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The House of Representatives passed a landmark bill on voting rights, elections, campaign finance and ethics reform by a vote of 220-210 on Wednesday.
The For the People Act, congressional Democrats’ top legislative priority, passed with 220 Democrats in support and one Democrat (Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi) and 209 Republicans in opposition. (Two Republicans did not vote.) This encapsulates a major contrast between the nation’s two major political parties: One is pushing to expand access to the ballot, the other is trying to restrict it.
The Republican Party is still led by former President Donald Trump, who just two months ago sought to overturn a free and fair election by invalidating votes in majority-Black cities. More than half of the House Republican caucus backed him. This led directly to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. And now Republicans at the state level are pushing a new wave of voting rights restrictions based on Trump’s election fraud lies, including in Georgia, where Republicans just lost the presidential race and two Senate seats.
Democrats see the march of these voter restrictions as both a direct attack on the principle of voting rights and the prospect of a pluralistic multiracial democracy and a direct threat to their own party’s ability to win majorities. They’re backing the most expansive voting rights legislation in generations in order to stop that attack.
“This is existential,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), the freshman representative to House Democratic Party leadership. “Our democracy is under assault. And if we don’t pass this legislation now, my prediction is we will not have a democracy over the next decade.”
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