The voting rights of millions of Americans were left vulnerable Wednesday evening (January 19) after a Senate vote failed to change the filibuster rule to get key legislation passed.
The 52-48 vote came after Senate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema sided with every Republican to vote against changing the filibuster rules. According to reports, Republicans erupted in applause after the vote was complete.
The rule they wanted to change would allow for a talking filibuster where lawmakers who oppose the legislation would have to speak from the Senate floor about their position. After the speeches, the chamber would hold a vote and a simple majority would be able to pass the legislation, effectively bypassing the current 60-vote minimum set in place.
Voting rights advocates have put pressure on lawmakers to get the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and Freedom to Vote Act passed ahead of the midterm elections. The legislation would put back federal protections against laws that ultimately put up barriers to the ballot to millions of Americans, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latino, and low income voters.
Sinema, who represents Arizona, released a statement the same evening explaining her decision was based on her longstanding disapproval of “actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government.”