WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are trying to force a public demonstration on their sweeping election legislation that aims to start a debate on a key party priority, even though there is no assurance the bill will come to a vote.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the plan in a memo obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press on the eve of President Joe Biden’s visit to meet privately with Senate Democrats. That still leaves Democrats to force a vote on the law, which has now been blocked by a Republican filibuster.
“We will finally have the opportunity to debate voting rights legislation – something that Republicans have so far denied,” Schumer wrote in a memo to his Democratic colleagues, which described a solution to avoid the Republican filibuster. , which has blocked formal debate for months. Law on the floor of the Senate. “Senators can finally make it clear to the American people where they stand to defend our democracy and preserve the right of every eligible American to vote.”
The strategy does little to solve the central problem facing Democrats – they lack Republican support to pass election legislation on a bipartisan basis, but also the support of all 50 Democrats to change Senate rules. so that they can pass on their own. But the latest tactic could create an off-ramp from his initial approach, which was to force a vote by Monday on Senate filibuster changes as a way to put pressure on Democratic censors. To go with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kirsten Cinema.
By setting up a debate, Schumer will achieve Democrats’ goal of shining a spotlight that prompts senators to say where they stand. The debate on the floor could stretch for days and echoes of the civil rights fight a generation ago that led to some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Senate history.
“I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking it’s easy,” Schumer told reporters on Wednesday. He called the push a “battle of the climb”.
Democrats have vowed to counter a wave of new state laws, fueled by false claims of Donald Trump’s stolen election, that have made it harder to vote. But after an initial flurry of activity, Democrats’ efforts stalled in a narrowly divided Senate, where they were short of 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, prompting their calls to change the rules.
Recently he has tried to breathe new life into the effort. Biden made a fiery speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, where he told senators that each of them would be “judged by history” if they failed to act. He is scheduled to meet with Democratic senators at the Capitol on Thursday to jot down the effort ahead.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sharply denied Biden’s speech on Wednesday, in which he voted for racist historical figures including George Wallace, the separatist Alabama governor who ran for president, and Jefferson Davis, who was Opponents of the law objected to the comparison. President of the Union.
McConnell, R-Ky., told the Senate floor, “You can’t invent a better ad for a legislative filibuster than what we’ve just seen: a president abandoning rational persuasion for pure democracy. ” “A president screaming that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racists until all he finds is proving why the framers created the Senate to check their power.”
When asked for a response to McConnell’s comments on Wednesday, Biden turned and took off his black mask and said: “I like Mitch McConnell. He’s a friend.” The response came during Biden’s visit to the Capitol to pay tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who died last month and was lying stateside in the rotunda.
Republicans are almost unanimous in opposing the voting law, seeing it as a federal redundancy that would infringe on the states’ abilities to conduct their own elections. And he has reported that Democrats opposed the change in the filibuster that Trump sought as president.
For Democrats and Biden, the law is a political imperative. Failure to pass it would break a big campaign promise for black voters, who helped Democrats take control of the White House and Congress, and would come just before the midterm election when a thin Democratic majority is on the line. It will be the second major blow to Biden’s agenda in a month, when Munchkin halted work on a $2 trillion package of the president’s social and environmental initiatives shortly before Christmas.
The current package of voting and ethics legislation will herald the biggest change in US elections in a generation, removing barriers to voting in the name of electoral security, reducing the influence of big money in politics, and limiting partisan influence on drawing. Will do The Congressional Districts package would create national election standards that would trample state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the Justice Department’s ability to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.
Many civil rights activists feel that Biden’s emphasis on aggressive voting rights is too little-too late after GOP-backed changes to state voting laws, which they see as a slew of ballot restrictions such as literacy tests and voting taxes. See it in a subtle way. Deny black voters the right to vote. Some people boycotted Biden’s speech in Atlanta on Tuesday.
The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, was among those who called on Biden to drop the speech.
“We have heard rhetoric like this before,” the group said in a statement. “A goal without a plan is just a desire.”
Schumer set January 17 as the deadline for Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday to pass voting legislation or consider revising the filibuster rules. It is unclear whether the planned vote on the rule change will still take place.
Munchkin, who played a major role in writing Democrats’ voting law, threw cold water on expectations Tuesday, saying any changes must be made with substantial Republican buyouts — even if no Republican senators are willing to sign. .
This upset South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Clyburn explicitly questioned the wisdom of seeking bipartisanship, noting that the right to vote was given to newly freed slaves on a party-line vote.
“He is supporting a filibuster of his own bill,” Clyburn said of Manchin. “It’s very worrying for us.”
AP Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed.