Klobuchar: Senate Democrats are ‘very close’ to reaching an agreement on a new voting rights bill.
As Democrats try to respond to restrictive voting rules established by Republican-led states, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said Thursday that lawmakers working to negotiate a compromise elections overhaul measure are “very close to an agreement” on legislation.
Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Senate Rules & Administration Committee, has been meeting with other Senate Democrats, notably West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, to discuss adjustments to the expansive “For the People Act,” or S. 1. Last month, Manchin sent a memo outlining his policy requests for the bill.
Klobuchar said she met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Manchin, and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) this week to discuss crafting a bill to protect and expand voting rights, as well as requiring states to use independent commissions for redistricting, during a virtual panel with state lawmakers on Thursday.
Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, is a member of the United States Senate. Website of the United States Committee on the Judiciary.
Klobuchar stated, “We’re really close to an agreement on that bill.” “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by; there are those who are attempting to revoke people’s ability to vote. That’s something we can’t allow to happen.”
According to the Washington Post, the bill is expected to follow Manchin’s proposal and strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The electoral reform law passed the House, but Republicans stopped it in the Senate. Senator Joe Manchin, who opposed the plan, was another stumbling block for Senate Democrats.
Under Senate rules, voting rights legislation would still face a roadblock in the Senate since it would require the votes of 10 Republicans in an equally divided Senate to go to debate. Civil rights activists lobbied Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema earlier this week to support a change in Senate filibuster rules that would allow bills like the voting rights bill to pass with just a simple majority.
Klobuchar attended a field hearing on voting rights in Georgia earlier this month.
During the panel, state legislators from Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia emphasized the importance of Congress reining in gerrymandering by establishing independent commissions to map congressional districts.
However, the time for Congress to adopt the “For the People Act” before states begin their redistricting process is running out, with census data due in mid-August.
Since the census results will be released in mid-August, Klobuchar noted that some states will begin redistricting immediately. She noted, referring to independent commissions, that “it is in the bill that we are negotiating with Sen. Manchin.”
Sen. Erika Geiss of Michigan said the state provided an independent redistricting panel the power to create congressional lines in 2018 “so we can no longer have gerrymandered districts as a state.”
Since Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump has repeated the myth that the election was stolen from him, prompting state Republican legislators to introduce hundreds of measures requiring voter identification and eliminating ballot drop boxes.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, state Republican lawmakers had introduced 389 legislation with restrictive voting restrictions across 48 states as of May.
Ohio state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, the chamber’s minority leader, said her state, like Georgia and Michigan, has seen Republicans introduce restrictive voting laws at the state level.
“These attacks are part of a broad campaign to promote unfounded conspiracy theories and the great lie,” she stated. “And they’re putting our democracy on the line to protect a deluded man who won’t accept the results of an election.
House Bill 294, she added, would limit drop boxes and the time voters have to obtain mail-in ballots in Ohio. She claims it ignores valid voting issues such as huge queues of voters that sometimes last hours.
“These bills are hammering us at the state level, which is why Congress must approve the ‘For the People Act’ to ensure that our democracy works for everyone,” Strong Sykes stated.
Shortly after Georgia turned blue for Biden and elected two Democratic senators, Georgian Republicans promptly “made the state ground zero for voting suppression,” according to state Rep. Park Cannon.
According to Cannon, the secretary of state lowered the number of drop boxes in one of the largest counties, Fulton County, from 38 to eight, and the number of drop boxes is continuing to be reduced in other counties.
She stated, “Georgia voters are not tired.” “We’ve been organizing and rising up for years, but we can’t be held responsible for repeatedly defending our democracy. It may be able to outsource some voting suppression, but this is work, and it places an excessive burden on individuals who are already disenfranchised.”
“We need our congressional leaders to enact national ballot box safeguards so that we can exercise our right and freedom to vote,” she continued.