A key Senate committee deadlocked on Tuesday over Democrats’ sweeping proposed elections overhaul, previewing a partisan showdown on the Senate floor in the coming months that could determine the future of voting rights and campaign rules across the country.
The tie vote in the Senate Rules Committee — with nine Democrats in favor and nine Republicans opposed — does not prevent Democrats from moving forward with the 800-page legislation, known as the For the People Act. Proponents hailed the vote as an important step toward adopting far-reaching federal changes to blunt the restrictive new voting laws emerging in Republican-led battleground states like Georgia and Florida.
But the action confronted Democrats with a set of thorny questions about how to push forward on a bill that they view as a civil rights imperative with sweeping implications for democracy and their party. The bill as written faces near-impossible odds in the evenly divided Senate, where Republicans are expected to block it using a filibuster and at least one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, remains opposed.
With their control in Washington potentially fleeting and Republican states racing ahead with laws to curtail ballot access, Democrats must reach consensus among themselves on the measure, and decide whether to attempt to destroy or significantly alter the Senate’s filibuster rules — which set a 60-vote threshold to overcome any objection to advancing legislation — to salvage its chances of becoming law.