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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks to reporters after the Senate voted against the formation of an independent commission to investigate the attack at the U.S. Capitol on May 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks to reporters after the Senate voted against the formation of an independent commission to investigate the attack at the U.S. Capitol on May 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)

Schumer Says Vote on For the People Act Coming Next Month

"We're witnessing a clear and present threat to our democracy," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "We must act now to save it."

Kenny Stancil

"In the last week of the June work period, the Senate will vote on S. 1, the For the People Act."

So said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday, finally committing to the legislative calendar a sweeping, popular voting rights and campaign finance reform bill that progressives argue is necessary to protect U.S. democracy in the face of the GOP's nationwide assault on the franchise and the rule of law.

In a letter to the Democratic caucus, Schumer called the For the People Act "essential to defending our democracy, reducing the influence of dark money and powerful special interests, and stopping the wave of Republican voter suppression happening in the states across the country in service of President [Donald] Trump's Big Lie."

Schumer's announcement about next month's vote on S. 1, which is expected to happen between June 21 and June 25, came immediately after Senate Republicans employed the legislative filibuster to block the establishment of an independent commission to probe the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of then-President Trump's supporters.

The near-unanimous opposition of Senate Republicans to an investigation of the deadly insurrection provided some of the strongest evidence yet of the GOP's growing antagonism to democracy and prompted additional calls to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster rule, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has threatened to use to undermine "100%" of President Joe Biden's agenda.

Although the January 6 coup attempt failed—and despite a total lack of evidence of electoral fraud last November—Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him has provoked a flurry of voter suppression bills nationwide.

As of May 14, Republican lawmakers in 49 states had introduced at least 389 bills that would either make it harder for millions of Americans, especially Democratic-leaning constituencies, to vote, or empower right-wing state legislatures to overturn election results they don't like, according to the Brennan Center for Justice's latest tally.

The Brennan Center noted that 22 laws restricting ballot access have been passed by GOP-controlled legislatures and signed into law by governors in 14 states this year, and 61 bills are currently moving through 18 state legislatures.

Voting rights advocates say that Senate Democrats can "thwart virtually every single one" of the GOP's voter suppression bills by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Without the support of a single Republican, House Democrats passed H.R. 1, the lower chamber's version of the For the People Act, in March, after which progressives told Senate Democrats to "end the filibuster and pass" S. 1.

Although Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has previously stated his opposition to eliminating the filibuster and has also been critical of the For the People Act, there's a chance that could change in the wake of the GOP's affirmation of anti-democratic violence on Friday.

Last week, prior to the failed commission vote, journalist Ryan Grim wrote:

Manchin expressed his dismay at the GOP obstruction. "So disheartening. It makes you really concerned about our country," Manchin said. A reporter asked if that counted as abuse of the filibuster: "I'm still praying we've still got 10 good solid patriots within that conference."

That is a very Manchin answer: He has long made clear he very much does not want to do anything to weaken the filibuster. Indeed, he would be heartbroken if he had to do so. But if he's forced to do it for the good of the country, because there aren't enough good solid patriots willing to put that country first, well then it's back on the table. The filibuster is not a suicide pact. 

Just six Republicans voted to establish the January 6 commission on Friday, an outcome that Manchin again described as "disheartening."

In a tweet calling for Democratic lawmakers to abolish the filibuster, pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, make D.C. a state, and expand the U.S. Supreme Court, the advocacy group Demand Justice said Friday that "we're not going to save American democracy by cutting deals with a party that doesn't want to save it."


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