The State of Play: The Freedom to Vote Act
We are closer than ever toward achieving the most transformative voting rights legislation in a generation. We can pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – now combined into one bill, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act – but only with your help.
Senate Majority Leader Schumer has committed to a vote on voting rights legislation and the Senate by Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Earlier this week, President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke in Atlanta demanding filibuster reform to pass these bills and get them to President Biden’s desk. News reports indicated that at least one Democratic senator (who is vaccinated and boosted) has tested positive for COVID and will need to isolate at home for some time, so timelines may be fluid, but so far, we are tracking for votes by Monday if not before.
This week, Sen. Schumer announced the plan to pass these critical reforms:
- Today (Thursday, Jan. 13), the House passed a bill that includes the Freedom to Vote Act and John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, renamed the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act (The House sent the bill to the Senate as a “message from the House.” This will mean we can skip procedural votes and move to debate the bill.
- Then the Senate will move to debate the bill and vote whether to change the filibuster, which has been done many times before, to move the bill to final passage.
Today, Sen. Sinema spoke on the Senate floor demanding a debate and thorough conversation on both the voting rights legislation and rules changes. Now is the time for that debate. While Sen. Sinema has expressed reluctance to eliminate the filibuster, there are many ways to update Senate rules to move these bills forward to modify the filibuster to allow for real debate and progress. There are a number of ways that the filibuster may be reformed, but the primary goal remains to do whatever is required to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act as soon as possible.
Many of you have been phonebanking, textbanking, writing letters to the editor, and storming the streets in protest with us from the very beginning around this critical piece of legislation. It is because of your tireless efforts that we have made over 4 million phone calls and over 4 million texts, resulting in over 40,000 patch throughs to Senate offices. We have also published thousands of letters to the editor into targeted states, held hundreds of local events across the country and submitted hundreds of constituent requests to target senators. Well done and thank you for all of your hard work!
Every week, the Voter Contact team sits down together to chart the best path forward based on what our experts are hearing from the Hill and from your feedback. Because we have called so many voters in Arizona and West Virginia, we have expanded our lists of which voters you are talking to! Many of the voters that we are reaching now are folks who have never been talked to before about these critical reforms. And that’s why talking to them is so important!
Your advocacy is working. As recently as last month, two of our previous targets, Sen. Tom Carper and Sen. Maggie Hassan, came out in support of filibuster reform to pass voting rights legislation.
For those who have yet to commit to removing the obstacles impeding the passing of voting rights, our calls remain a constant reminder of the will of their constituents and the importance of the Freedom to Vote Act and John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These targets are also strategic in signaling to other less vocal and loosely committed senators that we the people are demanding a democracy that works for all of us. Each of you is a critical part of the force that is helping move the needle in this final stretch to the finish line.