Democrats are heading toward defeat on their push to change the filibuster and pass voting rights, the latest setback for President Biden and his party’s agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing forward with his vow to force a vote as soon as Wednesday on a sweeping voting bill, which Republicans are expected to block. After that, Democrats are expected to force a vote on changing the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.
But the effort is doomed and is reopening old wounds, as progressives increasingly go public with their frustrations with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). But Democrats say they need to show that they went all-in on an issue that is important to their base heading into the 2022 midterm elections.
“There are some things that have historic value. This debate and this vote have historic value. It really gets to the heart of who we are as a nation, and I think members should be on the record,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), asked about going forward with the vote, said that “just because you don’t succeed the first time doesn’t mean you’re just going to throw up your hands and give up.”
Schumer, speaking from the floor, acknowledged the uphill stakes, saying that Democrats “are under no illusion that we face difficult odds” but that senators, including his own members, should go on the record.
“Win, lose or draw, members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote, especially on an issue as vital to the beating heart of our democracy as voting rights,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
Schumer moved to tee up the showdown on Tuesday, setting up a vote to end debate on the bill that combines the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping bill to overhaul federal elections and campaign finance laws, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which strengthens the 1965 Voting Rights Act.