WASHINGTON — On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed voting rights legislation which will now set up a battle in the Senate over a major issue for the Biden administration along with the filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also vowed to put the measure up for a vote before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, as The Hill reported.
Votes to pass the John R. Lewis voting rights act legislation in the House came down by a party line vote of 220-203, and it now heads to an evenly split Senate.
JUST IN @Newsy: The House has PASSED Dems' latest voting rights push: the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act by a PARTY LINE vote of 220-203.— Nathaniel Reed (@ReedReports) January 13, 2022
Act now heads to a 50-50 Senate, where a showdown over the filibuster (60 vote threshold by which most bills are passed) is imminent.
Senate Democrats are trying to force a public showdown over their sweeping elections legislation.
They're aiming to launch debate on a key party priority even though there's no assurance the bill will come to a vote.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the plan in a memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press — one day before President Joe Biden is to meet with Democrats at the Capitol.
The Democrats plan to launch debate on the legislation even though it is now blocked by a Republican filibuster. Schumer hopes to shine a spotlight and push senators to say where they stand.
The action comes days after Biden delivered an address from Georgia, where he called on Congress to take action to pass legislation to protect voting rights. During that speech, he said he supported changing Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster when it comes to voting rights.
"I'm making it clear, to protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights," Biden said in the speech in Atlanta on the campus of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.
The Democrats' moves concern two voting rights bills introduced in the past year — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Accountability Act.
The Freedom to Vote Act is a more broad piece of legislation that would take steps to prevent gerrymandering, expand access to voting by mail and expand voter ID laws so that more forms of ID — not just driver's licenses — are accepted at the polls.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Accountability Act focuses on racial discrimination in Congressional redistricting. That law would force any proposed Congressional redistricting to be "precleared" to ensure they're drawn equitably.
Republicans have outright rejected the Democrats' voting rights legislation.
In the last year, several statehouses controlled by Republicans have passed legislation that severely limits access to the polls and have made the process of determining election rules more partisan. Often, Republicans pushed those bills in the name of election security as misinformation about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election spread through the party.