A Senate Rules Committee hearing is expected to get heated Tuesday during debate on a federal election reform bill that Republicans call a would-be “power grab.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted Monday evening that he will put up a fight against the bill, HR 1, which passed the House in a party-line vote.
“Democrats’ partisan power-grab ‘election reform’ bill is not about voting rights. It’s about letting Washington Democrats control the terms of political debate and all 50 states’ election laws. Republicans will expose this attempted D.C. takeover in tomorrow’s hearing,” McConnell tweeted.
Democrats say the bill is needed to override GOP state laws that passed after the 2020 election, including ones that require IDs for absentee ballots.
The package has become a rallying cry for both sides, even though it has little chance of passing the Senate due to a 60-vote supermajority required for most bills.
McConnell, who is one of nine Republicans on the Rules Committee, recently said the bill “would neuter voter I.D. in all 50 states, make the Federal Election Commission a partisan body, and legalize ballot harvesting, where paid political operatives can show up carrying stacks of other people’s ballots.”
Prominent Republicans on the committee include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). On the Democratic side, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) chairs the committee and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer serves as a member.
Although the committee is evenly divided between parties, legislation can still pass to the Senate floor with a tied vote.
Republicans also oppose provisions in the bill that would establish new 6:1 matching funds for political candidates and that would forbid states from requiring people to show an ID when they request an absentee ballot.
Although the procedural filibuster stands in the way, Schumer (D-NY) recently claimed that the bill “could very well cause the Senate to evolve.”
But Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have defended the filibuster and a handful of other Democrats are noncommittal — meaning Democrats, with a razor-thin 50-50 advantage, likely cannot scrap the 60 vote threshold.
Under Biden, Democrats have had the most legislative opportunity using special budget reconciliation rules that bypass the 60 vote threshold in the Senate. But those rules ban extraneous content. For example, Democrats were barred from increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour when passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in March.