Biden 'profoundly disappointed' as Senate blocks voting rights bill
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was deeply disappointed by the Senate's failure to advance a voting rights bill, but vowed to keep fighting moves by Republicans to suppress and subvert voting rights in states across the nation.
Biden said in a statement that the legislation was needed after last year's assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump and efforts by Republican state legislatures to suppress "the sacred right to vote and subvert the American bedrock of free and fair elections."
"My administration will never stop fighting to ensure that the heart and soul of our democracy – the right to vote – is protected at all costs," he said.
Biden and congressional Democrats suffered twin legislative defeats on Wednesday in their push to toughen voting rights protections in the run-up to this November's mid-term elections that will determine control of Congress in 2023.
In back-to-back votes, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' move to advance the voting rights legislation toward passage.
They used the decades old "filibuster" rule to sink the legislation, which required the cooperation of at least 60 of the Senate's 100 members to keep it alive. The Senate currently is split 50-50.
In lightning speed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, then moved to revamp the filibuster rule by lowering the 60-vote threshold to 50. This time, it was not Republicans, but Schumer's own Democrats – conservatives Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – who voted against the rules change.
With their yearlong initiative stymied even after Republican-controlled states enacted bills that experts said were designed to suppress voting in federal elections, especially among Black, Hispanic and poor voters, the focus turned to a nascent bipartisan effort to pass far more limited election reforms.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney told reporters a group of senators planned to meet on Friday to discuss launching a bipartisan effort.