EXPLAINER: What’s next now that the GOP has blocked the vote on the bill? | WIVT
Senate Republicans have blocked debate over a major overhaul of the conduct of elections in the United States.
An overview of what has happened so far, the content of the bill and what’s next:
WHY DID THE REPUBLICS OF THE SENATE BLOCK THE BILL?
Republicans have long opposed Democrats’ efforts to reform elections in the United States and say the proposed reforms are more about securing Democratic victories than fairness of the vote. They note that Democrats introduced their overhaul two years ago, ahead of the 2020 election, and say the massive bill amounts to a federal takeover of the elections, which are run by state and local election offices. . Congressional Republicans argue that the increase in voter turnout in the 2020 election is proof that reforms are not needed. But, at the same time, their counterparts in state legislatures have pointed to unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud as a rationale for tightening rules and increasing election monitoring at the national and local levels.
WHAT DOES THE BILL DO?
The bill, known as the For The People Act, would create minimum standards for voting in the United States and establish Election Day as a federal holiday. It requires all states to offer automatic voter registration and at least 15 days of early voting. Some states are already doing this, but others are not. And Democrats argue that federal standards would reduce confusion among the public. They also say the standards would lessen the impact of new state laws creating barriers for voters.
But the bill does not only deal with electoral matters. The 888-page bill contains dozens of other provisions, including a large expansion of public campaign funding, a redistribution overhaul and ethical reforms. Written when Democrats were not in power, it was more of a statement of priorities than legislation to ultimately pass. It has been refined a few times and more changes are expected.
IS THIS THE END OF THE ROAD?
Democratic leaders expected Tuesday’s vote and their efforts to pass the bill will continue. “In the fight for the right to vote, this vote was the starting point, not the finish line,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. But with a 50-50 split in the Senate, they have few options due to the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to advance most laws. Now the fight is whether Democrats can agree that election law is so important it’s worth changing or putting filibuster aside.
They will also continue to try to gain public support for their efforts. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Who chairs the powerful Rules Committee, said on Tuesday she would hold a hearing in Georgia on a law approved earlier this year by the GOP-dominated legislature that raised fears of obstacles for voters and the potential for partisan interference in the administration of local elections.
ARE THE DEMOCRATS UNITED?
At least two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have said they oppose the elimination of the filibuster rule. Sinema supports the voting reform bill, but argued in a recent opinion piece that the rule “enforces moderation and helps protect the country from wild fluctuations.”
Manchin, who initially opposed the bill, crafted a new version that would remove some of the more controversial provisions such as same-day voter registration and the public funding option. His proposal also calls for a national identity requirement, which Democrats have not done before but appear open to scrutiny. The requirement would be less stringent than those imposed by Republicans in some states and allow voters to provide non-photo ID such as a utility bill.
WHAT TYPES OF CHANGES ARE DEMOCRATS CONSIDERING?
Discussions are underway among Congressional Democrats on how to proceed, with leaders privately noting that Sinema and Manchin oppose removing the rule – but that doesn’t mean they would oppose changing it . And President Joe Biden has signaled his willingness to consider change. Democratic leaders argue that there is an opportunity to improve the process and assess three potential changes:
– Demand that 41 senators from the minority party be present if they want to block a vote on a law.
– Create a narrow derogation from the suspension rule for any legislation dealing with voting and elections. There is precedent for this. Democrats previously relaxed the rule to allow most executive candidates to be confirmed by simple majority, and Republicans have cleared filibuster for Supreme Court candidates under the Trump administration.
– Require opposing lawmakers to speak continuously to prevent legislation from moving forward – a version of obstruction by speech that would include a gradual reduction in the number of senators who can prevent a vote – from age 60 and reaching possibly a simple majority over a period of weeks.
WHAT DOES THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION DO NEXT?
Biden has vowed to lead what the White House calls his “presidential fight” to ensure Americans’ access to the vote, but he has yet to be at the center of the fight. Vice President Kamala Harris has led the administration’s efforts, spoke with lawmakers and various voting rights advocates in recent weeks, and met with Texas Democratic lawmakers who oppose a GOP effort to to tighten the voting rules.
Those meetings are expected to continue and Harris will make public statements affirming his support for voting rights and efforts to end restrictive state voting bills, according to a White House official who requested anonymity. . Biden also met with Manchin to discuss the legislation, including the Voting Reform Bill.
Cassidy reported from Atlanta.