U.S. Democrats set voting rights showdown with no clear path to victory

U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) speaks to reporters after a Senate Democrats caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s Democrats took their push to protect U.S. voting rights to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, where legislation is roundly expected to fail in the face of united Republican opposition.

Democrats argue the legislation, backed by civil rights groups, is needed to counter a Republican-led drive to make it more difficult to vote at the state level, especially for Black and other minority voters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, cited the urgency of what he called an onslaught of new state limits to poll access. He said a showdown vote on a bill establishing new minimum standards for federal elections administered by states would be held sometime this week.

The outcome could come as soon as Wednesday if all 100 senators agree to that expedited timing. Otherwise, it is expected on Thursday.

“Democrats are prepared to fight on this issue until we succeed,” Schumer said. “We have not reached the place where every person can vote easily and openly and honestly,” he added.

Democrats are scrambling to act while they still narrowly control both chambers of Congress. Republicans are favored to take a majority in at least one chamber in next November’s mid-term elections.

With other elements of Biden’s domestic agenda stalled on Capitol Hill, Biden has called the vote a significant moment for a U.S. democracy facing crisis.

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