Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wanted to organize a vote on two bills, the John R. Lewis Advancing Voting Rights Act and the Free Suffrage Act, before the national holiday of the Martin Luther King’s Day Monday. To do that, Democrats had to reach an internal consensus as they debated whether to change Senate rules to lift the 60-vote threshold to push legislation forward. What they couldn’t do.
While some Democrats oppose the rule change, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as President Joe Biden, are pushing for it. The Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote.
In a speech in Atlanta last Tuesday, Biden laid out the historic stakes of failing to pass nationwide voting protections as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country, including Pennsylvania, moved to curtail voting. access to the ballot boxes.
“I think the threat to our democracy is so great that we need to find a way to get this voting rights bill passed,” Biden said. “Debate them, vote on them, let the majority win and if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no choice but to change the rules of the Senate, including removing the filibuster.”
Last week, Republicans opposed to the bill made, as Vice News reports, a nonsensical argument against both bills, claiming that because so many voters turned out in 2020, there’s no problem of access to the ballot boxes and the protections built into the legislation are not necessary.