WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — For the third time this year, Senate Republicans have struck down proposed voting legislation put forward by the Democrats. However, Wednesday’s vote was simply to begin a discussion about changes that could be made to the Freedom to Vote Act.
The Freedom to Vote Act was first introduced earlier this year in September following the insurrection at the Capitol. Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia, stated that being at the Capitol during the insurrection on January 6th has created a sense of urgency toward getting the legislation onto the desk of President Biden.
“It wasn’t just a protest. It was a violent attack that injured more than 100 police officers, that took place on a particular day, at a particular time, and with a particular purpose to stop the certification of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Sen. Kaine told members of the media during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “And that [the insurrection] was motivated by President Trump lying over and over and over again to discredit elections. Those same lies are being used in states around this country to make it harder for people to vote.”
The Freedom to Vote Act has seen some changes from the original version but the current legislation would establish national rules for running elections and require the identification of anonymous donors who contribute large donations in an effort to influence elections.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine explained the four major points of the bill saying the legislation will protect people’s access to the ballot in federal elections regardless of their state or zip code. The bill would also get rid of what Sen. Kaine called “dark money” in campaigns by requiring all campaign contributions to be disclosed, rather than “allowing so many campaign contributions to go undisclosed.” The bill would also eliminate partisan gerrymandering, the manipulation of the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one party in congressional district drawing, in congressional district drawing. The fourth major point of the bill would be to protect election officials and their duties required by the role. Sen. Kaine explained elections officials need to be protected from legislators or other elected leaders who want to strip them of their duties. He says this protects the integrity of the electoral process.
Sen. Kaine told members of the media that he and his fellow Democratic senators are simply asking their Republican counterparts to start discussing and workshopping the legislation.
“We have said to the Republicans, ‘Please agree to open debate. We will give you the opportunity to offer unlimited amendments to the bill. If you have ideas about the way to make it better or if there’s something that you don’t like, you’ll have the opportunity to unlimited amendments,'” Sen. Kaine said.
Sen. Kaine then went on to highlight that even after the Republicans are given the opportunity to make changes to the legislation, the bill would still require 60 votes to pass under Senate rule. This means that Republicans can still shoot down the bill even after suggesting or making changes.
Sen. Kaine told members of the media before the vote that he did not expect a single Republican to vote to open discussion on the bill but says that he and his fellow party members will not back down.
“The burden of having been there when there was an attack on the Capitol to disenfranchise 80 million people, puts the responsibility on our shoulders to protect Americans’ rights to vote and we’re going to,” Sne. Kaine said. “We want Republican support and Republican support should be available on this but even if they are not protecting democracy people’s rights to vote Democrats will find a way to do that.”
According to the Senate Cloakroom, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already filed a motion to reconsider the failed vote about opening discussion on the legislation.