Why Biden, Democrats Push Voting Bills Against Odds

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Democratic leaders believe voters want to see them fight to pass election laws – even if they fail

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Mr Biden, according to his advisers, sees protecting voting rights as one of the central issues of his presidency. Mr Biden’s advisers said the downside of not advocating for action outweighed the political risk of failing to pass the bills.

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“I risk saying no to what I believe. That’s what I risk,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Tuesday when asked why he was pushing the law despite obstacles in the Senate. One of the defining moments. It really is.”

In his speech in Georgia, Mr Biden said he was tired of having quiet talks with senators behind the scenes, and pressured lawmakers to support the legislation, arguing that history would remember his votes.

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Amid pressure from liberal activists and other supporters of the new election laws, Democrats have calculated that they will have to publicly show their efforts to pass the law, according to lawmakers and others involved in the discussion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) said he plans to act as soon as Wednesday by bringing Democrats’ federal election bills to the floor for votes. Republicans have blocked those bills several times over the past year using the filibuster rule, which enables a minority of 41 senators to block most laws from moving forward. If GOP senators block the election bills again, Schumer will schedule votes on the rule change.

White House officials said they had not given up hope of success in the Senate. But he declined to extend his strategy to moderate Democrats such as Arizona’s Sans Kirsten Cinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin to support rule changes that would allow election bills to be passed on a simple majority vote. . Both lawmakers have raised concerns about changing filibuster rules without Republican support.

Mr Manchin’s office declined to comment on the president’s speech, and Ms Sinema’s office referred to a statement issued earlier in which a spokeswoman outlined her support for the election bills, but the filibuster was changing the rules. expressed doubts about

Those two senators—notably Mr Manchin—were the primary reason why another key priority for Mr Biden, his climate and social-spending legislation, has stalled in the Senate, prompting progressive despair. The president’s job approval ratings have fallen steadily during his time in office, including those of fellow Democrats.

With the tough midterm election ahead, Democratic strategists said Mr Biden and his party are making a difference with Republicans over election laws and voting protections, for which they say, there is widespread public support. “Opposition to defend democracy has real consequences for Republicans who believe the GOP runs the risk of losing support among voters of minority groups and suburban voters,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson.

Republicans accused Democrats of distorting GOP proposals and pursuing partisan objectives. At a news conference Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) accused Democrats of aiming to eliminate voter ID laws across the country. “Democrats have decided that voter fraud benefits them politically. And they are willing to go to any extent to erode the security of reasonable, common sense that protects the integrity of our elections,” he said.

Progressive advocates say they believe there are 48 Democratic senators who would support the filibuster rule change, though not all of them support abolishing it altogether. They see the censors Manchin and the cinema as the ultimate holdout. Advocates have called on Biden to lobby both senators more aggressively to get on board with changes to filibuster rules, to pass at least the two Democratic voting bills they both support. Huh.

Mr Biden and his allies are advocating for a pair of election bills. The Freedom to Vote Act would make Election Day a national holiday, mandate 15-day early voting and require all states to allow mail-in voting, among other changes. The second bill, named after the late Representative John Lewis (D., Ga.), would give the federal government more control over state voting processes after Supreme Court decisions weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965. , which gave Washington control over changes to the rules. In states with a history of racial discrimination.

Jeff Merkle (D., Ore.) said he believes proponents of new election laws want to see lawmakers fighting to keep the vote on the bills, even if they fail. “No act will be the greatest sin of all,” he said.

Eli Zupnik, spokesman for Fix Our Senate, a coalition of left-leaning organizations that is eliminating filibusters, said the window for Democrats to act before the midterm election was closing.

“If they fail to make progress this week, there are going to be a lot of demoralized voters who put the Democrats in charge of protecting our democracy from Trump Republicans and won’t understand why they do it,” he said. Couldn’t,” he said.

Both parties debated the vote and presented the changes in Senate rules required by the Democrats to pass two federal election bills as apocalyptic, arguing that the fate of America’s democratic institutions rests on the outcome.

Democrats say Republicans are trying to disenfranchise Democratic voters by passing state laws that restrict the use of ballots, reduce voting opening hours and make mail-in voting harder.

“These policies they put forward have only one purpose: to make it harder for young, poor, non-white, and generally Democratic voters to vote, to give Republicans a partisan advantage of elections by making it harder for Democratic-leaning. Voters to vote,” Mr Schumer said Tuesday of the GOP’s plans.

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) addressed Democrats’ push to pass their voting bills by amending or eliminating the filibuster rule for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. compared to.

On January 6, a mob tried to intimidate the Senate, he said, and they were unsuccessful. “But in January of 2022, some members of the Senate want to permanently damage this institution from within,” McConnell said.

Mr McConnell promised to ensure that the chamber would be halted if Democrats unilaterally changed the filibuster rule, using a process known as the nuclear option, with Senate rules instead of the usual 67. 51 votes are required to replace it.

“If the Democratic leader tries to put millions of Americans and entire states out of the business of governance, the operations of this body will change, oh yes,” McConnell said. “So true. But not in ways that reward rule breakers. Not in ways that benefit this president, this majority or his party. I guarantee it.”

Recent polling shows a softening of support for the president among some of the more traditional pillars of the Democratic Party – groups that may also be active in pushing for a renewed push for voting rights.

For example, young voters aged 18 to 34 were among the most enthusiastic about Biden’s work as president in a December Wall Street Journal poll. About 37% of young voters approved of Mr Biden’s job performance, with 60% disapproving.

Young voters are also strong supporters of some measures aimed at making voting easier. In a survey by Monmouth University last June, 59% of voters under the age of 35 said voting by mail should be made easier.

Nearly 66% of black voters approved of Biden’s job performance in a December Wall Street Journal poll, well under the 90% support he received in the 2020 election. Black voters strongly support the Democratic push on voting legislation, with 80% or more supporting the two main Democratic legislative packages, according to an October poll by the Progressive-aligned Navigator voting group.

Write Lindsay Wise at [email protected], Aaron Zeitner at [email protected] and Andrew Restuccia at [email protected]

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