The Poor People’s Campaign pressed Congress on Monday to take action on voting rights, a $15 minimum wage and ending the Senate filibuster.
The advocacy group, led by Bishop William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis, has been one of the loudest voices calling for the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers to pass a number of their legislative priorities that have stalled in Congress.
“We're launching a season of nonviolent, moral direct action and civil disobedience to demand four things by Aug. 6, the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act,” Barber said at a Monday press conference outside the Supreme Court, which was meant to serve as a kick-off for a weeks-long campaign.
The top priority for the group is ending the filibuster, a procedural rule that requires most legislation to win 60 votes to move forward in the Senate. The rule effectively gives the Senate minority the power to block most legislation.
In the current Senate, where Republicans and Democrats each hold 50 seats, the filibuster has stymied several key Democratic bills, including sweeping voter rights legislation.
Democrats are somewhat divided on whether to ax the rule. While a majority of the Senate caucus backs ending the legislative filibuster, moderate Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinMajor climate program likely to be nixed from spending package: reports Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Biden gets personal while pitching agenda The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations - US opens to vaccinated visitors as FDA panel discusses boosters MORE (Ariz.) are squarely against getting rid of the measure.
Calls for the change have amplified as legislative priorities remained unachieved and Congress’s summer recess draws closer.
While the White House has given full-throated support for the For the People Act as well as the John LewisJohn LewisWhat's at stake if Trump wins in 2024? Single-party authoritarian rule A holistic approach to climate equity Senate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE, who served in the Senate for more than three decades, has been wary of ending the filibuster.
Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks Tuesday in Philadelphia on the importance and urgency of the two voting rights bills.
Voting rights are currently the apex of partisan battling, as myriad restrictive voting rights bills have been introduced and passed in GOP-controlled legislatures since the start of the year.
Democrats have blamed former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE's groundless claim that November’s presidential election was stolen from him via rampant voter fraud as one of the catalysts behind the wave of voting legislation.
They’ve also asserted that the GOP wants to suppress voters of color who cast ballots in record numbers this past Election Day, largely for Biden.
Republicans have dismissed these arguments, maintaining that the bills passed are meant to protect election integrity. They also accuse Democrats of wanting to install favorable rules for their party with the For the People Act.
In his remarks, Barber challenged the president to go further and make stops in Texas, Arizona and West Virginia to “make the case for the ending of the filibuster to pass these three things: the For the People Act, the expansion of the Voting Rights Act and the minimum wage of $15.”
“This is not just a Black issue,” Barber said. “This is a constitutional, moral and economic democracy issue.”
Barber explained that for the next three Mondays, the Poor People's Campaign and its allies will stage various rallies and protests across the country, including a women-led moral march that will take place next Monday in Washington, D.C.
As it stands, the House will begin its roughly month-long summer recess on Aug. 2, the Senate on Aug. 9.