Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema walk after a vote

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves the Senate Chamber with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) following a vote on November 3, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

On Eve of Key Fight, Sanders Asks: 'Will Manchin and Sinema Vote With GOP?'

"We are not going to win the elections in 2022 unless our base is energized and ordinary people understand what we are fighting for, and how we are different than the Republicans."

Jake Johnson

Just hours ahead of a pivotal Senate showdown over voting rights and the legislative filibuster, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday focused his attention on the two primary internal obstacles to the Democratic Party's success on both fronts: right-wing Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

"As the voting rights bill finally comes to the floor of the Senate, there is only one vote which will really matter," Sanders (I-Vt.) argued in a Twitter post. "Will 50 Democrats vote to override the filibuster, protect American democracy, and pass the bill, or will Manchin and Sinema vote with the GOP and let the bill die?"

Sanders' question came on the eve of Senate Democrats' expected effort to debate and push through voting rights legislation that the GOP has blocked for months using the 60-vote filibuster rule, which—in an evenly divided upper chamber—gives the minority party veto power over most bills.

If Republicans obstruct a final vote on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act—a combination of Democrats' two key voting rights measures—Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to press ahead with an attempt to change the Senate rules, a move that would require the support of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus. A vote on Senate rules is expected as early as Wednesday.

Last week, as Common Dreams reported, both Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sinema (D-Ariz.) said they would not weaken the 60-vote threshold even to pass legislation that would help thwart GOP-led disenfranchisement efforts across the country.

Marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day, activists on Monday marched and rallied in Washington, D.C. to demand that Manchin and Sinema drop their support for the Senate filibuster, which has long been used to block progress on civil rights.

"Today is not just a holiday; it's a call to action on voting rights," said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. "If Senate Majority Leader Schumer and the rest of Senate Democrats really want to honor Dr. King's legacy, then they must pass federal voting rights legislation immediately. And if the Republicans continue to perpetrate the big lie and aid in this slow-motion insurrection, the Senate Democrats must go it alone and carve out an exception to the filibuster to pass the legislation now."

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), an outspoken proponent of filibuster reform, tweeted Monday that "you cannot remember Dr. King and dismember his legacy at the same time."

"To celebrate him," Warnock wrote, "is to support voting rights, a livable wage, and healthcare."

Over the course of 2021, Republican-led state legislatures passed an estimated 34 laws restricting ballot access, and more than 440 voter suppression measures were introduced.

If passed, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would negate parts of the new GOP-authored laws by bolstering voter protections at the federal level. But activists fear that congressional Democrats might already be too late to enact reforms before the 2022 midterms, in which Republicans are widely favored to take back the House.

In an interview with the New York Times late last week, Sanders warned that the Democratic majority's failure to get voting rights and other key priorities across the finish line has "demoralized" voters, imperiling the party's prospects in upcoming elections.

"They're asking, 'What do the Democrats stand for?'" Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said of voters. "Clearly, the current strategy is failing and we need a major course correction."

"In my view, we are not going to win the elections in 2022 unless our base is energized and ordinary people understand what we are fighting for, and how we are different than the Republicans," he added. "That's not the case now."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Brazil Votes Live: Lula Wins the First Round Over Far-Right Bolsonaro; Run-Off Oct. 30

Lula took the lead as more rural votes counted but failed to reach 50%

Common Dreams staff ·

'Enough is Enough': Hundreds of Thousands March Across the UK

'As wages fall while profits soar, our message is clear... We are here to win.'

Common Dreams staff ·

California Gov. Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks

Common Dreams staff ·

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·

Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo