Frustrated voting-rights advocates claw for opening on Senate filibuster

But Jones and other supporters of the Democratic voting laws could see another round of disappointment. When the Democrats accepted the short-term debt ceiling The deal offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to postpone the December deadline has also postponed any discussion of filibuster changes – what proponents see as a blockade of any real chance to send laws to Biden’s desk.

“In all honesty, we know that the likelihood of laws being passed without it,” [change] is very slim at this point, ”said Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO of the League of Women Voters.

Some constituencies are now trying to crank up the heat in the White House, urging Biden to call for the same exemption for the Democrats’ stalled voting laws.

A group of around 100 protesters led by the League of Women Voters and People For the American Way demonstrated outside the White House on Tuesday. You have promised to demonstrate repeatedly outside the White House to get Biden’s attention.

“That was one of his priorities. This was part of the platform he used to strengthen and repair our democracy, ”said Solomón. “We have heard many words from the White House. But we didn’t see a lot of action. “

Five of the protesters – including Ben Jealous, the president of People For the American Way and former NAACP leader – were arrested after refusing to leave Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House. They were all detained overnight before finally released without fees.

“I think of Kamala and I think of Joe. I know them as friends, ”jealously told the crowd minutes before he was arrested on Tuesday. “We need our friends who stand up and are friends with the people of this country, who have the courage it takes to actually promote the right to vote.”

Cedric Richmond, Biden’s senior adviser and former Louisiana Congressman, argued that the White House took action on its own – including an order to government agencies to find ways to increase voter turnout, along with leaving the Justice Department, including appointment gut – civil lawyers in top positions and the civil rights department expanded.

He also said the White House is on hold with Capitol Hill over voting rights.

“We are pushing Congress to act on legislation, and we are using our political capital to make it happen. Doesn’t always have to be in public and get the attention, ”Richmond said in an interview.

“I think the activists overlooked the fact that this is the first time all Democratic senators speak for a bill. And now that we have that, we’re going to move on and we’ll have a vote and then we’ll go from there, ”he continued.

And even if Biden should put the Senate under public pressure to filibuster, there are still barriers in the way: Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Who both passionately supported the existing rules, which they say will prevent either party from passing extreme laws.

On Wednesday, before the deal with McConnell was announced, Manchin shot down another debt ceiling change. “Nothing changes” on the filibuster, he told reporters.

But even with the revived filibuster conversation, it is particularly annoying for some proponents that voting rights in Congress have consistently played second fiddle to other legislative priorities.

“We can’t even talk about the right to vote because the infrastructure is once again blocking the way,” said Jasmine Crockett, a Liberal Democratic MP who was one of the group of Texans who fled the Texan state over the summer to get one Block Republican-led law that added new restrictions on voting in the state.

It’s a particularly bitter pill for the Texas Democrats. “All that we foresaw,” has occurred in her condition, said Crockett. The law they temporarily blocked is now law in Texas after enough Democrats returned to the state house in weeks to create a quorum. And early proposals for the state’s new congressional card, which will block Republican seats across the state.

“When it comes to voting rights, you see the cure coming after the damage. And sometimes, when the damage is done, the cure really doesn’t matter, ”said Trey Martinez Fischer, a Texas Democrat.

In Congress, because of the two filibusters or the threat from Republicans and some intra-party disputes, the Democrats were unable to send voting bills to the president’s desk. Their first attempt – the For the People Act, which received the symbolic designations HR 1 (117) and S. 1 (117) as the party’s top priority – died in the Senate because Manchin did not support it and was later approved by. defeated Republicans after Manchin agreed to a procedural vote.

Senate Democrats have now turned their attention to two more electoral laws: the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, introduced in the Senate this week, and the Freedom to Vote Act. a slimmed-down version of HR 1 that Manchin brokered with his democratic colleagues.

The West Virginian has held talks with Republican colleagues to try to find a compromise, POLITICO reported, but the chances of winning 10 Republican senators who would pledge to break a filibuster for any type of electoral law are very slim . This impending failure is one of the last things advocates hope that Manchin will change its mind about the filibuster.

“A sane person in Joe Manchin’s position, if they found out there weren’t 10 Republican senators in good conscience …, would vote to make an exception from the filibuster,” said Jones, the New York congressman.

It will be tested soon. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a “dear colleague” letter On Monday the senators should be ready to examine both legal texts “in this working period or immediately at the beginning of the next”.

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