Senate Republicans block Democrats' election bill

Carla Harmon
June 23, 2021

The chamber is now divided 50-50, with Democrats holding the tie-breaking vote in Vice President Kamala Harris.

Later Tuesday, Senate Democrats are expected try to pass a voting-rights overhaul that President Joe Biden has identified as critical to his agenda.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set the bill as one of his party's top priorities, saying it could have offset a wave of measures passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures imposing new limits on voting.

After a failed vote on United States election reform, some congressional Democrats say they hope that defeat may provide the opportunity to scrap the filibuster rule that allows the minority in the Senate to block most legislation.

In remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Schumer said, "Donald Trump, fresh off a resounding loss in the 2020 presidential election, cried foul and lied - lied - that the election was stolen from him, like a petulant child".

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is signaling that she is poised to create a new committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, pushing closer to a partisan investigation of the attack after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent probe. Mr. Manchin was also not on board with the legislation, citing a lack of bipartisanship, but joined his fellow Democrats at the eleventh hour, after some of his suggested modifications (on voter ID and gerrymandering) were accepted.

Manchin has also been a staunch supporter of the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires most bills to get 60 votes to advance.

There was never much doubt that the comprehensive voting rights bill was dead in the Senate.

Following the vote, Thompson appeared to label the U.S. Senate as a "holdover" from the time of slavery. But if it becomes received wisdom for those on Mr Biden's left, it could cause growing dissent in a party that will need unity to accomplish anything substantive in the days ahead.

Ultimately, it does little to deliver confidence to Democrats that making a deal with one or two Republicans like Murkowski or Collins is worth it if they can't deliver the ten votes necessary to break the filibuster. "Are we going to let the most dishonest president in history continue to poison our democracy from the inside?"

The bill, known as the For the People Act, will fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.

But Republicans said the package was a federal power grab against the authority of individual USA states to ensure the integrity of their own elections, designed purely to benefit Democrats. "Democrats have made abundantly clear that the real driving force behind S. 1 is a desire to rig the rules of American elections permanently in Democrats' favor", McConnell tweeted, referring to the legislation by its bill number.

Despite their best efforts, no Republican was willing to support the bill. Democrats were forced to use budget reconciliation to pass the bill. Around the world, we have seen once vibrant democracies go into reverse, locking in power for a small group of powerful autocrats and business interests and locking out of the political process dissidents and protestors and opposition parties and the voices of ordinary people.

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