A sweeping voting rights bill backed by Democrats but derided by Republicans was blocked in the U.S. Senate. A procedural vote on Tuesday to bring the For the People Act to the floor for debate failed. In the evenly divided Senate, lawmakers voted 50-50 along party lines. At least 60 votes were necessary to overcome a GOP-led filibuster.
“Members of the Senate… adhered to a deplorable, century-long tradition of using the filibuster to block civil rights legislation and thwart the will of the American people,” said Marc Morial, President/CEO of the National Urban League in a statement. “The right to vote – a sacred right for which Americans have bled and died – is under attack in our nation’s state legislatures with a ferocity not seen since the dark days of Jim Crow.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush joins a chorus of other officials and advocates calling for an end to the filibuster, precisely because of expected outcomes like Tuesday’s vote. “Republicans just used the filibuster to block legislation from advancing that would protect our right to vote. Let me repeat that: Republicans just filibustered legislation that would help guarantee the right to vote. The filibuster is destroying our democracy. Abolish it,” she tweeted.
In at least 48 states, Republican state legislatures have introduced a slew of bills and enacted laws that critics say are designed to stop people of color and young people from voting. If passed into law, the For the People Act would enact automatic voter registration, simplify vote-by-mail, expand early voting, and enact redistricting reforms nationwide.
The voting rights measure is backed by Stacey Abrams and her organization Fair Fight Action, as well as When We All Vote, created by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Shame on the United States Senators who voted along party lines to block the advancement of the “For the People Act” for a full floor debate,” said Melanie L. Campbell, President/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable.
“Our voting rights are being attacked all over this country for one obvious reason: partisan gain and to keep the right to vote in the hands of a select few.”
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris–who presided over yesterday’s Senate proceedings– both expressed disappointment in the outcome.
“The President and I are undeterred, and I know the American people are as well. Like generations before, we will not give up, we will not give in, and we will continue the fight to strengthen the right to vote,” said Harris in a statement. “We will fortify and expand the nationwide coalition on voting rights, and promote voter engagement and registration nationwide. We will lift up leaders in the states who are working to stop anti-voter legislation, and work with leaders in Congress to advance federal legislation that will strengthen voting rights.”
The President, who has asked Harris to lead voting rights reforms, indicated he would have more to say on the matter next week. “But let me be clear. This fight is far from over—far from over. I’ve been engaged in this work my whole career, and we are going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again—for the people, for our very democracy.”
Campbell vowed: “Black people and our allies will continue to fight for our voting rights in the streets and the Halls of Congress, just as our ancestors did.”