WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans filibustered a debate on voting rights legislation Tuesday evening, giving a huge blow to Democrats and putting them in a tough predicament to try to advance the bill.
The vote to begin debate on an amended version of the “For The People Act” was split 50-50 along party lines, 10 short of the 60 votes Democrats needed. All Democrats voted to begin debate and Republicans unanimously voted to block the bill.
Vice President Kamala Harris presided over Tuesday’s session in the Senate. Harris has been tasked to work on voting rights by President Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called out his Republican colleagues for not wanting to debate the bill, saying they are afraid of former President Donald Trump.
“They don’t even want to debate it because they’re afraid. They want to deny the right to vote, make it harder to vote for so many Americans, and they don’t want to talk about it,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Tuesday. “There is a rot — a rot — at the center of the modern Republican party. Donald Trump’s big lie has spread like a cancer and threatens to envelop one of America’s major political parties.”
Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Tuesday he would support the bill after getting assurance the Senate would consider a compromise version that he can fully support.
“We’ll keep talking,” he said after the vote. “You can’t give up. You really can’t.”
Democrats have been feeling the pressure from their base to push through the bill and abolish the filibuster. However, both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have said they do not support getting rid of the the 60-vote rule.
The bill, better known as S.1, consists of changes such as equiring 15 days of early voting and mail-in voting. It also would require presidential nominees release their tax returns, something Trump never did.
President Biden released a statement late Tuesday, suggesting the fight is far from over and he will have more to say on the matter next week.
“I’ll have more to say on this next week,” he said. “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.”