U.S. Senate Democrats return to voting rights legislation

Written by on November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Democrats will try again to advance voting rights legislation on Wednesday, but are expected to encounter overwhelming Republican opposition for a fourth time this year.

The Senate is due to vote on whether to begin debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore state voting requirements to prohibit racial discrimination that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The vote is slated for 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT).

Democrats have made election reform a priority in light of Republican state balloting restrictions passed in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. At least 19 states have passed laws making it harder to vote, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-october-2021.

Democrats and voting rights advocates have said the laws will make it harder for Black and Hispanic voters – important Democratic Party voting blocs – to cast ballots.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Republicans to support debate on the measure and promised a robust amendment process by which they could alter the legislation.

“Across our beloved democracy something indeed is not right. Something malicious is afoot. A lie, a terrible lie spread by the former president of the United States is eating away corrosively at the foundations of our democracy,” the top Senate Democrat said in a floor speech.

But the chamber’s top Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the voting rights measure was little different from legislation rejected by Senate Republicans on three earlier occasions, noting that it would still give the federal government sway over state management of elections.

“The Senate will reject this go-nowhere bill today, just like we’ve rejected every other piece of fruit from the same poisonous tree,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Another Republican blockade of voting rights legislation is likely to elicit fresh calls for Schumer to abolish or alter the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 of the Senate’s 100 lawmakers to agree on most legislation and has enabled Republican opposition.

President Joe Biden said last month that Democrats should “fundamentally alter the filibuster https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-wants-fundamentally-alter-senate-filibuster-some-issues-2021-10-22,” after Republicans blocked a bill to thwart restrictive state laws. But moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema object to its elimination.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)


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