Senate Republicans stand firm, block Dems’ ‘voting rights’ legislation

A moderate Republican senator joined with Democrats on Thursday in supporting a motion to advance legislation that would increase federal control over state and local elections.

However, since Senate rules require 60 votes in support of a cloture motion on types of bills like this one, the legislation failed to move forward.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act previously passed the House in August in a party-line vote. Things would turn out to be more complicated in the Senate, where Democrats had to engage in negotiations with two moderates: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

So what does the legislation do?

“The Lewis bill outlines a new, expanded formula that the Department of Justice can use to identify discriminatory voting patterns in states and local jurisdictions,” Fox News reported. “Those entities would then need to get DOJ approval before making further changes to elections. The bill also includes a provision designed to counter the summer’s Supreme Court ruling that made it harder to challenge potentially discriminatory voting changes.”

Neither Murkowski nor Manchin would support the House version of the bill unless changes were made.

“The legislation was authored by a group of centrist and liberal Democrats who modified an earlier bill in order to win the backing of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin,” the Washington Examiner reported.

“The bill would restore parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down in recent years by the Supreme Court and add additional provisions aimed at expanding voter access,” the outlet added.

Most Republicans lambasted the bill as a power grab.

“There is nothing to suggest a sprawling federal takeover is necessary. Nationalizing our elections is just a multi-decade Democratic Party goal in constant search of a justification,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, according to The Hill.

“The Senate will reject this go-nowhere bill today like we’ve rejected every other piece of fruit from this same poisonous tree,” he added.

Fifty senators supported the cloture motion, while 49 voted against it. South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican, was the only senator not to vote at all.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, voted no, but only because of a technicality that now allows him to call another vote on the legislation at a future date, The Hill reported.