Dems Remain Divided On S.1, While Republicans Are Uniformly Opposed

Democrat Leaders Are Still Struggling To Get All Their Members To Support Their Nakedly Partisan Election Takeover, With Significant Numbers Of Dems Expressing Concerns Both Privately And Publicly, As Republicans Have Maintained Strong, United Opposition


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[Democrats’] marquee bill, S.1, is such a brazen political power-grab that the question isn’t even whether it could earn bipartisan support. The question is how wide the bipartisan opposition will be. This is the bill the Democratic Leader has placed at the vanguard of his campaign to destroy the filibuster. Even though multiple members of his own majority are now on the record objecting to it. Make no mistake: Failing to sell reckless, wholesale changes to our democracy isn’t proof that the guardrails should be removed. It’s a reminder that they’re there for a reason.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/07/2021)

  • “We have taken a good hard look at how the American public would feel about this. They clearly oppose most of the major provisions. They oppose turning the Federal Election Commission into a partisan operation, in other words going from a judge to a prosecutor. They overwhelmingly oppose using public dollars, taxpayer dollars, to spend on political campaigns. They overwhelmingly support what is prevented in H.R. 1 which is photo ID at the polls. So, think of this as exactly what it is, a partisan effort by the majority to take over at the federal level all of American elections. They’ve been trying to do this for several years, by the way. The rationale for doing it has basically changed each year, but the core desire they have is to federalize all elections to try and achieve a benefit for the Democrats at the expense of the Republicans. Not surprisingly, there will not be a single Republican who supports it.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 6/15/2021)


There Are Still Not 50 Democrat Votes For S.1, As A Significant Number Of Senators Have Expressed Reservations Publically And Privately: ‘We’re Not Going To Get 50 Written As-Is’

“[W]hile few Democrats are willing to publicly say so, the details of the more than 800-page bill — which would radically reshape the way elections are run and make far-reaching changes to campaign finance laws and redistricting — have become a point of simmering contention.” (“Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Pushing Through Voting Rights Bill,” The New York Times, 3/30/2021)

  • “Some senators on the Democratic side have expressed qualms at the bill’s scope. Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he had issues with the breadth of the bill, and would favor jettisoning some parts of it, especially a provision that would begin taxpayer financing of elections.” (The New York Times, 6/15/2021)

“Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to bring the bill to the floor … but divisions within his own caucus could make that a risky political move. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the only Democrat who is not a co-sponsor of the original legislation, but other Democrats have expressed concerns with the current draft of the bill in private meetings. One of those, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, raised his issues at a private Democratic meeting last month, arguing that the bill still needed to be changed in certain places in order to take what had been a messaging bill from the House a practical piece of legislation.” (“Senate Democrats Face Tough Test Of Unity With Voting Rights Bill,” CNN, 6/03/2021)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “Of course, some in my party have argued that now is the time to discard such bipartisan voting reforms and embrace election reforms and policies solely supported by one party. Respectfully, I do not agree. I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. For as long as I have the privilege of being your U.S. senator, I will fight to represent the people of West Virginia, to seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.” (Sen. Manchin, Op-Ed, “Joe Manchin: Why I’m voting against the For the People Act,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 6/06/2021)

CNN’s JAKE TAPPER: “I want to turn to another issue here at home, voting rights. Senator Joe Manchin wrote an op-ed this morning and saying that he will not support the voting rights legislation called the For the People Act. … As you know, it’s not just Manchin. There are other Senate Democrats, there are Democratic state election officials who have concerns about the legislation as written. Do you support the bill as written?”
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): No, I think there are things that can be modified. And Chuck Schumer knows that and Amy Klobuchar. I have said that all along. I -- it’s a 800- or 900- or 1,000-page bill. There are clearly some things I think need to be negotiated. And I think Joe Manchin realizes that.” (CNN, 6/06/2021)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): “We’re not going to get 50 written as-is, we’re having to shave and massage it.” (“Senate Dems Don’t Know How to Salvage Their Voting Bill,” The Daily Beast, 6/14/2021)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it. But I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.” (“Progressives Want To Tighten Screws Beyond Manchin And Sinema,” The Hill, 6/12/2021)

‘H.R. 1/S. 1 Also Includes Provisions Long Opposed By The GOP And Even Some Democratic Constituencies’

