Instead, the Democrats are prepared to legislate the old-fashioned way, unspooling arguments in lengthy Senate debates, spilling out of the committee hearing rooms and onto the Senate floor, and forcing opponents to go on the record as standing in the way — much as South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond was positioned when he filibustered the Civil Rights Act of the last century.
“They’re literally squeezing the arteries of the lifeblood of America,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., the son of civil rights activists, said in an interview. “They are choking what makes us distinct and unique on the planet Earth.”
Booker would not, however, openly call for the end of the filibuster, a parliamentary tool requiring at least 60 votes to advance Senate legislation in some cases.
On Friday, the president revived his call on Congress to enact H.R. 1, an elections overhaul that would confront the Republican restrictions. He called as well for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore some aspects of a landmark law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
But Biden, like a shrinking number of other powerful Democrats, remains unwilling to embrace the so-called “nuclear option” — ending the filibuster — for fear it would further divide the country.
Meantime, the political fight was intensifying in Georgia, where years of voter registration drives in Black communities and steady population changes helped Biden win the once solidly red state.