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Democrats Renew Push for Voting Rights Bill

The central obstacle to passing a voting rights bill is the filibuster

With President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion social spending package stalled, Senate Democrats turned their attention this week back to voting rights legislation they say is necessary to counter changes to election laws in Republican-led states.

Though Senate Republicans have blocked three previous attempts to pass the For the People Act, Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, several Democratic lawmakers say there is growing support for changing the Senate’s filibuster rule – the central obstacle to passing a voting rights bill.

“We’ve been here almost a year, and we’ve seen enough. It’s time to change the filibuster to protect voting rights,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), a co-sponsor of three voting rights bills that were blocked in the Senate. “Protecting the right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue and we set out to work across the aisle. But three separate voting rights bills have failed in the Senate this year. Voter disenfranchisement threatens our entire democracy. If we can change the process on the debt ceiling, then surely we can do the same to protect our democracy.”

Not all Senate Democrats are in favor of changing the filibuster, however. Two key moderate Democrats – Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – have said the 60-vote threshold for passing legislation in the Senate should stay intact and changes should only be considered in a bipartisan fashion.

“A rules change should be done to where we all have input, because we’re all going to live with it,” Manchin said yesterday. “Because we’ll [Democrats] be in the minority sometime.”

Biden endorsed the pivot away from his economic agenda, but only if Senate leaders can deliver the vote.

“If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it,” Biden said. “If we can’t we got to keep going. There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights. It’s the single biggest issue.”

This article was provided to OSAP by ASAE's Power of A and Inroads.

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