The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had taken action to block Democrats in Congress’ upper chamber from moving forward on a comprehensive voting rights package that Republicans say would amount to a federal “takeover” of American elections.
According to the Chronicle, the For the People Act, a priority for Democrats that’s been labeled S.1 in the Senate, “would ban voter ID laws, institute automatic and same-day voter registration; and it would expand mail-in and early voting options.”
“This bill would constitute a federal government takeover of elections,” Cruz said on the Senate floor, according to Axios. “It would constitute a massive power grab by Democrats.”
“In the dead of night”
Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), had attempted to pass the bill before daybreak Wednesday through unanimous consent, which, as Axios notes, “requires just one senator to object in order to kill the vote.”
It’s a strategy that was similarly denounced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “Here in the dead of night, they also want to start tearing up the ground rules of our democracy and writing new ones of course on a purely partisan basis,” the minority leader said, according to Axios.
According to the Chronicle, Senate Republicans were widely expected to block the legislation. “Cruz happened to be the senator to object,” the outlet noted.
The move is significant in the senator’s home state, where Democrat lawmakers avoided voting on GOP-backed election reforms by hiding out in Washington.
“The assault on our democracy has never been more dangerous than it is right now,” state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D), who was among the Dems who fled to D.C., charged in a statement to the Chronicle. “We need federal legislation now.”
The move by Cruz also prompted blowback from Sen. Schumer, who claimed Republicans were purposefully avoiding bipartisanship.
“Not an excuse”
“The Republican minority has just prevented the Senate from even having a debate — a debate, just that — on voting rights in this country,” the majority leader said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I understand 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.”
Schumer also said his party would keep pushing for reform, despite the fact that the GOP could block their moves under current filibuster rules, as the Chronicle notes.
“Republicans refusing to support anything on voting rights is not an excuse for Democrats to do nothing,” Schumer remarked, according to the Chronicle. Just keep wasting everyone’s time, Chuck.