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GOP Turns Back Voting Rights Bill

Democrats to lobby each other on changing filibuster rule after another loss
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2021 6:45 PM CDT
Voting Rights Bill Hits GOP Wall
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber after an election bill failed to pass the Senate on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – Republican senators put a stop Wednesday to Democratic legislation to overhaul elections. The Freedom to Vote Act needed 60 votes; the count was 49-51, the Hill reports. "For every two steps forward, sometimes there are those who try to pull us one step back," Sen. Chuck Schumer said. The majority leader brought up legislation in various states to restrict voting in the wake of former President Trump's false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election. "If nothing is done, these laws will make it harder for millions of Americans to participate in their government," the Democrat said.

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The vote was over whether to bring the measure to the floor for debate, marking the third time this year Republicans had stopped Democrats' voting protections, per the New York Times. As long as the Senate's filibuster rule remains in place, Democrats are stymied. They could pass it over GOP opposition if the rule was changed. The bill received all 50 Democratic votes after it was narrowed to accommodate the wishes of Sen. Joe Manchin. Schumer switched his vote later to preserve his right to bring the bill back later, per NBC.

The Republican leader didn't like the new version any more. "The same rotten core is all still there," said Sen. Mitch McConnell. "As long as Senate Democrats remain fixated on their radical agenda, this body will continue to do the job the framers assigned it and stop terrible ideas in their tracks." The bill would make Election Day a national holiday, set federal standards for early and mail-in balloting, and require voters to show identification. Party leaders said they'll lobby other Democrats on the filibuster, arguing that a change is the only way the protections will become law. "We will circle back with all of our colleagues to plead with them," said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. (Read more voting rights stories.)

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