Senator Schumer made remarks on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon. In those remarks he explained what business he would bring before the Senate this week (emphasis mine):
But tomorrow—tomorrow—the Senate will also take a crucial vote tomorrow on whether to start debate on major voting rights legislation.
I want to say that again. Tomorrow, the Senate will take a vote on whether to start debate on legislation to protect Americans’ voting rights. It is not a vote on any particular policy. It is not a vote on this bill or that bill. It is a vote on whether the Senate should simply debate the issue about voting rights, the crucial issue of voting rights, in this country.
Senator Schumer has now explained to the world what is happening this week. And IT IS NOT a vote on Senate Bill 1, the Senate’s version of The For the People Act.
Stacey Abrams call to action is based on an inaccurate presentation of the strategic environment in the US Senate. You cannot operate effectively based on an inaccurate strategic premise. You cannot achieve your strategic objectives by doing so.
Senate Bill 1 is not going to be debated this week. It is not going to be voted on this week. It is not even going to be brought to the floor of the Senate because of a deal cut between the parties on what happens if a Senate committee should tie on voting out a bill. What is going to be introduced today by Senator Schumer, what he has put on the calendar under his authority as the majority leader who controls the Senate calendar, is a motion to allow the Senate to move to consider – debate and then vote on – Senate Bill 1. Schumer was never going to bring Senate Bill 1 to the floor this week. He was never going to bring Senate Bill 1 up for a vote this week. And he is NEVER GOING TO BRING Senate Bill 1 up for a vote this week.
Recognizing this reality isn’t defeatist. Recognizing this reality is dealing with the reality of the strategic environment as it exists. Not as you would prefer it to be!
Calling your senators to lobby for something that is not happening and is not going to happen isn’t effective political action. It isn’t effective anything.
Calling your Democratic senators to tell them to work on getting Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Feinstein to agree to at least reform the filibuster is something that may be effective political action if they can pull it off. If you’re a West Virginian, an Arizonan, or a Californian, calling Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Feinstein and telling them that when Senator Schumer’s efforts this week reach their inevitable results, which is that Senate Bill 1 will not be debated let alone voted on, that you expect them to agree to at least reform the filibuster may be effective political action if enough of their constituents make the attempt.
Until or unless Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Feinstein commit to at least reforming the filibuster calling to register your support for bills that will never, ever, under any circumstance be debated let alone voted on because there IS NO ONE WEIRD TRICK up Schumer’s sleeve to make that happen absent filibuster reform is a waste of your time and energy and waste of your senator’s staff’s time and energy.
The objective right now is reform of the filibuster. That’s the strategic objective. That means aligning appropriate ways and means to achieve that end. If your ways and means are focused on passing Senate Bill 1 this week, then your ways and means are misaligned with the actual potentially achievable ends.
If filibuster reform is accomplished, then the strategic objective shifts to actually passing Senate Bill 1 or the Manchin compromise or something related. And then focusing your ways and means on voting for one or more of those bills is an appropriate strategy to undertake.
Please feel free to reach out to Senator Schumer and explain to him why what he’s told you will happen this week is wrong because he clearly does not understand what Senator Schumer is actually doing, nor how the Senate rules actually work, nor what he can and cannot do under those rules. His contact information can be found at this link.
Edited to Add:
Senator Schumer actually has a strategy, which is based on a realistic and accurate assessment and understanding of the strategic environment he is operating in. It is, specifically, a strategy to change that strategic environment. It has the following components:
- Very publicly attempt to achieve the 60 vote cloture threshold on today’s and this week’s motions to debate Senate Bill 1, as well as several other bills on this and other important topics.
- Use this very public attempt to force the Senate Republicans to actually take on the record votes opposing even proceeding to debate these bills, let alone vote on them or for them.
- By forcing at least 41 Senate Republicans to vote against proceeding to debate, he is creating a record that can be used against them, or at least attempt to be used against them because you can’t shame the shameless, during the 2022 midterm elections.
- Gauge whether Senator Manchin really will not, as Senator Manchin has publicly stated he will not, vote for Senate Bill 1, the Senate version of The For the People Act.
- By doing so, Senator Schumer is attempting to determine out in public how much of what Senator Manchin has been doing is political gamesmanship and how much of it is sincere, for lack of a better term. That is why the Manchin compromise bill is not part of the motion that Senator Schumer will be bringing to the floor on the several bills that Senator Schumer is asking the Senate for permission to open debate on.
Senator Schumer has a strategy. It is a strategy that is appropriate for and tailored to the actual strategic environment. His ways and means this week is to use the motion to open debate, specifically its failure, to demonstrate to Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Feinstein that it is not possible to even get enough Republican senators to allow debate of these bills on their merits, let alone an actual vote on them. This then allows him to try to achieve his real and immediate strategic objective, which is reforming the filibuster so these bills can actually be debated and then voted on, rather than just prevented from ever actually coming to the Senate floor for any action. If, and only if, he is able to achieve this strategic objective will he move on to his ultimate strategic objective, which is passing Senate Bill 1, or the Manchin compromise bill, or other related bills.
Senator Schumer has told us what his strategy is. He has told us what the strategic objective is. If you’re going to engage in political action this week you can either help him do so or you can do something else. The former might be effective. The latter will not.