United Kingdom

Defeat for Joe Biden as Republicans block voting rights reform Bill

Even before the vote, reservations about the legislation had been raised by Left-wing senators who felt it did not go far enough, but they eventually all voted along the party line.

Democrats needed all 50 of their own senators and 10 Republicans to vote for the legislation in order for it to advance to allow debate and an amendment process that would shape the eventual Bill.

The house was split 50-50 and Kamala Harris, the vice president, in her role as Senate president, announced that the motion was not agreed to.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said afterwards: "The Republican party has just launched a partisan blockade of a pressing issue here in the United States Senate. An issue no less vital than the right to vote."

But Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, called the legislation a "radical proposal" designed to "rig" the rules of American elections permanently in the Democrats' favour.

While his election reform plans failed on Tuesday night, Mr Biden has sought to promote one flagship piece of legislation that has passed - the $1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) Covid relief package.

He has urged Americans to sign up for the government's new expanded child tax credit scheme, which enables families to claim up to $3,600 (£2,600) per child each year - an 80 per cent increase on the previous cap.

Eligible families can receive that much per child aged 6 or under and $3,000 (£2,200) annually per child aged 6 to 17. Previously, the maximum per child was $2,000 (£1,400).

Mr Biden says the plan will help cut child poverty and he would like to see it extended beyond the end of 2021.

Democrats suffered a chastening defeat over their sweeping election reform Bill on Tuesday night, as Republicans blocked Joe Biden's plans to bolster voting rights across America.

The showdown in the US Senate was the first test of Mr Biden's "For the People Act" but it received no Republican support as they filibustered the Bill.

In a statement from the White House, Mr Biden described the vote as a "solid Republican wall of opposition" that amounted to "the suppression of a bill to end voter suppression - another attack on voting rights that is sadly not unprecedented".

"Senate Republicans opposed even a debate - even considering - legislation to protect the right to vote and our democracy," Mr Biden said. 

"Let me be clear. This fight is far from over ... we are going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again - for the people, for our very democracy."

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