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Biden all but concedes defeat on voting, election bills

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WASHINGTON (AP) — All but conceding defeat, President Joe Biden said Thursday he’s now unsure the Democrats’ major elections and voting rights legislation can pass Congress this year. He spoke at the Capitol after a key fellow Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, dramatically announced her refusal to go along with changing Senate rules to muscle the bill past a Republican filibuster.

Biden had come to the Capitol to prod Democratic senators in a closed-door meeting, but he was not optimistic when he emerged. He vowed to keep fighting for the sweeping legislation that advocates say is vital to protecting elections.

“The honest to God answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done,” Biden said. He told reporters, his voice rising, “As long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting.”

Sinema all but dashed the bill’s chances minutes earlier, declaring just before Biden arrived on Capitol Hill that she could not support a “short sighted” rules change.

She said in a speech on the Senate floor that the answer to divisiveness in the Senate and in the country is not to change filibuster rules so one party, even hers, can pass controversial bills. “We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy,” she said.

The moment once again leaves Biden empty-handed after a high-profile visit to Congress. Earlier forays did little to advance his other big priority, the “Build Back Better Act” of social and climate change initiatives. Instead, Biden returned to the White House with his agenda languishing in Congress.

Biden spoke for more than an hour in private with restive Democrats in the Senate, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who also opposes changing Senate rules.

Manchin said in a statement later: “Ending the filibuster would be the easy way out. I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation.”

Both senators went to the White House Thursday evening for an additional hour, which the White House later described as “a candid and respectful exchange of views.”

Since taking control of Congress and the White House last year, Democrats have vowed to counteract a wave of new state laws, inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, that have made it harder to vote. But their efforts have stalled in the narrowly divided Senate, where they lack the 60 votes out of 100 needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

For weeks, Sinema and Manchin have come under intense pressure to support rules changes that would allow the party to pass their legislation with a simple majority — a step both have long opposed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Sinema’s speech an important act of “political courage” that could “save the Senate as an institution.” Her own colleagues weren’t as charitable.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who once opposed changing the Senate rules said, “She believes that the risk of changing the filibuster is greater than the risk of what’s going on in the states. I hope profoundly that she’s right. I fear that she’s wrong.”

The Democratic package of voting and ethics legislation would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections in a generation, striking down hurdles to voting enacted in the name of election security, reducing the influence of big money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts. The package would create national election standards that would trump the state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the ability of the Justice Department to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

Biden’s trip to the Capitol, where he served for decades as a senator from Delaware, was part of weeklong effort to jolt the stalled legislation. On Tuesday he gave a fiery speech in Atlanta, likening opponents of the legislation to racist historical figures and telling lawmakers they will be “judged by history.”

Republicans are nearly unanimous in opposing the legislation, viewing it as federal overreach that would infringe on states’ abilities to conduct their own elections. And they’ve pointed out that Democrats opposed changes to the filibuster that Trump sought when he was president.

But for Democrats and Biden, the legislation is viewed as a political imperative. Failure to pass it would break a major campaign promise to Black voters, who helped hand Democrats control of the White House and Congress, and would come just before midterm elections when slim Democratic majorities will be on the line.

During the closed-door meeting, Biden and the senators engaged in a spirited conversation, the president drawing on his own years in the chamber, senators said. He fielded questions and comments, including from Manchin, who expressed reluctance to changing Senate rules. Biden’s message to the senators: It’s an “opportunity to do something that will do so much good for so many at a time where it’s so necessary,” according to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

Democrats have still pledged to force a public showdown over the bill on the Senate floor, which could stretch for days and carry echoes of civil rights battles a generation ago that led to some of the most famous filibusters in Senate history.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had initially set Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a deadline to either pass the voting legislation or consider revising the filibuster rules. But after one Democratic senator tested positive for COVID-19 and went into isolation, denying the party a needed vote, Schumer canceled a planned Senate recess week and said debate would instead begin Tuesday.

Democrats shifted their legislative strategy, too, as they sought to pressure Manchin and Sinema. Under their new approach, which uses a procedural shortcut, they will be able to debate the bill without being blocked by a filibuster — a feat after Republicans used the filibuster four times in recent months to stop deliberation.

