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Democrats failed to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation after two members of their party, keen to make the change on a partisan basis, voted with the GOP to fend off pressure.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) lamented the failure to pass the ballot package and vowed, along with nearly all Democrats in the House and Senate, to continue to put pressure on their colleagues on both sides of the aisle. .
“The Senate must find a way forward to secure our basic right to vote,” Rosen said in a statement after Senate Democrats lost on Wednesday.
But legislative avenues appear closed for the time being, especially as attention increasingly turns to the midterm elections in November, and the chances of passing significant legislation dwindle commensurately.
Right to vote
Nevada Democrats backed the voting rights package, which needed 60 votes to end debate under the Senate closure rule. It failed 49 to 51, with all 50 Democrats voting for the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NV) changed his vote to “no” to allow him to put the bill back in place, a quirk of Senate rules.
The Senate then immediately decided to change the closure rule specifically for the bill to allow the Senate to end debate on the measure – after all senators wishing to speak had done so – by a vote at simple majority. The motion required all 50 Democratic votes, plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) voted against the move. In the days leading up to Wednesday night’s vote, both had called for the need to keep the closing threshold at 60 to encourage bipartisanship.
During the day-long debate on the Suffrage Bill, Rosen gave a speech on the floor arguing for the need for vote protections. She pointed to many Republican-led states that changed election regulations and laws to “make it harder for tens of millions of eligible citizens to vote.”
“This is an unprecedented coordinated attack to make it harder to vote,” Rosen said.
Worried about Nevada
Rosen praised Nevada for taking steps to make voting easier, including allowing universal mail-in voting for the 2020 election and extending early voting. But she stressed that Nevada is not immune. Rosen pointed out that two of the leading GOP gubernatorial candidates, former Senator Dean Heller and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardopledged to repeal these ballot measures.
She also pointed to the stated positions of former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who leads a coalition of so-called “America first“GOP Secretary of State Nominees in an effort to try ‘fix 2020 as President Trump said.’
She raised concerns that Marchant, if elected, could certify “surrogate voters in future Nevada presidential elections, contrary to the actual election results.”
His comments come as the House select committee investigating the causes of the Jan. 6 uprising is scrutinize the efforts of the republicans in seven states, including Nevadawhere alternative voter lists, alleging voter fraud, sought to be certified.
The panel argues the move was part of a plan to give Vice President Mike Pence, who has a ceremonial role presiding over Congressional certification of the presidential elections, justification for not accepting the results. Gov. Steve Sisolak said this week he believed the fake voters had committed a crime.
The select committee is awaiting a new batch of documents from the National Archives related to its investigation into bogus voters, according to its panel chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Politics reported Friday.
Building back better
Cortez Masto said she remains optimistic that parts of President Joe Biden’s stalled Build Back Better (BBB) bill can become law.
Among those policies should be reducing health care costs, including lowering prescription drug prices, she said. Cortez Masto mentioned a provision in the BBB that would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. She also cited language that would force pharmaceutical companies to pay the federal government if the prices of certain drugs rise more than the rate of inflation.
“They should be penalized for that,” Cortez Masto said in a brief interview. “So there are a number of things that we can continue to do to not only reduce costs for families, give them tax breaks, but they will be anti-inflationary.”
His comments came after Biden told a press conference on Wednesday that he was confident “big chunks of the Build Back Better Act” could be “enacted.”
But Manchin, who opposes the soaring inflation bill, said he wants to start over. He had negotiated the bill up to $1.7 trillion. Yet he backed down from the package, in part because of Democrats’ attempt to fund multiple programs, but not for 10 years, which is Congress’ budget window. This allowed them to reduce the overall cost while funding more priorities and programs.
Silva and Traum
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nominations of Clark County District Court Judge Cristina Silva and UNLV law professor Anne Traum to join the U.S. District Court in Nevada. Nominations now go before the full Senate.
Titus wants aviation
Bloomberg Government reported recently that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) will not be running to become chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the current President, announcement last month that he would not run again.
Instead, Titus’ office said she plans to seek out the chairman of the panel’s aviation subcommittee, which oversees airport and aviation policy. The aviation panel is led by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), who has expressed interest in taking over the full committee.
Rosen supports a bill that would remove Senator Francis Newlands’ name from a roundabout between Washington DC and Maryland. The bill was introduced Tuesday by Maryland senators and the House version is co-sponsored by Titus.
Rosen’s office said she hoped the plaque honoring Newlands, a white supremacist, “could be replaced with the name of a Nevadan who better exemplifies the values of the state.”
For a full look at the measures delegates supported or opposed this week, see The Nevada IndependentCongressional vote tracking and other information below.
SEN. Jacky Rosen
S.3531 – A bill requiring the federal government to produce a national climate adaptation and resilience strategy, and for other purposes.
REPRESENTING. SUSIE LEE
HR6448 – To direct the Director of the Department of Justice’s Community Based Policing Bureau to implement a grant program to provide assistance to police departments with fewer than 200 law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.