Update (Jan. 20, 2022): After two days of debate, Democrats were unable to gather enough support to pass a voting rights bill Wednesday. The bill died on the Senate floor before a vote on it could even happen.
“A few hours ago, this chamber with the eyes of the nation upon it… took a vote to move to final passage on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the floor Wednesday. “It received 50 votes. And with the vice president, we would have had a majority. Unfortunately, under the current rules of the Senate, the door is closed to moving forward on these laws.”
By “current rules of the Senate,” Sen. Schumer was referring to filibuster rules, which requires 60 Senators to agree to end debate on a bill. Democratic leaders have been pushing to change the filibuster rules, but were not able to change the minds of Democratic holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
“My Democratic colleagues have taken to the Senate floor, cable news airways, pages of newspapers across the country and, to argue that repealing the filibuster is actually restoring the Senate to the vision of the founding fathers intended for this deliberate body,” Sen. Manchin said Thursday. “My friends, that is simply not true. It’s just not true. The United States Senate has never in 233 years been able to end debate on legislation with a simple majority vote.”
Original Story (Jan. 18, 2022): Senate Democrats spent Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor in a last-ditch effort to gather support for the voting bill they have been championing for weeks. The video above shows clips from the floor debate. Passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act appears extremely unlikely, and it could be killed as soon as Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted the uphill climb he had ahead of him while speaking on the floor.
“Senate Democrats are under no illusion that we face difficult odds, especially when virtually every Senate Republican is staunchly against legislation protecting the right to vote,” Sen. Schumer said. “But I want to be clear when this chamber confronts a question, this important, one so vital to our country, so vital to our ideals, so vital to the future of our democracy, you don’t slide it off the table and say, never mind.”
Democrats argue the voting bill is needed to counter a Republican-led drive to make it more difficult to vote at the state level, especially for Black and other minority voters. Meanwhile, Republicans argue the bill is a partisan effort that would undermine local control of elections.
“The partisan election takeover bills that Democrats want to ram through this week are not in any way successors of the civil rights legislation from the mid-20th century,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor. “Washington Democrats have wanted the power to rewrite the rules for political speech and election laws long, long before the events that are supposed to justify it.”
Even though the voting bill is expected to fail, Schumer vowed the fight to get legislation passed would not be over, even if that mean changing the Senate’s filibuster rules.
“The eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week in the United States Senate,” Schumer said. “If Republicans choose to continue the filibuster, their filibuster of voting rights legislation, we must consider and vote on the rule changes that are appropriate and necessary to restore the Senate and make voting legislation possible.” Changing the filibuster is also unlikely, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) saying they will not get on board. On Tuesday, Sen. McConnell described the push to change the rules as hypocritical.
“Late last week, [Democrats] literally wielded the 60-vote threshold themselves,” McConnell said. “A useful reminder of just how fake the hysteria has been.”