A legislative proposal on voting that Democrats and civil rights groups say is vital to protecting democracy failed Wednesday, after two senators refused to support their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a maneuver Republican delay after a spirited debate.
The outcome was a painful defeat for President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party, at the tumultuous conclusion of his first year in office.
Despite a day of searing debates and speeches that often recalled a time when opponents of civil rights bills resorted to stalling maneuvers in the Senate, the Democrats failed to convince two of their senators opposed to the bill. bill, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to support changing the Senate procedures for this one bill to allow it to move forward with a simple majority.
"This is a moral moment," said Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.
Voting rights advocates warn that Republican-led states across the country are passing laws that make it harder for African-Americans and other minorities to vote by consolidating the location of polling places, requiring certain types of ID and making other changes.
Vice President Kamala Harris led the session, and could break the 50-50 tie in the Senate if necessary, but she withdrew before the final roll call vote. The rule change was defeated in a 52-48 vote because Manchin and Sinema joined the opposition from Republicans.
The night's vote put an end to a bill that has been a top Democratic priority since the party took control of Congress and the White House.
“I have not given up,” Biden said hours earlier during a press conference at the presidential residence.
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