Black caucus chair arrested at Capitol during voting rights protest

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Activists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary GOP hopefuls fight for Trump's favor in Ohio Senate race MORE (D-Ohio) led a group of pro-voting rights protesters into the Hart Senate Office Building Thursday afternoon, resulting in her being taken into custody.

“We will not be turned around. We will keep walking. We will fight for freedom. We will fight for our right to vote!” Beatty tweeted at 3:42 p.m., with a photo of her marching arm-in-arm with several protesters. 

The congresswoman and protesters can be heard shouting “end the filibuster” in video taken by reporters on the scene.

Three minutes later, a picture of Beatty being handcuffed by Capitol Police was tweeted from her account.


“Let the people vote. Fight for justice,” the second tweet reads. 

Beatty’s office confirmed to The Hill that she had been taken into custody. 


In a statement, Capitol Police said that “two males and seven females” were arrested for “illegal demonstration activity” after being asked three times to disperse.

Getting voting rights legislation and other key Democratic agenda priorities past the Senate’s filibuster, which requires 60 “yes” votes for debate on a bill to end, has proven to be a herculean task this session of Congress, creating urgency among Democrats and prompting increasingly loud calls for the procedural rule to be axed.

It’s a perfect storm of distress for Democrats, as a wave of restrictive voting laws have been introduced and passed in GOP-controlled state legislatures around the country since the start of the year.

Additionally, there is concern that the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold a pair of strict Arizona voting laws crippled the already weakened Voting Rights Act.

It is believed that the Democrats’ two voting rights bills — the For the People Act and the Johnson Lewis Voting Rights Advancement — would stem the flow of the new voting restrictions, but as it stands, neither have a clear path to President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE’s desk.

Republicans vehemently oppose the For the People Act, known as H.R. 1, often describing the proposal as a blatant Democratic power grab. The bill passed the House with no GOP support and isn’t expected to garner any in the Senate.

The lengthy bill would mandate a federal threshold for certain voting rights, such as universal mail-in voting, early voting and same-day voter registration. It also addresses gerrymandering and campaign finance reform.

Some moderate Republicans have signaled vague support for the bill named after the late Georgia congressman and voting rights champion John LewisJohn LewisHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Budowsky: High stakes drama for Biden, Manchin, Sinema Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise MORE (D), but it’s doubtful that it will receive the 10 Republican votes it needs to clear the filibuster.

Democrats have Vice President Harris’ tie-breaking vote in the Senate and can theoretically reform or get rid of the filibuster, but they need complete support from the entire caucus. 

Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior —Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine safe for young kids MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaDemocrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (Ariz.) are both firmly against getting rid of the filibuster, even for voting rights. 

Over the weekend, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) proposed that an exception to the filibuster be allowed that would allow bills related to voting rights the ability to bypass the procedural rule by simple majority.

A maneuver of that kind isn't unprecedented; confirmation votes can pass by simple majority as well as the process of budget reconciliation that Democrats used to get Biden’s America Rescue Plan passed.


A few House Democrats have signaled an openness to supporting Clyburn’s suggestion.  

“For voting rights, I’d be willing to support that because I'm willing to use every tool in the toolkit,” Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceBottom line Black caucus chair arrested at Capitol during voting rights protest Supreme Court deals blow to Black Caucus voting rights efforts MORE (D-Mich.), the CBC’s second vice-chair, told The Hill Wednesday, in reference to Clyburn’s idea. 

“This is beyond just one of the things we need to work on, it is essential for us in government to make sure that we are protecting the right to vote, it's our democracy.”

Updated 5:20 p.m.