top of page

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine's Clever Voting Rights Plan

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer— Go for Voting Rights Aggressive Plan B, Talk the GOP and Manchin/Sinema to Death January 18, 2022

Remember Campaign 2016? And I’m not talking about its horrible ending when Demagogue Donald won via the Electoral College, thanks to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. I’m distinctly remembering when Hillary picked Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to be her running mate. Most pundits called him a “safe” boring choice who would not do her any harm. After she lost, however, many of these same analysts stated her selection of him hurt her because he didn’t stir up the base to vote like Bernie Sanders would have. Well, get real! VA’s Tim Kaine is now showing that he is a very independent thinker who has the ability to go way “beyond the box” for solutions to tough legislative problems. After the “usual suspects” Senators Manchin (“D”-WVA) and Sinema (“D”-AZ) again stated that the “precious” filibuster must be preserved over everything, including voting rights reform, it looked like Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would just be left with futile votes to abolish or amend the filibuster. Under this scenario, Schumer could call vote after vote and the 50 GOPers plus Manchin and Sinema would kill any attempt to pass voting rights by upholding a filibuster against it. “Team Blue” would look like it was doing nothing and the political press would blame them and their leader Biden once again. However, second-term Senator Tim Kaine (63) is thinking of proposing a better idea, along with several other Democratic Senators. Under their plan, they will try to circumvent the GOP voting rights filibuster. In this scenario, Democrats would be able to allow voting rights bills to pass with 51 votes without changing the Senate’s rules. According to “The Hill,” Democrats would force GOPers to hold the floor with speeches and procedural motions. They then would hope that the GOP would tire itself out after a few days or weeks. Then Democratic Leader Schumer would call for a simple- majority vote on final passage and be able to skip the formal procedural vote or cloture, requiring 60 votes or the super majority to end debate (“The Hill,” Bolton, 1/18/22). In Kaine’s words, “you wouldn’t need a rules- change to pass a bill by simple majority if the debate is over. You do not need a rules-change to pass a bill that’s on the floor, you just have to allow debate to occur (”

Some Democrats are “worried” about this new tactic. They fear that since such a talkathon has not been attempted in decades, they don’t know how it would play out procedurally. Stop being “fraidy cats!” That’s why too many people admire the GOP. GOPers always seem to look “strong” even if they are wrong, v. a weak set of vacillating Democrats. We have the majority, even if it is a fragile one. Play hardball like GOPers do. Sen. Schumer has already started debate by finding a rule that allowed the House to pass the voting rights legislation and send it to the Senate as a “message” which bypassed the 60-vote requirement to start debate. Don’t get cold feet now! James Wallner, a former Senate GOP aide and procedure expert on Senate rules, stated that Dems could pass voting rights legislation with a simple-majority vote if “they’re willing to put up with a lengthy battle on the floor.” Wallner added, “Democrats don’t need 60 votes at all, according to Wallner. They’re in 51-vote territory with VP Kamala Harris’ tie-breaker. Dems can move to table any amendments that GOPers offer to the bill.”

According to Wallner, “the easiest way to get final passage on these voting rights bills is to put them on the floor and have VP Harris or Schumer or any other Dem. Senator start to make points of order against any other GOP Senator who tries to speak more than twice. Why? As Wallner noted, under Senate Rule XIX, “no Senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day without leave of the Senate.” Rule XIX also applies to speeches as well as motions. And under Rule XIX, Wallner said that Schumer could stretch out a “legislative day” by several days or weeks. And if this two-speech rule is enforced, Wallner noted, GOPers plus Manchin/Sinema would eventually exhaust their ability to debate and hold up a final bill on voting rights or anything else. Wallner added, “in the end, if the majority, Democrats, here are determined to prevail, they will, because they have the votes and resolve in such a fight. This is how the Senate worked prior to 1917 (, Bolton, 1/18/22).”

An unnamed Democratic aide got antsy about trying anything to challenge “business as usual.” This staffer argued that the Senate parliamentarian wouldn’t enforce this two-speech rule and Dems would need a more aggressive presiding officer. Well, Dems, get a strong presiding officer! Sen. Kaine and many others could sit in the chair and handily play this role. They’d be true heroes fighting for democracy and against gridlock. The GOPers could also constantly offer new motions to stretch out the two-speech rule. The GOP could also just get a few of their Senators to tie up the floor, think agitators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO). Democrats, on the other hand would need to muster all 50 members of their caucus and have VP Harris always at the ready for tie-breaking votes. Well, Democrats, Wallner aptly stated that if our party shows “enough energy and discipline to repeatedly vote down GOP motions, they can win. Democrats, can with their simple majority table at any point anything the GOP sends before the Senate (” To use the common saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Sen. Schumer still seems to be adamant about forcing a vote on changing the Senate filibuster even though he has only 48 “Yea” votes right now. Okay. Do this just once. Show the public that the GOP and Manchin/ Sinema will kill this filibuster change. That’s called in the law “exhausting your remedies.” Then move to Kaine’s Plan B. Schumer has been repeatedly criticized for being far too collegial with his GOP colleagues and afraid of “offending anyone.” Get over this nonsense, Chuck! The Senate GOPers, including Minority Leader McConnell have declared war on Democratic lawmakers and Democratic voters. Do not bring a knife to this “gun fight,” Chuck. Frankly, go “nuclear” with Kaine’s Plan B. Kaine, besides having been Hillary’s running mate, has strong political experience. He is an attorney who received his law degree in 1983 from Harvard. He was on the Richmond, VA City Council (1994-1998) and was that city’s former Mayor (1998-2001). He served as the Old Dominion’s Lt. Governor (2002-2006) and then as its Governor (2006-2010). He headed the Democratic National Committee, DNC, from 2009-2011. He was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and handily re-elected in 2018 against Trump/ Confederate-lover GOPer Corey Stewart (See Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). Sen. Kaine currently sits on the powerful Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations, and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committees (CQ, 117th Congress At Your Fingertips). Using Plan B will get our base enthusiastic about voting in droves in 2022. Voting rights for everyone is at the heart of what this country stands for. Sen. Schumer, support Kaine’s Plan B. Our democracy depends on it.


bottom of page