Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2022

Schumer Delivers Ultimatum on Filibuster; Sinema and Manchin Say “Nah”

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:02 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Chuck Schumer continues to run the Senate like a poker player who thinks that his pair of fours is actually three Aces:

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that the chamber would debate eliminating the filibuster in the coming weeks if Republicans refuse to join Democrats in passing sweeping voting legislation.

While the filibuster was designed to empower the minority party in the Senate, Schumer argued that it now serves to “embarrass the will of the majority,” against the founders’ intentions for legislative procedure. He claimed that Republicans should not be allowed to block the Freedom to Vote Act, using the vehicle of the filibuster, that only further enshrines and expands the American right to vote.

Schumer has previously expressed support for altering the filibuster but the statement is his strongest in favor of the idea.

The “will of the majority” isn’t truly the will of a “majority” when your side has 50 Senators and the other side has 50 Senators leaving you dependent upon the Vice-President of the United States casting a tie-breaking vote, that is assuming you can hold together all 50 members of your caucus. And indeed, Sen. Schumer is being smacked straight in the face with the reality that his caucus is not united on this issue. From Axios:

Voting rights: Schumer says the Senate will vote on a package of Senate rules changes by Jan. 17 — less than two weeks away.

* While Manchin said he’s still talking with his colleagues, he isn’t on board with a filibuster carve-out for voting rights — calling it “a heavy lift” — and isn’t willing to go nuclear and eliminate the filibuster altogether.
* “Once you change a rule, or you have a carve-out … you eat the whole turkey,” the senator told a COVID-thinned group of pool reporters on Tuesday.
* He added that he would want any reform of Senate rules to have GOP buy-in — a long-shot to near impossible ask.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), also a key holdout to major filibuster reform, reiterated during the Democratic lunch she will not support any effort to get rid of the 60-vote threshold, according to two sources familiar with the call.

* Sinema has been having one-on-one talks with her colleagues for weeks, one of the sources said.

(Yes, I hate Axios’ use of bullet points in this manner too.)

I get that Chuck Schumer finds himself trying to steer the Democrats’ ship through the rocky shoals of gridlock and partisanship while trying to avoid as much as possible the siren song of the Sanders-Warren left, but for the life of me I can’t understand why he would make these bold pronouncements before he’s sure that he has the votes lined up. Remember when Sen. Schumer haughtily announced that the Senate would vote on Build Back Better despite the opposition of Sen. Manchin, because the Majority Leader thought it was important to have all Senators vote on record for the public to see? Senate Dems have clearly abandoned that plan, and it’s not too much of a stretch to speculate that they may have lost the votes of other Senate Democrats (Krysten Sinema, Jon Tester) thus embarrassing themselves and the Biden Administration, and a “yes” vote on a failed bill could cause problems for some purplish state Democrat Senators facing reelection this year (Mark Kelly, Michael Bennett, Raphael Warnock, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan).

My advice to Senate Democrats is to jettison Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader and find someone who doesn’t believe that leadership is all about antagonizing colleagues whose votes you desperately need. Somebody less addicted to the limelight would probably be a better choice for Democrats given the circumstances. As much as the United States Senate really does not need another Bernard Sanders or Elizabeth Lieawtha Warren, at this point I might even be willing to root for our Adorably Ornery Clueless niece to defeat him in a primary — remote though that possibility may be — especially if she then goes on to lose to a Republican in the fall. Weirder things have happened.

– JVW

Is It Possible that the Electoral Account Act Could Be Reformed?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 pm



Yesterday I advocated, for the umpteenth time, a reform of the Electoral Count Act. Later in the day, David French published a piece for subscribers to The Dispatch advocating the same thing — something he too has discussed for a while. His piece is titled “Stop Screwing Around and Reform the Electoral Count Act” with a deck headline reading: “We’re idiots if we don’t. It’s that simple.”

He’s right. As an encouragement to get readers to subscribe to The Dispatch (I do) I will quote his central proposals:

At a minimum, what do we need to do? First, make it crystal clear that the vice president has zero discretion to reject the electoral votes of any state. His or her role should be procedural only, running the joint session of Congress that counts the Electoral College votes.

Second, a reformed Electoral Count Act should dramatically raise the threshold for objecting to the electoral votes of any state. Presently it takes just one member of the House and one member of the Senate to initiate a debate about any state. I’d like to see it take a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate to initiate debate and a supermajority of both houses to decertify any electoral votes.

Moreover, a reformed Electoral Count Act would narrowly specify the grounds for any congressional decertification. For example, if electors cast votes for a person constitutionally ineligible for the office, or if electors cast votes even if the vote has been set aside for fraud by a court of final jurisdiction. And any reform should provide precise guidance for state certifications, so that there is minimal opportunity for Congress to face so-called “competing” slates of electors.

I think that second point is key. However, Democrats seem uninterested, fixating instead on maximizing turnout of their base — and Republicans are of course hellbent on keeping the possibility of a steal alive.

. . . or are they? Axios reports this morning:

While broader federal voting rights legislation remains mired in the Senate as long as the 60-vote filibuster rule applies, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told Axios there’s “some interest” among Senate Republicans in reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

  • The goal would be to clarify the role the vice president and Congress play in certifying presidential elections.
  • Both were flashpoints a year ago as Donald Trump challenged the finalization of the 2020 election results.

I guess clarifying the ceremonial role of the Vice President would appeal to Republicans who want to minimize Kamala Harris’s role. Politicians can never see past the present, after all, and under present circumstances a Democrat will preside over the next counting. But the critical part is to make it hard to raise a challenge and very, very hard to overturn certified results. Thune’s statement suggests the intriguing possibility that there could be some appetite for that.

So should we be excited? No. Chuck Schumer is shooting down the idea. “That makes no sense,” he said, according to Axios. “If you’re going to rig the game and say, “Oh, we’ll count the rigged game accurately,’ what good is that?” Idiot. Susan Collins has also weighed in saying my gosh there is no need for that as everything went fine last time. “It seems to me we have a good system for the Electoral College to act and one of the important moments of January 6 was that we returned and finished our work under that law.” Idiot.

Correction to French’s deck headline: we’re not idiots. These people are idiots.

MTG Responds To Twitter Ban: America Has Been Attacked!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:23 am



[guest post by Dana]

I’m opening a fresh thread to continue discussing whether a social media company has the right to ban users for violating their terms of service. (See: Permanent deletion of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal Twitter account.) Here is her response to the decision:

“Twitter has attacked my district, it has attacked — I would say — our country as a whole by kicking a member of Congress off of their platform. And also, remember, they kicked off President Trump while he was a sitting United States president,” she told Newsmax, referencing when the company permanently banned the former president in the wake of the January 6 riot last year, citing risks of further violence.

Greene continued to lash out at Twitter, saying it’s “completely out of bounds.”

“No one elected them. No one put them in charge of what is information or what is misinformation,” Greene said. “And so I’m calling for everyone to leave Twitter because the best way to say, end someone’s power or end this Big Tech overlord’s power, is by leaving their platform and being unwilling to participate in their authoritarian control.”

MTG believes that she has a *right* to an active personal Twitter account and that Twitter, a private company, has no right to ban her for her repeated violations of the company’s prohibition against spreading misinformation about Covid-19. This despite repeated warnings… MTG’s congressional Twitter account remains active.

–Dana


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