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Democratic super PAC vows $20 million to counter new state voting restrictions

The Senate is set to block a sweeping bill that would have gutted Republican-backed state laws despite a last-minute lobbying effort for passage.
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Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, on Tuesday pledged $20 million as an “initial” investment to fund programs targeting voters who may be effected by new Republican-backed voting restrictions, announcing the effort ahead of a crucial Senate vote.

The bill, known as S. 1 or the For the People Act, would make sweeping changes to the election laws, including a ban on gerrymandering, rewriting campaign finance rules, and requiring early and absentee voting access. The bill would gut many of the Republican-advanced restrictions enacted in some states this year.

The bill is expected to hit a roadblock Tuesday. It lacks the support it needs to clear the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, with all Republicans expected to oppose a procedural vote.

The announcement by Priorities USA appeared to acknowledge that the bill remains unlikely to become law, shifting its focus to challenging new voting restrictions in the courts and educating voters about changes.

The super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money, will purchase digital advertisements to inform voters about changes to the election system in hopes of mitigating “intended discriminatory effects,” the group said in a statement. The group also noted it spent $34 million during the 2020 election litigating attempts to suppress voter turnout.

While Priorities USA is keeping their focus on opposing changes by filing lawsuits, other groups remain hopeful that ultimately Congress will pass legislation to reverse the state laws.

In a letter to congressional leaders obtained by NBC News, 480 state lawmakers repeated calls for Congress to enact the voting bill.

“We are out of options. We need your help,” the group wrote.

The letter was organized by Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, one of the Democrats who blocked a restrictive voting bill in Texas last month with a dramatic walkout. Several lawmakers who joined him in the walkout, visited the Capitol last week to lobby senators. The group also met on Wednesday with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Wednesday.

Separately, a group of more than 900 political science academics signed a letter urging Congress to pass the bill. The signatories include Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, and Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

“The stakes could not be higher. The crisis of American democracy is upon us, with consequences none of us can or should ignore. The window of opportunity for reform is likely to be brief. Congressional inaction will not simply preserve the status quo — it will invite further attacks on American democracy,” the group wrote.

Some efforts will continue even after the Tuesday vote, where Republicans are expected to block the bill from moving to debate.

On Tuesday evening and through the rest of this week, members of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association plan to wear T-shirts reading “protect our freedom to vote" during warm-ups and on the sidelines as part of a campaign with the youth voter engagement group Rock the Vote.