Senate Republicans block effort by Democrats to advance voting and election bill
(CNN) - Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to advance their signature voting and elections overhaul bill in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
This was an effort by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats in the chamber to put Republicans on the record on the voting rights package and to demonstrate that they are still trying to pass it despite stiff GOP opposition, a priority for the party and the Biden administration.
Democratic senators have argued that the legislation is a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access, but Republicans have decried it as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into voting and elections.
“We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to oppose any measure no matter how common sense to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, spoke against the legislation on the Republican side and blocked an effort by Schumer to bring up and advance the “For the People Act,” a sweeping elections overhaul bill that Democrats have made a key issue.
“This bill would constitute a federal government takeover of elections. It would constitute a massive power grab by Democrats,” Cruz said.
Despite the setback, Schumer said that in recent weeks he has met with a number of Senate Democrats “to discuss a compromise voting rights bill” and said they have “made a great deal of progress.” And the Senate majority leader announced that he is taking procedural steps so that “voting rights will be the first matter of legislative business when the Senate returns to session in September.”
This happened immediately after the Senate passed a budget resolution along party lines, which will pave the way for a vote in the fall for a budget reconciliation bill filled with Democratic priorities on infrastructure that can be passed without GOP votes.
Following that vote, Schumer came to the Senate floor and announced, “this chamber is going to take one more step in the fight to protect voting rights in the country,” and said that he would move to discharge the Rules Committee from further consideration of the “For the People Act.”
Schumer said that it was his “intention that the first amendment to the bill would be the text of a compromise bill that a group of senators are working on,” adding, “We are witnessing the most sweeping and coordinated attacks on voting rights since the era of Jim Crow.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the floor to denounce the effort by Democrats, saying, “Here in the dead of night, they also want to start tearing up the ground rules of our democracy and writing new ones of course on a purely partisan basis.” He also slammed efforts by Democrats to pass the budget resolution.
The Senate then voted 50 to 49 and the motion to discharge was agreed to at which point Schumer asked for unanimous consent to proceed to immediate consideration of the version of the voting bill that Senate Republicans blocked in a procedural vote when Democrats tried to advance it in June. Cruz objected to the request.
“The Republican majority has just prevented the Senate from even having a debate – a debate, just that – on voting rights in this country,” Schumer responded.