The United States Senate delivered more bad news for the Biden administration late Wednesday night in the form of two votes: one that failed to move Democrats’ federal takeover of elections forward and a subsequent unsuccessful attempt by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to nuke the legislative filibuster in order to force the Democrat power-grab through with their razor-thin majority.
Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the first vote, just another in a string of defeats she’s ended up personally announcing in the Biden-Harris administration’s first year. This one may have stung even more, though, as “reforming” elections in the United States was one of the policies Biden tasked Harris with shepherding through Congress.
In the first vote to break a Republican filibuster on the legislation Democrats wrongly claim is merely about “voting rights,” Democrats came up short of the 60 votes needed in a 49 to 51 vote.
Schumer then attempted to use the “nuclear option” to change the rules to allow Democrats to move their election takeover forward with a simple majority. That too failed — to applause from some Senators — unable to reach the 51-vote threshold necessary to amend the rules. Senators Manchin and Sinema voted with Republicans to foil Schumer’s attempted use of the nuclear option, effectively killing Democrats’ latest attempt at a federal takeover of elections.
Speaking on the Senate floor just ahead of Schumer’s failed attempt to nuke the filibuster, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said it could be argued Wednesday was “the most important day in the history of the Senate as an institution” and noted “America can breathe a sigh of relief” because “this radicalism will have been stopped. A good day for America,” McConnell added.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2022
The outcome was predictable to most observers. As Katie reported earlier on Wednesday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) took to the Senate floor to defend the legislative filibuster as President Biden was still speaking just a few miles away during his first press conference in months. “Let this change happen in this way and the Senate will be a body without rules,” Manchin said.
Part of Biden’s concurrent press conference included a barely coherent answer on the fate of Democrats’ election power grab in which the president said the legitimacy of the midterms depend on whether or not the legislation cleared Congress.
Another Senate Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, had put another nail in Democrats’ “election reform” coffin recently when she announced she would not support changing the Senate rules to strip the legislative filibuster or undermine “its role protecting our country from wild reversals in federal policy.”
In these situations, Manchin and Sinema literally and symbolically took the wind out of the president’s sails. Manchin stole the spotlight as Biden was speaking at the White House, and Sinema announced her opposition to removing the “guardrail” legislative filibuster as Biden arrived at the U.S. Capitol to whip support for the norm-shattering move. Both also effectively ended attempts to get the federal takeover of elections through Congress.
Apparently not to be deterred — despite the votes just not being there to change the filibuster and pass the election takeover bill — Schumer plunged ahead with the unsuccessful votes anyway in order to deliver President Biden one more dose of defeat in the final hours of his first year in office.