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Voting rights blocked, but Shuler vows labor will continue fight

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 20, 2022) — Congressional Democrats’ quest to enact new voting rights legislation, which began a year ago in the wake of Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and subsequent Republican efforts in multiple states to restrict voting rights, failed again in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. After a passionate debate, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) sided with all 50 Republicans in rejecting an effort to change filibuster rules and allow the voting rights bill to pass with a simple majority.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released this statement Wednesday night:

“It is deeply disappointing that just days after our nation paid homage to the great civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., critical legislation that would have strengthened our elections and ensured the right of every person to cast their vote was actively blocked.

“It is unfathomable that our democracy is dangerously fragile because of the obstructionist tactics of senators who refuse to sideline an outdated rule conceived during segregation. These were the same tactics that some, as Dr. King put it, ‘misguided senators’ used to block civil rights legislation more than 50 years ago. We should expect that our leaders are capable of learning from the past and do not get in the way of progress. Voting rights should not be a tough vote, and we will remember those senators who chose to stand on the wrong side of history.

“This year and beyond, we will put the full force of our federation behind efforts to defeat racist voter suppression tactics and secure voting rights for working people nationwide.”

Both of Washington’s U.S. Senators voted to change the filibuster rules and allow the vote on voting rights legislation.

After Wednesday night’s vote, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said:

“The question before every Senator tonight was whether democracy should come before Senate procedure. I voted to protect the right to vote over protecting the filibuster. I’m as frustrated as anyone about this outcome because I understand it’s our democracy at stake here, but tonight’s outcome doesn’t mean we give up. At a moment when our country faces more challenges than almost any time I can remember, I will continue to work with all of my colleagues on every issue that matters to Washington state families, including protecting the right to vote in America.”

During her floor speech on Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said:

“We have to have faith in close elections, and the best way to do that is not to suppress the vote but encourage and empower more people to vote in a safe and secure manner. We need to believe in our voting system, not believe that we can undermine it. Democracies don’t grow on trees. They need to be protected. They need to be defended. They need to be fought for. What we need to do now is to protect our democracy. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act… Let’s vote to get this done. Let’s move forward to show our country we believe in voting rights in the United States Senate.”


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