Thursday, March 4, 2021

It’s Called Compromise

Via the Washington Post:

President Biden has agreed to narrow eligibility for a new round of $1,400 stimulus payments in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a concession to moderate Senate Democrats as party leaders moved Wednesday to lock down support and finalize the sweeping legislation.

Under the new structure, the checks would phase out faster for those at higher income levels compared with the way the direct payments were structured in Biden’s initial proposal and the version of the bill passed by the House on Saturday.

The change came as the Senate prepared to take an initial procedural vote to move forward on the bill as early as Thursday. Biden and Senate Democratic leaders were scrambling to keep their caucus united since they cannot lose a single Democrat in the 50-50 Senate if Republicans unite against the legislation.

[…]

Still, liberal lawmakers bristled at the new changes. House liberals have suggested it could be difficult for them to approve the package if it’s watered down significantly in the Senate. Presuming the Senate passes the package later this week, it still would have to go back to the House for final approval.

“I don’t understand the political or economic wisdom in allowing Trump to give more people relief checks than a Democratic administration,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “People went far too long without relief last year — if anything we should be more generous, not more stingy. It’s also an insensitive compromise for the roughly 80 percent of Americans that live in urban areas, which are known for higher costs of living.”

Biden acknowledged in his comments to House Democrats that “I know we’re all making some small compromises,” but he argued that staying united to pass the relief bill, his first major piece of legislation, would help restore the public’s faith in government and open the door to further successes.

“It’s a show of strength,” Biden said. “We know how much we have to do but it all starts here, it starts by bringing this home.”

Anyone who thought that the bill would sail through Congress untouched doesn’t understand the basics of how our system works. Yes, it would be nice to get everything you want, but it wasn’t going to happen. Even if the Democrats had more than 60 votes lined up to pass their laws, there would still be changes. For whatever reason, be it

This is one of the most maddening things about some of our progressive true believers: it doesn’t make them a whole lot different than their opposite numbers on the right. “All or nuthin’!”

Our history is replete with compromises. Some were reasonable, some were tragic, but unless you want a dictator who rules by edicts and fiat, it’s how it works.

At least this bill has a very good chance of passing. I don’t hold out the same hope for HR 1, the Voting Rights act.

The House late Wednesday night passed expansive legislation to create uniform national voting standards, overhaul campaign finance laws and outlaw partisan redistricting, advancing a centerpiece of the Democratic voting rights agenda amid fierce Republican attacks that threaten to stop it cold in the Senate.

The bill, titled the “For the People Act,” was given the symbolic designation of H.R. 1 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and it largely mirrors a bill passed two years ago in the early weeks of the House Democratic majority.

This year, however, the bill has taken on additional significance because of the new Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden’s November win, as well as the efforts underway in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures to roll back voting access in reaction to former president Donald Trump’s loss and his subsequent campaign to question the election results.

Democrat after Democrat said this week that the GOP’s state-level efforts made it more important than ever to act at the federal level to preserve expansive voting laws. Many invoked the gains won in the 1960s civil rights movement by activists including John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who died of cancer last year.

[…]

The bill has become a lightning rod for Republican opposition, spurring claims that it is a partisan attempt to rewrite federal election laws in Democrats’ favor. No Republicans voted for the bill in 2019 or Wednesday night, when it was approved 220 to 210.

“It is not designed to protect Americans’ vote — it is designed to put a thumb on the scale in every election in America, so that Democrats can turn a temporary majority into permanent control,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during floor debate Tuesday. “It is an unparalleled political grab.”

The Republicans’ main objection to the bill is that it would allow minorities and poor people to vote. As they have proven time and again for the last fifty years, the GOP loses when all the voters vote, so the only recourse they have is Jim Crow and insurrection.

The bill will not pass the Senate in any form as long as there is the filibuster, and a lot of states run by Republicans are frantically passing draconian laws to hobble the voting system. In Georgia, for example, a provision of their new law makes it a misdemeanor to give food and water to voters standing in line. The only ancillary benefit to its defeat is that it will provide footage for campaign ads.

I don’t think that’s what John Lewis had in mind when he marched across the Edmund Pettis bridge. But I’m pretty sure he would have tried to work with the Republicans to get something done.