House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday “there is no more important bill” to preserving American democracy than her party’s sweeping federal voting rights legislation, arguing that the Republicans are committing “a legislative continuation of what they did on Jan. 6” through voting reforms in their own states.
With Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., essentially ending President Biden’s chances to pass Build Back Better, the Democrats have pivoted to establishing a federal election framework, which Republicans say is little more than an “election takeover scheme.”
Like other Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Church Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Pelosi also tied the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to the need for federal election reform to “protect our Constitution and our democracy.”
“What the Republicans are doing across the country is really a legislative continuation of what they did on Jan. 6, which is to undermine our democracy, to undermine the integrity of our elections, to undermine the voting power, which is the essence of a democracy,” Pelosi said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“There is no more important bill that enables us to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” she continued. “They are not only suppressing the vote, they are nullifying elections, saying, ‘Well it doesn’t matter who gets more votes, it matters who the three people we appoint to analyze that, what they decide.’ We cannot let that happen. … This legislation is the most important, and we have to keep working in order to get the job done.”
Pelosi’s comments mirrored those of several Democrats who used the Capitol riot anniversary to push for federal voting reform.
Harris said in her speech to the nation on Thursday that the “American spirit is being tested” and that “we must pass the voting rights bills that are now before the Senate” in order to “secure and strengthen our democracy.”
Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday” that tying voting rights legislation to the Jan. 6 attack is appropriate, because elected officials swore an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution against any “domestic terrorists among us.”
“That oath says, against all enemies foreign and domestic, a recognition of the fact that there will be times in our development when we have to deal with the enemy from within,” he said. “That is the recognition that there will be times or could be when we will have domestic terrorists among us.”
Schumer described Jan. 6 as a “symptom of a broader illness – an effort to delegitimize our election process” and has repeatedly threatened that Democrats would explore ways to get rid of the filibuster if Republicans continue to use the tool to block debate on the voting rights bill.
Senate Republicans blocked the legislation four times in 2021, arguing that the legislation would infringe on the right of states to set their own election laws and would unduly favor the Democratic Party. The latest version of the voting rights legislation would establish a federal election framework, create rules aimed at preventing partisan redistricting, and overhaul the campaign finance system.
The filibuster is a threshold of 60 votes in the Senate that’s necessary before a piece of legislation is given an up or down vote. If Democrats wanted to establish a new filibuster precedent, they could do so with 51 votes – all 50 senators in the Democratic caucus plus Vice President Harris breaking the tie.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have repeatedly said they will not vote to get rid of the filibuster in an effort to maintain bipartisanship in the Senate.