Indy DC Download: Senate Democrats delay debate plans on likely doomed voting rights package

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A case of COVID-19 and a possible winter storm that was expected to hit the nation’s capital over the weekend forced Senate Democrats to scrap plans to begin debate on a set of two voting rights bills. and pressure to change the filibuster rules.

Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), had hoped to be on the floor Monday to debate the filibuster and its impediment to passing the vote. This debate would have been symbolic since it coincided with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the civil rights hero.

Instead, Schumer adjourned the Senate Thursday night and will return the chamber to session beginning Tuesday. Next week was supposed to be recess week. But this suspension will now take place the following week.

Along with the potential storm, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) announced Thursday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, requiring him to quarantine for at least five days. His absence meant Democrats would be one vote short of the 50 they needed, plus Vice President Kamala Harris’s deciding vote, to start the debate on the package.

The focus on suffrage came as Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) led four fellow Democrats in a speech thursday letter calling on the White House to answer questions about what it is doing to address the COVID-19 home testing shortage. The letter comes as Clark County schools are closed for five days due to staffing shortages related to rising cases in Nevada. The rise was triggered by the highly contagious variant of Omicron and the letter argues that the White House should have been better prepared.

Right to vote/filibuster

Republicans oppose the ballot package and will likely block the bill when it comes to a vote in the Senate, where it will miss the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Despite pressure from Democrats for a change to Senate rules — including President Joe Biden meeting with all Senate Democrats on Thursday — Senate Democrats are unlikely to have the 50 votes needed to change the filibuster so that their measure of voting rights is adopted.

While Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Rosen support the ballot package and a filibuster change, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) remained opposed to significant changes in the filibuster. , such as lowering the threshold of 60 votes.

Sinema gave a speech in the Senate on Thursday, reiterating his position. Manchin also stood his ground on the issue when questioned by reporters. Without their support, it’s unclear what Senate Democrats can do about chamber rules or voting rights.

In a brief interview ahead of Biden’s meeting, Cortez Masto said debate and voting are key to making their position publicly known to his colleagues, including those in his party.

“I think it’s worth talking about the need to restore the Senate,” Cortez Masto said. “It’s not just about the right to vote, it’s about other essential laws. The American public deserves to know why it’s not moving. The American public deserves to know that there is work going on to try to restore the Senate to bring back that debate to bring back that transparency and talk about issues that are important to this country.

The House approved the package on a 220-to-203 party line on Thursday.

The measure consists mainly of two voting rights bills. One, known as the Freedom to Vote Act, would require all 50 states to offer early voting periods for at least two weeks before Election Day; allow universal postal voting; and allow for a wide range of identifications and alternatives for states requiring voter identification. Nevada instituted Universal Mail when voting for the 2020 election and has since made it permanent. The state has also extended early voting and has no voter identification requirements.

The other, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would restore the criteria used to determine which states, mostly in the South, must obtain federal permission to change voting procedures. In a 2013 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the previous formula, so no state was given the additional scrutiny required by the Voting Rights Act of 1964.

In one Press releaseRep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) said the package is another partisan exercise that would allow “federal ownership of elections,” which he believes states and localities should manage.

“This is the fifth time in two years that Democratic leaders have flipped the bird on states’ constitutional authority to hold their own elections,” Amodei said, adding that while he has issues with the recent decision to the Nevada Legislature to establish universal mail-in voting. , he believes it was the prerogative of the state to do so.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), who also sits second in the Congressional Black Caucus, welcomed the House’s passage of the ballot measure in a Press release. He also welcomed the inclusion of the Native American Voting Rights Act in the package, which would give tribes greater influence over the number and location of voter registration sites, drop boxes and polling stations. on tribal lands, and allowing tribal ID cards for voting purposes. .

United States Attorney Appointment

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson as US attorney for Nevada. The 22-member panel — currently split evenly between Democrats and Republicans to reflect the entire Senate — voted by voice vote, with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Mike Lee all asked to be recorded as “no” votes.

Hawley’s office said the Missouri Republican “is not convinced that Frierson is the right person to vigorously enforce criminal laws and clean up the streets.”

The offices of Blackburn, Cruz and Lee did not immediately return requests for comment. The nomination now goes to the full Senate. Biden nominated Frierson in November.

Nuclear waste

The US Department of Energy has admitted sending nuclear waste to Nevada from Idaho, PA reported Thursday.

The admission came after Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) wrote a monday letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for details on Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) shipments.

“All offsite waste shipped to and disposed of at NNSS is handled safely and must meet all applicable federal and state regulations as well as NNSS’s stringent waste acceptance criteria,” the DOE told the PA Tuesday.

North Flow 2

Cortez Masto and Rosen were among six Senate Democrats who voted for a bill introduced by Cruz to sanction entities responsible for planning, building or operating the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and India. Germany. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, but failed 55 to 44.

Cortez Masto expressed concerns about Russian aggression, particularly regarding the country’s possible invasion of Ukraine, where they have recently amassed troops. Monday she said CNN that she planned to support the bill.

“I think we have to be strong to support Ukraine against Russian interference and aggression in all honesty,” she said. “I have always been consistent in my positions.”

The White House opposed the bill. State Department officials are trying to coordinate a response with European allies if Russia invades Ukraine and the bill would tie the hands of the White House.

Others who voted for the measure include Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), all of whom face offers of difficult re-election this cycle.

Rosen echoed Cortez Masto’s rationale for supporting the bill.

“The commissioning of this pipeline strengthens the hand of Vladimir Putin and endangers the security of Ukraine, and with 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, we must now resist Russian aggression,” he said. she said in a statement.

bridge money

Cortez Masto and Rosen announced that the state had received $45 million for the repair of the bridge under the bipartisan infrastructure program signed into law in November. The state will allocate the funds to a variety of projects, including widening and lengthening the Tropicana Avenue Bridge over I-15 in Las Vegas and improving the Reno/Sparks Spaghetti on- and off-ramps. Bowl, the senators said.

Reid in the rotunda

Biden and congressional leaders paid tribute to Senator Harry Reid during a ceremony Wednesday in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

For a full look at the measures delegates supported or opposed this week, see The Nevada IndependentCongressional vote tracking and other information below.

SEN. Catherine Cortez Masto

Legislation sponsored:

S.3475 A bill for the relief of Cesar Carlos Silva Rodriguez.

SEN. Jacky Rosen

Co-sponsored legislation:

S.3497 Medical Student Training Authorization Act 2022

S.3488 A draft law aimed at countering the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and its Eastern European allies, accelerating security assistance to Ukraine to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Ukraine and to impose sanctions relating to the actions of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine, and for other purposes.

REPRESENTING. DINA TITUS

Co-sponsored legislation:

HR6397 Amend the Public Health Services Act to establish a grant program to provide grants to public higher education institutions located in a covered state, and for other purposes.

HR6396 To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act with respect to hazard mitigation plans and for other purposes.

HR6387 Amend the Homeland Security Act 2002 to establish a School Security Coordinating Council and for other purposes.

HR6377 Free home tests for everyone

HR6373 Amend the Public Health Services Act to prohibit the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from conducting or supporting research that causes significant pain or distress to a dog, and for other purposes.


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