Joe Biden advocates bipartisan voting rights as Texas bill moves forward, but consensus proves elusive

His call for Americans to choose country over party and find consensus on the fundamentals of democracy was just the latest reminder of the distance between the two parties in the nation’s capital – and of the naive election promise to Biden that he could restore bipartisanship in Washington. now appears.

Almost at the same time that Biden was remembering how the two sides could work together in the United States Senate during an event in Virginia on Friday, Senate Republicans blocked a effort to launch a bipartisan commission to explore the origins of the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Biden’s hopes of passing legislation to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, reduce the scourge of gun violence, overhaul the police, and end attacks on the franchise all face long 50-50 Senate chances .

And yet Biden, the perennial optimist, soldiers looking for that elusive spirit of compromise, which he referred to in his statement on Saturday at the same time as he berated Texas lawmakers for joining Georgia and the United States. Florida to advance “a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote” and is “part of an assault on democracy that we have seen too often this year.”

“In the 21st century, we should make it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” the president said in his statement, urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that thwarts the GOP’s attack on the law. voting states. “I call again on Congress to pass the People’s Law and John Lewis’s Advancement of Voting Rights Law. And I continue to call on all Americans, of all parties and beliefs, to stand up for our democracy and protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections. “

GOP chooses political ambition over full investigation

Just 24 hours earlier, hopes of a bipartisan investigation into the events of January 6 and the efforts of a mob to overturn the 2020 election results have come to nothing. The majority of Republican senators have made it clear that they have no intention of defending democracy and the rule of law, if that angered former President Donald Trump and obstructed their thinking be their way to win back the House and Senate in the midterm elections.

Fearing Trump’s wrath and, perhaps, what a bipartisan commission might find out about why Trump did so little in the early hours of the Jan.6 attack, when the lives of lawmakers and the Former Vice President Mike Pence was in jeopardy, Senate Republicans blocked the bill. create a commission to investigate the pro-Trump riot that resulted in the deaths of five people and injured around 140 police officers.

The bare political reasoning of Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, was denounced by their own colleague, Senator Lisa Murkowski ahead of the vote. The Republican of Alaska criticized the decision to choose “short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and recognizing what lies ahead on January 6”.

“Is that really what it is?” she asked. “Is everything just one election cycle after another?”

On Saturday, Democratic Senator Tina Smith said it was shocking that McConnell called on its members “as a personal favor not to do what is so clearly in the national interest.”

“There is so much talk in Washington right now about bipartisanship, but on issues like this – it takes two to tango. You can’t have bipartisanship if you don’t have two parties ready. to put the national interest above their own party interests, ”Smith told CNN’s“ Newsroom ”.

The Minnesota Democrat also noted that filibuster prevented the majority of senators from creating the commission because Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes they needed to overcome complex Senate procedural hurdles. .

“Think about what happened here,” she said. “The 54 senators who voted for an independent committee and represented 81 million more Americans than the senators who voted” no. “So you are clearly contracting, not only a Senate majority, but I believe a majority of the Senate. ‘Americans, and that’s the problem in my mind with filibuster. “

Texas forms next front in voting wars

But Democrats lack the votes to remove filibuster, even within their own caucus, despite Republican opposition to their platform on almost every front.

The challenge for Biden both in his legislative goals and in his desire to convince Americans that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election was underscored by a recent poll showing that a majority of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen as Trump falsely claimed. .

An astonishing 23% of Republicans polled by PRRI said they agreed with the set of conspiratorial beliefs associated with the far-right conspiracy movement known as QAnon that “the government, the media and the Financial worlds in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation “and that” a storm will soon sweep the ruling elites and restore the legitimate rulers. ”

Last week’s re-poll showed the grip of disinformation over a significant portion of the U.S. electorate, which helped fuel the drive to roll back voting rights in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. country.

A new report released last week by the Brennan Center for Justice found that at least 14 states have already enacted more than 20 laws making it harder for Americans to vote. According to the Brennan Center report, at least 61 bills containing restrictive provisions are in the process of being passed in 18 state legislatures, and at least 389 restrictive bills have been introduced in 48 of the 50 states over the years. legislative sessions of 2021.

As the legislative session draws to a close in Texas, Republicans in the House and Senate on Saturday negotiated a deal on legislation that would make postal voting more difficult and eliminate overtime and voting that allowed better access to ballot boxes. shiftworkers and black and Latino voters in the Houston area in the 2020 election. The final wording of Senate Bill 7 has yet to clarify both houses before it can be sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to do so. sign.

Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group created by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, called Senate Bill 7 an “extreme bill” that “attacks the freedom of vote from almost every angle imaginable “while empowering pro-ballot observers and facilitating the overthrow. elections.

The federal For the People Act, which was passed by the United States House earlier this year, would create national voting standards that would replace the types of restrictive measures that lawmakers in Texas and other states are attempting. to put in place, but the bill was criticized by Republicans in Congress as a takeover.

Even some Senate Democrats have raised concerns about sweeping voting and ethics legislation. Among them is West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has made it clear he will not support S1 – let alone agree to blast Senate filibuster rules as some Democrats have suggested pushing through the bill. law in Congress.

Manchin was pressed again last week to see if he would be ready to end it filibuster – because the failure of the Jan. 6 commission was the latest example of Democrats’ inability to move their agenda forward with it in place.

“I am not ready to destroy our government, no,” he told reporters. “It’s time to come together.”

But there are few signs that lawmakers are ready to do so as we approach midterm.

About Therese Williams

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