Business executives urge Senate to bypass filibuster to pass voting rights

A group of three dozen business executives on Wednesday urged Senate leaders to change the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

The Freedom to Vote Alliance, which includes Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, warned that U.S. democracy is under threat amid state-level GOP efforts to restrict voting rules and take control of election administration. 

“We cannot allow voter suppression efforts or a refusal to certify legitimate federal election results to spark potential economic instability, violence, or other calamities that scholars of business and democracy alike are warning of with increasing alarm,” the group wrote in a letter to President BidenJoe BidenFox News reporter says Biden called him after 'son of a b----' remark Peloton responds after another TV character has a heart attack on one of its bikes Defense & National Security — Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on high alert MORE, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer requests Senate briefing on Ukraine amid Russia tensions Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law There is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections MORE (R-Ky.).

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The group of business leaders called on lawmakers to bypass the legislative filibuster to pass the Freedom to Vote Act — a bill to expand early and mail voting, increase election security and crack down on partisan gerrymandering, among other measures. The group is also pushing for passage of the John LewisJohn LewisDespite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over Arizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require areas with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval to change voting laws.

The letter comes as Biden pushes Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaPoll: 30 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams MORE (D-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinEven working piecemeal, Democrats need a full agenda for children Poll: 30 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress is doing Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (D-W.Va.) to drop their opposition to changing the legislative filibuster, which allows Republicans to block many bills in the 50-50 Senate. Biden said Tuesday that Democrats have “no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster” to overhaul voting laws.

Only a small number of business leaders have called for Democrats to ax the filibuster. And while many of the nation’s largest corporations have previously expressed support for legislation to expand voting rights, most have gone quiet amid Biden’s most recent effort. 

“A strong economy depends on a strong democracy,” Stacy Schusterman, chairman of Oklahoma-based firm Samson Energy and a member of the Freedom to Vote Alliance, said in a statement. “With the cornerstone of our democracy — the freedom to vote — under attack nationwide, corporate America has an obligation to speak up.”

Democrats are exploring options to change filibuster rules, including a carve-out that would exempt voting rights legislation from needing to get 60 votes, but they’ll need to win over the party’s two holdouts. Republicans have threatened to bring the Senate agenda to a crawl if Democrats weaken or eliminate the filibuster.