Election overhaul push underscores limits of Schumer's power – Spectrum News NY1


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New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is mounting an all-out push for passage of voting rights legislation, but a deeply divided Senate is once again underscoring the limits of his power as Senate Majority Leader, and of Democrats overall in Washington.
Schumer is pledging to hold a vote soon on the election overhaul legislation, as he and other Democrats aim to counter what they view as restrictive new voting laws in Republican-led states.
“Every senator is going to have to make a choice, plain and simple,” Schumer said Tuesday. “Failure is not an option.”
However, any forthcoming vote could amount to little more than a show vote.
The legislation faces steep odds in the Senate, where Republicans are aligned in opposition and at least one key member of the Democratic coalition – if not more – is opposed to doing away with Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage instead of a simple majority. 
“We need some good rule changes to make the place work better, but getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia, said Tuesday.
So why move ahead with a vote at all?
Casey Burgat, who heads the legislative affairs program at The George Washington University, says with the crucial midterm elections just around the corner, a vote allows Democrats to show their supporters that they are trying.
“Absent a bill, the best you can do as Senate Majority Leader is put people on the record,” Burgat said.
The difficulties for the election reform bills come as another major Democratic push, President Joe Biden’s sweeping social spending and climate package, is on ice. The legislation, which has been the subject of negotiations for months, is a victim of the evenly split, 50-50 Senate.
Burgat notes that if the election legislation falters, it could send a message to Democratic voters: send us reinforcements. 
For now, Burgat says, Schumer has to navigate the Democratic caucus he inherited, where every vote – including the most conservative member – cannot be discounted.
“That’s just the politics of the day that he’s facing,” he said. “It’s not an enviable position at all.”



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