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Past Event

Voting rights and wrongs: Democracy legislation in the Senate

Past Event

The For the People Act of 2021, or H.R. 1, passed the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. It is before the Senate as S. 1. The bill covers some of the most foundational aspects of American democracy: voting rights, campaign finance, and ethics rules. S. 1 has remained in the news daily because it would counter many of the 253 proposed and rapidly moving state bills in 43 jurisdictions to tighten restrictions on voting.

In addition, Senate filibuster rules, which currently require 60 votes to pass most legislation, appear to pose an obstacle to the bill’s passage. Some have suggested that consideration of S. 1 may provide an occasion for relaxing those restrictions in whole or in part.

On March 24, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and experts on democracy and Senate procedure as part of a two-panel webinar to discuss S. 1, how it relates to the wave of state legislation around the country, and its likely encounter with the filibuster. Senators Klobuchar and Merkley discussed the bill’s provisions and how it would affect voting-related state legislation. The second panel addressed those issues in the context of Senate procedure and the various proposals for reconsidering the filibuster.

Viewers submitted questions for speakers by emailing events@brookings.edu or via Twitter at @BrookingsGov by using #ForThePeopleAct.

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