Schumer invokes Cheney in debate over Dems' sweeping voting bill she calls 'unconstitutional'

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer named Rep. Liz Cheney on Tuesday in debate over Democrats’ sweeping voting bill, asking GOP senators to “follow” her “example” — but Cheney voted against the bill in the House and slammed it as “unconstitutional.” 

Schumer, D-N.Y., tied Republicans’ opposition to the bill to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the presidential election was stolen, despite the fact Democrats have been pushing the bill, titled the “For the People Act,” for years.

Schumer continued to invoke Cheney, R-Wyo., the House GOP conference chair, who has fallen out of favor with the party’s rank-and-file members over her regular condemnations of Trump’s false claims.

“Down the hall from us, House Republicans are plotting the demotion of a Republican member for the crime of repeating the truth: that Joe Biden is the president of the United States and that Donald Trump is lying. Liz Cheney spoke truth to power, and for that, she’s being fired,” Schumer said. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference about student debt outside the U.S. Capitol on February 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. Schumer made a rare appearance in a Senate Rules and Administration Committee markup on Tuesday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Most Republicans, even others who like Cheney voted to impeach Trump over his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, have largely elected to ignore the former presdient’s continued false statements. With Cheney’s condemnations serving as a distraction, according to many, House Republicans plan to vote to remove her as conference chair Wednesday. 

“Every Republican in this room knows Joe Biden won the election fair and square. Every Republican knows that Donald Trump perpetrated the big lie. But the price of admission in today’s Republican Party is silence in the face of provable lies,” Schumer said. 

“Aren’t there a few Republicans who will refuse to follow the rush of their party? Who will follow the example of a Liz Cheney?” he continued. “Maybe there will be a Republican who will support this bill, or at the very least offer constructive amendments. Where are the few?”

But Cheney voted against the “For the People Act” in the House of Representatives and tore into it with a statement issued in early March. 

“The bill they brought to the floor today steals power from the people, violates Americans’ First Amendment Rights, and is designed to protect Democrat politicians,” Cheney said. “The legislation would force hard-earned taxpayer money to fund political campaigns and enable the federal government to control all aspects of our elections.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., named Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., during debate on Democrats’ sweeping election bill in the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday.
(AP/Getty Images)


She added: “It’s clear that we need common sense election reform, but this unconstitutional federal takeover would only create more uncertainty for the system.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Tuesday also pointed out the fact that Cheney opposed the sweeping elections bill more than two months ago. 

“I note that the distinguished Democratic leader has a great admiration for the distinguished representative from the state of Wyoming, Rep. Cheney,” Wicker said. “He waxes on about her judgment and her courage. I would point out to my colleagues that this newfound hero of Sen. Schumer voted no on H.R. 1 and perhaps he should follow her logic and her judgment on that since he has joined me in admiration of Rep. Cheney.”

Schumer nevertheless doubled down on his mention of Cheney in a subsequent tweet. 

“The big lie’s consuming the GOP: House GOP’s plotting the demotion of Rep. Cheney for the crime of repeating the truth—that Joe Biden is President,” he said. “Senate GOP seems content to allow the right to vote to be taken away.”

The “For the People Act,” which passed the House with only Democratic votes, would also ban states from requiring photo ID to vote; change the composition of the Federal Election Commission; raise barriers for states to clear voter rolls; require states to offer drop boxes for 45 days before an election, and much more. 

It’s unlikely that the For the People Act will pass the Senate in its current form, given the unified GOP opposition. Democrats would have to get rid of the legislative filibuster to pass it without Republican votes and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he wouldn’t do that under any circumstances. 


Schumer’s appearance at the markup Tuesday was notable in and of itself. He and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are both members of the Rules Committee, which is processing the bill. But the party leaders rarely make statements in committee meetings like they did Tuesday and in a hearing on the same bill earlier this year. 

“The Democratic Party wants to rewrite the ground rules of American politics for partisan benefit,” McConnell said of the sweeping changes that would significantly expand the federal government’s role in American elections. 

“These laws are about one thing and one thing alone, making it harder for Americans to vote,” Schumer said Tuesday, framing Democrats’ bill as a response to state election security laws. “They are reprehensible in my judgment. They are antidemocratic in the judgment of most. And they carry the stench of oppression.”

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