Voting rights: House passes voting legislation ahead of Biden’s visit to the Hill

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved a measure that combines key provisions of two voting bills: the Freedom of Voting Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act. He will then be sent to the Senate where a high-profile fight awaits amid Republican opposition and some Democrats’ resistance to changing Senate rules.

A senior Democratic aide told CNN that Biden plans to attend a Senate Democrats’ lunch on Thursday to discuss efforts to pass voting bills and potential changes to Senate rules.

But before Biden reached the House of Representatives, Democratic Senator Kirsten Senema of Arizona reiterated her support for the stall, which sets a 60-vote limit for most legislation to pass in the Senate. In a speech in the Senate, she warned of further partisanship.

“Scrapping the 60-vote threshold on a party line with the fewest possible majority to pass bills I support will not guarantee that we prevent demagogues from winning office,” she said. Instead, scrapping the 60-vote threshold will simply ensure that we lose an important tool we need to protect our democracy from threats in the years to come.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden plans to take the issue directly to members for the new voting law.

“This is a defining moment that will divide everything before and everything after when the fundamental American right from which all others flow, the right to vote and to have your votes counted, is in jeopardy,” Psaki said on Wednesday. “He’s heading to Hill tomorrow to speak to the caucus and make the strong case you heard him speak publicly to the members directly.”

Biden’s planned trip to Capitol Hill comes after the president called on the Senate in a powerful speech on Tuesday to change its pending rules in order to pass voting legislation. The problem for the Democrats is that they don’t have the votes to pass voting legislation under current Senate rules due to Republican opposition, nor do they seem to have the votes to change the rules. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Senema of Arizona, two influential moderates, have voiced opposition to eliminating the 60-vote threshold required to pass most legislation.

Despite this, Democrats are preparing to implement a plan where the House of Representatives first passes legislation for a vote and then sends it to the Senate. Democrats will then need 60 votes to break the blockage to move to the final stanza, clearing the way for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, to try to force a rule-change vote.

Democrats are under intense pressure from grassroots activists and their voters to pass legislation to protect voting access, but they are constantly facing a wall in the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans would need to join all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to pass voting legislation. In order to overcome the disruption. Most Republican senators dismissed Democrats’ attempts to pass voting laws as reckless partisan excesses.

Biden’s decision to press voting rights comes as a mainstay of his domestic agenda, raising questions about what Democrats will be able to achieve now, while still controlling the White House and narrow majorities in both houses. Congress.

Late last year, Manchin said he could not support the blanket expansion of the social safety net known as the Build Back Better Act. It is unclear whether Democrats will be able to salvage any of the legislation in the wake of that setback.

This story and title were updated with additional developments on Thursday.

CNN’s Sam Fossum and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.


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