WorldNew bitter failure in sight for Joe Biden, his...

New bitter failure in sight for Joe Biden, his electoral reform compromised


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“Each member of the Senate will be judged by history on their position before the vote and after the vote,” Joe Biden thundered on Tuesday. The push by the US president has apparently failed: Thursday, a Democratic senator repeated that she was against the proposed strategy of a forced passage through the Senate to pass electoral reform by a simple majority protecting access to the vote for minorities. If unsuccessful, this would be a second major setback caused by Democratic divisions for Joe Biden, a month after the postponement of a vast climate and social spending plan blocked by centrist Senator Joe Manchin.

This time it was Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema who stepped up to the plate. From the Senate, she engaged in a balancing act: she first explained that she was in favor of the double bill but against an initiative to lower the majority needed to get them adopted from 60 to 50 voice. “I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying division plaguing our country,” she insisted, explaining that this rule forced the two parties to seek a compromise.

A contested rule

This “filibuster rule” is an old tradition in the Senate. To avoid being exposed to interminable parliamentary obstruction, 60 votes out of 100 are needed for all bills except those relating to the budget. This qualified 3/5 majority is supposed to encourage moderation and dialogue across partisan lines.

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Problem, with divisions that have widened since the election of Barack Obama, it has become almost impossible to reach 60 votes, except for consensual projects such as the gigantic spending plan for infrastructure adopted at the end of 2021.

“Eliminating the 60-vote threshold with the thinnest of majorities possible to pass these bills that I support will not guarantee that we prevent demagogues from coming to power,” Kyrsten Sinema said in a long plea, denouncing the America’s “infernal spiral of division”. Joe Biden had an appointment at midday with the elected officials of his camp in the Senate to convince them to get in working order.

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