In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "For the People Act" but it never saw the light of day in the Republican-dominated Senate. Now, Senate Bill 1 "For the People Act," is similarly poised, but it may actually pass.
Comedienne Amy Schumer's video supporting the "For the People Act" promises viewers that if they will hear her through, they'll get to see her cute toddler's endorsement at the end of the video.
"For the People Act" would make election day a national holiday, let voters cast their ballots any time over a two-week early voting period, accommodate mail-in voting, and let voters register as late as Election Day.
I'm a big fan of convenience. A few times in younger days, I skipped voting when pressed for time as a busy mom, or was called out of town without enough advance notice to request, be mailed and mail back an absentee ballot. Even now, it would be convenient to vote when I can save a trip.
Watch as S.B. 1 becomes a flashpoint for Republican doomsday claims. The foundation of American democracy is letting the people of America choose who sets policies. Still today, some laws filter-out Black voters through inadvertently restricting voting based on privileged behaviors such as assuming voters have a leisurely amount of time to vote, can drive afar to vote, or requiring specific identification that only a vehicle owner would have, etc. Native Americans got the vote in 1924 in some states, and in other states, Indigenous people got the vote in the 1960s. Women have only voted for about 100 years. The boat should have sailed before now on archaic voter restrictions.
The Republican Party lost footing in November. The Senate became balanced 50/50 along party lines. With an already progressive House of Representatives, there is a Senate battle brewing: Pass "For The People Act" across party lines, or lose the last tool in the box allowing a minority of even one senator to blockade a vote by filibustering.
Debate rules allow every senator to speak as desired, on any bill. Traditionally, this disrupted Senate business until the talkathon ended, unless a 60-senator supermajority called the question by cloture. Starting in 1975, other votes could be worked around a symbolic, rather than actual, talkathon if they would pass with 60 votes. Now, almost always, Senate bills need 60 votes to cloture past the gridlock.
There is growing support among Democrats to abolish the Senate filibuster or carve out exceptions such as was done for judicial appointments. Both parties understand streamlining the votes back to 51 from 60 will result in more laws, faster - regardless of which is the majority party. Another option is returning to the traditional rule that lawmakers stand and deliver. This would end some filibusters because, as we saw in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," speaking is eventually grueling.
I'm for ending the anonymous, painless symbolic ability to waylay a bill and bottleneck lawmakers' votes. Surprisingly, there is a movement among young voters to pass the "For The People Act." Teen Vogue featured an interview with Amy Klobuchar on the subject. Students for Bernie is for eliminating the filibuster so this bill can pass. Billie Eilish, Joe Jonas, Alicia Keys and Ariana Grande have joined Faith Hill, Jada Pinkett Smith, Shaq O'Neal and many other celebrities coming out in favor of it.
Independent-minded Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is proposing we pass the voting bill with a limited exception from the filibuster without totally dismantling its efficacy for the future. Other Democrats are seeing this bill's popularity as the natural opportunity to vanquish the onerous bottleneck, thus streamlining the Senate's ability to actually legislate. Watch as a consensus develops on how much change in this Senate rule should get.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.