Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill
Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are headed for another clash over voting rights legislation next week and it's expected to result in another stalemate on a top Democratic priority.
Schumer announced in a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated Thursday morning that he will file cloture on Monday to set up a vote in the middle of next week on the Freedom to Vote legislation.
But McConnell on Thursday evening slammed the door on the idea of the bill picking up enough GOP support to move forward.
"Another week, another effort by Washington Democrats to create fake drama over a proposed election takeover that will go nowhere," he said in a statement. "Senator Schumer wants to stage another political stunt around the umpteenth iteration of the same partisan power grab that the Senate has already considered and rejected repeatedly."
Schumer predicted in his letter to colleagues that the voting rights bill, which has been crafted by Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in consultation with centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), will have the support of the entire Senate Democratic caucus.
Schumer noted that Manchin has reached out extensively to Senate Republican colleagues to build bipartisan support and expressed hope that at least 10 Republicans would vote to begin a floor debate on the measure.
"I hope that our Republican colleagues will join us in good faith, and as I have said before, if they have ideas on how to improve the legislation, we are prepared to hear them, debate them, and if they are in line with the goals of the legislation, include them in the bill," Schumer said in his letter.
But McConnell dismissed Schumer's offer to work in a bipartisan manner as an empty gesture.
He said the legislation is essentially the same as several bills that Schumer has already brought to the floor this year and that Republicans have blocked.
"It is the same rotten core as Speaker Pelosi's H.R. 1 with slightly amended window dressing. Democrats call this latest repackaging a 'compromise,' but it's only a compromise among themselves. It is not a compromise for the left and the far left to discuss how much power they should grab," the GOP leader said.
Republicans in June voted to block the For the People Act - the Senate companion legislation to H.R. 1, which shares the same name - when all 50 members of their conference voted against ending a filibuster of a motion to proceed to the measure.
McConnell accused Democrats worried about holding onto their majorities in the Senate and House of trying to gain advantage ahead of the next election.
"I understand that Democrats are concerned about their reelections. Citizens are unhappy with the never-ending series of national crises that Democrats' policies are inflicting on their families. The solution to their unpopularity is not this obsessive quest to rewrite election law and rig the game. It is to stop ramming through terrible policies that hurt families and help China," he said
Schumer, however, sought to frame the revised legislation as an effort to intervene in states that have passed new election laws since the 2020 presidential election, which Democrats fear will dampen turnout among lower-income and minority voters by making it tougher to vote.
"We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills. The Freedom to Vote Act is the legislation that will right the ship of our democracy and establish common sense national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans," he said.
Schumer in his letter thanked Manchin and other colleagues "who have admirably sought common ground with our Republican colleagues."
"I hope Republicans now join us in common-cause to protect the integrity of our democracy," he wrote.
But McConnell soon after dashed any hope of significant bipartisan support for the bill.
"As we have shown in the recent past, the Senate is fully capable of making law in this area when actual issues need actual solutions and actual bipartisan work occurs. By contrast, there is nothing necessary or bipartisan about this naked power grab, so it will continue to go nowhere," he said Thursday evening.