“There is nothing more important nationally” than the right to vote, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. (The Washington Post reported Thursday that Biden privately urged Democratic senators to find a way to do something about voting rights.)
“There is a universal opinion in our caucus that we must pass a law to protect our democracy,” added Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
In one declaration
released Wednesday evening, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema closed that door: “Senator Sinema continues to support the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated sweeping federal policy shifts that would cement uncertainty, would deepen divisions and further erode Americans “confidence in our government,” the statement said.
And that’s it. Democrats control 50 seats in the Senate. They need every one of those votes if they are to change the rules of the Senate like, say, filibuster. Without Sinema, they don’t have the voices. (West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has also said on several occasions that he is not in favor of removing the legislative obstruction.)
Until that changes, the major voting rights proposals Democrats have put forward this year will not come to pass.
Sensing this reality, Schumer said on Thursday the Senate would pass a voting rights measure “in time for the 2022 elections.”
But even that promise seems likely to be broken unless Schumer (or Biden) can find a way to get Manchin and Sinema to reconsider his staunch opposition to changing the filibuster rules.
Point: Unless and until Manchin and Sinema change their position, talking about a major voting rights measure is just that – talking.