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Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

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Senate Republicans block voting rights bill
Senate Republicans filibustered a Democratic-backed voting rights bill for the second time this year. File Photo by Stefani Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a voting rights bill that would have designated Election Day as a national holiday, among other measures.

The chamber voted 49-51 to end debate, short of the 60 needed to bring up the bill. It's the second time Republicans have filibustered to prevent a Democratic voting bill from advancing, NBC News reported.

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In addition to designating an Election Day holiday, the Freedom to Vote Act would allow automatic and same-day voter registration.

Though Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer supported the legislation, he voted against advancing it so that he could bring it up for a vote again in the future.

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"The fight to protect our democracy is far from over in the United States Senate," Schumer tweeted. "As soon as next week, I am prepared to bring the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the floor."

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named after the congressman and civil rights activist from Alabama, was passed by the House in August. The bill seeks to strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act that has been weakened by a pair of Supreme Court rulings.

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If signed into law the bill would restore the Justice Department's ability to block certain jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination from altering their voting rules, after the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled the method used to implement the provision was outdated.

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It would also expand the ability of minorities to challenge state laws they find to be discriminatory in response to a 6-3 Supreme Court decision to overturn the provision earlier this year.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted against advancing Wednesday's bill, but indicated she's open to passing the House elections bill.

"Americans need confidence in the integrity of our elections, and we can't instill that trust with a wholly partisan effort," she said in a statement. "We also aren't going to achieve that by micromanaging or federalizing state elections systems -- which is the direction the Freedom to Vote Act takes.

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"There is nothing more fundamental than the right to vote."

Daniel Uria contributed to this report.

This week in Washington

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall on Thursday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

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