The US suffrage proposal is in jeopardy when key Democrats refuse to change the Senate rule

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President Joe Biden’s attempt to rally Democrats on Thursday to change Senate rules and pass voting legislation was thwarted, even before he arrived at the U.S. Capitol, by opposition from a key moderate lawmaker.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday – less than an hour before Biden’s arrival at lunchtime – that the “filibuster rule” that allows a minority of senators to block legislation was necessary to prevent worsening political divisions in the country. Country.

After Biden left the Capitol after his meeting with the Democrats, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin joined Sinema to oppose changes to the Senate rule.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced late Thursday that the Senate will begin debating the legislation next Tuesday. If Republicans block that bill as expected, Schumer said he was prepared to seek a change in the Senate’s filibuster rule to win passage.

While officials did not anticipate any quick breakthroughs, Biden continued to push his business with Sinema and Manchin during the evening. The two senators met with Biden in the White House for a meeting that lasted well over an hour, the administration said.

None of the participants spoke to the media afterwards. A White House official described the meeting as a “sincere and respectful exchange of views.”

Earlier, when he left the Capitol, the president acknowledged that his party might not succeed in getting a bill on voting rights.

“I hope we can get this done, but I’m not sure,” Biden told reporters. “One thing is for sure: Like all the other major civil rights bills that came, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try it a second time. We missed this time.”

Sinema & Manchin represents 2.8% of the US population but allows 41 GOP senators representing only 21% of the country to block voting rights supported by 70% of Americans and which would protect voting rights for tens of millions. The US political system is completely broken

– Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 13, 2022

Biden and many other Democrats have stepped up their campaign to pass the suffrage legislation after spending much of their first year in office with infrastructure and spending bills focused on covid-19 assistance, infrastructure and social safety net programs.

They are pushing for new legislation that they say would protect access to the ballot, especially for minority voters, as Republican-controlled states face new restrictions ahead of the November 8 congressional election.

Non-white voters disproportionately support Democratic candidates for the post.

The democratically controlled House of Representatives adopted a vote on Thursday. But Democrats can not overcome universal Republican opposition in the Senate without changing the House’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 out of 100 senators to agree on most of the legislation. The Democrats have 50 seats.

“I will not support separate measures that exacerbate the underlying disease fragmentation in our country,” Sinema said in the Senate floor.

Sinema and Manchin voted in December to bypass the threshold of 60 votes to raise the country’s debt limit without Republican support.

“Difficult” road

Independent Senator Angus King, who voted with the Democrats, said he thought Biden made a powerful case when he met with lawmakers.

“It looks like the road ahead is very difficult, especially based on Senator Sinema’s statement today,” he said. “She believes that the risk of changing filibusters is greater than the risk of what is happening in the states. I really hope she’s right. I’m afraid she’s wrong. “

The House repackaged and passed two election-related bills as one, and sent it to the Senate under a special procedure that prevented Republicans from blocking debate. The bill was approved on party lines.

“Make no mistake, the US Senate will for the first time this Congress debate voting rights legislation starting on Tuesday,” Schumer said late Thursday. Three separate attempts to debate the legislation last year were stopped by Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated on Wednesday that Republicans oppose Democrats’ suffrage legislation and changes to the filibuster.

Former Democratic President Barack Obama wrote in an opinion piece in USA Today on Thursday that the filibuster rule has become a tool for the House minority to prevent moves supported by most voters.

“We can not allow it to be used to block efforts to protect our democracy,” Obama wrote.

(REUTERS)