Posts tagged with "Senator Joe Manchin (D-West virginia)"

McConnell signals support for Electoral Count Act changes

September 29, 2022

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has offered qualified support for a Senate bill that would overhaul a 19th-century law that governs the way Congress counts and ratifies presidential elector votes, giving the bipartisan effort a boost, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The House passed its own version last week, 229-203. Both measures are a response to efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his supporters to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“I strongly support the modest changes that our colleagues in the working group have fleshed out after literally months of detailed discussions,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, September 27, before the Senate Rules Committee voted to advance the bill. He said he would “proudly support the legislation, provided nothing more than technical changes are made to its current form.”

The 1887 Electoral Count Act requires Congress to convene for a joint session after a presidential election, on January 6 at 1 p.m., to count and ratify the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and District of Columbia. The vice president, serving as president of the Senate, has the duty to count the votes. Last year, Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject some electors unilaterally, which Pence refused to do.

McConnell said he was convinced of the need for an update to the law following the “chaos that came to a head on January 6 of last year,” when Trump supporters overran the Capitol—temporarily halting the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.

The Senate bill already has public support from 11 Republican senators—enough to overcome the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold, if all 50 members of the Democratic caucus vote yes. Negotiations over the measure have been led by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

The legislation would raise the threshold for lawmakers to object to the electoral count to one-fifth of each chamber. The House bill would raise the threshold higher, to one-third.

Both thresholds are higher than the current law, which only requires one House member and one senator to raise an objection, which both chambers then have to debate and vote on.

The Senate bill would clarify that the vice president is merely tasked with a ministerial role of counting the votes publicly and doesn’t have the power to determine the outcome of the election.

Research contact: @WSJ

Democrats’ big climate, healthcare, and tax package clears major Senate hurdle

August 9, 2022

The U.S. Senate voted on Sunday, August 7, to advance a sweeping climate and economic bill with the support of all 50 Democrats—bringing long-stalled elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda one step closer to reality, reports NBC News.

The procedural vote on the filibuster-proof package was 51-50, with all Republicans opposing the motion to begin debate and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.  The bill will be sent to the House in the coming days.

The legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, includes major spending to combat climate change and extend healthcare coverage, paid for with savings on prescription drugs and taxes on corporations. It puts hundreds of billions of dollars toward deficit reduction.

“This is one of the most comprehensive and impactful bills Congress has seen in decades,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on the floor before the vote.

“It’s going to mean a lot for the families and the people of our country,” Harris told NBC News as she arrived to break the 50-50 tie.

The procedural vote, during a rare weekend session, kicks off several hours of debate, followed by a “vote-a-rama”—a process in which senators can offer virtually unlimited amendments that require a simple majority of votes to adopt.

The legislation isn’t subject to the filibuster—it is being pursued through a special process called reconciliation, which allows Democrats to pass it on their own. But the process includes limits; policies included in the bill must be related to spending and taxes, and the legislation has to comply with a strict set of budget rules. It’s the same process Democrats used to pass the American Rescue Plan in 2021 and Republicans used to pass the Trump tax cuts of 2017.

Before Sunday’s vote, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that key Democratic provisions on clean energy and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices passed muster and could be included in the inflation package, Democratic leaders said.

“While there was one unfortunate ruling in that the inflation rebate is more limited in scope,” Schumer said, “the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.”

The Democrats-only package, which includes several pieces of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, was long thought to be dead after Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)rejected a larger bill in December. He cut a deal last week with Schumer, pleasantly surprising many of his Democratic colleagues, and has since been on a media blitz to sell it.

“It’s a red, white and blue bill,” Manchin said recently on MSNBC, calling it “one of the greatest pieces of legislation” and “the bill that we need to fight inflation, to have more energy.”

On Thursday, August 4,  Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), following a week of silence, signed off on the bill after securing some changes to it.

Sinema forced Democrats to remove a provision that would have limited the carried interest tax break, which enables wealthy hedge fund and investment managers to pay a lower tax rate.

Instead, it was replaced by a new 1% excise tax on stock buybacks that is expected to bring in $74 billion—five times as much as the carried interest provision, Schumer said. Sinema also secured $4 billion in funding for drought prevention in Arizona and other western states.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said on Friday, August 5, that the amendment process would be unpleasant. “What will vote-a-rama be like? It’ll be like hell,” he said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, (finally) strike a deal

July 29, 2022

On Thursday, July 28, the word was out: Senate Democrats unveiled a surprise, pulled-from-the-ashes $670 billion spending plan that has the blessing of the mercurial centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) It’s an outline to help lower drug prices, give Americans more subsidized health coverage under Obamacare, and mitigate climate change, The Hill reports.

