50 Senators Vote to Advance Boldest Democracy Package in Nearly 50 Years, But Republican Senators Block It with a Filibuster and Refuse to Even Allow a Debate

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Tonight, there were no surprises in the opening act of the push to pass the For the People Act in the United States Senate. But grassroots momentum continues to build in a fight that will go on all summer as we continue to make the case to the American people and their representatives in Washington that this legislation must be passed to expand the freedom to vote, break the grip of big money in politics, end gerrymandering, and crack down on corruption.

Leaked audio earlier this year caught opponents of this legislation on tape urging “under-the-Dome-type-strategies” to defeat the bill given its popularity with the American public. So it comes as no surprise that the Republican Senate minority under Mitch McConnell (R-KY) resorted tonight to what former President Obama called a “Jim Crow relic” favored by Senate opponents of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s – the filibuster. Tonight, Republicans utilized the filibuster to avoid even opening debate on legislation that would protect the freedom to vote of every American, regardless of the color of their skin, their background or their zip code.

McConnell and GOP Senators have stood by in tacit approval of state legislatures passing new laws to disenfranchise Black and Brown voters. Republicans in the Senate have turned their backs on the party’s legacy as “the party of Lincoln” by championing a new generation of Jim Crow laws aimed at denying the right to vote to Black and Brown voters nationwide.

But today, eighty percent of Americans nationwide support the For the People Act. The For the People Act has overwhelming bipartisan support in West Virginia and across the country, including overwhelming majorities amongst Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Americans are tired of the corruption, and they understand that the time for tinkering around the edges is over. The January 6th attack on our democracy and the continuing assaults hammer that point home. Only sweeping and comprehensive reform will bring about the democracy that Americans expect and deserve.

Tonight’s vote makes clear that the Senate has no choice but to reform its rules so that a duly-elected majority can deliver for democracy. The filibuster is neither a tool of debate nor bipartisanship—it prevents both.

We thank the thousands of activists and Common Cause members who have organized in their communities, called their senators, written Letters to the Editor, and made their voices heard to keep the pressure on. This includes the incredible work of West Virginia volunteers and others who successfully brought Senator Manchin to the table on this bill. Today’s vote kicked-off more summer events taking place throughout the July 4th Senate recess and through the summer to get this bill to the president’s desk, because failure is not an option. There will be more work ahead to ensure that the bill stays bold, strong, and comprehensive to meet the moment.

We commend Leader Schumer, Chairwoman Klobuchar, and Senator Merkley and their caucus for their steadfast work advancing this bill and building unity for this incredibly important step.