• By The Financial District

BIDEN FACES PRESSURE FROM DEMS OVER VOTING BILL DEBACLE

When New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones was at the White House for the signing of the proclamation making Juneteenth a national holiday last week, he told President Joe Biden their party needed him more involved in passing voting legislation on the Hill, Alexandra Jaffe reported for the Associated Press (AP).

In response? Biden “just sort of stared at me,” Jones said, describing an “awkward silence” that passed between the two.


For Jones, the moment was emblematic of what he and a growing number of Democratic activists describe as a lackluster engagement from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on an issue they consider urgent and necessary for the health of the democracy.


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But as Democrats’ massive election legislation was blocked by Republicans on Tuesday, progressives argued Biden could not avoid that fight much longer and must use all his leverage to find a path forward.


The criticism suggested the voting debate may prove to be among Biden’s first major, public rifts with the left of his presidency.


“President Obama, for his part, has been doing more to salvage our ailing democracy than the current president of the United States of America,” Mondaire said, referring to a recent interview in which the former president pushed for the legislation.


On Monday, in advance of the vote, Biden met with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at the White House to discuss both voting rights and infrastructure. But Biden didn’t use his clout to work Republicans, who have expressed staunch and unified opposition to any voting legislation, arguing Democrats are pushing an unnecessary federal takeover of elections now run by state and county officials.


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He tasked Harris with taking the lead on the issue, and she spent last week largely engaged in private meetings with voting rights advocates as she traveled for a vaccination tour around the nation.


Those efforts haven’t appeased some activists, who argue that state laws tightening election laws are designed to make it harder for Black, young and infrequent voters to cast ballots. The best way to counter the state laws is with federal legislation, they say, and Biden ought to come out for a change in the Senate filibuster rules that require 60 votes to advance most legislation.



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