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Manchin and Sinema condemned for opposing filibuster reform urged by Biden – live

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-01-12

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5.26pm GMT

The MSNBC anchor Mehdi Hasan might’ve come up with the most succinct among many appalled reactions to the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s suggestion that Democrats consider a Joe Biden - Liz Cheney ticket in 2024, to promote national unity and keep Donald Trump out of power.

Hasan tweeted : “Kill. Me. Now.”

Using the example of the right-left national unity government in office in Israel in succession to that country’s own Trumpish leader, Benjamin Netanyahu , Friedman enlisted the help of Steven Levitsky , a political scientist and co-author of How Democracies Die :

America is facing an existential moment, Levitsky told me, noting that the Republican party has shown that it isn’t committed any longer to playing by democratic rules, leaving the US uniquely threatened among western democracies.

… So Biden-Cheney is not such a crazy idea? I asked.

“Not at all,” said Levitsky. “We should be ready to talk about Liz Cheney as part of a blow-your-mind Israeli-style fusion coalition with Democrats. It is a coalition that says: ‘There is only one overriding goal right now – that is saving our democratic system.’”

Cheney, from Wyoming, is one of two anti-Trump Republicans on the 6 January House committee. She is also the daughter of Dick “ Darth Vader ” Cheney , the former vice-president with whom she stood, otherwise alone on her side of the House, through a commemoration of the Capitol attack last week.

Some on the left, Hasan among them, found the sight of the architect of the Iraq war in common cause with Democrats … disturbing. Oddly enough, he didn’t much like Friedman’s suggestion either.

The Times man, Hasan wrote , was “also one of Obama’s favorite columnists. If you want to understand why US politics, and especially Democratic party politics, is so messed up, consider that the current and previous Democratic presidents have both taken advice from Thomas Friedman. Kill. Me. Now.”

For what it’s worth, Levitsky has been warning of the dangers of Republican fascism, now at a high pitch , for some time. Here’s a Guardian piece with his co-author Daniel Ziblatt from January 2018:

Related: This is how democracies die | Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Updated at 5.40pm GMT

5.05pm GMT

Biden to attend Senate Democrats' meeting on voting rights

Joe Biden will travel to Capitol Hill tomorrow to join Senate Democrats’ meeting about the path forward for passing voting rights bills.

“President Biden is expected to attend tomorrow’s Senate Dem Caucus lunch to discuss the push to pass voting rights and potential changes to Senate rules,” a senior Democratic aide said.

The news comes one day after Biden delivered an impassioned speech on voting rights in Georgia, calling on the Senate to change chamber rules to allow voting rights bills to advance.

“Let the majority prevail,” Biden said in Atlanta. “And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

However, it remains unclear whether Biden’s words swayed centrist senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have expressed reluctance to amending the filibuster.

Tomorrow’s meeting will give the president and majority leader Chuck Schumer another opportunity to convince those holdout senators.

4.46pm GMT

House speaker Nancy Pelosi argued it was fitting for Harry Reid to receive a final honor at the US Capitol, where he represented Nevada for more than three decades.

“From his humble roots in Searchlight to the spotlight of Capitol Hill, his entire life was defined by defying long odds,” the Democratic speaker said.

“The twelve years that he and I served together as leaders in our respective houses allowed me the privilege of watching him defy those odds every day. Indeed, to see him lead and legislate was to see a master at work.”

4.30pm GMT

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer praised Harry Reid for dedicating his life to public service and helping to shape the modern-day Congress.

Speaking at the Capitol ceremony to honor the late Senate majority leader, Schumer said, “We celebrate Harry Mason Reid’s final return to the Capitol because we must.

“Few have shaped the workings of this building like our dear friend from Nevada. Few have dedicated their lives to the work of the people quite like Harry did. Today, our feelings of both loss and gratitude are immense.”

4.13pm GMT

Harry Reid's casket arrives at the Capitol

The casket of Harry Reid has arrived at the US Capitol, where the former Senate majority leader will lie in state today.

Lawmakers gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to pay their respects to Reid, who led the Senate Democratic caucus from 2005 to 2017.

Reid died late last month at the age of 82 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018.

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The casket of late Senator Harry Reid arrives at the US Capitol. Photograph: Al Drago/EPA

Barack Obama and Joe Biden both spoke at Reid’s funeral in his home state of Nevada over the weekend, remembering him as a dedicated leader who stood up for his beliefs.

“Harry would always have your back, like the kids I grew up with in Scranton,” Biden said.

“His story was unmistakably American. He was proof that there is nothing ordinary about America, and that Americans can do anything given half a chance.”

Related: ‘Being tough, being a fighter’: Obama and Biden salute Harry Reid at Las Vegas funeral

3.45pm GMT

One reporter asked Joe Manchin for his response to Joe Biden’ s speech on voting rights legislation and Senate filibuster reform.

Biden said in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday, “When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.”

Manchin told CNN, “He understands. We all understand how the Senate works.” He did not provide any further insight into what Senate rule changes he may support.

3.25pm GMT

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has met with both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the past day, since Joe Biden called on Democrats to change the filibuster to pass voting rights bills.

Speaking to reporters after his meetings with the centrist senators, Schumer said Democrats are “not there yet” on agreeing to rule changes.

Asked by NBC News whether he still planned to hold a vote in the coming days, Schumer replied, “The answer is we’re going to hold a vote, yes.”

The Democratic leader has set a deadline of 17 January, Martin Luther King Day, to vote on rule changes that would clear the way for voting rights bills.

3.06pm GMT

US inflation jumped 7% in December

The price of goods and services in the US continue to rise at rates unseen in decades, jumping 7% in December compared to the same month last year – the seventh consecutive month in which inflation has topped 5%.

The news represents a blow to the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve, which until recently have characterized soaring prices as a “transitory” phenomenon brought about by supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the labor department said the consumer price index (CPI) – which measures what consumers pay for a wide range of goods – rose 0.5% last month compared with November and 7% compared with December 2020.

Price increases in housing and used cars and trucks were the largest contributors to the inflation rate, with 0.4% and 3.5% increases in price compared with November, respectively. Food prices also continued to increase, though the 0.5% jump in prices is not as high as increases seen in previous months.

Related: US inflation jumped 7% in December as prices rise at rates unseen in decades

2.42pm GMT

Despite the focus on centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, it’s unclear whether the other 48 members of the Senate Democratic caucus support changing the filibuster.

Politico reported on Monday :

Mark Kelly is not yet committed to a change in the Senate rules that would allow elections reform legislation to pass by a simple majority. A centrist who is up for reelection in November, Kelly said Monday he is still undecided just days before he may have to vote on proposals to weaken the filibuster. ...

For a caucus that prides itself on unity, there’s plenty of nuance in Democrats’ views.

Some, like Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) like a talking filibuster but are ‘not crazy’ about making an exception for voting rights. Meanwhile, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) says reform is needed but is promoting more modest changes. She cites the near-impossible odds the party faces in getting all 50 Democrats on board for changing the filibuster unilaterally, also known as the ‘nuclear option.’

And with the 50-50 split in the Senate, majority leader Chuck Schumer cannot afford a single defection within the caucus if he wants to get rule changes approved and pass voting rights bills.

2.42pm GMT

The Guardian’s Sam Levine and Jewel Wicker report:

Joe Biden on Tuesday gave his most forceful endorsement to date of changing the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass sweeping voting rights legislation, saying he was “tired of being quiet” in a high-profile speech in Georgia.

In one of the most significant speeches of his presidency so far, Biden drew a connection in history between the civil rights movement, the 6 January attack on the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump , and the unprecedented efforts in many states to restrict the vote over the last year.

He said America was at a moment to choose “democracy over autocracy”.

But despite the passion, some prominent Georgia civil rights activists, proclaiming themselves more interested in action than speeches, declined to attend the event in Atlanta on Tuesday where Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris spoke and urged progress in Congress to pass key legislation currently stalled there.

Related: Joe Biden backs filibuster rule change to push voting rights bill

2.42pm GMT

Schumer calls out Manchin and Sinema after Biden demands action on voting rights

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer called out centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema by name last night, after Joe Biden urged Democrats to change the filibuster to clear the way for a voting rights bill.

“I don’t want to delude your listeners, this is an uphill fight,” Schumer said at an event with the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. “Because Manchin and Sinema do not believe in changing the rules.”

Schumer’s comments came hours after Biden delivered his most direct appeal yet for filibuster reform, arguing that senators needed to prioritize the health of American democracy above all else.

“Let the majority prevail,” Biden said in Atlanta, Georgia. “And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

But it’s unclear whether the pressure campaign is going to work. Manchin indicated yesterday that he still wants bipartisan support for any rule changes, which seems virtually impossible given Republicans ’ unified opposition to filibuster reform.

And given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Schumer cannot move forward unless he has the support of every Democratic senator.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Comments / 423

Recon Jarhead
01-12

Good for them, they’re standing up for what’s right, besides they serve the citizens of Arizona and West Virginia not some assclown whose pretending they be president

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Merlins Girl
01-12

Why is it that the Dems are always fixated on one of the most unpopular ideas in government - stopping the filibuster? Getting rid of the filibuster gives all power to one party without the opportunity to oppose tyrannical laws. No matter which side you sit on. Lest we forget, the political winds of change are fickle. Today they blow one way and tomorrow another. So ask yourself why is it so important that the Democrats crush the filibuster? Maybe they plan on keeping power forever? That’s a very dangerous proposition for either party to have that much power.

Reply(37)
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Starboard gunner
01-12

I hope they stay strong. They are the criminal behavior in their own party. They have put saving America above the Democrat agenda to destroy America.

Reply
121

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