WASHINGTON — The Senate will hold a procedural vote next week on voting legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced.
In a letter to his caucus Thursday, the New York Democrat said he plans to set up the procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act for next Wednesday.
The legislation is a response to a raft of new laws that have been implemented in Republican-controlled states creating new limits including reducing early voting and limiting access to mail-in ballots. The new laws have been fueled by former President Donald Trump's continued false claims that voter fraud was the reason he lost the 2020 election.
Democrats have argued the new Republican-backed laws amount to voter suppression and will make it harder for people, especially poor people and minorities, to vote. Democrats argue the federal rules are needed to block the Republican-backed changes.
While the Democratic-controlled House has already approved a sweeping voting bill, the razor-thin majority in the Senate requires bipartisan support.
The latest Senate bill was crafted by several Senate Democrats including moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and is thought to be a compromise that can gain full Democratic support.
Schumer noted that Manchin is still trying to work to gain the support of some Republicans, though there’s no indication he has been successful.
“Senator Manchin has been engaged in conversations with our Republicans colleagues in hopes of advancing solutions on a bipartisan basis to ensure all Americans have their voice heard in our democracy,” Schumer wrote, adding that Republicans are welcome to propose improvements to the bill.
For the bill to advance, Democrats will need the support of at least 10 Republicans because 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.
“We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills,” Schumer said. “The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans.”
In mid-September, Manchin and seven other Senate Democrats unveiled the legislation, which would expand voter access and boost election integrity. The measure would make Election Day a public holiday, require same-day registration at all polling locations by 2024 and ensure at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections.
In addition to Manchin, the bill was negotiated by Sens. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon; Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota; Tim Kaine, of Virginia; Angus King, of Maine; Alex Padilla, of California; Jon Tester, of Montana; and Raphael Warnock, of Georgia.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Thursday that the likely blockade of the bill will put the onus on Senate Democrats to “get around this filibuster.” As a member of the House, Clyburn has no say in the Senate filibuster rules, and pressure campaigns have yet to persuade Manchin.
“I hope this will demonstrate to Sen. Manchin the need to do so,” he said on MSNBC. “I can’t imagine that he will allow a filibuster to stop the Black folks in his state and other states from exercising their right to vote.”
CORRECTION (Oct. 14, 2021, 12:53 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misidentified the state Jeff Merkley represents in the U.S. Senate. He is a senator from Oregon, not Virginia.