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Senator Murray Pushes to Pass Strong Voting Rights Protections on Senate Floor

Senator Murray: “What each of us has to do is decide that our democracy comes before Senate procedure—and then cast our votes. I’ve made my decision, and here’s what I believe—we cannot let the filibuster stop us from protecting every American’s right to vote. If it’s the filibuster or democracy, I’ll choose democracy. If it’s Senate rules or a Senate that works for the American people, I’ll chose a Senate that works.”

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FLOOR SPEECH HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, in a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) urged her colleagues to pass strong voting rights protections—and made the case that Senate Democrats should leverage any legislative tools necessary to pass both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. During her floor speech, Senator Murray discussed the national, coordinated effort by Republican-led state legislatures to pass more and more restrictive voter suppression laws; Senator Murray also underscored former President Trump’s ongoing and public efforts promoting outright election subversion. Senator Murray urged her colleagues to vote to protect voting rights over any single Senate procedure. A long-time member of the Senate, Murray also emphasized that changes to Senate procedure would help Democrats and Republicans work together to debate and legislate on issues affecting Americans across the country and how abuse of the filibuster has led to more polarization and gridlock.

“Here’s what I know about how a democracy works: I go out on the Senate floor every day—just like every other member of this chamber—and I fight for what I believe in,” said Senator Murray. “I use my voice to do that, and I use my vote to do that. The same is true for every citizen in this country. They use their vote to say what they want the future of our democracy to look like. But right now states all across the country are taking away that right—their voice. We have to make sure their vote is never taken away—that their voice is never taken away—or we will not be a democracy in the future.”

Since early on this Congress, Senator Murray has been determined to make sure the Senate can act on voting rights, and has consistently stated that federal voting rights protections are a top priority for her. In March, Murray also announced her support for an exemption to the filibuster on voting rights protections, telling the Spokesman-Review, “the For the People Act is essential to making sure our democracy stays a democracy and I will consider every legislative option, including an exemption to the filibuster, to ensure it can be signed into law.”

“What each of us has to do is decide that our democracy comes before Senate procedure—and then cast our votes,” Senator Murray continued. “I’ve made my decision, and here’s what I believe—we cannot let the filibuster stop us from protecting every American’s right to vote. If it’s the filibuster or democracy, I’ll choose democracy. If it’s Senate rules or a Senate that works for the American people, I’ll chose a Senate that works.”

Senator Murray has been a long-time advocate of improving voting access and election security to make sure every eligible American has the ability to vote. An original cosponsor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Senator Murray helped reintroduce the bill in October of this year. Following House passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act earlier this summer, Senator Murray called for quick action using all legislative tools available to pass the bill. Senator Murray has also been a vocal advocate for the Freedom to Vote Act, and has pushed for the Senate to take action on the bill.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“M. President, I am here today to talk about our democracy. Here’s what I know about how a democracy works: I go out on the Senate floor every day—just like every other member of this chamber—and I fight for what I believe in.

“I use my voice to do that, and I use my vote to do that. The same is true for every citizen in this country. They use their vote to say what they want the future of our democracy to look like.

“But right now states across the country are taking away that right—their voice. We have to make sure every vote is never taken away—that no voice is taken away—or we will not be a democracy in the future.

“Here’s what’s happening right now—Republican-led legislatures are making it harder to vote for certain groups of people—primarily: Black Americans, Native Americans, young people, and people with disabilities—just because they might vote for Democrats.

“This is a national, coordinated effort to keep Republicans in power at every level of government by keeping Americans from the ballot box. By keeping Americans from using their voice and their vote. Specifically, Republican-led legislatures are passing legislation: making it harder for people to vote by mail, drastically limiting the availability of secure drop boxes—so people can safely drop off their ballots—and reducing early voting days or hours.

“It’s all meant to demoralize and discourage working people from making their voices heard and to make the democratic process so cumbersome. That’s a mom who’s juggling child care and schooling during a pandemic who will look for options to get her ballot in, to get her voice in, to get her vote in—and she won’t be able to find a way to do that with all of her responsibilities.

