WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus are putting pressure on the senate to vote on legislation they say will protect voting rights. This follows President Biden’s visit to Georgia where he advocated for congress to pass these bills. But Republicans have been adamant that we should leave it to the states to decide their election laws.
The CBC had a passionate and at some times emotional plea for the Senate to act on voting rights legislation. Some members said the time is now as many states passing laws that hurt minority votes.
“It is about access, people having access to the ballot which Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about, give us the ballot,” said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D- DE). “It’s about suppression and trying to stop people from getting water on a voting line when they’re just trying to exercise that right.”
The CBC has two bills in mind they’re focusing on. The Freedom to Vote Act does a few things: it aims to expand voting access by allowing a minimum of 15 days of early voting, expand access to ballot drop boxes and would make election day a federal holiday. The second bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would restore protections against discriminatory voting laws.
Members of the CBC stressed that the time is now for the Senate to vote on these bills because according to the Brennan Center for Justice, just last year, 19 states passed legislation that is considered more restrictive for voting access.
But Republicans are pushing back. They said there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to election laws.
“The smallest majority we’ve ever seen in our politics is trying to change the rules of how people get elected in every single state,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- KY). “That’s just about the best argument for the filibuster you could possibly imagine.”
That filibuster rule McConnell is referring to, has helped the minority party block legislation from moving forward unless the senate can get at least 60 votes on legislation. Right now the Senate is split down the middle 50-50.
But the Dems have said they want to change the filibuster rule to pass voting rights legislation. Republicans have argued that changing the filibuster rule will have federal laws flip flopping between administrations.
The CBC said they’re working with two moderate Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin (D- WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D- AZ) who seem to be hesitant on changing the filibuster rule. We also expect President Biden to make a visit to the Capitol to push for these voting rights bills.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D- NY) said the Senate will address these bills before MLK day .