Washington D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor to announce that he will file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation to protect Americans’ right to vote and the sanctity of our elections, in today’s session. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
“This week, the Senate will have an opportunity to engage in a momentous and urgent debate: protecting the right to vote in free and fair elections.
Later this evening, I will begin the process for the Senate to consider the Freedom to Vote Act, a powerful new bill designed to fortify our democracy, protect the vote, and renew the American people’s trust in our elections.
After I file cloture tonight on the motion to proceed, members can expect the vote to take place on Wednesday.
The Freedom to Vote Act is a balanced, effective, and common-sense bill. It sets basic standards for all Americans to vote safely and securely while protecting elections from subversion. It fights back against the power of big money and ends partisan gerrymandering, while respecting the role of states in carrying out elections.
This bill represents the first time every single Senate Democrat has united on voting rights legislation—it’s a strong bill that advances election reforms proven to work in red, blue and purple states across the country.
I thank my colleagues – all of my colleagues – for their work in putting this bill together. I thank them for their dedication in advancing the simple idea that all Americans – no matter what zip code they live in – should have the freedom to vote safely and securely.
I want to particularly thank my friend Senator Manchin, who has led the way in finding common ground with our Republican colleagues on this proposal. It is now time for us to move forward on this legislation as promised.
Now, just so we are all clear, the vote that will happen on Wednesday is a procedural vote to begin debate on the bill. Voting “yes” does not mean signing on to any policy or bill text; it is rather an invitation for Senators to come to the table to debate, to deliberate and compromise, just as the Senate was meant to do.
If there is anything worthy of debate in this chamber, it should be protecting and strengthening our democracy. With everything we’re seeing at the state level the Senate must take action – and we must take action now.
The right to vote is the beating heart of any Democracy. I know we can both protect our elections and empower all Americans to have their voices heard. I hope we can do so together across the aisle.
I implore my Republican colleagues to come to the table and work with us on this issue. I implore them to turn away from spurious claims of the Big Lie that are degrading faith in our democracy.
I know many of my colleagues agree in their heart of hearts that we cannot allow our democracy to fall victim to conspiracy theories, subversion, and disinformation – but they must join us in working towards solutions.
To be sure, Senate Democrats don’t expect that our Republican colleagues will agree with every idea we have on voting rights. We know the disagreements run deep.
But in this chamber, Senators should not run away from debating the things we disagree about. If our Republican colleagues have good ideas, we are ready to work in good faith to listen to them, to consider them and—if they’re aligned with the goals of this bill—to include them in the final text.
But for any of that to happen, our Republican colleagues must agree to come to the table first. They should agree to let the Senate begin debate. That is all this first vote is. It says, are willing to debate voting rights? So sacred and important in our democracy.
It is not acceptable to simply turn away from debating voting rights, to act as if the Congress has no role to play in the defense of free and fair elections, and simply pretend like there’s nothing malicious afoot at the state level.
No, inaction is not an option.
The clock is ticking, for this chamber to do something to protect our democracy before these dangerous laws take root for the next election. The Senate can rise to the task if given the chance – but it must be allowed to begin its work first.
Republicans, later this week, will have a chance to go on record and show if they believe that protecting our democracy is worthy of this chamber’s attention.”