Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Senate Dems Pushed New Voting Bill And Hit The GOP Wall Again

WASHINGTON (AP) – If you fail at first, get the Republicans to vote again.

It’s a strategy that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer appears to be pursuing when a New York Democrat forced another test statute vote on Wednesday to revise the country’s electoral laws. For the fourth time since June, Republicans have blocked it.

Democrats entered the year with unified, albeit narrow, control over Washington and a desire to counter a wave of new restrictive voting laws in Republican-led states, many of which were inspired by Donald Trump’s false claims about the stolen 2020 elections.

But their initial optimism has given way to a string of doomed votes that are meant to highlight Republican opposition but have done little to move the cause, which is a top priority for the party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

The Senate voted against debate on the voting bill on Wednesday, with Republicans this time filing an update to the landmark Voting Rights Act, a pillar of 1960s civil rights law. GOP senators are opposing the Democratic vote bills as a “power grab.”

“This is the lowest point in the history of this body,” Schumer said after the failed vote, later adding, “The Senate is better than that.”

However, time is ticking, activists warn. Constituency redefinition (a once-every-decade process that Democrats want to redefine to make them less biased) is already under way. And next week, the Senate is preparing to divide the city into a work-from-home period.

“The Democrats in the Senate must stay in the city and focus on the last action in this battle,” said Fred Wertheimer, who leads the ruling Democracy 21 group.

The latest measure, blocked by the Republicans on Wednesday, differs from the earlier Democrats’ voting bill, which would have affected all aspects of the electoral process. It has a narrower focus and will restore the Department of Justice’s ability to control voting laws in states with a history of discrimination.

The move garnered the backing of one Republican, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, after Democrats agreed to make the changes she wanted. But all the other Republicans opposed the debate on the bill.

“Every time the Washington Democrats make a few border changes and come back to bite off the same apple, we know exactly what they’re trying to do,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, calling the vote “political theater.” “According to the trumped-up account,” you can’t go anywhere. “

Murkowski also said she still has major problems with the bill as it was written, while criticizing Schumer’s decision to force repeated “show votes.”

“Let’s give ourselves a place to work across the aisle,” she said Wednesday. “Our goal should be to avoid getting addicted to the bill, not accepting bad votes over and over again.”

The John Lewis Democratic Voting Rights Act, named after the late Georgia congressman who made the issue defining his career, will restore the Supreme Court’s voting rights protections. Under the proposal, the Justice Department will again monitor new changes to voting laws in states that have faced a series of “violations” by engaging them in a mandatory review process known as “pre-screening.”

This practice was first introduced under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But in 2013, it was rejected by a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the formula for determining which states needed to review their laws was outdated and unfairly punished. However, the court said that Congress may propose a new formula. The bill does just that.

A second high court ruling in July made it difficult to challenge the voting restrictions in court under another section of the law.

The “prior authorization” provisions have been re-approved by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support five times since it was first passed decades ago. But after the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Republican support for the measure has dropped.

While the GOP has shown no sign that its opposition will waver, there are indications that some of the voting changes the Democrats are pushing for are not as electrically beneficial to the party as some hopes.

Republican Glenn Yunkin’s victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday provides a final test case.

Democrats took control of all parts of the Virginia government in 2019 and has steadily begun to liberalize state voting laws. They made postal voting available to everyone and demanded a 45-day early voting window, one of the longest in the country. This year they passed a voting rights law that made it easier to file a lawsuit for blocking access to ballots.

But the changes did not hurt Yunkin, who easily defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the popular former governor who was seeking a farewell term.

This is still unlikely to change the Republican calculation.

“Do we all read Virginia tea leaves? Yes, definitely, ”Murkowski said. “Will your colleagues also look at this? This is just one example. ”

Democrats, meanwhile, say they have not abandoned their push and believe Republican obstruction could kickstart the debate over a piracy revision that would block the law if it doesn’t get 60 votes.

“We can’t even discuss major bills,” said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat. “The next step is to work on ideas for rebuilding the Senate.”

Nation World News Desk
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