Republicans Block Key Voting Rights Bill Using Filibuster
By Peter Ingle (@PeterIngleNC)
As an unprecedented amount of restrictive voting bills are being passed by Republican state legislatures around the country, Republican Senators blocked a comprehensive voting rights bill known as the For the People Act on Tuesday.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, state legislators in 48 states have introduced more than 380 restrictive voting bills. Republicans lost the House, Senate, and White House in the four years of Trump’s presidency and see an opportunity to gain back congressional power in the 2022 midterms.
The For the People Act would provide greater voter protections to Americans and outlaw partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. Furthermore, it would increase transparency in federal campaign spending and make it easier for Americans to register and vote.
Many within the Democratic caucus see this bill as absolutely necessary in the wake of this concentrated effort to limit the right to vote. As of June 21st, 17 states have enacted 28 new laws that will restrict Americans’ access to the ballot.
The United States hasn’t seen a voter suppression attempt this strong since 2011, when 14 states enacted 19 restrictive voter bills by October of that year.
With slim majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats may endure significant losses in Congress if there is no federal response to protect the right to vote. Ahead of Tuesday’s Senate vote, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) tweeted, “The people did not give Democrats the House, Senate and White House to compromise with insurrectionists. Abolish the filibuster so we can do the people's work.”
There is a growing sense among Democrats that without the abolishment of the Filibuster, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will continue to obstruct important legislation that is popular among a majority of Americans. As Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) describes it, “Nothing makes that case better than the abuse of voting rights we are seeing.”
Additionally, some progressives have signaled that they would block a Biden infrastructure bill in the House if federal voting rights are not addressed. Rep. Mondaire Jones (NY-17) said that “he can’t imagine having a vote in the House on an infrastructure bill, before resolving the issue of whether we will continue to have a democracy.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has defended Biden’s efforts and assured progressives that the Administration will continue to work with voting rights groups and legislators to expand voting access in the United States.
“This fight is not over," Psaki said. "No matter the outcome today, it's going to continue.”
Peter Ingle is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Political Science and Public Policy with a minor in History. He has worked in the past as a Finance Intern for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and for North Carolina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Anita Earls.