Senate Republicans blocked major voting rights legislation in a key procedural vote on Tuesday evening, launching a filibuster of a top priority for Democrats after the party locked down full support for the bill.
In a 50-50 vote, Democrats failed to clinch the 60 votes needed on a motion to proceed that would allow the Senate to move to debate on the bill. All 50 Democrats voted for the motion, but the party ultimately didn’t win over at least 10 GOP senators to overcome a filibuster.
As expected, voting rights legislation, the #ForThePeopleAct, was blocked in Senate as Republicans unite to filibuster; the 50-50 vote on the procedural motion was short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill. pic.twitter.com/hWW6Nq098f
— Poli Alert (@polialertcom) June 22, 2021
In recent weeks, Democrats struggled to get all 50 senators in the caucus to support their For the People Act, but leadership announced hours before the vote that Sen. Joe Manchin would vote on the motion to proceed because they struck an agreement on his compromise proposal. Democrats are hoping to project unity on a signature issue that they’ve campaigned on for years as they seek to focus on uniform GOP opposition to an election overhaul.
“Let’s do our job. Resist the easy route, the temptation to hide behind Senate procedure, and let’s have a principled conversation in front of the American people about voting rights,” Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock said from the floor before the key vote.
The For the People Act is wide-ranging, with measures on voter access, campaign finance and ethics. The bill would institute automatic and same-day voter registration, limit removing voters from voter rolls and create independent redistricting commissions to draw new district lines.
While Democrats acknowledged the bill would fail, they reiterated their calls for voting changes, particularly in light of GOP-led legislatures passing measures that would impose restrictions or limits on voters. And as a way to highlight the importance of the issue, Vice President Kamala Harris, who’s taking the lead on voting rights for the White House, presided over the chamber.
Republicans, however, also remained unified and rejected the bill, arguing such legislation was an attempt at a federal takeover of state-run elections. They pushed back on arguments that new election rules signed into law in states like Georgia, Texas and Arizona are voter suppression. Critics of these bills contend that they’d place a disproportionate burden on voters of color.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats would keep pursuing voting rights legislation amid a GOP blockade but didn’t detail how exactly they’d move forward, especially with the filibuster intact and without enough support to eliminate it.
“I want to be very clear about one thing. The fight to protect vote rights is not over by no means. In the fight for voting rights, this vote was the starting gun, not the finish line,” Schumer said after the vote failed.