POLITICS

Biden Slams Republicans For Blocking Debate On Voting Rights Bill

"It was the suppression of a bill to end voter suppression," the president said.

President Joe Biden chastised Senate Republicans on Tuesday for blocking debate on the For the People Act, a sweeping piece of legislating that aims to improve and protect voting access

It was “suppression of a bill to end voter suppression,” Biden said in a statement after the vote, in which all 50 Republicans voted against debating the bill. Though the 50 Democrats have control of the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris as the party’s tie-breaker, current Senate rules allow Republicans to block any bill that can’t muster at least 60 votes.

“Unfortunately, a Democratic stand to protect our democracy met a solid Republican wall of opposition,” Biden said. “Senate Republicans opposed even a debate — even considering — legislation to protect the right to vote and our democracy.”

Democrats, who’ve prioritized the bill written by the late civil rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis (D), “stood against the ongoing assault of voter suppression that represents a Jim Crow era in the 21st century,” Biden said.

Chief among the elements of the For the People Act is a plan to roll back the many Republican-backed laws limiting access to voting. The legislation, as it currently stands, would establish national rules regarding voter registration and early, absentee and in-person voting. Those issues have become the subject of more than 250 voting restriction bills introduced by Republican governors and state legislators in recent months, largely inspired by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Other provisions of the bill concern partisan gerrymandering, campaign financing issues, foreign lobbying regulations and cybersecurity threats.

Biden promised that Democrats would not be dropping the issue.

“I’ll have more to say on this 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.”

The only way for the bill to overcome a Republican blockade is for Senate Democrats to unanimously vote in favor of changing the chamber’s filibuster rules, the procedural process that lets Republicans block legislation without having the majority. 

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) remain opposed to eliminating or weakening the filibuster, making a majority vote to end the rules unlikely.