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Voting rights set for Senate vote as Democrats push Biden's agenda

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the chamber will vote next week on voting rights and will aim to move President Biden's spending agenda this month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the chamber will vote next week on voting rights and will aim to move President Biden's spending agenda this month.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is calling on Democrats to work together to pass a major spending package before the end of this month as part of a broader push to advance major elements of President Biden's domestic agenda.

In a letter sent Thursday to Senate Democrats, Schumer says he plans to bring up a critical voting rights bill next week and move forward with a social spending bill by the end of the month.

"To pass meaningful legislation, we must put aside our differences and find the common ground within our party," Schumer wrote of the spending bill. "As with any bill of such historic proportions, not every member will get everything he or she wants."

Read Schumer's full letter below.

Democrats have struggled to agree among themselves on the spending package with centrist lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., demanding that the bill be cut from $3.5 trillion to as low as $1.5 trillion.

The spending debate has overshadowed talks on most other priorities that Biden and Democrats promised voters during the 2020 campaign. But Schumer has promised that the Freedom to Vote Act will come up for a key procedural vote next week.

Senate Democrats support the legislation, but have struggled to find sufficient bipartisan support to overcome a Republican filibuster.

"I hope that our Republican colleagues will join us in good faith, and as I have said before, if they have ideas on how to improve the legislation, we are prepared to hear them, debate them, and if they are in line with the goals of the legislation, include them in the bill," Schumer wrote. "But Republicans must come to the table to have that conversation and at the very least vote to open debate."

Manchin has been working to drum up GOP support for the bill which would make Election Day a public holiday, ensure that every state offers same-day voter registration, set minimum federal standards on mail voting and ban partisan gerrymandering, among its provisions.

The legislation also includes broad voter ID measures and provisions to protect nonpartisan election workers.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.