Klobuchar, Grassley Statements on Judiciary Committee Passage of First Major Technology Bill on Competition To Advance to Senate Floor Since the Dawn of the Internet

Source: United States Senator for Minnesota Amy Klobuchar

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will help restore competition online by stopping dominant digital platforms from unfairly preferencing their own products and services.

Bill now advances out of the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the statements below following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act by a vote of 16-6. Klobuchar and Grassley introduced this legislation in October to restore competition online by stopping dominant digital platforms from unfairly preferencing their own products and services.

“American prosperity was built on a foundation of open markets and fair competition, but right now our country faces a monopoly problem, and American consumers, workers, and businesses are paying the price,” said Klobuchar. “As dominant digital platforms – some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen – increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace. This bill will do just that, while also providing consumers with the benefit of greater choice online. I’m proud to lead this much-needed legislation alongside Senator Grassley, Chair Durbin, and a bipartisan group of our colleagues. Now that it has passed the Judiciary Committee, we are one step closer to it passing the Senate and being signed into law.”

“Everyone acknowledges the problems posed by dominant online platforms. Our legislation sets out to level the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs who need to operate on these platforms, as well as benefit the consumers that use them. While solutions like these are long overdue, today’s committee approval is a huge step forward for consumers and competition in America. I look forward to continued collaboration with Senator Klobuchar and others to get this bill passed in the full Senate,” said Grassley.

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and endorsed by companies including Roku, DuckDuckGo, Yelp, Spotify, and Match Group. Earlier this week, more than 35 small and medium tech companies sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging it to advance the legislation.

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Cortez Masto & Rosen Applaud Judicial Nominees for Nevada’s U.S. District Court Advancing Through Committee

Source: United States Senator for Nevada Cortez Masto

January 20, 2022

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) announced today that Judge Cristina Silva and Professor Anne Traum, President Biden’s nominees for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, advanced out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. The nominees now head to a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

“Judge Silva and Professor Traum are remarkable, fair minded, and highly qualified women who will serve Nevada well on the federal bench. I look forward to voting for their confirmation as soon as possible so they can get to work advancing justice,” said Senator Cortez Masto.”

“I’m very glad to see that the nominations of Judge Silva and Professor Traum have advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support,” said Senator Rosen. “These highly qualified nominees are poised to fill federal judicial vacancies on the U.S. District Court of Nevada that have been open for several years. I look forward to seeing these nominations brought to the Senate floor and will keep working with my colleagues for their swift confirmation.”

The White House selected these two nominees from a list of candidates vetted by the senators’ bipartisan judicial commissions. Traditionally, U.S. Senators confer with the White House and propose candidates for the President to nominate to fill judicial vacancies in their home state.

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Toomey Commends Bipartisan Effort to Halt Radicalization of Senate

Source: United States Senator for Pennsylvania Pat Toomey

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey released the following statement opposing a change in Senate rules that would enable passage of Democrats’ federal election takeover on a party-line vote rather than the normal 60-vote threshold.
“Democrats’ dishonest accusations about voter suppression in no way justify the federal takeover of America’s elections system nor the elimination of the filibuster—the central mechanism for encouraging deliberation and bipartisanship in the Senate.
“Voter suppression based on race is illegal, as it should be. In fact, over the last several elections, minority turnout and representation have steadily increased, and many of the same state laws that Democrats demonize actually expanded voter access beyond that of many Democrat-controlled states.
“This brazen attempt to upend over 200 years of rules that encourage bipartisanship clearly is not about voting rights. The proposed federal election takeover consists of longstanding Democrat priorities that were introduced long before the feigned outrage of this past year, including the public financing of political campaigns and the suppression of speech in ways even the ACLU opposes.
“This effort is about making elections processes more favorable to Democrats and enabling the passage of President Biden’s stalled agenda. Thankfully, due to the foresight of Republicans and the courage of two of my Democratic colleagues, this misguided effort failed.” 

