Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, slammed Senate Democrats for pursuing “show votes” on federal election bills on Wednesday as Republicans used the filibuster to block consideration of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Murkowski, the lone Republican to vote in favor of a motion to open debate on the bill, urged Democrats to engage across the aisle on election law rather than pursue legislation likely to fail along party lines. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats have struggled to clear the 60-vote threshold required to overcome the filibuster.
“Let’s stop the show votes. Let’s give ourselves the space to work cooperatively across the aisle to reach the level of consensus that I think is important. It’s important for this issue. It’s important for this country,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor. “The goal here should be to avoid a partisan bill, not to take failing votes over and over for political gain. It really doesn’t get us anywhere.”
“It gets us on record. It allows you to weaponize, if you will, a critically important issue. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t serve anyone, it ultimately accomplishes nothing. Our only real option here is to figure out how we’re working together on this,” she added.
The vote marked the fourth time that Senate Republicans have successfully filibustered Democrat-backed federal voting rights legislation this year. GOP lawmakers blocked consideration of a separate, more expansive overhaul of federal election law on three separate occasions.
Named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore a provision implemented under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure allows Justice Department to review election law changes in states determined to have a history of voter discrimination.
President Biden criticized Republicans for blocking a vote on the bill.
“Provisions in the bill have passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support five times, most recently 98-0 in 2006. Let there be a debate and let there be a vote,” Biden said.
Democrats say both pieces of voting rights legislation are a necessary response to election security bills passed in GOP-controlled states, which, they argue, are discriminatory. Meanwhile, Republicans say the federal bills constitute overreach and are unfairly skewed in favor of Democrats.
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Republican opposition to the bills renewed calls among some Democrats to end the filibuster. However, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and other moderates say they oppose any changes.