President Biden arrived on Capitol Hill this afternoon as he continues to press for congressional voting legislation, despite the uphill battle Democrats face amid Republican opposition and resistance within their ranks to changing Senate rules.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved a measure that combines key provisions of two voting bills: the Freedom of Voting Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act. He will then be sent to the Senate, where a high-profile battle awaits.
There, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer paved the way for the standoff over voting rights — pledging to work aggressively through sweeping new federal legislation aimed at countering Republican moves in state capitals to restrict access to the ballot.
But to do so, he must accomplish the near-impossible feat of persuading reluctant senators in his caucus to change the chamber’s rules to pass the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome Republicans’ repeated blockade of bills.
Despite pro-voting measures, two fellow Democrats — Arizona Senator Kirsten Senema and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin — defended the so-called blocking, which would require 10 Republicans to support advancing the legislation in the 50-50 Senate.
Time is running out for Democrats, who are racing to set new voting grounds ahead of this year’s midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
Republican-controlled legislatures, particularly in battleground states that saw increased turnout and Democrat victories in 2020, have already enacted a raft of new laws that limit absentee ballots, impose additional proof of identity requirements and otherwise create new obstacles to voting. More restrictions are likely to be passed in the state’s upcoming legislative sessions.
Schumer has set a January 17 deadline for Martin Luther King Jr. to vote on rule changes if Republicans again block consideration of bills.
The impending showdown comes as some GOP leaders are beginning to voice support for a more modest approach: updating a vague 19th-century law, known as the Electoral Counting Act, that details how Congress counts the Electoral College votes from each state.
Schumer insisted that electoral law reform is not a substitute for larger electoral reforms.
As the Senate prepares to tackle voting rights, here’s a look at the various legislative proposals and what they’ll do:
Freedom of Voting Act: This bill from a group of Democrats, including Mansion and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, sweeps into one place sweeping changes to election and campaign finance laws. The goal is to establish ground rules that all states must follow in the conduct of federal elections.
Among its provisions: making Election Day a public holiday, requiring voter registration on the same day, ensuring that all voters can order mail-in ballots, and restoring federal voting rights to ex-felons once they are released from prison.
It also seeks to protect against partisan takeovers of the election administration, ban partisan manipulation in congressional districts, and mandate donor disclosure to deep-pocketed “black money” groups seeking to influence elections.
All 50 members of the Senate Democratic Party support the bill; Republicans dismissed this as a federal overreach.
John Lewis Voting Advancement Act: The bill, named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who died in 2020, would restore the federal government’s authority to oversee state voting laws to prevent discrimination against minority voters.
The 2013 Supreme Court decision overturned the mainstay of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires nine states and other parts with a history of racial discrimination to win approval or “prior authorization” from the US Department of Justice or a federal judge before changing their elections. Policy.
Soon after the ruling, some states began enacting new voting laws, such as adding more stringent requirements for voter identification. And last year, Republican-led states moved quickly to change more laws, spurred by former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that widespread voter fraud led to his loss in 2020.
The John Lewis bill would change the wording used to determine which states need to obtain “prior authorization” for their voting rules. It would expand coverage of pre-clearance to states that have sustained multiple violations of voting rights in the past 25 years — in an effort to address the Supreme Court majority’s concern that some states were being unfairly punished for decades-old crimes under the old law, rather than existing discrimination. practices.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is the only Republican member of the Senate to have signed the bill.
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