- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Senate Democrats on Tuesday were trying to reach a deal on a voting rights bill with the hopes of bringing it to the Senate floor early Wednesday morning.

“We’re very close,” Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, one of the Democrats involved in the negotiations, told The Washington Times. However, it was not clear if a deal could be reached before the Senate leaves Washington this week for its month-long recess.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York was planning a vote on the same voting rights legislation that Republicans blocked in June using the filibuster.

The vote would come after the Senate finishes a marathon voting session on amendments to a resolution starting the process of creating the $3.5 trillion package of liberal priorities they want to push through the Senate.

However, Mr. Warnock held out hope that the Senate could reach a deal on a scaled-down voting bill that all 50 Senate Democrats can back. 

“We’ll see,” he said.

Even if they reach agreement, it’s not clear how Democrats will deal with a Republican filibuster. With the Senate evenly split with 50 members each, Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to break the filibuster. Democrats could change the Senate’s procedures and undo the filibuster but would need the support of all Democratic senators. Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have both said they oppose such a move.

Since the defeat of the voting bill in June, Mr. Manchin and other Democrats have been negotiating a scaled-back version.

The original bill, the For the People Act, would have not only blocked changes in voting laws being passed by Republican state legislators but also would have required congressional districts to be redrawn using independent commissions and expanded the public financing of political campaigns.

The state laws, among other measures, increase requirements on voters to show ID, restrict the use of drop boxes and make other changes such as barring early voting on Sunday.

Republicans say the changes are needed to prevent election cheating. But Democrats say Republicans are approving the measures in the belief they will disproportionately keep people of color from voting. Studies are mixed on the extent to which they keep them from voting.

“This is really dead simple. Some people don’t want some people to vote,” Mr. Warnock said at a rally last week pushing for the Senate to pass a voting law before leaving Washington. “So when they should have been busy trying to suppress the virus, they were trying to suppress the vote.”

Mr. Manchin has said he wants a bill aimed only at protecting voting rights.

• Kery Murakami can be reached at kmurakami@washingtontimes.com.

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