“Because maybe there’s not a drop box near her—or maybe early voting hours have been cut short, or maybe the new rules about voting by mail are just too complicated. Because of the barriers Republican legislatures are putting up—that mom won’t get to advocate for her kids or her community with her vote.

“And too many Republicans want it to work exactly like that. These far-right politicians also want to pick their own voters—literally drawing lines between communities to reinforce partisan divides.

“Congressional Democrats are working to do the opposite—instead of letting politicians draw maps to rig the outcomes in favor of one party or another, we want to end partisan gerrymandering. Because let’s be clear—people should pick their representatives in the United States of America—not the other way around.

“What we’re seeing happening across the country is undemocratic, and—in no uncertain terms—it is a threat to democracy. And if you don’t believe me—look at what the former president said just this past weekend.

“Donald Trump—the leader of the Republican Party—continues to spread the lie the 2020 election was stolen from him. He is working hard—out in the open—to convince every American he can that our free, fair election in 2020 was illegitimate. But even more concerning is the former President’s explicit, stated determination to rig the outcome of future elections.

“In a recent recorded message, Donald Trump said, “We have to be a lot sharper the next time when it comes to counting the vote… Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate.” More important than the candidate?

“What Donald Trump means—in case it wasn’t clear—is that he wants his loyalists to oversee our elections to make sure the outcome is always in his favor. I mean just sit with that. We are not talking about hypotheticals here. The leader of the Republican Party wants to toss democracy out the window and change the outcome of any election results he doesn’t like.

“M. President, history is sitting on our shoulders right now. The American people are looking to us for a way to move forward and protect the right to vote—and this is it. And all that’s standing in our way is Senate procedure—Senate procedure that a majority of us voted to change just last month.

“I understand the reluctance around reforming the filibuster—I do. I understand that we want this institution to work—to be bipartisan when it comes to tackling the big challenges. But here’s the deal: I don’t think that carving out a path to pass voting rights on a simple majority precludes that.

“And in fact—I think it’s past time that we reform the filibuster to make sure the world’s greatest deliberative body, actually deliberates the issues and challenges facing the American people. But today—Senate procedure too often keeps us from that kind of deliberation.

“Senate rules—not unlike the partisan gerrymandering we’re seeing in states across the country—push Democrats and Republicans further into their corners rather than towards collaboration, making it unbelievably easy to block legislative action, and nearly impossible to start it.

“This means Americans do not get to see where elected officials stand on issues as consequential as protecting the right to vote. To even have the debate we are having right now we had to dig through the Senate rules and quite literally repurpose a bill that allows NASA to lease its property otherwise we wouldn’t even be standing here on the floor to have a discussion about voting rights. 

“That does not make sense. It shouldn’t be so difficult to make it so the public can see where each of us stands.

“And let’s remember: these voter suppression laws are all being passed mainly on a partisan basis and with simple majorities. Some have suggested that if we believe these laws are unconstitutional, we should fight them in the courts—take our arguments all the way to the Supreme Court.

“But remember, there are three Supreme Court Justices, all appointed by a simple majority of this Senate—without the filibuster. So let’s recap: Republicans want to appoint judges without a filibuster standing in their way, they want Republican state lawmakers to be able to pass voter suppression laws without a filibuster, but Democrats can’t protect the basic right to vote on a simple majority?

“That’s what we’re talking about here: making Election Day a federal holiday, making sure everyone can vote by mail, ending gerrymandering so that voters can pick their politicians and not the other way around.


“These are simple, straightforward reforms with tremendous significance for our country’s future as a democracy. And the path to getting them done is simple and straightforward too.

“What each of us has to do is decide that our democracy comes before Senate procedure—and then cast our votes. I’ve made my decision, and here’s what I believe—we cannot let the filibuster stop us from protecting every American’s right to vote. If it’s the filibuster or democracy, I’ll choose democracy. If it’s Senate rules or a Senate that works for the American people, I’ll chose a Senate that works.

“And I urge my colleagues—with all my heart, and for the sake of our democracy—to do the same.”

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