WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after 48 Republican Senators filibustered beginning debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation that would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965:
“In 2006, the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act passed the Senate unanimously. Today, just 15 years later, and despite support from a bipartisan majority, all Republicans but one filibustered to block even debating this legislation. That fact is a sad indictment of our nation’s political polarization and how viciously the ‘Big Lie’ has fueled the GOP’s war on voting rights.
“There’s wide agreement that the Senate minority should have the opportunity to have a real say on the issues before the Senate, and that this body is not meant to be a rubber stamp for the majority. But when the filibuster is used to block having a debate on the most foundational law protecting our fundamental right as American citizens, it’s an egregious abuse and deeply damaging to our constitutional vision.
“We must restore the Senate’s ability to take on the big challenges, to debate the big issues and consider the views of senators from both sides of the aisle, and, ultimately, to vote on legislation. We must restore balance to the Senate. Our most fundamental rights and freedoms hang in the balance, and no parliamentary rule will ever be more important than our bedrock rights as Americans.”
Merkley has been a leading voice on voting rights in the U.S. Senate. For more than a decade, Merkley has led the charge to address Senate obstruction and dysfunction and restore the Senate as a deliberative legislative body so that it can tackle the big issues facing the American people.