Washington D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding tomorrow’s cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation that would protect the right to vote and secure our democracy. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Last night, I began the process for the Senate to hold a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, a common-sense proposal that would make it easier for every eligible American to participate in free and fair elections.
The bill, which my colleagues very diligently have worked on for months to put together, will set basic standards to improve ballot access across the country, end partisan gerrymandering, and fight the influence of dark money and special interests in our politics. It will go a long way towards restoring people’s faith in our democracy while respecting the role of states in administering elections.
Every Senate Democrat has united around this legislation, and I thank all of my colleagues who worked on this bill. I especially want to thank my friend Senator Manchin, who has spent weeks reaching out to our Republican colleagues in an effort to find common ground. I applaud him for his commitment to trying to get something done on this issue in a bipartisan way if we can.
The clock is ticking for this chamber to take meaningful action to protect Americans’ right to the franchise, and so tomorrow the Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the Freedom to Vote Act.
Every Senator will have to answer a straightforward question: should the Senate be allowed to simply begin a debate on voting rights, as has been done many times throughout our history?
That’s what tomorrow’s vote is about. Do the members of this chamber think protecting our Democracy is worthy of even a debate in the Senate? Senate Democrats think it absolutely is.
If our Republican colleagues don’t like our ideas for fighting voter suppression and guarding against election subversion, then they ought to tell us what they have in mind.
If they’re so confident in their position, then let’s debate the issue on the Senate floor. What’s there to be afraid of by allowing simply a debate?
Democrats are ready to work with Republicans in good faith if they vote to begin a debate on voting rights. We know disagreements run deep and we don’t hide from that, but if our Republican colleagues have good ideas, we’ll work with them. We’ll listen to them. And if these ideas are truly aligned with the goals of this bill to protect our democracy—we’ll work to include them in the final text.
But what Republicans should not do—what they must not do—is squelch any chance for the Senate to debate something as critical and sacrosanct as the right to vote.
Nor should they pretend like the federal government has no role to play in protecting our democracy. On the contrary: throughout history the federal government has sometimes been the only remedy when states try to suppress the vote. And no honest observer can look at the way the states have changed election laws this last year and pretend that there’s nothing malicious afoot.
As Senator Manchin said earlier this year regarding Congressional action on voting rights, “inaction is not an option.”
I agree; all 49 other Democrats agree with Senator Manchin. Inaction is not an option.
The Senate can rise to the task if given the chance – but its members must vote to begin debate first.