OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Democrats failed, as they expected, in their attempt to vote to begin debate on the For The People Act.
All 50 Democrats voted in support of the election measure and every single Republican voted against it.
The legislation required 60 votes to overcome the Senate filibuster.
The Democrat Party has trumpeted the legislation as a way to protect the right to free and fair elections and the right of everyone to vote.
But it reads more like a federal takeover of elections from the states which is why Republicans are vehemently against it.
Democrats did score a major victory for them on Tuesday, prior to the vote, when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he would be a “yes” vote to proceed, which means Democrats can say that they are united on the legislation.
“I’m pleased to report that Sen. Manchin and I have come to an agreement. He came to my office, oh, about two hours ago, and we worked it out,” Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer said to reporters, The Hill reported.
Under the deal, Manchin will provide a 50th Democratic vote on advancing the For the People Act, though it will still fail to overcome Tuesday’s procedural hurdle because of a GOP filibuster that requires 60 votes. But being unified, Democrats hope, will keep the focus on GOP opposition to the bill.
Schumer said that if Democrats were able to start debate on the bill, something they won’t be able to do because of across-the-board Republican opposition, he would give Manchin a vote on his proposal as a substitute amendment in exchange for voting “yes” on Tuesday. It would be the first amendment considered.
“Over the past month, I have worked to eliminate the far-reaching provisions of S.1, the For the People Act – which I do not support. I’ve found common ground with my Democratic colleagues on a new version of the bill that ensures our elections are fair, accessible, and secure,” Manchin said.
“Today I will vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said he expected every Republican to vote against it, as they did.
“I think all of you surely know how all Republicans feel about this proposal. It’s a solution in search of a problem,” he said.
“The rationale for it has changed over the years. After the 2016 election, the same bill was introduced in the House and as soon as they got the majority they passed it. And the rationale at that point was we needed to clean the system up. Then they liked the outcome of the 2020 election and so the rationale became we need to prevent the states from somehow making it more difficult for people to vote,” the senator said.
“I’ve taken a look at all these new state laws. None of them are designed to suppress the vote. There’s no rational basis for the federal government trying to take over all of American elections. You all have noticed that there’s now a debate among Democrats over a revised version produced by one of the Democrats yesterday which has been endorsed by Stacey Abrams. So I would make this observation about the revised version. It still turns the federal election commission from a judge into a prosecutor by taking away the 3-3 balance and naming it 3-2 Democratic. And, in what is an extremely dubious constitutionality, would remove redistricting from state legislatures and hand it over to computers. Equally unacceptable. Totally inappropriate.
“All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well. If that were to surface on the floor, that’s not what we anticipate the cloture motion to be on,” he said.