Posts tagged with "Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona)"

Biden to endorse changing Senate filibuster to support voting rights

January 12, 2022

President Joe Biden, in a speech delivered on Tuesday, January 11, in Atlanta, planned to directly challenge the “institution of the United States Senate” to support voting rights by backing two major pieces of legislation and the carving out of an exception to the Senate’s 60-vote requirement, reports the HuffPost.

Coming a week before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden’s speech at the Atlanta University Center Consortium represents a follow-up to a speech he delivered last week on the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—characterizing both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as critical to ensure that the turmoil of January 6, 2021, is followed by a revival of American democracy.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden planned to say, according to prepared remarks distributed by the White House. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is: Where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”

Biden, who served as a senator from 1973 to 2009, argues that abuse of the filibuster―the arcane rule that requires 60 senators’ votes for most legislation to pass—has harmed the Senate as an institution and that carving out an exception for voting rights is the best way to protect the reputation and functionality of Congress’s upper chamber.

The Senate is set to vote on both pieces of voting rights legislation this week. While all 50 Democrats are expected to support the legislation, Republicans are expected to remain unified in opposition and block consideration―as they have the previous three times Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has attempted to call up the Freedom to Vote Act.

That unified GOP opposition will almost certainly lead to a vote on whether to significantly weaken the filibuster. But it appears unlikely Democrats will be able to corral the 50 votes necessary for a rule change. Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia.), Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and other moderates are reluctant to change the body’s rules.

White House aides indicated that Biden’s speech points to Georgia as a reason why voting rights legislation is necessary—highlighting how the GOP-controlled state legislature passed laws making it harder to vote after Democrats won the presidential race and two Senate seats there in 2020.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a compromise version of the Democratic Party’s sweeping voting rights legislation, and it would override many of the restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans since the 2020 election and mandate early voting and same-day voter registration. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore sections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that conservatives on the Supreme Court voted to gut in 2013.

Republicans, up to and including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had long supported extensions to the Voting Rights Act but ceased doing so after the Supreme Court ruling.

Research contact: @HuffPost

It took a ‘Magic Minute,’ but the House delivers Biden a huge win

November 22, 2021

It took 10 months, 16 days, and an eight-and-a-half-hour speech from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but House Democrats finally passed their $1.75 trillion social welfare spending bill on Friday morning, November 19, reports The Daily Beast.

By a vote of 220-213, Democrats passed the bill with just one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposition to the Build Back Better (H.R. 5376) legislation: Representative. Jared Golden of Maine.

It was a victory on multiple levels for Democrat— most notably on a policy note. The bill would provide $550 billion for climate change, $400 billion for child care and universal preschool, $150 billion each for affordable housing and Medicaid’s home-care program, expanded child tax credits, and expanded Medicare provisions and subsidies, among other priorities.

But the victory was made sweeter on a personal level, after McCarthy’s antics late Thursday night and early Friday morning. The California Republican was able to delay the vote by taking advantage of the so-called “Magic Minute”—a courtesy extended to the leaders of both parties that allow them to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute toward the allotted time for debate.

By the time McCarthy ended at 5:10 a.m., all but a handful of Republicans who sat behind McCarthy as a C-SPAN backdrop had departed the Capitol. Democrats swiftly recessed, and gaveled back in at 8 a.m. on Friday.

At that point, members continued their few final minutes of debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took her turn at the podium. She quipped at the start of her remarks, “With respect to those who work in this Capitol and as courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief.”

And she was. Pelosi spoke for just over 10 minutes, hitting on the usual Democratic talking points about the substance of the bill and suggesting the legislation will be a “pillar of health and financial security in America.”

Upon conclusion of her speech, Republicans pulled out one last stop: A motion to recommit the bill to committee, which failed by a 208-220 vote. And then passage of the bill was swift.

Instead of passing the bill late Thursday night, all that McCarthy accomplished was pushing the vote to the daylight hours of Friday morning.

House passage now offloads the BBB burden to the Senate, where time will tell whether Democratic problem children, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) are ready to push the measure through. Any changes to the bill in the upper chamber, including a likely removal of paid leave provisions, would send the BBB back to the House in a game of legislative ping pong.

