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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks In Advance Of Senate Vote On Debating Key Voting Rights Legislation

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Senate vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to debate on key voting rights legislation. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

What makes a democracy, a democracy? It’s the right of citizens to choose their own leaders. To forge their own destiny, rather than have it decided for them. The right to vote.

The right that generations of Americans have marched and protested to achieve; women who reached for the ballot and marchers who were bloodied on a bridge in Selma.

The right that generations of American soldiers fought and died to defend, buried now in patriot graves from Normandy to Gettysburg.

And right now, it is a fact—a fact—that voting rights are under assault in America in a way that we have not seen in many, many decades. Republican state legislatures are limiting polling hours, locations, and ballot drop-boxes; raising new ID barriers for students; making it a crime to give food and water to voters in line; and, in states like Texas, trying to move Sunday voting hours so it’s harder for Black churchgoers to go to the polls after services.

It is the most sweeping voter suppression effort in at least 80 years, targeting all the ways that historically disenfranchised voters—Black and Brown Americans, students, the working poor—access the ballot.

We can disagree about solutions to this problem, about which policies might be more effective.

But we should all agree this is a problem. 

We should all agree that protecting voting rights is worthy of debate.

And that’s what this next vote is about: should the United States Senate even debate—even debate—how to protect the voting rights of our citizens?

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. How many in this chamber would have been able to participate in those early elections, Particularly on my side of the aisle?

But ever since the early days of our 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.

Are we going to backslide, here, in the 21st Century? Are we going to let reactionary state legislatures drag us back into the muck of voter suppression? Are we going to let the most dishonest president in history continue to poison our democracy from the inside?

Or will we stand up to defend what generations of Americans have organized, marched, fought, and died for? The sacred right to vote. The thing that makes a democracy, a democracy.

Stand up, my Republican colleagues, to a man who has lied—who we all know has lied, who you know has lied—about our elections. Do not let this man lead you around by the nose and do permanent damage to our democracy. At least have the decency and honor to let this chamber debate.

I urge my colleagues to vote yes.