The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made Wednesday's announcement that he will seek floor action in September for the bill, also known as the For the People Act. Democrats have been trying to pass the bill for months. Republicans blocked the measure from being debated in June. It would have a major impact on the electoral process. It would limit the influence of big money in politics and reduce partisan considerations in drawing congressional districts. It also expands voting options.
Democrats admit that their latest attempt is doomed for failure -- that's what's important. They want to demonstrate that Republicans won't waver in opposing voting and election legislation. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has described it as "a solution searching for a problem".
This could be a way to convince moderate Democrats that they have little chance of moving forward on this important issue unless Senate rules are changed that require 60 votes in order to defeat a filibuster.
Schumer stated that "Republicans have built a wall of opposition against the progress on voting rights." He said it just after 4:30 a.m.
After a marathon voting session, his remarks were made.
McConnell stated that after ramming through the reckless taxing, spending, and here in the middle of the night, they also want "to start tearing up ground rules of democracy," McConnell added, "writing new rules, of course, on an purely partisan basis."
Democratic leaders have said the voting legislation would serve as a powerful counterbalance to a wave of new restrictive voting laws approved in Republican-controlled states after the 2020 election. The Senate blocked the bill months ago.
Liberal activists have called for the end of filibuster. However, Sens. and a few moderate Democrats supported the idea. This approach has been rejected by Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silena of Arizona, which denies Democrats the votes necessary to make the change.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and John Lewis' family urged Democrats not to delay.
Henry Lewis, the brother of the deceased congressman, said, "Let's just continue this fight, keep this drive moving, keep his dreams alive. Because if we don’t keep it alive then all his work will be in vain."
The party's base is pushing President Joe Biden to become more involved in the fight. Many activists claim that Biden has not paid enough attention to the issue and instead prioritized a $1 trillion bipartisan package for infrastructure, which was approved Tuesday by the Senate.
Derrick Johnson, President of NAACP, stated that the White House must prioritize voting rights legislation with the same urgency and commitment as the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. "Time is running out."
Though once an area where there could be bipartisan compromise, election laws have become an increasingly partisan flashpoint after President Donald Trump falsely blamed voting fraud for his 2020 election loss. The outcome was certified by Republican and Democratic election officials throughout the country. Trump's attorney general stated that he did not see any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
It's been difficult for Senate Democrats, however, to unite their caucus on the issue. Manchin initially refused to vote for the bill. However, he eventually agreed after Senate leaders promised to work with him in narrowing the focus of the bill.
Manchin spoke from the Senate floor early Wednesday and said that he had worked to eliminate the "far reaching aspects" of the Democrats' marquee proposal. He also asked for Republicans to support a smaller measure due to be released in September, a questionable prospect.
Manchin stated, "I ask my colleagues, Democrats, and Republicans to allow us debate this critical issue and come up with an bipartisan solution that protects all Americans right to vote."
However, that is not how they voted Wednesday.
They instead chose a fragmented approach. The Democrats won a vote to bring the For the People Act up to the floor to be considered after the recess. Republicans pledged to block it once the Senate returns.
Schumer then tried to push for other popular provisions of the bill. These included a limit on partisan gerrymandering, and a requirement that so-called dark money organizations disclose their donors. Republicans blocked two separate bills that contained the same provisions.
After leaving the Senate floor, Schumer stated to reporters that it was clear to him that we won't get much Republican support.
If Democrats are to pass the measure into law before the 2022 midterm elections, time is critical.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga) stated that "there is a tight timeline for getting all of this done."