WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday to push for the swift passage of two voting rights bills, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are applying pressure for action as well.
During a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, caucus Chair Joyce Beatty said that members are concerned about Republican-led state legislatures’ enactment of strict voting requirements in response to the false claim by the former president that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“Look at some of the laws they’re putting in place,” Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, said. “For us, the urgency is now.”
Senate Democrats are engaged in an internal debate over changing the Senate’s filibuster rules, which currently require a 60-vote threshold to advance legislation, to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
So far, at least 19 states have passed 34 laws restricting voting access, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as Rep. Joe Neguse, said that the stakes couldn’t be higher.
“The eyes of the world are on you,” the Colorado Democrat said, addressing members of the Senate.
Rep. Val Butler Demings, a Florida Democrat, said that growing up, her parents instilled in her that voting was about civic duty.
“Everything that you care about, regardless of your party, and everything that we care about, is at risk if we do not protect the right to vote,” she said.
This week, the president on a trip to Atlanta also made a pitch for amending the Senate filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.
“I think the threat to our democracy is so great that we must find a way to pass this voting rights bill,” Biden said. “Debate them, vote, let the majority prevail and if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of the filibuster.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded Wednesday that Biden’s remarks were “profoundly unpresidential” because Biden has pledged to bridge the nation’s divides.
“Unfortunately, President Biden has rejected the better angels of our nature,” said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “So it is the Senate’s responsibility to protect the country.”
“This institution was constructed as a firewall against exactly this kind of rage and false hysteria. It falls to the Senate to put America on a better track.”
The White House on Wednesday announced that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will continue to call senators throughout the week and push for their support in passing voting rights legislation, in addition to the Thursday meeting. Read more