What You Need To Know:
As a self-imposed August deadline to pass federal voting rights legislation nears, Democrats on Capitol Hill are working to break a months-long stalemate in passing a new law.
Since Republicans blocked efforts to pass the For the People Act, Democrats have struggled to craft a bill that will garner the votes needed to become law. In addition to setting national voting standards, the For the People Act would alter the Federal Election Commission, impose restrictions on congressional redistricting, overhaul campaign finances, and include new ethics rules for the president and vice president.
Now, Senate Democrats are preparing a new, scaled-back voting rights measure.
“We are very close to getting a bill done where everyone in the Democratic caucus will sign on,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said at a rally on Tuesday.
Klobuchar, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia are leading the negotiations.
“We’ve been making good progress. They’re telling me that everyone seems to be in agreement,” Manchin said. “We’ve all agreed, I think, to come down to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, named after the late Georgia Representative John Lewis, would expand and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, enacted August 6, 1965, which was weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court decision.
Why We Need to Know:
The timing of the law could not be more crucial. Voting rights advocates have long argued that legislation must be passed this month in order to counteract new, more restrictive state-level election laws.
In a letter signed by more than 49 left-leaning get-out-the-vote organizations, leaders said they will demand more aggressive action by the Biden administration to pass federal voting legislation. The letter, penned by groups including the New Georgia Project Action Fund, LUCHA Arizona and Black Voters Matter Fund, also criticizes what the groups say is a misguided White House strategy that depends too much on registering, educating and turning out voters to fight new voting restrictions passed by Republicans nationwide.
“Some may think we can overcome these unwarranted barriers to the ballot box by just increasing our organizing efforts,” the letter says. “We write to tell you unequivocally that that is simply not true.”
“We are facing a rising tide of voter suppression unlike anything we have seen,” the letter states. “While grass-roots efforts remain critical to ensuring fair and representative elections, so too is federal legislation to protect and preserve the rights of the constituencies we serve.”