Thursday, April 11

United States: The rejection of two Democratic senators leaves Biden’s electoral reform mortally wounded | International


President Joe Biden visits the US Congress this Thursday.
President Joe Biden visits the US Congress this Thursday.Oliver Contreras / POOL (EFE)

The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, achieved this Wednesday that the electoral reform bill passed to a vote in the Upper House and scored a victory against filibusterism, an anachronism of US politics that imposes the necessity of a qualified majority in voting in that chamber to pass legislation. The veteran Democrat did it by bypassing that figure with a parliamentary ruse. It was of little use. The refusal of two Democratic senators, the centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to change the rules of the game and allow the electoral reform to proceed with a simple majority (and not 60 votes), left one of Joe’s star reforms mortally wounded. Biden.

Schumer informed the ranks of his party that he was going to include in the vote to amend a different bill – related to NASA’s authority to rent its facilities – the John Lewis Advance Voting Rights Act and the Liberty Act. for vote. Before noon on Wednesday, the House gave its approval to the amendment and therefore to vote on the electoral reform law, before next Monday, a holiday that commemorates the life of Martin Luther King.

The battle was then in the hands of the Senate, divided 50% between Democrats and Republicans but which has the casting vote of the US Vice President, Democrat Kamala Harris. Although, once again, the Democratic Party and the legislative will of the president, was hijacked by Manchin and Sinema. The ruse used by the veteran Schumer, who knows only too well that he does not have 60 votes to pass that legislation in the Senate, was designed so that each senator had to express his agreement or disagreement with the reform of the right to vote in the United States and so stated in the minutes. The importance of that vote was reflected in the words of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi: “Nothing less than our democracy is at stake,” he said. The brooch was placed by the astute Schumer, declaring: “Then, finally, there will be a debate on the legislation of the right to vote for the first time in this Congress.”

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However, Schumer’s ruse would prove futile and revealed the torn seams of the Democratic Party when the two loose verses of that party in the Senate, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, announced that they would vote against as a denunciation of what they considered a goofing around to dodge filibustering. In the morning, Schumer declared that, with his handling of the frustrating situation imposed by the need for three-fifths, it was possible to achieve “a simple majority debate”, something that, in his opinion, has been denied “four times in the last months because the Republicans did not want to advance. “Each senator will have to choose whether or not to approve this legislation to protect our democracy,” said the Democrat.

If last Wednesday the White House moved the political scene to Georgia, with all the packaging that the presidency gives, promulgate a speech calling for the defense of democracy through the strengthening of voting laws, this Thursday Joe Biden toured the short space that separates the official residence from the Capitol to put pressure on the Democratic senators and get everyone on the same page. Such a symbolic visit was worthless. Even before the president set foot in Congress, Sinema assured that he would vote against it. After their meeting, in a few brief statements, the US president was forced to save face, limiting himself to saying that he believed that an agreement could be reached but that he was not “sure.”

With a week to go until he reaches a year in office, Biden’s popularity rating with the public is below 40% and Republicans seem better positioned each day to remove control of Congress from Democrats in the midterm elections. mandate to be held in November. The presidential attrition on this issue is monumental. Even despite going on the offensive, Biden’s words from just two days ago seemed hollow on Thursday.

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“I will not back down. I will not hesitate. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against enemies from within and without ”, declared the Democrat last Tuesday at Clarke University in Atlanta. Biden, who was a senator for 36 years, resisted throughout his Upper House career touching the entrenched parliamentary custom of filibustering. However, with 19 states of the Union that passed 34 laws last year that make it difficult for minorities in general, but especially blacks, to vote, the president declared in July the fight against restrictive Republican rules as “ the most significant test facing American democracy since the Civil War ”.

For the US president, “the battle for the soul of America is not over.” With several references to the first anniversary of the assault on the Capitol, which turned one year old last week, the president made it clear in his speech in the cradle of civil rights that democracy is not guaranteed if the vote is not protected. “This is the moment to decide, to defend our elections and our democracy,” said the Democrat. “There will be no choice but to change Senate rules, including ending filibustering,” warned Biden, who almost spelled out: “I support changing Senate rules.”

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