Yesterday, Joe Manchin offered a list of revisions to the HR1 voting rights legislation that he said would allow him to potentially support it. Then later yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he’s holding a preliminary HR1 vote next week.
So what’s really going on? It’s clear that Manchin is now in the process of caving or partially caving. With the way he’s become a target of nationwide scorn and civil rights protests, he was always going to have to give in eventually. But I can think of two distinct possible scenarios.
The rosiest would be that Schumer is holding a preliminary HR1 vote next week because he expects it to pass. This would mean that Schumer is even better at this than I thought, because it would mean that either Manchin is willing to exempt a revised HR1 from the filibuster, or Schumer has gotten ten Republican Senators on board with the revised HR1. This is possible, given that Manchin announced last night that he’s now open to dropping the filibuster threshold from 60 votes to 55 votes; he’s clearly in the process of continuing to cave, in the hope of getting the heat off himself.
But it’s also possible that Schumer is holding the preliminary vote next week, expecting it to fail, in order to generate even more public outrage toward Manchin (and Senate Republicans) for blocking it. Then Schumer would bring it back to the floor again, perhaps days or weeks from now, once Manchin really has fully caved to the point that he’s filling to concede the filibuster.
I’m not going to make any prediction as to which of these two scenarios is playing out. But I think we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that next week’s preliminary HR1 vote fails. If that happens, it won’t be time for the doomsday “all hope is lost nonsense.” If the HR1 vote fails next week, it’ll be because it was supposed to fail, in order to increase outrage and put even more pressure on Manchin and his pals.
I fully expect HR1 (or some variant of it) will indeed pass with plenty of time before the 2022 midterm elections. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to pass next week. As I’ve said, voting rights legislation is a long game, a marathon in fact, and not a sprint.
No matter how the HR1 process plays out going forward, our job is to keep placing as much pressure on Manchin and Sinema as possible. That’s how we increase our leverage and force them to cave. At no point will it be helpful to begin yelling doomsday stuff, or to stop pressuring Manchin and Sinema, or to begin whining about Schumer. None of that is ever helpful. In fact it’s always harmful.
But whether it’s in the short term or the long term, we’re going to get voting rights legislation done. The playing field is such that the only way it won’t get done is if you all cave instead of doing your job of applying pressure. And I believe that you’ll all continue doing what’s necessary to fight and win this battle.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report