Congress spars over voting rights

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Congressional Democrats introducing the For the People Act. (Photo Submitted/New York Times)

This article is by guest writer Oliver Laczko.

Introduction

    A heated argument set to brew for several months on Capitol Hill has to do with voting rights. Among the many other objectives that Democrats are trying to pass through Congress during the legislative session –– healthcare, infrastructure, family and child welfare, climate change, gun reform –– voting rights is at the top of that priority list for congressional Democrats. The bills in question: the For the People Act (H.R. 1), and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act –– two large pieces of legislation that would significantly impact the voting process. These two bills have garnered wide support by many Democrats in the House and the Senate, but are diametrically opposed by Republicans in both chambers. President Joe Biden, in his latest address to a joint-session of Congress called for the passage of the bills saying, “Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send it to my desk right away. The country supports it. The Congress should act now.” But the caveat is, at this moment, neither bill has enough votes to be passed in the senate. Moderate Democrats like senators Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D–Ar.) refuse to pass any legislation without bipartisan support. Meanwhile, all 50 Republican senators are against H.R. 1, and almost all of them are opposed to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Without 10 Republican votes to override a potential filibuster, a legislative tool that allows a senator in the minority to end debate on a bill if a 60-vote threshold is not reached on particular legislation. If Democrats can’t find 10 Republicans to support their voting rights bills, they have no hope in passing these two pieces of legislation –– at a time when Democrats’ majority is slim, and the 2022 midterms are soon approaching. So why do Democrats want to pass voting legislation in the first place? How could these bills affect the voting process in the upcoming elections?

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