One year after insurgency, Senator Markey says Congress must pass voting rights bill


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Senator Ed Markey said Democrats are determined to pass federal voting rights legislation – despite unanimous opposition from Republicans in the Senate.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the bill was especially needed now, as Republican-led legislatures in several states passed laws to make it harder to vote – and easier to overturn the results. Republicans in those states are advocating for the changes needed to ensure that only legal votes are counted and the results are accurate.

The changes come a year after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, trying to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election. Some of the rioters said they believed Trump’s false claims that there had been fraud and that he actually won the election – what Democrats call the “big lie.”

“Donald Trump’s big lie has turned into an even bigger threat,” Markey told WBUR. “This is why it is imperative that we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.”

Markey’s comments come on the same day that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made their own push for stricter voter rights legislation.

“We need to pass voting bills that are now before the Senate,” Vice President Harris said Thursday, standing in the National Statuary Hall on the Capitol, where a crowd of Trump supporters went wild. one year ago.

Supporters say the John Lewis Advancement Voting Rights Act will restore and update protections in the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, while the Free Voting Act would expand access for voters. voters and restrict partisan gerrymandering. Critics argue that the rules would interfere with states’ rights to run their own elections and make it more difficult to deter voter fraud.

Both bills face a tough road in the Senate, where Democrats have only the weakest majorities and most laws need 60 votes to avoid obstruction.

Last October, the voting rights bill failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward. Now, some Senate Democrats want to renew the push for voting rights legislation by January 17 and to end filibustering, if necessary.

“Otherwise, Trumpsters across the country will have succeeded in changing the laws of our country to make it harder to ensure democracy works for everyone,” Markey said.

But Republicans pledged to fight any effort to reform or eliminate filibuster.

“No party that destroys the legislative traditions of the Senate can be trusted to take control of election laws across America,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in the Senate on Wednesday. – the base of a party may be authorized to do so. “

Democrats would need all 50 members of their caucus – including two independents and several moderate members – plus a decisive vice president vote to abolish or change filibuster. Both ways. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona have resisted the idea so far, but Markey is hoping they might change their minds if Republicans continue to block voting bills.

“Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are both saying they want to pass voting rights legislation,” Markey said.

Yet both senators were prepared to overthrow their party.

Manchin joined Republicans in derailing President Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which includes a wide range of progressive initiatives, calling it too expensive. Still, Manchin suggested on Tuesday that it would be possible to agree on separate legislation to tackle climate change, even though coal is a key industry for his state. The Build Back Better bill originally included tax credits for clean energy, along with incentives for clean vehicles and an initiative to reduce greenhouse gases from the oil industry and gas.

“Senator Manchin gave me hope that we will be able to get the climate part of the Build Back Better bill passed, and soon,” said Markey.

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