President Biden and key Democrats in Congress are confronting rising calls from their party to do whatever is needed — including abolishing the Senate filibuster, which moderate senators have resisted — to push through a major voting rights and elections overhaul that would counteract the wave of Republican laws. After the Texas bill became public on Saturday, Mr. Biden denounced it, along with similar measures in Georgia and Florida, as “an assault on democracy,” blasting the moves in a statement as “disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”
He urged Congress to pass Democrats’ voting bills, the most ambitious of which, the For the People Act, would expand access to the ballot, reduce the role of money in politics, strengthen enforcement of existing election laws and limit gerrymandering. Another measure, the narrower John Lewis Voting Rights Act, would restore crucial parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, including the requirement that some states receive federal approval before changing their election laws.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, has set a late June deadline to force a debate on the For the People Act. That leaves Democrats less than a month to try to win over holdouts like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who is opposed to what he calls an overly broad and partisan measure, and to persuade them that it is worth abolishing the Senate filibuster to pass the measure along party lines. Mr. Manchin is facing a chorus of calls from all corners of his party — from Mr. Schumer to the progressive wing — to change his stance, but has shown little sign of budging.
Voting rights groups, civil rights groups and Democrats have pledged a monthlong blitz of advocacy, organizing and lobbying members of Congress to take whatever steps necessary to pass federal voting legislation.
“I hope after this good fight is fought in Texas, that we direct all of our energy and all of our focus on our friends in Washington, D.C., who, like they did in 1965, can save American democracy and keep it from reverting into Jim Crow 2.0,” Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said at a news conference on Sunday.
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