“The Senate is no longer a cooling saucer. It’s a deep freezer,” Schumer said in his hour-long remarks. “Members of this body now face a choice. They can follow in the footsteps of our patriotic predecessors in this chamber, or they can sit by just as segregationist-oriented Democrats in post-Civil War era did and try to have democracy unravel,” he continued. “I do not believe we want our democracy to unravel. I do not believe it’s the ultimate destiny of this country. It’s a grand country. I believe, I truly believe our democracy will long endure after these latest attacks.”
He was joined by a number of senators including Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
These and other senators are working hard on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to get them to see exactly what they’re doing to abet Republicans in destroying democracy. They’re helped along with a list of Manchin’s friends in and out of the Senate. A list that includes former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and, yes, even Oprah.
But mostly it’s been moderate Democrats Jon Tester of Montana and Kaine, along with Maine Independent Angus King, who have met with Manchin “at least a dozen times with Manchin to talk about Senate rules.” Kaine joked that it’s been like the 27-hour commute to work he experienced this week after getting trapped in a winter storm. “Slow progress toward a goal, like my commute.”
“I can’t say we have a solution or a resolution or a decision. But we’re continuing to talk. That’s the good news,” King said.
They are also talking to Sinema, but the general consensus seems to be that getting Manchin will get her, too. Those two are working in a bipartisan gang on a potential alternative piece of legislation, reforming the Electoral Count Act (ECA). That reform is important, probably even critical, but it is not a substitution for the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act because it does not secure the vote or guarantee free and fair elections.
What’s happening in that gang is utterly transparent: Mitch McConnell is worried that Manchin and Sinema might be swayed by Democrats and join them, and so he has deputized Maine Republican Susan Collins to peel them away. She’s the one who set up this group to work on the bill, even though she is on the record saying the ECA doesn’t need to be reformed.
“It seems to me we have a good system for the Electoral College to act and one of the important moments of Jan. 6 was that we returned and finished our work under that law,” she told Axios.
Schumer and the other Democratic senators, including Kaine, have forcefully rejected reform of the ECA as a substitute for the other bills. Schumer slapped it down hard Thursday on the floor. “Let me take this opportunity to make clear that plan, the McConnell plan that’s what it is, is … unacceptably insufficient and even offensive,” Schumer said.
“Some score-keeping matters little if the game is rigged,” Schumer said.