As President Joe Biden sees his dream of the Build Back Better agenda slipping away because he cannot get enough Democrat senators on board he has changed where his attention is.
The president is now focused on creating federal guidelines for elections, which could be anathema to the power granted to states in the Constitution, but Democrat Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is standing in his way, Breitbart News reported.
While Biden on Wednesday was forced to shelve his massive tax and spend package until next year because of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) opposition, Biden immediately pivoted to enact his second priority of altering election integrity laws, such as doing away with popular voter ID constraints.
“Mr. President, should congressional Democrats move on to working on voting rights legislation this year and put off your Build Back Better plan until 2022?” a reporter said to the president.
“If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it. If we can’t, we got to keep going. There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights. It’s the single-biggest issue,” the president said.
But Sinema singlehandedly burst Biden’s desperate attempt to weaken election integrity laws Wednesday evening by stating she will protect the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Fifty Senate votes are needed to trash the filibuster. If the filibuster is terminated, a simple majority vote could be held to destroy election laws.
To lure Sinema into destroying election laws, Democrats have watered down their original H.R.1 proposal. Yet Sinema’s spokesman John LaBombard told Politico she will protect the filibuster’s bipartisan standard and ultimately election integrity.
“She continues to support the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government,” the spokesperson said.
She could support the bill but only if it got enough bipartisan support to meet the 60 vote minimum to stop the filibuster.
“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” he said.
The issue is that pre-pandemic laws are coming back but many Democrats are panicking because they want those laws, that make it simpler to vote by mail and other measures, to stay permanent and they are sounding the alarm.
“I don’t want to become too dramatic,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said to Politico on Thursday, “but voting rights may be the only thing we have to at least halt the trek away from democracy.”
“I don’t want it to be constrained by trying to do it before the end of the year. I don’t know that you have to do it before the end of the year,” he said. “I just want us to get a bill done that will help preserve this democracy because if we don’t, I think we’ve lost this democracy.”
Again, he thinks that democracy will be done because we are going to have the same voting laws we had before the 2020 election.
“I want to see Biden start running people in and out of the White House,” Rep. Anthony Brown said. “I want to start by seeing the president using the full leverage of his office. It’s a crisis in democracy and the president needs to address it.”
And MSNBC host Al Sharpton said he is concerned, mainly for Democrat voters.
“An inaction at this point would lead to an inaction of Black voters. People are saying, ‘If they don’t do this, I’m not voting,’” he said. “People are saying they feel betrayed.”