It finally happened. On 22 June Senate Republicans used the filibuster to defeat the Democrats HR1, the For the People act. All 50 Republicans voted against ending debate and bringing HR1 to the floor for a vote. HR1 would ban voter ID and mandate mass mailing of absentee ballots, among other provisions. Republicans, many of whom think the 2020 election was stolen, say this will enable mass fraud by Democrats. HR1 would have nationalized American elections and may not even be constitutional. Article II, section 1 of the Constitution says presidential electors will be chosen in a way determined by the state legislatures.
There followed what has become a bizarre ritual in which the press camps out in front of the offices of Democrat senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to browbeat them, yet again, about their refusal to nuke the filibuster. Since the filibuster falls under senate rules, 50 votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie breaking vote are all that’s required to end it. Both Sinema and Manchin have written editorials in the press defending the filibuster, making the exact same arguments this observer makes here. The filibuster fosters cooperation between both sides. It prevents massive shifts in policy. While the House of Representatives is supposed to reflect the desires of the party in power, the senate, via the filibuster is supposed to provide a break. Besides, as Sinema has argued, one day the Republicans will be back in power.
No matter, the Democrat left is enraged. Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), leader of the Squad of leftwing House Democrats, tweeted, ‘Call me radical, but I do not believe a minority of Senators should be able to block voting rights for millions of people.’ Actually, half the senate blocked the vote. The Democrats could probably get much of what they wanted in HR1, certainly expanded voting hours, in exchange for voter ID. That’s right, foreign readers, in America a person voting does not need to prove their identity. Democrats think ID requirements are racists and harken back to the Jim Crow era. Republicans are convinced Democrats oppose voting ID because it would make it harder for them to cheat. Voter ID is required in Britain and Canada.
Moving on from HR1, Congress is trying to pass a pair of infrastructure bills. Last week Republicans thought they had a deal with Biden and Congressional Democrats on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package for roads, airports, bridges, broadband and the like. But at a subsequent press conference, Biden threatened to veto the $1.2 trillion bill unless a second, larger bill that included hundreds of billions of dollars for leftwing pet projects like the Green New Deal, wasn’t passed first. Under senate rules, spending bills are not subject to the filibuster and these only need a simple majority to pass. Biden’s veto threat angered the senate GOP, and several senators who had agreed to support the initial $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill withdrew their support.
At this point it’s not entirely clear if the leftwing of the Democrat party will support the dual infrastructure bills. A group of senate Democrats led by Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is working on a separate $4 trillion infrastructure bill that includes the Green New Deal, Universal Pre-K, and a host of other socialist programs. Sanders says he won’t support the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill without these provisions. ‘No reconciliation bill, no deal. We need transformative change NOW,’ Sanders tweeted. AOC has her own reasons for opposing the bipartisan infrastructure deal, noting that the senators agreeing to the bipartisan infrastructure bill were all white, AOC tweeted, ‘The diversity of this “bipartisan coalition” pretty perfectly conveys which communities get centered and which get left behind when leaders prioritize bipartisan dealmaking [sic] over inclusive lawmaking (which prioritizes delivering the most impact possible for the most people)’.
Meanwhile, in a battle for the soul of the Democrat party, New York City Democrats held their primary to replace the retiring Mayor Bill De Blasio. The two term mayor leaves office amidst a sky-rocketing crime rate. Long gone are the anti-crime administrations of Rudi Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, who made NYC the safest city in America. This May, robberies were up 46% and shootings 73% compared to May of last year. AOC, whose 14th Congressional district includes part of the Bronx and Brooklyn, warned in a radio interview: ‘Now I want to say that any amount of harm is unacceptable, and too much, but I also want to make sure that this hysteria, you know, that this doesn’t drive a hysteria.’
New York City residents disagreed. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, an African American and former police officer running as the ‘law and order’ candidate, won 31% of the vote on election day, but it’s not that simple. NYC is experimenting with a ‘ranked choice’ system where voters rank their 1st choice, their 2nd choice and so on, with the bottom vote getter being set aside and those votes being reassigned to the voter’s next choice. The city also needs to count 124,000 mail in ballots. As the counting of mail in ballots and assigning of ranked choice votes begins, the race is down to Adams and former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. Adams leads by about 15,000 votes, but that lead is shrinking and he is hinting that ‘voting irregularities’ may be an issue. ‘The vote total just released by the board of elections is 100,000-plus more than the total announce on election night, raising serious questions.’ The Board of elections claims thousands of test ballots were accidentally scanned. At his Bedminster, New Jersey country club, Trump laughs.