Business executives urge Senate to bypass filibuster to pass voting rights

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A group of three dozen business executives on Wednesday urged Senate leaders to change the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

The Freedom to Vote Alliance, which includes Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, warned that U.S. democracy is under threat amid state-level GOP efforts to restrict voting rules and take control of election administration. 

“We cannot allow voter suppression efforts or a refusal to certify legitimate federal election results to spark potential economic instability, violence, or other calamities that scholars of business and democracy alike are warning of with increasing alarm,” the group wrote in a letter to President BidenJoe BidenMcConnell: Rounds ‘told the truth’ about 2020 election Abrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Overnight Health Care — Biden officials take heat at Senate hearing MORE, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerClyburn on updating election law: ‘What is true today was not true then’ Biden eulogizes Reid as a fighter ‘for the America we all love’ Like it or not, all roads forward for Democrats go through Joe Manchin MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Rounds ‘told the truth’ about 2020 election McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump’s attacks Top Republicans pressing Hogan to run for Senate MORE (R-Ky.).

The group of business leaders called on lawmakers to bypass the legislative filibuster to pass the Freedom to Vote Act — a bill to expand early and mail voting, increase election security and crack down on partisan gerrymandering, among other measures. The group is also pushing for passage of the John LewisJohn LewisAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Biden calls Jan. 6 riot an attempted ‘coup’ MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require areas with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval to change voting laws.

The letter comes as Biden pushes Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Stacey Abrams’s shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (D-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinAbrams thanks Biden for Georgia speech, backs call for Senate rules change Biden’s Georgia speech was a call to save democracy as we know it Stacey Abrams’s shocking snub of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 aspirations MORE (D-W.Va.) to drop their opposition to changing the legislative filibuster, which allows Republicans to block many bills in the 50-50 Senate. Biden said Tuesday that Democrats have “no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster” to overhaul voting laws.

Only a small number of business leaders have called for Democrats to ax the filibuster. And while many of the nation’s largest corporations have previously expressed support for legislation to expand voting rights, most have gone quiet amid Biden’s most recent effort. 

“A strong economy depends on a strong democracy,” Stacy Schusterman, chairman of Oklahoma-based firm Samson Energy and a member of the Freedom to Vote Alliance, said in a statement. “With the cornerstone of our democracy — the freedom to vote — under attack nationwide, corporate America has an obligation to speak up.”

Democrats are exploring options to change filibuster rules, including a carve-out that would exempt voting rights legislation from needing to get 60 votes, but they’ll need to win over the party’s two holdouts. Republicans have threatened to bring the Senate agenda to a crawl if Democrats weaken or eliminate the filibuster.  

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