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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Introduction Of The Freedom To Vote Act

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise voting rights bill to curb the assaults against voting rights happening at the state level. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

All year long, Senate Democrats have committed to passing legislation to protect the most sacrosanct right in our democracy: the right to vote.

On two occasions, Senate Democrats voted unanimously to begin debate in the Senate on this critical issue.

And both times, Republicans formed a wall of total opposition against any progress on voting rights in the United States Senate.

But Republicans’ refusal to work with us is no excuse for not getting something done.

So later today, my colleague Senator Klobuchar – along with Senators Kaine, King, Manchin, Merkley, Padilla, Tester and Warnock – will be introducing the Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise voting rights bill that I intend to schedule a vote on in the very near future.

To piece this bill together, I am proud to have convened and worked with 8 members of my caucus—four progressives and four moderates—in bringing this bill to fruition.

The compromise proposal contains many of the important provisions of previous voting rights bills championed by Senate Democrats, particularly by my colleague Senator Merkley.

It will protect the right to vote, put a stop to partisan gerrymandering, and end the scourge of dark money in our politics. Critically, the legislation also incorporates important feedback from election officials and includes new measures to promote greater voter confidence in our elections, while stopping partisan election subversion.                                           

This is a good proposal, one that nobody in this chamber should oppose. My colleague Senator Machin is working with Republicans to secure support for the bill, and we look forward to hearing what changes they might make on legislation.

I applaud Senator Manchin for his work here. He has always said that he wants to try and bring Republicans on, and now, with the support of Democrats and this compromise bill—which Senator Manchin had great input into—he can go forward in that regard.

The fact of the matter is that this legislation is critical for stopping some of the most egregious assaults against voting rights happening at the state level. A few weeks ago, the Governor of Texas signed one of the most sweeping voter suppression bills in the entire country.

It comes on the heels of other restrictions sprouting across the country—from ending Election-day registration in Montana, limiting after-hours drop boxes in Florida, even making it a crime to give food and water to voters at the polls in Georgia.

No one, no one, can look at these restrictions with a straight face and say they have a legitimate purpose. They have only one goal, and it's a despicable goal, it's a nasty goal: making it harder for younger, poorer, non-white, and typically Democratic voters to access the ballot.

Republicans lost the election. Joe Biden is the President. I'm Majority Leader. Instead of doing what you're supposed to do in a democracy—win over the people you didn't win before—they're trying to stop the people who didn't vote for them from voting. That is autocratic, anti-democratic, small d, and not what America is all about. It's a new phase of what used to be called Jim Crow.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a necessary step to put an end to these assaults on the franchise. As Majority Leader, it is my intention to hold a vote on this bill as soon as next week.