Biden to Meet with Top Democrats on New Voting Rights Proposal
President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and leading Congressional Democrats met at the White House on Friday to discuss their party’s hesitant efforts to pass major voting rights legislation.
Mr. Biden’s meeting with President Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York came at a crucial time, as activists push the president to use his power and Democratic control over Congress to protect voting rights as long as they have the possibility. Republican-led states have enacted at least 30 new laws containing a host of new restrictions on voting, and GOP senators have blocked consideration of a Democratic bill that would impose sweeping new federal mandates aimed at them. get around.
Party leaders don’t have many options for breaking the deadlock. In June, Republicans succeeded in blocking the Democrats’ renowned election legislation, called the People’s Law, by obstructing it. Democrats’ hopes of changing Senate filibuster rules to bypass Republicans have faded as a few holdouts within the party continue to oppose such a move. And their window for legislative action is narrow.
Democrats are set to finalize a scaled-down bill that activists say could be a ram in the fight against filibuster. The party is also preparing legislation to strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and lawmakers have discussed incorporating voting provisions into the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan put forward to the Senate, which they can pass. unilaterally against the opposition of the Republicans. But the GOP is largely opposed to all three.
In a statement after the meeting, the White House called passing a law on the issue a “moral imperative.”
“Recognizing the challenges ahead, the four leaders agreed on the importance of pushing forward legislation that reflects the priorities and values of these two bills, of passing them through the House of Representatives and the Senate, and of resisting to the constitutional challenge, ”the statement said.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, confirmed Thursday that a small group of Democratic senators had met to develop a revised bill that could be released in the coming days. Among them is Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate who balked at some of the For the People Act’s broader proposals and was determined to keep filibuster intact.
“It’s not one of those ‘Oh maybe we’ll get there,'” Ms Klobuchar said Thursday during a call organized by SiX Action, a progressive group, saying the emerging measure would have provisions on gerrymandering, mail voting and automatic voter registration. “We are very close to getting agreement on this bill.”
There is no indication that a deal between a small group of Democrats would attract more Republican support than previous proposals. But activists and progressives want the revised measure to be put to a vote before the Senate leaves Washington for its August recess, anticipating it would fail and step up pressure to dismantle the filibuster.
Mr Schumer has yet to commit to a timeline, and it is not clear whether he would want a real filibuster battle to unfold as he and Mr Biden attempt to push through a draft bipartite law on infrastructure in the Senate.
The revised electoral legislation hinges on a rough framework provided by Mr Manchin earlier this year. States are expected to provide 15 days of in-person early voting, including at least two Sundays; national expansion of postal voting; the end of partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts; a national voter identification requirement; and campaign finance provisions that would require super PACs to disclose the identity of their major donors.
The drafters of the bill also plan to include language intended to undermine state laws in places like Georgia that they say would allow elected Republican officials to corrupt election results to favor their candidates. Federal lawmakers specifically want to make it harder for their state counterparts to remove local election officials and more difficult for observers who support polls to intimidate voters and election workers. They also want to make the process of challenging anyone’s ability to register to vote more difficult.
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