Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently gave a speech on the Senate floor that portrayed Republican governors and state legislators as imminent threats to the “freedom to vote” and urged the passage of major “voting rights” legislation.
On Wednesday the Minnesota senator spoke for 13 minutes before her Senate colleagues on the so-called Freedom to Vote Act, which she says would “set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what ZIP code they live in.”
Klobuchar has long been leading the charge for what Democrats characterize as the protection of voting rights and what Republicans characterize as federal overreach in state election procedures. She and other Senate Democrats introduced the Freedom to Vote Act on Tuesday, claiming its passage will safeguard democracy from a “coordinated effort to limit the freedom to vote.”
“The freedom to vote is fundamental to all of our freedoms,” Klobuchar said in her Wednesday speech. “Following the 2020 elections, in which more Americans voted than ever before in the middle of a public health crisis, we have seen unprecedented attacks on our democracy in states across the country. These attacks demand an immediate federal response.”
The senator portrayed the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters as “insurrectionists” and claimed that her colleagues “took back democracy that day.” But, she said, there remains a persistent threat to democracy from state governors and legislators — that is, Republicans — who have passed or are attempting to pass laws that would place restrictions on early and mail-in voting.
“With over 400 bills introduced in nearly every state to limit the freedom to vote, we can’t simply sit back and watch our democracy be threatened again,” she said. “Whether it is threatened with bear spray and crowbars and axes or long lines, or the elimination of ballot boxes, or secret money, it is still under siege. When we are faced with a coordinated effort across the country to limit the freedom to vote, we must stand up and do what is right.”
In this case, according to Klobuchar, standing up and doing what is right means passing the Freedom to Vote Act. But the bill faces two enormous hurdles, namely the filibuster and staunch opposition among Senate Republicans.
Although Klobuchar did not mention the filibuster in her Senate speech, it is no secret that she supports its abolishment so that Democrats can pass legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act by a simple majority vote.
The filibuster currently allows Republicans to block final votes on major legislation. 60 votes are needed to end debate, but the Senate is currently deadlocked at 50-48, with two independent senators who vote with the Democrats — Bernie Sanders and Angus King — effectively splitting the chamber 50-50.
Previous “voting rights” legislation, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act, have either died or will likely die in the Senate on account of the filibuster. It is difficult to see how this will not be the fate of the Freedom to Vote Act as well.