WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers will mark the fall of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on a promise to vote on a change in Senate rule aimed at enacting a suffrage law.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that the Senate will not take up Voting legislation passed by the House until Tuesday violates his deadline to vote on a rule change before the federal holiday in honor of the late civil rights leader.
The New York Democrat cited a weekend winter storm and Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis for the delay in the vote. Without Schatz, Democrats do not have the 50 votes needed for a simple majority vote.
Although Schumer remains committed to bringing the law to the vote, the adoption of a suffrage law is still hampered by Republican opposition and Democratic senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, who oppose changing Senate rules to pass the law without GOP support. .
The upcoming vote comes after President Joe Biden’s failed effort on Capitol Hill to persuade Senate Democrats to pass a bill on the right to vote – and a week in which he traveled to Atlanta to deliver a speech in which he urged lawmakers to lift the legislative hurdle , which has allowed Republicans to stall. much of his agenda: the filibuster.
On Thursday, the president suggested he could come up empty-handed.
“I hope we can get this done. The honest answer to God is that I do not know if we can get this done,” Biden said after his meeting on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, the House Democrats say they will not give up on passing a bill on federal voting rights, which Democrats see as necessary to oppose election laws in GOP-led states that they say are restrictive. They continue to pressure their counterparts in the Senate to pass voting legislation, despite the uphill battle it faces.
In a letter to colleagues Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wrote, “We can not and we will not rest until this legislation is enacted.”
“The Senate must do its part to promote this legislation. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake,” Pelosi said.
The House passed a bill Thursday morning that combined two pieces of voting law, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, and has now been sent to the Senate.
The Freedom to Vote Act sets federal minimum requirements for early voting and postal voting, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Act restores the Department of Justice’s oversight of electoral law changes in states with a history of discrimination.
Republicans have accused Democrats of trying to pass a federal election law that benefits them.
“It’s not about ‘the right to vote,'” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said in December, “it’s a naked grip on power.”
At the heart of the debate on voting rights is the filibuster, a 60-vote threshold needed to bring bills up for debate. Biden and most Democrats want to make an exception to the filibuster to allow a suffrage law to be passed by a majority, but without Manchin and Sinema, they have no support to change the rules.
Congress’s Black Caucus members publicly called on the Senate to change the filibuster during a news conference Wednesday.
“We urge the Senate to vote. We urge the Senate to have that debate because we want to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We want to pass the Freedom to Vote Act,” the CBC president said. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio.
“It makes me emotional when I think of a black woman that I should stand here today before asking us to do something that the last five presidents and four white Republican presidents have done,” the Voting Rights Act authorizes , “Beatty added.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y. said both suffrage laws should be passed “in all necessary ways” and supported “reforming a filibuster rule dripping into racist history.”
“There can be no party without liberation, without freedom, without the right to vote. As we prepare to celebrate the birthday of Pastor Dr. Martin Luther King, let us remember that justice can be denied justice. The time to act is now, “said the rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., The legislator who enacted the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
However, not all supporters of the voting proposal remain positive.
Civil rights leaders said Biden’s speech in Atlanta was too late; The president should have already been on Capitol Hill and working on agreements to pass a bill on the right to vote.
Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO Impact Fund, Inc., a Latino civilian engagement organization in Georgia, said Biden exclaimed his many years of experience in the Senate and how he was able to get things done during his presidential campaign.
“He knows the Senate. He knows the institution. He was there when the agreements were made in connection with the Affordable Care Act. Agreements must be made,” Gonzalez said in a call with journalists on Wednesday. “Carrots and sticks must be exploited. We need for the full strength of the Presidency to ensure that he is able to fulfill his agenda, including holding his friends accountable in the party. “
Kendra Cotton, CEO of Stacey Abrams’ voting rights organization, the New Georgia Project, agreed.
“It’s not up to us on this call to tell him how to get this done,” she said. “He told us that was what he knew how to do. And all we’re asking for is for him to deliver. That’s it … It’s like, sir, please tell us how you will get it done. “
Republican opposition to changing filibusters means Schumer will not have the 60 votes needed to start a debate on the bill.
Sinema reiterated its opposition to changing the filibuster during a surprise speech less than an hour before Biden met with lawmakers Thursday.
“Eliminating the 60-vote threshold will simply guarantee that we lose a critical tool that we need to protect our democracy from threats in the years to come,” the Arizona Democrat said.
After Biden’s meeting, Manchin stated once again that he would not agree to cut a filibuster exception for voting rights, says in a statement, “As I have said before, I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.”
Biden met with Manchin and Sinema on Thursday night. But neither of the two Democrats has publicly changed their position.
Starring: Deborah Berry
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