On Wednesday, after a lengthy fight, Senate Democrats conceded that they did not have the votes necessary to pass the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, or the political leverage necessary to weaken the Senate filibuster rules.
The legislation, which was aimed to address historic efforts by the GOP to limit voting rights following the 2020 elections, would have cemented access to early voting and voting by mail, granted automatic voter registration, and established election day as a national holiday. The legislation was also targeted toward racial justice and included provisions to restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act that have been nullified by the Supreme Court.
As the New York Times reported, voting on the legislation was split among partisan lines, with no Republicans in support. Because breaking the filibuster would require 60 votes, and Democrats had only 50, the party instead attempted to change Senate rules regarding the filibuster. However, the attempt to change the rules failed as it was opposed by not only every Republican but also Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kristen Synema (D-AZ).
The Democrats’ loss was reminiscent of the death of the Build Back Better bill, which similarly lacked the votes necessary to pass due in part to Senators Manchin and Sinema. Senator Manchin notably has significant ties to the fossil fuel industry, including high-profile donors as well as his own coal company.
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Labor announced the creation of the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity, or HIRE, an initiative aimed to assist with both pandemic recovery and prioritize access to employment for underrepresented communities. The DOL stated in a press release that “HIRE will identify strategies to remove hiring barriers that limit opportunity along the lines of race, color, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ status, religion, disability, age and veteran status.” The HIRE initiative is intended to be a multi-year program and incorporates the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The AFL-CIO voiced its support for the program, noting the importance of labor rights as civil rights critical to racial justice.
Finally, the Boston Globe reported that the fight over gig worker classification in Massachusetts continued Wednesday, as a labor coalition filed a complaint against Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State William F. Galvin. The complaint argued that the attorney general’s office wrongfully certified a tech-backed petition that would create a ballot measure to ensure Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and Doordash can continue classifying workers as contractors. The complaint follows yesterday’s news that Lyft made the largest one-time political contribution in Massachusetts history to support this ballot measure.