Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the voting reform bill.
What is the outlook for a voting reform bill passing Congress?
Well, it's not great. Congress is adjourned for the year without pushing something that's been considered a big priority for Democrats all year, which is voting reform. Voting reform is considered a critical priority because a number of Republican states after the 2020 election have moved to roll back some of the law changes that made it easier for people to vote during the pandemic. Democrats think that these laws make it harder to vote and in particular, disenfranchise minority voters. So Democrats have been working on a compromise bill that would change how congressional districts are drawn, they expand opportunities to vote early, and generally make it easier for people to vote while also reinstating some restrictions on law changes in states where there's a history of discrimination against Black voters.
The problem is Republicans don't support it, and it takes 60 votes to pass anything in the US Senate. There was some hope the Democrats would be able to move this bill through an expedited process that would require only a simple majority in the Senate, 50 votes, but there's a handful of Democrats that still oppose changing the filibuster rules under almost any circumstances, including for voting reform.
The outlook isn't much better next year, which means that politicians at the state level will continue to have the ability to draw their own congressional districts and decide what the rules are for voting are going to be in those states. This will be a particularly sore point for Democratic leadership next year, as many Democrats are convinced that Republicans are going to take control of the House of Representatives in 2022 and make voting even more difficult going forward.
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