But that’s if the bill can ever pass the Senate. Manchin and Sinema have yet to sign on, even with a topline cost that largely hews to their demands, The Daily Beast says.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday in a preliminary analysis that the bill would cost $367 billion over 10 years, but they didn’t add in a key offset to the legislation. They said increased IRS enforcement would bring in an additional $207 billion over the next decade, bringing the total cost to $160 billion—and that’s with an estimate that the White House believes is overly pessimistic.

The Biden administration thinks increased IRS enforcement—essentially making people pay their taxes—would bring in $400 billion. That means that some Democrats believe the $1.75 trillion bill would ultimately have a positive budgetary impact on the debt. Or, at least, a minimal cost.

Democrats accomplish offsetting the new provisions by implementing a number of new corporate taxes. There’s a 15% minimum tax for large corporations, a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks, a new tax on income above $10 million and $25 million, and new limits on what deductions businesses can take for losses—among other corporate tax law changes.

But for Republicans, the cost of the bill was simply unacceptable. Even before McCarthy’s eight-and-a-half hour rant, GOP lawmakers made it clear they thought the bill spent recklessly and without consideration for future generations.

Still, Democrats were more than happy to pass the bill and give themselves a long list of accomplishments to run on in 2022, including popular provisions like capping monthly insulin costs at $35 a month.

As the end of the vote neared, Democrats rallied near the front of the chamber—cheering and applauding the tally. Republicans, meanwhile, insisted on order in the chamber to announce proxy votes for colleagues who hadn’t showed up to the House floor Friday morning.

One of the Republicans insisting on quiet was Representative Kat Cammack of Florida. She announced that she and other Republicans would be voting “Hell no” on the “Build Back Broke” legislation and she offered Democrats an ominous sign-off.

“Good luck in the Senate,” she said.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Voting legislation blocked—again—in Senate as Republicans unite for filibuster

October 22, 2021

Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered a major bill known as the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) on Wednesday, October 2—legislation that would allow automatic and same-day voter registration, and also would make Election Day a holiday, NBC News reports.

The 49-51 vote on the procedural motion was short of the 60 needed to advance the legislation to the next stagemarking the second time this year that Republicans have prevented a Democratic-backed voting bill from moving forward.

The measure had full Democratic support Wednesday after the party scaled back an earlier, more expansive bill to win the backing of centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

All 50 Democratic-voting senators backed the bill, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) changed his vote to “no” to allow him to request another vote in the future, a common procedural maneuver.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had vowed on Tuesday that Republicans would oppose the measure, saying, “It is my hope and anticipation that none of us will vote for this latest iteration of Democratic efforts to take over how every American votes all over the country.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Republican who has been most willing to engage with Democrats over voting rights, explained her vote to block the bill earlier, saying she was more interested in the House-passed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4).

According to NBC, The Freedom to Vote Act would allow automatic and same-day voter registration and no-excuse mail voting. It would give states flexibility in implementing some provisions, like early voting, and make Election Day a holiday. It also would seek to protect federal election records and insulate nonpartisan state and local election officials from undue interference.

Schumer had said the bill was a “balanced” and “common sense” proposal to protect the right to vote from restrictive state laws, including those inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.

“Across the country, the big lie—the big li —has spread like a cancer,” Schumer said Wednesday before the vote. “The Freedom to Vote Act would provide long overdue remedies for all these concerns.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote that the Senate “needs to act to protect the sacred constitutional right to vote, which is under unrelenting assault by proponents of the Big Lie, and Republican Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys-General, and state legislatures across the nation.”

“It is urgent,” he added. “Democracy — the very soul of America — is at stake.”

Biden’s statement did not mention making any changes to the long-standing filibuster rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation to proceed in the Senate. Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) have indicated that they are unwilling to alter the rule.

Schumer had framed Wednesday’s vote as merely a step to begin debate, and he had promised that Republicans would “be able to offer amendments” to change the bill as they see fit.

A Senate vote in June to advance the For the People Act, a broader voting rights bill, was split 50-50 along party lines—falling short of the 60 votes it needed to advance.

Research contact: @NBCNews