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Negotiating with Presidents Manchin and Sinema

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This decade’s Chuck Grassley Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Intentionally Distending Negotiations Just to Waste Everyone’s Time will be awarded jointly by acclamation:

President Biden, Democratic leaders and their emissaries are trying to convince Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to pass a sweeping federal elections bill with a menu of filibuster alternatives. The problem is speaking with him is “like negotiating via Etch A Sketch,” sources with direct knowledge of his recent meetings tell Axios.

Why it matters: The president and his top legislative allies see the bill — Manchin’s own Freedom to Vote Act — as key to thwarting Republican-led changes at the state and local levels and preserving their chances in this fall’s midterm elections.

“You think you’re just about there. You think you’ve got an agreement on most of the things and it’s settling in. And then you come back the next morning and you’re starting from scratch,” said the one source who made the Etch A Sketch analogy.

To date, Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) haven’t wavered in their opposition to lowering the 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation or creating a one-time carve-out to bypass the filibuster.

That’s made the conversations largely futile.

Look, they totally support voting rights reform. All they want is for 10 northeastern Republicans from 1965 to be teleported into the current Senate while 10 current Republican senators spontaneously combust. Is that really too much to ask?

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