Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor after Republicans blocked debate on key voting rights legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
I want to be clear about what just happened on the Senate floor.
Every single Senate Republican just voted against starting debate—starting debate—on legislation to protect Americans’ voting rights.
Once again, the Senate Republican minority has launched a partisan blockade of a pressing issue here in the United States Senate, an issue no less fundamental than the right to vote.
I have laid out the facts for weeks. Republican state legislatures across the country are engaged in the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years. Capitalizing on, and catalyzed by, Donald Trump’s Big Lie, these state governments are making it harder for younger, poorer, urban, and non-White Americans to vote.
Earlier today, the Republican Leader told reporters that “regardless of what may be happening in some states, there’s no rationale for federal intervention.” The Republican leader flatly stated that no matter what the states do to undermine our democracy—voter suppression laws, phony “audits,” or partisan takeovers of local election boards—the Senate should not act.
My colleagues, my colleagues. If Senators sixty years ago held that the federal government should never intervene to protect voting rights, this body would have never passed the Voting Rights Act.
The Republican leader uses the language and the logic of the Southern Senators of the 1960’s who defended states’ rights, and it is an indefensible position for any Senator—any Senator, let alone the Minority Leader—to hold. And yet, that was the reason given for why Republicans voted in lockstep today: “regardless of what may be happening in some states, there’s no rationale for federal intervention.”
That is both ridiculous and awful.
All we wanted to do here on the floor was to bring up the issue of voting rights and debate how to combat these vicious, oftentimes discriminatory voting restrictions. And today, every single Democratic Senator stood together in the fight to protect the right to vote in America. The Democratic Party in the Senate will always stand united to defend our democracy. I spoke with President Biden earlier this afternoon as well. He has been unshakable in his support of S.1 and I want to thank the President and the Vice President for their efforts.
But regrettably, regrettably, our efforts were met by the unanimous opposition of the Senate minority. Once again, Senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of History alongside Donald Trump, the Big Lie, and voter suppression—to their enduring disgrace. This vote—I’m ashamed to say—is further evidence that voter suppression has become part of the official platform of the Republican Party.
Now, Republican Senators may have prevented us from having a debate on voting rights today. But I want to be very clear about one thing: the fight to protect voting rights is not over. By no means. In the fight for voting rights, this vote was the starting gun, not the finish line.
Let me say that again: in the fight for voting rights, this vote was the starting gun, not the finish line.
As many have noted, including my friend Senator Warnock this morning, when John Lewis was about to cross that bridge in Selma, he didn’t know what waited for him on the other side. He didn’t know how long his march would be. And his ultimate success was never guaranteed. But he started down that bridge anyway.
Today, Democrats started our march to defend the voting rights of all Americans. It could be a long march, but it’s one we’re going to make.
Today, we made progress. For the first time this Congress, we got all fifty Democrats—unified—behind moving forward on a strong and comprehensive voting rights bill. And make no mistake about it: it will not be the last time that voting rights comes up for a debate in this Senate.
Republicans may want to avoid the topic, hoping that their party’s efforts to suppress votes and defend the Big Lie will go unnoticed. Democrats will not allow that. Democrats will never let this voter suppression be swept under the rug.
We have several, serious options for how to reconsider this issue and advance legislation to combat voter suppression. We are going to explore every last one of our options. We have to. Voting rights are too important; too fundamental. This concerns the very core of our democracy and what we are about as a nation.
So we will not let it go. We will not let it die. This voter suppression cannot stand. And we are going to work tirelessly to see that it does not stand.