These 5 key numbers are currently defining the Biden presidency from unemployment to vaccinations

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on voting rights at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on July 13, 2021.

  • President Joe Biden will mark six months in office on July 20.
  • Biden enjoys unified control of government, but the Senate still has its complications.
  • The administration has focused on battling COVID-19 and is strategizing how to continue the fight.
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On July 20, President Joe Biden will have been in office for six months.

Since their January inauguration, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been met with a host of challenges, most notably the coronavirus pandemic, which, since last year, has upended life as we know it.

However, on a range of issues, from steering a largely-reopened economy and facing immigration challenges at the US-Mexico border to reshaping the country’s standing on the world stage and putting an imprint on the federal judiciary, Biden has made a clear pivot from the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Biden, who represented Delaware in the US Senate for 36 years before serving as vice president for eight years, is certainly not new to Washington, DC. But that familiarity has so far helped Biden navigate a city that he’s intimately familiar with, despite being a place that has also become much more partisan in recent decades.

Here are five key figures that currently defining the trajectory of Biden’s young presidency:

5.9%

In April 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the US unemployment rate sat at 14.8%, a dizzying number that reflected the economic pain caused by businesses forced to shut down because of the deadly virus.

The June unemployment rate was 5.9%, with the economy adding 850,000 jobs last month, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy added 583,000 jobs in May and 269,000 jobs in April, respectively, so June’s numbers are a welcome sign in the long recovery in a post-COVID world.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.1% from May to June, but it was a reflection of an expanding job workforce.

Earlier in the spring, there were some concerns about job growth and the effectiveness of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package championed by Biden and congressional Democrats.

However, as COVID-related restrictions eased and vaccination rates increased since the beginning of the year, the economy has clearly benefited.

60.3%

After nearly six months in office, FiveThirtyEight’s polling average has Biden’s overall approval rating at 52.4%, with 42.5% disapproving of his performance, reflective of his relatively stable numbers over the past few months.

However, when it comes to Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, the FiveThirtyEight polling average has Biden at 60.3% approval, with 31.6% disapproving. Trump after his first six months in office held an 39% approval rating, with 55% disapproving, making him the most unpopular president at the 6-month mark, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Biden has consistently had higher numbers for his handling of COVID-19 relative to his overall approval rating, even among Independents and Republicans.

161.2 million

As of July 18, 161,232,483 Americans have been fully vaccinated, representing 48.6% of the total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Fully-vaccinated individuals have received two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

However, 186,038,501 Americans have received at least one dose, which equates to 56% of the total population.

seattle covid vaccine
Byron Saunders holds his wife Joyce’s hand as she gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination site in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2021.

Read more: Joe Biden just fired a top Trump holdover at the Social Security Administration, but these 7 other Trump-era officials are still holding high-level government positions

While many people were fighting to find appointments earlier this year, many sites offer now walk-in appointments as vaccination rates lag in many parts of the country.

Vaccine hesitancy is a real thing, and Biden, who pledged to prioritize fighting the virus during his presidential campaign last year, is trying to find new ways to encourage people to get their shots, especially as the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the country.

The administration missed its goal of 70% of the population having received at least one vaccine shot by July 4, but Biden recently outlined a strategy of a door-to-door effort to help protect the unvaccinated against the virus, along with getting vaccines to primary-care physicians and physicians.

50

Earlier this year, Democrats were thrilled to win back control of the Senate after sweeping the dual Georgia runoff elections, which gave them 50 Senate seats. However, with Republicans also possessing 50 seats, Democratic control is only a reality due to Harris’s ability to break ties in the evenly-divided chamber.

While Democrats have been able to get virtually all of their major Cabinet and administration nominees through the Senate, along with their ability to push through judicial nominees, they still have to contend with the legislative filibuster, which can be used when major legislation fails to meet the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate.

Joe Biden with bipartisan group of senators.
President Joe Biden with a bipartisan group of senators.

Party leaders desperately want to pass their marquee For the People Act, or S.1, the sweeping voting-rights bill that would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, and establish national standards for voter registration, among other measures.

However, moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of Arizona and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have not relented from their longstanding pledges to keep the filibuster intact, which will continue to limit how much the administration can actually sign into law.

$3.5 trillion

Senate Democrats last Wednesday reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would feature infrastructure priorities focused on childcare, clean energy, and education. This legislation would be separate from the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure framework crafted by a small group of senators and the White House.

However, the bill will have to be passed through reconciliation, which Republicans have already rejected on the grounds of its cost and its reach into areas that they deem as unrelated to infrastructure.

