S.1, the For the People Act, was introduced in the Senate yesterday with 47 Democrats and 2 Independent Senators sponsoring the bill.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who cosponsored the bill in the last Congress, is the only Democratic Senator who did not cosponsor yesterday. Manchin also has been a strong defender of the filibuster rule.
S. 1 is the Senate version of H.R. 1, which passed the House earlier this month and also passed in the last Congress.
S. 1/H.R. 1 is holistic legislation that recognizes that we have a series of fundamental problems in our democracy and provides solutions to them in one place.
The democracy reforms in the legislation address Washington political money corruption, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, extreme partisan gerrymandering, government ethics and self-dealing abuses, election security, and foreign interference in our elections.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening a “scorched earth” response
if any changes are made in the filibuster rule. Yet it was McConnell himself who, as Senate Majority Leader in 2017, was responsible for the most recent change made to the filibuster rule.
McConnell led a successful effort to invoke the “nuclear option”
and change the filibuster rule to require only 51 votes instead of 60 to end a filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. The Senate proceeded to confirm three Supreme Court Justices under this filibuster rule change.
McConnell has been a serial abuser of the filibuster rule, setting a record
for using filibusters during the Obama presidency.
While the theory of the filibuster rule is to protect the interests of the Senate minority, McConnell in the past has used the rule as a partisan weapon to repeatedly block the Senate from acting, to paralyze Congress, and to prevent large portions of the Obama agenda from being enacted.
If the filibuster rule remains unchanged, McConnell is expected to take the same approach for the Biden presidency and use the filibuster to paralyze Congress and block Biden’s agenda.
So, this is what it will come down to on S. 1 for every Democratic Senator.
Is a changed filibuster rule more important to confirm a Supreme Court Justice than it is to prevent the greatest suppression and disenfranchisement of voters since the Jim Crow era, to reform a corrupting campaign finance system, to prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering, to stop self-dealing abuses by government officials, and to prevent foreign interference in our elections?
The answer to that question must be a resounding no.
Senator McConnell cannot be allowed to change the filibuster rule when it suits his interests and to block filibuster rule changes when it does not, allowing him to prevent the repairing of our broken political system, our corrupting campaign finance system, and our democracy.