It appears that the Democrats are preparing to make one last attempt at ramming their election overhaul bill, the so-called For the People Act, through Congress.
Rolling Stone reports that, as part of their push, President Joe Biden is going to turn the screws on a handful of Senators with hopes of pressuring them to support eliminating, or at least partially eliminating, the Senate filibuster rule.
The filibuster essentially makes it so that 60 votes are needed for a piece of legislation to pass through the Senate. Given the current makeup of the Senate, which is 50-50 (51-50 if one includes Vice President Kamala’s Harris’s tie-breaking vote), the Democrats have no chance at getting their election overhaul bill through Congress with the filibuster in place.
For its report, Rolling Stone claims that it was able to obtain inside information on the possibility of Biden’s new push.
“According to three people briefed on the White House’s position and its recent communications with outside groups, Biden assured Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he was ready to push for filibuster reform,” the outlet reports.
The outlet even quotes one insider as saying that Biden told Schumer, “Chuck, you tell me when you need me to start making phone calls.”
The outlet further reveals that in July, Biden assured Schumer and Pelosi that he would “get involved himself and lobby the handful of moderate Democrats to convince them to weaken the filibuster so that the For the People Act could pass without any Republican votes,” so long as Schumer and Pelosi “tried every option they had” at their disposal to pass the bill.
Since that time, Rolling Stone says that the White House has “devoted more staff to the issue.”
If what Rolling Stone reports is true, then Biden’s targets will almost certainly include Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Both have made it clear that they are against changing or abolishing the filibuster.
Herein lies the problem for the Democrats: in order to get anywhere on the bill they need to have all Senate Democrats on board. With the current makeup of the Senate, even one defection could be fatal.
The Senate will reconvene this week, and the For the People Act is expected to be among Schumer’s top priorities.
We’ll see if the Democrats can make any progress. At the moment, it doesn’t look likely, but in this political climate, anything seems possible.