The Senate blocked, as expected, legislation on the right to vote, even as Democratic lawmakers and President Joe Biden warned that nothing less than the preservation of democracy was at stake.
During the day Wednesday, a parade of Senate Democrats delivered passionate speeches on the Senate floor to highlight the need for legislation to counter GOP-led measures to restrict voting in a number of states.
The vote, 49-51, lacked the 60 necessary under the filibuster rules to end the debate and move the bills forward. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed his vote at the last minute, a procedural maneuver so legislation could be brought up again.
Schumer then plans to schedule a vote to change the rules for filibusters so legislation can move forward by a simple majority, rather than a 60-vote threshold. But the Democrats do not have enough votes to take such a step, how late. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are against the changes, and all Republicans are likely against them.
In his remarks to the Senate, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) cited the withdrawal of same-day voter registration in Montana and voting restrictions passed in Georgia.
“For each of these laws passed in 19 states, it has been by simple majority,” she said.
But Republicans are united in their opposition to the law. Late. Roy Blunt (R-MO) argued that the law would be a “federal takeover” of state law and that it would prohibit measures that are popular, such as requiring voter IDs for ballot papers.
Yet the alarm is expressed by many Democrats that state law followed former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
Late. Chris Murphy (D-CT) claimed that what is happening is that Trump is trying to place his allies in central government offices to monitor the vote count.
“The plan is to install Donald Trump as president, whether he wins the election or not,” he said.
Late. Angus King (I-ME) said that “what we do not have is not a filibuster … it is another cousin once removed from a filibuster.” He said the “talking” filibuster has given way to one that is much easier for lawmakers to block legislation.
The bills under consideration are:
The Freedom to Vote Act: The more comprehensive of the two bills would establish early voting requirements and standards for postal voting; protect local election officials from removal for political reasons; ban gerrymandering; create automatic voter registration standards; increase the disclosure of campaign funding; and provide a mandate for audit after election. It would also make Election Day a national holiday and would limit lines to polling stations to a maximum of 30 minutes, among other changes.
John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act: The legislation would require states to obtain approval from the federal government for certain amendments to their voting legislation, which essentially reproduces a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A state would be subject to “prior approval”. ”For 10 years if: there were 15 or more violations of voting rights in the state during the previous 25 years; 10 or more infringements have taken place during the previous 25 years, at least one of which has been committed by the State itself; or three or more violations in the previous 25 years and the state administers the election. The bill will also set out factors that courts must consider when hearing challenges to a state or locality’s voting practice.