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CBC honors Black women advocates amid voting rights battle

Voting rights activists, led by U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Chair of Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), stage a protest at Hart Senate Office Building July 15
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The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Wednesday honored Black women who have been on the front lines organizing and protesting amid a battle to get Democrats’ voting rights legislation passed.

“We know throughout our history Black people had to fight for everything that we have gotten in this country, and most of the time, we are very fortunate that Black women have been on the forefront of those fights,” Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the CBC’s chairwoman, said from the Lincoln Room on the House side of the Capitol.

“We are still fighting against voter suppression in a country that was built on the backs of enslaved ancestors,” Beatty added. “It is simply unacceptable, and we’re here today to tell you, we are not accepting it anymore, we know what we have to lose.”

Getting both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through Congress to President Biden’s desk is top priority for the Black caucus and Democrats overall amid a wave of restrictive voting laws that have proliferated Republican-led state legislatures. Several key battleground states, including Georgia, Florida and Arizona, already have new voting restrictions on the books.

The discussion over voting rights has become a fierce partisan battle, in which Republicans are seen as have the upper hand.

Last Thursday, Beatty and other Black women were arrested by Capitol Police for staging a pro-voting rights demonstration at the Hart Senate Office Building.

Beatty and other protesters could be heard shouting “end the filibuster” before Capitol Police apprehended them.

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, and Melanie Campbell, CEO and president of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, were alongside Beatty for last week’s demonstration and also present on Wednesday.

“We cannot organize our way out of this,” Brown said. “We cannot litigate our way out of this, we have got to have some federal legislation to really be able to help us.”

The CBC, activists and other lawmakers haven’t stopped pushing for the pair of voting rights bills, but Democrats have few cards left to play just weeks before Congress’s scheduled summer recess.

Both pieces of legislation are far short of the 10 Republican votes required to clear the Senate filibuster.

A united Senate Democratic caucus has the power to axe the filibuster, given Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote, but moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are squarely against getting rid of the procedural rule.

Despite the White House’s recent aggressive messaging over getting the bills passed, Biden has stopped short of endorsing filibuster reform.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has floated the idea of carving out an exception to the filibuster that would give bills related to voting rights the ability to bypass the procedural rule by simple majority, but it has yet to gain significant traction among Democrats.

Tags CBC Congressional Black Caucus For the People Act Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Joyce Beatty Kyrsten Sinema voting rights
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