Democrats in the House of Representatives passed an omnibus voting rights bill that would create national standards for ballot access and voter registration, combat election subversion and revive anti-discrimination protections in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
That bill – combining the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which faced repeat Republican filibusters in the Senate – now heads to the upper chamber, where Democrats mull changes to Senate rules to prevent GOP obstruction.
It passed by a vote of 220-203. No House Republican voted in support.
President Joe Biden will meet with senators on 13 January after his furious address condemning a Republican-backed wave of state-level legislation to restrict ballot access and change the rules of election administration.
Congressional Republicans lambasted his remarks and his support for changes to Senate filibuster rules on which they have repeatedly relied to block federal voting rights legislation.
Voting rights bills in the House have faced more than a dozen hearings and have been repeatedly passed in the chamber over the last few years, only to face a Republican stonewall in the Senate.
“The House has made clear we stand with the people in the fight for voting rights,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
She said lawmakers are sending the latest bill to the Senate for “urgent consideration”.
“Nothing less is at stake than our democracy,” she said.
Democratic US Rep Terri Sewell said she is imploring the Senate “to do what is right.”
“You have changed your rules 150 times, most recently to raise the debt ceiling,” she said. “If you can protect the credit of the United States, surely you can protect democracy.”