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U.S. Senate Democrats fail in bid to pass voting rights bill

CoronavirusJan 20, 2022 05:02AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunset on the eve of the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the building, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz 2/2

By Richard Cowan and Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats suffered twin legislative defeats late on Wednesday in their push to toughen voting rights protections in the run-up to this November's mid-term elections that will determine control of Congress in 2023.

In back-to-back votes late on Wednesday, Senate Republicans first blocked Democrats' move to advance the voting rights legislation toward passage. It was the fifth time in less than a year that they did so.

They employed the decades old "filibuster" rule to stop the legislation, which requires the cooperation of at least 60 of the Senate's 100 members to keep bills alive. The Senate currently is split 50-50.

In lightning speed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, then moved to revamp the filibuster rule by lowering the 60-vote threshold to 50. This time, it was not Republicans, but Schumer's own Democrats - conservatives Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema - who put the final nail in the coffin by voting against the rules change.

With their year-long initiative stymied even after Republican-controlled states enacted bills that experts said were designed to suppress voting in federal elections, especially among Black, Hispanic and poor voters, the focus turned to a nascent bipartisan effort to pass far more limited election reforms.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney told reporters a group of senators planned to meet on Friday to discuss launching a bipartisan effort.

Some of the changes they are discussing already have been dismissed by leading Democrats and civil rights groups as being far short of what is needed to guarantee easier access to the ballot in American elections.

"Let us not sink into the abyss of voter suppression; give us the ballot," Schumer implored before the rules change vote. But he failed to sway Manchin and Sinema.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned against changes to the rule. "Factional fires are burning hot all across our country," McConnell said, adding altering the filibuster rule "would shatter the Senate for short-term power."

Between 2016 and 2020, however, McConnell stoked partisan fires by first blocking then-President Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, only to then ram former President Donald Trump's three nominees through the Senate by scrapping the filibuster for those picks.

Now, with the 2022 mid-term elections heating up that will see the election of all 435 House of Representatives members and one-third of the Senate, the partisan fighting is only expected to deepen.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who aligns with Democrats, left the Senate chamber late on Wednesday telling reporters that the party needed to go on the offensive.

He urged Schumer to schedule votes on popular initiatives, such as lowering prescription drug costs to consumers, expanding Medicare and improving child care. All are ideas that were bundled together with other domestic social program improvements and climate change remedies in a $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill that is languishing in Congress.

The voting rights bill that was passed by the House but buried on Wednesday by the Senate would have established minimum federal voting standards so that any registered voter could request a mail-in ballot. It also would have established at least two weeks of early voting and expanded use of ballot drop boxes that make voting more convenient in many areas.

The Democrats' legislation also would have attempted to remove partisanship from the way congressional districts are redrawn every decade. Currently, "gerrymandering" regularly tilts the field to whichever party is in power in the various states.

Democrats argued their bill would strengthen a democracy buffeted by domestic strife and the Jan. 6, 2021, violent riot at the U.S. Capitol at the hands of thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump. The rioters were trying to stop a congressional certification of Biden's 2020 victory against Trump.

Underscoring deep divisions in Congress and throughout the nation, Republicans countered that Democrats had fabricated a crisis over voting rights and maintained that little or nothing needed to be done with the way states administer elections.

The final tally on limiting debate on the election reform bill was 49-51. No Republicans voted to advance it.

Then, all 50 Republicans plus Manchin and Sinema defeated the move to change the filibuster rule on a one-time basis by a vote of 52-48.

As the drama was playing out in the Senate, Biden told a news conference on Wednesday that he had not given up hope of advancing voting rights.

"We've not run out of options yet," the Democratic president said.

