Two Democratic senators are staunchly opposed to changing the Senate’s rules to pass reforms, which is likely to frustrate hopes.
US President Joe Biden has admitted he is unsure whether his Democratic Party will be able to pass landmark voting rights reform legislation after key senators doubled down on their opposition to changing Senate rules.
Biden met Democratic senators on Thursday, hoping to win support for a temporary rule change that would allow only a simple majority of the 100-member House to pass the Voting Rights Act.
Under current rules, only a minority of 41 senators can block the legislation’s passage. The House is currently divided between 50 and 50 Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, casting the decisive vote in the event of a tie.
“The honest answer before God is I don’t know if we can get it done,” Biden told reporters after the meeting. “As long as I am in the White House,” he said, “as long as I am absolutely engaged, I will fight.”
The admission came shortly after Democratic Senator Kirsten Senema told reporters that she would not support a “short-sighted” rule change to allow the bills to pass, all but dashed hopes that Democrats would get the 50 votes needed to make such a change.
Senator Joe Manchin, who was among the lawmakers Biden met with Thursday, also reiterated his opposition to changing the ability of a minority of senators to block the passage of legislation, a mechanism known as obstruction.
“Ending procrastination would be the easy way out. I cannot support such a perilous path for this nation,” he said in a statement after the meeting.
The Biden administration has made passing federal voting rights reform a top priority as 2022 enters, as the president vowed in a speech on Tuesday: “I will not give up. I will not falter.”
Attention shifted to reforms at the federal level after former US President Donald Trump, a Republican, led a campaign, motivated by unfounded allegations of voter fraud, to nullify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Although unsuccessful, Trump’s rhetoric resonated in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, where in 2021 at least 19 states passed legislation that advocates of the law say makes it difficult for some citizens to vote.
Democrats support two federal legislation that would represent the largest reform of American elections in a generation by removing obstacles to voting enacted in the name of election security, reducing the influence of big money in politics and limiting partisan influence on election draws. Congress districts.