Is the new voting bill a talk for reality or for the show?

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, has finally concluded a tough deal with Republicans on gun safety, following a series of horrific mass shootings in 2019. when the the conversation suddenly fell apart.

New plan in the House of Representatives to impeach the President Donald J. Trump which means that Republicans are no longer in the mood to compromise with Democrats on anything and the emerging deal has followed the path of so many deals that have looked promising on Capitol Hill in recent years, thwarted by Republicans who say they’re willing to accept some kind of deal – not that one.

“The world has become so polarized that our Republican colleagues got very close to closing a deal, but then they started staring into the abyss of the apartment,” Mr. Blumenthal said. their bases and they pull back,” said Blumenthal, who argued that the Republican Party was intransigent for fear of a political backlash to any cooperation with the Democrats.

The same holds true for other political issues, where attempts at compromise have gone nowhere in Congress. Republicans initially seemed willing to get involved in legislation addressing police and immigration misconduct, for example, only to abruptly withdraw, blaming Democrats for what they call unreasonable demands or refusing to take tough steps could anger their liberal advocates.

So when a bipartisan group of senators recently ramped up discussions to reach a compromise on voting laws, top Democrats have seen a broad package of voting rights. Their more stalled in the Senate last week had to be wary.

They worry that the emerging law could distract from the pressing problem their bill is meant to address – Republican efforts to suppress voters at the state level – and only cover up Republicans. wanted to show an interest in protecting the integrity of the election despite unanimously opposing the Democratic voting rights bill.

They noted that Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican and minority leader in Kentucky, blessed the effort — a significant sign, saying Democrats have learned to be relentless in doubt. about his motives, that it might go nowhere.

Democrats fear that once the moment has passed and attention shifts from election law to spending issues and now to the controversial Supreme Court nomination, negotiations will be over and the party Democrats will have nothing left to show for their suffragette drive, even as 2022 comes between the looming term and the 2024 election just ahead.

But the leaders of the talks now include at least 16 senators divided between Republicans and Democrats who say they are substantively gaining momentum and could introduce legislation that could block it. another January 6th style confrontation by focusing on fixing the 135 year flaws- the old voter count Act.

They point to the bipartisan infrastructure measure that many lawmakers alike were able to introduce last year as their negotiating model and as evidence that compromise is still possible.

“I am encouraged by the fact that almost every day, someone calls me and asks to join our team,” said Sen. Susan Collins, center Republican from Maine and leader compromise effort said. She describes its members, who have mostly met this week, from “quite conservative to quite liberal”.

“This is a serious, dedicated group of senators from both sides of the aisle,” she said in an interview. “This is not a surface effort.”

Supporting the prospect for the talks is the fact that Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York and leader of the majority faction, is also now encouraging them. He is taking what one ally describes as a wait-and-see attitude after initially criticizing the potential compromise as a ruse to slash Democrats’ voting rights package.

A separate group that includes Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and chair of the Rules Committee, and Angus King, a Maine independent, are drafting comparable legislation.

Almost all Democrats support the idea of ​​revising the Voter Count Act, which would set out the ceremonial process by which Congress would formally count the results of the presidential election to determine accept the winner, in case it is exploited in the way that Mr. Trump and his allies have attempted to do so.

But they warn that is no substitute for their proposals, which focus efforts to counter efforts to make it harder for minorities to vote and restore parts of the Voting Rights Act. landmark vote.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat of Maryland, said: “I don’t think anyone is against graft repair. “But no one should pretend that this will in any way solve the larger problems associated with the attack on our democracy.”

Still, Ms. Collins said that focusing on how the president’s electoral college votes should be counted should be the goal of any new voting law as a direct response to the attack on the Capitol in November. 1 year ago by Trump supporters trying to interfere in the vote count.

“The fact that the Democrats haven’t included anything in the Voter Count Act in their 735-page bill, it amazes me to include the link to January 6th,” Ms. Collins said.

She and others say the ongoing negotiations are not just about counting the electoral votes, but also advancing other areas of the federal election process following the experiences of 2020. Negotiators are now beginning to focus on specific areas where they believe action is needed in trying to develop relevant consensus legislation.

Those areas include amending the Voter Count Act to clarify issues such as the role of the vice president who presides over congressional totals and what to do in the event of competing groups of voters. ; address threats against election officials and employees, and impose penalties for election interference; voting rights and practices; renew the US Election Assistance Commission and provide new grants to electoral organizations; and the presidential transition.

The subject of the transition arose after the General Services Administration delayed the formal signing of the inter-administration transition when Mr. Trump refused to yield and made false accusations of conduct. widespread voter fraud.

The tension in the negotiations most likely came from an effort by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and other Democrats involved, who wanted to expand the emerging measure to include rights and voting practices, folding some elements of the stalled Democratic law. Republicans so far are not inclined to reopen that fight.

“We had that debate,” Ms. Collins said.

The goal of the talks is to get at least 10 Republicans involved and keep all Democrats in line to muster at least 60 votes to get through a negotiation, in the hope that More Republicans will join as they see the potential for legislative action.

While Democrats can find Republicans like Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio to join them in a variety of ways, It is much more difficult to reach the critical number.

“Depending on the issue, you might find one or two Republicans who are willing to make a deal, but finding the number 10 is a completely different game,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “For a variety of reasons, too many Republicans can never agree.”

But despite bad experiences in the past and reservations about ongoing negotiations, Democrats say they still hold out hope they can find common ground with Republicans on voting issues. .

“I have to have hope because I cannot come to work every day otherwise,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “I really hope that some of my colleagues on some issues will come together.” Is the new voting bill a talk for reality or for the show?

Fry Electronics Team

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