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Senators Lankford, Inhofe vote against changing Senate filibuster rules as voting bill fails

KOKI Tulsa logo KOKI Tulsa 1/20/2022 News Staff
Jim Inhofe, James Lankford are posing for a picture with United States Supreme Court Building in the background: Both of Oklahoma's senators – Republican Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe – said they were against eliminating the filibuster. © Provided by KOKI Tulsa Both of Oklahoma's senators – Republican Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe – said they were against eliminating the filibuster.

Efforts to change the Senate filibuster and enact federal voting rights are both dead for now, with both of Oklahoma’s U.S. senators voting against the bill.

Democrats weren’t able to change Senate rules to push past a Republican filibuster. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema shot down the filibuster change, saying it would reduce bipartisanship.

However, the Democratic lawmakers said they support changes to voting rights.

The Democrats’ bill, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, would make Election Day a national holiday, ensure access to early voting and mail-in ballots — which have become especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic — and enable the Justice Department to intervene in states with a history of voter interference, among other changes. It has passed the House.

Both of Oklahoma’s senators – Republican Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe – said they were against eliminating the filibuster.

“Last year, Democrats brought up their so-called ‘voting rights’ bill four times and four times it failed. Their fifth attempt has resulted in the same outcome,” Lankford said in a statement. “Americans have been clear — we do not want to federalize our elections. In 1965, our nation took a strong, bold step to protect the rights of every single individual to vote. Federal courts still have the authority to stop any law in any state that suppresses the right to vote. This partisan election takeover bill takes power from each governor, state legislature, and state election official and puts it in the hands of bureaucrats in DC. I strongly disagree with taxpayer-funded campaigns, same-day voter registration, gutting voter ID laws, and forcing states to seek permission from the Department of Justice before making any changes to their voting laws.

“My Democratic colleagues need to think carefully about the next steps — eliminating the filibuster will not help our Republic. The legislative filibuster is what gives the minority a voice so our nation doesn’t swing from one political extreme to another. It’s time Democrats heed the outcry of our nation and stop this power-hungry charade masked as an effort to protect voting rights.”

Inhofe added that removing the filibuster would have had dire consequences on the U.S. Senate.

“I voted against gutting the filibuster, which would have had dire consequences for the Senate as an institution,” Inhofe said in a statement. “Democrats can feel the American people turning against their agenda, so they are desperate to do whatever necessary, even killing rules that make the Senate the Senate. Make no mistake – this rule change would have poisoned bipartisanship and compromise in the Senate forever.

“I applaud Senators Manchin and Sinema for joining Senate Republicans in opposing Democrat’s unprecedented and dangerous action today. I’m glad a majority of senators protected the voice of the minority, but we must remain vigilant in the weeks and months ahead.”

Voting rights advocates are warning that Republican-led states nationwide are passing laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.

Shortly after the 2020 election, Oklahoma state senators filed a series of election integrity bills that they said would strengthen and secure Oklahoma’s election systems.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said the day after the General Election that Oklahoma voters set a record for the most votes ever cast for president in the state’s history.

Ziriax also reported in November 2020 that Oklahoma’s election process went relatively smoothly. Most issues that were reported were people campaigning for their candidate too close to the polls and social distancing measures slowing down the voting process.

“There were maybe a few other types of allegations made that did not necessarily pan out,” Ziriax said. “But there were a lot of electioneering allegations that turned out to be factual, and thankfully, local law enforcement did a great job making sure those people stayed at least 300 feet away from the ballot box.”

In November 2021, Sen. Nathan Dahm announced that he filed a bill calling for a forensic audit of the 2020 election.

Authorities say voter fraud is not a widespread issue across the country, and there weren’t rampant irregularities in early/mail-in voting.


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