Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on Thursday wrecked President Biden’s hopes of destroying federal election integrity laws, causing Democrats to panic heading into the 2022 midterms.
While Biden on Wednesday was forced to shelve his massive tax and spend package until next year because of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) opposition, Biden immediately pivoted to enact his second priority of altering election integrity laws, such as doing away with popular voter ID constraints.
“If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it. … There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights,” Biden said.
But Sinema singlehandedly burst Biden’s desperate attempt to weaken election integrity laws Wednesday evening by stating she will protect the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Fifty Senate votes are needed to trash the filibuster. If the filibuster is terminated, a simple majority vote could be held to destroy election laws.
To lure Sinema into destroying election laws, Democrats have watered down their original H.R.1 proposal. Yet Sinema’s spokesman John LaBombard told Politico she will protect the filibuster’s bipartisan standard and ultimately election integrity.
“She continues to support the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government,” LaBombard said.
Sinema’s spokesman also implied that Sinema may be interested in the watered down “voting rights” proposal if it garnered bipartisan support above the filibuster’s threshold.
“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” LaBombard said.
Sinema’s position has caused congressional Democrats concern that 2020’s pandemic-centric election laws will not be applied in 2022, such as voting by mail and other weakened measures. Temporary 2020 elections laws reverting back to pre-pandemic rules likely reduce the Democrats’ ability to win elections.
“I don’t want to become too dramatic,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) told Politico on Thursday, “but voting rights may be the only thing we have to at least halt the trek away from democracy.”
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) also voiced concerns that if election integrity laws are reinstated before the 2022 midterms, America’s democratic republic will no longer exist.
“I don’t want it to be constrained by trying to do it before the end of the year. I don’t know that you have to do it before the end of the year,” Clyburn told Politico. “I just want us to get a bill done that will help preserve this democracy because if we don’t, I think we’ve lost this democracy.”
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) echoed Clyburn’s urgency. “I want to see Biden start running people in and out of the White House,” Brown said. “I want to start by seeing the president using the full leverage of his office. It’s a crisis in democracy and the president needs to address it.”
MSNBC anchor Al Sharpton warned that if election integrity is not weakened, the Democrat base voters will not vote for Democrats.
“An inaction at this point would lead to an inaction of Black voters. People are saying, ‘If they don’t do this, I’m not voting,’” Sharpton said. “People are saying they feel betrayed.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø.