Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday orchestrated his own “crushing” defeat in a fight over the body’s filibuster rule, and in the process created a huge division in his own party and alienated members he’s going to need – at least for the rest of this year.
He took on the fight over the filibuster because that rule currently prevents him from advancing his agenda – specifically several bills that would allow Washington take over management of all elections across the country and install rules that favor the Democrat party – unless they have 60 votes in support.
In the 50-50 Senate, they didn’t.
So Schumer tried to take the filibuster rule, which only requires a majority vote, but failed because two of his own party – Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – declined to submit to his agenda.
U.S. Senate FAILS to change filibuster rules, 52-48.
60-vote threshold remains intact. pic.twitter.com/mMB3pzLqZ9
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 20, 2022
The result means that Joe Biden’s elections-takeover strategy – which is not a “voting rights” plan as Democrats have advertised but an elections-takeover process that would mandate procedures that are favorable to Democrat candidates – isn’t advancing right now.
But the importance of those left-leaning rules to Democrats was evidenced by the statements from both Schumer and Biden immediately after the failure that they still want their way.
Inaction is not an option on voting rights
Because Republicans blocked these bills that protect the right to vote:
We’re going to vote on changing Senate rules for these bills
The Senate must choose in favor of our democracy
The Senate must stand up and defend voting rights
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 20, 2022
And Biden’s concurrence:
I am profoundly disappointed that the Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy. I am disappointed — but I am not deterred.
We will continue to advance necessary legislation and push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 20, 2022
Perhaps the most outraged was Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who aligns himself with Democrats:
.@BernieSanders: “I can understand Republicans, but […] I do not understand why two Democrats who presumably understand the importance of the Freedom to Vote Act […] are not prepared to change the rules so that bill could actually become law.” https://t.co/zZ7SS0QMD5 pic.twitter.com/OR7ACoQx6L
— The Hill (@thehill) January 20, 2022
A column at RedState pointed out Schumer’s “crushing” defeat, but said that it will work well for Democrats in the long term, as they are facing the real prospect of losing their majority in the Senate as early as this fall.
“Democrats don’t even get how this will help them because they are going to lose the Senate and be in the minority after the November election. Then you will see them flip one more time, talking about the importance of preserving the filibuster,” the column said.
Fox News noted that Schumer repeatedly has claimed there’s “evidence of vote suppression,” even though it is the Democrat Party that claims the 2020 election was the most transparent and most fair ever.
Manchin said Schumer’s agenda to simply run roughshod over any opposition to his demands, even a huge minority of 50 GOP senators, simply wasn’t right.
“Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart,” He said. “Contrary to what some have said, protecting the role of the minority – Democrat or Republican – has protected us from the volatile political swings that we have endured over the last 233 years.”
Democrats historically have been all in favor of the filibuster rule when they are in the minority, and critical of it when they are in the majority.
Fox reported, “Schumer’s nuclear option attempt Thursday marked the third time it’s been tried in the last decade. Late Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was the first to use it during former President Barack Obama’s term. That time it was for presidential nominees with the exception of Supreme Court justices. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used the nuclear option to lower the filibuster threshold for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 when Democrats filibustered the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch.”
Politico described the campaign by Schumer for the “nuking” of the Senate process as risky.
“The New Yorker was a defender and wielder of the filibuster while serving as minority leader during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Democrats’ year of work on writing elections and voting legislation – and GOP opposition to an effort designed to undo state-level ballot restrictions – turned Schumer into a proponent of scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, at least for this bill.”
Those state “restrictions” actually are elections integrity efforts like voter ID, which vast majorities of Americans support.
Politico reported that Schumer’s campaign has “split” his caucus and “trained more ire on the West Virginian and Sinema of Arizona, whom he needs to execute the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda.”
It was only a year ago that the position held by Manchin and Sinema helped Schumer. Back then, in the 50-50 Senate, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell refused to sign off on an organizing resolution without a promise from Schumer not to change the filibuster.
Schumer refused, but got the agreement anyway because of the positions of the two Democrats.
In a move that highlighted Schumer’s flip-flopping on the issue, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton recently delivered a speech in support of the filibuster. It warned of the grave consequences of eliminating the rule.
And the words were quotes all taken directly from Schumer.
Democrats used the filibuster a record-breaking 328 times during the 2019-2020 congressional term when they were in the minority, and Cotton seized on past passionate defenses of the rule by Schumer.
Without telling his colleagues until the end, Cotton delivered a speech comprised entirely of past statements by Schumer.
“Right now we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis,” Cotton began. “We’re about to step into the abyss.”
He asked, using Schumer’s words, “What is the crisis that calls for the undoing of two centuries of tradition?”
Cotton said it’s “not the American people at large who are demanding the detonation of the nuclear option.”
“The nuclear option is being pushed largely by the radioactive rhetoric of a small band of radicals who hold in their hands the political fortunes of the president.”
He argued that the idea of requiring 60 votes to end debate rather than a simple majority is “embodied in the spirit and the rule of the Constitution.”
The Founders were correct, he said, in their belief that the “slimmest majority should not always govern.”
“The Senate is not a majoritarian body.”
Cotton warned it will be “a doomsday for democracy” if the filibuster is eliminated.
He concluded: “Those are powerful words. But they’re not mine. Every word of my speech today was originally spoken by our esteemed colleague, the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.”
See the “Schumer” speech:
🚨 BREAKING: Chuck Schumer* speaks on the Senate floor in defense of the filibuster.
*Senator Cotton’s speech consisted entirely of Senator Schumer’s past statements. pic.twitter.com/zGfbpr7G5t
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 12, 2022
Biden has demonized those who opposed eliminating the filibuster as racists and segregationists.
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