Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday were quick to throw water on their fellow Democrats’ plan to pass voting rights legislation.
Both Sinema and Manchin said they do not support eliminating the filibuster, the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule. On Tuesday, President Biden delivered fiery remarks about voting rights during an address in Georgia, and endorsed changing the filibuster in order to get the legislation through.
Biden met privately with Democratic lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill, but before he could arrive to rally the troops, Sinema made a speech on the Senate floor, saying, “While I continue to support these [voting] bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.” She added that her colleagues “must address the disease itself … to protect our democracy. The response requires something greater and, yes, more difficult than what the Senate is discussing today.”
Manchin released a statement after Biden left Capitol Hill, saying the filibuster plays an “important role in protecting our democracy from the transitory passions of the majority and respecting the input of the minority in the Senate. Ending the filibuster would be the easy way out. I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country by putting politics and party aside.”
Several Democrats who met with Biden on Thursday told The Washington Post that he did not mention Sinema and Manchin, instead focusing on the morality of passing voting rights legislation. “He emphasized not only that history will be watching you, but that a lot of people don’t have an opportunity to do something that will do so much good for so many at a time where it’s so necessary,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) shared with the Post.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will bring two voting rights bills to the Senate floor in the next few days, and Biden told reporters on Thursday night he hopes “we can get this done. The honest-to-God answer is, I don’t know if we can get this done. But one thing for certain, one thing for certain, like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we miss the first time, we can come back and try a second time.”