Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Sunday suggested that there could still be alternatives to a filibuster carveout for voting rights legislation now that Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) last week reiterated their loyalty to the filibuster. Democrats appear to lack the votes needed for rules changes.
After saying that senators need to be on the record about where they stand in protecting voting rights, Kaine told CBS that he acknowledges that Democrats currently do not have the votes to pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights bill, but that the Senate is canceling its Martin Luther King Day recess because of the importance of pushing both bills through.
“And we will be voting, both on the bills,” Kaine said. “But also if we can’t get Republican support for the bills — we have uniform Democratic support, could we find a path to make some rules, adjustments to pass them.”
Kaine went on to suggest “other paths” to push voting rights legislation through the Senate after Sinema and Manchin re-stated their opposition to a filibuster carveout.
“There’s other paths that we could take where we just — the 60-vote threshold is only if you want to limit debate, we could do longer debate and then end the debate and have a simple majority,” Kaine said. “But we will have a vote on the bills, and we will have a vote on a rules path to get there because it’s so important for the country.”
Kaine’s comments come on the heels of Sinema and Manchin making clear that they will not budge on reforming the filibuster — even for the voting rights bills they support.
On Sunday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said that voting rights legislation on the Hill “may be on life support” with Democrats lacking the 50 votes needed for the rules changes — such as a filibuster carveout — needed to push their election reform legislation through the evenly-split chamber.
Clyburn has expressed openness to changing the Electoral Count Act, which outlines how Congress tallies the Electoral College vote and which President Trump sought to exploit on Jan. 6.
That proposal appears to have supporters in both parties. Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that changes to the Electoral Count Act was “worth discussing.” However, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called McConnell’s plan — ECA reform without accompanying voting legislation — “unacceptably insufficient and even offensive,” arguing that it doesn’t “deal with the problem” and would be “doing the bare minimum.”
Schumer signaled that the Senate will take up voting rights legislation on Tuesday.
Watch Kaine’s remarks below: