Decision Time For Voting Rights Has Arrived
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced a strategy to use a little known procedure that will bring voting rights legislation to the Senate floor for debate — bypassing a filibuster. The voting rights legislation, consolidated into a single bill, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, was passed by the House on Thursday morning and moves now to the Senate.
Things are changing rapidly and continue to move forward. The Senate adjourned on Thursday night, due to concerns over covid and the forecast of a winter storm for this weekend. Majority Leader Schumer announced that the Senate will delay its scheduled January recess next week and take up the voting rights legislation on Tuesday.
Two Senators whose support is needed to win a modification of the Senate filibuster rules that would allow the voting rights legislation to pass by a majority vote, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), have each raised objections to changing the rules as recently as Thursday.
Nevertheless, it is still not known what they will ultimately do. This will be a decision of enormous historical significance to preserving our democracy and protecting the right to vote for millions of Americans. This will be their legacy.
Here is my statement that was issued Wednesday night when the new Senate strategy was announced by Senator Schumer:
(January 12, 2022 — Washington, DC) Democracy 21 strongly applauds Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his masterful strategy to get the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the Senate floor for consideration without being blocked by a Republican filibuster.
Working with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Schumer devised a plan that will send the voting rights bills from the House to the Senate and then directly to the Senate floor by a majority vote for debate and consideration. This is all being done under existing Senate rules and without any change in the existing Senate filibuster rules.
Democracy 21 congratulates Majority Leader Schumer for his skillful leadership in getting past the multiple obstructionist filibusters led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that have blocked even debating the legislation that would protect the cornerstone of our democracy — the right to vote.
The Senate will now be able to have a full debate on the merits of the voting rights bills. Senators will be able to debate whether to override the unprecedented wave of state voter suppression laws and election sabotage laws enacted last year.
And, when the time comes for deciding whether to modify the Senate rules to allow the bills to pass by a majority vote, each Senator will have to make a profound choice of historical significance.
Each Senator will have to decide whether to vote to preserve our democracy by passing legislation that will protect the right to vote and prevent partisan sabotage of our elections, or to vote to protect state voter suppression and election sabotage laws that will deprive potentially millions of eligible citizens of their vote.
The vote of each Senator will determine whether they end up on the right or wrong side of history.