Van Hollen, Cardin Praise Judiciary Committee Approval of Judge Julie Rubin for Maryland U.S. District Court Seat

Source: United States Senator for Maryland Chris Van Hollen

January 20, 2022

Senators recommended Judge Rubin to President Joe Biden

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) praised the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan approval of Judge Julie Rubin to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Maryland.

“We are pleased that the Judiciary Committee favorably recommended Judge Julie Rubin,” the senators said. “Judge Rubin brings tremendous experience to the federal bench having served as a Baltimore City Circuit Judge for nearly a decade, where she handles a busy and diverse caseload in our state court.  We’ll be pushing for her swift approval by the full Senate in the coming weeks, and we look forward to her continued public service to Marylanders in upholding the rule of law and providing equal justice for all.”

Judge Rubin was nominated to fill the future vacancy created when Judge Ellen Hollander, appointed by President Obama in 2011, announced her intention in January 2021 to take senior status. President Joe Biden nominated Judge Rubin for this vacancy on November 3, and the Judiciary Committee held hearingconfirmation hearing on December 15. The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated her “well qualified” to serve in the federal judiciary, the highest possible rating. The ABA evaluates the integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament of nominees. 

BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT JUDGE JULIE RUBIN

 Judge Julie Rubin has served as a judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland since 2013. From 2000 to 2012, Judge Rubin worked at Astrachan Gunst Thomas Rubin, P.C. in Baltimore where she handled intellectual property and employment law matters. From 1998 to 2000, Judge Rubin was an associate at another Baltimore law firm, Shapiro and Olander, P.A.

Judge Rubin received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1998 and her B.A., cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College in 1995.



Senator Markey Statement on FERC Decision Not To Rescind Weymouth Compressor Station Authorization

Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts Ed Markey

Washington (January 20, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement today after Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Richard Glick announced that the Commission would not rescind authorization for the Weymouth Compressor Station.

“It is an understatement to say that I am deeply disappointed that FERC did not move to rescind the authorization for the Weymouth Compressor Station,” said Senator Markey. “While Chairman Glick acknowledged that the compressor station’s location should never have been approved, FERC failed to act to protect the families in Weymouth and surrounding cities that already bear the negative health and environmental impacts of multiple industrial facilities in their community. Doing better going forward isn’t going to help the people of Weymouth living right now in the shadow of this dangerous fossil fuel facility. We’re going to fight with legislation, with the agencies, and shoulder-to-shoulder with local leaders and grassroots activists to get the compressor station shut down once and for all.”

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Young, Finance Republicans: Innovation-Killing Government Price Control Mandates Must Not Become Law

Source: United States Senator for Indiana Todd Young

January 20, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, including Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), to send a letter to Senate colleagues emphasizing the wide-ranging drawbacks of the drug price control mandates contained in the House-passed Build Back Better Act(BBBA). 

 

The senators note the tax-and-spending proposal includes a number of problematic drug pricing provisions that risk undermining biomedical innovation, exacerbating inflationary pressures, imposing payment cuts on frontline health care providers, and compromising the United States’ global leadership.  

 

From the letter:

 

“Under the unprecedented and constitutionally dubious system of bureaucratic drug price controls included in the Build Back Better Act, Americans would see fewer new treatments and vaccines, greater inflation pressures, and reductions in health care quality and access for years to come.  The bill would substantially undermine incentives for biomedical innovation, as unaccountable federal officials would compel a growing number of manufacturers each year to partake in a mandatory price-setting program, with non-compliance punished by an impossibly steep penalty of up to 95 percent on gross drug sales across all markets.  Private-sector pricing practices would also come under federal control, moving us closer to a government-run health care system.

 

“BBBA’s government drug pricing mandates would also put access to high-quality health care at risk by burying small businesses in burdensome bureaucratic demands and instituting aggressive payment cuts for frontline health care providers.

 

“…From lifesaving treatments to provider access, BBBA represents an unwarranted step backwards for health care quality and sustainability, and it poses a grave threat to our global competitiveness.  As the Chinese Communist Party and other rivals abroad look to leverage life sciences innovation to seize market dominance and strengthen their defense capabilities, our national security and international leadership demand a more responsible path forward.”

