President Joe Biden’s renewed voting rights push may be over as soon as it began after two senators who have opposed changing the filibuster for months reiterated their opposition, The New York Times reports.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin have said for months that they oppose changing the filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation despite supporting the bills themselves. But Biden and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer declared after Manchin killed Build Back Better negotiations that they would renew their push to pass voting rights legislation even though nothing had changed.
Schumer has set up votes on the bills, which are doomed to be blocked by a Republican filibuster. And Biden set out to meet with senators to discuss potential changes.
But Sinema dashed any Democratic hopes on Thursday by preempting a Democratic lunch to discuss the issue by coming out against any filibuster changes.
“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself,” Sinema said. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”
Biden concedes defeat:
Biden after meeting with Democratic senators on Thursday following Sinema’s speech acknowledged that the voting rights legislation appears dead for now.
“Like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we come back and try it a second time,” Biden said. “We missed this time.”
Biden acknowledged that he is not sure “we can get this done” but warned that failure could result in Republican “election subversion.”
“If we miss this time and the state legislative bodies continue to change the law not as to who can vote but who gets to count the vote, count the vote, count the vote — it’s about election subversion, not just whether or not people get to vote,” Biden said. “Who counts the vote? That’s what this is about, that’s what makes this so different from anything else we’ve ever done.”
Dem knives out for Sinema:
Arizona House Democrat Ruben Gallego, a potential primary challenger, called out Sinema on the House floor after her speech.
“We won’t shrink from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans,” Gallego said Thursday. “It’s past time for the U.S. Senate and Senator Sinema to do the same.”
Voting rights advocates also laid into the senator.
“History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly. While Sen. Sinema remains stubborn in her 'optimism,' Black and Brown Americans are losing their right to vote,” said Martin Luther King III. “She’s siding with the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace instead of the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make real our democracy.”