President Biden will meet with Senate Democrats Thursday as the party’s high-stakes push to change the filibuster and pass voting legislation is on the brink of defeat.
Biden’s trip to Capitol Hill marks the first time he has met face-to-face with the Senate Democratic caucus since July and comes two days after he traveled to Georgia to publicly push for his party to pass voting rights legislation even if they must do so without GOP votes.
But Democrats don’t yet have a path to accomplishing that and, absent a shift by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), are poised to fall short.
Senators acknowledge that while Biden wants to show that he’s committed to passing election legislation, there’s little expectation that Democrats will emerge from the meeting with a deal that unites all 50 members of the caucus.
“The president is not only demonstrating the United States Democratic senators but to the American people that he is all in on this,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “But there is certainly no expectation that he is going to win tomorrow.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has been involved in the Senate negotiations, declined to point to the meeting as a hard deadline for a rules change proposal, saying that the “pieces will come when they come.”
The in-person lobbying effort comes as Democrats are struggling to land an agreement on changing the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance, with Manchin and Sinema as holdouts.
“How should I say this—I wish that we were closer,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who has been involved in the talks. “We’re not ready for prime time.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there are “intense discussions” going on but acknowledged the reality that Democrats’ push to change the filibuster could fail.
“I don’t want to delude your listeners, this is an uphill fight,” Schumer said during a Center for American Progress (CAP) event.