Senate Dems is concerned about the voting rights strategy


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What is at stake is not only the party’s promise on an important issue, but possibly the future democratic majorities as well. Many in the party are personally concerned that frontline Democrats, such as Warnock or House Democrats who are vulnerable to redistribution, could lose their seats if Congress doesn’t send a federal election and ethics bill to President Joe Biden’s office this summer.

The matter took a lot of time of the Democrats’ last personal lunch before recess, several senators said. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Urged those in his caucus who want changes to submit their revisions to Senate President Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and title sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“‘If you’re concerned about this bill, take it to Merkley and take it to Amy before the mark-up,” Kaine reminded his party. That means no sandbags, no objections or worries. “

While the bill has 49 co-sponsors, a Democratic source said a handful of Democrats still have some reservations. However, if you don’t sign up, you risk a public backlash from links. And Manchin, the most hesitant Democrat, wants to rethink the focus of the bill.

He said “there are many good things” in the larger bill, but said the party should focus on the standalone voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The Congressional Black Caucus is considering such a strategy and Manchin advised Democrats to come up with “one piece of legislation that actually contains essentially accessibility, security and fairness. And I think we can. Warnock makes his own entreaties to Manchin, saying his colleague knows “how urgent this is.”

Democratic leaders have continued to draw attention to the broader law on the right to vote, even though the outlook is dim. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said “failure is not an option” on the package and wants to put the bill on the ground by August to give states time to implement it.

Schumer told Ezra Klein that if Republicans don’t work with Democrats, “the choice is greater and we need to see how that evolves.” But he added that “in the past, if that has happened, we have stuck together and gotten a good result.”

At this point, progressives will not accept defeat no matter how many trillions of dollars the Democratic Party spends with its slim majorities in the Senate and the House.

“No measure of reconciliation success will excuse the Democrats’ failure on this front and they will go down in history as the ‘peace in our time’ party of reconciliators in an era of rising racist fascism,” said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, a progressive group.

But without getting around the 60 vote threshold, the “For the People Act” goes nowhere. Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Vocally oppose the stripping of the filibuster; a number of other Democrats are skeptical. Optimists think the bill could be the catalyst for Senate rule overhauls.

The “For the People Act” would create a number of federally mandated voting rules and require that postal voting without excuse and early voting in person be required. It also establishes a government funding system. The more focused John Lewis bill would reinstate a requirement that certain jurisdictions must get approval from the Department of Justice or the DC District Court before making changes to the voting laws.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only Senate Republican to co-sponsor the Lewis Voting Rights Act last year. Otherwise, Republicans have shown little interest.

With those math problems and internal divisions in mind, some Democrats question the party’s strategy. A Democratic senator, asking for anonymity, was concerned that the party could be seen as bluffing if it can’t go through. That senator said that “the aim of the authors is to get it legally signed. I don’t see a path. “

‘I never understood. Task one, find out if you can get 50 votes. Task two, go out and see if there is a path to end the filibuster on this. And I don’t see it, ”said the senator. The country would be better off if we could get past the whole damn thing. My concerns are in the first place, what can we possibly get to pass this place? “

Other Democrats admitted that they are not sure what the grand plan is. Is it an already tough battle to use the right to vote as a pivot for changing the filibuster? Or is it a vote meant to unite the party and embarrass Republicans when they block it?

“We have to change the filibuster” to continue, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

“I’ve had discussions about it with Schumer. I don’t know exactly how it will end. There is an urgency for it, ”said Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.).

Republicans will argue in committee vote that voter identification rules are popular and publicly funded elections are not. Rules committee member Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) Said his party is preparing votes on as many as 100 amendments and will make the process “painful” for Democrats.

“It’s hard to believe they really expect to make it through,” said Blunt, a former Missouri secretary of state.

Some election experts have wondered how realistic it would be to implement such sweeping changes before midterms. Democrats work with that in mind.

“We’ve gotten input from secretaries of state… there are many things we want to ensure that can be rolled out effectively between now and next year’s primaries. So we’ll cover some of those things, ”Merkley said.

But instead of a full 180 Republicans, they would eventually avoid even debating the bill. Some see that vote as a fuse for the filibuster fight that is beyond the party in Washington. But for that, every Democratic senator would need a buy-in and massive turnarounds from Sinema and Manchin.

And while Democrats have widely condemned the mass election bills introduced by the GOP state legislatures in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s false claims about widespread voter fraud, some say it’s too early to know if those laws are actually existential. threaten the Democrats’ political fortunes.

As a second Democratic senator put it: “It is not clear to me that it is really true that everything is doomed if we do not pass S1.”

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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