“H.R. 1/S. 1 also includes provisions long opposed by the GOP and even some Democratic constituencies. They include:
— Effectively nullifying some voter ID requirements.
— Instituting new donor disclosure requirements for dark money spending in politics. (The ACLU also opposes this provision as overly broad.)
— Creating a new public financing system for campaigns. (Moderate Democrats privately hate this provision.)
— Shifting the power to redistrict from state legislatures to independent commissions. (Several Congressional Black Caucus members dislike this idea.)” (“Politico Playbook: Manchin Comes Face To Face With His Critics,” Politico, 6/08/2021)

“Even some Democrats are uncomfortable with the act’s breadth, including an advancement of statehood for the District of Columbia with its assurance of two more senators, almost certainly Democratic; its public financing of elections; its nullification of most voter identification laws; and its mandatory prescriptions for early and mail-in voting.” (The New York Times, 6/14/2021)


REMINDER: This ‘Sweeping Liberal Wish List’ Was Written In 2019 And ‘Largely Viewed As A Messaging Bill,’ All Of Which ‘Has Undermined Democratic Claims That The Fate Of The Republic Relies On Its Passage’

LEADER McCONNELL: “A few years ago, when majorities of Democrats were mistakenly convinced that foreigners had hacked voting machines and tampered with tallies in 2016, this was marketed as an election security bill. But it keeps morphing to suit new headlines. Lately it’s been called a racial justice bill. Some Senators say it’s really a response to some recent state-level legislation… even though their bill predates those bills by multiple years. A partisan power-grab in search of a justification.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/12/2021)

“When the bill was written it was largely viewed as a messaging bill, meant to be used to make a political point rather than pass …” (“Democrats Mull Overhaul Of Sweeping Election Bill,” The Hill, 6/13/2021)

“Democrats’ proposal to reshape the political system was born after they took over the House in 2019. They quickly put together a sweeping bill with new federal standards and rules that touch nearly every aspect of the campaigning and election administration process …” (“Senate Dems Don’t Know How to Salvage Their Voting Bill,” The Daily Beast, 6/14/2021)

“[T]he sweep — critics say overreach — of the Democrats’ … For the People Act, has undermined Democratic claims that the fate of the republic relies on its passage.” (The New York Times, 6/14/2021)


In Stark Contrast, Senate Republicans Remain United In Their Staunch Opposition To Democrats’ Blatant Power Grab

LEADER McCONNELL: “A one-party takeover of our political system. That’s what Senate Democrats brought to the Rules Committee [for a markup in May]. Their side’s top priority for multiple years now…. There’s no crisis. Our Democratic friends just want the power to re-wire our democracy on a partisan basis. S. 1 would take the Federal Election Commission, the bipartisan panel that regulates elections and private citizens’ speech, and make it a partisan body run by Democrats. It would let Washington Democrats act like a nationwide Board of Elections on steroids, neutering popular things like Voter I.D. and forcing legalized ballot harvesting onto all 50 states. This bill would let bureaucrats snoop around more in free speech… attack citizens’ privacy so dramatically that even the liberal ACLU is unhappy… and even send public funds directly to politicians! Republicans put forward amendments to fix these things. If Democrats had wanted real bipartisan solutions, Republicans were there, at the table, and ready. But Democrats voted us down. They wouldn’t even let us redirect that public money to the opioid crisis! They wanted that cash for their own campaigns. This partisan power grab failed to advance out of committee for the same reason it must never become law as written: It will shatter public confidence in our democracy if the Democratic Party decides it can rig the rules.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/16/2021)

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), Senate Rules & Administration Committee Ranking Member: “Democracies benefits from local responsibility. One political party, however, thinks this bill will give it an electoral advantage. They have thought that for about 20 years. This is the compilation of 20 years of Democrats in the Congress thinking, what could we do to change the election law that would be helpful for us? That is where we are in this legislation. It was written by one party alone. It has been steered through Congress by one party alone. It has not actually been seen by anybody in the other party yet, and the majority leader says this bill, which probably still is going to be about 800 pages, will come to the floor next week. In both Chambers of Congress, there has been bipartisan opposition to the bill and no bipartisan support for this bill.” (Sen. Blunt, Congressional Record, S.4566, 6/16/2021)

SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “[N]ext week, the Senate Democrats are going to waste an entire week on S. 1, a bill that they know will not pass, and represents the most radical, hostile takeover of state elections that we have ever seen. And, when it comes to elections in this country, the Constitution provides that states have sovereignty there. That’s the way it’s always worked, and there isn’t anything in this bill that I can imagine the American people are going to want to see enacted to law, whether it’s having taxpayers pay for federal elections, or whether it’s politicizing the FEC, or whether it’s codifying ballot harvesting or doing away with voter ID. This is a piece of legislation that needs to die and die quickly, and it’s regrettable that the Senate Democrats have decided to waste an entire week of the Senate’s floor time when there are so many important issues we ought to be dealing with …” (Sen. Thune, Press Conference, 6/15/2021)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): “What Chuck Schumer is focused on [is] going after … the rights of states to decide how voting is done in their states, a complete federal takeover of the election process in America…. That’s not what Americans want. What the Democrats are proposing is eliminating voter ID. That’s where people, when you go and ask for a ballot, and you tell them who you are, you need to actually show an identification to show it is who you say you are. Great majorities of American people believe that is exactly the way voting should be done and you can have integrity in the ballots.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Conference, 6/15/2021)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “[I]n each new Congress, the bill number S. 1 is a sign of the majority’s priority legislation. It says a lot about the new Democrat majority that the bill they chose to design as S. 1 prioritizes themselves. This bill creates a Federal campaign fund to finance the expenses of candidates for Congress. Instead of addressing the important issues that are on the minds of my fellow Iowans--like the rising cost of gasoline, bread, milk, and all sorts of household goods--this bill literally takes [public] money … puts it into the campaign coffers of Washington politicians. Rather than helping to get Americans back to work, the Democrats’ top priority, again, is S. 1. Their top priority is to create a Federal jobs program for political consultants and pollsters, taxpayer-subsidized robocalls interrupting your family dinner, junk mail cluttering your mailbox, and attack ads blaring--yes--on your TV…. That is right. The bill subsidizes politicians’ campaigns--your tax dollars helping to elect politicians who oppose your values…. While the Democrats call the bill the For the People Act, a more apt title would be ‘Fund the Politicians Act.’” (Sen. Ernst, Congressional Record, S.4571, 6/16/2021)

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): “It’s about the federalization of elections, an election power grab. I believe it lacks credibility. It is really about a way to implement absurd and downright un-American provisions in the bill that prioritize power over the will of the people…. I am glad to see that some of my Democratic colleagues are finally acknowledging the concerns with this bill…. The bill also would make the Federal Elections Commission, which oversees our elections and our finances, which is now neutral 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans on the commission as it always has been, it would make it into a partisan majority vote…Do we really want a political organization making those [decisions]? Not when we’ve had a nonpartisan FEC for years … The disaster doesn’t stop with politicizing the FEC. It would also remove the authority of states to draw district maps and would mandate how you do that. Our states can figure out what’s best …” (Sen. Capito, Press Release, 6/16/2021)

  • SEN. CAPITO: “The biggest demonstration in opposition to this bill has come from West Virginia County Clerks Association. They adopted a resolution in opposition to S. 1 that 54 of the 55 county clerks in my state signed. These are Republican and Democrat county clerks. They raise numerous grievances, many of which I’ve talked about…they fully reject the usurping of what is their constitutionally-based responsibility to run elections safely, securely, and on time. I appreciate the letter from our clerks and understand their deep, deep concerns.” (Sen. Capito, Press Release, 6/16/2021)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “[H]ere is the bottom line: Each State has the authority to determine the ‘times, places, and manner of holding elections.’ Where does that come from? Well, that is article I of the Constitution of the United States of America. But our Democratic colleagues insist on pushing for a one-size-fits-all mandate that turns federalism, including the Constitution itself, on its head. Senator Schumer, the Senator from New York, has said that this month, the Senate will vote on a bill called S. 1, which is the Democrats’ effort to commandeer control of elections from the States. The bill is so radical that Members of his own party have lined up against it, and it is easy, on superficial inspection, to see why…. This Democratic proposal would stop States, would actually block the States from requiring voter identification--something you have to do when you buy a six-pack of beer or cigarettes, for those who still smoke, or get on an airplane or even enter a Federal building. You have to produce an identification to do so. But S. 1 would prohibit the States from making that requirement when exercising your most sacred right as a citizen…. S. 1, this Federal commandeering of State-run elections, is rife with opportunities for fraud. It mandates things like automatic voter registration and ballot drop boxes, while making it more difficult for the States to maintain accurate voter lists. It would even go so far as to make it harder for the States to remove dead voters from their rolls…. Why would Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi be pushing this takeover of State-run elections? Well, it is pretty obvious. They think that our Democratic colleagues will reap the benefits of hijacking State election laws. That is really their goal here. They want to put a thumb on the scale of future elections. They want to take power away from the voters and the States and give themselves every partisan advantage they can.” (Sen. Cornyn, Congressional Record, S.4003, 6/09/2021)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): “Democrats decided to take their partisan election attack nationwide. This is what led to H.R. 1, the so-called by Speaker Pelosi ‘For the People Act.’ The title alone reveals it as a propaganda bill. They didn’t take the time to draft something from scratch since the purpose was partisan messaging, not enacting thoughtful reform of our election laws. They just cobbled together every election mandate bill introduced by a Democrat in recent years into one giant package, taking little care to make sure it all made sense together and without working with local election officials to see if it was even a practical approach.” (Sen. Grassley, Congressional Record, S.2407, 5/10/2021)

