Abrams urges lifting filibuster for voting bill

Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams argued on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that the Senate should suspend the filibuster for the election reform bill passed by the House this month, saying the "protection of democracy is so fundamental that it should be exempt from the filibuster rules."

"On this vote the 'yeas' are 220, and the 'nays' are 210."

In a near party-line vote on March 3, the Democratic-controlled House passed the sweeping election reform bill, which would update voting procedures, increase voter participation and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions.

But it faces long odds in the Senate, where there is a debate among Democrats, who narrowly control the chamber thanks to the two victories in Georgia - where Abrams led successful voter registration efforts - on whether to modify or even eliminate the filibuster, a longstanding fixture that makes it so most legislation cannot advance without the 60 votes needed to break it.

Abrams argued that the filibuster already has been scaled back and does not apply to judicial or Cabinet appointments and some budgetary measures, and should not apply to voting rights legislation either.

Democrats have argued that the legislation is necessary to lower barriers to voting. Republicans have said it would take powers away from the states.

Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of pursuing voter suppression laws for partisan advantage.

For example, a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House in Georgia this month would restrict ballot drop boxes, tighten absentee voting requirements and limit early voting on Sundays, curtailing traditional "Souls to the Polls" voter turnout programs in Black churches.

Video Transcript

- Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams argued on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that the Senate should suspend the filibuster for the election reform bill passed by the House this month, saying the quote, "protection of democracy is so fundamental that it should be exempt from the filibuster rules."

- On this vote, the yeas are 220, and the nays are 210.

- In a near party-line vote on March 3, the Democratic-controlled House passed the sweeping election reform bill, which would update voting procedures, increase voter participation, and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions. But it faces long odds in the Senate, where there is a debate among Democrats who narrowly control the chamber thanks to two victories in Georgia, where Abrams led successful voter registration efforts, on whether to modify or even eliminate the filibuster, a longstanding fixture that makes it so most legislation cannot advance without the 60 votes needed to break it.

Abrams argued that the filibuster already has been scaled back and does not apply to judicial or cabinet appointments and some budgetary measures, and should not apply to voting rights legislation either. Democrats have argued that the legislation is necessary to lower barriers to voting. Republicans have said it would take powers away from the states. Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of pursuing voter suppression laws for partisan advantage.

For example, a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House in Georgia this month would restrict ballot drop boxes, tighten absentee voting requirements, and limit early voting on Sundays, curtailing traditional "Souls to the Polls" voter turnout programs in Black churches.

STACEY ABRAMS: So we've got to vote our hearts out on Tuesday.