Senate Republicans Block Voting Rights Bills

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate prevented a set of voting rights bills from going through and blocked proposed changes to the chamber’s rules after seemingly endless weeks of confronting exactly how involved Congress should be to protect U.S. democracy, CNBC reported.

Republicans voted against the pending legislation that would boost early and mail-in voting and change Election Day a national holiday, among other actions. A motion to cease debate on the voting rights measure lost in a 51-49 vote, according to the article as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his vote to “no” due to procedural causes.

Aftwerard, a highly anticipated vote on changing Senate rules lost by a 52-48 margin. Democrats Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined the Republicans in voting not to change present filibuster rules, according to the article.

“To every member of this body who treasures our precious experiment in self-rule, to every member horrified by the muck of voter suppression, and to everyone who believes this chamber is still capable of defending democracy in its hour of great need, I urge a yes vote,” Schumer said Wednesday on the floor of the chamber before the votes, CNBC posted.

Democratic leaders like President Joe Biden insisted that the party agree to the proposed rules changes.

In a statement after the votes, Biden said he is “profoundly disappointed that the United States Senate has failed to stand up for our democracy.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Georgia Democrat and one of three Black senators, stood firm against GOP arguments that a new federal voting law would hamper state power to run elections by commenting that states’ rights were cited in past justifications for discriminatory policy in some of the “darkest moments” for the country.

“Taking action to pass voting rights legislation is not a policy argument,” he said in the article. “It is about democracy itself.”

Several days before the Wednesday night vote, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the topic of voting rights during a nearly 30-minute Zoom meeting on Friday, January 14 with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

Harris said there has been a lot of focus on Manchin and Sinema but people should also be looking at the “50 Republicans who took an oath to defend the United States.”  

She added that it’s not the “beginning of the end” when it comes to voting rights in America.  

“It’s the beginning of a movement for voting rights,” she said, adding that she has a plan of action moving forward so access to the ballot box is not obstructed. “I am bringing in folks to my office from every walk of life that will be affected. … We will continue to build a coalition around this issue. … We cannot be tired even though we are frustrated and yes disappointed and angered.”  

Read the full story here.

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