Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—the lead sponsor of the For the People Act—issued the following statement today after every Republican voted to block debate on the bill in an initial procedural vote:
“The ballot box is the pulsing heart of any healthy democracy, and we must stand united in rejecting the cancer of partisan attacks on Americans’ freedom to vote. A supermajority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across the country support the For the People Act because Americans of every political stripe believe in fair elections. But today, Republicans in the Senate chose to stand with the powerful and privileged over the people. They abandoned the responsibility to defend the right and freedom of every American to vote. They voted to allow billionaires to buy elections. They voted to allow politicians to gerrymander voting districts, undermining the constitutional vision of equal representation. In short, they abandoned the vision of government of, by, and for the People.
“Today’s vote is the start of this battle, not the end. I’m pleased that all 50 Democrats chose to honor their oath to defend the Constitution by voting to send the For the People Act to debate in the Senate. We will work from this point of unity forward until we successfully defend the fundamental values at stake.
“There is no more important debate for the future of our county. Will the issues that affect everyday Americans be addressed by the Senate? Or will the Republican Party, in the grip of the most powerful corporations, proceed to destroy the ability of the Senate to address these issues? Progress on housing, health care, education, and good paying jobs are all at stake–the fundamentals for thriving families. The ability to address the future of our planet with climate change is at stake. The ability to address equality for LGBTQ Americans is at stake.
“It is said that President Washington referred to the Senate as a cooling saucer. But he certainly didn’t refer to it as a deep freeze. In fact, our founders warned us of the dangers of supermajority obstruction. That obstruction is all too evident at this moment. We must find a way forward to address the critical issues facing America.”