This article is essentially Part II of yesterday’s article entitled, The Act. If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you read that first.
To a degree this is an open letter to President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin. For the most part they like to portray themselves as regular Joes, no pun or insult intended. I really think both are good men at their core. I just believe they have been a bit too kind or naïve. Last week they got “schooled”.
The Mitch McConnell led Senate Republican caucus filibustered a bill that would have established an independent commission to study the domestic terrorist event of 1/6. (I think the move was actually bad politically for the Republicans and has Trump written all over it. But that is another story for another day.) Contentious issues that we will not be able to completely agree on exist – this is not one of them. Sometimes a compromise will prove illusive. This was not one of those situations. If we can’t get this through without having to deal with the filibuster then any chance of bi-partisanship is over. We have seen this movie before; it is 2009 all over again.
If you remember in that time period the passage of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was delayed about a year in the pursuit of Republican support. Despite watering down the legislation and countless concessions to the Republicans the bill passed on Democratic votes only and largely due to the incredible eleventh-hour legislative talents of Nancy Pelosi.
President Biden, I really respect your efforts to achieve a bi-partisan agreement on several major pending pieces of legislation but you are simply wasting your time and efforts. It isn’t going to happen, at least not between now and the 2022 election. The Congressional Republicans proved that a few weeks ago with the American Rescue Plan – not a single one in either chamber voted for it. (Although several have already gone back to their states or districts and claimed credit for the good it is doing while conveniently not mentioning they voted against it.)
As things stand today the Democrats control the Executive Branch in your person backed up by Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Pelosi. The House is in Democratic control by a slim margin but with the skilled Pelosi in charge she can make it work. The Senate is 50-50 and only in Democratic control by virtue of Harris. Even that is fragile with loss of the chamber being a fatality away. I like the Democrats’ chances of picking up a seat or two or three in the Senate in 2022. Considering gerrymandering and voter suppression holding on to the House is a taller order. That means you may only have a few months left to achieve your objectives. Concentrate on working with the House and Senate Democrats. The Republicans should be respected and listened to but they are not coming along, certainly not in significant enough numbers to make a difference. Their leadership’s goal is to make you a failure and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process.
Now turning to you Senator Manchin, I’ll get to the bottom line – it is time to either kill or seriously amend the filibuster, period! As of less than a year ago I shared your traditionalist feelings on the topic and too worried about the day the Democrats are in the Senate minority again. Unless you are willing to resign yourself to the fact that there simply are not ten Republican senators who care more about America than either fear Donald Trump or follow Mitch McConnell you are destined to help sink America. Your intentions are both good and noble but it simply isn’t working.
Friday’s vote of 54-35-11 told us everything we need to know. Where else do you lose when your side has 54 votes and the other side has 35? Even their arithmetically challenged former Speaker, Paul Ryan, knows that 54 is the larger number. The way the current rule is written you need 60 votes, regardless of how many senators show up for work, to defeat a filibuster. That is why 11 didn’t come to work Friday (eight of them were certain no votes.) If it were 60% of the voting senators the bill would have passed. These days you don’t have to speak to filibuster; in fact, you don’t even have to take to the floor – you can simply email your objection. I’m not certain of the exact Senate rules, but it appears to me that no more than two objectors would actually have to show up for the vote as long as the other side had less than 60 votes present. I think the minority should be heard, heck they might even have something worthwhile to contribute to the conversation.
Joe and Joe, I like both of you and think you are pretty good people along with being skilled politicians. One of you managed to get elected president and the other keeps getting reelected as a Democrat statewide in a very red state.
President Biden, stop wasting time negotiating with Republicans who are either not negotiating in good faith or are unable to deliver. Senator Manchin, get rid of the filibuster or at least severely amend it and worry about the future when we get there. I’m an old man and probably won’t be around that much longer but I have six grandkids I really care about who are considerably younger. All and all America has been pretty good to me; I’d like them be able to say the same when they become senior citizens. Enjoy what is left of the Memorial Day weekend and hit the bricks running with a different attitude on Tuesday morning.
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