Joe Biden suffered a significant setback on Tuesday as one of his top priorities, a set of reforms to protect voting rights and shore up American democracy, was defeated in Congress.
With Vice-president Kamala Harris presiding, a Senate procedural vote on whether to start debate on sweeping election legislation ended as expected in a 50-50 stalemate along party lines. Sixty votes had been required to overcome Republicans’ use of a procedural tool known as the filibuster, in effect killing the bill.
“Every single Senate Republican just voted against starting debate – starting debate! – on legislation to protect Americans’ voting rights,” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, said angrily.
“Once again, the Senate Republican minority has launched a partisan blockade of a pressing issue here in the United States Senate. An issue no less fundamental than the right to vote.”
The near 900-page the For the People Act had represented a significant overhaul of voting and election law that the White House has described as a “cause” for Biden.