Senate Minority Leader (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for their inconsistent attitudes toward the filibuster during the opening rounds of debate on two federal elections bills that Democrats are trying to pass by overturning the filibuster.
The Senate is scheduled to debate two elections bills, including the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, into Tuesday evening. The most significant aspect of these bills would be a return to an archaic federal statute requiring states to get federal approval before changing their election laws, a measure that critics say would effectively federalize elections.
Democrats say the bill is necessary to respond to the “new Jim Crow” of stricter voting laws passed in state legislatures across the nation in response to concerns over the 2020 election.
To address this alleged crisis, Democrats have tried to pass a slew of election bills since summer 2021, but all have faced death by filibuster due to almost-unanimous GOP opposition.
Now, in response to what they say is Republican “obstruction,” Democrats have formulated a new strategy: the weakening or abolition of the filibuster in order to pass bills that cannot get through the Senate under its normal rules. Technically, they can do this through the use of the so-called nuclear option, a parliamentary procedure that allows tweaks to Senate rules to be passed by a simple majority vote, but this is a course that lawmakers have long been loathe to take.
While nuking the filibuster or other rules can indeed allow a majority party to pass more partisan legislation, the decision can come back to haunt them when their opposition takes the majority.
Recently, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced their opposition to the scheme, citing long-held concerns that nuking the filibuster will change the identity of the deliberative upper chamber too dramatically.
Even after the two moderates announced their opposition to the move, Democrats decided to move ahead with the scheme anyways, and are holding a floor debate Tuesday before an expected Wednesday vote.
In one of the first speeches of the day, Leader McConnell blasted the majority party for their inconsistent attitudes toward the filibuster.
By Joseph Lord