Democrats are making a passionate case for changing Senate rules that are preventing them from passing comprehensive voting reform, claiming the dark forces unleashed by Donald Trump’s misleading statements about the 2020 election necessitate exceptional measures.
President Joe Biden and senior congressional Democrats have used the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurgency as a pretext to push their long-stalled voting, ethics, and elections package forward in impassioned speeches and interviews. Senate Republicans, who have repeatedly rejected the legislation, have denounced it as a “partisan power grab” and warned that any rule changes will come back to hurt Democrats if the GOP gains control of the chamber.
Democrats argue that Trump’s phony allegations of a rigged election fueled the mob who stormed the Capitol. His relentless misinformation campaign fueled a GOP push to enact new state laws that have made voting more difficult while also making election administration more subject to political manipulation in some situations.
Many Democrats believe the time has arrived to move firmly in what they see as the era’s most important civil rights issue. Changing Senate rules before the midterm elections, when Democrats’ House majority and narrow Senate majority might be wiped out, is likely the final best chance to combat Republicans’ state-level assault.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated Friday that if Republicans continue to hijack the chamber’s rules to prevent us from safeguarding our democracy, the Senate will debate and consider changing the rules.
However, what action they will take is very unpredictable, since it is dependent on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Vafrequently .’s elusive backing. For weeks, key Democrats have met with Manchin, discussing solutions and mobilizing outside friends to campaign for his support.
Manchin hasn’t made any clear promises. He has stated repeatedly that he will not support reducing the 60-vote filibuster threshold for most bills, a position echoed by fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona. Enacting election laws may be difficult, if not impossible, unless the threshold is decreased.
Democrats, on the other hand, say they’re focusing on what’s doable right now, despite mounting pressure from allies to move. They argue that even minor modifications to Senate rules would be a huge step forward.
Biden, who is leaning into the fight, is scheduled to make a speech on voting rights in Atlanta on Tuesday. And, to add to the civil rights symbolism, Schumer has set the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, on Jan. 17, as the deadline for either passing the voting law or considering revisions to the regulations. This week, the Senate is expected to stage a series of test votes to highlight Republican resistance.
“I’m not going to say yes or no because I don’t know what votes will come to the floor,” Manchin said last week, noting that he had previously backed some rule changes in the Senate. One suggestion being discussed by Democrats is to end the filibuster on the “motion to proceed,” which is required before a measure can be considered on the Senate floor.
Republicans argue that bringing up the January 6th uprising is provocative. They claim that the voting proposals were primarily crafted before to the attack and comprise a liberal wish list of demands that would do nothing to address legal flaws highlighted by Trump’s attempt to reverse the election.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said, “It is beyond disgusting for some of our colleagues to ham-fistedly exploit the Jan. 6 anniversary to accomplish their purposes.” “Just because violent criminals broke the law does not give Senate Democrats the right to disobey the law.”
Much of Biden’s agenda has stagnated in Congress, so the increased attention on voting rights is timely. Manchin single-handedly halted progress on Biden’s approximately $2 trillion package of social and environmental programs before Christmas, effectively putting the bill on hold forever.
The change of events has angered civil rights campaigners, who claim that months have been squandered. They see the GOP-backed changes to voting rules as a subtler version of ballot limitations such as literacy tests and poll fees, which were formerly used to disenfranchise Black voters, who are a crucial Democratic base.
In an interview, NAACP President Derrick Johnson stated, “Unfortunately, many politicians have not properly realized the seriousness of where we are in this country at this moment,” referring to both Biden’s White House and Senate Democrats. “This isn’t the first time African Americans have witnessed anything like this. This isn’t the first time it’s happened to us. We must move beyond procedural discussions and focus on the content of safeguarding this frail institution known as democracy.”
Democrats’ legislation, if signed into law, would usher in the most significant overhaul of U.S. elections in a generation, removing barriers to voting enacted in the name of election security, reducing big money’s influence in politics, and limiting partisan influence over congressional district drawing. The bill would establish national election rules that would supersede GOP regulations at the state level. It would also restore the Justice Department’s power to enforce election rules in places where there has been a history of discrimination.
McConnell mocked the campaign, claiming it was motivated by “scary myths that leftist activists keep repeating about how democracy is on the verge of extinction.” He recently floated the idea of limited bipartisan action to tighten up the Electoral Count Act, a complicated 19th-century statute that regulates presidential election certification – a law Trump hoped to use to overturn his 2020 setback. Manchin has indicated that any election law should be approved on a bipartisan basis, so a compromise on that may be appealing.
Senators Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Mitt Romney of Utah, as well as Manchin and fellow Democrats Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, conducted bipartisan talks with Collins last week. According to a Collins spokesman, a change to the Electoral Count Act was discussed.
The GOP’s offer on the Electoral Count Act has been slammed by Democrats as a “cynical” political tactic aimed at accomplishing the bare minimum at the federal level while leaving legislation in place in GOP-controlled swing states like Georgia.
“What good does it do me to certify the election if I can’t vote in the first place?” Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, was the first African American to represent Georgia in the Senate. This year, he is up for reelection.
Republicans warn that any changes to the filibuster, which is designed to inspire compromise by making legislation more difficult to pass, will be regretted by Democrats.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said, “They barely have a majority presently.” “Even the most powerful majorities eventually revert to minorities.”