President Biden will make “the moral case” for voting rights in a highly anticipated speech at 2:50 p.m. ET centered around protecting ballot access in the face of “authoritarian and anti-American” restrictions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
Biden will use his remarks in Philadelphia “to make the case to the American people about how this is a fundamental right,” Psaki said.
The address from Biden comes in the aftermath of former President Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and as Republican-controlled legislatures have pressed ahead with new state laws imposing limits on voting.
Since the November election, state lawmakers have enacted 28 laws in 17 states that restrict ballot access, according to a June tally by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
Biden will decry Republican obstruction to a sweeping election reform bill that Democrats argue is a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access. The President will stress that the work to pass that legislation, the For the People Act, as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act “are only beginning,” according to a White House official.
Biden will also call for a new coalition made up of advocates, activists, students, faith leaders, labor leaders and business executives “to overcome this un-American trend and meet the moment as far as turnout and voter education,” the official said.
Where things stand in Congress: The President and his team have repeatedly previewed a major push on voting rights after Republicans in the US Senate blocked a sweeping election reform bill last month, but it remains unclear how much he can accomplish.
Passing new voting legislation in Congress will almost certainly require altering filibuster rules, since Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate isn’t enough to overcome GOP opposition — and it’s not clear Democrat have the votes to pass a bill anyway.
Read more about Biden’s speech here.
Vice President Kamala Harris will meet this week with the Texas legislators “who broke quorum to block legislation that would have made it significantly harder for the people of Texas to vote,” her office says.
The Texas Democrats left the state Monday in an effort to block Republicans from passing a restrictive new voting law in the remaining 27 days of the special legislative session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Two chartered planes carrying the majority of the Democrats who left Texas for Washington, DC, landed at Dulles International Airport on Monday evening, a source familiar told CNN. They have largely kept their planning secret because they can be legally compelled to return to the state Capitol and believed law enforcement could be sent to track them down, two sources familiar with the Democrats’ plans had told CNN earlier Monday.
Reporting from CNN’s Clare Foran and Lauren Fox contributed to this post.
Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, of Maryland, said he hopes President Biden uses his authority to “lean in” on voting rights and begins pushing harder for the passage of the For the People Act.
Sarbanes told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that he hopes Biden will use the bully pulpit of the presidency during his remarks today, to “lean in on these important issues of public policy. In this case, saving our democracy from the attacks that we’re seeing across the country on the right to vote… We very much hope to see the President leaning in hard on this, describing what the threat is. But also focusing attention on what the solution is.”
Sarbanes explained how the For the People Act is a key piece of voting rights legislation that could address “90% of the mischief we’re seeing when it comes to blocking people’s access.”
He said he hopes the President “speaks to the importance of that legislation, and starts to reach out to Capitol Hill in a meaningful way to encourage legislators, lawmakers, senators, to do what it takes to get this across the finish line.”
The For the People Act failed in the Senate last month after Republicans blocked the legislation.
A procedural vote to open debate on the legislation was defeated by a tally of 50-50, falling short of the 60 votes needed to succeed. Democrats were united in favor of the vote after securing support from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but Republicans were united against it, causing the measure to fail to advance.
The group of Texas House Democrats in Washington, DC, currently do not have plans to meet with any Senate Republicans, according to a spokesperson for the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
With all 50 Senate Democrats already on board with voting rights legislation, it’s Republican support that’s needed for any legislation to pass. No Republican voted in favor of the For the People Act when it was brought to the Senate floor last month.
The group is scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and
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