By using the budget reconciliation process, Democrats can pass the bill with a simple majority and avoid a filibuster.

Democrats are determined to pass a larger party-line package, though, and with the filibuster still intact, now will likely be the party’s best chance to enact such a massive piece of legislation before the 2022 midterm elections.

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GOP lawmakers caught on video telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for not blowing up the filibuster: ‘Without that we would be dead meat’

andy biggs
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), votes no on the first article of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019.

  • GOP congressmen were caught on tape telling activists to thank Manchin and Sinema for holding firm on the filibuster.
  • “Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” a GOP congressman said.
  • The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a major chunk of Biden’s agenda.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Republican lawmakers were secretly filmed imploring conservative activists to flood a pair of centrist Democrats with messages of gratitude for holding firm on the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold that most bills need to clear the Senate.

It’s the latest video posted by Democratic activist Lauren Windsor, only days after posting another one showing a GOP congressman calling for “18 months of chaos” to jam Democrats. Both sets of remarks were made at a June 29 Patriot Voices event attended by a large group of conservatives.

In the newest video, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona said Democrats were “pushing as hard as they can” to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Fortunately for us, the filibuster’s still in effect in the Senate. Without that we would be dead meat and this thing would be done,” he said in the video. “Then we’d be having a little more frantic discussion than we’d be having today.”

He went on: “But thank goodness for Sinema and Joe Manchin,” referring to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have resisted a mounting chorus of Democratic calls to abolish the filibuster.

Then Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida urged activists in attendance to call the pair of centrist Democrats and thank them for refusing to blow up the filibuster.

“All of you in this room, people at home on Zoom, let me tell you right now, if you want to do one thing to keep the republic afloat, call Joe Manchin’s office, call Kyrsten Sinema’s office,” he said.

Donald’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Biggs’s office declined to comment on the record.

The filibuster has emerged as a barrier to a substantial chunk of Biden’s agenda on the economy, voting rights, policing reform, and immigration. Given Democrats’ 50-50 majority that relies on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, many in the party are calling to get rid of it so they can pass legislation without Republicans.

But Manchin and Sinema have dug in on preserving it. “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in April.

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator and 2016 GOP primary candidate, also attended the event. He acknowledged the difficulty Republicans face rolling back social programs once they’re in place – a possible reference to their failed attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump in 2017, and others proposing cuts to safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“It’s a lot easier to pass giveaways than to take them away. And everybody thinks, ‘Oh, well you know, we’ll just take them away,'” he said in the video. “No we won’t! No we won’t.”

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema slammed ‘false pressure’ to reach a filibuster-proof 60 votes in newly unearthed 2010 video

Kyrsten Sinema
Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, criticized the “false pressure” to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation in 2010.
  • Sinema, then a state representative, suggested that the filibuster forced Democrats to “kowtow” to moderate lawmakers.
  • Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin are the only two Democrats who’ve vocalized staunch opposition to eliminating the filibuster.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, criticized the “false pressure” to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation in comments to supporters 11 years ago, according to a 2010 video newly unearthed by the progressive media organization More Perfect Union.

Then an Arizona state representative, Sinema told the audience that she supported Democrats using reconciliation to pass major legislation, including healthcare reform, with just 51 votes. She also criticized then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who caucused with the Democratic Party, and then-Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, for being too moderate.

“In the Senate, we no longer have 60 votes,” Sinema told the audience. “Some would argue we never had 60 because one of those was Joseph Lieberman.”

She added that without 60 Democratic-voting lawmakers in the Senate, “there’s none of this pressure, this false pressure, to get to 60.”

She went on, “So what this means is that the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman and, instead, seek other avenues to move forward with health reform.”

A spokesperson for Sinema didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

As one of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate, and one of the only who vocally opposes eliminating the filibuster, Sinema plays somewhat of a similar role in the chamber as Lieberman did in 2010.

Sinema now argues that the filibuster is essential in protecting American democracy, and she recently argued in a Washington Post op-ed that the 60-vote rule “compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.”

She’s faced significant blowback from fellow Democrats and progressive activists who want to get rid of the 60-vote rule in order to pass much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

The senator argued that her position on the filibuster has been consistent during her tenure in Washington.

“I held the same view during three terms in the U.S. House, and said the same after I was elected to the Senate in 2018,” she said. “If anyone expected me to reverse my position because my party now controls the Senate, they should know that my approach to legislating in Congress is the same whether in the minority or majority.”

