The vote to amend the filibuster that would allow Congressional Democrats to pass two vital pieces of voting legislation failed 52-48 on Wednesday effectively crippling any chance Democrats had at fulfilling one of their biggest campaign promises prior to the midterm elections. 

Sens. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema, (D-Ariz.), cast the two deciding votes as both senators have been long proponents of the filibuster. Sinema released a statement on Wednesday saying she opposed “actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government."

Manchin spoke on the Senate floor saying he supports voting rights but would not support a rules change on a partisan basis. “Putting politics and party aside is what we're supposed to do. It's time that we do the hard work to forge the difficult compromises that can stand the test of time," Manchin said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) praised both senators for breaking ranks and said the Democrats' efforts were about expanding political power rather than securing the rights of citizens. Critics of the archaic Senate rule see the filibuster as a tyranny of the minority, thus making it impossible to pass any bill despite the House only needing a simple majority. 

The first bill was titled the Right To Vote Act and was designed to establish same-day voting registration, protect mail-in voting, make election day a national holiday and ban partisan gerrymandering. The second was titled the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would have restored a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act forcing states who want to change election laws to seek approval from the Justice Department. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), had also suggested a rules change earlier this week that would allow a two-speech maximum rule for all senators and once the lengthy debate settled voting rights could pass with a majority vote. Both rogue senators and all 50 Republicans argued there could be no exception to except the voting bills from requiring the 60 vote threshold. 

Two African American lawmakers, Sens. Tim Scott, (R- S.C.), and Cory Booker, (D-NJ)., exchanged blows on the floor of the Senate with Scott calling the comparison of recent voter ID laws to Jim Crow as “offensive” with Booker saying “they’re blatantly removing more polling places from the counties where Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented. I’m not making that up. That is a fact.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson told the Washington Post the failed vote “marks a sad day for our democracy” and slammed Manchin and Sinema for refusing to change Senate rules despite supporting voting rights.

“It’s almost like saying that you’re half-pregnant. You are [for passing the bill] or you’re not,” Johnson said, adding that “individuals who relied on the African American vote, in particular, or the Latino vote to be elected to office have turned their backs on the very community that allowed them to be in the Senate.” 

President Biden says his party isn’t out of options and will continue to push for voting rights until midterm elections and beyond.