Speed Reads

voting rights fight

Senate Republicans block debate on major voting rights bill

Senate Republicans on Wednesday once again blocked debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which Democrats want to pass in order to curb strict voting restrictions being put in place by GOP-controlled state legislatures.

The bill would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013, giving the Justice Department the chance to review some state election laws before they are implemented. Just one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voted with Democrats to advance the bill, which the House passed in August.

It was clear ahead of time that the bill would fall short of the 60 votes necessary to overcome procedural hurdles, but the vote was held in part to show Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that the filibuster he supports is keeping the Senate from passing voting rights legislation, The Guardian reports. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Wednesday was "a low, low point in the history of this body," and Democrats will "continue our fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward, even if it means going at it alone, to defend the most fundamental liberty we have as citizens."

One group calling on the Senate to get rid of the filibuster is the organization Fix Our Senate, and its spokesman Eli Zupnik told The Guardian that Republicans have now blocked federal voting rights legislation four times in 2021. "It is "crystal clear that [Republican Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will weaponize the filibuster to block progress," he said. "Our question now to President Biden and Senate Democrats is this: What are you going to do about it?"