In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ attempt to advance their signature voting and election reform bill.
This was an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats in the chamber to put Republicans on the record about the voting rights bill and show that they are still trying to pass it despite stiff GOP opposition, despite the fact that it is a top priority for the party and the Biden administration.
Republicans have slammed the bill as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into voting and elections. Democratic senators have argued that it is a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access, while Republicans have slammed it as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into voting and elections.
“We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to oppose any measure no matter how common sense to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
On the Republican side, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas spoke out against the bill and blocked Schumer’s attempt to bring up and advance the “For the People Act,” a sweeping election reform bill that Democrats have made a priority.
“This bill would constitute a federal government takeover of elections. It would constitute a massive power grab by Democrats,” Cruz said.
Despite the setback, Schumer said he has met with a number of Senate Democrats in recent weeks “to discuss a compromise voting rights bill” and that they have “made significant progress.” In addition, the Senate majority leader announced that he is taking procedural steps to ensure that “voting rights will be the first item on the Senate’s legislative agenda when it reconvenes in September.”
This occurred shortly after the Senate passed a budget resolution along party lines, paving the way for a vote in the fall on a budget reconciliation bill that includes Democratic infrastructure priorities and can be passed without Republican votes.
“This chamber is going to take one more step in the fight to protect voting rights in this country,” Schumer said after the vote, adding that he would move to discharge the Rules Committee from further consideration of the “For the People Act.”
Schumer said that it was his “intention that the first amendment to the bill would be the text of a compromise bill that a group of senators are working on,” adding, “We are witnessing the most sweeping and coordinated attacks on voting rights since the era of Jim Crow.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the floor to denounce the effort by Democrats, saying, “Here in the dead of night, they also want to start tearing up the ground rules of our democracy and writing new ones of course on a purely partisan basis.” He also chastised Democrats for trying to pass a budget resolution.
The motion to discharge was approved by a vote of 50 to 49, and Schumer requested unanimous consent to proceed to immediate consideration of the version of the voting bill that Senate Republicans blocked in a procedural vote when Democrats tried to advance it in June. Cruz refused to comply with the request.
“The Republican majority has just prevented the Senate from even having a debate — a debate, just that — on voting rights in this country,” Schumer responded.