The Democrats’ attempt to alter the filibuster in order to pass two voting bills failed in the Senate Wednesday.
Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans in voting against altering the Senate filibuster, resulting in a 48-52 vote.
Sinema and Manchin have said for months that they oppose changing the filibuster, while Democrats attempted to lower the 60-vote threshold.
“A few hours ago this chamber, with the eyes of the nation upon it and with the evidence of vote suppression laid bare before it… took a vote to move to final passage on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “It received 50 votes, and with the vice president we would have had a majority”.
“Even if you think the filibuster is a good thing, is it protecting voting rights, and preventing their diminution more important?” he added.
On Wednesday, Manchin defended his position, saying “Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart”.
“These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself. And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division affecting our country,” Sinema said last week.
Though Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has used the nuclear option in the past, he said the “legislative filibuster is a central Senate tradition. It is the indispensable feature of our institution. It makes the Senate serve its founding purpose: forging compromise, cooling passions, and ensuring that new laws earn broad support from a cross-section of our country”.
After the vote, President Biden expressed that he was “profoundly disappointed that the Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy”.
Schumer followed Biden’s tone, tweeting that “Inaction is not an option on voting rights”. “We’re going to vote on changing Senate rules for these bills. The Senate must choose in favor of our democracy. The Senate must stand up and defend voting rights”.
Sinema released a statement after the vote, saying she maintained her “longstanding opposition to separate actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government”.