“Twelve months ago, this president said disagreement should not become divisive,” said Mr. McConnell. “But yesterday he invoked the bloody divisions of the Civil War – the Civil War – to demonize Americans who disagree with them. He compared – listen to this – a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors. How deeply, deeply unpresidential.”
Democrats said they welcomed Mr. Schumer’s maneuver and said it would take the voting rights debate out of the theoretical by submitting the bills itself to the Senate, which has so far only been involved in preliminary procedural skirmishes.
“It’s always better to be on the bill,” said Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal.
But Democrats also wondered what their strategy would be for bringing the legislation to a final vote, as Republicans will almost certainly be against it, leaving them well behind the 60 votes needed to close the debate. Many Democrats are calling on the party to use its bare majority to impose a rule change that reduces that threshold to a simple majority.
But while they support the legislation, at least two Democratic senators, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III, have said they would not join such an effort. As a result, the party falls short of the required 50 votes and lacks a mechanism to send the measures to the president for signature.
Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats have stepped up their efforts in recent days to convince the pair that the only way to stop Republicans at the state level from rewriting voting laws to disadvantage Democrats is by changing the rules. more difficult for people, certain minorities to vote.
In addition to Mr Biden’s planned trip to the Capitol on Thursday to plead the case in person at a private party meeting, White House officials said the president also had telephone contact with senators. In an MSNBC appearance on Wednesday, Mr. Schumer said senators were in constant dialogue with their two Democratic colleagues to convince them of the need to take action and get them to put their reservations aside.
“They say things like, ‘I will lose my election if the legislature is allowed to do this in my state,'” Mr Schumer said. “We are losing our majority, but more importantly, we are losing our democracy.”