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Senate Republicans again block voting rights bill

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Senate Republicans again block voting rights bill
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans again blocked a voting rights bill Wednesday that would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The chamber voted 50-49 in favor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, 10 votes shy of the 60 needed to advance the bill. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer voted against it so he'd have the option of bringing the legislation back up in the future.

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Republicans also blocked an earlier version of the bill -- the Freedom to Vote Act -- in October.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joined Democrats in supporting the legislation after she and a bipartisan group of senators revised the text.

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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.

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from altering their voting rules, after the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled the method used to implement the provision was outdated.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.

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The House passed the legislation in August.

Schumer indicated he'll continue to work to get the legislation passed in the Senate.

"The heirs of Jim Crow are weakening the foundations of our democracy," he tweeted. "Voting rights are too important. We will continue the fight for voting rights and work to find a path forward to defend the most fundamental liberty we have as citizens."

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President Joe Biden called on the Senate to hold a debate and vote on the legislation.

"The right to vote is sacred and constitutional," he said. "It's fundamental to all other rights. The soul of America is at stake."

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