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Attempt to change Senate filibuster rule fails after Republicans block voting rights bill

The Senate on Wednesday night voted against changing the chamber's filibuster rule, which Democrats say is necessary in order to push through voting rights legislation that is being blocked by Republicans.

The vote was 52-48, with two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — joining the Republicans in opposition. 

Democrats had hoped to change the filibuster rule so they would only need a simple majority to pass voting rights legislation, rather than the 60 votes necessary to beat a filibuster. Earlier in the night, Senate Republicans blocked a voting rights bill for the fifth time in six months.

The voting rights legislation aims to restore parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that have been chipped away by the Supreme Court, making it easier for people to vote in person and by mail. This is in direct response to Republican-led state legislatures passing restrictive voting laws that Democrats say make it harder for most people, especially minorities, to vote.

The floor debate on the matter lasted about 10 hours. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), whose state imposed strict voting laws in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, declared that this is "a moral moment," while Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) took umbrage to links being made between the GOP and Jim Crow laws. "I am not a racist," he said. "Nor are the people who I know in the state of South Dakota."