Democratic Senators Prepare for Battle on Voting-Rights Bill
(Bloomberg) -- Eight senators who caucus with Democrats are revising a sweeping elections-overhaul bill that Republicans blocked in June, with the goal of pushing it to the Senate floor for a procedural vote before leaving town for a summer break.
Such a vote would punctuate the late-night vote-a-rama -- a series of votes on proposed amendments -- on the partisan $3.5 trillion budget resolution now being considered on the Senate floor.
“We must protect our freedom to vote and stop billionaires from buying elections. We will have another vote on moving forward with voting rights within the next 24 hrs,” Jeff Merkley of Oregon, one of the senators drafting the new text, tweeted. “Republicans may filibuster, but that will only deepen our resolve to find another path to get this done.”
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock said in an interview that there would be a procedural vote to proceed with debate on the bill, and that senators would finalize the text later.
A Senate aide said Democrats plan to bring up S. 1, the sprawling voting rights bill blocked by Republicans earlier this year. That would then be followed by procedural votes, likely by unanimous consent, for two more specific bills addressing gerrymandering and dark money, issues Democrats have argued should not be controversial.
But it’s unlikely that Democrats could get 10 Republicans to move to debate on the measure -- particularly if the legislation isn’t complete -- or for unanimous consent on the more narrow bills.
Aside from Merkley and Warnock, the group includes Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Angus King of Maine, Alex Padilla of California and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
Voting-rights legislation has been a major priority for Democrats, partially in response to ballot restrictions that have been passed by Republican-led state legislatures. Warnock said the details of the bill are “still being worked out.”
Manchin had originally withheld support on the bill and offered several proposals that he would support in a compromise. While Manchin and Schumer did reach agreement, that bill failed to advance on a party-line procedural vote.
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