increasingly urgent bulwark against voting restrictions and gerrymandering that could perpetuate targeted voting deprivation, tilting the balance of political power for years to come.
Of course, it’s not yet certain that Senate Democrats will even unite in support of the bill. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who votes against his party with some regularity, is the only Democrat who has not sponsored him, and he has yet to show unequivocal support. If he supported him, he should also work to roll back the filibuster (which he and at least one other Democratic senator, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, have yet to address) in order to give meaning in this support. whatever.
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