‘Recess Can Wait’: State Lawmakers Urge US Senate To Pass Voting Rights Bill
Amid chants of “Recess Can Wait, Democracy Cannot,” nearly 150 lawmakers from 30 states came to Washington on Tuesday to rally with U.S. Democratic Senators and Representatives and call on the Senate to suspend its recess. August to adopt voting rights and anti-brigandage legislation.
These lawmakers have arrived as reinforcements for the 50 lawmakers in the Democratic state of Texas who fled their state 23 days ago in order to deny a quorum to Republicans in State House. GOP lawmakers were trying to pass an election law that would make it harder for majority Democratic constituencies to vote and easier for Republican officials to overrule election results they don’t like.
“When we got here, we said our job was to rally the nation and get people to Washington, DC, because by chance we would not only get the Senate to hear us, but we would get them to act.” , said the state of Texas. Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat.
State lawmakers, like those Texas Democrats who fled their state, have since become the faces of the campaign to pressure the Senate to pass the For The People Act, a set of voting rights , campaign finance, ethics and redistribution reforms passed by the House. May and Senate Republicans filibustered in June.
These lawmakers face directly the continuing threat created by former President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud that led to the January 6 insurgency on the U.S. Capitol and inspired hundreds of bills on the suppression of voters and the subversion of elections that Democrats fight in committees and on the floors of their state houses.
“This is the delta variant of the Jim Crow voting laws and the only vaccination is federal legislation,” Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) Said at the rally.
The US Census Bureau is preparing to release its congressional redistribution data on August 16. The For The People Act would require states to create independent, non-partisan redistribution processes to draw new districts. Supporters of the bill believe that if passed before August 16, states would be prevented from unfairly manipulating constituencies ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
State lawmakers have called on President Joe Biden to use all the powers of his office to push the Senate to pass the legislation and for the Senate to change its filibuster rules to allow it to pass a simple majority instead. than the 60 votes it currently takes. to start and end the debate on most laws.
“We sent Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff to give Democrats the majority to do the job and not just for Georgians, not just for Democrats, but for all Americans,” said Bee Nguyen, representative of the State of Georgia, a Democrat running for secretary of state in Georgia in 2022. “Our democracy is in jeopardy and we need federal protection now.
“Now I know some Democrats support continuing to filibuster because it moderates big swings in politics no matter who’s in charge, but right now the only thing it’s doing is d ‘obstructing justice – long overdue justice for communities that have been targeted for systematic voter suppression, ”said Georgia State Representative Renitta Shannon, Democrat.
Every U.S. senator and representative who attended the rally on Tuesday joined state lawmakers in calling for changes to Senate rules on filibuster. They included Democrats Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Cory Booker (NJ), Bob Casey (Penn.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Ben Ray Lujan (NM) and Warnock and Rep. John Sarbanes (Md.), the bill’s main sponsor in the House.
Sense Democrat Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), co-sponsor of the For The People Act, and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who opposed the bill until days before it reached the Senate in June, remain the only Democratic senators who openly oppose changing Senate rules on filibuster. Others may agree with them, but none have said so publicly. To have a chance to pass the For The People Act, his supporters must convince these two Democrats to drop their objections to changing the filibuster rules.
West Virginia State Delegate Mike Pushkin demonstrated at the rally how West Virginia tried to convince Manchin to change his mind. That is to say with a good dose of praise.
Pushkin praised Manchin for reaching a compromise deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and the bill’s main co-sponsors Klobuchar and Merkley to gain support for the bill. law. He praised Manchin for working on the amendment that will replace the current For The People law, which has yet to be made public. And he called on everyone present to praise Manchin as well.
“I am confident that my senator and my friend Joe Manchin will seize this moment and break Mitch McConnell’s grip on our democracy and get the job done before the Senate recess,” Pushkin said. “So I urge everyone present to call Senator Manchin’s office and thank him for coming up with this fair and reasonable proposal and letting him know how much we appreciate him standing up for our democracy. “
So far, Manchin has not budged from his opposition to changing the obstruction rules.
Biden also declined to make any definitive statement on the filibuster with regard to preventing the passage of voting rights laws. In a major speech at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, he called the Republican push for voter suppression and electoral subversion legislation based on Trump’s lies the “most important test of our democracy since the Civil War” . But he never once mentioned filibuster, the only obstacle to passing a law that would pass that test.
Instead, the White House reportedly suggested that voting and civil rights groups and politicians could “over-organize voter suppression.”
“We delivered for Biden,” Nguyen said at the rally. “We awarded these two seats in the US Senate to Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff despite the removal of voters. We organize ourselves because we know our voting rights are at stake. ”
However, she added: “Let’s be clear, we cannot organize the subversion of democracy. Let’s be clear, we can’t organize more than the power-hungry Republicans who are currently trying to steal power from our local election councils. We cannot organize partisan gerrymandering which allows politicians to choose their voters and not the other way around. “
What was clear among all the speakers and rally attendees was that the Republican effort to make it harder for communities of color to vote and easier to overturn unwanted election results in counties and jurisdictions with large black, Latin American and Native American populations is just the most recent entry in the history of racism in the United States.
“We needed federal intervention in 1865,” said Mississippi state representative Omeria Scott, a Democrat. “We needed federal intervention in Mississippi in 1965. And we need federal intervention in Mississippi and across the country in 2021.”
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