For the third time, Republicans have managed to block a Democrat bill that would dramatically alter voting laws the GOP says amount to the federalization of most elections.
“For the third time this year, Senate Democrats on Wednesday tried to pass sweeping elections legislation that they tout as a powerful counterweight to new voting restrictions in the states,” The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon.
“But amid the stalemate, there are signs that Democrats are making headway in their effort to create consensus around changing Senate procedural rules, a key step that could allow them to muscle transformative legislation through the narrowly divided chamber,” the AP added.
At issue is repeal of the Senate filibuster rule, which would allow Democrats to ram through legislation without any GOP support in the 50-50 chamber, rather than require 60 vote majorities to advance legislation.
One independent who caucuses with Democrats, Sen. Angus King of Maine, says he is now leaning towards ending the rule.
“I’ve concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule,” he said, according to the AP, though two other Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin if West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have steadfastly opposed ditching the rule.
The AP added:
Democrats still face long odds of passing their bill, now known as the Freedom to Vote Act, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., excoriated Wednesday as a federal “election takeover scheme.” But the softening of King’s stance on the filibuster amounts to progress, if incremental, for Senate Democrats as they look to convince others in their caucus to support a rule change.
“What we can’t accept is a situation where one side is calling for bipartisan debate and bipartisan cooperation while the other refuses to even engage in a dialogue,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said from the floor of the chamber.
“The latest umpteenth iteration (of the bill) is only a compromise in the sense that the left and the far-left argued among themselves about exactly how much power to grab and in which areas,” McConnell, who recently met with Manchin about the bill, said Wednesday. “The same rotten core is all still there.”
The Senate voted 49-51 over whether to take up the “Freedom to Vote Act,” which fell short of the 60 votes required to overcome a GOP filibuster, Fox News added.
President Biden issued a statement critical of the GOP effort, claiming without evidence that the right to vote is “under unrelenting assault by proponents of the Big Lie and Republican Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys-General, and state legislatures across the nation.”
“Senate Democrats have worked hard to ensure this bill includes traditionally bipartisan provisions,” Biden said. “But Senate Republicans are likely to block even debate on the bill, as they have before on previous voting rights bills. It’s unconscionable.”
Previous surveys have shown that both Democrats and Republicans support voter ID laws, which the Democrat bill would eliminate in states that have them.
“A poll released this week from the Honest Elections Project found 81 percent of voters surveyed support requiring every voter to show a photo ID to cast a ballot,” The Hill reported in August.
“The poll found support for voter ID laws rose by 4 percentage points from March to July, and it increased by 13 percentage points among Black voters surveyed,” the outlet added.