GOP Blockade of Voting Rights Law Rekindles Debate on End of Filibuster | Politics


An ongoing blockade of voting rights legislation by Senate Republicans leaves Democrats with few options to pass an election overhaul and government reforms while they are still in power, once again highlighting the debate over whether to end filibuster – at least for that bill.

In a procedural vote on Wednesday across party lines, Republicans once again opposed the opening of a debate on electoral reforms renegotiated in part by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia in the aim to get some support from the GOP. Democrats needed their 50 senators and at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster and move the bill forward. But no Republican voted for it.

Like the previous but more sweeping version of Democrat legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act expands postal and early voting, implements same-day automatic voter registration, prevents name purges from lists election, makes Election Day a federal holiday, bans partisan gerrymandering, and adds more campaign finance disclosures.

The legislation also imposes state voter identification requirements to authenticate voter identity, a provision many Democrats do not support, but which was ultimately included as a form of compromise to increase support for the project. of law. But like they did in June, the Republicans are putting the bill on ice.

Democrats argue that electoral reforms are long overdue and even more critical given the wave of GOP-controlled state legislatures seeking to enact restrictive voting laws. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has promised an open amendment process if Republicans agree to debate in Wednesday’s vote.

“The minority will have the chance to make their voices heard,” Schumer said. “What we cannot accept is a situation where one side calls for bipartite debate and bipartite cooperation while the other refuses even to engage in dialogue. If our fellow Republicans do not like our ideas, they have the responsibility to present their own. “

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After the vote, Schumer announced that the Senate would pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as early as next week, which is also unlikely to overcome a potential GOP obstruction. The bill, which was passed by the Democratic-led House in August, restores criteria from the landmark 1965 law determining which jurisdictions or states must receive prior authorization from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court of District of Columbia before implementing voting changes. The provisions are aimed at cracking down on racially discriminatory electoral practices.

Republicans vehemently oppose any proposed federal election, comparing them to a “federal takeover plan.” And they say the current version is no different from what has already been proposed by Democrats this year and in previous sessions of Congress.

“For several years in a row, Democrats in Washington have offered a spinning round of justifications as to why they must federalize election laws and take charge of all American elections themselves,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. , from Kentucky. “The latest umpteenth iteration is just a compromise in the sense that the left and the far left fought over exactly how much power to get hold of and in what areas.”

Democrats recognize they will have to find another way to make substantial progress on voting rights legislation since Republicans will not join them. For many party members, eliminating the filibuster in the Senate is the only workable solution.

While not supported by everyone in the party, some Democrats are backing an exclusion to get rid of the dropout tactic when it comes to voting and election reform. But others, like Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, are adamantly opposed to lowering the threshold to lower bills from 60 to 51 votes. To do this, Democrats would need the consistent support of their caucus.

Senate veteran President Joe Biden also opposes the filibuster modification, though the decision ultimately rests with the upper house. But when asked about Biden’s meeting with Democratic senators over voting rights and a filibuster exclusion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t bite. , saying the president was focused on Wednesday’s vote and his broad, but vague, commitment to strengthening voting rights.

“This is something that should get the support of Republicans and Democrats across the spectrum, and that if Republicans can’t come forward and stop standing in the way, if they can’t support building, protecting the fundamental right to vote, so Democrats are going to have to figure out another way forward, “Psaki said at Tuesday’s press conference.

In his own statement Wednesday, Biden reaffirmed his commitment with a nod to action in the Senate: “Let there be a debate and there be a vote.” But he made no particular mention of the filibuster – or any other possible path to take.

Voting rights advocates argue that filibuster should not stand in the way of this area, and are putting more pressure on reluctant senators – and the president – to support such reform. But from now on, the same political dynamic opposes changing Senate procedures.

“If the Senate does not pass the free vote law quickly, it will be too late to counter these attacks on our democracy and a decade of partisan gerrymandering is setting in,” wrote Adam Bozzi, vice president of communications at ‘End Citizens United. A memo. “The Democrats in the Senate must do whatever it takes, including reforming the filibuster, to pass this bill.”

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