Home » Senate Democrats Promise to Force Debate on Voting Rights Legislation

Senate Democrats Promise to Force Debate on Voting Rights Legislation

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Voting rights
Courtesy of Lorie Shaull (Flickr CC0)

Republicans filibustered the debate on the voting rights legislation four times. When S.1., the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act comes to the floor again this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promises swift action against the GOP should they choose to filibuster for the fifth time. The Democrat said he would vote to change the 60-vote threshold rules and force the legislation to come to the floor for debate and secure its passage.

Voting rights
Courtesy of Gage Skidmore (Flickr CC0)

Sen. Schumer sent fellow Congress members a letter outlining his proposal regarding the voting rights bill. He wrote that he hopes his Republican colleagues will change course and work with Democrats to ensure all Americans can cast ballots in free and fair elections. The majority leader vows that on or before Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17, 2022, there will either be a debate on voting rights, thereby protecting the foundation of American democracy, or he will insist on changing the filibuster rules.

Sixty progressive advocacy groups led by Fix Our Senate sent a letter to the Democratic caucus imploring them to recognize the importance of passing the federal democracy and voting rights legislation. They urge Democrats to “reform the legislative filibuster to shield U.S. democracy from the increasingly authoritarian GOP.” However, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have, to date, refused to agree to any changes to the filibuster rule.

Since former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 general election, Republicans have aggressively changed voting district boundaries and significantly altered voting rights in almost every state. They bought into the lie that the election was stolen from him, even though its legitimacy was reinforced in every court Trump’s legal team brought their case.

Voting rights
Courtesy of Blink O’fanaye (Flickr CC0)

While COVID-19 ravaged the American landscape, Democrats pushed to secure equal voting rights by allowing increased mail-in ballots. Trump protested, claiming that no Republican would ever be elected if this change were allowed. Before and after the election, his rhetoric directly influenced his supporters to storm the Capitol building to demand Congress not certify the election. Trump is responsible for the Jan. 6th insurrection; he was the catalyst.

As a result of Trump’s lie, between January 1 and July 14, 2021, Republicans in 18 states enacted 30 laws violating voting rights by restricting access, imposing harsher voter ID requirements, and making mail-in and early voting more difficult. In addition, Georgia, Florida, and Iowa enacted broad voter suppression laws while Arkansas and Montana passed four laws each, and Arizona passed three laws restricting voter access. More than 400 bills with requirements that curtail voting rights were introduced in 49 states.

Voting rights
Courtesy of Michael Fleshman (Flickr CC0)

The House of Representatives passed For the People Act of 2021. It contains 10 subtitles detailing voting rights issues the bill seeks to address. Some of the titles include Title I: Modernizing Voter Registration, Restoring Voting Rights, Protecting the Ballot, Title II: Restoring the Voting Rights Act, DC and Territorial Voting Rights, Ending Gerrymandering, Title VII: Supreme Court Ethics Reform, Expanding Lobbyist Disclosure, FARA Reform, Recusal of Presidential Appointees, and other reforms like election security, stronger campaign finance laws, as well as executive branch and congressional ethics reforms.

Nearly a year has passed since S.1 was introduced on March 17, 2021, and Republicans have stalled the debate of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But Democrat Sen. Schumer has lost his patience with the delays; he promises to force the debate on the voting rights legislation even if he must push a vote to reform the filibuster.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

HuffPost: Chuck Schumer Threatens Filibuster Changes If GOP Blocks Voting Rights Bills Again; by Paul Blumenthal
HuffPost: Georgia Is How American Democracy Falls Apart; by Tavis Waldron
Commons Dreams: 60 Groups to Senate Dems: Jettison Filibuster to ‘Safeguard Our Democracy;’ by Jake Johnson
The Free Press: “Make No Mistake” Schumer Promises Vote On Filibuster Change By MLK Day If Republicans Kill Their Voting Bill; by Andrew Trunsky
Brennan Center: Voting Laws Roundup: July 2021
Brennan Center: Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Lorie Shaull’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image Courtesy of Blink O’fanaye’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Third Inset Image Courtesy of Michael Fleshman’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License