Politics

McConnell Blocks Simple Majority Votes On Dems’ Voting Rights Bills

By

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday night blocked an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to set up simple majority votes on a sweeping elections bill and legislation to bolster the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which would have allowed Democrats to pass the two bills without GOP support.

Schumer, on the Senate, floor detailed his offer: allowing the two bills to need only a simple majority to pass instead of needing the normal 60 votes to advance in the Senate. In exchange, Democrats would sign off on holding simple majority votes on nearly 20 bills that Republicans placed on the Senate calendar, which makes them available for a vote but doesn’t guarantee they’ll get one.

“We Democrats aren’t afraid of these votes. So what I proposed to the Republican leader is that the Senate hold up-or-down votes at a majority threshold on each of the Republicans bills he has outlined tonight as well as the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

McConnell, however, rejected Schumer’s offer without elaborating on his objection. Under the Senate’s rules, any one senator can try to set up a vote or pass a bill, but because it requires signoff from the full Senate, any one senator can also object and block the request.

Schumer is expected to force votes this week on both the Freedom to Vote Act, which would overhaul federal elections, and separate voting legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) that would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But Republicans are set to use the 60-vote legislative filibuster to block those bills from advancing.

Once that happens, Schumer has vowed to bring up changing the legislative filibuster by Jan. 17, bringing to a head months of behind-the-scenes negotiations among Dem… (Read more)