“Senate Democrats Press Ahead With Debate on Voting Rights Bill”


Senate Democrats plan to press ahead this week with an effort to push new voting rights protections through Congress, in an all but doomed attempt to enact a key piece of President Biden’s agenda that has been undercut by members of his own party.

The Senate on Tuesday will begin to debate legislation that combines two separate bills already passed by the House — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — and folds them into an unrelated measure. The move would allow the Senate to bring the bill directly to the floor, avoiding an initial filibuster.

But that strategy would still allow Republicans to block it from coming to a final vote, and Democrats lack the unanimous support needed in their party to change Senate rules to muscle through the legislation themselves. Still, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said late last week that Democrats would forge ahead anyway, forcing Republicans to publicly declare their opposition to the bill….

The push to proceed even in the face of almost certain failure reflects the party’s conundrum, facing two key defections in its ranks and a wall of Republican opposition. It comes days after a critical Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, emphatically announced that she would not support undermining the filibuster to pass legislation under any circumstances and Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia reiterated the same position.

Mr. Kaine suggested on Sunday that other paths around the filibuster existed, including narrowly altering it explicitly to pass the voting rights bill, and lengthening the debate time in an effort to pass the bill on a simple majority vote.

But privately, Democrats have been less sanguine, especially after a remarkable speech delivered by Ms. Sinema on the Senate floor on Thursday, just hours before Mr. Biden was scheduled to lobby Democrats on the bill. The speech, in which she declared unwavering opposition to altering the filibuster, sent a fresh wave of fury through the Democratic ranks.

“These two Democrats have decided that it is much more important to them to protect the voting rights of the minority on the Senate floor than to protect the voting rights of minorities in this great country of ours, the minorities that made it possible for them to be in the position that they’re currently in,” Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the majority whip, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “So, I hope, but I don’t think, that we will change their mind.”

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