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): “This is what you will find in [Democrats’] S. 1 election takeover bill: It would require States to allow ballot harvesting and no-excuse mail-in balloting, which we know from experience will open the door to fraud. We know this…. It would also overrule State-level voter ID laws … It would weaponize the FEC against minority parties, mandate donor disclosure, and require the Federal Government to match private contributions. You heard me right. They want your tax dollars to fund people who are running for office even if you don’t agree with their opinions. Your money would be going to them to match the contributions that they are raising. By the way, it is a 6-to-1 match. Pretty convenient, isn’t it? … Here is what I say to my Democratic colleagues: You are not going to get the benefit of a quiet news cycle on this. America is watching and listening, and they are paying attention…. Your attempt to sneak through this unconstitutional, partisan power grab is not going to go unnoticed. People are paying attention, and my Republican colleagues and I are going to stand up against it. Members of your own caucus have said they will not stand for it.” (Sen. Blackburn, Congressional Record, S.3952, 6/07/2021)

SEN. DEB FISCHER (R-NE): “I would like to speak for a moment about S. 1. This bill says that politicians and unelected bureaucrats who spend their entire careers in the same few square miles of Washington, DC, know how to run Nebraska’s elections better than Nebraskans. I was glad to see the senior Senator from West Virginia come out against S. 1 … As I said at the Rules Committee’s markup for S. 1 a few weeks ago, I simply cannot understand why so many of my Democratic colleagues would like to hand over the control of our elections to the Federal Government. To take one example, this bill would allow candidates for the Senate to receive Federal funding for their campaigns through a new program supported by Federal dollars. That would include a 6-to-1 match for contributions up to $200, meaning that, if a donor gives $100, Federal dollars coming from taxpayers would match that with $600 more. During the bill’s markup, I offered an amendment to prevent sitting Members of the Senate from benefiting from this windfall, but it was rejected by all of my Democratic colleagues on the committee. This does not help voters make informed decisions. This only helps those of us who are already here in Congress. The changes S. 1 proposes only get more radical from there…. S. 1 would also repeal an appropriations amendment that helps ensure the IRS does not infringe on the First Amendment rights of taxpayers who contribute to nonprofits. Allowing the IRS to possess this information when it is not a campaign finance enforcement agency only empowers bad actors at the agency to target groups that it dislikes. This is especially problematic given the recent leak of sensitive taxpayer information, and the IRS’s history of targeting tax-exempt applicants solely based on their political leanings.” (Sen. Fischer, Congressional Record, S.4537, 6/15/2021)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): “[T]he Democrats want to call their voting bill the For the People Act, but I would suggest you not be fooled by the marketing. This bill has nothing to offer the people of our country. The so-called For the People Act is, in fact, a partisan takeover of our elections that seeks a government of the Democrats, by the Democrats, and for the Democrats. So it is no wonder that it is their very top priority and it is literally the first bill filed in both the House and the Senate this year. If this bill passes, it will shatter our Nation’s faith in the fairness of our democracy, weaken the security of our elections, and attempt to entrench Democratic rule in the swamp, unchallenged, for decades to come…. the Democrats like to say that they have to pass S. 1 in a response to these State election reforms, but I would point out that this bill was introduced in the House 2 years ago, before the States passed any of the election reforms…. So no matter what the conditions, the Democrats think it is always time to nationalize our elections.” (Sen. Cotton, Congressional Record, S.4533, 6/15/2021)

