Congress Election Bills

FILE - From left, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Rules Committee, talk about the need for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as they speak to reporters following a Democratic policy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 2, 2021. Democrats are mounting an impassioned push to overhaul Senate rules that stand in the way of their sweeping elections legislation, arguing dark forces unleashed by Donald Trump's “big lie” about the 2020 presidential contest pose such a grave threat to democracy that they demand a forceful response. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Democrats are mounting an impassioned bid to overhaul Senate rules that stand in the way of their sweeping voting legislation, arguing dark forces unleashed by Donald Trump’s falsehoods  about the 2020 election demand an extraordinary response.

In fiery speeches and interviews, President Joe Biden and top congressional Democrats have seized on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection as a reason to advance their long-stalled voting, ethics and elections package. Senate Republicans, who have repeatedly blocked the legislation, excoriate the measures as a “partisan power grab” and warn that any rule changes will haunt Democrats someday under a GOP majority. 

Trump’s false claims of a stolen election not only incited the mob that stormed the Capitol, Democrats say. His unrelenting campaign of disinformation also sparked a GOP effort to pass new state laws that have made it more difficult to vote, while in some cases rendering the administration of elections more susceptible to political influence.

Democrats’ voting legislation would usher in the biggest overhaul of US elections in a generation, striking down hurdles to voting enacted in the name of election security, reducing the influence of big money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts. The package would create national election standards that would trump the state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the ability of the Justice Department to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

Many Democrats say the moment has come to act decisively in what they view as the civil rights fight of the era. Changing Senate rules early in 2022 offers perhaps the last best chance to counteract Republicans’ state-level push before the midterm elections, when Democrats’ House majority and slim hold in the 50-50 Senate could be wiped out.

“If Republicans continue to hijack the rules of the chamber to prevent us from protecting our democracy, then the Senate will debate and consider changes to the rules,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, Friday.

Yet what action they will take remains highly uncertain, depending on the often elusive support of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Key Democrats have been meeting with Manchin for weeks, brainstorming options while also enlisting outside allies to lobby his support.

Manchin has made no firm commitments. He has repeatedly said he will not support lowering the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold for passing most legislation, a stance shared by fellow centrist Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Until the threshold is lowered, enacting election legislation could prove difficult, if

not impossible.

But Democrats say they are focused on what’s achievable now, amid escalating pressure from allies for action. Even modest changes to Senate rules, they say, would be a significant step forward.

Leaning into the fight, Biden is set to deliver a speech in Atlanta, today, focused on voting rights. And Schumer has added to the civil rights symbolism by setting the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, on Jan. 17, as the deadline to either pass the voting legislation or consider revising the rules. The Senate is likely to hold a series of test votes, this week, intended to underscore Republican opposition.

“I’m not going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ because I don’t know what votes will come to the floor,” Manchin said last week, noting that he has supported some changes to Senate rules in the past. One proposal Democrats are discussing would eliminate the filibuster on the so-called “motion to proceed” that is needed before a bill can be debated on the Senate floor. 

Republicans say invoking the Jan. 6 insurrection is offensive. The voting bills, they say, were largely written before the attack and include a liberal wish list of priorities that will do little to combat vulnerabilities in the law exposed by Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. 

“It is beyond distasteful for some of our colleagues to ham-fistedly invoke the Jan. 6 anniversary to advance these aims,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The fact that violent criminals broke the law does not entitle Senate Democrats to break the Senate.”

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

First of all the "Associated Press" is Human Scum (IMHO) never forget that. The Democrats are in major trouble...People are not as stupid as they thought they were....or as Parasitical either.

Jan. 6 an issues for idiots. The people left "Quietly" Yet Human Trash Pelosi is trying to gin up as much support as possible...again they left quietly...Lets see what texts POS Pelosi sent during that day. If you care about the Jan. 6 insurrection you are a useful idiot....and nothing more...Again lets see Pelosi's text....the Drunk Weasel has hidden way more than you think...Shame that America is played so easily, by a POS Drunk (IMHO) like Pelosi.

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