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Biden’s top ally begs him to abolish filibusters for electoral reform

Biden could “pick up the phone and tell” [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should do a spin-off,’ “Clyburn said, referring to the centrist West Virginia Democrat who opposed filibuster reform. “I don’t care if he does it through a microphone or on the phone – just do it.”

Clyburn’s remarks are the latest attempt by high-ranking Democrats to find a way to bypass Republican opposition to their electoral reform laws. Biden himself will launch a more aggressive campaign to try to get public opinion behind these bills. He is traveling to Philadelphia on Tuesday to deliver a speech on “his government’s actions to protect sacred, constitutional suffrage,” the White House said. His remarks will come days after the President’s meeting with the leaders of national civil rights organizations in the White House, who urged Biden to use his voice, influence and power at that moment.

But the Ability of the president to fight directly restrictive electoral laws contemplated or passed by Republican-led states across the country are limited. His party leads an evenly split 50-50 Senate and enjoys a slim majority in the House of Representatives. Biden himself has so far barely expressed a desire to change the law filibuster to the extent that it is likely to be necessary to enforce more of his agenda. On top of the hurdles are recent Supreme Court rulings, which weakened the Justice Department’s ability to sue states over electoral laws deemed racially discriminatory.

Unless the two voting bills reach Biden’s desk soon before Congress, Clyburn said, “Democrats can kiss the majority goodbye.”

“I can see in a state like Georgia where people performed in January in ways that no one thought possible – I can see voter disappointment to the extent that” [Sen. Rafael] Warnock wouldn’t come back, ”he added.

In response to Clyburn’s comments, a White House official noted Biden’s respect and admiration for the congressman and the president’s support for a talking filibuster that requires a senator or group of senators to be physically on the ground to prevent a bill. But Biden has mostly dodged the question of whether he thinks it should take time 60 votes for filibuster Legislation or not.

Fear and frustration over failure to pass suffrage legislation builds not only among progressive activists but also among civil rights activists and democratic lawmakers. Democrats speaking to POLITICO said they believe that failure on this front would not only result in election losses, but would also have a tangible impact on the country’s democracy if more Republican-led states put restrictions on voting access.

Adding to that frustration is the recent Supreme Court ruling that dealt another major blow to the voting rights law. Lawyers and civil rights activists believe the decision will make it harder to initiate lawsuits against new electoral laws passed by Republican-led states that restrict access to the election.

“I hope the president gets a little more aggressive,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Who could lose his seat if Republicans decide Gerrymander the counties in Kentucky during redistribution. “Obviously they have a very full plate and they try to deal with a lot of things [but] Many of us believe that just after the Supreme Court decision, we are really at a critical point in terms of protecting democracy. “

Yarmuth added that the Democrats are “deeply afraid” of “what will happen to our period of democracy. Not who wins in 2022, what happens to democracy. “

The signed Democratic electoral reform law would, among other things, expand early voting, ban partisan gerrymandering, and other changes affecting almost every aspect of the electoral system. The second bill, named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Would restore key sections of the landmark 1965 Suffrage Act, which requires jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to receive prior approval for electoral law changes from the federal government.

“We have to have a federal legislative solution and we have to find out politically how we bypass the filibuster,” said Deputy Chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.). In Dean’s home state of Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers are now calling for an Arizona-style review of 2020 election results.

Dean also said she hoped Biden would advocate spinning off the filibuster for draft legislation related to electoral reform.

“I hope the president will – like I said, I think the filibuster should be removed unless it was actually used for debates that encourage conversation about things,” Dean said. “But I hope the President will spearhead that.”

A White House official said Biden is actively pushing the two laws and has used multiple agencies, the White House legislative team and senior officials to lobby for its passage. On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the Democratic National Committee would invest $ 25 million to register, educate and vote for voters.

On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited recent Justice Department measures to increase funding and staff for its civil rights division and Biden’s decision to nominate “two civil rights activists” for prominent roles in the DOJ as evidence of the government’s commitment for the problem.

Psaki said Biden’s speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday will not be about the legislative process but about a “moral obligation” to defend the right to vote.

But for many Democrats on and off the hill, the whole ball game is the legislative process.

“If he’s serious about getting the voting rights passed, then at least he has to support the filibuster modification,” said Cliff Allbright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, a group that helped mobilize voters in Georgia and the southern states 2020. “If he doesn’t want to support that … then he just doesn’t have to tweet about voting rights anymore – just shut up.”

There are only two ways the Democrats enforce the voting laws, MP Clyburn said: Either Manchin can find 10 Republicans to support a revised electoral law and Lewis Act, or the Democrats get rid of the filibuster.

Clyburn said he had a one-on-one interview with Manchin and her staff at the time Manchin made changes to the Democrats’ electoral reform law. Clyburn said to him, “I am not asking you to dispose of the filibuster. … But I tell you that nobody should have the right to distort my constitutional rights. ”

With the filibuster reform not passed, Democrats were hoping for more tough legislative tactics and political arm twisting by Biden to help advance electoral laws.

“This is an existential crisis for democracy and the party that defends democracy,” said Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) MP, member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

“If you read Robert Caro’s biography on LBJ, you can see that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would not have been passed without his direct personal muscular intervention with particularly unruly Democratic senators,” said Raskin. “This is the historical template to get this thing done. And as a longtime Senator and Senate student, I’m sure that analogy is in Joe Biden’s opinion. “

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