The mechanics work like this: The House amended and passed an unrelated bill that was already approved by both chambers of Congress, combining Democrats’ voting proposals into one bill. Because that bill already passed both chambers, it can be called for debate in the Senate with a simple majority, though Senate Republicans can still block a final vote to pass the measure.

“Members of this chamber were elected to debate and vote, particularly on an issue as vital to the beating heart of democracy as this one,” Schumer said late Thursday.

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock questioned the wisdom of Manchin and Sinema’s reflexive pursuit of bipartisanship.

“It can’t be the only important thing,” said Warnock, who is Georgia’s first Black senator. “Slavery was bipartisan. Jim Crow segregation was bipartisan. The denial of women’s suffrage was bipartisan.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Miami-Dade School Board Narrows Down Search For New Superintendent

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami-Dade School Board met Tuesday for hours to discuss efforts to replace outgoing superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

The list of candidates is down to three ahead of a future meeting that will involve public input.

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“We have identified 3 individuals by names,” said Lubby Navarro, District 7 School Board member.

The board’s vice-chair Dr. Steve Gallon made his recommendation for the next leader.

READ MORE: Search On For Man Who Shot Woman At The Landings In Pembroke Pines

“I would like to make a motion to make Dr. Jose Dotres as the new superintendent of schools,” says Dr. Gallon. “I stand in my charge; I am prepared with the three to have a conversation of who checks off all the boxes.”

The other two individuals include Jacob Oliva and Dr. Rafaela Espinal.

Some board members expressed interest in wanting a process where candidates would attend a public meeting soon.

MORE NEWS: Grammy Awards Rescheduled For April 3 in Las Vegas On CBS

“The majority wants a public process and I want a public meeting so my community can hear,” said Navarro.

Austin Carter

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Grammy Awards Rescheduled For April 3 in Las Vegas On CBS

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MIAMI (CBSLA)The 64th annual Grammy Awards will now be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3, the Recording Academy has announced.

The ceremony was originally scheduled for Jan. 31 at Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles but was postponed due to growing concerns surrounding the Omicron variant.

READ MORE: Driver In Wilton Manors Hit-And-Run That Killed Two Children Pleaded Not Guilty

Trevor Noah will return as master of ceremonies.

With the Grammy ceremony shifting airdates, the CMT Music Awards will move from its originally scheduled date of Sunday, April 3 to a later date in April.

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Information about the date and location of the awards show will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Once we realized the need to move the GRAMMY Awards to a later date due to current health concerns, we came together quickly with our partners at the Recording Academy and CMT, to strategically reschedule these two incredible music events and utilize the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem to promote them,” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music, Live Events & Alternative Programming, CBS. “Coming out of an exciting month of college basketball on CBS, we’re thrilled to continue our programming momentum with these two big live events for television in the spring.”

“We are excited to take the GRAMMYs to Las Vegas for the very first time, and to put on a world-class show,” said Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “From the moment we announced the postponement of the original show date, we have been inundated with heartfelt messages of support and solidarity from the artist community. We are humbled by their generosity and grateful for their unwavering commitment to the GRAMMY Awards and the Academy’s mission. We appreciate the leadership CBS has shown during these challenging weeks and the flexibility of the CMTs and others who worked toward this solution.”

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The 2022 Grammy Awards will now broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena from 8:00-11:30 p.m. on CBS Television Network and available live and on demand on Paramount+.

CBSMiami.com Team

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Broward County State Attorney’s Office To Investigate Alleged Corruption By Miami Officials

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has recused herself and her office in the ongoing investigation into corruption claims made by former Mami Police Chief Art Acevedo.

The Broward County State Attorney’s Office will take over over the investigation after Governor Ron DeSantis ordered Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor to take it over.

According to a letter sent to the governor, Fernandez Rundle discovered a conflict of interest, saying that, “a substantial witness to potential wrongdoing is the brother of a senior attorney” in her office.

The investigation was opened when weeks before being fired, Acevedo wrote a memo accusing City of Miami commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex de la Portilla and Manolo Reyes of corruption.

CBSMiami.com Team

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