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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

‘Since when did Sinema and Manchin get to be more important than Ossoff and Warnock?’

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It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that is directed at two Democrats—Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—who’ve been the most vocal in saying that they are opposed to getting rid of the filibuster. Manchin has talked around the idea of making the filibuster “painful” again, by requiring senators to hold the floor when they want to block a bill, but he hasn’t backed down from demanding that legislation still has to get 60 votes to pass.

That’s got Biden’s great friend and the guy who arguably put him in the White House, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, hopping mad. He points to the advantage the filibuster boosters got by winning the majority, and the fact that they are in the majority because of the two Democrats from Georgia who were elected in January’s run-off, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

“This whole thing that the filibuster cannot be changed, that’s almost like saying to me Brown vs. Board of Education was wrongly decided. That’s what you’re saying?” Clyburn said in a Politico interview. “We’ve got 50 Democrats, Warnock and Ossoff are two. Since when did Sinema and Manchin get to be more important than Ossoff and Warnock?” said Clyburn. “They all got us to 50. So this whole notion that we’ve got to do what Manchin says—Warnock is up in two years for reelection.”

Which gets us back to S. 1, and to the Reverend Sen. Raphael Warnock. He gave his first floor speech Wednesday, a barn-burner that ended in a standing ovation. Front and center in his speech, voting rights. “The right to vote is preservative of all other rights, it is not just another issue alongside other issues, it is foundational,” Warnock reminded his colleagues. Then he also reminded them of the very real threat to that right existing this minute.

“Now just a few months after Congressman [John] Lewis’ death, there are those in the Georgia legislature, some who even dare to praise his name, that, are now trying to get rid of Sunday souls to the polls. Making it a crime for people who pray together to get on a bus together in order to vote together. I think that’s wrong. As a matter of fact, I think that a vote is a kind of prayer for the kind of world we desire for ourselves and for our children. […] Surely there ought to be at least 60 in this chamber who believe as I do that the four most powerful words uttered in a democracy are ‘The people have spoken.'”

He didn’t say, but he could have, “surely there are 50 Democrats” who would agree. He didn’t leave the filibuster out, though. “It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in society,” he pointed out. [W]e must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

His reelection is threatened right now by what’s happening in the Georgia state legislature. That puts Sinema’s and Manchin’s privilege as serving in the majority in jeopardy as well, which you’d think would have occurred to them. If not, their fellow senators are going to make sure they get it, and that they understand just how critical passing voting rights legislation is.

One of the sponsors of S. 1 also spoke to Politico. Sen. Merkley, who has been fighting for filibuster reform since he got to the Senate, said he’s encouraged. “You’ve seen enormous developments in the last few weeks,” he said pointing to the calls for reform coming from Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. And “the president of the United States [is] changing his position and seeing the obstruction currently underway,” Merkley said.

But if the filibuster isn’t reformed? If Republicans are allowed to block voting rights bills with the help of Democrats? “Democrats will be crushed because voter suppression will go into effect in swing seats throughout America,” Merkley explained.



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