Kamala Harris Reveals Bipartisan Move To Boost Voting Rights

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According to a new report from CBS, Vice President Kamala Harris says that she has been in touch with Republican Senators regarding pushes to protect voting rights. Backing from the vice president carries significant weight. Specifically, Democrats have put forward two main pieces of voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, each of which would bolster federal voting rights protections. The For the People Act includes a broad range of provisions that would make voting in federal elections more accessible, while the bill named after Lewis, a late Congressman and civil rights leader from Georgia, would restore a requirement for pre-approval from federal authorities before the implementation of certain changes to the conducting of elections.

The hope behind the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would be to allow an opportunity for stopping voter suppression before it starts. Recently, Republicans in states around the country have pushed new restrictions on voting that do not respond to any real, documented, systematic election integrity issue — since such an issue does not exist in the United States — but do make voting more difficult. Now, Harris told CBS that ‘there is “no bright line” defining whom she speaks to about voting rights legislation,’ according to the network, which adds that she characterized voting rights as “a non-partisan issue” that “should be approached that way.”

Notably, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has previously co-sponsored a version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, so there’s clearly at least some interest among Republicans in putting provisions like it in place. Generally, Murkowski isn’t entirely alone among Senate Republicans in her sometimes more moderate viewpoints. Meanwhile, Harris has commented as follows, according to CBS:

‘There is a lot of work to be done. There is no question about that. I join the chorus in saying that everyone has to approach this issue with a sense of urgency and a sense of deep-seated commitment to fighting against these efforts to suppress the vote.’

On the recent occasion of the first anniversary of Lewis’s death, both Harris and President Joe Biden once again called for Congress to act to protect voting rights. The For the People Act has already been filibustered by Senate Republicans once, but it could be brought up again; the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is set to be considered by the Senate later this year. In the meantime, the Senate is set to soon take up a bipartisan infrastructure deal for consideration. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Wednesday that a full 11 GOP Senators would be notifying Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that they were prepared to support moving forward with the deal.