Senate Republicans turned to the nuclear option Wednesday, voting to cut off debate, end a Democratic filibuster and override Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a voter ID bill. The maneuver, known as “calling the previous question,” has historically been rarely used — only 15 times since 1970. But in recent years Republicans have increasingly used it to force through bills that have garnered vehement Democratic opposition, including earlier this year when they killed a nearly 40-hour filibuster of a “religious freedom” amendment to the state constitution. That was the case Wednesday on a bill that would require Missouri voters to provide a government-issued photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot.
The House voted 115-41 to override, with every Republican and the lone independent voting in support and every Democrat voting against. The Senate voted to override on a 24-7 party-line vote after a little more than two hours of discussion.
Even though the veto was overridden, the bill won’t become law unless voters decide in November to amend the state’s constitution to allow a photo ID requirement. That’s because the Missouri Supreme Court deemed voter ID unconstitutional in 2006, ruling that the law amounted to a “heavy and substantial burden on Missourians’ free exercise of the right of suffrage.”
If voters reject the constitutional amendment this fall, voter ID remains unconstitutional and the enacting legislation voted on Wednesday is moot.