On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked the Freedom to Vote Act, refusing to even allow debate on the bill. This marks the third time this year that Senate Republicans have stonewalled voting rights legislation.
The bill failed in a 51-49 vote, with all Republicans voting against it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his vote to “nay” as a procedural move that will allow him to re-submit the legislation for another vote.
The Freedom to Vote Act would make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a federal holiday, and ensure access to early and mail-in voting. It would also bolster election security and end partisan gerrymandering. While it represented a compromise compared to previous voting rights bills like the For the People Act, its passage would still have been a major step to counter Republican voter suppression and gerrymandering efforts in states like Texas.
While the vote signified that Democrats are united behind the Freedom to Vote Act, in contrast to previous voting rights legislation that was opposed by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, getting enough Republicans on board to get past the filibuster was always a long shot. Manchin, as well as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, opposes eliminating the filibuster.
Manchin’s failure to get 10 Republican senators behind even a slimmed-down bill casts serious doubt on his hopes for a bipartisan compromise on voting rights. This will undoubtedly put even more pressure on Manchin and Sinema to end the filibuster, or at least create a carve-out for voting rights.