Biden Expresses Doubt About Passage of Elections Bill

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Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema was again opposed to weakening the filibuster

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Mr Biden’s downbeat assessment made a good point on the challenges facing Democrats, who are united around a broad measure to set new federal standards for voting, but are divided over whether to introduce the bill. To change the rules of the Senate. In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats lack the votes to overcome the 60-vote procedural hurdle and can pass their bill only if they lower the threshold for passing legislation by a simple majority.

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Mr. Biden’s remarks came after Sen. Kirsten Cinema (D., Ariz.) reiterated earlier in the day that she would not support changes to rules that get rid of the Senate’s 60-vote limit. Changing the filibuster rules would require the support of all Democrats.

“While I continue to support these bills, I will not support individual actions that worsen the underlying disease of division that is plaguing our country,” Ms. Cinema said on the Senate floor. He cited divisions in the Senate and the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House as voters calling on both sides to “work together and work for America.”

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Democratic leaders have moved forward with efforts to approve new federal standards for elections, though no path has emerged for passage. Mr Biden’s meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday was seen as a last-ditch, personal attempt to try to win over the holdouts.

On Thursday morning, the Democratic-led House passed a new election bill to send to the Senate, with a vote expected in the coming days. The new bill, which passed 220-203, wraps together two bills that previously passed the House but were blocked by Republicans in the Senate last year.

Democrats are pushing for the passage of election law changes across the country, which they say are necessary to protect voters’ access to voting, but Republicans are pushing for states in the form of politically motivated federal overreach. Criticize in the best of cases. If that fails, Democrats, who control the Senate 50-50, hope to change the chamber’s rules to make passage easier.

Since the start of the year, Mr Biden has bet much of his political capital on voting rights, which advisers see as an important issue for the Democratic base. His advisers say the downside of not advocating coercive action is greater than the political risk of failure. But the approach carries risks: a fiery speech comparing opponents to separatists and traitors praised activists who doubted their commitment to the issue, but angered Republicans who said the rhetoric was inappropriate and no new support. Won.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) has set a January 17 deadline, which coincides with a holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., for Democrats to pass voting bills. . If Republicans block the law again, he said Senate Democrats would go ahead with possible changes to the Senate filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Ms. Sinema has supported the election bill, but not the change in rules, putting him on a collision course with the rest of his party.

The current package, led by the Senate, combines “The Freedom to Vote Act” with a separate measure named after the late civil-rights leader of Georgia Rep. Mr Biden is due to join Senate Democrats at a closed-door lunch Thursday in a final attempt to garner support.

Democrats have long pushed for measures, including making Election Day a national holiday and introducing new mail-in voting requirements, but a string of voting measures passed in GOP-controlled state legislatures required them to act. A new campaign has been launched. Republicans call Democratic measures an attempt to wrest power from states and unfairly poor requirements such as voter IDs designed to bolster electoral integrity.

“If power was ever seized, this is what is happening in state legislatures right now,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Republicans are taking away people’s sacred right to vote, and targeting it specifically at certain groups, people of color, young people, people in urban areas.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) challenged the Democrats’ claims and their plans to change Senate rules.

“President Biden and the Senate Democrats are yelling at the American people, really screaming that a wicked, racist, anti-voting conspiracy will destroy democracy forever unless the Democrats have to take a total of the entire government from next week,” he said. One-sided control is not available,” he said. , “But are the American people buying it?”

According to lawmakers and others involved in the discussion, Democrats have calculated that they will have to publicly show their efforts to pass the law. Recent polls show a softening of support for the president among some young voters and other traditional pillars of the Democratic Party, groups that may be active by pushing for a renewed emphasis on voting rights.

Write Siobhan Hughes at [email protected]

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