Democrats on Capitol Hill have been intent on pushing forward with legislation that would overhaul election procedures nationwide and assert more federal control over processes that have long been delegated to the states. But at every step of the way, they’ve hit a wall in the form of congressional Republicans.
Dems suffered yet another defeat on Wednesday as their Senate caucus tried and failed once again to force through what they have dubbed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which fell well short of the 60 votes required to advance a bill to the floor debate phase, the Washington Examiner reported.
The final vote on this particular attempt, which followed some marginal modifications to the scope of the measure, came down 51–49, according to the Examiner, with all 50 members of the Democratic caucus plus one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), voting in favor of moving forward on it, and the rest of the GOP coming out in opposition.
“This has become an almost weekly routine,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained ahead of the scheduled vote Tuesday, as the Examiner reported. “My friends on the other side trying to give Washington unprecedented power over how Americans cast their vote.”
Indeed, CBS News reports that Wednesday’s failure for Dems was the fourth such defeat this year on their efforts to pass the partisan voting rights bill. The GOP has shot down each attempt to advance the measure.
“Every time that Washington Democrats make a few changes around the margins and come back for more bites at the same apple, we know exactly what they are trying to do,” McConnell said of the latest revisions, according to CBS. He said it’s all “political theater” on a “go-nowhere bill” that would never achieve broad GOP support.
Even Sen. Murkowski, who crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats in favor of advancing the measure to the debate phase, remained critical of the bill, as well as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) repeated “show votes” on it.
While she’s open to debate on the matter, “our goal should be to avoid a partisan bill, not to take failing votes over and over,” the Alaska senator said.
The future of the filibuster
Sadly, it’s likely Dems’ latest failure to reach the 60-vote threshold won’t prompt them to scale back their partisan agenda, but if anything, will encourage progressives to continue their push to eliminate or reform the filibuster.
The Hill reported that such calls had mounted in October, after the third failed attempt to pass the voting rights bill.
Unfortunately for the anti-filibuster crowd on the left, they can’t even get all of their caucus members on board with the idea, and even President Joe Biden, a former senator himself, doesn’t seem to be sold on it.
In the end, if Democrats really want to get their voting rights bill passed, they need to do some serious rewrites to convince at least 10 Republicans to cross the aisle and support it. Whether such a spirit of bipartisanship even exists anymore in the highly polarized Capitol building is another question entirely.