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Lindsey Graham calls the Democrats’ voting-rights bill ‘the biggest power grab’ in US history, rejects Manchin compromise proposal

GettyImages lindsey graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference in Washington on January 7, 2021.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday continued to reject the premise of the For the People Act.
  • Graham said that he would also oppose Sen. Joe Manchin’s compromise proposal.
  • “We had the largest turnout in the history the US, and states are in charge of voting in America,” he said.
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GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday blasted the Democrats’ sweeping voting-rights bill, saying that even a compromise hashed out by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia would not pass muster.

The “For the People Act,” also known as H.R.1 or S.1., would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, and establish national standards for voter registration, among other measures.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham called the legislation “a bad idea” and dismissed Manchin’s efforts to attract Republican support by narrowing some of the provisions in the bill.

“In my view, S.R. 1 is the biggest power grab in the history of the country,” he said. “It mandates ballot harvesting, no voter ID. It does away with the states being able to redistrict when you have population shifts. It’s just a bad idea, and it’s a problem that most Republicans are not going to sign – they’re trying to fix a problem most Republicans have a different view of.”

Manchin, who is opposed S.1. in its current form, last week laid out a proposed compromise bill.

While he backs automatic voter registration and making Election Day a holiday, his bill would allow for voter identification provisions that Democrats didn’t include in the legislation.

Prominent Democrats including national party Chairman Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, former Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas all signed off on Manchin’s proposal.

“Congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials,” Manchin wrote last week.

Read more: How Biden’s chances of receiving Communion are in jeopardy because of his abortion stance

Graham continued to give a thumbs down on Manchin’s proposal, despite his positive working relationship with the Democratic senator.

“Well, one, I like Joe Manchin a lot, but we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States, and states are in charge of voting in America, so I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from the state legislators,” he said.

He added: “You’re having people move from blue states to red states. Under this proposal, you’d have some kind of commission redraw the new districts, and I don’t like that. I want states where people are moving to have control over how to allocate new congressional seats.”

While several Democratic-leaning states including Illinois and Pennsylvania are set to lose congressional districts due to population shifts, some Republican-dominated states are losing seats, as well. Ohio and West Virginia, which have trended “red” in recent election cycles, are each losing a congressional district.

Last week, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also panned the compromise proposal.

“I would make this observation about the revised version. … All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well if that were to be what surfaced on the floor,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a Tuesday vote that would start debate on the bill, despite the likelihood of a GOP-led filibuster.

The voting-rights bill would have to clear the 60-vote threshold to withstand a legislative filibuster and proceed to a vote where it could pass with a simple majority.

“Our goal remains crystal clear: Protect the right to vote, strengthen our democracy, and put a stop to the tide of voter suppression flooding across our country,” the New York Democrat said last week.

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Fox News anchor Chris Wallace grilled Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin for ‘being naive’ about bipartisanship in his filibuster stance

joe manchin 20
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

  • Sen. Joe Manchin reiterated his opposition to killing the filibuster in an op-ed Saturday.
  • On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace pressed Manchin on his hopes for bipartisan cooperation.
  • “Haven’t you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists?” Wallace asked.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace pressed Sen. Joe Manchin Sunday over his strategy and hopes for bipartisanship in the Senate.

Democrats continue to express increasing interest in scrapping the filibuster, a rule that allows the minority party to block measures from being brought to a vote, but Manchin is one of the few standing in the way of his colleagues’ wishes.

The West Virginia Democrat has repeatedly said he does not support eliminating the rule and instead prefers passing bills with bipartisan consensus. He appeared on Fox News Sunday, during which Wallace asked him about his stance.

“If you were to keep the idea that maybe you would vote to kill the filibuster, wouldn’t that give Republicans an incentive to actually negotiate,” Wallace asked. “By taking it off the table, haven’t you empowered Republicans to be obstructionists?”

Read more: He talks to Biden. We talked to him.

Manchin disagreed, saying there are “seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them” and that he believes there are more that feel the same way, adding he sees “good signs.”

Wallace pointed out that Republicans did not support a bipartisan commission to study the January 6 Capitol insurrection and that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is “100%” focused on stopping President Joe Biden.

“Aren’t you being naive about this continuing talk about bipartisan cooperation?” Wallace said.

“I’m not being naive. I think he’s 100% wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America,” Manchin responded, adding he believes McConnell puts politics before policies. “I’m going to continue to keep working with my bipartisan friends and hopefully we can get more of them.”

