Biden To Meet With Manchin, Sinema In Last-Ditch Bid For Voting Rights Bill

By Nicholas Reimann, Forbes Staff


President Joe Biden plans to meet with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) at the White House Thursday evening, according to multiple reports, hours after both senators said they will not support eliminating the Senate’s filibuster rules to pass voting rights reform, appearing to kill any chances of Democrats passing a signature piece of their legislative agenda.

President Joe Biden talks to reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 13, 2022 in Washington. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Getty Images

Key Facts

The meeting between Biden and the two key Senate moderates was first reported by the Washington Post, which cited two unnamed sources, and confirmed by multiple other outlets.

Biden appeared exasperated after a meeting with Senate Democrats Thursday afternoon, saying "I don’t know if we can get this done" when asked whether there's hope of passing a voting rights bill.

Sinema ruled out eliminating the filibuster to pass a voting rights reform bill in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, and Manchin later released a statement reiterating his opposition to changing filibuster rules.

Democrats need all 50 members of their Senate caucus to back eliminating the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold required to end debate on most legislation, to have any hope of passing a voting rights reform bill that Senate Republicans universally oppose.

Crucial Quote

“For those who believe that bipartisanship is impossible, we have proven them wrong,” Manchin said. “Ending the filibuster would be the easy way out.”

Key Background

Democrats have negotiated for months on how to pass a voting rights bill, and Biden said Tuesday the party had “no option” other than eliminating the Senate filibuster after Republican lawmakers remained unmoved in their opposition. The House of Representatives passed a sweeping voting rights bill — which would create national standards for early voting, allow same-day voter registration and make Election Day a federal holiday — in a 220-203 party-line vote Thursday morning, leaving it up to the Senate to pass the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has set a deadline of Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to pass the bill. But without all 50 Democratic senators onboard with changing filibuster rules, Senate Democrats do not appear to have a feasible path forward.

Chief Critics

Republicans claim the bill amounts to the federal government seizing power from states to decide election processes.

Further Reading

Biden On Voting Rights Legislation: ‘I Don’t Know If We Can Get This Done,’ Following Sinema’s Rejection Of Filibuster Change (Forbes)

Sinema Won’t Support Eliminating Filibuster—Effectively Killing Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill (Forbes)

Biden Says There’s ‘No Option’ But To Abolish Senate Filibuster For Voting Rights — Here’s What That Means (Forbes)

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