Washington, Jun 22 (EFE).- An ambitious Democratic proposal to make voting easier in the United States was blocked in the Senate on Tuesday as Republicans blocked a debate on the “For the People Act.”
Under current Senate rules, a super-majority of 60 votes is needed to pass legislation and Republicans hold half the seats in the 100-member chamber.
Democrats had hoped to persuade 10 Republican senators to support a procedural measure allowing debate on the bill, but not a single GOP lawmaker voted “yes” in a session presided over by Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris in her capacity as president of the Senate.
Until Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could not even be sure that all of his fellow Democrats would vote to allow debate on the bill, which already passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin had said he wanted to see legislation that at least some Republicans could back. To that end, he put forward a proposal that would have stripped some provisions from the bill and include others favored by the GOP.
But in the absence of any Republicans willing to endorse his text, Manchin agreed to vote for a debate on the original bill.
“I was here today because obviously this is one of the most critical issues that the United States Congress could take up, which is about the fundamental right to vote in our country,” Harris told reporters after the session.
With the For the People Act stalled, she said that the administration of President Joe Biden would shift to advocating for passage of the less-sweeping John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
“The fight is not over,” the vice president said.
Both bills were drafted to counter moves by Republican-controlled state legislatures seen as aimed at making it more difficult for minorities and the poor to cast ballots.
The Republican measures, which would also permit state officials to overrule decisions by local election boards, are premised on unsubstantiated claims by Donald Trump that his defeat to Biden last November was the result of fraud. EFE