The Washington Times | by Tom Howell Jr | December 20, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer told Democratic senators Monday he will not give up on President Biden’s social welfare bill and will schedule votes in the new year so Sen. Joe Manchin III or other objectors must go on record in opposition.
The New York Democrat outlined his plan in a letter to colleagues one day after Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, effectively doomed the bill in the evenly divided Senate by saying he could not support the multitrillion-dollar bill, which passed the House but is sparking concerns about government spending and inflation.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Mr. Schumer said. “We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act — and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”
Mr. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a similar letter late Sunday, sounded a note of alarm about Mr. Biden’s foundering plans. They said lawmakers should continue to highlight parts of the bill that make prescription drugs, health coverage and child care more affordable, plus efforts to combat climate change.
Mr. Schumer said Democrats will discuss the bill in a special caucus meeting late Tuesday and a path forward on voting rights bills as soon as the first week after the holiday recess.
The Senate leader floated a process in which Democrats go around filibuster rules that requires 60 votes to move forward on legislation — a so-called nuclear option that progressives want to deploy but that hasn’t been fully embraced by Mr. Biden. Talk of the nuclear option sparked a dire warning from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who says it would blow up the Senate, but Mr. Schumer said it needs to be on the table.
“I would ask you to consider this question: If the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?” Mr. Schumer wrote. “If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation.”
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.