The Senate Republican temper tantrum over Democrats’ deal with Sen. Joe Manchin on a climate and health care reconciliation package won’t end with voting against a bill to help veterans suffering from toxic exposure. They’re also threatening to tank a marriage equality bill because they’re butthurt about an entirely different bill.
Sen. Susan Collins was the predictable messenger, feigning sorrow and disappointment over the Democrats’ move in announcing the reconciliation deal hours after the passage of a bipartisan computer chip manufacturing incentive bill and warning: “After we just had worked together successfully on gun safety legislation, on the CHIPs bill, it was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way.”
Got that? Republicans wanted to pass the computer chip bill. They wanted to pass the bill dealing with veterans and toxic exposure—they’d even voted overwhelmingly for it just a few weeks ago. They miiiiight want to pass marriage equality, maybe, after an extended period of playing games. But if Democrats pass a completely unrelated bill, then Republicans will try to block the things that they would otherwise vote for. That’s the mentality.
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It was never a sure thing that 10 Republicans would vote for marriage equality anyway. At least five Republican senators had said they would vote yes, but breaking the filibuster requires 10. Many Republicans were dodging the question of how they would vote by saying they wouldn’t commit one way or the other until a vote was scheduled, yet Democrats continued trying to lock down 10 Republicans before going to a vote.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of the Democrats leading the effort to pick up Republican votes, told NPR this week, “I think there's some uncertainty among my Republican colleagues as to whether the bill actually will get to the floor and receive a vote, and so that leads to some hesitance to publicly declare one's stance.”
And that’s why Democrats need to get the bill to the floor for a vote. Stop letting Republicans yank you around when they’re basically advertising that that’s what they’re doing. Either they support the bill or they don’t, and it’s time for them to be adults and own their position on this issue.
Marriage equality is not climate change is not computer chips is not the effect of toxic burn pits on veterans. These are all separate matters of importance to the nation, and it is the job of senators to consider each one and vote on whether they support the legislation. The marriages of a million people should not be held hostage to the ability to live and breathe, and to live on unflooded coasts.
But fine. That’s today’s Republican Party. Now it’s time for Senate Democrats to put Republicans on the spot and force them to show themselves.
GOP senators have a plan to avoid a marriage equality vote. Are Democrats really falling for it?
Biden, Democrats poised to finally pass several highly popular bills. Timing couldn't be better