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Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

The Senate failed to advance a new voting rights bill in a 49-51 vote Wednesday, after Republicans successfully filibustered the bill.

Why it matters: The Freedom to Vote Act is the latest attempt by Democrats to counter Republican-led efforts to pass state laws restricting voting access. This marks the third time this year that Republicans have been able to scuttle voting rights legislation, the New York Times noted.

State of play: Backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Freedom to Vote Act is less expansive than the Democrats' previous voting rights push, which had failed to get Manchin's support.

Of note: The bill's failure Wednesday could intensify calls from activists and some Democratic lawmakers to abolish the filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote to "nay" at the vote's conclusion and entered a motion to reconsider the vote.

  • “I want to be clear about what just happened on the floor of the Senate. Every single Republican senator blocked this chamber from having a debate — simply a debate — on protecting Americans’ right to vote in free and fair elections," Schumer said in remarks following the vote.

The big picture: The bill included provisions to make Election Day a public holiday, have same-day voter registration at all polling places by 2024, and ensure at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections.

  • In a statement Wednesday, President Biden urged the Senate to vote in favor of opening debate on the bill, noting, "It is urgent. Democracy — the very soul of America — is at stake."
  • Former President Obama also tweeted his support for the bill Wednesday, saying it would, "strengthen our democracy and give more Americans a voice. That’s why the Senate should do the right thing and protect what so many generations fought so hard to secure."
  • Schumer told reporters Tuesday that the legislation was "a bill that every Senate Democrat is united behind, enthusiastically," according to NPR.

Go deeper

Fight over Putin's pipeline consumes Congress

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and even the German government have been engaged in a multi-pronged effort to stop Congress from imposing mandatory sanctions on a Kremlin-backed natural gas pipeline.

Why it matters: President Biden's decision to let Nord Stream 2 proceed has put his allies in an uncomfortable bind. Republicans have already blocked dozens of Biden's foreign-policy nominees, and the dispute threatened to derail an annual defense bill passed by Congress every year for six decades.

Senate Republicans shrug off debt default deadline

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before House members Wednesday. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans are feeling far more relaxed about the impending Dec. 15 federal debt-default deadline this time around, with many suggesting the real drop-dead date isn't until January.

Why it matters: Their attitude toward the deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is distinctively different from the hair-on-fire rhetoric before the initial Oct. 18 date. But a Congress discounting the advice of a Treasury secretary is risky financial practice — and has the potential to affect markets itself.

House passes stopgap funding bill that could avert shutdown

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 221-212 to pass a bill funding the government through Feb. 18.

Why it matters: The measure now heads to the Senate, where it will need to be approved before midnight on Friday to avert a shutdown, but some Republicans have indicated that they may delay passage if they don't get a vote on an amendment to defund President Biden’s vaccine mandates.