 

Full text of the letter, signed by all Republican members of the Finance Committee, is available here and below. 

 

January 20, 2022

 

Dear Colleague,

 

Over the course of the past year, Americans have faced a range of pressing challenges. From skyrocketing inflation and workforce shortages to rising crime and COVID-19 testing supply strains, this growing list of urgent issues demands consensus-driven policy solutions. Unfortunately, in spite of these struggles, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democratic leadership appear to have chosen to move forward on a reckless tax-and-spending bill that risks exacerbating the problems at hand and creating new ones. 

 

We are deeply concerned with the legislation’s proposed price control mandates for prescription drugs. As a number of independent analyses have indicated, such bureaucratic government-run price-setting schemes pose a credible threat to the creation of new medical treatments. They also jeopardize our efforts to combat inflation, mitigate workforce disruptions, enhance access to care, and maintain our global competitiveness. 

 

Under the unprecedented and constitutionally dubious system of bureaucratic drug price controls included in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), Americans would see fewer new treatments and vaccines, greater inflation pressures, and reductions in health care quality and access for years to come. The bill would substantially undermine incentives for biomedical innovation, as unaccountable federal officials would compel a growing number of manufacturers each year to partake in a mandatory price-setting program, with non-compliance punished by an impossibly steep penalty of up to 95 percent on gross drug sales across all markets. Private-sector pricing practices would also come under federal control, moving us closer to a government-run health care system. 

 

Basic legal protections and safeguards, meanwhile, would have no place in the BBBA plan, as the bill expressly and permanently bans judicial and administrative review of virtually every aspect of the draconian new price control regimes. 

 

According to researchers from the University of Chicago, these problematic policies would slash projected biomedical research and development funding by more than $660 billion in the next decades, resulting in 135 fewer new drug approvals and a potential loss of more than 331 million life years, roughly 31 times the toll inflicted by the pandemic in the U.S., as of last November. As innovators work to produce and enhance vaccines and therapies to curb the incidence and effects of COVID-19, these disincentives for biomedical discovery and development would prove particularly devastating. 

 

Imagine the world today without COVID vaccines or treatments, and imagine a world with a weak or nonexistent pipeline for combating conditions like Alzheimer’s, sickle cell disease, or cancer. These policy proposals imperil our hopes for the lifesaving cures and life-enhancing therapies of tomorrow. 

 

BBBA’s government drug pricing mandates would also put access to high-quality health care at risk by burying small businesses in burdensome bureaucratic demands and instituting aggressive payment cuts for frontline health care providers. An analysis by the nonpartisan American Action Forum found that the Biden Administration finalized more than $200 billion in new regulatory costs in 2021, imposing a staggering 131.2 million new paperwork hours on job creators. The tax-and-spending proposal currently under consideration would double down on this concerning trend toward over-regulation and advance a series of sweeping new government mandates for stakeholders across the health care system. 

 

For health care providers, the bill’s price-setting program would have an even more onerous economic impact, which, according to health care experts at Avalere, would amount to a roughly 40 percent reduction in add-on payments for the providers who furnish the medications most likely to be targeted. The doctors’ office setting would see particularly steep cuts, potentially accelerating health system consolidation and independent practice closures, with stark access implications for patients across the nation. 

 

In short, from lifesaving treatments to provider access, BBBA represents an unwarranted step backwards for health care quality and sustainability, and it poses a grave threat to our global competitiveness. As the Chinese Communist Party and other rivals abroad look to leverage life sciences innovation to seize market dominance and strengthen their defense capabilities, our national security and international leadership demand a more responsible path forward. 

 

We stand ready to work with the administration and our colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to develop policies to help address the myriad challenges facing Americans, including health care access, affordability, and innovation. We must not, however, enable the unproductive and innovation-killing government price control mandates included in BBBA to become law. They would serve only to expand federal control over health care and to undermine Americans’ ability to compete globally, at the expense of the real and pressing health care needs facing our country.

