Reflections on Day Two of Senate Proceedings – Jan 19th, 2022

by Richard @ Flexible Reality

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The televised proceedings of the debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate that occurred yesterday and today were lessons on democracy. I did not watch yesterday’s proceeding and only started watching about noon today when Sen. Murkowski (R) AK took the floor focusing on the need for States to have flexibility in their voting procedures and bringing up the diverse needs of Alaska’s citizens. But she did not mention or acknowledge that States have now and will continue to have the right to cater to the needs of their citizens and the proposed legislation will simply put a national floor under State behavior to the minimum requirements for voting rights.

She echoed the call for bipartisan cooperation which would be repeated several times during the day, primarily by Republicans. Sen. Collins (R)ME was one of the Senators mentioned later in the day by Sen. Ossoff (D)GA who took note of Sen Collins stated position of supporting the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but consistently finding fault with any process or procedure to address the need for new legislation, especially after the Shelby vs Holder 2013 SCOTUS ruling. Other Senators provided similar comments. Supporting the basis but disagreeing on the path to correcting the problem.

Sen. Warnock (D)GA would later in the day put this hesitation in perspective. He said, “we have a duty to act”. As any careful observer has seen the standard response from Republicans in the past two decades on any proposed legislation by Democrats is obstruction, denial, delay, and obfuscation. Nowhere did the Senator from Alaska propose an alternate path, nor point to any action by members of her caucus to address the anti-democratic actions by the nineteen States later identified as having passed restrictive voting rights laws since the 2020 election.

Next came Sen. Haggerty (R)KY who started off by referencing what he called the “false claims of Russian influence” in the 2016 and 2020 elections. He suggested that amending the filibuster rule would “destroy the Senate”, completely ignoring the evidence the filibuster has been changed 160 times recently, including twice within the past few years.

Sen. Kennedy (R)LA followed with tropes directly from conspiracy theories about “ballot harvesting”, and that the sole effort was a Democratic power grab. He was the first to bring up the deficiencies in the Majority Leader’s home State of New York as if to show that “Blue States” have deficient voting protection rules too. During the day this targeting was echoed by others. Yet I also saw Senators from Blue States acknowledge the harm being done in their home State by partisan actors, almost exclusively by Republican led State legislatures as in Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

Then it got dumb. Sen Grassley launched into a defense of Postmaster DeJoy, saying Democrats were employing a scare tactic over ballot processing by the Postal Service as if the evidence presented by several Federal agencies shows beyond doubt that DeJoy has presided over a mail delivery system that has become slower, most costly, less focused on core capabilities, and which has lead to current legal proceeding against Mr. DeJoy for corrupt practices and self-dealing.

Following came Sen. Scott (R)SC who asserted the recently passed election laws in Georgia were “not bad”. Again, dozens of entities including the Brennan Center at NYU have demonstrated by the orientation, focus, and methods are directed to making it harder for the votes of certain members of the electorate to be cast, harder to be counted fairly, and prone to be usurped by elected representatives.

The Senator from Kansas complained about the “one size fits all” orientation of the proposed legislation. He said it was a Federal election law takeover.

This was repeated next by Sen Blackburn (R)TN who called the proposed legislation a Democratic power grab. Then on to Sen Scott (R)FL who asserted Democrats were busily “packing the courts” and demonstrating “authoritarian actions”. One could point out the filibuster rule was amended to deny a hearing to Pres Obama’s candidate for the Supreme Court, and then used to permit the installation of a questionably qualified candidate on the Court weeks before the General Election. My gut reaction to Sen Scott FL was shame and pity for my friends who live in Florida that they were represented by such an odious person.

Again came Sen Marshall (R)KS urging his fellow Senators to support the filibuster due to its “push toward collaboration” – which it most emphatically is not, as Sen Kaine (D)VA pointed out later. In fact the current “blind” filibuster actually rules out any need for the minority to participate in legislation. They can simply sit at their desk and stop any action in Congress which they object to with a simple 41 Senator cabal. At another discussion in Washington D.C. it was pointed out that California has a population greater than the combined total of the 22 smallest States yet has only two Senators, while the 22 States have 44 Senators. These 44 Senators, mostly from Red States can block any action in the Senate including debate on any issue. Sen Marshall asserted the problems spoken about “do not exist”.

Then on to Sen Manchin (D)WV who asserted the Senate has never been able to end debate with a simple majority.

Following came the nastiness of Sen Langford (R)OK who started off asserting his opposition to any change that alters protections for the minority. But then he brought out a poster with three 26 week old fetuses and tried to link the lack of choice of a fetus as somehow equivalent to something being discussed. That was obscene, and not at all relavent to any matter being considered by the Senate. Roe v Wade is a different consideration and had no place in the discussion. He reiterated the call for letting States decide which election laws they want for their State.

Then came Sen Cardin (D)MD who spoke eloquently about the need for a national standard, a baseline of universal processes and procedures which apply to all Federal elections. He also condemned the “pocket” filibuster.

Sen Cotton (R)AR took to the floor to assert that Jim Crow laws are not the concern of the American people. That the Democrats are engaged in a power grab campaign that less than 1% of the population has any interest in.

 

 

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