What Mattered This Week

And while it might be hard for “President Senator” to let go of a place he served for four decades, Democrats told us it’s a political necessity:

  • “He has vast power in the regulatory, law enforcement and foreign policy realms,” Paul Begala, a Democratic consultant, said. “He can do a lot without Congress.”

  • “Biden needs to grab control of the conversation by utilizing fully the latent powers of the executive branch,” said Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project.

  • “He’s a creature of the Senate and he needs to leave the Senate behind,” said John Morgan, a Florida trial lawyer and a top donor to Biden. “He should never go back.”

In June, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona published an Op-Ed in The Washington Post arguing that it would be a mistake for Democrats to ditch the filibuster. What if, she asked, Republicans defunded “women’s reproductive health services” — e.g., Planned Parenthood — once they took back the Senate?

At the time, Sinema was speaking for many in the abortion rights community, which quietly opposed eliminating a tool that could stop federal laws restricting abortion from passing by 51-vote majorities.

This week, in a striking shift, several powerful abortion rights groups loudly rejected Sinema’s argument. To varying degrees, Emily’s List, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights all said they supported changing the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University who studies women’s movements, described the change in their stance as a recognition that these groups now see “abortion rights and the scaffolding of democracy to be intertwined.” It was no coincidence, she said, that “the states that have been most aggressive in limiting the right to vote are the very same states that have the most aggressive abortion laws.”

Progressives in the House and Senate have long railed against Sinema and her fellow pro-filibuster Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. What’s new is that Democratic candidates in red states are following suit.

A recent fund-raising email from Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for Senate in Ohio, read that “Joe Manchin killed Build Back Better” and blamed Sinema’s vote against filibuster reform for “killing our chance to pass voting rights.” And then it asked for campaign contributions to expand the Democratic majority.

“Tim has always been clear that he’ll work with anyone, and stand up to anyone — including members of his own party — to make our government work better for working people here in Ohio,” Ryan’s spokesperson, Izzi Levy, told us.

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