 

Sincerely,

 

Shaheen & Bipartisan Group Introduce Legislation to Counter Russian Aggression Toward Ukraine

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

January 20, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, today introduced the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act with Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). This legislation would provide the President with the enhanced authority to more swiftly enter into lend-lease agreements directly with Ukraine and expedite the delivery of military equipment necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations from a Russian military invasion.

“On the heels of a bipartisan delegation I helped lead to Ukraine, it’s clear the U.S. must take decisive and urgent action to support our Ukrainian partners and deter a Russian incursion. This legislation shows there is bipartisan unity in Congress to provide President Biden with the tools needed to swiftly deliver critical defense capabilities to Ukraine and stand firm against the Kremlin,” said Sen. Shaheen. “This bill ensures bureaucratic hurdles won’t hinder the administration from acting quickly to provide Ukraine with the tools needed to protect civilians should Putin decide to invade. The Kremlin will pay a hefty price if they escalate this crisis, and the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is to help Ukraine defend itself. There is too much at stake; Congress must act swiftly, and most critically – work together – to get legislation across the finish line.”

Senator Shaheen has long led efforts in the Senate to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity against the U.S. and our allies. This week, Senator Shaheen and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to Ukraine as it faces an increasingly belligerent Russia. Yesterday, Senator Shaheen participated in video call with President Biden to debrief on the delegation and discuss next steps. On Christmas Eve, Senators Shaheen participated in a video conference call with President Zelenskyy to discuss the security situation in the country. Last week, Shaheen helped introduce the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, which would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials if President Putin escalates hostile action in or against Ukraine. Through her leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen and Portman announced that through the FY22 NDAA bill, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative has been extended through 2022 with funding increased from $250 million to $300 million per year, with at least $75 million specifically for lethal assistance, as part of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Shaheen also authored an op-ed in the Washington Post with Senator Portman in December, which can be read here. A member of the Ukraine Caucus, Shaheen previously led a bipartisan delegation to Eastern Europe, which included a stop in Ukraine, in June 2021.

As part of the Arms Export Control Act authority, the President can currently lend and lease defense articles to U.S. partners and allies when it is in the United States’ national security interest. However, bureaucratic barriers and other limitations make these authorities impractical for the current crisis facing Ukraine. 

This enhanced lend-lease authority would be specific to Ukraine to help remove obstacles to lending arms to Ukraine. It would not create a new program but would streamline the President’s current authority to lend the defense articles necessary to defend civilian populations in Ukraine. In addition, this legislation would:

  • Require the President to certify to the appropriate congressional committee that any military equipment provided under this authority is necessary to protect vulnerable civilian populations;
  • Require the President or his designee to establish expedited delivery procedures for any military equipment loaned or leased to Ukraine to ensure timely delivery to Ukraine; and
  • Categorize any cyberattack on major critical infrastructure originating from within Russia against Ukraine to be treated as an armed attack by Russia
  • Remain in effect until Russia restores its troops’ presence on the Ukraine border to pre-March 2021 levels.

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Reed Votes to Protect Voting Rights for All Americans

Source: United States Senator for Rhode Island Jack Reed

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a cosponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (S.4), the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747), and the Right to Vote Act (S. 2615), issued the following statement on the need to protect election integrity, safeguard the voting rights of all Americans, and potential changes to Senate procedural rules:

“The right to vote is sacred, the heart of any democracy.  And in a proud, though painful tradition, successive generations of Americans have fought to expand and protect that right and ensure that we as a country live up to our democratic ideals.  Many risked their safety and even gave their lives in the fight for the right to vote.  From Frederick Douglass to Lucy Burns, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to John Lewis, and countless other unnamed and unknown patriots, Americans have long taken it upon themselves to make their union more perfect.

“It is because of the sacrifice and unyielding activism of those brave Americans that the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th amendments were ratified; the Indian Citizenship Act was passed; the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed; and in 1965, the landmark legislation of the Voting Rights Act was enacted.  That transformative law, along with its bipartisan renewals over the following decades, helped set us on a path to representation across the nation that better reflected the diversity of the American people and better ensured the right to vote. 

