What You Need To Know:
As the Senate returns to work this week, among the items on the docket, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) intends to call a vote on the For the People Act. This voting rights bill is described as the most ambitious reform bill in decades and the Democrats’ best answer to counter the wave of state-level GOP voter suppression laws this year. But to get the bill out of Congress, Senate Democrats will almost certainly need to change the filibuster, the procedural tactic used by the minority party to block many types of legislation.
Reports say leading Democrats are close to a deal on voting rights that will put all 50 Democratic Senators on board with the legislation. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been at the negotiation table crafting a compromise.
In June, Manchin released dozens of proposals that he could support in a compromise bill to address voting rights, ethics, and campaign finance. Some of those compromises include minimum standards for early voting, a ban on partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, and a federal holiday for Election Day. But the West Virginian’s proposal also includes voter identification requirements. Not all Democrats are on board with voter id rules. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) has stated he is open to identification requirements in the voting rights bill.
Why We Need to Know:
With the filibuster hanging over the Senate chamber, there is no assurance the voting legislation will pass, but there is hope. It’s been tough enough to get to 50 with Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) as the ongoing holdouts. While 50 is an important number for Democrats, 60 is still the magic number to avoid the filibuster.
That, of course, means 10 Republicans are needed for passage. One name mentioned is that of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Manchin says he has been working with Murkowski on crafting a bill that “makes sense.” But even if Senator Murkowski is on board, who are the remaining nine Senators, and what does that additional compromise look like?
Eighteen states have passed more than 30 laws that restrict the right to vote. The most recent example was Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott just signed a law that bans 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, which helped people vote safely during a pandemic, while also giving new powers to outside poll watchers and partisan election officials.