Someone recently asked me how I can still be confident that HR1 and related voting rights legislation are going to become law, when the Senate is set to go on recess for two weeks. That question made no sense to me. Why would a brief recess stand in the way of the passing of legislation that we don’t realistically need to pass until the middle of 2022? Then it hit me: we’re stuck in another one of those panicked moments.
Yes, it’s true that we absolutely must pass federal voting rights legislation into law, in order to wipe out the increasingly egregious state level voter suppression legislation. It’s crucial. It must happen. But it doesn’t need to happen right this minute, unless the 2022 election has been moved up to next week and someone forgot to tell me about it.
It seems we’ve once again fallen into the trap of thinking that just because something must end up happening, it must happen right now or else all hope is lost. The reality is that voting rights legislation simply needs to happen before the next major election. Passing it sooner won’t change anything. And while it would be nice to get it done sooner rather than later, nothing is ever that simple in the Senate, and nothing ever moves that quickly. Put another way: the odds of it passing into law are infinitely greater a few months down the road, than if it were brought to a vote right now.
HR1 will become law because even people like Joe Manchin, who are the most reluctant to change Senate rules in order to pass legislation, have already publicly committed themselves to finding a way to make HR1 happen. Manchin has said he’s open to reforming filibuster and/or reconciliation rules in order to pass it. He wouldn’t say something like that unless he was already on board with it. It’s how these cautious types in the middle work.
So yes, voting rights legislation is going to become law. Yes, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and activism on our part, and savvy political maneuvering on the Democrats’ part. But we’re going to get it done. And it’ll happen in time for the 2022 election cycle. It’s just not going to happen tomorrow or next week, or even next month. The most effective way to make something happen isn’t always to try to immediately make it happen. Importance and urgency are not the same concept. We’re on track to pass HR1. Don’t let short sighted pundits scare you into believing that we’re all doomed if it doesn’t happen by this time tomorrow.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report