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GOP senators complain about 'wasting time' after stonewalling voting rights legislation

Senate Republicans wasted more than 10 hours reading the American Rescue Plan aloud last year.

By Josh Israel - January 18, 2022
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Marco Rubio
FILE - In this April 14, 2021 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Rep. Val Demings is planning to challenge Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, giving Democrats a boost in a competitive 2022 race that could decide control of the Senate. That's according to two people with knowledge of the plans. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

Senate Republicans are accusing the Democratic majority of “wasting time” this week by trying to expand voting rights protections, citing inflation as a higher concern.

But the same Republican senators have spent much of the past year running out the clock on critical legislation, including President Joe Biden’s plan to combat inflation.

“We are paying crazy prices on everything, but let[‘]s waste another week on a bill that isn’t going to pass and deals with a votings [sic] rights crisis that doesn’t exist,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted on Tuesday.

“The Senate should be voting on bills to reduce inflation and fix the supply chain crisis,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted on Tuesday. “Instead, we’re wasting time on a dead election takeover bill.”

“Inflation just hit a 40 year high,” noted Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. “And still, Senate Dems remain laser-focused on breaking the Senate to force a federal takeover of our elections.”

Despite strong public support and a string of GOP-run legislatures enacting laws making it harder to vote, Republican senators have been filibustering the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation would restore rules requiring states and localities with a recent history of discriminatory voting and election laws to get changes precleared by the Justice Department.

Although similar bills passed with wide bipartisan support as recently as 2006, just one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), backs the current legislation.

But the outrage that the majority is “wasting time” by debating voting rights over the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes after a year of explicit attempts by the same GOP senators to use up as much of the clock as possible.

Last January, Republicans spent a full month filibustering the Senate’s organizing resolution, preventing the new Democratic majority from taking control of committees and stalling confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees for weeks.

Two months later, they forced the Senate to waste hours and hours during consideration of Biden’s American Rescue Plan by forcing doomed votes on numerous amendments and even making Senate staffers read the bill’s text aloud for over 600 minutes.

They then took advantage of Senate rules to use up still more time, demanding hours be spent debating confirmation for Biden appointees, in protest of the administration’s foreign policy.

In September, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all but admitted that he was forcing Democrats to spend days on a bill to raise the debt ceiling as a way to prevent other legislation from passing.

“There is no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” the Kentucky Republican said in a floor speech.

This also appears to be the GOP’s plan for 2022 and the following two years.

On Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu decided not to run for Senate in 2022 because his party’s sole goal was obstruction.

“They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren’t doing anything,” Sununu said of the current Republican senators who tried to recruit him to run. “It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. OK, so I’m just going to be a roadblock for two years. That’s not what I do.”

Every Republican in the Senate also helped block Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better agenda, which would have invested in climate change and caregiving infrastructure.

Nobel Prize-winning economists and economic ratings agencies predicted its passage would have helped to slow long-term price inflation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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