(Headline USA) Senate Democrats planned to forge ahead with a likely doomed vote on their sprawling elections and voting bill next week, even as it faces bipartisan opposition, including universal condemnation from Republicans in the evenly-split chamber.
Democrats have made the HR/S1 elections overhaul a major focus, claiming they seek to counteract voting restrictions that have advanced in Republican-controlled statehouses across the U.S.
However, many of those bills—following the widespread concerns over voting fraud and other abuses that impacted the 2020 election—came about only after the Democrats in the US House pushed their Orwellian “For the People” Act as a way to codify those very abuses.
Echoing the race-hustling talking points that Democrats have often fallen back on when all else fails, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, claimed Republican legislatures “are passing the most draconian restrictions since the beginning of Jim Crow, potentially disenfranchising tens of millions of Americans.”
But when pressed to elaborate on the specifics of the bills, Democrats have repeatedly failed to point to specific measures that would harm minority voters.
Critics, meanwhile, contend that HR/S1 is a corrupt ploy to secure permanent majorities for Democrats, who fear their policies will be immensely unpopular in coming elections unless they are able to codify the steps illicitly taken under the auspices of last year’s pandemic emergency.
“The core desire they have is to federalize all elections to try to achieve a benefit to the Democrats at the expense of the Republicans,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “Not surprisingly, there will not be a single Republican who supports it.”
The bill would put election oversight into federal hands and permit controversial measures such as nationwide ballot harvesting while barring states from implementing election-integrity measures such as signature verification and voter ID requirements.
With a vote nearing, a delegation of far-left Democrats from Texas’s state legislature lobbied their US counterparts on Tuesday to press for congressional action in the state, which went overwhelmingly red last year despite many suggestions of a narrowing GOP majority.
The legislators talked about their dramatic walkout last month, a procedural gimmick that temporarily blocked Republicans from approving voting reforms.
Carol Alvarado, a Texas state senator from Houston, said she hoped the visit gave Congress “some fight, some strength.”
Democrats in Congress gave the group multiple standing ovations.
Amid reports that several powerful Democrats are buckling over the election bill—and on the required step of abolishing the filibuster that would also be necessary to pass it—much of the focus has been on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Manchin did not attend the luncheon.
With Republicans united against the measure, Democrats seemed to be careening toward a failed vote next week that is certain to add to the frustrations of radical, far-left activists currently in control of the party who fear their political clout will soon slip away.
Schumer said Democrats will hold a special meeting later this week to discuss the path forward. “We have to get it done,” Schumer said.
What exactly will be palatable to Manchin, however, remains unclear. He supported previous versions of the bill and has said that action on voting rights is needed. He is also supposed to provide to Senate leadership a list of criteria that he would support or oppose, though it’s unclear if he has done so.
Manchin has pushed for Democrats get behind a narrower piece of legislation that updates the Voting Rights Act to reinstate a requirement that new voting laws and legislative districts be subject to federal approval. His proposal would for the first time impose those requirements on all 50 states. But that bill also lacks support from Republicans, with only Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski supportive of the effort.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said both bills must pass.
The voting rights bill “protects us in the current elections and must pass now,” Pelosi claimed in a letter to colleagues. The update to the Voting Rights Act, she wrote, “is the foundation for future elections and must be passed in a way that is constitutionally ironclad. Any premature passage could be very damaging to its success.”
Pelosi spoke several times with Manchin about the bill over the weekend, according to a senior Democratic aide who was granted anonymity to confirm the private calls. An aide to Pelosi declined to comment on their discussions.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press