Republicans Block Voting Rights Bill, Dealing Blow to Biden and Democrats - The New York Times
Jun 23, 2021 2 mins, 50 secs

WASHINGTON — Republicans on Tuesday blocked the most ambitious voting rights legislation to come before Congress in a generation, dealing a blow to Democrats’ attempts to counter a wave of state-level ballot restrictions and supercharging a campaign to end the legislative filibuster.

President Biden and Democratic leaders said the defeat was only the beginning of their drive to steer federal voting rights legislation into law, and vowed to redouble their efforts in the weeks ahead.

“In the fight for voting rights, this vote was the starting gun, not the finish line,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader.

But the Republican blockade in the Senate left Democrats without a clear path forward, and without a means to beat back the restrictive voting laws racing through Republican-led states.

Trump continuing to press the false claim that the election was stolen from him — a narrative that many Republicans have perpetuated as they have pushed for new voting restrictions — Democrats in Congress could not afford to allow the voting bill to languish.

“The people did not give Democrats the House, Senate and White House to compromise with insurrectionists,” Representative Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, wrote on Twitter.

They planned to use it in the weeks and months ahead to stoke enthusiasm with their progressive base by highlighting congressional Republicans’ refusal to act to preserve voting rights at a time when their colleagues around the country are racing to clamp down on ballot access.

Democrats’ bill, which passed the House in March, would have ushered in the largest federally mandated expansion of voting rights since the 1960s, ended the practice of partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, forced super PACs to disclose their big donors and created a new public campaign financing system.

All 50 Senate Democrats voted to advance the federal legislation and open debate on other competing voting bills.

Senate Republicans particularly savaged provisions restructuring the Federal Election Commission to avoid deadlocks and the proposed creation of a public campaign financing system for congressional campaigns.

His top deputy, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, also threw cold water on any suggestion the two parties could come together on a narrower voting bill as long as Democrats wanted Congress to overpower the states.

At the time, Democrats did not control the Senate or the White House, and so the bill served more as a statement of values than a viable piece of legislation.

Trump returned in recent months to making false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states have marched ahead to pass laws making it harder to vote and change how elections are run, frustrating Democrats and even some election officials in their own party.

Manchin’s alternative would have expanded early and mail-in voting, made Election Day a federal holiday, and imposed new campaign and government ethics rules.

But privately, top Democrats in Congress conceded they had few compelling options and dwindling time to act — particularly if they cannot persuade all 50 of their members to scrap the filibuster rule.

Both the House and the Senate are still expected to vote this fall on another marquee voting bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

The bill would put teeth back into a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that made it harder for jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to enact voting restrictions, which was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2013

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