In the opening bid by Senate Democrats to pass a voting rights bill that would usher in sweeping changes to U.S. elections, Republicans looking for an issue to unite them showed that they had found something concrete to rally around.

The bill represents the most significant overhaul of the U.S. electoral process in decades and comes on the heels of a contentious 2020 presidential election – one that former President Donald Trump continues to claim was rigged against him.

For Democrats, the bill is viewed as essential to block legislation adopted by a growing number of Republican-controlled states that imposes voting restrictions and stands to disenfranchise certain groups of people, including voters of color who overwhelmingly back Democratic candidates.

“These bills moving in state capitals across American are not empty threats,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee whose members spent Tuesday debating the bill and offering amendments. “They are real efforts to stop people from voting.”

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