Harris meets with Stacey Abrams, voting rights advocates
Vice President Harris on Wednesday met virtually with Stacey Abrams and other voting rights advocates to figure out how to move forward after a sweeping elections bill stalled in the Senate a day earlier.
Harris hosted leaders from the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, Black Lives Matter, the American Federation of Teachers and several progressive groups. The discussion, she said, would focus on strategies for passing federal legislation and building grassroots coalitions to protect and strengthen access to the ballot box.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy,” Harris told the group. “And when we look in particular at the challenges, at the attempts to attack our democracy and most recently one of the most vivid, outrageous examples being Jan. 6, we know that our democracy is under attack in many ways and that we must preserve the promises of a democracy, including appreciating that the right to vote is fundamental to that democracy. That truth remains.”
The meeting came one day after the For the People Act, a voting rights bill passed by the House and championed by the Biden White House, failed to get the 60 votes required in the Senate to overcome the legislative filibuster.
All 50 members of the Democratic conference voted in favor of advancing the bill, something Harris highlighted as a victory on its own.
“That was a feat, and I think we should all consider that an accomplishment,” she said. “As diverse and varied geographically as is the Democratic caucus, there was unity in recognizing the importance of moving forward to ensure that the American people have full access to the ballot box.”
Harris called the failed vote an “inflection point,” and she reiterated her mantra that the fight for voting rights is not over because of Tuesday night’s developments.
President Biden has repeatedly spoken about voting rights as a top priority for his administration, cautioning that democracy is under attack as GOP-led legislatures enact stricter voting laws following the 2020 election.
Harris requested to lead the administration’s efforts on voting rights, and she has held private meetings with state and local leaders in recent weeks to discuss the issue.
But the push for federal legislation took a hit on Tuesday when the For the People Act failed in the Senate in the face of united Republican opposition.
The For the People Act would require states to offer mail-in ballots and a minimum of 15 days of early voting while calling for online and same-day voter registration. It also overhauls campaign finance rules, changes the makeup of the Federal Election Commission, imposes new ethics rules for public officials and establishes new requirements on congressional redistricting.
Republicans rejected not only the original version of the sweeping 800-page bill but also a slimmed-down version circulated as a framework by centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).