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Election Bill Slammed as a 'Power Grab', Now It Could be Dead on Arrival in Senate

Person Voting AS
Person Voting AS

The Senate is getting ready to debate historic legislation on election reform Tuesday but it could be dead on arrival as Democrats face strong GOP opposition.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) needs 60 votes to begin debate on the bill which would mean winning over 10 Republican senators. Failing that, he can push for support from all 50 Democrats, which would allow him to blame Republicans for blocking the bill.

A slimmed-down proposal from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) aims to make voting easy by turning Election Day into a national holiday. It would also mandate that states allow fifteen days of early voting, require them to send absentee ballots to all eligible voters, and ban partisan gerrymandering.

Democrats point out that the Constitution provides for federal oversight of elections but Republicans say the bill goes too far.

"It takes the election system in our country and federalizes it so it's a federal takeover of our election system," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called it "the biggest power grab in the history of the country" on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. "It mandates ballot harvesting. No voter ID. It does away with states being able to redistrict when you have population shifts."

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki acknowledged Monday that the bill's chances are slim but said the President will continue to push the issue. 

"The president's effort to continue that fight doesn't stop tomorrow at all. This will be a fight of his presidency," she said.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is gearing up for fresh talks on infrastructure this week. President Biden is meeting again with the lead GOP negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 

Manchin praised both sides for already moving towards the middle.

"The President has gone from $2.25 trillion down to $1 trillion. The Republicans have come up quite a bit from where they started," he said.

Funding the bill is one of the biggest debates. Republicans want to use monies already approved by Congress but the White House says there's not enough. 

"The President has proposed a range of ways to pay for this package," said Psaki. "One of them is ensuring the highest, wealthiest individuals in this country pay for what they're supposed to pay as it relates to taxes, additional tax enforcement."

Psaki also said that Biden is encouraged by progress on infrastructure so far and said the President, who spent 35 years in the Senate, relishes the legislative details. 

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