It would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which sounds similar to proposals Manchin previously rejected.

Scheduled to become law before the Senate escapes for its August break, the proposed reconciliation package needs all 50 Democrats and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as approval by the House. It would be a big win for President Joe Biden—and Republicans have said they are opposed.

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess. He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again,”  Manchin told Politico in an interview about talks with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York). “We just worked through it.”

In a shocking development, Manchin struck a deal with Schumer after more than a year of hemming and hawing in talks over a number of proposals that had been unable to garner his backing.

Headlining the rejuvenated bill are $369 billion in funding for energy and climate programs over the next ten yearswith the goal of reducing emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and an additional $300 billion to reduce the deficit.

According to a summary released by the two senators, the blueprint would raise $739 billion in new revenue through a variety of proposals:

  • $313 billion via a 15% corporate minimum tax;
  • $288 billion from empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • $124 billion from strong IRS enforcement of tax law; and
  • $14 billion from closing the carried interest loophole for money managers.

The Hill reports that the newly announced proposals will be tacked on to a bill that includes items that were expected to dominate as part of an even-slimmer package—a multiyear extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies aimed at preventing premium increases that is extended through the end of Biden’s first term and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drugs.

According to the two Senate Democrats, the bill will be brought to the floor next week before the upper chamber recesses in August.

The breakthrough hands the party a massive and a seemingly improbable victory that very few, if any, had anticipated. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told  The Wall Street Journal  that she only learned of the bill while on the way to the chamber to vote on Wednesday evening.

“Holy shit. Stunned, but in a good way,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) said.

Research contact: @thehill

Bipartisan Senate group strikes deal to rewrite Electoral Count Act

July 22, 2022

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed new legislation on Wednesday, July 20, that would modernize the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act—overhauling a law that former President Donald Trump tried to abuse on January 6, 2021, when he attempted to stop Congress’s certification of his election defeat, reports The New York Times.

The legislation aims to guarantee a peaceful transition from one president to the next, after the January 6 attack on the Capitol exposed how the current law could be manipulated to disrupt the process.

According to the Times, one measure would make it more difficult for lawmakers to challenge a state’s electoral votes when Congress meets to count them. It would also clarify that the vice president has no discretion over the results, and it would set out the steps to begin a presidential transition.

A second bill would increase penalties for threats to and intimidation of election officials, seek to improve the Postal Service’s handling of mail-in ballots, and renew for five years an independent federal agency that helps states administer and secure federal elections.

While passage of the legislation cannot guarantee that a repeat of January 6 will not occur in the future, its authors believe that a rewrite of the antiquated law—particularly, of the provisions related to the vice president’s role—could discourage such efforts and make it more difficult to disrupt the vote count.

Alarmed at the events of January 6 that showed longstanding flaws in the law governing the electoral count process, the bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) had been meeting for months to try to agree on the rewrite.

“In four of the past six presidential elections, this process has been abused, with members of both parties raising frivolous objections to electoral votes,” Collins said on Wednesday. “But it took the violent breach of the Capitol on January 6 of 2021 to really shine a spotlight on the urgent need for reform.”

In a joint statement, the 16 senators involved in the talks said they had set out to “fix the flaws” of the Electoral Count Act, which they called “archaic and ambiguous.” The statement said the group believed that, in consultation with election law experts, it had “developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for president and vice president.”

Although the authors are one short of the ten Republican senators needed to guarantee that the electoral count bill could make it past a filibuster and to final passage if all Democrats support it, they said they hoped to round up sufficient backing for a vote

Collins said she expected the Senate Rules Committee to convene a hearing on the measures before the August recess. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairwoman of the panel, was consulted in the drafting of the legislation.

The bills were announced on the eve of a prime-time hearing by the House committee investigating the events surrounding the January 6 attack, including Trump’s multilayered effort to invalidate his defeat.

The backers of the legislation were optimistic that they could win passage this year, viewing that time frame as their best opportunity given the prospect that Republicans—many of whom backed challenges to electoral votes for Joe Biden—could control the House next year.

