GOP poised to filibuster Senate's voting reform bill next week
T he Senate will take up voting reform legislation next week, the top Democrat announced Thursday, but Republicans are poised to block it, despite centrist Sen. Joe Manchin's reforms.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told lawmakers the Senate will consider the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill that aims to expand access to the polls and to counter new red-state voter integrity laws Democrats say are too restrictive.
“We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills,” Schumer wrote to fellow Democrats on Thursday. “The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans.”
Democrats need the support of at least 10 Republicans in order to advance the legislation to the floor for debate.
However, they are unlikely to get a single GOP vote.
Republicans say the measure would shift control over elections from local officials to the federal government and would decrease voter integrity while increasing the likelihood of voter fraud.
“No amount of repackaging or relabeling will let Democrats sneak through big pieces of the sweeping, partisan, federal takeover of our nation’s elections that they have wanted to pass since they took power,” McConnell said after Manchin announced the legislation in September.
The measure is a revised version of a much larger, sweeping election reform bill that all Republicans and Manchin voted against earlier this year.
Democratic leaders tasked Manchin to come up with a bill he could support, then called on him to try to find Republicans to help advance it to the floor.
Manchin’s proposal, crafted with a group of fellow Senate Democrats, would make Election Day a national holiday and would downgrade voter ID requirements to allow utility bills and other documents in place of a state-issued photo ID. The measure would allow same-day voter registration, mail-in voting, and expanded early voting, as well as new campaign funding disclosure rules.
The bill would also provide matching government funding for political campaigns paired with an end to “dark money” campaign donations.
Democrats have been eager to pass a federal voting reform measure in the wake of changes made in many red states aimed at bolstering voter integrity.
Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, and Kansas are among states that have instituted changes to voting laws affecting polling hours, drop boxes, voter identification, and allowances for third parties to collect and drop off ballots.
Schumer, in his letter to fellow Democrats on Thursday, held out hope that Manchin could round up the 10 GOP lawmakers needed to advance the bill next week.
“If they have ideas on how to improve the legislation, we are prepared to hear them, debate them, and if they are in line with the goals of the legislation, include them in the bill,” Schumer said Thursday. “But Republicans must come to the table to have that conversation and at the very least vote to open debate.”
McConnell, in his statement opposing the Manchin compromise bill, called the new plan “fake solutions in search of a problem,” adding, “We will not be letting Washington Democrats abuse their razor-thin majorities in both chambers to overrule state and local governments and appoint themselves a national Board of Elections on steroids.”
While Republicans are likely to block the bill, Democrats can demonstrate their entire caucus backs the measure now that Manchin is on board. Many Democrats hope they can convince Manchin and other centrist Democrats to eliminate the filibuster
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