What exactly is Chuck Schumer doing? That’s the big question that’s emerged in light of his push to hold a vote on blowing up the filibuster. Ostensibly, he’s doing so in order to pass “voting rights” and save our “democracy” by having the federal government rig the 2022 election. But is that really his plan here?
I ask that because it’s been obvious since his “dear colleagues” letter was released that he doesn’t have the votes. Last night, Joe Manchin said he’s not on board. Now, Kyrsten Sinema has weighed in, letting it be known that her position hasn’t changed. She’s still against any maneuver that would eliminate the 60-vote threshold to pass any type of legislation.
Kyrsten Sinema reiterated during yesterday’s virtual Democratic caucus lunch she will not support any effort to get rid of the 60-vote threshold, according to two sources familiar with the callhttps://t.co/ZgZ1y7clkU
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) January 5, 2022
As I suggested in my last piece on Schumer’s gambit, putting “pressure” on Sinema and Manchin was never going to work. If anything, the continued public shaming is only hardening their opposition to changing the filibuster rules.
For the moment, though, it doesn’t appear Schumer has the votes, and I’m highly skeptical that Manchin and Sinema are going to move an inch. They haven’t responded well to public pressure in the past, and they will likely be driven into further opposition if their own colleagues continue to attack them.
So again, what is the plan here? Is Schumer really going to put several of his “moderate” senators that are up for reelection in red states on record supporting the destruction of the filibuster? How does that help Democrats retain the Senate in November? If anything, it seems like a completely pointless and self-destructive move. If you don’t have the votes, you shouldn’t hold a vote.
But no one has ever accused Schumer of being the sharpest tool in the shed, and perhaps he truly believes that Sinema and Manchin are bluffing? I think that’s an incredibly dumb calculation on the Majority Leader’s part, but it wouldn’t shock me if he buys into it.
Still, this entire thing smells much more like desperation and an attempt to save face. Schumer likely understands he doesn’t have the votes, and more importantly, that he will never have the votes. The move to get everyone on record at this point is just to appease the rabid, deluded factions of his party who truly believe Republicans winning a mid-term under normal voting rules in 2022 will send us spiraling into fascism.
Schumer’s gambit is going to backfire, though. All he’s going to do is knee-cap his vulnerable members while doing nothing to actually advance the Democrats’ attempted takeover of the 2022 election. He’s also opening the door for Republicans to blow up the filibuster in the future because now every Democrat leader has expressed their support for eliminating it. It’s hard to imagine how he could have miscalculated this entire situation any worse.
Meanwhile, every Republican should be sending Sinema a thank-you card. She’s quite literally standing in the gap and saving the nation from the absolute calamity that legalized ballot harvesting, outlawed voter ID, and the rest of the For the People Act would cause.