Manchin, Sinema Obstruction Voting Rights: Darcy Cartoon

CLEVELAND, Ohio — On Thursday in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans in voting against a single question “exclude” filibuster rule to pass the new right to vote, sending the act to defeat.

Martin Luther King Jr. July 5, 1963 –

“I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the majority of people even to vote.”

The Voting Rights Act was a combination of the Freedom to Suffrage Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. It would have restored parts of the original voting rights law passed in the 1960s that were gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court. The primary function of the new laws was to set national standards for voter access and registration to guard against voter restriction and suppression laws currently being passed in red states. The defeat will open the door to more voter restriction laws being passed in the redder states, including Ohio. The defeated act had the bipartisan support of a majority of Americans.

At President Biden’s marathon press conference, Senator Joe Manchin delivers a speech in the Senate against the temporary change to the filibuster rule to allow the Voting Rights Act to pass by a majority simple, not 60 votes. He was standing next to a large sign that read:

“THE UNITED STATES HAS NEVER WAS ABLE TO END THE DEBATE WITH A SIMPLE MAJORITY

Manchin’s sign was a blatant and bold lie. Since its inception, there has been a filibuster “opout” at least 160 times to allow measures to pass by a simple majority. More recent examples are Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell embracing Trump’s tax cut and confirming his Supreme Court nominees.

Filibuster is not in the US Constitution. It originated in 1805 after then-Vice President Aaron Burr’s offhand comment that the Senate should simply eliminate a rule that automatically halted debate in the hall. Burr would also go down in history for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

The exclusion proposed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would have been only for the new suffrage law, and then the filibuster would have immediately reverted to its current form.

If Sinema and Manchin had both voted yes, the filibuster exclusion and the Voting Rights Act would have been passed. Manchin actually worked to defeat the voting rights bill he helped draft.

It was a dark day in US history when Senators Sinema and Manchin finally voted to filibuster democracy.

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