ARI BERMAN: Good morning, Amy.
Well, the plan is that the House is taking a bill, and they are putting the two voting rights bills — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — in what’s essentially a shell bill. They are going to pass that today and send it to the Senate. And that will allow the Senate to immediately debate the bill without needing 60 votes to get it to the floor. They will still need 60 votes to pass the bill if they don’t reform the filibuster, but this will allow at least the Senate to immediately begin debating the bill, probably Friday or Saturday, and then set up a vote on these bills, and also potentially changing the Senate rules, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
AMY GOODMAN: Which, of course, is Monday. I mean, this is really unusual. It’s a bill completely unrelated, something to do with NASA, that the House will pass. Then they will remove the text of that and put the two bills into it, and it’s called a message, that will be sent to the Senate, as they do this. So, then, what has to happen next? And why are Manchin and Sinema key at the point in the Senate?
ARI BERMAN: Yeah, and it’s important to remember, Amy, these bills have already passed the House. So it’s not like the House hasn’t taken up the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act already. They just have to do this message bill to get it to the Senate to essentially avoid 60 votes on debate. That’s the only way that Schumer will be able to then have a debate on the bills themselves and on the rules changes.
Manchin and Sinema are key because there’s essentially 48 votes for changing the Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation, but they’re two votes short, and the two votes that are short are Manchin and Sinema. And Democrats have been working feverishly, both publicly and behind the scenes, to get Manchin and Sinema to support the rules changes, but they’re not there yet. It’s important to remember, this voting rights bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, this is Joe Manchin’s bill. This is not like Build Back Better, where he doesn’t support the bill. He supports these bills. The question is: Is he willing to change the rules to pass them? And as of now, the answer is no.
AMY GOODMAN: During his speech on Tuesday in Atlanta, President Biden made reference to Strom Thurmond, the longtime segregationist senator who served in the Senate for nearly half a century.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: In 2006, the Voting Rights Act passed 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives and 98 to 0 in the Senate, with votes from 16 current sitting Republicans in this United States Senate. Sixteen of them voted to extend it. The last year I was chairman, as some of my friends sitting down here will tell you, Strom Thurmond voted to extend the Voting Rights Act. Strom Thurmond. … Think about that. The man who led the longest — one of the longest filibusters in history in the United States Senate in 1957 against the Voting [sic] Rights Act, the man who led and sided with the old Southern bulls in the United States Senate to perpetuate segregation in this nation — even Strom Thurmond came to support voting rights. But Republicans today can’t and won’t. Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote. Not one. Not one.