Senate Republicans have once again blocked a Democratic effort to start debate on legislation to overhaul voting and election laws.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 51-49 against starting the debate on the Freedom to Vote Bill. Democrats needed at least 10 Republicans to vote for the move. However none did.
The legislation would have made election day a federal holiday, implemented same-day voter registration and automatic registration, required at least two weeks of early voting, expanded access to mail-in voting, restricted efforts to purge voter rolls, and included provisions to protect election workers.
Ahead of the vote, President Joe Biden tweeted, “The sacred right to vote is under unrelenting assault across the country — and the Senate needs to take action to protect it. Senate Republicans need to allow a debate and let there be a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act. Democracy — the very soul of America — is at stake.”
The sacred right to vote is under unrelenting assault across the country — and the Senate needs to take action to protect it. Senate Republicans need to allow a debate and let there be a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act. Democracy — the very soul of America — is at stake.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 20, 2021
Congressional Democrats quickly reacted to the Republicans’ decision to block the bill:
The right to vote is the beating heart of our democracy.
The filibuster isn’t even part of the Constitution—in fact, the founders specifically rejected requiring super-majorities to pass bills.
We can’t let Mitch McConnell have veto power over access to the ballot box.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 20, 2021
The right to vote is under direct assault in states across the country.
But today, Senate Republicans once again used the filibuster to block urgently needed legislation that protects voting rights — and our democracy itself. https://t.co/Co9yJIUTXz
— Progressive Caucus (@USProgressives) October 20, 2021
The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy. By continuing to filibuster voting rights legislation, Senate Republicans are putting partisan, right-wing efforts in state legislatures ahead of the right of Americans to vote. https://t.co/TlwdnB7eHn
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) October 20, 2021
Earlier this year, Senate Republicans blocked debate on Democrats’ “For the People Act,” as IJR reported.
After that vote, Schumer accused Republicans of carrying out “the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years, capitalizing on and catalyzed by Donald Trump’s ‘big lie.’”
“The Republican leader flatly stated that no matter what the states do to undermine our democracy, voter suppression laws, phony audits, partisan takeovers of local election boards, the Senate should not act,” he said, adding, “My colleagues, if senators 60 years ago held that the federal government should never intervene to protect voting rights, this body would have never passed the Voting Rights Act. The Republican leader uses the language and the logic of the Southern senators in the 60s who defended states’ rights, and it is an indefensible position.”
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