U.S. Senate Democrats fail in bid to pass voting rights bill
 

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Comments (16)
Ron Raymond
Ron Raymond Jan 20, 2022 5:53AM ET
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We must do what’s best for the country, not what biased ignorance dictate’s. If you can’t see through the biased, you will never see the biased stupidity. I am a proud independent and only vote for who or what will do the least damage. With our present leaders, we are in big trouble. Although experts at deceit, Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, Shiff, AOC and gang will go down in history and before God as among the worst leaders in history.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jan 20, 2022 5:53AM ET
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if you are an independent then I am Batman
John Doe
ForexInsiders Jan 20, 2022 5:53AM ET
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Left wing, right wing, same bird. Proud actually "woke" independent.
Mike Lomash
Mike Lomash Jan 20, 2022 3:17AM ET
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👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼🪳🪳🪳 <——democrats
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Jan 20, 2022 12:57AM ET
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trumpeter doesn't know what's in the Constitution outside of the Second Amendment. but we must all remember he owes his allegence to Trump and his minions, not the American Constitution.
David CA
ILoveQE Jan 20, 2022 12:57AM ET
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What do you know about the US Constitution? Have you even read it?
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jan 20, 2022 12:57AM ET
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David CA  I bet President Orange never read it
Elephan Mann
Elephan Mann Jan 20, 2022 12:57AM ET
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Tre Hsi worry about your own 3rd world country.
Joel Schwartz
Joel Schwartz Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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Republicans are pro election tampering. That’s the only way they can win any more. FOX and OANN already put half their viewers underground telling them COVID wasn’t real.
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William Carnell
William Carnell Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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It really is quite simple. Almost every category of the republican base is shrinking. So how does a republican win; by making elections "secure".
David CA
ILoveQE Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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William Carnell  The voter report that just recently came out, about voters switching parties, is overwhelmingly Republican.
Mark Westbrook
Mark Westbrook Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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Seriously, after the dems rigged the election in 2020, you get to say that???? The 2020 fraud is overwhelming. Its everywhere. What rock are you living under? Furthermore, look at the social and economic disaster that has unfolded since the thief has been installed as our chief executive. We deserve what we get!
Elephan Mann
Elephan Mann Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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I think you have Democrats and Republicans mixed up. Democrats are the ones who want no voter id, mail in voting fraud, and allowing non citizens to vote.
Pilot TwoFive
Pilot TwoFive Jan 20, 2022 12:35AM ET
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Elephan Mann  It really is amazing how much the leftists sheep have their heads in the sand.
Trumpster Rocks
Trumpster Rocks Jan 19, 2022 10:55PM ET
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Demo - ***party don't even try to hide their true colors..these are what our fore fathers wrote the constitution for. The right to bear arms against a Rogue Government. Pelosi,Shumer, Pencil neck and of course the world wide joke presently pretending to be the president.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jan 19, 2022 10:55PM ET
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"these are what our fore fathers wrote the constitution for."  -- you mean the same people who owned slaves?  funny how they didn't let the slaves vote or own guns???
Elephan Mann
Elephan Mann Jan 19, 2022 10:55PM ET
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you realize it was Africans that sold their own people into slavery right? Did you know there were free black people that owned and mistreated black slaves? You realize that slavery is still rampant in many parts of the world to this day? How come you are not out protesting them? Could it be because you are just a fake, a virtue signaler who actually cares nothing about slaves? Don't worry, you are no different than every other liberal.
Sattar Langary
Sattar Langary Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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I hope the Biden administration will do something about the stock market otherwise people will not vote for him or party again. President Trump is already missed by investers! i guess the spending package has not been approved yet, either?
Kevin Le
Kevin Le Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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you miss the volatility from Trumps trade war?
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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kevin ..then there is the trump tax cuts, 1 trillion dollars added to the deficit every year. a deficit created by his giveaways to the super wealthy and mega corporations. though those tax cuts; money that mostly ended up in the stock market, and stock market buy backs, which is why we have a market which has been hyper inflated, and now, in danger of a major collapse.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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"President Trump is already missed by investers!"  -- yes, that's why Wall Street firms all gave more money to Biden in 2020??
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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Ac Tektrader if you’re suggesting that people keeping their money is the issue then you’re brainwashed! The issue is congress spending too much and tacing too much.. you’re sinply a socialist heading towards communism
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Jan 19, 2022 10:02PM ET
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Tre Hsi well firstly it’s illegal for that but top employees of the largest Wall Street banks are republicans. Analysts arent until they see how much they’re taxed
spirit trader
spirit trader Jan 19, 2022 9:57PM ET
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Protect voters rights by voting down this bill
Chad RicherThanYou
Chad RicherThanYou Jan 19, 2022 9:32PM ET
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Well done! Just another scam bill
Pilot TwoFive
Pilot TwoFive Jan 19, 2022 9:30PM ET
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Vote Cheating bill.  Fixed the title for you.
Stickman stickel
Stickman stickel Jan 19, 2022 9:06PM ET
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what's right, is right. you don't change rules just for a won.
 
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