WASHINGTON — One of the Senate's foremost supporters of strengthening voting rights admits it is going to be an uphill fight.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) acknowledged on Friday that the numbers just don't seem to be there.
"If you read any press accounts of where we are right now, they would suggest pessimism," he said.
Kaine made it clear that the odds for success when it comes to his Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate aren't great.
"We have the ability to debate the bill through this procedural mechanism that we've found," he said. "We don't yet have all 50 Democrats on board with allowing us to consider changes to the Senate rules so we can pass it by simple majority."
Kaine spoke about the bill's prospects Friday with state civil rights leaders and the media.
He said protecting citizens' ability to vote is crucial, calling it "protection of the very democracy that we took an oath to protect."
Kaine said, despite the current unanimous opposition from the Republican side, and from Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, he believes once there's an actual debate on the floor of the Senate, that minds can be changed and that the bill still has a chance.
"I'm a believer that epiphanies can happen and that surprises can occur and that people can have insights and change their mind," Kaine said.
Democrats want to bypass the filibuster and push the Right to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through with a simple majority they currently lack.
Even President Joe Biden sounds discouraged.
After meeting with Senate Democrats Thursday, he said: "The honest to God answer is, I don't know whether we can get this done."
Nothing will happen on voting rights legislation until Tuesday, Jan. 18, at the earliest. That's the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
Plus, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited the "potentially hazardous winter storm" heading for the East Coast as a reason for a delay on debate and any votes.