Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Senate from beginning debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with a filibuster ― their fourth filibuster of voting rights legislation this year.
The voting rights law, named for the late civil rights leader and Democratic congressman from Georgia, would reauthorize key sections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were gutted in decisions by the Supreme Court’s conservatives in 2013 and 2020. The bill also contains elements of the Native American Voting Rights Act, which expands voting protections for Native Americans.
By using the filibuster a fourth time, Republicans have signaled clearly that they will not support any voting rights legislation, including the restoration of provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Democrats widely anticipated that Republicans would use the filibuster once again, and they were planning to use the moment to provoke a full examination within the caucus on whether to change the Senate’s rules to move forward.
Democrats have described the John Lewis voting rights law and the Freedom to Vote Act ― a package of voting rights, campaign finance and redistricting reforms ― as “must-pass” bills. They point to the wave of restrictive election laws enacted in GOP-run states, and inspired by former President Donald Trump’s election fraud lies, as evidence for the need to pass them. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) previously said “ everything is on the table ” as a means to get the legislation passed.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) vocally oppose changing the Senate’s filibuster rules. Despite this stated opposition, Democratic leadership has tried to show Manchin that support for passing voting rights laws and support for maintaining existing filibuster rules are at cross purposes. The filibuster of the John Lewis voting rights law completes this process.
Democrats’ push for democracy reform legislation started with the House passage of their marquee bill, the For the People Act. But Manchin declared his opposition to it in June after it failed to attract Republican support in the House or the Senate rules committee. Democrats then negotiated a compromise version of the bill ― the Freedom to Vote Act ― based on Manchin’s own framework for what he believed could garner GOP support.
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