The Electoral Count Act does need to be fixed,” Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and the minority leader, told reporters on Tuesday. He said that Collins had kept him apprised of the bipartisan negotiations and that he was “sympathetic” to the aims of those working on the legislation.

Under the proposal to overhaul the vote count, a state’s governor would be identified as the sole official responsible for submitting a state’s slate of electors following the presidential vote, barring other officials from doing so. That provision was aimed at heading off efforts similar to those employed by Trump and his backers, who sought to put forward their own sets of electors not recognized by the states and not reflective of the popular vote.

In an effort to prevent groundless efforts to object to a state’s electoral count, a minimum of one-fifth of both the House and the Senate would be needed to lodge an objection — a substantial increase from the current threshold of one House member and one senator. Objections still would have to be sustained by a majority of both the House and the Senate.

The bill also would create a new expedited route for a candidate to challenge a state’s slate of electors. Under the proposal, those claims would be heard by a special three-judge panel with a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

“I think it is significant to make sure that the particulars around Jan. 6, in terms of any kind of question about the role of the vice president, will be cleared up,” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the Democrats behind the legislation.

Besides Collins, the other Republican members of the bipartisan group backing the electoral count overhaul are Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Todd Young of Indiana.

In addition to Manchin and Warner, the Democrats are Senators Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, Chris Coons of Delaware, Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden to endorse changing Senate filibuster to support voting rights

January 12, 2022

President Joe Biden, in a speech delivered on Tuesday, January 11, in Atlanta, planned to directly challenge the “institution of the United States Senate” to support voting rights by backing two major pieces of legislation and the carving out of an exception to the Senate’s 60-vote requirement, reports the HuffPost.

Coming a week before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden’s speech at the Atlanta University Center Consortium represents a follow-up to a speech he delivered last week on the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—characterizing both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as critical to ensure that the turmoil of January 6, 2021, is followed by a revival of American democracy.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden planned to say, according to prepared remarks distributed by the White House. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is: Where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”

Biden, who served as a senator from 1973 to 2009, argues that abuse of the filibuster―the arcane rule that requires 60 senators’ votes for most legislation to pass—has harmed the Senate as an institution and that carving out an exception for voting rights is the best way to protect the reputation and functionality of Congress’s upper chamber.

The Senate is set to vote on both pieces of voting rights legislation this week. While all 50 Democrats are expected to support the legislation, Republicans are expected to remain unified in opposition and block consideration―as they have the previous three times Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has attempted to call up the Freedom to Vote Act.

That unified GOP opposition will almost certainly lead to a vote on whether to significantly weaken the filibuster. But it appears unlikely Democrats will be able to corral the 50 votes necessary for a rule change. Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia.), Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and other moderates are reluctant to change the body’s rules.

White House aides indicated that Biden’s speech points to Georgia as a reason why voting rights legislation is necessary—highlighting how the GOP-controlled state legislature passed laws making it harder to vote after Democrats won the presidential race and two Senate seats there in 2020.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a compromise version of the Democratic Party’s sweeping voting rights legislation, and it would override many of the restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans since the 2020 election and mandate early voting and same-day voter registration. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore sections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that conservatives on the Supreme Court voted to gut in 2013.

Republicans, up to and including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had long supported extensions to the Voting Rights Act but ceased doing so after the Supreme Court ruling.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Schumer promises a vote on Senate rules changes by MLK Day

January 4, 2022

Senate Democrats will use Thursday’s anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to propel their efforts to pass sweeping voting rights legislation, reports Axios.

In a letter to colleagues sent out on Monday morning, January 3, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said the Senate will debate and vote on changing Senate rules if Republicans block a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act backed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). He promised a vote on Senate reforms by Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 17.

According to Axios, this is the furthest Schumer has gone in calling on Democrats to change Senate rules to bypass Republicans’ obstruction to their efforts to protect or expand voting rights.

Meetings on potential rules changes with senators—among them, Manchin, Jon Tester (D-Montana), Angus King (I-Maine) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia)—continued over the break and will continue this week, Senate leadership aides say.

“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s Big Lie about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions,” Schumer said in the letter.

He added, “We must ask ourselves: If the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same? We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before.”

