The Hill’s Morning Report: Biden takes it on the chin

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!


Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 837,664; Tuesday, 839,500; Wednesday, 842,322; Thursday, 844,562; Friday, 846,488.


Can things get worse for President BidenJoe BidenGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: ‘F— them’ Psaki: Why is GOP afraid of presidential debates? Biden calls on employers to mandate vaccines despite Supreme Court ruling MORE 

It is tough to imagine how, as the president sounded a defeated note during an appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday after Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaManchin says he won’t vote to ‘eliminate or weaken the filibuster’ Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug Biden: ‘I don’t know whether we can get this done’ MORE (D-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin says he won’t vote to ‘eliminate or weaken the filibuster’ Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug Biden: ‘I don’t know whether we can get this done’ MORE (D-W.Va.) dealt a death blow to his push to enact sweeping voter rights and election reform proposals. 

“I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is I don’t know if we can get this done,” Biden told reporters while exiting a Senate Democratic luncheon, delivering a similar line three times before finally departing the Capitol (The Hill).

Roughly an hour before Biden delivered a plea to Senate Democrats, it was Sinema who put to rest any speculation that Democrats will be able to move on the pair of packages that would overhaul American elections. Speaking on the Senate floor, the Arizona Democrat — who picks and chooses when she speaks on subjects incredibly carefully — attempted to thread a needle, reiterating her support for the twin bills, but not at the cost of doing away with protections for the minority.  

“I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said, adding that she has had “long-standing support” for the 60-vote threshold. “It is the view I continue to hold. It is the belief I have shared many times in public settings and in private settings.” 

“Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to safeguard our democracy,” she added (The Hill). 

According to Politico, a number of Senate Democrats were wholly unaware of Sinema’s speech when Biden greeted them during his rendezvous to the upper chamber. At one point during the 90-minute meeting, Manchin asked Biden if the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) ever broke Senate rules to change them, to which Biden responded: “We are in different times now.”

Hours later, Manchin himself followed Sinema’s lead and issued a statement citing Byrd, vowing that he will not “vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” putting the cherry on the rank-tasting sundae for Biden (The Hill). 

Nevertheless, Biden hosted the pair at the White House on Thursday night for a discussion that lasted 75 minutes (CNN). The White House called their discussion “a candid and respectful exchange of views about voting rights.” 

Alexander Bolton, The Hill: Sinema, Manchin curb Biden’s agenda.

Carl Hulse, The New York Times: Sinema rejects changing filibuster, dealing Biden a setback.

The Hill: Democrats’ filibuster gambit unravels. 

The Associated Press analysis: Biden overshoots on what’s possible in divided Washington. 

Also playing a role in the Democratic debate over the rules are external forces that are truly outside their control. Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden’s desperate pitch to keep minority voters Business executives urge Senate to bypass filibuster to pass voting rights Former colleagues honor Reid in ceremony at Capitol MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday night said that Democrats will take up the voting rights and election reform proposals on Tuesday, missing his deadline of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the process. Schumer was forced to postpone his plan due to the snow that is expected to hit the nation’s capital and much of the Northeast on Sunday. 

Adding to the complications, Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy & Environment — Manchin raises hopes on climate spending The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Snow day in DC Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (D-Hawaii) tested positive for COVID-19, putting Democrats one vote down until Sunday at least.

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s Georgia speech is a break point.



As The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest Memo, Thursday’s one-two punch of the voting rights effort going down and the…

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