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GOP Blocked Voting Rights Again, And Joe Manchin And Kyrsten Sinema Helped!
This sucks AND blows.
Just as expected, Senate Republicans last night blocked passage of the big voting rights bill put forward by Democrats. Then, also just as expected, Democrats were unable to get all 50 members of their own caucus to support a rules change that would have moved the bill to a final vote, because of previously-announced opposition to filibuster reform by Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Nothing about the votes was surprising, but it still stings, and it's unclear what steps to protect voting rights President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats may be able to take before this fall's midterm elections. You'd think they'd activate the mind control microchips in all the COVID vaccines to ensure Democrats keep the House and Senate, but hell, they didn't even do that to get Manchin and Sinema to modify the filibuster.
The Senate voted down a motion to end debate on the bill, which combined the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, by a vote of 51 to 49 . Under the Senate's weird rules, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changed his vote to a "no" so the bill could potentially be brought back later.
Then Schumer introduced a measure to tweak Senate rules to implement a "talking filibuster" for the voting rights bill only. The proposal, NBC News explains, would have forced
GOP senators to actively speak on the Senate floor to block the legislation rather than withhold their support in a vote. If all senators used up their speeches – each would be allowed up to two speeches, with no time limit – the chamber could pass the proposals with a simple majority.
But as we say, that was a no-go for Manchin and Sinema, who both voted for the voting rights package earlier but were unwilling to modify Senate rules to make its actual passage a possibility.
Prior to the votes, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar gave a fiery speech in support of the voting rights reforms, which would set national minimum voting standards and prevent states from giving Republican candidates an advantage. Here, give it a look!
Klobuchar condemned Republican efforts to change state voting laws, not simply because they directly impede the ability to vote, but also because the constant changing of election laws would in itself create confusion in the electorate and lead voters to just say the hell with it. She also noted that no other industrial democracy has anything like the filibuster, and that the state laws restricting voting all passed by simple majority.
Citing Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, Klobuchar also reminded Democrats that the pursuit of bipartisanship for its own sake is a lousy reason to not pass voting rights legislation. Clyburn likes to point out that the 15th Amendment, which gave formerly enslaved Americans the right to vote (if they were men), was passed only by one party, and that nobody today considers that a strike against it.
Klobuchar systematically dismantled most of the arguments against changing the filibuster, and pointed out that Senate rules have changed again and again, including over 100 times that the Senate has agreed to rules changes to pass bills with only a simple majority vote. So for crying out loud, how about actually listening to Americans, who want voting rights protected?
KLOBUCHAR: The people of this country will not tolerate silencing. I think by voting this down, by not allowing us even to debate this, to get to the conclusion of a vote, that is silencing the people of America, all in the name of an archaic Senate rule that isn’t even in the Constitution. That’s just wrong.
It was a pretty good speech, for all the good it did.
The failure of the bill in the Senate doesn't mean an end to efforts to pass voting rights legislation. Rep. Clyburn told CNN yesterday that even if the effort to pass the bill in the Senate failed, "we ain't giving up. I am too young to give up."
Mr. Clyburn is 81, he's righteously pissed off, and he has exactly the attitude that we'll all need to keep voting rights safe.
Back to work.
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