Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called out moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona over their continued opposition to ending the filibuster, which is viewed as the main impediment to passing major voting rights legislation.
Most Democratic lawmakers, and particularly progressives, have voiced support for ending the Senate‘s legislative filibuster to pass key aspects of President Joe Biden‘s agenda—including the For the People voting rights legislation. But Manchin and Sinema have resisted these calls, saying they value bipartisanship and believe such a move would lead to significant problems.
“We have all but two Democrats who have said they would not use the filibuster on voting rights. There may be a few others who haven’t taken a position, but two said, no. They’re Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema,” Schumer said during a Thursday interview with SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show.
“I have told them, we have to get this done. Everything should be on the table. And as I said, we’re going to continue to push. We’re going to have hearings. We’re going to have votes until we get this done,” the New York Democrat explained.
Schumer also mentioned that he has been working with Stacey Abrams and civil rights groups to make headway with Manchin. I’ll get to Biden and his CNN Town Hall in a separate diary but it’s good that Schumer is starting to name Sinema and Manchin by name. Especially since Sinema isn’t polling well at home:
There’s another theory of political moderation, though, which is that you get reelected by proving you can “work together with the other side” and by avoiding backlash. There is some grounding for this theory too: Voters always say they support “bipartisan solutions,” Joe Manchin keeps getting reelected in West Virginia despite a heavily Republican electorate, and lots of Democrats lost their seats during the 2010 backlash against the Affordable Care Act. (This theory of politics, incidentally, tends to call for behavior which overlaps with the interests of corporate tax lobbyists.)
The question before the Democratic Party is which centrist theory most correctly describes the current reality, and there happens to be a natural experiment out there which could answer that question. Arizona has two senators who consider themselves centrists, in Sinema and Astronaut Mark Kelly—and where Sinema has emphatically preserved the filibuster and emphatically voted against Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, for example, making herself into one of the president’s most high-profile obstacles, Kelly voted for the minimum wage increase, is reportedly receptive to reforming the filibuster and has, in general, gone along with party leadership fairly quietly since taking office. (A good example of this: Kelly, like Sinema, is a member of the group trying to create a bipartisan physical infrastructure bill, but while he wasn’t captured in photographs of the group announcing their tentative deal at the White House, Sinema led the negotiations and stood in the center of the White House photo op.)
The firm Data for Progress had the smart idea of seeing which, if any, approach to centrism was more popular with Arizona’s tipping-point electorate. The result, released Wednesday: Mark Kelly’s approval-disapproval split among Arizonans is 50-39, or +11, while Sinema’s is 44-42, or +2. The difference is basically the same among independent voters, too: Kelly 46-36, Sinema 38-38. In her effort to appear independent, this poll finds, Sinema is alienating many Democrats but not impressing independents.
But if there is something that Schumer could start pushing Manchin and Sinema on, it’s the return of the talking filibuster:
Most progressive activists believe abolishing the filibuster altogether is the answer. But moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have said, ad nauseam, they will not help deliver the votes needed to change the Senate rules and kill the filibuster with a simple majority vote. Back and forth the two factions have gone for months, caught in a political Chinese finger trap: The more each side pulls its way, the more stuck its party becomes.
The pivotal figure here is Manchin, who has insisted that he would not help advance major legislation unless Republicans could provide their input. But that goal is mighty ambitious—one might even say unrealistic—when most Republicans won’t even look at their Democratic colleagues.
There is, however, a way to make Republicans provide input that doesn’t involve nuking the legislative filibuster. Instead of abolishing the filibuster, Democrats should embrace the talking filibuster. That’s what the filibuster is supposed to be all about, right? Let’s bring on all the Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington nostalgia and filibuster in the traditional, conservative sense. Let Republicans partake in a robust back-and-forth as they debate the issues once again.
All that good ol’ Joe Manchin has to do is invite his Republican friends down to the Senate floor for a friendly chat. For however long they’d like.
Translated into Senate geek-speak, right now, 60 votes are needed to stop debate over legislation and proceed to a final up-or-down majority vote. That’s where the 60-vote threshold comes from. Unless 60 senators agree to hold a vote, a bill dies a silent death.
Reinstating the talking filibuster would effectively invert the existing filibuster rules and require 41 votes to continue the discussion. If 41 senators are committed to debating the bill, live and in person on the Senate floor, then, by all means, they can block the vote. But only for so long as they are willing to hold the floor and talk about it.
Thems could be the new rules, enacted with 51 votes. They could even be narrowly written so as to apply only to democracy-protecting legislation. No nuclear option is needed.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a strong message to his Republican colleagues by defiantly telling them he still has ‘every intention’ of passing ambitious infrastructure legislation totaling nearly $5trillion by the end of summer.
The Democrat’s remarks on the Senate floor Thursday come a day after Republicans struck down the smaller of two spending packages in a procedural vote on Wednesday.
‘As majority leader I have every intention of passing both major infrastructure packages – the bipartisan infrastructure framework and a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions – before we leave for the August recess,” Schumer said.
