“This really is the first place Biden risks losing the base,” said one of the top Democratic strategists.
“It is no coincidence that it is the question of voting rights. I think black voters feel like “we did the hard work and got you elected” and want to make sure the president stays true to his commitments, “the strategist added.
On Tuesday in Philadelphia, Biden said unequivocally that preserving Americans’ “free suffrage” was a priority for his administration. He urged members of Congress to pass the For the People Act to do so, a call made as GOP-led states across the country push ahead with electoral reforms that critics say constitute an open suppression of voters. .
Democrats agree his rhetoric and speech was forceful. He used phrases such as “absolutely extraordinary” to describe the obstacles some voters faced just to vote last year. They credited it as a first step in leadership to overthrow a dangerous threat.
But some say it lacked the natural follow-through necessary to pass the bill through lawmakers.
Without moving Democratic Sense. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFederal judge blocks new DACA nominations Five questions to Democrats on their .5T budget Kings launch effort on voting rights in honor of John Lewis MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten CinemaKyrsten SinemaKings Launches Voting Rights Effort in Honor of John Lewis Voting restrictions will make it harder for tribal communities to vote Senate negotiators scramble to foil criticism of GOP PLUS (Arizona) to drop their defense of Senate legislative obstruction, the legislation will not move forward.
“The silence was deafening on the question of the systematic obstruction that would make it a reality,” said Joseph Geevarghese, who heads the left-wing group Our Revolution.
“We won’t have voting rights legislation unless we have filibuster reform,” agreed Stasha Rhodes of Just Democracy. “You can’t talk about the problem without talking about the solutions. We know the White House sees this as a problem. Our goal is that they share the same level of urgency. But we have to hear how.
“If now is not the time, then when?” Rhodes added. “The right to vote is linked to everything that is close to our hearts. “
Geevarghese, Rhodes and other activists stressed that their work to get Biden and the two Senate moderates to embark on a forward-looking project did not end after just one speech.
The White House has effectively referred the question of how to deal with filibustering to the Upper House. Press officer Jen PsakiJen PsakiCDC finalizes order allowing unaccompanied children to enter the United States under pandemic rule Defense overnight: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iranian strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military are at least partially vaccinated Overnight health care: CDC director warns of ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ | Biden says social media platforms are ‘killing people’ | Florida accounts for 20% of new cases PLUS recently called a “tool of the legislative process” which is “important” and “warrants a debate”. But she stopped before taking a position on any future adjustments, saying “the decision to make changes will be made by members of the Senate, not this president or any other president.”
Other laws regarding immigration reforms and gun safety background checks have already passed the House, as has a special committee to investigate the insurgency on Capitol Hill on January 6. However, they too could not survive the existing filibuster.
Some Democrats say the For the People Act should be especially important to Biden, given how he rose to the top of the 2020 presidential primary. After weak results in the early primary and mostly white states, the Black voters in South Carolina have shown their support overwhelmingly. He easily won subsequent contests with more diverse constituencies.
The South Carolina victory came after a key endorsement from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (DS.C.), who last week called on Biden to support filibuster reform in the name of voting rights.
“The president is leaving, rhetorically, is important. This signals the grassroots to continue to fight on this issue, ”Geevarghese said.
Voters in Arizona, Georgia and Texas – states with sizable minority populations – are now among those facing new restrictions on the ballot box.
The Democratic National Committee amplified Biden’s condemnation of such measures in an email after his speech, focusing on Texas Democrat elected officials who protested GOP electoral reform by fleeing the state.
While Democrats’ concerns about safeguarding democracy are strong and widely shared, they also come as other major legislative actions they support progress in Congress. The voting rights conversation literally takes place as Biden seeks to implement a massive infrastructure plan, including a multibillion-dollar package specifically designed to bypass filibuster.
“Making sausages is never easy or fun to watch,” said Kelly Dietrich, who founded the National Democratic Training Committee.
“We as progressives see an incredibly skilled Biden pushing an agenda forward through an incredibly tight Congress. By racking up wins, you can help make room for senators who may not feel comfortable stepping out of the door directly on these issues, ”Dietrich added.
“More precisely, we are talking about Manchin. We are talking about Sinema, ”he said.
In Dietrich’s view, “victories” over the two spending bills would theoretically allow the centrist duo to “brag” to voters in West Virginia and Arizona about all that Biden has been able to accomplish over the course of the year. of its administration. They could then possibly justify an otherwise delicate vote on the law for the people, he said.
Progressives on Capitol Hill, including top leaders from both houses, spent much of the week promoting Senate work to reach a $ 3.5 trillion budget deal while supporting an infrastructure plan $ 1.2 trillion bipartite.
Both measures would push things up on progressives’ wish lists by providing more money to areas like climate, education and various social safety net initiatives. Liberal office holders are now trying to ensure that these items are properly funded in the final version.
“Most of the groups are right now through the roof with the way Biden provides infrastructure and care,” said Eddie Vale, a Democratic agent.
While the lack of detail in Biden’s speech affected some at the start of the week, many on the left seemed ready to give the president credit towards the end for leading the big spending bills. The approach both and shows what some Democrats say is a natural tension between demanding action in one area and giving kudos in another.
It is certainly not unique to the Biden era. But the style has become more pronounced as progressives organize themselves and voice their demands more.
“It always happens with every administration that groups always disagree with you on certain issues and don’t hold back,” said Vale. “Even though they’re happy that nine out of ten things are happening. “