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK): “I understand that [the majority] are soon going to be forcing a vote on a bill they are naming the For the People Act, and it is anything but for the people. For those unfamiliar, this is a Democrat bill to nationalize our elections and to give Washington unprecedented and unconstitutional power over States and local governments…. Now, keep in mind, this bill is not new. House Democrats passed this back in 2019, right on party-line votes. In fact, the only bipartisan aspect of the bill is its opposition … The Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary, Paul Ziriax, shared with me his strong concerns about this bill and what it would do to my State of Oklahoma and our election integrity laws. It would impose policies that contradict State law, like legalizing ballot harvesting and preventing voter ID for in-person voting…. As he is responsible for managing the elections in Oklahoma, he knows how bad this would be for Oklahomans. Today, Oklahoma’s elections are safe, secure, and fair. Secretary Ziriax said it best in 2019, when he testified before the House, that Oklahoma’s voting system is ‘one of the most reliable, most accurate, most secure, most efficient, most cost-effective, and speediest voting system in the entire world.’  We pride ourselves on that…. It is clear the Democrats are playing politics with S. 1.” (Sen. Inhofe, Congressional Record, S.4570, 6/16/2021)

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): “[T]his legislation takes a system that is actually working quite well and applies drastic, draconian, and desperate election reforms meant to keep Democrats in power…. Now, colleagues, in the history of our country, voting has never been easier than it is right now. That is right. You may not see this in the media, but this is indeed true…. Yet my colleagues on the left would have the American people believe that we are living in an era of extreme suppression or, as President Biden demagogically, dishonestly, and divisively called it, ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ So what exactly is the national Democratic response to this record turnout? Well, they would like to strip election powers away from the States, States like Indiana, and give those powers to Democratic overlords here in Washington, DC. That is how we ended up with S. 1 … national Democrats want to gut popular voter ID laws, like those in the State of Indiana. I know what Hoosiers believe. Hoosiers believe you should have to prove who you are in order to vote. Our voter ID law, incidentally, passed in 2005. It was challenged in the courts, and it was upheld in the Supreme Court of the United States by a vote of 6 to 3. But this bill, this For the People Act, says you don’t have to prove who you are. You don’t have to prove you are who you say you are in order to cast your vote. We will just take you at your word. That seems to me to be ripe for abuse.” (Sen. Young, Congressional Record, S.4571, 6/16/2021)

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): “Nancy Pelosi’s Power Grab Act lets the federal government take over our elections – which is clearly unconstitutional. Most Americans believe that ballot harvesting is wrought with fraud and wrong, and frankly dilutes your vote. This bill incentivizes ballot harvesting and in turn devalues your vote. Most Americans believe that voter ID brings integrity to the election process – Kansas requires voter ID and its working. This bill takes integrity out of the election process. Most Americans don’t want their tax dollars going to fund elections of the opposite party. And I can guarantee they don’t want to see more political attack ads funded with their hard-earned tax dollars. Here’s what I’m for: I want to make it easier to vote, and harder to cheat. H.R. 1 just another unconstitutional power grab.” (Sen. Marshall, Press Release, 6/16/2021)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): “The interesting thing about S. 1 and H.R. 1 is that they make it much easier to cheat in the process. They set up a different system where you can actually have no voter ID. And it is not just no voter ID; it is no voter ID and same-day registration combined. So you can literally walk into a polling place that you are not registered for, not show an ID, and say ‘I am not registered. I would like to vote’ and not show an ID and also vote that same day in that spot. There is no way to be able to verify, then, one way or the other if this person is voting twice because no one knows…. In my State, all the [absentee] ballots are done ahead of time--all of them. If you do a mail-in ballot, those ballots are opened up early on. There are Republicans and Democrats. There are poll watchers who are watching it. All of the evaluations for the quality of the ballots are all tested before election night. So that is all finished. So when election night is done, by 10:30 in the evening, all the ballots have been counted and election results are out. Oh, no, that won’t work. My Senate Democratic colleagues want to give an additional 10 days for ballots to continue to trickle in. So, literally, what we had in this last election where it was for days that no one even knew how many ballots were coming in, and the uncertainty that that creates in the process, they want to make sure that exists in every State, not just in a few States.” (Sen. Lankford, Congressional Record, S.2507-2508, 5/13/2021)



Related Issues: Campaigns & Elections, Senate Democrats