House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats that they must find a way to have H.R. 1/S. 1 become law “in order to respect the sanctity of the vote.”
The speaker sent a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday encouraging them to find a way to help pass the H.R. 1/S, For the People Act in the Senate. The bill seeks to have the federal government dictate how elections are run in the United States, taking much of the authority away from individual states.
Pelosi said the bill must pass in order to stop voter suppression, take special interest money out of politics, stop gerrymandering, and “amplify the voices of the grassroots.”
H.R. 1 passed in both the current House and the previous House, along party lines in the Democrat-controlled chamber, with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) voting against the bill.
With a tied Senate, to pass the bill with a simple majority, Democrats need all 50 of their senators to vote in favor of For the People Act, but moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has come out against the 791-page bill (pdf). He has also continually called for bipartisanship and working with the GOP to pass any major legislation.
Manchin recently said he will vote against S.1, For the People Act when it comes up for a vote, which Democrats are saying they will force through via the reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority.
“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act,” he wrote in home-state newspaper The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Pelosi called GOP state efforts to secure election in their states by requiring ID, periodically cleaning up voter registration lists, and limiting mail-in ballots as an assault.
“We are at an urgent moment because of the Republican assault on our Democracy,” said Pelosi.
After the 2020 presidential elections, many state legislatures began to introduce bills that would address the lack of integrity in their respective voting systems and a return to pre-pandemic rules. Republicans saw and wanted many irregularities with mail-in ballots and voting machines addressed while Democrats dismissed any evidence of wrongdoing.
Georgia passed a series of election reforms that have been blasted by Democrats and used as an example Republican-led effort to “suppress” votes and make voting more difficult, while Republicans see them as bringing integrity to the system so, only legal votes are counted.
Senate Democrats are highlighting Georgia’s election changes as they build their case for a broad overhaul of U.S. election law. At an April Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Democrats attacked election reform efforts like Georgia’s, calling them “Jim Crow 2021.”
Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that laws like Georgia’s “remind us how much work remains to protect this precious, almost sacred right.”
“The law that’s received the most attention in recent weeks is the one that Georgia’s governor signed last month. It’ll make it harder for Georgians to vote early or by absentee ballot, and make it a crime, a crime to offer water to voters waiting in line,” said Durbin.
According to fact checks, the Georgia voting law does not make it harder to vote early and does not make it a crime to offer water to those standing in line. It prevents political groups from soliciting votes by offer food or water.
Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said the reference to Jim Crow-era laws was “offensive” and that Democrats were cheapening “the very real challenges and unfairness that minorities endured in the Jim Crow South at the hands of Southern Democrats.”
Grassley said that at a time when voters on both sides of the aisle have questions about the integrity of our elections, “polarizing rhetoric that distorts history is not helpful.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said the Senate will vote on For the Peoples Act, S.1 at the end of June, to combat the “voter suppression happening in the states across the country in service of President Trump’s Big Lie.”
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of the lead sponsors of the bill said in a statement Sunday that he is disappointed in Machin’s decision but refuses to “do nothing” about the state’s GOP election law changes.
“As I have told all my colleagues many times, I am open to any conversation about the provisions of this bill, and will not give up on American democracy.”