Senator Ted Cruz led Senate Republicans to block efforts to start a debate on voting rights.
Transcript of the incident from Sen. Schumer’s office, as provided to PoliticusUSA:
And now, Mr President, I am asking the Senate to unanimously approve it to immediately consider S.2093, For the People Act of 2021.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
Mr President, the Republican minority just stopped the Senate from having a debate on voting rights in this country – a debate, just that.
I understand that my Republican colleagues do not endorse every aspect of the Democratic bill to protect voting rights. But there are certainly areas where our two parties can find some agreement.
Partisan gerrymandering, for example, has haunted our country for too long. It turns our democracy to extremes. It takes away the right of the American people to have a truly representative government.
The voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around. But in so many states, partisan lawmakers are drawing cards that artificially maximize the number of seats the majority party wins.
Some districts are so safe that the most extreme candidates can run without competition and win. Surely my Republican colleagues would agree that partisan gerrymandering deserves a debate in the Senate. It’s a small part of page 1, but one that enjoys broad universal support – and, incidentally, the support of all 49 of my democratic colleagues.
Therefore, I ask for unanimous approval that the Senate proceed with the immediate examination of page 2670, calendar 119, of the Redistricting Reform Act of 2021.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
So the American people should understand: The Republicans just stopped the Senate from even debating laws to end partisan gerrymandering and make our Congress more representative of the people.
Surely our Republican colleagues would agree that billions of dollars in anonymous campaign contributions each year are not a function of healthy democracy. Surely they have to agree that America’s representatives should have only one boss – the people – and not the special interests.
So I will now ask the Senate to discuss a simple measure to create much-needed transparency in campaign contributions – just transparency, not even borders, although I would certainly support that.
At least the American people deserve to know who and how vigorously are trying to influence their representatives.
Therefore I ask the Senate to unanimously approve the immediate consideration of S.2671, DISCLOSE Act of 2021, which is supported by our entire group.
[Sen. Cruz objected]
To conclude, before I hand it over to some of my colleagues, the Democrats were simply trying to do something very simple: we asked the Senate to start a debate – just a debate – on laws protecting the right to vote and strengthening our democracy. Republicans said no.
The Democrats asked to debate a measure to prevent partisan gerrymandering.
And to be honest, it was everywhere in my colleague’s answer: It’s good when politicians do that; It is not good for politicians to do that. It is good for judges to do so; It is not good for judges to do so. We would set standards so that in a state like Wisconsin – where 53 percent of the population voted for a Democratic member of the state parliament – only a third of the districts were Democratic and run by a Republican legislature.
So the Republicans said no, they don’t even want to discuss these issues.
The Democrats asked to debate a measure to create the much-needed transparency in campaign donations and to get special dark money out of politics. The Republicans said – still – no.
Chuck Schumer proved a point to Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema
Schumer’s remarks make it clear that the exercise was aimed at the few Senate Democrats who are blocking progress in voting rights:
Don’t be fooled by what is going on here. We have reached a point in this chamber where Republicans appear to be against any measure, any measure – no matter how reasonable – to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy.
Don’t be fooled, both inside and outside of this chamber: Republicans have built a wall, an all-out wall, of total opposition to advances in electoral law in the United States Senate. Even on an issue as sacred as the right to vote, Senate Republicans refuse to allow any debate. They are afraid to discuss it.
Democrats will vote in September
It is no accident that Schumer tried to spark a debate on voting rights after the Senate passed the framework for the draft budget. The majority leader left the option wide open to include voting rights protection in the draft budget when the Senate returns in September.
Senator Schumer will likely try to work out a filibuster for voting rights in September, but if that fails, look for him for the logical path to add proxy protection to the draft budget, as the Democrats will have to do it alone.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also the White House press pool and congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in political science. His thesis focused on public policy with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and professional memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Political Science Association