A Report from the Two U.S. Senates | National Review

A Report from the Two U.S. Senates | National Review

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Punchbowl News reports that, President Biden intends to push for the abolition of the filibuster next week, on the grounds that nixing the measure is the only way for “voting rights legislation” to pass the Senate:

Aides tell us that Biden’s goal next week is to build public support for passing voting rights legislation. Biden wants to raise the national profile for the issue, which means he’ll have to make it clear that the way to get past the Republican opposition to overhauling election laws is to change the Senate’s rules to scale back or eliminate the filibuster.

This speech isn’t expected to be a Chuck Schumerish “It’s-all-on-Joe-Manchin” type broadside that we’ve heard the last few days from the New York Democrat. Rather, Biden will look to explain what he sees as the stakes in the voting rights debate and how to achieve what Democrats are looking to achieve.

This is a mistake. Partly because, as Punchbowl notes, Senators Manchin and Sinema remain “impervious to Schumer’s cajoling on voting rights or eliminating the filibuster.” Partly because

the most likely outcome of this gambit is another few weeks of maniacal coverage of Manchin, with reporters hanging on his every will-he-or-won’t-he flinch. And here’s a spoiler alert: he won’t. He has said it countless times.

And partly because the Senate seems to have moved on from the push before it has even started.

This isn’t getting nearly enough attention. A group of several Democrats have already teamed up with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and other Republicans to discuss changes to the Electoral Count Act. In other words, while Schumer is pushing an aggressive Democratic response to what he sees as a crisis threatening democracy, some of his own Democrats are working with Republicans on a different bill already.

There are, in effect, two Senates. There is the Senate that Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer want to exist — the one in which a united Democratic party has enormous majorities and a boatload of political capital. And then there is the real Senate, which is split 50-50, which contains figures such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and which — with the exception of COVID bill that it passed in March — can only get things done when Republicans and Democrats start talking to each other.

Time and time again, it is the real Senate that wins through. BBB floundered, and was essentially replaced by a more modest and appropriate bipartisan infrastructure bill. The push to remake the country’s voting systems will likely fail, but may be replaced by a more modest measure to fix the problems with the Electoral Count Act. And so it will go until the makeup of the chamber is changed. For some reason, it seems genuinely to shock President Biden that he remains unable to get what he wants in a Washington that is this closely divided. But it shouldn’t. Take out all the shouting, and this is exactly what one would have expected from 2020’s results.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.