‘The Senate is going to keep working on both tracks of infrastructure in order to achieve them.’
The Wednesday vote was a setback to Democrats pushing President Joe Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.
The final vote was 49 for it and 51 against. Not a single Republican voted for the $1.2trillion package, including any of the senators who are working with Democrats to come to an agreement on a bipartisan bill.
Many of the Republican negotiators expressed concern over voting for a spending package they haven’t yet seen.
Schumer, who switched his vote to a no at the end, said he did it so he could ‘move to reconsider the vote at a future time.’
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday discussed his strategy for getting enough votes to pass his federal marijuana legalization bill, describing the process of soliciting feedback on the legislation from colleagues and working to incorporate any requested “modifications” in order to get the measure across the finish line.
It was just last week that Schumer unveiled a 163-page draft version of the reform legislation alongside Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). While they made clear that public input is valued—and they’ve created an email account where people can submit comments until September 30 on the proposal—the new comments provide a fresh insight into the legislative process to build support for the measure within the Senate.
“We’re now going around to our colleagues saying, ‘Would you sign onto the bill? And if you don’t like what’s in the bill and want some modifications, tell us,’” he told ABC’s The View. “I want to get this done. And I think we will get it done because it’s so, so overwhelmingly supported by the American people.”
By the way, I’ll be happy when Meghan McCain is gone:
During Thursday’s broadcast of The View, the soon-to-be ex-host confronted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on what she claimed was his silence on both the Israel–Palestine conflict earlier this year and the spate of antisemitic attacks that occurred as the violence raged abroad.
“Senator Schumer, you are well known for support of your Jewish supporters and Israel and you even tell your Jewish supporters your last name comes from the Hebrew term shomer, or guard, and you will be a guard for Israel,” she said. “But recently you were largely silent during the recent escalation with Hamas, and I recently interviewed Joseph Borgen, who was the Jewish man beaten in Times Square in May for wearing a yarmulke. He said he was disappointed that he did not hear from you directly after his attack as a hate crime Do you understand critics that think you were too silent during the last attack?”
The New York lawmaker, who is seen as one of the most hawkish Democratic defenders of Israel, pushed back on McCain’s characterization.
“That’s not really—that’s not true,” he declared. “Immediately after the attack, I joined the bipartisan resolution by Senators Murphy and Young. I supported it, or the statement that said we need a cease-fire immediately. That was very strong and immediate, and bold, and I’ve talked repeatedly against antisemitism.”
He went on to blame Republican attack ads for the claim that he’s been silent on both the Israel–Palestine conflict and antisemitism in the United States, stating that many “hard-right people” have tried to make this a partisan issue.
“I continue to defend Israel. I believe in a two-state solution,” Schumer continued. “I’ve had long talks with the new [Israeli prime minister] and he’s been fully supportive of me, Yair Lapid, who is one of the two new people in the coalition. So those attacks were false. Just false.”
I’ve always said that Schumer has long wanted to be Senate Majority Leader and doesn’t want to have his dream job for just two years and have nothing to show for it. That’s why he’s had enough of Moscow Mitch’s bull shit:
By forcing a vote on Wednesday, Schumer is attempting to get the Senate on his timetable, as opposed to one controlled by the opposition. That vote is likely to fail, with all 50 Republicans, including the 10 bipartisan negotiators, voting against. This will not be the end of the beloved BIF—“We’ve resurrected everything but Lazarus around here, so we can resurrect this one,” West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin told Politico on Tuesday—but it will hopefully be the end of the GOP running the show on infrastructure.
Schumer is making a gamble that one of the available avenues will pay off—that either Republicans will rally around the bipartisan bill or his caucus will rally around a multitrillion-dollar spending bill that can pass via a party line vote. Forcing a vote is also a play to prevent the GOP from gumming up the works of Congress for the rest of the year: The ultimate goal is to have something for Joe Biden to sign soon, even if it’s highly unlikely that will happen in the near future.
If Republicans are serious about moving forward with BIF, they can negotiate in good faith. If not, Democrats can move on to the reconciliation bill, which for progressives is a bigger prize anyway. This outcome is, of course, far from guaranteed—given the slim margin for error, moderates or progressives could potentially sink the deal. (For instance, centrist senators would have to ignore their instinct to compromise with Republicans.) But politically speaking, this is better territory for Democrats than letting Republicans like Graham dictate the way forward, or stall negotiations until midterm season rolls around and legislating on any major issue becomes impossible.
Schumer seems to be particularly antsy about what he’s up to. “It is not a cynical ploy. It is not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It is not an attempt to jam anyone,” he said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “It’s only a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process started—something the Senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year.” He’s right that it’s not cynical, but it is a ploy. We are probably months away from whatever infrastructure bill—or bills—come out of this process. Republicans, at the moment, are insisting that they’re good-faith partners while also simultaneously working to stymie progress at every opportunity. It’s time to force their hand.
Let’s let Schumer know we have his back by helping put pressure on Senate Democrats like Manchin and Sinema to back filibuster reform. Click here to contact your Democratic Senator.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.