Tuesday's Senate debate will begin on the voting bill. The Senate will focus its attention on Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, and Joe Manchin, West Virginia. They were criticised during Martin Luther King Jr. Day events because they refused to change the "Jim Crow filibuster" civil rights leaders refer to as.
Martin Luther King III was the son of the late civil right leader. He compared Sinema to Manchin during civil rights battles in the 1950s and 60s. A person who supported Black voting rights, but did not take part in the demonstrations or actions that led to passage of landmark legislation.
The younger King stated, "History won't remember them kindly," referring to Sinema or Manchin by their names.
The Senate will attempt to pass voting legislation for the fifth time this Congress. Election officials warn that state laws have made it harder to vote in certain parts of the country.
Although the House passed the package, the Senate is opposed to it. The Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate with a split of 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris is able to break a tie, but they don't have the 60 votes required to defeat the GOP filibuster.
After initially refusing to alter Senate rules, President Joe Biden used King holiday to press senators to do so. The White House's push, which included Biden's vehement speech in Atlanta last week comparing opponents with segregationists is seen as too late. It comes as President Obama ends his first year as president.
Biden stated on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, "It's now for every elected official of America to make clear where they stand." It's time for all Americans to speak up. Be heard, speak out. "Where do you stand?"
Although the Senate will launch a debate that could last a week, the outcome of the debate is not expected to differ from past failed votes on the legislation. Biden was unable to convince Sinema, Manchin and other Democrats to change the rules to lower 60-vote threshold. Sinema actually outstripped the president by voicing her opposition to the changes to the rules just before Biden arrived at Capitol Hill to hear senators' votes.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had rescheduled a Monday vote on rules changes that would have linked to King's holiday. He is pushing ahead Tuesday, as advocates push for senators to be recorded, despite the expectation of no bill passing by week's end.
For weeks, senators have worked tirelessly on rules changes that might win support from Sinema or Manchin. However, their efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Both moderate senators have indicated their willingness to discuss the ideas but they have not provided their support.
Sinema and Manchin both believe that keeping the Senate filibuster rules intact at the 60 vote threshold is essential for encouraging bipartisanship. They warn about what could happen if Republicans regain majority control. This is clearly possible in this election year and could easily pass GOP-backed legislation.
Sinema was particularly criticized on social media for her use of King and the late Rep. John Lewis' names on the legislation, despite refusing to alter the rules.
The Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also took the blame, as he is leading his party against voting legislation. The Kentucky Republican has claimed that the legislation is a federal overreach into state elections and he harshly criticised Biden's speech last Wednesday as "unpresidential."
As states pass laws that make it harder for Black Americans to vote, many are urging the Senate to swiftly act.
In an open letter addressed to the Senate, Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of NAACP, wrote that "We cannot think about a time more defining the American story than this chapter you are currently writing."
"What country will your grandchildren and children inherit, considering the constant assaults on American democracy and freedom?"
Sam Runyon, Manchin's spokeswoman, stated late Monday that Senator Manchin believed strongly that all Americans of legal age have the right and the responsibility to vote. Law must protect this right. He is still working on legislation to ensure this right.
Sinema's office didn't respond to my request for comment.
The Democrats had made the voting bill their top priority in Congress and H.R. was quickly approved by the House. 1 to be left in the Senate.
The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act is now the Senate package. It includes the most radical changes to elections in a generation. This includes making Election Day a national holiday, requiring early voting, and requiring mail-in ballots. These measures were popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The package is paired with the John R. Lewis Voting Advancement Act. This would require voting protections which had been removed by the Supreme Court. It would also allow Justice Department scrutiny for states that have a pattern in elections violations.