From the start of the 2021 session, Palmer Report has pointed out that Joe Manchin has merely been posturing when it comes to the filibuster, and that he was merely waiting until he had cover before finally “reluctantly” coming out in support of exempting important legislation from the filibuster. Sure enough, that now appears to be playing out in real time.
To understand this, you first have to understand that the Democrats were hoping the Republicans would be stupid enough to kill the bipartisan 1/6 commission – which is what ended up happening yesterday. This now gives the Democrats cover to appoint a 1/6 select committee, which will give them more investigative power, while hitting the Republicans for blocking bipartisanship.
It also gave Joe Manchin cover to come out swinging at Senate Republicans for abusing the filibuster in such unpopular and unpatriotic fashion – which is what Manchin did yesterday. Now, even as Manchin is finally ranting and raving about how obstructionist Senate Republicans are, Chuck Schumer has suddenly scheduled a vote on the HR1/S1 voting rights reform act for next month. This likely isn’t coincidence.
Although a number of liberal Twitter pundits love taking inaccurate cheap shots at Chuck Schumer, he’s actually quite savvy at this stuff. It’s difficult to imagine that he’d bring something as important as HR1 to a vote this soon, unless he now has the votes. Keep in mind that the next election isn’t until 2022, meaning there’s absolutely no hurry to pass HR1. If the votes weren’t there yet, Schumer would keep waiting to hold the vote.
At the same time, we know that there certainly aren’t ten Republican Senators willing to vote in favor of HR1, because it would make it harder for them to cheat in their own reelection campaigns (Lisa Murkowski, who will face a far right primary challenger in 2022, might be the only exception who could be swayed to vote for it).
So if there are only fifty (or fifty-one) votes for HR1, then Schumer must know that Manchin is finally ready to exempt HR1 from the filibuster. There’s really no other plausible explanation. It makes sense. Manchin needs HR1 to pass in order to have a fair shot in his own reelection bid in Republican-controlled West Virginia. Now that Senate Republicans have abused the filibuster in such embarrassing fashion, he has the cover he needs to argue that he had no choice but to take this next step. And if Murkowski is on board, Manchin will nominally have the “bipartisan” cover he’s been seeking.
Of course to understand where this has all been heading, you have to have an accurate understanding of the political landscape, and not the simplistic cartoonish understanding of politics that so many liberal pundits like to promote. Chuck Schumer isn’t an idiot, he’s a savvy vote whipper who understands the nuances of getting legislation passed. Joe Manchin isn’t a mustache twirling villain, he’s just a selfish guy who wanted cover for his own red state reelection bid. And there was never any hurry to pass HR1, no matter how many times MSNBC has screamed otherwise. The fact that Schumer is moving up HR1 from his original August deadline, to a June vote, strongly suggests that he has the votes to pass it. Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report