Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday outlined a strategy to ensure a Senate floor debate on voting rights, after three separate attempts last year were stymied by Republicans. U.S. Senate Republican Mitch McConnell has criticized President Joe Biden’s push for a voting-rights bill. Biden has called for Democrats to drop the chamber’s long standing “filibuster” rule requiring 60 of the 100 senators to agree to advance most legislation, a move that McConnell said would irreparably damage the Senate. Biden plans to make a personal plea to Senate Democrats today, urging them to agree on changing or eliminating the filibuster so they can pass the voting rights bill. Under the plan, outlined in a Schumer memo to fellow Democrats, the House of Representatives will soon repackage two voter-related bills into one and pass it. It would then go to the Senate, where dropping the filibuster would prevent Republicans from blocking debate. “We will finally have an opportunity to debate voting rights legislation – something that Republicans have thus far denied,” Schumer wrote in the memo.
Is Biden Trying to Pull the Country Apart?
“Nowhere does the Constitution give a minority the right to unilaterally block legislation,” Biden said. “The American people have waited long enough. The Senate must act.” McConnell responded to this speech the following day, “Unfortunately, President Biden has rejected the ‘better angels of our nature.’ So, it is the Senate’s responsibility to protect the country. This institution was constructed as a firewall against exactly – exactly the kind of rage and false hysteria we saw on full display yesterday,” McConnell said. “The president’s rant yesterday was profoundly, profoundly un-presidential, incoherent, incorrect and beneath his office,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, referring to Biden’s speech in which he appealed for voting-rights legislation and called Republicans cowardly for not supporting it. McConnell accused the president of giving “a deliberately divisive speech that was designed to pull our country further apart.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the administration was disappointed by McConnell’s opposition to the bill. “It is even more disappointing that someone who has supported and advocated for voting rights in the past … is on the other side of this argument now,” Psaki said. If Republicans remain united in opposition, even that bill will not pass the Senate unless all Democrats agree to change the filibuster. Centrist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are opposed to the idea, saying it would cause turmoil with every change of control in Washington. Schumer has set a deadline for a vote on the election reforms by the Jan. 17 holiday honoring the slain civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
Why do Democrats want a new Voting Rights Bill?
Since Trump’s defeat, Republican lawmakers in 19 states have passed dozens of laws making it harder to vote. Democrats claim these measures “target minorities,” who vote in greater proportions for Democrats. Democrats see their voting rights bills as a last chance to counter those ahead of the Nov. 8 elections, when they run the risk of losing their majorities in at least one chamber of Congress. However with their new Voting Rights Measures, election fraud, which was debated this past election, will be much easier to perform. The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act together would make Election Day a holiday, expand access to mail-in voting and strengthen the U.S. Justice Department oversight of local election jurisdictions with a “history of discrimination.” What about the districts who discriminate against republicans?
Biden Fuels Political Fire
“Twelve months ago the president said that politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” McConnell said. “yesterday he poured a giant can of gasoline on the fire.” McConnell went on to say, “we have a sitting president — a sitting president — invoking the Civil War, shouting about totalitarianism and labeling millions of Americans his domestic enemies.” Republicans argue that the bills Democrats are proposing are an infringement of states’ rights to run their elections. Trump supporters who have embraced his false claims of election fraud are now running for offices that could give them oversight over local elections. Democrats claim those supporters could use those posts to influence election outcomes. Are they scared to have someone who supports Trump witness the fraud and corruption, and end up being a whistleblower?
A few independent parties believe the last election had signs of fraudulent activity. Democrats claim there was no fraud, and the measure they are attempting to pass won’t be riddled with fraud. Democrats say they want to make sure people are not discriminated against. What about the republicans who suddenly have found themselves labeled as “America’s bad guy?” Making sure groups are not discriminated against should include all groups, not just the ones you believe are the victim. Equality does not mean one group is given special treatment, while others are villainized. What would ending the filibuster and bringing in democratic voter reform mean for the Republican party? Do you believe Biden’s measures have merit? Or, are they vessels to hide corruption and ensure democrats keep control?
Written by: Erinn Malloy