The appearance came on the heels of an op-ed written by the senator and published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Manchin used the piece to announce he won’t be voting in favor of the Democrats’ sweeping voting rights legislation, the For the People Act, calling it overly partisan.

“Some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past,” Manchin wrote.

The filibuster is a prolonged debate that can be used by the minority party to block a bill from going to a vote and can only be ended by a supermajority vote of 60 Senators.

The Senate is currently split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will oppose the sweeping voting rights legislation back by his party

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Sunday said that he would vote against the sweeping voting rights legislation known as the For the People Act, imperiling one of his party’s most important legislative priorities.

In declaring his opposition, Manchin is defying Democratic pleas for federal action on securing voting rights, which the party says is necessary to counter the raft of restrictive voting laws championed by the GOP at the state level.

However, in an opinion piece in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the moderate senator deemed the bill (S.1) as overly partisan, while also reaffirming his support for the filibuster, positions that have become anathema to many Democrats after years of legislative gridlock in Congress.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics,” he wrote. “Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.”

He emphasized: “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.

Manchin wrote that voting reform that couldn’t garner bipartisan support “will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.”

In March, the House passed the For the People Act in a near-party line 220-210 vote. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi was the sole Democrat to vote against the bill.

Read more: What we learned about Joe Biden from riding Amtrak with a Senate colleague who has known the president for five decades

The legislation would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other reforms.

The bill would also mandate that states offer mail-in ballots and same-day voter registration, which Republicans have long resisted in many states.

Former President Donald Trump’s debunked voting claims have only deepened the partisan divide on voting rights, and GOP congressional leaders have vehemently come out against the For the People Act.

However, Manchin sees potential in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan election reform bill, which he supports and hopes to see signed into law.

“My Republican colleague, Sen. Lisa Murkowski [of Alaska], has joined me in urging Senate leadership to update and pass this bill through regular order,” he wrote. “I continue to engage with my Republican and Democratic colleagues about the value of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and I am encouraged by the desire from both sides to transcend partisan politics and strengthen our democracy by protecting voting rights.”

President Joe Biden has called for the passage of both pieces of legislation, but without Manchin’s support of S.1. and the prospect of the filibuster still being in place, the chances of the bill reaching his desk have narrowed.

Democrats and Republicans each have 50 seats in the Senate, with the former party controlling the chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote.

However, the voting rights bill would have to clear the 60-vote threshold to withstand a legislative filibuster and proceed to a vote where it could pass with a simple majority.

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Biden appears to criticize Democrats Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, saying some members of his party ‘vote more with my Republican friends’

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President Joe Biden speaks as he commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, at the Greenwood Cultural Center, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Tulsa, Okla.

  • President Joe Biden addressed criticism that he has not been able to enact more of his governing agenda.
  • Biden noted that Democrats only have a slim majority in the House.
  • In the Senate, two Democrats “vote more with my Republican friends,” he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden threw some shade at a couple of his fellow Democrats on Tuesday, saying he would be able to pass more of his agenda if his party enjoyed a larger majority in Congress – and if more of them voted like Democrats.

“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’ Well, Biden only has a majority, effectively, of four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends. But we’re not giving up.”

That appears to be a reference to Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Sen. Krysten Sinema, of Arizona, both of whom have opposed Democrats’ efforts to abolish the filibuster, which allows Republicans to block the passage of legislation with just 40 votes.

The remarks came during a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Black residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Biden implored Congress to pass his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, in part to address a stark divide between the wealth of typical white and Black families, CNN reported.

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Democrats renew calls to end the filibuster after McConnell said he’s ‘100%’ focused on stopping Biden

Mitch McConnell
“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday.

  • McConnell said Wednesday “one-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”
  • His remarks cast doubt on hopes for bipartisanship and prompted renewed calls to end the filibuster.
  • Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were among the lawmakers to renews calls for an end to the rule.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his entire focus is on stopping President Joe Biden’s administration, Democratic lawmakers renewed calls to end the filibuster.

Speaking of the GOP, McConnell told reporters outside his Kentucky home on Wednesday that “100% of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” NBC News reported.

“We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration, and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100% of my focus,” he said.

Democratic members of Congress seized on the remarks as evidence that bipartisanship was not possible and stressed the necessity of ending the filibuster, a rule that requires a 60-vote super-majority to pass legislation in the 100-person Senate.

Read more: 9 hurdles facing Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure, jobs, and tax plan as Republicans pitch a less-pricey alternative

“The Constitution doesn’t say anything about it taking a super-majority of 60 senators to pass a bill,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet. “It’s time to get rid of the filibuster so Mitch McConnell doesn’t get a veto over the will of the people.”

