President Biden and VP Harris shine a light on voting rights as advocates push administration to do more

The White House described Biden’s Roosevelt Room meeting as a private session with a range of civil rights groups to talk about their efforts to protect voting rights. Vice President Kamala Harris, who Biden has assigned to lead the administration’s efforts on voting rights, will also attend an event in Washington with the Democratic National Committee focused on the issue.
Biden and his team have repeatedly announced a major push on voting rights after Senate Republicans blocked a sweeping electoral reform bill last month. Biden told reporters last week he planned to “speak at length” on voting rights, as well as “hit the road on this issue.”

So far, however, no important address or trip has materialized. Instead, Biden brought in outside advocates for White House meetings and consulted advisers on the best strategy to fight the new restrictive laws.

At the same time, pressure mounted on the White House and Democrats to do more to protect voting rights after a Supreme Court ruling limited the ability of minorities to challenge state laws. which they consider discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.

The High Court ruling came as several Republican-led states, encouraged by former President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of widespread electoral fraud, contemplate more restrictive laws and Democrats wage a frenzied battle in front of them. courts to fight what Biden called an “attack on democracy.”
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a new electoral law in Georgia, and voting rights advocates urged the administration to take similar action in other states.

“Our constitutional rights are at stake because state legislatures have imposed a wave of anti-election laws based on the same repeatedly refuted lies that led to an attack on our nation’s Capitol and one of the days the darkest in the history of American democracy, “said a White House official.

The official added that Biden is “absolutely outraged by these attempts to undermine the constitutional rights of Americans, especially people of color.”

Passing new congressional voting laws will almost certainly require changing the filibuster rules, as Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate is not enough to overcome GOP opposition. Moderate Democrats opposed a major rule change, making the future of the new election laws uncertain. Biden also stopped before supporting the elimination of the filibuster, but expressed his openness to making the filibuster more difficult to execute.

Groups Biden plans to join on Thursday include the NAACP, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the NCNW, the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Harris will announce the expansion of the Democratic National Committee’s “I will vote” campaign with an event in the Washington area, according to a committee official. She will focus her remarks on why the entire Democratic Party must fight against voter suppression, the DNC official said. She will also be named honorary president of the “I Will Vote” program of the DNC.

Biden said his efforts must go beyond simply limiting black money in politics or making Election Day a federal holiday – two things included in the major bill blocked by Republicans last month. He said in June that Democratic efforts must expand to limit the ability of election commissions to reject results or replace officials on the basis of ideology.

“It’s about who can judge whether your vote counted after being cast,” he said at the time, saying Republican polling stations were trying to reject votes if they didn’t like it. not the results. “It’s never happened before. It’s wrong.”

Clyburn "absolutely"  open to the identification requirement in the draft voting rights bill

He answered questions on June 24 following the defeat of the Congressional Voting and Elections Bill. Biden said in his response that he would “tour the country” to “advocate” for advancement of voting rights. His press secretary later said he would speak more about the matter the following week.

“I don’t have any specific visits to announce yet, but it’s going to be a struggle of his presidency,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “He thinks that voting is a fundamental right for the American people. He will use every lever at his disposal to defend this. You will hear more about this next week as well.”

Last week, however, Biden’s schedule did not include a public voting rights event. Officials said scheduling conflicts – including a trip to visit families affected by the Florida condominium collapse – prevented him from making the formal remarks he had planned.

Instead, he met behind closed doors with his senior advisers and key experts to discuss “the anti-election legislation that has been proposed or recently passed by state legislatures, the legislation pending before Congress, and the measures. recent actions by the Department of Justice to protect the right to vote. “

“We are constantly working with leading outside groups and the private sector on what we can do together,” the official said, noting that the administration is also committed to Capitol Hill with Democratic leadership and “a variety of members. “.

The White House said at the meeting, Biden highlighted ways his administration would “step up engagement with the American people on voting rights.”

Speaking after meeting with families in Florida, Biden again said he anticipates a major push on voting rights.

“I think it’s essential that we make a distinction between removing and suspending voters. The ability of a state legislature to come forward and vote to change who is declared the winner, I find somewhat amazing, ”he said. “I will have a lot more to say about this because I plan to speak at length about voting rights and to continue on the road on this issue.”

CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

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