Fifteen years ago today, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, known during that Congress as the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. While back then both parties rose above partisanship and party politics to do what was right for the country, now Republican senators are united in standing against voting rights.
“While there should be overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress to protect the right to vote, as there was fifteen years ago, Senate Republicans have made it clear they have no interest in putting the country ahead of their political interests. The freedom to vote is under attack nationally, with almost 400 pieces of legislation being proposed by Republican lawmakers in 48 states that seek to restrict access to the ballot box,” said End Citizens United // Let America Vote President Tiffany Muller. “The Senate must act swiftly in passing both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to counteract this dangerous wave of anti-voter bills nationwide, even if it means updating Senate procedure.”
Republicans now believe that restricting the right to vote boosts their electoral prospects, and they are committed to blocking voting rights in the U.S. Senate. Minority Leader McConnell deemed voting rights legislation to be “unnecessary” and has frequently expressed his opposition to the For the People Act, while Senator Cornyn promised to whip votes against the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In June, all 50 Senate Republicans blocked even having a debate on the For the People Act. Even Senator Lisa Murkowski, the lone Republican who supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, acknowledged that getting her fellow Republicans to support voting rights legislation as they did fifteen years ago would be unlikely.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has emphasized his dedication to advancing comprehensive voting rights and anti-corruption legislation following Senate Republicans’ procedural tactic to use the filibuster to block the For the People Act. As restrictive voting laws continue to be passed across the country, polling has consistently shown that commonsense reforms to protect voters and our electoral system are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans across party lines.