With ultra-slim majorities in both the House and Senate, Democratic lawmakers are facing a completely stalled agenda thanks to centrist lawmakers who refuse to nuke the Senate's legislative filibuster - preventing progressives from ramming legislation through without bipartisan cooperation to achieve the 60-vote hurdle.
Most prominent of among the centrists is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who most recently penned a Sunday Op-Ed explaining why he's voting against the Democrats' "For the People Act" - namely, because "congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials."
"I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," he added.
Fellow Democrats aren't taking Manchin's principled approach well. As Politico puts it, "Joe Manchin is sparking outright fury from liberals — with some Black Democrats invoking Jim Crow laws and Mitch McConnell as they blast the West Virginian's resistance to a sweeping elections bill. Manchin’s fellow Senate Democrats are being far more conciliatory."
JUST NOW: whoa.— John Berman (@JohnBerman) June 7, 2021
"Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell...Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy."
Dem Rep @JamaalBowmanNY on @Sen_JoeManchin on voting rights and the fillibuster.@NewDaypic.twitter.com/PYBiMo8l0o
"Of course I’m frustrated. Who isn’t frustrated?" one anonymous Senate Democrat told Politico, adding "Do you want to see the patches where I pulled my hair out?"
The left-wing loggerheads mean that for now, a laundry list of high-profile priorities are effectively on the shelf. Meanwhile, the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Democrats can't simply end-run the 60-vote hurdle this year by eliminating the filibuster.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged that many of the items at the top of the base’s policy wish list like raising the minimum wage, voting rights or immigration reform don’t have the support needed to pass under the Senate’s current rules.
“Well, those are more challenging. I don’t know any of those that have 60 votes at this moment,” Durbin said.
The limbo status of many of the party’s biggest priorities comes as the Senate is bracing for a three-week sprint that will only illustrate the limits of what Democrats can get passed.
Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the three-week June sprint a “busy and consequential work period.”
But while the Senate will pass a bipartisan China competitiveness bill on Tuesday, that could be the final big piece of legislation that comes to the floor with enough support to overcome a filibuster for the foreseeable future. -The Hill
So, while Manchin sticks to his guns on the filibuster, Schumer and the Democrats will simply spin their wheels on upcoming votes this month, such as their paycheck fairness act, the For the People voting reform act, as well as votes on gun reforms and LGBTQ rights.
Meanwhile, centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is in lockstep with Manchin - defending the filibuster during an event last week in Arizona by saying that "the way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior."
Progressives vow to
'fight' virtue signal.
According to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and despite virtually no chance of forcing through a progressive agenda, the "fight is not over."
"I will continue to work with my colleagues to get critical voting, ethics and campaign finance reforms passed in the Senate," she said, while sitting atop the Senate Rules Committee.
Yet - even 'centrist' Democratic legislation such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act - which would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act following a 2013 Supreme Court decision which gutted it, was only able to gain the support of one GOP senator during the previous congress; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
"If we’re not going to be able to pass Senate Bill 1 on voting rights or have commonsense gun measures or take action on infrastructure and push back against climate change, all of these major priorities, police reforms and others, then if that is going to be the impediment to making change, we’ve got to change the rule," said a frustrated Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) during a recent MSNBC interview.
Good luck with that.