“This bill is designed to corrupt the election process permanently, and it is a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that states simply “are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, argued that the bill was trying to fix a voting system that didn’t need fixing, a position that seemed to go against prominent Republican narratives that the 2020 election was supposedly tainted by voter fraud.
But Democrats see an opportunity to press their case for filibuster reform with the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that would establish core national voting rights standards and create independent, nonpartisan commissions to handle the congressional redistricting process.
State-level Republican lawmakers have proposed hundreds of bills this year that would tamp down voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, and the G.O.P. will control the redistricting process next year in many key swing states. Democrats in Congress are looking at this bill as an increasingly urgent bulwark against voting restrictions and gerrymandering that could perpetuate targeted disenfranchisement, tilting the balance of political power for years to come.
Of course, it’s not yet certain that Senate Democrats will even unify in support of the bill. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who votes against his party with some regularity, is the lone Democrat who didn’t sponsor it, and he has yet to signal unequivocal support. If he does get behind it, he would have to work to roll back the filibuster as well (something that he and at least one other Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, haven’t yet gotten behind) in order to make that support mean anything.