Tonight's Dem schedule: The final filibuster fight -- and the circular firing squad afterward

Please update your calendars and refill your popcorn supplies accordingly. Tonight, Chuck Schumer (Lemmings Party – NY) will lead his Senate Democrat caucus off the proverbial cliff in a filibuster fight he’s already lost. Fittingly, this refusal to recognize reality and change strategy accordingly will step all over Joe Biden’s attempt to reset his collapsing fortunes in a rare press conference:

CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported on Tuesday that the Senate will vote to break the GOP filibuster on the voting rights legislation 6.30 pm E.T.

“After that fails, Schumer may move to gut the Senate filibuster, and would need 50 votes to change the rules, something he does not have,” Raju said. …

However, this change to the rules is unlikely to succeed. The Senate is divided between 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats.

The key sticking point is Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who are widely expected to oppose a change to the filibuster.

“Widely expected” is certainly one way to put it. Manchin has said publicly and repeatedly, practically every week since last summer, that he would not support a so-called “nuclear option” for a rules change. If Schumer wants to change the Senate rules, Manchin has insisted for months, then he needs 60 votes by Senate rule to do so. Sinema has been less public with her opposition until recently but no less consistent. She went on the Senate floor last week to rebuke the idea of majoritarian rules changes, and told Schumer and Biden to start working with opponents rather than calling them racists and enemies.

Even if Manchin and Sinema had any temptation to change their minds — and there’s no evidence of that — Biden’s attempt to call them neo-segregationists and traitors on the order of Jefferson Davis precluded it. Biden made the internecine tensions exponentially worse with his speech in Georgia, a demagogic and disgraceful speech so bad that even Dick Durbin felt it necessary to get distance from it. Bernie Sanders and other progressives had consistently pressured Biden to “get tough” with Manchin and Sinema, and now they’re talking openly about primary challenges against both Senate Democrats … who are their only claim to Senate control. The idea of a progressive challenge in infrared West Virginia is so ludicrous that Manchin laughed it off yesterday, but that doesn’t mean he thinks it’s funny.

With Schumer insisting on setting his caucus on fire for no good reason and Biden throwing more gasoline on the flames, the end result from tonight’s “widely expected” failure will be as predictable as it will be entertaining:

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing forward with his vow to force a vote as soon as Wednesday on a sweeping voting bill, which Republicans are expected to block. After that, Democrats are expected to force a vote on changing the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.

But the effort is doomed and is reopening old wounds, as progressives increasingly go public with their frustrations with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). But Democrats say they need to show that they went all-in on an issue that is important to their base heading into the 2022 midterm elections.

Oddly, no one thought that until Biden’s Build Back Better progressive spend-o-rama collapsed last month. The elections bills had died in May and few Democrats sought to revive them, right up until the desperation over Biden’s polling collapse and the overreach by Schumer and Nancy Pelosi blew up in their faces. This has been nothing more than a fortnight of manipulative performance art intended to make Senate Republicans into Snidely Whiplash and giving Democrats a scapegoat for their failures. Voting-rights groups in Georgia weren’t fooled by this performative demagoguery, which is why they and Stacey Abrams refused to cooperate in the stagecraft. The stench from the hypocrisy was too great to ignore.

Having gone this far out on a limb, Schumer apparently feels he has no choice now but to saw it off, although Punchbowl still can’t figure out why:

However, this proposed rules change also is expected to fail, thanks in part to opposition from Manchin and Sinema. On Tuesday night, Manchin made his position clear – once again – that he’s “never changed my mind on the filibuster” and wouldn’t back any attempt by Democrats to alter it unilaterally, even for voting rights legislation he supports.

So where does this leave Senate Democrats? Staring another embarrassing setback right in the face. Now there’s clearly enormous frustration inside the Democratic Caucus. Most of it is aimed at Manchin, who’s blocked one of the party’s top priorities for the second time in a month. Earlier this year, Manchin and a number of other Democrats blocked a hike in the minimum wage as well. This latest episode is especially upsetting to many of his colleagues as Democrats are desperate for a political win of any kind. Literally any. …

Several other Democrats privately expressed dismay over Schumer’s decision to pick the filibuster fight knowing that it would just push Manchin and Sinema into a corner that they couldn’t retreat from. These Democrats would’ve preferred for Schumer to turn back to BBB in early January, despite the previous disappointment. They wanted the leadership and White House to find some compromise – any deal – that Manchin would support and pass that. Or a bill dealing with supply chain issues, school closures, inflation, crime – something voters are talking about that they could pass – and then press forward on this issue. Schumer and many of his colleagues see voting rights as a moral imperative.

At this point, Democrats have spent the last two weeks fighting over voting rights and the filibuster, didn’t succeed in winning on either, and ended up lashing out publicly at each other, rather than Republicans.

Great job — bang-up, spectacular work, congressional Democrats. It’s Real Genius, in fact. Mitch McConnell will send over a fruit basket later. And some leftover popcorn, just in case.