Top House Democrat urges Senate to abolish filibuster to pass voting rights on Jan. 6 anniversary
A top House Democrat is calling on the Senate to abolish the filibuster in order to pass federal voting rights legislation, pointing to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as reason why election reforms are needed on the national level.
Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) penned an op-ed in Newsweek on Thursday, the first anniversary of the deadly riot, in which she said the upper chamber must nix the legislative hurdle because it has “been weaponized against voting rights” in the past year.
“We must abolish the current filibuster to protect the vote and fair elections,” Clark wrote, adding, “The future of the republic depends on it.”
The assistant Speaker took a swipe at Republican lawmakers for refusing to “put democracy ahead of their own desperate pursuit of power,” pointing to their false claims of election fraud, refusal to participate in the Jan. 6 investigation and backing restrictive voting laws at the state level.
At least 19 states passed 34 laws hampering access to voting between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7 of last year, according to the Brennan Center.
“They have proven time and again that their political goal is undermining our democracy instead of standing up for its survival,” Clark wrote. “So, we must go it alone. And to do that, we must abolish the filibuster.”
Clark’s plea comes as voting rights legislation has largely stalled in the Senate. The House last year passed the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which were later blocked by Senate Republicans.
As a result, a number of Democrats are calling for abolishing the filibuster to allow the caucus to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority vote. Two key Democrats, however, are opposed to amending Senate rules to approve the bills: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is now turning up the heat to pass voting rights legislation. The top Democrat earlier this week said he will force a vote on amending the Senate’s rules by Jan. 17 if Republicans again block voting rights legislation.
President Biden last month said he supports an exception to the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.
Clark, in her op-ed, tied the push for voting rights to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, writing that despite the destruction and violence that occurred last year, federal voting rights legislation has still not been enacted.
“The Capitol building has been repaired. But the threats we face are as real now as they were a year ago. Despite a seditious coup attempt meant to overthrow the election, not a single piece of federal voting protection legislation has been signed into law,” Clark wrote.
“Democracy cannot survive voter suppression laws that substitute the will of the people for the will of a few,” she later added.
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