PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a bill Tuesday that was intended to expand voting rights throughout the country.
S.1, or the For the People Act, was reintroduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in 2021 after it failed to pass the Senate in 2019. The legislation passed the House, but Senate Democrats said they knew it would be a challenge to get 10 of their fellow Republicans to support the bill in order for it to pass.
“Every single one of us have been talking to all senators across the aisle about the importance of our democracy and how we move forward,” explained Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) when she spoke to KOIN 6 News before the vote.
Murray said she supported the bill and saw it as a way to ensure more people can participate in elections and have their voices heard.
The act aimed to expand early voting, set up automatic voter registration, support states in securing their election systems, ensure more transparency in political donations, establish bipartisan redistricting commissions, and require President Joe Biden and other elected officials to disclose 10 years of tax returns, along with other provisions.
The act was also targeting restrictive voting legislation that some states put in place after the 2020 election.
All 50 Democratic senators voted to advance the measure, but it needed 60 votes to break a filibuster.
“Republicans in the Senate chose to stand with the powerful and privileged over the people. They abandoned the responsibility to defend the right and freedom of every American to vote. They voted to allow billionaires to buy elections,” Merkley said in a statement released after the vote.
KOIN 6 News asked Murray what she would do if the bill did not pass the vote Tuesday.
“In my opinion, this discussion has to move forward. Our country has to decide what we want to be for the future,” she said. “I’m going to keep working every single day to make sure we do have that discussion.”
In a statement released after the vote, Murray said she wants Washington families to know that she’s not going to stop and said she will keep working to expand voting rights legislation
Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted a video of himself addressing the For the People Act.
“What this is really about is an effort for the federal government to take over the way we conduct elections in this country. It is a solution in search of a problem. And so finally, today, we will put an end to it here in the Senate. The American people can be relieved that the federal government, at least in this area, is not going to expand and supplant the states, which have been involved in conducting the elections throughout the history of our country,” he said.
In a previous statement, McConnell said the bill would have been a massive takeover of the electoral system.