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California said McConnell is using “the same playbook he’s used for years.”

“Anyone expecting a return to some bygone era of bipartisanship isn’t acknowledging the reality that we are in. We MUST eliminate the filibuster,” he said in a tweet.

The Senate is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, and some Democrats have called for the end of the filibuster as the only way for the Biden administration to accomplish its agenda. Biden himself has said the filibuster has been “abused.”

“If we’re going to achieve anything meaningful for working families we must use reconciliation, abolish the filibuster and pass legislation with 51 votes. We can’t afford to wait,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in response to McConnell’s comments.

But some moderates don’t agree. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both refused to support the effort to abolish the filibuster, with Manchin saying it was designed to encourage bipartisan consensus, something that some progressives view as unrealistic.

“Please stop asking us about bipartisanship when this is what the leader of the other party is focused on,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted in response to McConnell.

“Democrats can’t repeat the mistake of 2009, we must abolish the filibuster & move legislation that helps us deliver progress for the American people,” she said. “Let’s grow a backbone.”

McConnell’s statements came the same week that former Republican Rep. Justin Amash, who joined the Libertarian party in 2019, praised progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for visiting his University of Chicago class.

Justin Amash AOC

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Top Trump ally Lindsey Graham praises Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for refusing to abolish the filibuster

lindsey graham transition of power
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham explicitly praised two Democratic senators for rejecting their party’s efforts to eliminate the filibuster.
  • Graham supported GOP’s successful effort to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominee confirmations.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his caucus to publicly praise the two Democratic lawmakers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, explicitly praised two Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – for rejecting their party’s efforts to eliminate the Senate filibuster.

The chamber’s filibuster requires 60 votes to pass legislation and both Democrats have pledged to reject pressure from their own party and stand with Republicans to protect the rule.

“I want to thank Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema for rejecting the idea of changing the filibuster,” Graham said. “I’m asking no more of them than I ask of myself. So I appreciate what they’re doing for the Senate and for the country.”

But Graham, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, supported Republicans’ successful effort to eliminate the filibuster for votes on Supreme Court nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his caucus to publicly praise the two Democratic lawmakers, Politico reported last week. He was very complimentary of his colleagues in a recent interview.

“What they’ve been very forthright about is protecting the institution against pressures from their own party. I know what that’s like,” McConnell told Politico. “Every time I said no. And it’s nice that there are Democrats left who respect the institution and don’t want to destroy the very essence of the Senate.”

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POLL: Most Americans who care about the filibuster don’t like it and want it changed

ted cruz filibuster
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex.

  • We asked Americans what they think about the Senate filibuster.
  • The parliamentary rule designed to delay bills for debate has been a source of heated contention.
  • Most respondents said they don’t have an opinion, but most of those who do want it changed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For all of the attention the Senate filibuster gets inside the beltway and in political journalism, many Americans don’t really care about it, a new Insider poll found.

The most consensus we got when we asked 1,117 people about their views on the procedure was 36% saying they don’t have a strong opinion about it.

The poll, conducted in late March, asked respondents their view on the filibuster. They were presented with the following options and asked which best describes their view:

  • I think the Senate needs to abolish the filibuster entirely (20%)
  • I think the Senate should require a “talking” filibuster, where Senators must remain on the floor to delay a bill (21%)
  • I think the current filibuster rules are fine as is (17%)
  • I think the filibuster should be expanded back to include judicial nominations (5%)
  • I don’t have a strong feeling about the filibuster (36%)

After the 36% who said they don’t care about the filibuster, the next most common response was 21% saying they’d like the Senate to require a “talking” filibuster, where senators would have to physically stand on the Senate floor and speak for as long as they can to delay a bill. Currently, a full blown floor speech is not required.

Under the current rule, at least 60 senators need to invoke “cloture” by voting to bring debate to a halt and move on.

Another 20% said they want the Senate to abolish the filibuster entirely.

Just 17% said they think the rule is “fine as is.”

The least common response was “I think the filibuster should be expanded back to include judicial nominations,” which only got 5%. Back in 2013, Senate Democrats chose the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for cabinet and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court.

In 2015, Republicans invoked their own “nuclear option” by removing the Supreme Court exception to push through the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Among respondents, 36% said they would likely take part in their state’s Democratic primary in 2024, compared to 31% who said they would likely take part in their state’s Republican primary.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,129 respondents March 27-28, 2021 with a 3 percentage point margin of error.

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