Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been threatening to force a vote on "Build Back Better," which lacks the votes for passage, at least if it resembles its current form. But that will apparently unfold only after Schumer attempts to blow up the legislative filibuster to ram through partisan "voting rights" legislation, a maneuver for which he also appears to lack the votes. There are at least a handful of Senate Democrats, it seems, who recall the self-inflicted pain they incurred when a former caucus leader (the recently-deceased Harry Reid) foolishly went nuclear on judicial nominations. But even three conservative SCOTUS justices later, most Senate Democrats are salivating over another unilateral power grab. It's true that several have said publicly that they won't vote to change filibuster rules again, with more reportedly holding this position privately. Nevertheless, because of the supposed "emergency" around voting rights, a large majority of upper chamber Democrats are again championing the idea of killing the legislative filibuster. They need to explode norms and institutions to save norms and institutions, you see. It's a frighteningly familiar dynamic. Aboard this radical train are "moderate" members:
The Senate has shown it cannot do its basic duty and find 60 Senators to support basic voting rights, so I support changing the rules around the filibuster for voting rights legislation.— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) December 14, 2021
I will vote to end the filibuster.— Conor Lamb (@ConorLambPA) January 3, 2022
Republicans are abusing it to block voting rights & endanger our democracy. To block health care & child care & union protections.
We have to win this Senate seat to end the filibuster.
I can win & help get it done. It's that simple. #PASen pic.twitter.com/lJSEkXVM8Z
The aptly-named Lamb is a progressive with moderate trappings. He's running as a unifying, sensible, non-threatening Democrat in Pennsylvania, but to make it through a primary, he's pledging to blow up the Senate as soon as he arrives. Lamb just recently voted for middle class tax increases, taxpayer-funded abortion, and trillions in new deficits because Nancy Pelosi told him to. He'll similarly be a Schumer rubber stamp if he gets to the Senate. Under its current composition, Democrats don't quite have enough votes to force through their extreme agenda items, along party lines. A handful of gains could alter that math, which is why the 2022 midterms are so important. While I think many Americans are right to be disturbed by the indefensible and shameful actions of Donald Trump and some of his allies after he lost the 2020 election, we do not have a voting crisis in this country. Voter integrity laws in states in Georgia and Texas are not affronts to our democracy. David Harsanyi argues that this just a naked power grab:
The ginned-up “voting rights” emergency is also meant to continue laying the groundwork for blowing up the legislative filibuster. Senator Mark Warner (D., Va.), who participated in over 300 filibusters during the Trump years and who signed a letter in 2017 imploring Mitch McConnell to preserve the “existing rules, practices, and traditions” of the filibuster — and only a couple of months ago was criticizing former Senate majority leader Harry Reid for attacking the procedure — came out in favor of eliminating the legislative filibuster...even if shameless hypocrites such as Warner were successful in killing the filibuster, it’s unclear that Senate Democrats would be able to find the votes to pass an H.R. 1–type “voting rights” bill, which would not only override hundreds of existing laws, but compel states to count mail-in votes ten days after Election Day, to allow ballot harvesting, to allow felons to vote, to ban basic voter-ID laws, and to create councils to redraw districts (all the while undercutting free-speech rights with a slew of new election regulations).
The partisan, power-hungry cynicism is hard to miss, writes Rich Lowry:
The Democratic drive to nationalize our elections has always been a sweepingly radical step in search of an alleged crisis to address. When a version was first introduced a few years ago, it was sold as addressing “the vile voter-suppression practices” of the GOP, in the words of the New York Times. The big lie of the time was that the Georgia gubernatorial campaign of Stacey Abrams in 2018 was undone by such practices. Now the justification is the Capitol riot and subsequent GOP state-level voting changes that have been portrayed, falsely, as the return of Jim Crow. In reality, voting has never been easier and voters have never had so many options for how to participate in elections, whether early in-person voting, traditional same-day voting, or mail-in voting. There are partisan disputes about how to strike a balance between convenience and security, but there is no reason that these differences can’t be debated at the state level, with the balance struck differently depending on the policy preferences of elected officials and citizens in each state...To wrap this push in the bloody shirt of January 6 is opportunistic and irresponsible and can only serve to convince even more Republicans that the outrage over that day is in the service of a nakedly partisan agenda.
The Democrats can spin all they want, but there is no "carve out" for a specific type of legislation. Once the filibuster is gone, it's gone, which is what happened on judges. Manchin understands this, which is why he's still a "no" on the nuclear option. I realize progressives like Schumer, Warner, Lamb, and Bernie Sanders will insist that This Time Is Different, due to the monumental import of "voting rights" or whatever, but it's not. Schumer should have a word with 2005 Schumer:
“Doomsday for democracy” - Democrat Chuck Schumer in 2005 on eliminating the filibuster— Nathan Brand (@NathanBrandWA) January 3, 2022
Or 2017 Schumer:
"Mr. President, the 60-vote bar in the Senate is the guardrail of our democracy...Let us go no further down this road. I hope the Republican leader and I can, in the coming months, find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the Senate and the House. Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No Senator would like to see that happen so let’s find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation."
Same dude, right here. What a fraud:
What Mitch McConnell said when Dems nuked the filibuster in 2013: "You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think."— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 3, 2017
Defending the filibuster was essential for democracy when Republicans were in charge, but gutting the filibuster is now essential for democracy with Democrats in control. Imagine that. I'll leave you with this interesting point, which underscores a disturbing reality about our polarized age. Refusing to accept the legitimacy of unfavorable political outcomes is an actual crisis in our politics:
In new poll, 58% of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected. GOP undermining democracy! But in Fall 2017, same pollster, 67% of Democrats said Trump was not legitimately elected. What was that? https://t.co/5PyN7PvHa5— Byron York (@ByronYork) January 4, 2022
UPDATE - Yeah, they still don't have the votes. Galaxy brain stuff from Schumer, knowing his base will once again be bitterly inflamed:
Kyrsten Sinema reiterated during yesterday’s virtual Democratic caucus lunch she will not support any effort to get rid of the 60-vote threshold, according to two sources familiar with the callhttps://t.co/ZgZ1y7clkU— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) January 5, 2022