An electoral reform sight?
Democrats are determined to change the Senate rules to push through ambitious reforms to the electoral system, arguing that the impact of Donald Trump’s lies on the 2020 vote requires extraordinary measures.
In fiery speeches and interviews, President Joe Biden and Democratic legislative leaders affirm that a year after the January 6 takeover of Congress, it is imperative to pass a series of reforms. Senate Republicans have time and again blocked those initiatives, which they describe as an effort by Democrats “to accumulate more power.” They warn that the consequences of such changes could be dire for Democrats when Republicans are in the majority in Congress.
“Even the largest majorities eventually end up being a minority,” said Republican Senator John Thune.
Trump’s false claims that his election was stolen not only fueled the insurrection of the early past, according to Democrats, but also launched a Republican campaign to pass state laws that make voting more difficult and, in some cases, easier. the political manipulation of the elections.
The Democratic proposals represent the largest electoral reform in a generation. They would remove numerous obstacles designed to ensure clean elections, reduce the influence of money, and limit the manipulation of legislative districts. Uniform electoral rules would be set for the entire country that would override the measures passed by Republicans at the state level. The authority to oversee legislation in states with a history of discrimination would also be returned to the Department of Justice.
Many Democrats believe that it is time to act decisively in what they see as a great battle for civil rights. Changing Senate laws in early 2022 is perhaps the last chance for Democrats to counter Republican-pushed measures in several states ahead of year-end midterm elections, in which Republicans could regain control of the two legislative chambers.
“If Republicans continue to manipulate House rules to prevent us from protecting our democracy, then the Senate must debate and consider changes to those rules,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday.
It’s unclear what Democrats can do without the support of the elusive Sen. Joe Manchin. Democrats and Republicans are tied in the Senate, with 50 seats each, and Democrats can carry out their projects with the decisive vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. As long as Manchin votes with them. The West Virginia senator, however, is sometimes reluctant to do so.
For now, he has not made any commitment. On several occasions he has said that he is not in favor of reducing the votes needed to circumvent the “filibuster” from 60 to 50, as they say to obstructionist maneuvers. Another Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, is also opposed to doing so.
Until that resource is eliminated, Democrats will find it almost impossible to carry out their projects.
Schumer scheduled a series of polls for next week, coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr.Day, in an effort to expose Republican opposition to initiatives they say are very popular.
Manchin, however, said last week that “I am not going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because I don’t know which proposals will be put to the vote.” He stressed that in the past he supported some changes to the electoral regulations.
Republicans claim that invoking the January 6 insurrection is insulting. They point out that the electoral laws were enacted before the uprising and include measures sponsored by liberal sectors that do nothing to combat the vulnerabilities exposed by Trump’s efforts to ignore the outcome of the elections.
“It is in very bad taste that some of our colleagues want to invoke the January 6 anniversary to achieve their goals,” said Senate Republican Bloc Leader Mitch McConnell. “The fact that violent criminals have violated the laws does not give the Democratic senators a free stone to violate the laws of the Senate.”
Renewed efforts to reform electoral laws come at a time when the government’s agenda is bogged down in Congress, where Manchin’s opposition put a stop to large social and environmental projects, which have been indefinitely postponed.
Civil rights activists are frustrated and say they have missed several months. They see the measures promoted by the Republicans as subtle ways to restrict the vote, discouraging the participation of black voters, a traditional Democratic stronghold.