Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in-line with their party Wednesday night as Senate Republicans blocked an elections bill Wednesday night, bringing the yearlong Democratic push for federal voting rights legislation to an end.
Despite an impassioned effort from the Democrats, the voting bill failed on a 51-49 vote at the Senate’s traditional 60-vote margin. Democrats also fell short of the votes needed to unilaterally change Senate rules to override the blockade and allow the voting rights measure to pass with just 51 votes rather than 60. All Republicans opposed changing the rules, as did two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Though the Party had failed to overcome a Republican blockade and unite their own members behind a change in filibuster rules to pass it, they did succeed in forcing the Senate for the first time to debate the bill. Hours of emotional arguments over civil rights, racism and how elections are conducted ensued.
“The people of this country will not tolerate silencing,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and a chief author of the voting bill. “I think by voting this down, by not allowing us even to debate this, to get to the conclusion of a vote, that is silencing the people of America, all in the name of an archaic Senate rule that isn’t even in the Constitution. That’s just wrong.”
At issue was legislation that combined two bills that Republicans had previously blocked four times with a filibuster, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation would establish nationwide standards for ballot access, including a minimum of 15 consecutive days of early voting and a requirement that all voters be able to request to vote by mail. The measure would also establish new automatic voter registration programs and make Election Day a national holiday. These measures aimed to counteract new restrictions imposed by Republican state Legislatures following the 2020 elections.
Both Texas Senators had previously expressed their opposition to the federal voting rights bills.
“The truth is this is not about voting rights,” Cornyn said in a Tuesday appearance on Fox News last week. “This is about a partisan political power grab, and they are just trying to dress it up and sell it as something else. I just don’t think the American people are buying it.”
“Democrats have decided that voter fraud benefits them politically,” Cruz said at a Tuesday news conference. “And they’re willing to go to any length to tear down the reasonable, commonsense protections that protect the integrity of our elections.”