All 50 Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to block debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, the latest bill Democrats have brought to the floor to enshrine voting rights amid a raft of new restrictions Republicans have enacted at the state level. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) played a leading role in crafting this iteration of the voting rights package, and he spent months trying to persuade Republicans to support it.
Democrats hoped the uniform opposition from Republicans would move Manchin to support modifying the filibuster so voting rights legislation could pass with a simple majority, not the 60-vote supermajority demanded under longstanding filibuster rules. Manchin gave no sign his opposition to changing the filibuster had shifted.
The Freedom to Vote Act would make voting easier by setting national standards for early voting and vote-by-mail, requiring new "dark money" disclosure rules, and turning Election Day into a federal holiday. It scrapped provisions from earlier bills, also blocked by Republicans, that would have required nonpartisan redistricting commissions in every state, created new federal ethics rules, and ramped up public financing of congressional elections, among other changes.
Democrats vowed to keep trying to bolster voting rights, but their time is running out on some measures. Several states, for example, have already drawn their partisan congressional district maps for the next decade.