On Wednesday, the Senate held its first debate on the voting rights reform bill S.1 which passed in the House as H.R. 1 earlier in March. By a final vote of 220-210, the House of Representatives approved the voter rights reform bill aimed at reducing gerrymandering, adding transparency requirements for political advertisements and creating an automatic national voter registration system. The Senate debate, however, showed a partisan divide that could kill the progressive bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) slammed Republicans for denying a bill that would strengthen democracy. “I would like to ask my Republican colleagues, why are you so afraid of democracy?” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Why, instead of trying to win voters over that you lost in the last election, are you trying to prevent them from voting?”

“Shame, shame shame,” Schumer said while shaking his head.

“Talk about shame,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) responded to Schumer. “If anybody ought to be feeling any shame around here, it’s turning the FEC [Federal Election Commission] into a partisan prosecutor. The majority controlled by the president’s party to harass and intimidate the other side; that’s what you ought to be ashamed about.” McConnell is citing reforms which would drop the number of members on the FEC from five to six. The FEC has been in a historic deadlock since 2016 leading to more than 200 tie votes. Those tie votes have been among the six members who were all nominated by Republican presidents.

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