Not Just Manchin and Sinema: More Democrats Iffy on Filibuster as Biden Pushes Voting Rights

Senate Democrats are making another push to change filibuster rules to advance voting rights legislation but they face more holdouts than just Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, Politico reports.

Manchin and Sinema have long made their opposition to changing the filibuster known, though Manchin has expressed openness to minor rule changes. But other senators are also on the fence amid the voting rights push.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester has expressed openness to bringing back the “talking filibuster,” where senators have to hold the floor indefinitely to block the passage of a bill but said he is “not crazy” about making a filibuster exception for voting rights as some Democrats have suggested.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is also urging more moderate changes.

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, who is up for reelection in November, is noncommittal.

“I’ve never been part of an organization where it’s really, really hard to do things. So if there’s a real proposal, I’ll take a look at it and evaluate it based on what’s in the best interests of the country,” he told Politico.

Different plans floated:

New Mexico Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is among the more recent advocates to bring back the talking filibuster.

“I support the talking filibuster,” she told Politico. “I think it’s time ... not only do we need to restore the Senate to the time where we debate issues that are important to the country. But that the country gets to hear that debate.”

Along with bringing back the talking filibuster, Democrats have floated other changes.

Shaheen suggested changing the filibuster rule to require 41 senators to block a bill rather than requiring 60 votes to advance legislation. She also called to eliminate the minority party’s ability to block debate on the Senate floor.

“We’ll see what gets put in front of us. I think we need to change the rules” to advance elections legislation, Shaheen told Politico. “I think it’s problematic that we [don’t] have the votes to do that.”

Republican threat:

Senate Republicans threatened to attempt a floor takeover and force bills on a number of Republican bills if Democrats change the filibuster rules.

The GOP has floated forcing votes on issues like abortion, border policy, the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking, IRS disclosure rules, and immigrant detention, according to The Hill.

“Since Sen. Schumer is hellbent on trying to break the Senate, Republicans will show how this reckless action would have immediate consequences,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said a variety of bipartisan bills “would be available to get called up with a simple majority,” and there “could be some really hard votes for Democrats.”

“What they’re talking about doing — we’ve said this before — is not without consequence, and they know it. They need to think long and hard ... about whether or not they want to go down a path that allows Republicans to move items on our agenda at 51,” he said. 


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