US Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping bill to overhaul federal elections, heightening already inflamed tensions over voting rights.
The Hill reported that Senators voted 50-50 in the evenly divided Senate on advancing the For the People Act, splitting along party lines and failing to get the 60 votes needed to gain the majority.
The legislation included setting national voting standards, changed the composition of the Federal Election Commission, added new restrictions on congressional redistricting, overhauled campaign finance and included new ethics rules for the president and vice president.
That contest was historic as it took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to historic levels of mail-in voting. It was also influenced by former President Donald Trump’s allegations of massive voter fraud that led to his defeat, an argument largely believed to have culminated in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Several states — including Georgia, which was won narrowly by President Biden and then delivered the Democrats their Senate majority — have made changes to their voting laws since the outcome of the presidential election.
Republicans railed against the bill ahead of Tuesday’s vote, arguing it was a partisan takeover of federal elections and exactly the sort of legislation meant to be blocked by the Senate’s filibuster, The Hill reported.
“The Senate is no obstacle to voting laws done the right way. … The Senate is only an obstacle when the policy is flawed and the process is rotten. And that’s exactly why this body exists,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Republicans have pledged for weeks that they would prevent Democrats from even bringing their bill up for debate, much less passing.
However, Democrats have been holding a frenzy of talks as they’ve tried to shore up support from within their own members. Hours before the vote, centrist Senator Joe Manchin announced he’d reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer to back the measure.
“All 50 Democrats will vote ‘yes.’ Every one of us wants to start debate. … Right now the vote, is will the Republicans move to proceed or are they unanimously against it?” Schumer said.
According to The Hill, Democrats are vowing that Tuesday’s failed vote won’t be the last word on trying to protect voting rights as Republican state legislatures across the country debate and in some cases enact new rules.
On the other hand, Republicans have defended the restrictions, arguing that they are a natural snapback after COVID-19 changed how Americans voted in 2020.
To get any voting legislation through the Senate, Democrats either need to win over at least 10 Republican votes or nix the legislative filibuster that requires 60 votes for most bills to pass.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate