Washington, D.C. — As they did several weeks ago, today, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus unanimously attempted to begin debate on legislation to strengthen U.S. voting rights and democracy. The first bill, known as the For the People Act, is a transformative reform package that would strengthen voting rights, stop partisan gerrymandering, reduce dark money in politics, and impose stronger ethics restrictions on public officials. The second bill would reduce partisan gerrymandering nationwide so that voters choose their House members instead of House members choosing their voters. The third bill would shine a bright light on the dark money that pollutes the U.S. political system. All three pieces of legislation are deeply popular with Americans across the political spectrum.
Despite unified Senate Democratic support to begin debate on these pieces of legislation, Senate Republicans again blocked these bills, which are based on bipartisan policies in many states. This opposition to strengthening U.S. democracy is consistent with the more than 400 voter suppression bills filed by state legislators around the country. Anti-voter laws have already been enacted in states such as Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, and is being actively pursued in Texas. These measures, built on the lie of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election that led to the January 6 insurrection, are aimed largely at suppressing voting by Black and brown communities that have long been kept from fully participating in U.S. democracy.
After the votes, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that passing transformative voting rights and democracy legislation will be the focus when the Senate returns from its August recess, signaling the fact that this fight is far from over. This legislation is particularly time-sensitive given the fact that several states have already begun the redistricting process and are using newly released census data to gerrymander district lines.
For several years, the Center for American Progress has advocated for pro-voter and anti-corruption policies and has been a leading member of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD)—a diverse coalition of more than 220 organizations representing tens of millions of Americans in demanding strong, clear solutions to make U.S. democracy more representative of everyday Americans.
Ben Olinsky, senior vice president of Policy and Strategy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement after the Senate vote:
Yet again, Senate Republicans blocked debate on voting rights and democracy-reform legislation, at a time when state legislatures across the nation are restricting voting rights—especially for communities of color—and giving power to partisan politicians to nullify valid election results. The right to vote is foundational to the legitimacy of our democracy. This should not be a partisan issue, and the Senate filibuster must not be allowed to be misused to thwart fair elections. CAP looks forward to President Joe Biden and Leader Schumer leading an aggressive charge toward passing transformative voting rights legislation in the next several weeks and overcoming any procedural mechanisms that stand in the way.
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