Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On The Senate To Take A Stand Against Voter Suppression And Pass Voting Rights Legislation

January 19, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor before the cloture vote on the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

What kind of Democracy shall endure here in the United States, long after our times in this chamber come to an end?

Shall American democracy in the 21st century be called a true heir to our framers’ vision? A nation where the people choose their own leaders, forge their own destiny, and add to the great legacies of those who expanded the franchise before us?

Or, shall we see American democracy backslide in our time, grow feeble in the jaws of its adversaries, and ultimately succumb to the cancer of voter suppression?

The answer, in a large sense, could depend on how we move forward this evening.

As we have clearly laid out over the past two days, the laws passed in legislatures throughout the country do nothing less than discourage and prevent certain kinds of Americans—Black and Brown Americans, young Americans, elderly Americans, low-income Americans—from participating in the democratic process.

My colleagues, my colleagues, we can begin to put a stop to these attacks tonight, by voting to proceed to the final passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

These are good bills. They are effective bills. And they should be passed by this chamber as soon as possible. And if cloture is not invoked, we must change the rules of the Senate so we can pass these bills into law.

As we cast our votes, I urge every one of us, Democrat and Republican, to not discount our place in history. The story of American democracy is full of contradictions and halting progress. At the time of our Constitution’s ratification, you had to be, in many states, a white, male, Protestant, landowner to vote.

But ever since the early days of this grand Republic, Americans launched mighty movements, fought a bloody civil war, and—yes—passed federal election laws to expand the franchise until there were no more boundaries.

Today’s vote is the next step in that long march. Are we going to let our democracy backslide, in the 21st Century? Are we going to be dragged back into the abyss of voter suppression?

I urge every single one of my colleagues—left, right and middle: for the sake of our democracy, unite – take a stand today.

To every member of this body who treasures our precious experiment in self-rule, to every member horrified by the muck of voter suppression, and to everyone who believes this chamber is still capable of defending democracy in its hour of great need, I urge a “yes” vote.