Republicans Block ‘Stop Republicans From Cheating’ Bill? Whaaaaaaaat????
Republicans celebrated their Virginia rout Tuesday night with another thrilling defeat of voting rights legislation. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act stalled in the Senate Wednesday with a 50 to 49 vote. Yes, that's a majority but it's not a super majority that the filibuster requires. That arcane Senate rule is the rake that keep whacking Democrats in the face.
Wednesday's vote was bipartisan and everything! Republican Lisa Murkowski from Alaska supported the bill she likely knew would go nowhere. It was probably her community service for a Senate parking ticket. Faux moderate Susan Collins didn't even bother going through the motions. C'mon, would it kill her if the 1.7 percent of Black Mainers could freely vote? Florida's white population has shrunk to a bare majority if 51.5 percent. Marco Rubio could rationalize his opposition as self-preservation. Collins is just mean.
This latest “compromise" voting right bill was introduced this week by Senators Patrick Leahy from Vermont, Dick Durbin from Illinois, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and Murkowski. These voting rights crusaders declared that “this proposal ... reflects months of bipartisan negotiations and seeks to garner broader support in the Senate."
Well, those months of hard work paid off. They won over Murkwoski, who was there from the beginning, so, I guess it was all a big waste of time. They still got paid, though. Manchin continues to troll us with his bipartisan optimism.
"We have a good piece of legislation," he said. "We'd love to have our Republican friends work with us. We've got Lisa Murkowski; we just need nine more."
As you can see, he's a whiz at math.
Here's a link to the full text of the compromise bill if you're somehow curious why Republicans still oppose a Stop Republicans From Cheating bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed the bill amounts to a federal takeover of elections, which he's said every time Republicans have blocked voting rights. He doesn't respect Democrats enough to bother with new material.
"There is nothing to suggest a sprawling federal takeover is necessary," he said. "Nationalizing our elections is just a multi-decade Democratic Party goal in constant search of a justification. Their rationales may change constantly, but their end goal never does."
Of course, these failed bills are in response to Republicans passing voter suppression laws at the state level with simple majorities. Look, I know Republicans enjoy cheating. They have to do it. It's part of their lifestyle. But you'd think they'd let Democrats have this one small victory. After all, they just won the Virginia governor's race and almost prevailed in New Jersey. The GOP has demonstrated that it can still win fairly with its compelling message of racism and lies — you know, the classics.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who's just adorable, claimed that Senate Republicans had "implicitly [endorsed] these partisan Republican actions to suppress the vote and unravel our democracy." OK, “implicit" means “implied though not plainly expressed." If Schumer thinks Republicans only implicitly support voter suppression efforts, he must think calling the Transformer villains “Decepticons" only implicitly states that they are untrustworthy.
But old Chuck's had enough. He's ready to throw down with the filibuster.
"Anyone who has been here for more than a few years knows, the gears of Senate have ossified," he said. "We will continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward, even if it means going at it alone, to defend the most fundamental liberty we have as citizens."
Good luck with that. You need 50 Senate Democrats plus Vice President Kamala Harris to kill the filibuster. On a related note, here's a picture of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, both theoretically Democrats, having a friendly chat with Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune. I'm sure they're selling McConnell and Thune on voting rights.
Sinema and Manchin having a friendly floor chat with McConnell and Thunepic.twitter.com/ex85BT73pY— Sahil Kapur (@Sahil Kapur) 1635965619
Right now, Democrats have control of the Senate and there's a brief liberal heat wave. Manchin and Sinema have the only pool in town for Republicans to cool off the progressive agenda. But once the long, harsh winter returns, their Republican besties will ghost them. They'll have outlived their usefulness.
Democracy's been fun.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."