The U.S. Senate will vote later this month on whether to change its rules to make it easier to pass a voting rights protection bill, which Democrats were unable to move ahead with in November.
Reuters reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the narrowly Democrat-controlled body must consider a change to its filibuster rule. Republicans over the last year have been successful in passing voting restrictions across the country, bolstered by former president Donald Trump's false claims that his 2020 election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.
GOP senators blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in November. In a 50-49 tally of the procedural vote, the Senate put it down citing that the legislation had too much federal overreach. Without the required 60 votes, it would be virtually impossible for the bill to make it past the filibuster. Thus, Schumer is calling for a change in filibuster rules, something that both parties have complained about.
“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president's Big Lie about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats on Monday.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, 19 state legislatures passed 34 laws restricting access to voting in 2021 alone. That is the highest number since the center began tracking voting legislation in 2011.
Democrats could change the chamber's rules with just a simple majority, but they’ve repeatedly been hampered by Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who have objected repeatedly.
Sinema, of Arizona, said in a statement on Monday that she supports voting rights and the 60-vote filibuster, but she also pointed out that she was open to debating the Senate's rules.
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell's office declined to comment to BET.