Democrats know their massive bill to rewrite the county’s election laws has almost no chance of passing Congress this year, despite forcing a Senate vote on it Tuesday, said a Senate Democratic aide.
The bill, which is congressional Democrats’ top priority and thereby designated H.R. 1, is expected to die when it fails to garner the 60 votes needed to survive in a Senate split 50-50 between the parties.
“The likelihood of any voting rights legislation being signed into law this Congress is almost zero,” the aide said. “Senate Republicans will not provide 10 votes to break a filibuster for anything meaningful. And our caucus is highly unlikely to end the filibuster.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said that Democrats had never thought it would pass but are bringing it up for a show vote to make the case for eliminating the filibuster.
“Senate Democrats enter June with an agenda that was designed to fail,” he said on the Senate floor. “The Democratic leader planned votes on a host of the left’s most radical priorities. None of it was ever intended to clear the Senate‘s appropriately high bar for advancing legislation. Instead, the failure of their partisan agenda was meant to show somehow that the Senate itself was failing.
“Apparently, the same Senate rule a Democratic minority had used with abandon was now somehow a racist relic,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to attacks from the left that the filibuster was a modern equivalent of Jim Crow laws.
Anticipating the bill’s demise, groups on the left have already turned their attention to using it to push Senate Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow them to ram through the elections bill and other liberal measures, without the support of a single Republican.
Fix the Senate, a coalition of more than 70 environmental, gun control, immigration and abortion and LGBTQ rights groups, launched a seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign urging Democratic senators in Delaware and Rhode Island.
“Nothing is more sacred than our right to vote. And the freedom to choose our own leaders at the ballot box,” the ad said, targeting Democratic Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. The group said it will expand the ad to other states.
“Senate Majority Leader Schumer and key Senate Democrats such as Senators Carper, Coons, Reed, and Whitehouse are hearing from people in their states and across the country that the filibuster cannot remain as a weapon that Senator Mitch McConnell and a minority of Republicans can use to block legislation protecting voting rights and our democracy in the face of clear attacks,” said the group’s spokesman, Eli Zupnick.
The Democrats’ 800-page bill would override changes in election laws passed by Republican legislatures in the name of reducing election fraud and restoring faith in elections. Democrats say the changes, including voter ID laws and restriction on mail-in voting, would make it harder for minorities to vote.
A coalition of liberal groups on Monday also began running a $1.5 million television and digital ad prodding Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Democrat, to support eliminating the filibuster to pass the elections bill.
Sinema, a moderate, is a co-sponsor of the voting bill. But she is among several Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who oppose undoing the filibuster.
The ads are being run by Just Democracy, which describes itself as a “coalition of Black and Brown led 40 organizations, as well as 20 liberal Arizona groups.
“The filibuster has long been a roadblock in the way of democratic initiatives, it’s time to end the filibuster and pass S.1,” Patrick Morales, legislative director of the Arizona Students’ Association in a press release, referring to the voting bill. “The rise of voter suppression bills in Arizona and throughout our nation only highlights the need to pass S.1, and to do so by getting rid of outdated Jim Crow roadblocks like the filibuster.”
The ad features a Black pastor, a Black activist and a Native American activist. Referring to Ms. Sinema, it says, “You said that voting rights are fundamental to our democracy. These words are meaningless unless you back that up.”
Referring to the filibuster, the ad continues: “Instead of fighting for us, you are doing their dirty work — letting a Jim Crow relic keep us down.”
Under the Democrats’ bill, the federal government would override a slew of changes in voting laws passed by Republican state legislatures amid former President Donald Trump’s ongoing but unproven charges that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election.
The changes in state laws included requiring more identification to request absentee ballots or vote in person, reducing the time to request vote-by-mail ballots and reducing the number of places where ballots can be dropped off.
Congressional Democrats said the changes will make it harder for people of color to vote and accused Republicans of trying to suppress the minority vote.
The bill before the Senate, after having passed the House in March, would bar states from placing additional restrictions on obtaining and casting absentee ballots, and automatically register people to vote when getting a driver’s license or doing other business with state governments.
It would also let people without photo ID vote in person by submitting a sworn statement attesting to being who they said they are.
Republicans in Congress call the bill a Democratic “power grab,” in which the federal government would usurp the rights of states to determine how to hold their elections.
Democrats haven’t been able to get all of their members behind the bill. Mr. Manchin does not support the measure, in part, because it has no Republican support. He proposed a compromise to try to win bipartisan support.
Other Democrats also are thought to have problems with the bill but will vote for it only because they know it will not pass.