Every Senate Republican and two Democrats rejected changes to the filibuster and in doing so blocked legislation to protect and expand voting rights Thursday. Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted to protect the parliamentary rule infamous for its use by racists to stymie civil rights. Voting rights have become threshold questions for advocacy groups focused on other issues, including the League of Conservation Voters, in recognition of the integral role of voting rights in the furtherance of their mission.
Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.), who once happily posed in front of a Confederate flag, suggested African Americans were not “Americans” and that the voting rights legislation was unnecessary because they vote at similar rates.
Voting rights advocates vowed to fight on. “We have set extraordinary groundwork for change and the country will not let this fight end,” Martin Luther King III said. “Ending the filibuster is part of the national conversation in a way it’s never been before — people now know the filibuster is not etched in the Constitution, but rather a tool of suppression, and the voting rights secured by my father are under attack.” (Senate vote: The Guardian, Reuters, New York Times $, CNN, USA Today; McConnell: NewsOne, Business Insider, USA Today, The Guardian, Axios, CNN; Continued fight: NewsOne)