In remarks this week, President Joe Biden called on the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which was passed by the House this week and is now awaiting further action. If made law, the bill would re-impose a requirement for federal officials to pre-approve certain local changes to the conducting of elections, with the hope of stopping at least certain iterations of voter suppression before they begin. When that provision — which was originally included in the 1965 Voting Rights Act before getting set aside by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling — was previously in force, officials were able to stop “thousands” of looming discriminatory measures, Attorney General Merrick Garland has explained.
Biden also called on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, which contains a raft of provisions that would make voting in federal elections more accessible. At present, the Senate’s filibuster rules make passing either bill difficult, since the rules require the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation. With the current party breakdown in the Senate in place, reaching the 60-vote threshold means 10 Republicans would have to join with all Democrats — a tall order.
Meanwhile, Biden commented as follows:
‘I… want to thank everyone who voted to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. It’s an act to restore and expand voting protections, to prevent voter suppression, and to secure the most sacred of American rights — the right to vote freely, the right to vote fairly, and the right to have your vote counted. The House has acted. The Senate also has to join them to send this important bill to my desk. And the Senate has to move forward on the [For the People] Act — critical legislation to protect our democracy and the right to vote. We need both of those election bills.’
Other prominent leaders, like former President and former First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, have on a similar note publicly called for continued advocacy on behalf of voting rights initiatives including the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Watch Biden’s comments on the matter below: