Biden pushes for U.S. voting rights law as Republican-led states pass new restrictions
President Joe Biden used the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa racial massacre to advocate for sweeping legislation in Congress to protect the franchise as Republican-led governments in Texas and other states pass new restrictions making it more difficult to vote.
Biden, marking Oklahoma’s centennial on Tuesday, called on congressional lawmakers – including two senators from his own party – for delaying action on the voting bills. Citing the words of the late Representative John Lewis, Biden said the right to vote is “precious” and must be protected. He vowed that June would be a “month of action” on Capitol Hill as Congress considers legislation one of his administration’s top priorities.
“We’re not giving up,” Biden said of the S.1 bill. “I will fight like hell with all the tools at my disposal for its passage.”
Republican lawmakers in state capitals across the country are pushing what experts say is an unprecedented wave of bills to restrict access to the ballot box. While Republicans say the bills are aimed at preventing voter fraud, Democrats argue the measures are aimed at undermining the voting rights of minorities in particular.
More recently, the Texas legislature moved closer to passing a bill that would reduce early voting hours, tighten voter identification requirements for mail ballots, and eliminate ballot boxes and ballot boxes. driving voting centers. The bill was not stalled until Texas Democrats left the House floor on Sunday night, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he would order a special session to ultimately secure passage.
Biden addressed federal voting rights legislation at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa racial massacre, in which a white mob looted and burned down the Greenwood district of Tulsa, known as the “Black Wall Street ”.
As many as 300 black Tulsans were killed and thousands of survivors were forced for some time into internment camps supervised by the National Guard. Biden said the nation must recognize the long-forgotten chapter of history to heal it completely, and he pledged to act on key issues facing black Americans, including police misconduct and restrictions. voting rights.
“We can’t just choose what we want to know, not what we should know,” Biden said. “I come here to help fill the silence, for in the silence the wounds deepen.”
Despite Biden’s pledge to keep fighting to pass legislation protecting voting rights, he admitted on Tuesday that his biggest obstacle could lie within his own party.
Biden called two fellow Democrats to explain why he had not passed some of the more ambitious elements of his platform, noting that weak majorities in the House and an equally divided Senate have crippled legislative negotiations on key issues such as the voting rights.
Responding to critics who wonder why he hasn’t been able to push through a sweeping voting rights bill, Biden lamented, “Well, because Biden effectively only has a majority. four votes in the House and one tie in the Senate – with two members of the Senate who voted more with my Republican friends.
It seemed like a veiled reference to Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom frustrated Democrats with their filibuster defense. The rule requires most laws to win 60 votes to pass, so many of Democrats’ top priorities, like voting rights and gun control, died when they came to the Senate at 50. -50. While Sinema is a sponsor of the voting rights bill that was passed by the House, known as the For the People Act, Manchin refused to sign, calling the measure “too broad”.
But it’s not just Manchin and Sinema who oppose the elimination of filibuster – up to 10 Democratic senators are reluctant to change the rules, even for laws to be passed like the Right to Law bill. vote. Biden himself did not say he wanted to end the filibuster.
It’s unclear whether Biden’s comments will change the perspective of senators, who face tough choices as the pressure mounts on them.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told colleagues he would put the Voting Bill to a vote in the week of June 21, testing the position of Senators. Schumer warned in a letter to colleagues last week to prepare for the coming month.
“The June work period will be extremely difficult,” Schumer told them, adding that it “would test our resolve.”
Biden tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with leading the administration’s efforts to defend voting rights, saying that with his leadership, Americans will once again “overcome” efforts to reduce access to the vote, as they have done so in the past and in the 2020 election, which saw record turnout despite new voting restrictions.
He adds another high-level fight to Harris’ rapidly expanding portfolio, which includes addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, leading the National Space Council and expanding access to the ‘High-speed Internet.
In a statement, Harris said she plans to work with voting rights groups, community organizations and the private sector to strengthen voting rights, as well as push through voting rights legislation on Capitol Hill. .
“The job ahead is to make voting accessible to all American voters and to ensure that every vote is counted through a free, fair and transparent process. It is the work of democracy, ”she said.
Suggest a correction