Lisa Murkowski scolds Democrats for not seeking compromise for new election laws


Senate Democrats on Wednesday failed for the fourth time this year to advance a bill that would override election laws in the states, prompting liberal lawmakers to renew calls to eliminate the Senate filibuster.

The Democrats were rebuked by Sen. Lisa Murkowski for playing political games by continually trying to pass measures they know are opposed by Republicans and can’t survive in the evenly-split Senate.

“Stop the show votes. Let’s give us space to work cooperatively across the aisle,” Ms. Murkowski, Alaska Republican, said on the Senate floor. She said that if Democrats were interested in passing a measure that would restore trust among voters in elections, they would work with Republicans to find a bill that can pass.

“The goal should be to avoid a partisan bill and not to take failing votes over and over,” she said.

 Earlier, Democrats failed to get enough Senate Republican votes on a procedural motion to allow the Senate to open debate on a bill that would restore the Justice Department’s ability to undo state laws if they are deemed to violate civil rights. The bill, named after the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, would undo a 2013 Supreme Court decision that rescinded the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s requirement for federal approval of new election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

Ms. Murkowski was the only Republican to support the motion, leaving the bill far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster.

Ms. Murkowski said she opposed the bill but backed the procedural motion as a show of the need for the Senate to act in a bipartisan manner. She would have voted against the passage of the bill, she said, because it would “federalize” elections.

Democrats were unmoved by the call to compromise with Republicans. Instead, they set their sights on undoing the filibuster, even though success in rewriting the Senate’s rules is unlikely due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Manchin didn’t see any urgency for scuttling the Senate’s filibuster and held out hope for winning more Republican support.

“We got Murkowski. We just need nine more,” he told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, vowed after the vote to “continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward, even if it means going forward alone.”

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