One of the most important election promises of US President Joe Biden, the great electoral reform, aimed at protecting the African-American right to vote, is in danger of collapsing, after a Democratic senator announced today that he disagrees with the tactics followed by his party .
The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier, with lawmakers adhering to party lines. The next stop is the Senate, where it was to be discussed in a special procedure, so that the Republicans could not block it.
Biden met with Democratic senators this afternoon in a bid to persuade them to support his plan. Earlier, however, Kirsten Cinema of Arizona stepped in and dashed the president’s hopes of passing the bill, which he sees as a continuation of the great 1960s civil rights struggle. Cinema, which is centrally Democratic, does not disagree with the spirit of the bill, but with the process by which it is promoted. Without her vote, in a Senate where Democrats and Republicans are tied, the bill is doomed.
Joe Biden had promised to protect minority voting and transparency in the vote, following a series of reforms adopted by Conservative states, especially in the south. NGOs say the measures taken by Republicans mainly affect African-Americans, who overwhelmingly voted for Biden in the last election. To address the problem, two bills (which have since been consolidated into one) have been proposed to harmonize practices and give the federal government the right to oversee local initiatives.
In order for the bill to pass the Senate, 60 votes were theoretically needed to comply with the so-called filibuster rules, which aim to encourage moderation and dialogue between the parties. In practice, this rule gives the opposition a huge advantage in blocking proposals, especially when the balances are so fragile.
The Democrats had only one solution to save the reform: to abolish the rule and pass the bill by a simple majority. This is exactly the arrangement that Kirsten Cinema does not want because she believes that it will “just fuel the division”.
This is not the first time that Cinema and another Democratic senator, Joe Mancin, have taken to Biden’s’s’s’s’s’s’s’s….. The two moderate senators are skeptical of the president’s plans, which they consider very intrusive, very expensive, very ideological.
The only way out for Biden now would be to persuade some Republicans to support his plan. But such a thing seems extremely unlikely, since the conservative senators have been outraged both by the content of the bill and by the way the Democrats chose to pass it. The head of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, today accused the president of following “a scandalous road that divides”.
A new failure would be difficult for Biden to overcome, who is already appearing unpopular in opinion polls and in danger of losing full control of Congress after the midterm elections.