September 25, 2021

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Democrats to Propose New Voting Rights Bill – The New York Times

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Mr. Manchin had balked at the original legislation and offered elements of a voting bill he would back, prompting his negotiations with Ms. Klobuchar and other Democratic senators: Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, Alex Padilla of California and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, also participated.

While Democrats cheered the new version, they also recognized that they were very unlikely to attract sufficient Republican support to break a filibuster against any voting bill. With Democrats controlling 50 votes in the Senate, they would need 10 Republicans to join them in support of the legislation to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster, an exceedingly unlikely scenario. That means that they would have to unite to force a change to Senate rules governing the filibuster if the legislation were to have any chance.

Republicans have already blocked debate on a voting rights measure twice before, and most would be very reluctant to back a measure so fiercely opposed by Mr. McConnell and their colleagues.

“There’s no right way to do the wrong thing,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said. “And we believe the wrong thing is to federalize the election process, which has been left to the states and communities since the very start.”

Despite his support for the legislation, Mr. Manchin has reiterated multiple times his refusal to abolish the filibuster, though he has also indicated a willingness to entertain some changes. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, has also said she is unwilling to scrap the filibuster.

The new proposal prompted an immediate call from progressive activists for Democrats to forge ahead on voting rights and not let Senate rules or Mr. McConnell stand in the way.

“President Biden and Senate Democrats must now move quickly to address the filibuster and prevent Senator McConnell from abusing Senate rules to prevent this bill from getting a fair up-or-down vote,” the anti-filibuster group Fix Our Senate said in a statement.

Mr. Manchin did not mention the filibuster in a statement that strongly endorsed the new proposal.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and the Freedom to Vote Act is a step in the right direction towards protecting that right for every American,” Mr. Manchin said. “As elected officials, we also have an obligation to restore people’s faith in our democracy, and I believe that the common sense provisions in this bill — like flexible voter ID requirements — will do just that.”

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

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