Politics

Protesters Push President on Voting Rights Bills

Nearly 150 people gathered Tuesday outside the White House for a rally championing a trio of bills aiming to protect voting rights nationwide.

The rally’s organizers — the League of Women Voters, People for The American Way, Democracy Initiative, Black Voters Matter, Declaration for American Democracy and DC Vote — want the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2021, the For the People Act of 2021 and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act of 2021

The demonstrators set up shop near the White House at Lafayette Park, calling on President Biden to eliminate the filibuster to help pass the pieces of legislation.

“Joe, you sounded the alarm on voting rights and we need you to put out the fire,” said Ben Jealous, president of the People for the American Way. “We need your help in eliminating the filibuster. Voting rights at the state level are at risk and we need federal voting laws to correct those.”

Jealous said with the filibuster gone or suspended, the three voting rights bills have “the 51 votes needed to pass,” referring to the slim 51-50 majority that Democrats have in the Senate, including Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaking vote.

But Senate Democrats would need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, and no Republican in the chamber has shown any indication of crossing the aisle on the issue of voting rights.

Dr. Ravi Perry, chair of the Howard University political science department, said D.C. statehood shouldn’t be forgotten in the fight for voting rights.

District residents pay federal taxes but lack a full vote in the House and have no representation in the Senate.

“We are D.C. and we have been suffering from the most potent form of voter suppression for over 200 years,” Perry said. “You cannot pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act without passing the D.C. Admission Act. The best way to do that is by eliminating the filibuster.”

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