President Biden arrived on Capitol Hill this afternoon as he continued to push for Congress to pass voting legislation, despite an uphill battle Democrats faced with Republican opposition and resistance within his ranks to change Senate rules.
The Democratic-controlled House approved a measure that combined key provisions of two voting bills: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. It will be forwarded to the Senate, where a high-profile battle awaits.
There, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set the stage for a showdown over voting rights – pledging to widely introduce new federal legislation aimed at restricting access to the ballot by Republicans in state capitals. .
But to do so, he would have to accomplish a nearly impossible feat and persuade reluctant senators in his own caucus to change House rules to address repeated blockades of bills by Republicans. The required 60-vote limit could be bypassed.
Despite supporting the voting measures, two of his fellow Democrats — Arizona Sen. Kirsten Cinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — have defended the so-called filibuster, requiring 10 to push legislation in an equally divided 50-50 Senate. Republicans are required.
Time is running out for Democrats, who are racing to establish new ground rules for voting ahead of this year’s midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
Republican-controlled legislatures, especially those on the battlefield, which saw increased turnout and Democratic victories in 2020, have already enacted a slew of new laws that limit absentee voting, introduce additional ID requirements and Otherwise create new barriers to voting. And more restrictions are likely to be passed in the upcoming state legislative sessions.
Schumer has set January 17 as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day deadline to vote on rule changes if Republicans once again hold off on considering the bills.
The impending confrontation comes as some GOP leaders have begun to lend support for a more modest approach: updating a mysterious 19th-century law known as the Electoral Count Act, which states that Congress will How does the electoral college count votes by state.
Schumer has insisted that an overhaul of the Electoral Counts Act is not a substitute for major electoral reforms.
As the Senate prepares to tackle voting rights, here’s a look at the various legislative proposals and what they will do:
Freedom to Vote Act: The bill, by a group of Democrats including Manchin and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, brings in one place sweeping changes to election and campaign-finance laws. The goal is to set basic rules that all states must follow in the administration of federal elections.
Among its provisions: making Election Day a public holiday, making same-day voter registration mandatory, guaranteeing that all voters can request mail-in ballots, and restoring federal voting rights for ex-offenders after their release from prison. can do.
It also seeks to protect against discriminatory takeover of election administrations, ban partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, and the disclosure of donors to deep-pocketed “black money” groups trying to influence elections.
All 50 members of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate supported the bill; Republicans have dismissed this as federal redundancy.
John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act: The bill, named for the late Georgia congressman and civil rights icon, who died in 2020, would restore the federal government’s power to oversee state voting laws to prevent discrimination against minority voters.
A 2013 Supreme Court ruling destroyed a central pillar of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required nine states and other parts with a history of racial discrimination to win approval or “preclearance” from the US Department of Justice or a federal judge. was needed. policies
Soon after the ruling, some states began enacting new voting laws, such as adding stricter voter identification requirements. And in the past year, Republican-led states have moved quickly to change more laws, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that widespread voter fraud led to his 2020 loss.
The John Lewis bill would change the formula used to determine which states need to obtain “preclearance” for their voting rules. It would expand pre-expulsion coverage to states that have violated multiple voting rights during the past 25 years — an attempt to allay Supreme Court majority concern that some states would be subject to decades-old misdemeanors under the old law rather than the current discrimination. was being punished unfairly. Practice.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the only Senate Republican to sign the bill.
Read the full story and more about the bills Here.
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