“We cannot allow these hard-earned advances to be reversed. 

“At the state level, at least 19 states passed laws restricting access to voting in 2021, and a number of states have begun to allow partisan actors to interfere with election processes or even reject election results entirely.  Blatant gerrymandering is diluting the voice of minorities and election procedures are being tampered with as nonpartisan safeguards fall to the wayside.

“In the face of this dire onslaught against our democracy, the Constitution is clear that Congress has both the power and the responsibility to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act and to ensure greater election integrity in our country. 

“And this isn’t a case of so-called Red States and Blue States.  Every state needs to do more to preserve access to the ballot box, and the bill before us ensures that federal elections in every state will be more secure and more accessible to voters.  It sets standards that every state can meet and provides the resources for them to do so.

“Considering the magnitude and urgency of the need for election reforms, I am dismayed by Republicans who have spent months blockading a discussion of these bills on the Senate floor while also refusing to negotiate over any specifics. 

“Sadly, we’ve been here before.  In 1890, then-Representative Henry Cabot Lodge introduced a federal elections bill that would reinforce the 15th amendment and combat the wave of laws disenfranchising Black voters in the South.  Though it passed the House, a week-long Senate filibuster by Southern Democrats and some Western Republicans led to the defeat of the legislation in 1891.  Imagine—where would we be if voting rights legislation had existed in the 1890s instead of having to wait until 1965?  How many thousands of lynchings that took place in those 75 years may have been avoided if Black voters could have had a voice in who was their sheriff, their judge, their mayor, their Representative, their Senator, their President?  How many generations of Black children would have had running water, proper books, and qualified teachers in their school houses? 

“I hope and believe that history will not repeat itself in such a gruesome fashion.  But I do believe that the impact of the current disenfranchisement will be felt acutely in minority communities, by seniors and those with disabilities, and among young people.  Without a voice, their legitimate claims for opportunity and equality will be muted, and huge discrepancies in income, education, and opportunity will be perpetuated.

“We have tried negotiating with the other side.  We have offered an open debate to the other side.  We have held hearings and taken to the floor to outline the dangers of these state voting changes to our democracy, but the other side continues to say “no” to a debate and “no” to a vote. 

“While many of my colleagues on the other side voted to certify the 2020 election and some even voted to impeach the former President for his role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol, by blocking this bill, they are abetting the former President and his unelected media allies in spreading the lie that an election that brought more Republicans to the House of Representatives was somehow “stolen.”  That claim was false then, and it is false now. 

“In allowing falsehoods about the election results of 2020 to proliferate, in celebrating and minimizing the horrors of January 6, Republicans have chosen a path of seeking short-term wins, not realizing that when democracy loses, we all lose. 

“I have a deep respect for Senate rules and precedent, and I have a strong skepticism when I hear suggestions of changing those rules.  I know that what goes around can come around, so what may seem beneficial in the moment can become deeply detrimental in the future. 

“The filibuster has its place, but at a certain point, the right of every eligible American to exercise their right to vote takes precedence because you cannot have a democracy if your citizens cannot vote.  It’s that simple.

“For that existential reason, I will vote to change the rules for the purposes of this bill and enforce Rule XIX so that Senators must actually take to the floor and make their case to the American people rather than hide behind procedure when it comes to voting rights. 

“Our future as a democracy depends on the willingness of this body to do the right thing and protect voting rights by passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.  I implore my colleagues: let’s do the right thing, and let’s do it now.”

