WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, Senate Republicans opposed a procedural vote to open debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, S. 4. The vote failed 50-49, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voting against the motion for procedural reasons. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only Republican to join the Democratic caucus in voting to advance the bill, but it was insufficient to reach the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster. Yesterday, Murkowski, along with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-V.t.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proposed a compromise bill in the hopes of encouraging more bipartisan support.
“This is a low, low point in the history of this body. A few moments ago, Senate Republicans, for the fourth time this year, were presented with a simple question: Will you start a debate on voting rights in this country?” Schumer said following the failed vote. S. 4 would restore a key section of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that provides crucial federal oversight to ensure states do not enact discriminatory voting laws, after it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The bill contains noticeable changes from the one passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 4, in August. In addition to some slight changes in preclearance formula and requirements, S. 4 includes the Native American Voting Rights Act and the Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act.