A massive campaign to undermine voting rights and the electoral process – and Donald Trump’s baseless narrative that fueled violence in the halls of Congress on January 6 – has obscured the fate of American democracy and left the nation in a constitutional crisis, Senator Angus King warned in a harsh speech in the US Senate.
In his October 19 remarks, Senator King urged lawmakers to support the voting rights legislation that Republicans have repeatedly blocked, as Democratic senators prepare another vote on a bill – the Law on freedom to vote – as an antidote to the restrictions imposed by Republicans at the state level. on access to the ballot before the critical mid-term elections and a redistribution cycle that could redraw political boundaries for the next decade.
The Senate is expected to consider the bill on October 20.
In his remarks, the independent senator from Maine warned of the rise of autocracy, attempts by GOP lawmakers to consolidate power and “a downward spiral towards a hollow shell of democracy, where only raw power prevails and his peaceful transfer becomes a distant memory ”.
Beyond a “wave of voter suppression legislation sweeping the country,” Senator King lambasted the former president for his persistent lie that non-existent widespread fraud manipulated election results, triggering “massive erosion and unprecedented confidence in the electoral system itself, the beating heart of our democracy ”.
“Of all Donald Trump’s depredations, this is by far the worst,” he said. “By relentlessly pursuing his narrow self-interest, he has seriously injured democracy itself. And by the way, I literally mean “narrow self-interest”. He doesn’t care a bit about any of us… and will reject all of us or any of us whenever it meets his needs at the moment. Everyone in this room knows this to be true.
On Monday, President Joe Biden spoke with Democratic Senators Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla, and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Senators King, Amy Klobuchar and Jon Ossoff “on the top priority of legislation to protect the constitutional rights of Americans against the systematic aggression that Republicans have rallied in state legislatures across the country, based on the big lie, ”according to a White House statement
“The administration continues to press for voting rights legislation to protect our democracy from these historic threats to constitutional freedoms and the integrity of elections through legislation, executive actions, awareness, from the pulpit of bullies and whatever other means available, ”according to White. Housing.
But the free vote law is likely to face the same universal opposition from congressional Republicans, as their state-level counterparts lead a coordinated legislative campaign to make it more difficult to vote and consolidate election oversight among the states. hands of state legislatures dominated by the GOP.
The Senate’s latest move builds on a cadre of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who joined Republican opposition to the For The People Act, which was shot by a GOP filibuster and pushed back a second time in a final attempt during budget debates.
In order to move the latest bill forward, Senate Democrats will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to reach a 60-vote threshold in order to overcome yet another obstruction.
“This will be largely determined by the attitude and approach of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema,” Senator King told reporters on Tuesday.
Senator King was skeptical about eliminating filibuster, but decided that “democracy is more important than Senate rule.”
When asked earlier this month how negotiations with the Republicans were going, he told reporters “my sense is not right.”
“I have spoken to Republicans myself,” he said, adding that he thought he was “not going very far.”
“The Republican strategy now appears to be… to limit voter turnout,” he said. “I don’t think Republicans here are interested in shorting out what their siblings are doing across the country.”
At least 19 states have enacted 33 restrictive voting laws, as of September, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.
States are also beginning to redraw political maps once a decade for the first time since the landmark Voting Rights Act was passed in 1964 without federal oversight to prevent racial discrimination at the ballot box.