Applauding Texas Democrats for taking coordinated action to stymie a far-reaching GOP attack on voting rights, Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday said lawmakers in the U.S. Senate must show "the same courage" by passing an election reform bill that has languished in the chamber for weeks.
"Congratulations to Democrats in Texas for protecting democracy and the right to vote," Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted. "We must pass S. 1, the For The People Act. The future of American democracy is at stake."
Texas is just one of many Republican-led states across the country pushing sweeping legislation to restrict voting rights in the wake of the 2020 election, with GOP lawmakers frequently parroting former President Donald Trump's false claims about the integrity of the process and outcome.
According to a recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, passage of the For the People Act would help neutralize "virtually every single one" of the hundreds of voter suppression bills that Republicans are advancing across the country.
If approved, the For the People Act (pdf) would increase ballot access nationwide by implementing automatic voter registration and other reforms, limit states' ability to purge voters from the rolls, set up a publicly financed small-dollar donation matching system for candidates who reject high-dollar contributions, and more.
Despite the bill's popularity among voters across the political spectrum, the For the People Act has run up against several obstacles in the U.S. Senate, including the legislative filibuster and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the only Democrat in the chamber who has yet to sign on as a co-sponsor. The legislation, which the House passed in early March without a single GOP vote, is also unanimously opposed by Senate Republicans.
Shortly after the Senate GOP filibustered a bill that aimed to set up an independent commission to probe the January 6 insurrection, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday announced that the chamber will vote on the For the People Act later this month.
But Schumer did not commit to taking action to reform or scrap the Senate's legislative filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes to pass most bills. With the filibuster in place, the For the People Act has no chance of passage.
"Let's be clear. If 10 Republican senators cannot even vote for a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection, 10 Republican senators will not vote for anything meaningful to improve the lives of the American people," Sanders said over the weekend. "We must abolish the filibuster and act now."
Following their walkout late Sunday—an action that stopped a Republican-authored voter suppression bill from passing before the legislative session expired—Democratic lawmakers in Texas implored members of Congress to quickly pass a voting rights expansion at the federal level to combat the GOP's efforts to further restrict the franchise.
"State lawmakers are holding the line," Texas state Rep. James Talarico (D-52) saidearly Monday. "Federal lawmakers need to get their shit together and pass the For The People Act."