Democrats run out of time to protect voting rights – Mother Jones


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaking at a press conference on the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget resolution, August 11, 2021.Michael Brochstein / Sipa via AP

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In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Republicans again blocked a vote on the People’s Law, the sweeping democracy reform bill that passed the House in March but was blocked by a Republican filibuster. in June.

Texas law enforcement began issuing civilian arrest warrants later Wednesday to force House Democrats who fled the state in July to return to the chamber so Republicans have a quorum for adopt a bill to suppress voters.

And on Thursday, the Census Bureau is expected to release demographics that will be used for the redistribution this year, where Republicans have a major advantage over Democrats in drawing new legislative maps.

Republicans are rushing to tip the country’s election laws in their favor, and Democrats are running out of time to stop them. Eighteen states have already enacted 30 new laws making voting more difficult, and Texas may join them soon. Republicans could pass new redistribution maps within weeks, which could freeze Democrats in power in key states for a decade. The GOP will likely be able to take over the home based on gerrymandering in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, according to a recent Mother Jones To analyse.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said voting rights will be the “first issue of legislative business” when the Senate returns from its August recess a month from now. Democrats are considering passing a compromise bill led by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.). It should include the main features of the original For the People Act, such as automatic voter registration on election day, two weeks of early voting and the ban on partisan gerrymandering, while adding new provisions to counter GOP laws that subvert election administration – laws that could overturn election results in states like Arkansas and Georgia. In a bid to attract Republican support, he adds a nationwide voter identification requirement, though it has enough limitations and exceptions that he’s unlikely to win enough. of votes for the GOP.

Democrats have two big problems. First, they have yet to define a clear strategy to overcome the obstruction of the GOP. “We have reached a point in this House where Republicans seem to oppose any measure, any measure – no matter what common sense – to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy,” Schumer said Wednesday in the Senate. Second, even if they pass a bill, it may not come in time to cancel the gerrymandered cards that could be drawn by Republicans in a matter of weeks.

The simplest strategy for Democrats to overcome the GOP obstruction would be to change Senate rules to exempt voting rights legislation from the 60-vote requirement, but Manchin recently said he ” can’t imagine “supporting this. Another option would be to bring back the “filibuster law,” requiring 41 Republicans to actually have the floor to block a bill, an idea Manchin and President Biden have supported. This would force the minority party to actively block a bill and stop debate after a certain period of time. It remains to be seen whether Democrats can persuade Manchin to support a simple majority vote to pass a law, rather than a 60-vote requirement, once the debate is over.

Democrats are taking a two-pronged approach to tackling new voter suppression efforts. The House returns to session in August to pass a new version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require states with a history of discrimination to re-approve their voting changes with the federal government. A similar bill passed the House in 2019, but never came to a vote in the Senate, which Republicans controlled at the time. Only one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, signed it, so Democrats will need to reform filibuster to pass it as well.

“At some point, we will come to a binary choice between protecting our democracy and protecting an obscure Senate process,” former Attorney General Eric Holder recently told me. This point is fast approaching.

When Texas Democrats fled to Washington on July 12, they stressed the need for urgent congressional action to protect voting rights. “We are living on borrowed time,” a group of Texas Democratic leaders said in a statement. “We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans – and all Americans – from Trump’s Republicans’ national war on democracy. “

A month later, those measures are still not on the verge of becoming law, and Democrats risk wasting what Amy Klobuchar, co-editor of the revised People’s Law, called “a unique moment to protect the right of people to vote. “


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