Senate Republicans Block Bill to make Voting easier

Bryan Dijkhuizen

Republicans on Wednesday stopped action on legislation to strengthen voting rights for the third time this year, leaving Democrats with few alternatives for moving the measure forward short of altering the Senate filibuster rule and passing it over the objections of the Republican Party.

In bringing the Freedom to Vote Act to the floor, all 50 Democrats and independents voted in favor, but all 50 Republicans voted against it, keeping the House in a deadlock over a proposal that Democrats say is necessary to counter efforts in Republican-controlled states to impose new restrictions on voting after next year's elections.

As a result of the tie, Democrats were at least 10 votes short of the 60 votes required to override a filibuster, and there was no indication that any Republicans could be persuaded to support them.

“The same rotten core is all still there,” Mr. McConnell said of the new legislation. “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.”

Among other things, the measure would establish federal standards for early and mail-in voting, as well as designate Election Day as a national holiday in certain circumstances.

As part of the legislation, voters would be required to show identification before casting a ballot, a provision that many Democrats had previously opposed, although it would be much less stringent than comparable measures enacted by Republicans.

It was necessary to reach a compromise to gain the support of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who was the only Democratic senator to reject a broader voting rights measure approved by the House of Representatives last August.

Manchin has spent weeks attempting to gain Republican support for the scaled-back version but has been unsuccessful, giving Democrats optimism that he would become more receptive to lowering the filibuster to pass a bill that she co-authored with Senator Harry Reid.

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