In a final statement of intention, Schumer said: “We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”

Research contact: @axios

White House lights into Manchin after he crushes Biden’s megabill

December 21, 2021

Senator Joe Manchin struck a decisive blow to President Joe Biden’s sweeping social and climate spending bill on Sunday, December 19—igniting a bitter clash with his own party’s White House, reports Politico.

Biden left negotiations with Manchin this week thinking the two men could cut a deal next year on his sweeping agenda. Then the West Virginia Democrat bluntly said he is a “no” on the $1.7 trillion in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

“If I can’t go home and explain to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” Manchin said. “This is a no on this piece of legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”

Those comments prompted an immediate war with the White House, which took personal aim at Manchin for what officials saw as a breach of trust.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released an unusually blunt statement saying that Manchin’s comments “are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.”

In announcing his opposition, Manchin raised the same concerns about the bill that he’s had all along: inflation, rising debt, and a mismatch between the package’s ten-year funding and its shorter-term programs, Politico noted. But until Sunday, Manchin had never taken a hard line on the legislation. In the past week, he’s spoken directly to Biden several times, with the president and other Democrats furiously lobbying him to support the bill.

With an evenly split Senate, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) needs every Democrat to go along with the legislation, which only requires a simple majority vote. That dynamic gives Manchin enormous leverage over Biden’s agenda—allowing him to single-handedly sink a priority that Democrats have spent much of the year working on, Politico says.

Manchin’s rollout on Fox News infuriated Democrats Sunday morning. Psaki said that the senator had brought Biden an outline of a bill similar in size and scope that “could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.”

“If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the president and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” Psaki said. “Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.”

And while the centrist senator’s staff informed White House and Democratic aides about his forthcoming blow to Biden’s agenda, some Democrats were steamed that Manchin himself hadn’t called Biden or Schumer.

“Manchin didn’t have the courage to call the White House or Democratic leadership himself ahead of time,” fumed one Democrat familiar with internal conversations.

While tempers flared on Sunday, the White House began privately and hastily exploring ways to keep the legislative initiative alive. A White House official told Politico that he believes there are critical elements of the social spending bill that must get done. They plan to continue talking with Manchin and to urge him to honor his previous commitments.

The official added that now may be an opportunity to revisit a concept of the bill that included fewer programs but was paid for over more years — an option that moderate House Democrats and party leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) had pushed for previously.

Centrist New Democrat Coalition Chair Representative Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) said in a statement Sunday that including fewer programs in the legislation but for longer durations “could open a potential path forward for this legislation.”

Research contact: @politico

It took a ‘Magic Minute,’ but the House delivers Biden a huge win

November 22, 2021

It took 10 months, 16 days, and an eight-and-a-half-hour speech from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but House Democrats finally passed their $1.75 trillion social welfare spending bill on Friday morning, November 19, reports The Daily Beast.

By a vote of 220-213, Democrats passed the bill with just one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposition to the Build Back Better (H.R. 5376) legislation: Representative. Jared Golden of Maine.

It was a victory on multiple levels for Democrat— most notably on a policy note. The bill would provide $550 billion for climate change, $400 billion for child care and universal preschool, $150 billion each for affordable housing and Medicaid’s home-care program, expanded child tax credits, and expanded Medicare provisions and subsidies, among other priorities.

But the victory was made sweeter on a personal level, after McCarthy’s antics late Thursday night and early Friday morning. The California Republican was able to delay the vote by taking advantage of the so-called “Magic Minute”—a courtesy extended to the leaders of both parties that allow them to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute toward the allotted time for debate.

By the time McCarthy ended at 5:10 a.m., all but a handful of Republicans who sat behind McCarthy as a C-SPAN backdrop had departed the Capitol. Democrats swiftly recessed, and gaveled back in at 8 a.m. on Friday.

At that point, members continued their few final minutes of debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took her turn at the podium. She quipped at the start of her remarks, “With respect to those who work in this Capitol and as courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief.”

And she was. Pelosi spoke for just over 10 minutes, hitting on the usual Democratic talking points about the substance of the bill and suggesting the legislation will be a “pillar of health and financial security in America.”

Upon conclusion of her speech, Republicans pulled out one last stop: A motion to recommit the bill to committee, which failed by a 208-220 vote. And then passage of the bill was swift.

Instead of passing the bill late Thursday night, all that McCarthy accomplished was pushing the vote to the daylight hours of Friday morning.

