For one Democratic senator, Biden’s rhetoric was exaggerated.
This is not a simple criticism of the president. Durbin is a veteran voice in the chamber, who at one point was seen as a potential leader for Senate Democrats. He is neither a critic nor a representative. Notably, he is willing to go on the record with his belief that Biden has “gone a little too far”.
The dispute is over whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (and Biden) can get all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus to vote to change the rules that currently require 60 votes to end the Senate’s unlimited debate in order to bring the voting rights package to the ground. .
It is worth asking the question, then, whether the president has obstructed rather than assisted efforts to obtain all 50 Democratic votes with stalled change. (Biden went to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with Senate Democrats about the fate of voting rights.)
Cinema, in an impassioned address to the Senate on Thursday, reiterated its opposition to changing the disruption rules.
“When one side only needs to negotiate with itself, politics will be inextricably pushed from the center to the extremists,” she said. “I understand there are some on both sides of the aisle who prefer it that way, but I don’t. Arizonans don’t.”
Now, it’s worth noting that even before Biden’s speech on Tuesday, the prospects for changing the disruption rules to deal with voting rights were highly questionable. Manchin and, to a lesser extent, Cinema were insistent – and publicly – not to get rid of the stall by using only the votes of Democrats.
Therefore, it is possible that Biden’s speech will have little negative impact on his desired audience. But it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped him either.
McConnell is also likely to use Biden’s new openness to unwind from the disruption to voting rights legislation as a way to galvanize the Republican base ahead of this year’s midterm elections — pointing to what the Democratic-controlled Senate in 2023 could mean for conservative priorities and principles.
Given all of that, it appears – at least in the short term – that Biden’s speech earlier this week did more harm than good to his efforts to persuade the Senate to drop the stall. Which, obviously, is the opposite of what it was supposed to do.