Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Left, and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Speak during a press conference to announce the introduction of S.1. , For the People Act in Washington on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
Caroline Brehman | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said “everything is on the table” for a comprehensive voting reform act, the For the People Act, to be passed during a press conference to introduce the legislation on Wednesday.
“We will see if our Republican friends join us. If they do not join us, our caucus will meet and decide on the appropriate measures,” said Schumer. “Failure is not an option.”
The legislation, also known as S.1, contains, among other things, provisions designed to facilitate registration and voting, prevent gerrymandering, improve the cybersecurity of elections, and improve the funding of reform campaigns.
The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate that would require at least 10 Republican votes to defeat a filibuster and move to a final vote when passed.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday he was supporting the Senate’s overhaul of the filibuster to require the minority to speak on the ground to block the legislation, having previously stated that he will not initiate efforts to completely eradicate the filibuster support.
“This problem is bigger than the filibuster,” said Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., In his first major address on Wednesday. “No Senate rule should override the integrity of our democracy.”
“We need to find a way to get the vote passed, whether or not we get rid of the filibuster,” said Warnock, who has retained his role as senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where civil rights icon Rev. Martin is located Luther King Jr. was a pastor in the 1960s.
The House passed its For the People Act, HR1, on March 3, with all but one Democrat in favor and all Republicans against the legislation.
The Senate Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the bill on March 24.
Access to voting was a focus during the 2020 election cycle. Prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, consistently raised unsubstantiated allegations of fraud related to mail-in and early voting.
Conspiracy theories of widespread electoral fraud led violent pro-Trump rioters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 to dismiss the 2020 presidential election results.
The Senate’s For the People Act comes amid a wave of Republican electoral restrictions proposed in state legislatures across the country.
According to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, lawmakers in 43 states have passed 253 bills with provisions that would restrict access to voting as of February 19.
Voters are calling on Congress to pass voting laws like the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and Biden, with his political clout, to prioritize the passing of the bills.
“It is vital that President Biden use his bullying pulpit. He has the political clout, he is very popular, to pass a historic law,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter advocacy group.