March 30, 2021
Congress is preparing for a heated battle over the way Americans vote, with the two parties set to clash over proposed federal election standards versus Republican-led state restrictions, NBC News reports.
At issue is the fate of the For the People Act, which would that would modify the rules for American elections from start to finish. The bill would expand access to the ballot box by:
- Creating automatic voter registration across the country and offering same-day registration for federal races;
- Restoring the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated;
- Enforcing the time allotted for early voting to at least 15 days in every state nationwide;
- Providing universal access to mail-in voting;
- Modernizing America’s voting infrastructure; and
- Making Election Day a national holiday.
The House measure passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in voting against it. The divisions between the two parties are sharp, NBC notes. President Joe Biden and Democrats say federal intervention is needed to stop Republicans from reviving racist Jim Crow-style restrictions that make it harder for minorities to vote. Republicans say Democrats are executing a power grab to remove necessary protections on the voting process and usurp authority from states.
Where they agree: This is about the future of democracy.
According to the network news outlet, the fight is sure to touch raw nerves in a country that saw its Capitol attacked just months ago by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters—who were egged on by groundless claims that rampant fraud had stolen the election from their candidate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has promised a Senate vote on the House bill after the committee process, along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which empowers the federal government to review discriminatory voting laws.
“This Senate will once again be the forum where civil rights is debated and historic action is taken to secure them for all Americans,” Schumer said in a letter to senators. “Each of these bills will receive full consideration in committee and eventually on the Senate floor.”
The bill, known as H.R.1 and S.1, got a hearing on March 26 in the Senate Rules Committee that featured rare sparring on the panel between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), signaling the commitment on each side to their irreconcilable positions.
McConnell criticized the bill as “a grab-bag of changes” that go beyond voting rights. He highlighted a provision to restructure the Federal Election Commission, calling it a ploy to make it more partisan. He called the campaign finance restrictions an assault on free speech and a gift to “cancel culture.”
“ The S.1 bill is highly unlikely to win the minimum ten Republicans needed to break a filibuster. And Democrats have yet to unify their 50-member caucus to secure a majority.”
Research contact: @NBCNews