Dems' filibuster conundrum: It's not just Manchin and Sinema

Sinema (D-Ariz.) And Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) are the source of frustration for most liberals these days, with both publicly opposed to changes to the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. But it’s not that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is starting a pivotal week – focused on changes in the structure of the Senate – with 48 iron votes for any particular filibuster reform.

Kelly is one of a handful of Democrats still weighing what to do about the party’s efforts to allow sweeping federal election law to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle. And the differing views and reluctance of the Democrats reflect the seriousness of the debate.

Republicans are already threatening to glue down the Senate if the Democrats change the institution’s procedures. Even so, longtime filibuster defenders may have to make some tough decisions, especially as Biden’s economic agenda has stalled in Congress and Democrats anticipate sky-high promises made after recapturing the majority last year.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) For helping with the organization a bipartisan letter In 2017 he supported the legislative filibuster and was thinking about what to do.

“Part of this week is for us to have a lively discussion and debate as a group and understand the proposal. But I think getting the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act and Freedom to Vote Act passed is an urgent priority, ”Coons said.

For a group proud of its unity, there are many nuances in the views of the Democrats.

Some, like Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Like a speaking filibuster, but are “not crazy” about making an exception for voting rights. Meanwhile, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) says reform is needed but encourages more modest change. She cites the near-impossible chances that the party will bring all 50 Democrats on board to unilaterally change the filibuster, also known as the “nuclear option”.

Some people hear some of their colleagues on changes, including testers, while Sinema has called for a public debate. When Schumer brings rule changes to the table, his colleagues think that everyone except Manchin and Sinema will quickly join the table.

Democrats may never know until a vote takes place – and liberal groups want the Democrats to proceed. Still, there are many risks to moving forward, including the potential GOP attack on Democrats in battlefields like Kelly for putting tough votes on a doomed proposal.

Senate Republicans tabled bills Monday night designed to put Democrats in their place if the majority party tries to change the chamber’s rules. Schumer responded that if minority leader Mitch McConnell agreed to allow electoral reform and the electoral law to be passed with a single majority, he would allow these GOP-backed bills to vote with a single majority. McConnell refused this proposal.

Schumer has repeatedly argued publicly that the Democrats must go along. On Monday he threw the mission open: Senators “can follow in the footsteps of our patriotic predecessors in this chamber or watch the structure of our democracy unravel before their eyes”. Even so, Manchin seemed unmoved.

“It’s a tough game. And I understand they have a tough job to do. I think Chuck tried to be as fair as possible all year. We did some great things, now it’s crunch time. And I understand what position they are in and what they are doing, ”said Manchin on Monday. “But I made it very clear where I am. Hopefully they respect that too. “

In light of Manchin’s and Sinema’s resolute rejection of the abolition of the filibuster, the Democrats are weighing the votes on reinstating a speaking filibuster or a filibuster exemption for the electoral law as an alternative to the complete lifting of the 60-vote hurdle. But to make these changes would require unity and a “nuclear” approach – a unilateral vote to change the rules of party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Said he wasn’t sure where the votes were at the moment, but it was “important that people are known”.

When asked what she could support, Shaheen said she would ask the minority to raise 41 votes to stop the legislation, rather than the majority, 60 to get the legislation moving. She also wants to deprive the minority of the opportunity to block bills so that they are not even debated in the Senate. These reforms would likely not be enough to pass the electoral reform law in the face of unified opposition from the GOP, but would undermine the power of the minority.

“We will see what is presented to us. I think we need to change the rules, ”to move the electoral legislation forward, Shaheen said. “I find it problematic that we [don’t] have the votes. “

Shaheen’s colleague, Senator Maggie Hassan (DN.H.), is one of the new converts in favor of changing the Senate rules so that the electoral law can be passed with a simple majority. Hassan is running for re-election this year, and she and several other Democrats including Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada are the incumbents who accept changes to the Senate rules.

“I support the speaking filibuster,” said Cortez Masto on Monday. “I think the time has come … we don’t just have to take the Senate back to the time we were debating issues that matter to the country. But that the country gets to hear this debate. “

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