Democrats Remain With Zombie Voting Bills After Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin Death Blows

SEnate Democrats pulled all the stops this week to try and pass their signed voting rights bills: the president’s visit to the Capitol, the speeches on basements, legislative games, endless conversations about rule changes.

None of it will work.

The two proposals — the John Lewis Voting Rights Promotion Act and the Freedom of Voting Act — are both are intended to combat restrictive voting laws at the state level enacted by Republicans since the 2020 election. But as long as the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for passing bills remains in place, Republicans are guaranteed to be able to block them — which they did last year.

But minutes before President Joe Biden arrived at his former estate, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) make it clear that it was a wasted trip. Speaking in front of a sparsely populated room, she reiterated her stance in favor of the current voting proposals but defend the ability of the Republican Party to counter them.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)—a pain-inducing partner within the party and the only other Democrat in the Senate for an unreliable exception—called her performance It is “excellent”.

Emerging after meeting with senators, Biden admitted that he was not sure Democrats could do anything about voting rights. That suspicion was confirmed five hours later, when Manchin released a statement reiterating his longstanding opposition to removing or weakening the filtration system.

None of this should surprise Democrats. Indeed, most lawmakers have been clear on the daunting task of revising Senate rules and passing sweeping electoral reforms with the slimmest congressional majority possible.

But with the key elections this November taking place in states with new voting laws, as written by the GOP, Democratic leaders clearly feel they have no choice but to give it a try. The party’s base, as well as a host of activist groups from the NAACP to the ACLU, have plagued Biden and Democratic lawmakers over the past year.

As a result, Biden and the party leaders continued to turn the tide in a force majeure battle, even halting consideration of the remaining members of the party (maybe it’s the same) on the domestic agenda — the Better Rebuilding Act — to consider voting reforms this January.

The road to suffrage will likely end next week with a failed vote on the Senate floor and, eventually, a debate on changing Senate rules that will feature articles of impeachment. compelling statements but almost certainly, few meaningful results.

This knowledge seems to be sinking in: Democrats left their Thursday meeting with Biden with a loss of what might happen next. When asked by The Daily Beast what, at this stage, could shake up Democrats’ stalled momentum on voting legislation, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) paused for a moment.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I do not know.”

Sinema’s speech – timed to maximize its effects – particularly irked Democrats from Capitol Hill to the White House.

Most of the Democrats in the Senate declined to participate much in the move of their Arizona colleagues. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said: “I think it just speaks for itself. “I really can’t say more.”

– a person familiar with the internal White House response to the Arizona senator’s remarks

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Sinema’s remarks, though a longtime Biden adviser texted The Daily Beast about halfway through her comment that the president was likely to ” shoot” because he found it disrespectful to deliver a speech that reflected his agenda just minutes earlier. he was set to speak in the caucus.

“That’s disrespectful,” said the longtime adviser. “It’s the middle finger, and it’s really unthinkable for someone who’s spent four decades in the Senate.”

Although White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters she would not “engage in any private conversations” between Biden and Sinema, those at the staff level were obscured. by the Arizona senator’s comments until they were first reported on Twitter.

In the West Wing, the fallout of Biden’s push for film reform comes amid a flurry of bad news, including the Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the nationwide mandate for testing and vaccines. he for big businesses. One person familiar with the internal reaction to the Arizona senator’s remarks sent only a red-faced swearing emoji; another person summed it up as “ughhhhhhhhhhh” with 11 H’s.

However, some lawmakers say that despite the long odds, the voting debate is a worthy one in the public domain, with huge stakes on the ground in some state.

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) told The Daily Beast a full review of voting rights is long overdue. “We discussed voting rights for a while. And it’s time to vote,” he said.

Warnock’s home state of Georgia had no basis for a reversal of the right to vote, especially targeting the basic Democratic constituency in the state. In 2021, the state legislature passed a new law restricting access to the ballot and giving voters a drink while waiting in line, among other changes.

Those rules will go into effect when Warnock gets his vote again this fall. His race is a race, according to Cook political report.

Senator Angus King (I-ME), who once opposed changing the Senate’s 60-vote threshold but changed his mind about the right to vote, told The Daily Beast on Thursday that the vote is coming. on election bills that would actually spark a debate on the Senate floor. , unlike last year.

“That’s something we haven’t even been able to go public for the past six months,” King said. “So I think we’re in a new territory where the other side is going to have to really get on the floor and argue.”

But Republicans, especially Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are not shy about attacking Democratic voting rights proposals, even as Democrats. believe that doing so is politically toxic to the GOP.

There is a potentially meaningful electoral reform that Republicans – even McConnell – have enjoyed. It involves reforming the Voter Count Act, which regulates how the electoral college’s votes are counted — and allows members to object to the counting of their votes for any reason, legally or not.

The opaque law has emerged as a target for an overhaul because of how Donald Trump and his followers want to exploit it as they seek to overturn the 2020 election. system in certifying election results, which was at the heart of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Advocates say the reform of the law could help kickstart another January 6 while clarifying the electoral vote counting process at a dangerous time. A bipartisan group of senators, including Manchin and Sinema, met last week to discuss changing the law.

But most Democrats seem content to leave this reform viable – at least for now. Many lawmakers and liberal outside groups have framed ECA reform as a gamble backed by McConnell to push for broader electoral reforms such as the Voting Freedom Act.

For them, it was a response to substantive voter protections.

“The Voter Count Act and the public policy debate on that law could be a worthy discussion… But it is absolutely, on the positive side, no substitute for the passage of these two bills. ,” Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said Thursday.

Republicans in favor of reforming the ECA don’t understand why Democrats don’t seize the opportunity to fix an aspect of the process that Trump has sought to exploit.

Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI), who voted to impeach Trump after January 6, said it was “confusing” that Democrats were reluctant to introduce a change that would “really address . .. the weaknesses were exposed on January 6th.”

And there are many Democrats, besides Manchin and Sinema, who support moving forward with ECA reform. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) said he’s not sure why other Democrats seem reluctant to take power.

“The fact that there is bipartisan interest in it is really cool,” Beyer said.

While Democrats don’t have many details on how they can advance the fight for the right to vote after their proposal fails again next week, key players are signaling it will. happen.

When asked about contingency plans, Warnock said, “We’re going to keep fighting and I’m not going to rest until we’ve finished this.”

On the public front, the president’s media team expressed defeat Thursday as an unfinished situation, noting that a vote on the twin suffrage access bill has yet to be held.

“We’re going to keep fighting until we get the vote,” Psaki told reporters when asked if the president would give up on winning over Sinema and Manchin’s support for film reform. . Biden, Psaki said, “knew he was elected to do the hard things and support the hard things.”

Biden echoed that sentiment on Thursday.

“I don’t know if we can get it done, but I do know one thing: as long as I have a breath in me, as long as I’m in the White House… I will fight to change the way the institutions make up. This method has [been] moving,” he said. Democrats Remain With Zombie Voting Bills After Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin Death Blows

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