Hope Against Hope?

We’re about to record this week’s edition of the podcast and we’ll be talking about the on-going trials and tribulations of H1/S1, the For the People Act. Yesterday, to quasi-great fanfare Joe Manchin finally agreed to support what was in essence his own compromise version of the bill. Then Republicans unanimously refused to allow a debate over the bill. And that was it.

Or was it it?

I’ve seen messages sent out from virtually every Senate Democrat, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, saying some version of ‘This isn’t the end! It’s just the beginning!’ Schumer himself said, “this was the starting gun, not the finish line.”

But what are they talking about? The Democrats are fully ten votes short of the 60 votes needed to begin debate and again end the debate to allow a vote. There is little to no prospect of getting any Republican votes and zero prospect of getting 50. Meanwhile Joe Manchin has said again and again he won’t reform or get rid of the filibuster. If each of these premises is true than it is definitely the finish line and Democrats lost.

So what’s happening here?

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One answer is that this is happy talk meant to assuage Democratic disappointment. In other words, denial. But somehow a number of Democrats don’t seem to think this is done and by process of elimination the only weak link in the chain can be Manchin and the filibuster rules. A combination of that process of elimination and some reporting with people at the heart of the decision making process think there’s still some chance that the Manchin part of this story isn’t done.

Is that true? I have no idea. Seems like hope against hope. But there we are.

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