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Activists try to keep up pressure to pass elections and voting bills

Kate Ackley, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Focus on filibuster

If the partisan conflict over any of the other items, such as the debt limit, were to trigger more serious discussion among Democratic holdouts, such as Manchin or Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, to roll back or modify the chamber’s 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, that could have a trickle-down effect on the voting and elections measures.

“We think Democrats should use any means necessary to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, including rules reforms as needed,” Gilbert said.

The focus on the filibuster in the voting and elections debate is a chief reason why activists plan to target the White House in the coming weeks. They want President Joe Biden to speak out forcefully in support of changing the filibuster, if that’s what it takes to get their bills to his desk.

Morgan, the coalition director, said five advocates, including People for the American Way President Ben Jealous, were arrested outside the White House last week. They were ultimately not charged with a crime, she said, but spent the night in jail.

 

“We are showing up and are going to force action,” she said. “We know that this procedural rule, the filibuster, is blocking progress, and we want President Biden to weigh in on this. We want to see President Biden using every lever of power to compel the Senate to move on this.”

Advocates see the Freedom to Vote legislation as a way to overturn or curb state laws where Republican legislatures have rolled back some of the 2020 pandemic voting practices, such as universal balloting by mail or early voting.

“We’ve got a really crowded Senate agenda, but the Center for American Progress and the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition are fighting every day to ensure that the Freedom to Vote Act stays near the top of the agenda,” said Michael Sozan of the Center for American Progress. “Our democracy is at stake. Yes, infrastructure and Build Back Better are incredibly important, but equally important is the infrastructure of our democracy.”

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