Maine Delegation Presses Dept. of Transportation to Help Alleviate Bus Driver Shortage

Source: United States Senator for Maine Angus King

WASHINGTON — In response to a serious and sustained shortage of school bus drivers across Maine, the state’s congressional delegation is pushing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take steps to safely address the urgent need for additional drivers. The lawmakers, in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, called for the agency to delay or temporarily waive certain training and certification requirements that could keep prospective bus drivers from quickly filling open jobs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit both the education and transportation sectors especially hard, and this is distinctly true for the school bus drivers who bridge these two sectors,” wrote Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) in their letter to Buttigieg. “First, in 2020, extended suspensions of in-person learning reduced the work available for drivers, leading many to seek other jobs. Now that demand has returned, many school districts are facing short-staffed bus fleets, forcing difficult decisions about canceling bus routes, which undermine children’s ability to access the educational opportunities they need and deserve. The federal government must work with states to grant temporary regulatory flexibilities to ease these pressures for school bus providers and drivers while continuing to ensure road safety.” 

The Maine delegation’s letter follows an earlier request from Governor Mills to the DOT, a request that has not received an official response in over two months. 

In the last year, the shortage of school bus drivers in Maine has led to school cancellations, last-minute notifications that parents would have to drop off their children, limited high school sports, and more.

Read a copy of the letter here.

After Senate Vote to Alter Filibuster Falls Short, King Says It Is Time to “Pick Ourselves Up and Keep Fighting”

Source: United States Senator for Maine Angus King

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) voted to adjust the Senate’s procedures to defend the democratic process and voting rights after a GOP filibuster blocked key voting rights protections. Long reluctant to change the filibuster, Senator King signaled in March 2021 that he would change his thinking if the tactic was used to “simply obstruct” rather than in good faith as a negotiating tool.

Earlier this evening, he spoke on the Senate floor urging this limited reform, but the measure failed to meet the 50 vote threshold. In his full statement below, Senator King reflected on how the new threats to American democracy changed his longstanding opposition to filibuster changes and urging proponents of voting rights legislation to continue pushing forward.

“I have long opposed changes to the filibuster, because I believe that bipartisan work produces better, longer lasting results for the American people,” said Senator King. “I also believe that today’s annoying nuisance for a member of the majority will become tomorrow’s priceless shield when the balance of power shifts and that member finds him or herself in the minority.

“However, the benefits of the filibuster do not outweigh the benefits of a functioning democracy. As partisan state legislatures across the country used simple majorities to enact laws making it harder for Americans to vote, Congress had a responsibility to exercise its explicit Constitutional power to ‘make or alter’ elections laws and protect access to the ballot box. We repeatedly invited Republican leaders to join us at the table to build consensus on a bill that could address these threats. Time and time again, we were rebuffed. Taking a step back here, you realize that state legislatures are passing voting restrictions on a strictly party-line basis, while we in the Senate are forced to defend our constituents’ access to vote while playing by a different set of rules.

“In less than two decades, protecting voting rights has shifted from an obvious, unanimous move to strengthen our democracy to a partisan wedge issue. Here’s an example of how bad it’s become: one of the bills under discussion today, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. The VRA was last reauthorized in 2006 by a vote of 98-0; this time around, only one GOP Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supported the legislation. This sudden change has, without doubt, weakened the fabric of our nation.

“To be truthful, I’m discouraged right now. With the majority of my colleagues dug in against either changing the filibuster or supporting commonsense voting rights protections, it’s hard to see where we go next. But even as I am saddened that these votes fell short, I know that giving up is not an option. America’s experiment in self-government has endured unimaginable trials throughout its existence, pushing through challenges expected and unforeseen to create a stable democratic system that bucks the historical norms of kings, pharaohs, and czars. Our forefathers would not be deterred from fulfilling the Constitution’s instruction to form a more perfect union. Now it is our turn to pick ourselves up and continue carrying the flame of American democracy forward to the next generation.”

Senator King is committed to increase voter trust and promote access to the ballot for all registered voters. In October 2021 he delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor urging action on voting rights, stating that we are currently “at a hinge of history” that will determine the future of the American experiment in self-government. He has recently made the argument for these bills in op-eds for the Boston Globe and TIME. In addition to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement ActSenator King cosponsored the For the People Act and Senator Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) Right to Vote Act, which would establish a first-ever statutory right to vote in federal elections — protecting U.S. citizens from laws that make it harder to cast a ballot.