Sen. Ted Cruz led Senate Republicans in blocking every effort to start a debate on voting rights.
Transcript of how it happened from Sen. Schumer’s office as provided to PoliticusUSA:
And now, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to immediate consideration of S.2093, For the People Act of 2021.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
Mr. President, the Republican minority just prevented the Senate from even having a debate—a debate, just that—on voting rights in this country.
I understand that my Republican colleagues don’t approve of every aspect of the Democratic bill to protect voting rights. But surely there are areas where our two parties can find some agreement.
Partisan gerrymandering, for instance, has plagued our country for too long. It skews our democracy towards the extremes. It strips the American people of their right to have a truly representative government.
Voters ought to pick their politicians, not the other way around. But in so many states, partisan legislators draw maps that artificially maximize the number of seats that the majority party will win.
Some districts are so safe that the most extreme candidates can run and win with hardly any competition. Surely, my Republican colleagues would agree that partisan gerrymandering deserves a debate on the Senate floor. It’s a small part of S.1, but one that has broad universal support—and the support, by the way, of all 49 of my Democratic colleagues.
So I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S.2670, Calendar 119, the Redistricting Reform Act of 2021.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
So, the American people should understand: Republicans just blocked the Senate from even debating legislation to end partisan gerrymandering and make our Congress more representative of the people.
Surely our Republican colleagues, however, would agree that billions of dollars in anonymous campaign donations every year is not a function of a healthy democracy. Surely they must agree that America’s representatives should have only one boss—the people—not the special interests.
So I’m going to ask the Senate now to debate a simple measure to bring a much-needed transparency to campaign donations—just transparency, not even limits, although I would certainly support those.
At the very least, the American people deserve to know who is trying to influence their representatives and how strenuously.
So I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S.2671, DISCLOSE Act of 2021, which has the support of our entire caucus.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
In conclusion, before I turn it over to some of my colleagues: Democrats just tried to do something very simple: we asked the Senate to start debate – just debate – on legislation to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy. Republicans said no.
Democrats asked to debate a measure just to prevent partisan gerrymandering.
And frankly, in my colleague’s response, he was all over the lot: it’s good to have politicians do it; it’s not good to have politicians do it. It’s good to have judges do it; it’s not good to have judges do it. We would set standards to make that in a state like Wisconsin—where 53 percent of the people voted for a Democratic member of the state assembly—only a third of the districts were Democratic, drawn by a Republican legislature.
So Republicans have said no, they don’t even want to debate these issues.
Democrats asked to debate a measure to bring much-needed transparency to campaign donations and get special interest dark money out of politics. Republicans—still—said no.
Chuck Schumer Was Proving A Point To Joe Manchin And Kristen Sinema
Schumer’s remarks make it clear that the exercise was directed at those few Senate Democrats who are blocking voting rights progress:
Let there be no mistake about what is going on here. We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to oppose any measure, any measure—no matter how commonsense—to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy.
Let there be no mistake, both inside this chamber and outside of it: Republicans have formed a wall, a total wall, of total opposition against progress on voting rights in the United States Senate. Even on an issue as sacred as the right to vote, Senate Republicans refuse to allow even a debate. They’re afraid to debate it.
Democrats Will Be Taking Up Voting Rights In September
It is not a coincidence that Schumer tried to start a debate on voting rights after the Senate passed the framework for the budget bill. The Majority Leader left the option wide open of adding the voting rights protections to the budget bill when the Senate comes back in September.
Sen. Schumer will likely try to get a filibuster carve out for voting rights in September, but if that fails, look for him to pursue the logical path of adding voting rights protections to the budget bill because Democrats are going to have to do this alone.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association