by Andrew Trunsky
Senate Republicans stopped Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill from advancing on the Senate floor Tuesday, unanimously voting against beginning its debate and therefore essentially killing it.
Though every Democrat voted to advance the bill, Republicans labeled it as nothing more than a power grab by the majority, with GOP leadership vowing to stop it. The bill, dubbed the “For the People Act,” received 50 votes in favor, but needed 60 to overcome a legislative filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the bill’s certain defeat on the floor Tuesday, but slammed the GOP for its continued opposition and accused them of seeking to suppress the vote in future elections.
“There is a rot at the center of the modern Republican party,” Schumer said. “Donald Trump’s big lie has spread like a cancer and threatens to envelope one of America’s major political parties. Even worse, it has poisoned our democracy, eroded faith in our elections, which is so detrimental to the future faith people need to have in this democracy.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, lamented the bill as “Democrats’ transparent plan to tilt every election in America permanently in their favor,” and rebuffed progressives’ calls to abolish the filibuster in order to facilitate the bill’s passage.
“This most sensitive subject would not be the best place to trash the Senate’s rules to ram something through,” he said on the floor. “The Senate is only an obstacle when policy is flawed and the process is rotten.”
“And that’s exactly why this body exists,” McConnell continued. “Today the Senate’s going to fulfill our founding purpose, stop the partisan power grab and reject S.1.”
Republicans have remained opposed to nearly all voting legislation at the federal level, including a compromise proposed by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that included priorities sought by both parties including voter ID, expanding early voting, some limits on mail-in voting and a ban on partisan gerrymandering.
“Senate Democrats seem to have reached a so-called ‘compromise’ election takeover among themselves,” McConnell said last week during his leadership press conference. “It still retains S1’s rotten core. An assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections.”
S.1’s failure will likely renew calls from progressives to abolish the filibuster. They have argued that the bill is necessary to combat what they deem restrictive voting legislation that multiple Republican-controlled states are adopting.
However, every Democrat would have to vote to abolish the filibuster for it to actually happen, and Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have remained steadfast in their opposition. Sinema even authored an opinion piece in The Washington Post ahead of Tuesday’s vote, reaffirming that she would ensure the filibuster remained in place.
“Would it be good for our country if we [passed the For the People Act],” she wrote, “only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?”
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Andrew Trunsky is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.