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Senate Republicans Block Election Bill, Democrats Look To Fall Short On Filibuster Changes

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked a sweeping election bill, setting up a push by Senate Democrats to try to change the chamber’s legislative filibuster.  

Senators voted 49-51, falling short of 60 votes needed to advance the legislation that combines the Freedom to Vote Act, which would overhaul elections and campaign finance laws, along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Democrats spent hours leading up to the vote making an 11th-hour plea for the legislation, directed at both Republicans and their own members, warning that the votes would go down as a “crucial moment in history”.

“To every member of this body who treasures our precious experiment in self-rule, to every member horrified by the muck of voter suppression, and to everyone who believes this chamber is still capable of defending democracy in its hour of great need, I urge a yes vote,” Senator Chuck Schumer said Wednesday on the floor of the chamber prior to the vote.

At least 10 Republicans would have needed to vote with Democrats to clear the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster, which was not expected to happen amid widespread GOP opposition to the voting legislation.

Two Democrats, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have said they will oppose most proposed changes to the filibuster.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin again vowed Wednesday that he would not vote to alter the filibuster as the Senate prepares to vote on changing the rule Wednesday night.

“I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” Manchin said. “The filibuster plays an important role in protecting our democracy from the transitory passions of the majority and respecting the input of the minority in the Senate.”

“For those who believe bipartisanship is impossible, we have proven them wrong. Ending the filibuster would be the easy way out. I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country by putting politics and party aside,” he added.

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