House passage now offloads the BBB burden to the Senate, where time will tell whether Democratic problem children, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) are ready to push the measure through. Any changes to the bill in the upper chamber, including a likely removal of paid leave provisions, would send the BBB back to the House in a game of legislative ping pong.

But that’s if the bill can ever pass the Senate. Manchin and Sinema have yet to sign on, even with a topline cost that largely hews to their demands, The Daily Beast says.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday in a preliminary analysis that the bill would cost $367 billion over 10 years, but they didn’t add in a key offset to the legislation. They said increased IRS enforcement would bring in an additional $207 billion over the next decade, bringing the total cost to $160 billion—and that’s with an estimate that the White House believes is overly pessimistic.

The Biden administration thinks increased IRS enforcement—essentially making people pay their taxes—would bring in $400 billion. That means that some Democrats believe the $1.75 trillion bill would ultimately have a positive budgetary impact on the debt. Or, at least, a minimal cost.

Democrats accomplish offsetting the new provisions by implementing a number of new corporate taxes. There’s a 15% minimum tax for large corporations, a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks, a new tax on income above $10 million and $25 million, and new limits on what deductions businesses can take for losses—among other corporate tax law changes.

But for Republicans, the cost of the bill was simply unacceptable. Even before McCarthy’s eight-and-a-half hour rant, GOP lawmakers made it clear they thought the bill spent recklessly and without consideration for future generations.

Still, Democrats were more than happy to pass the bill and give themselves a long list of accomplishments to run on in 2022, including popular provisions like capping monthly insulin costs at $35 a month.

As the end of the vote neared, Democrats rallied near the front of the chamber—cheering and applauding the tally. Republicans, meanwhile, insisted on order in the chamber to announce proxy votes for colleagues who hadn’t showed up to the House floor Friday morning.

One of the Republicans insisting on quiet was Representative Kat Cammack of Florida. She announced that she and other Republicans would be voting “Hell no” on the “Build Back Broke” legislation and she offered Democrats an ominous sign-off.

“Good luck in the Senate,” she said.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Voting legislation blocked—again—in Senate as Republicans unite for filibuster

October 22, 2021

Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered a major bill known as the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) on Wednesday, October 2—legislation that would allow automatic and same-day voter registration, and also would make Election Day a holiday, NBC News reports.

The 49-51 vote on the procedural motion was short of the 60 needed to advance the legislation to the next stagemarking the second time this year that Republicans have prevented a Democratic-backed voting bill from moving forward.

The measure had full Democratic support Wednesday after the party scaled back an earlier, more expansive bill to win the backing of centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

All 50 Democratic-voting senators backed the bill, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) changed his vote to “no” to allow him to request another vote in the future, a common procedural maneuver.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had vowed on Tuesday that Republicans would oppose the measure, saying, “It is my hope and anticipation that none of us will vote for this latest iteration of Democratic efforts to take over how every American votes all over the country.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Republican who has been most willing to engage with Democrats over voting rights, explained her vote to block the bill earlier, saying she was more interested in the House-passed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4).

According to NBC, The Freedom to Vote Act would allow automatic and same-day voter registration and no-excuse mail voting. It would give states flexibility in implementing some provisions, like early voting, and make Election Day a holiday. It also would seek to protect federal election records and insulate nonpartisan state and local election officials from undue interference.

Schumer had said the bill was a “balanced” and “common sense” proposal to protect the right to vote from restrictive state laws, including those inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.

“Across the country, the big lie—the big li —has spread like a cancer,” Schumer said Wednesday before the vote. “The Freedom to Vote Act would provide long overdue remedies for all these concerns.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote that the Senate “needs to act to protect the sacred constitutional right to vote, which is under unrelenting assault by proponents of the Big Lie, and Republican Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys-General, and state legislatures across the nation.”

“It is urgent,” he added. “Democracy — the very soul of America — is at stake.”

Biden’s statement did not mention making any changes to the long-standing filibuster rule that requires 60 votes for most legislation to proceed in the Senate. Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) have indicated that they are unwilling to alter the rule.

Schumer had framed Wednesday’s vote as merely a step to begin debate, and he had promised that Republicans would “be able to offer amendments” to change the bill as they see fit.

A Senate vote in June to advance the For the People Act, a broader voting rights bill, was split 50-50 along party lines—falling short of the 60 votes it needed to advance.

Research contact: @NBCNews