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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “Democrats Should Leap at the Chance to Take Joe Manchin’s Deal” at Slate, Richald L. Hasen writes: “With new pressure on Manchin since he again backed the filibuster and stated his explicit opposition to the initial version of the For the People Act earlier this month, he finally released his counteroffer on Wednesday. It includes a number of the most important voting rights and campaign finance priorities of the original bill, including a requirement of 15 days of early voting in federal elections, automatic voter registration, limits on partisan gerrymandering, and improved campaign finance disclosure. He’s also on board with extending campaign finance provisions to communications on the internet and to currently nondisclosing “dark money” groups, prohibiting false information about when, where, and how people vote, and an updated preclearance process….Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect. Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin’s list, such as felon reenfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted. It also would weaken some of the standards for restoring preclearance under the John Lewis bill, making it harder to get a jurisdiction covered by the requirement and easier for a jurisdiction to get out from under its coverage….Again, this is a good deal being offered to Democrats, and Democrats should grab it. Voter identification is not necessarily bad, if it is implemented fairly, has ways for people lacking ID to still vote, and is funded fully by the government. Many of the items on the Democratic wish list not here are much less urgent than what is being offered and can be pursued another time.”

“His movements come as Senate Democrats prepare for a vote next week on the elections bill. The legislation is a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, but has little chance of becoming law given opposition from Manchin and the GOP,” Laura Barron-Lopez, Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett write at Politico. “The West Virginia senator organized his Monday meeting after a similar conversation with leaders of national civil rights organizations one week earlier. With no change to the filibuster on the horizon, Manchin and the groups know that 10 Republican senators will be needed to support legislation that would achieve two major Democratic goals: reauthorizing key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and approving changes to American elections that lie at the heart of the party’s massive but stalled elections bill….Manchin is making clear he’s not against everything in the elections bill: He supports expanded early voting and a ban on partisan gerrymandering, according to a copy of his memo obtained by POLITICO. But he also wants new voter ID requirements and is pushing for more flexibility for state officials to remove voters from voter rolls, both of which run counter to the design of the elections bill that already passed the House….Manchin also proposes making Election Day a public holiday, mandating 15 consecutive days of early voting and allowing for automatic registration through the DMV with the ability to opt out.”

Newsweek’s Katherine Fung reports that “Joe Manchin Signals He’s Open to Filibuster Reform, Offering Hope to Democrats,” and notes, “Sen. Joe Manchin is signaling he may be open to reforming the filibuster, offering hope to Democrats who are eager to push their legislative agenda through Congress without the 60 votes currently required by the Senate rule….On Monday, Manchin joined a private Zoom call hosted by No Labels, an operation that combats partisan dysfunction and funnels donor money to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans, to discuss the filibuster, infrastructure negotiations and the failed efforts to create a January 6 commission….In remarks obtained by The Intercept, Manchin said he would consider lowering the threshold to beat the filibuster or forcing the minority to show up on the Senate floor in large enough numbers to maintain a filibutser….”That’s one of many good, good suggestions I’ve had,” the senator said about lowering the cloture total from 60 to 55….I looked back…when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So I’m open to looking at it, I’m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that’s all,” he added.”

Wasdhington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares this asessment of the Biden-Putin summit: “Watching Putin play defense underscored the good news from Geneva: The Biden-Putin encounter could hardly have been more different from the bizarre get-togethers between the Russian leader and former president Donald Trump. Biden denied the Russian leader a shared podium, and there was, thankfully, no fawning over Putin, no taking Putin’s word over the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies….On the contrary, when Biden met later with reporters, he derided any link between the jailing of Navalny and the Jan. 6 events as “ridiculous,” and he used his opening remarks to reaffirm the democracy-strengthening purpose of his European journey….Biden said he told Putin that “no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have in our view. That’s just part of the DNA of our country….Biden’s final thought before he headed home: “As long as I’m president, we’re going to stick to the notion that we’re open, accountable and transparent.” Perhaps that was a parting shot at Vladimir Putin.”

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