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Politics Activists want to save voting rights bill by killing the filibuster

04:10  07 march  2021
04:10  07 march  2021 Source:   cbsnews.com

Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster

  Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster A Senate official's ruling against Democrats' $15 minimum wage hike in the next coronavirus bill has revived calls to end the Senate filibuster. Democrats are trying to pass the legislation through reconciliation, a fast-track process that lets them bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster. Therefore, every provision included in the bill needs to pass the arcane budget rules. Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled on Thursday that boosting the minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill does not comply with budget rules. The decision was a blow to progressives, who saw the measure as a key provision of the relief bill.

With voting rights legislation that passed the House this week marching toward a likely death in the Senate, activists are readying for a fight to save it: they're taking on the bill-slaying filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 votes to end debate on a measure. In an evenly split 50-50 Senate, it will always be a struggle to win over 10 senators from the other side.

a large building: Senate Returns To Capitol Hill To Resume Debate On Overriding Veto Of NDAA © Joshua Roberts / Getty Images Senate Returns To Capitol Hill To Resume Debate On Overriding Veto Of NDAA

"Those who won the election, who have the majority are going to be faced with a choice: do they protect voting rights or do they protect the filibuster rule?" said Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel for public policy & senior adviser at Common Cause. "I don't think saying, 'Oh, but the filibuster,' is going to cut it."

Democrats’ remaining options for raising the minimum wage, explained

  Democrats’ remaining options for raising the minimum wage, explained Democrats haven’t given up on increasing the minimum wage just yet.That decision likely means that the $15 minimum wage is effectively dead — for now. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has said repeatedly, 10 Republican senators are not going to sign on to this type of increase, meaning lawmakers won’t be able to get the 60 votes it needs to pass through regular order.

The "For the People Act," known as HR1,  is a broad bill that would create automatic, same-day, and online voter registration nationwide. It includes some measures that would require states to overhaul their registration systems. It would expand absentee voting, limit the states' ability to remove people from voter rolls, increase federal funds for election security and reform the redistricting process.

Democrats argue that efforts underway in Republican state legislatures to tighten voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election — along with the looming possibility that the conservative-heavy Supreme Court could weaken a key provision of the Voting Rights Act this summer — make federal legislation imperative.

"The major effort to change state laws to limit access to the ballot needs to be protected by legislation," says Robert Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Center. "Beyond that, there are probably some things the [Biden] administration can do, but it's really the law...that's why legislation like HR1 is so important."

Voting rights fight could move Democrats to finally end the filibuster

  Voting rights fight could move Democrats to finally end the filibuster A fight over a voting rights bill is turning up the pressure on Democrats to end the filibuster, a Senate procedure that in practice means most major legislation needs at least 60 votes to pass. After the House passed the For the People Act on Wednesday evening, there were renewed calls for Democrats in the Senate to abolish the requirement that legislation clear a 60-vote hurdle before proceeding to final passage, which requires only 51 votes. Democrats control the Senate, even though there are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, because they also control the White House, and ties in the Senate are decided by the vice president. © Provided by Yahoo! News The U.S.

Republicans unanimously oppose the measure, arguing that it amounts to a federal takeover of state-run elections. Opposition to HR1 is one issue uniting the GOP at this point, even as they disagree about how to move forward as a party in the post-Trump era. It was a key topic of conversation at CPAC last week, and moreover, former Vice President Mike Pence, who has taken pains to remain out of the fray, broke his silence by writing an op-ed urging his party to vote against the measure.

On Thursday, Pence cheered Republicans for sticking together in their opposition, tweeting: "Election Integrity is a National Imperative."

The legislation is unlikely to garner support from any Republicans, let alone the 10 needed to override a filibuster. And as other legislative debates have shown, the Democratic majority is fragile. A group of 20 U.S. senators have urged President Biden to take executive action. But even their prescriptions acknowledge that there isn't much he can do to beef up voting laws.

Clyburn: Allowing filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be 'catastrophic'

  Clyburn: Allowing filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be 'catastrophic' House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a new interview that allowing the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be "catastrophic" as a sweeping elections bill awaits consideration in the Senate."There's no way under the sun that in 2021 that we are going to allow the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just ain't gonna happen. That would be catastrophic," Clyburn told The Guardian in an interview published Sunday, just days after the House voted largely along party lines to pass The For The People Act, also known as H.R. 1.

"The ability for the executive branch to act in a way through executive action is pretty limited," said David Becker, the executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research. "If we want to see new policies regarding access to the ballot, election integrity, funding for elections and election security, that will likely have to come through legislation either at the federal level or like we're seeing in the states."

As for what Mr. Biden can do, the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in October 2020 that the president could improve cybersecurity and direct more federal agencies to offer voter registration. Spaulding said that the president could also provide more resources for the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and other voting rights legislation. He applauded the White House for supporting the bill and said the administration needs to "really use the bully pulpit" to help pass legislation.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the House Democratic Whip and close ally of Biden, told CBS News that while he hasn't spoken with the president recently about issuing an order on voting rights, "I did say to him more than once that Abraham Lincoln freed slaves with an executive order. Harry Truman integrated armed services with an executive order, so Congress never passed a law to integrate the armed services. Never. So I just think that that is something he must keep in mind going forward."

Joe Manchin opens the door to filibuster reform

  Joe Manchin opens the door to filibuster reform Joe Manchin’s suggestion for changing the filibuster: “Make them stand there and talk.”In a series of television interviews, Manchin emphasized his support for the filibuster rule, which effectively imposes a 60-vote threshold for most legislative action in the Senate. But he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that “if you want to make [filibustering] a little bit more painful — make them stand there and talk — I’m willing to look at any way we can.

He added, "If Congress refuses to erect the safeguards for voting rights, I just think that executive authority ought to be used to do what can be done."

The fate of HR1 in the Senate is a reminder of the limits of the Democrats' control of the upper chamber. "Democrats are not in charge. You've got these filibuster rules and the filibuster seems to be in charge," Clyburn said. "I don't believe we can afford for racial issues to be filibustered."

Clyburn is hoping the House can pass another piece of voting legislation, The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, around Labor Day. The measure, named for the late congressman and civil rights icon, would restore a key provision in the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013: it required states with a history of discrimination to seek federal approval to change election laws.

"Hopefully, the Senate will not filibuster that. If they do, there is going to be one hell of a price to be paid in next year's elections," Clyburn said.

In his eulogy for Lewis in July, former President Obama proposed abolishing the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation, calling it "a Jim Crow relic." But President Biden has been reluctant to support eliminating it. When asked Thursday about getting rid of the Senate rule in order to pass HR1 and other measures, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president's "policy has not changed on that issue" and that he wants to find a path forward to work with both parties.

It's also true that filibuster reform faces its own uphill battle in the Senate within the Democratic caucus. Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules Committee which has oversight over federal elections, supports reforming the filibuster to pass HR1. But West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin on Monday said he's not changing his opposition to killing the filibuster. Without his support, Democrats won't be able to muster the simple majority they would need to eliminate it.

"Never!" Manchin told reporters who asked if he'd change his mind if the Senate was holding up Democratic legislation. "Jesus Christ, what don't you understand about 'never'?"

Why the Filibuster Defenders' Ranks Are Shrinking .
This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox every…In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the fictional Sen. Jeff Smith stood for more than a day in the well of the Senate in what is probably the best known filibuster in history, holding the floor “almost until Doomsday” to expose D.C. shadiness. These days in real-life Washington, any Senator can similarly shut down the Senate floor for less noble causes, and all it takes is an email to colleagues letting them know that, if given the chance, he or she will rise in the chamber to voice an objection.

usr: 4
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