Senate Republicans stop Dem voting bill for third time as talk of ending filibuster resurfaces

Senate Republicans on Wednesday managed for a third time to stop a Democrat voting reform measure the GOP says will essentially federalize most elections and overturn state laws designed to improve ballot integrity.

“There are areas where we could perhaps work together, but the legislation that’s been crafted (by Democrats) is not what I’ll support,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said of a compromise bill influenced by moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “Federalizing election law is something which I think is not a good idea.”

But Sen. Angus King, a Maine Independent who caucuses with Democrats and who had a large influence on the reworked bill, intimated that he would support eliminating the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to end debate on most legislation, in order to get a voting rights bill passed at some point, claiming “democracy” is under threat.

In pleading with colleagues to support it, he also claimed that the country is “fragile” in the wake of claims by former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was “rigged.”

“The problem with this goes well beyond the wave of voter suppression legislation sweeping the country; the deeper problem is the massive and unprecedented erosion of trust in the electoral system itself, the beating heart of our democracy,” said King, according to ABC News.

“Of all the depredations of Donald Trump, this is by far the worst. In relentlessly pursuing his narrow self-interest, he has grievously wounded democracy itself,” he added.

“And by the way, I mean ‘narrow self-interest’ quite literally; he doesn’t give the slightest damn about any of us — any of you — and will cast any or all of us aside whenever it suits his needs of the moment.”

On changing the filibuster rule, he added: “I’ve concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule.”

In a call with reporters, King said he has not been supportive of eliminating the rule in the past, but times have changed.

“I’ve been very, very reluctant on (changing the filibuster), but on the other hand, it strikes me that this is a very special case because it goes to the very fundamentals of how our democracy works,” he said, adding that debate among Democrats “can’t go on forever, because as you know, redistricting has already started in states…It’s got to happen, I would say, in this calendar year.”

But changing the filibuster rule would require universal support among the chamber’s 50 Democrats since all 50 Republicans would likely oppose it. And at present, Manchin along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have repeatedly said they would not vote to do so.

Republicans, meanwhile, countered that despite Democratic compromises, the legislation is simply “a partisan power grab,” in the words of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“The only thing this proposal would have done for the people…would be to help make sure that the outcome of virtually every future election meant that Democrats win and Republicans lose. Thus, Republicans would be relegated to a permanent minority status. That was the goal,” he said in a Tuesday floor speech.

“If this bill weren’t so dangerous, it would have been laughable,” he added.

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill an “election takeover scheme.”

Among the changes: Democrats dropped a provision that would require the automatic mailing of ballots to every household on voter registration roles to instead require voters to request a mail-in ballot.

Also, the bill would have continued to allow states to purge voter rolls of invalid names but would have required any changes to be “done on the basis of reliable and objective evidence.” It also would have prohibited using returned mail to remove names from voting rolls sent by third parties.

Another change that Manchin implemented included a provision that limited, but did not prohibit outright, voter ID laws in states.

Jon Dougherty


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