July 24, 2021

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Voting rights: Democrats secure Manchin’s support on key test vote, but election bill still on track to fail amid GOP opposition

Democratic senators have pitched the legislation a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access, but Republicans have united against it, decrying it as a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into state voting and election systems.
Failure of the bill to move forward will force Democrats to confront the question of what else they can do to press the issue and will likely trigger a fresh outpouring of calls from progressives to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which requires most bills to get the votes of at least 10 Republicans given the current Senate makeup. But the votes are not there to eliminate the filibuster with Manchin and several other moderate Democrats opposed.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who came to the Senate earlier in the day Tuesday to cast a tie-breaking vote to advance a nominee, declined to respond to questions about the filibuster and what’s next for plans to advance the voting and election bill.

The effort by Democrats to pass the voting legislation comes in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and as Republican-controlled legislatures have pressed ahead with new state laws imposing limits on voting. As of May, state legislators in 48 states had introduced more than 380 bills with restrictive voting provisions, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
The Senate is taking up an amended version of legislation that passed the House in March.

Tuesday’s vote is a procedural motion on whether to begin debate on the legislation. It would need 60 votes to succeed, a threshold it is not expected to meet.

Republicans have been unified in opposing the legislation, while Senate Democrats have been working to try to win over Manchin, who had expressed concerns over the legislation.

In a statement on Tuesday ahead of the vote, Manchin said that he had “found common ground with my Democratic colleagues on a new version of the bill that ensures our elections are fair, accessible and secure,” and that as a result he will “vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that he and Manchin had reached an agreement to move ahead with the bill. “I have committed to him that if our Republican colleagues don’t obstruct and allow us to move forward on the debate, we will take up his proposed substitute amendment as the first amendment we will consider,” Schumer said.

The real reason Republicans are blocking voting rights legislation
Manchin said earlier this month that he would vote against the bill, arguing that any major legislation related to voting and elections must have bipartisan support. But he later left open the option that he could support a modified bill. The West Virginia Democrat released a proposal that would make Election Day a holiday, ban partisan gerrymandering, mandate at least 15 consecutive days of early voting and institute a voter ID requirement, among other provisions.

Schumer gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Monday on the significance of voting rights ahead of Tuesday’s “crucial vote” on legislation to “protect Americans’ voting rights,” which he argued “are under assault from one end of the country to the other.”

Still, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear on Monday afternoon that the legislation is destined to fail in the Senate, promising they will give it “no quarter.”

McConnell accused Democrats of trying to make election laws benefit their party, saying, “They’ve made it abundantly clear that the real driving force behind S1 is a desire to rig the rules of American elections permanently, permanently in Democrats’ favor,” rather than protecting the rights of voters.

McConnell last week threw cold water on Manchin’s proposal and indicated that he did not believe any Republican in the Senate would vote for it.

“There’s now a debate among Democrats over a revised version produced by one of the Democrats, ” McConnell said, before going on to call the proposal, “Equally unacceptable. Totally inappropriate.”

“All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well,” he said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, told reporters on Monday that he believes Republicans will be 100% united against advancing the legislation.

Democrats woo Manchin on major voting bill in bid to win unified party support

“I expect we all vote against it,” Blunt said.

The legislative package that passed the House calls for far-reaching ethics and government changes that would impact Congress, the president and even the Supreme Court.

It would institute an ethics code for the US Supreme Court that would apply to justices and would implement measures intended to prevent presidential conflicts of interest.

It would stop lawmakers from using taxpayer money to reach settlements in employment discrimination cases stemming from their own actions.

The bill also takes aim at Citizens United, the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision, by calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling, which opened the door to unlimited spending by corporations and unions to influence elections.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Ali Zaslav, Morgan Rimmer and Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.

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