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Manchin Stands Against Voting Rights Bill

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(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Democrat Joe Manchin, Senator of West Virginia, announced on Sunday that he would not support the voting rights bill championed by his own party because of Republican opposition.

What We Know:

  • In a column written for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin stated he would not support partisan legislation as it “will destroy the already weakening bonds of our democracy.” Manchin’s vote has the potential to sway the already evenly split Senate on the For the People Act.
  • The For the People Act is the Democrat’s response to legislation passed in Republican-controlled states to restrict voting practices. It would ensure automatic and same-day voter registration, place limits on gerrymandering, and restore voting rights for felons, among other considerations.
  • The proposed act had passed through the House in March, but as it enters the Senate floor, Republicans remain opposed. Manchin’s statement and the filibuster leave little hope for success as the parties appear to be tied.
  • Manchin has not provided further context to his opposition other than the partisan nature of the bill. He has also denounced the restrictive voting laws but also politicians who dismiss the need for election security.
  • The senator has endorsed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act instead. Named after the late Georgia Congressman, it would reauthorize protections from the Civil Rights era that were previously eliminated in 2013 by the Supreme Court.

Republicans have continued to endorse the belief popularized by the Trump administration that election security means more restrictions on voters. The passage of legislation restricting voting rights has occurred in 14 states, including Texas and Georgia.

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Texas Governor Signs Voting Restrictions Bill into Law

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Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting, imposes new hurdles on mail-in ballots and empowers partisan poll watchers.

What We Know:

  • Texas joins Florida and Georgia, in enacting new restrictive voting measures, instigated by former president Donald Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud.  At least 10 other states are considering similar laws in their state houses.  Opponents of SB1 said its provisions will disproportionately restrict voting access for marginalized voters, particularly black and brown people of color and those with disabilities.
  • Democrats in Texas fled the Capitol in Austin for weeks in an effort to stymie the bill — first preventing the passage of a similar measure at the end of the state’s regular legislative session in May, then forcing Abbott to call two special sessions to tackle what the governor called “election integrity.”  The election overhaul in Texas comes as Republicans seek to hold onto power in a rapidly changing state where people of color make up virtually all of the population growth — and that growth is concentrated in large cities that tend to vote Democratic.
  • The new law directly targets Harris County, the home of Houston (22.6% Black), which last year offered drive-thru voting and 24-hour early voting. The bill restricts the hours counties can offer early voting to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. while also prohibiting tactics that aide voter participation and engagement.  In the 2020 general election, Harris County used a garage at the Toyota Center, enabling voters to vote from their cars amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“SB 1 is an appalling, anti-democracy effort by Texas Republicans to construct barriers to voting for people they believe will not support them. What makes this bill and similar ones Republicans are pushing across the country even more un-American is that Republicans are using the ‘Big Lie’ about the 2020 election as a pretext to support them. The reality is that these bills have nothing to do with election integrity or security, but rather are discriminatory measures making it harder for all people to vote. These bills will have a disproportionate impact on communities of color.” –Eric Holder, US attorney general for US President Barack Obama

  • Senate Bill 1 also blocks counties from sending unsolicited mail-in voting applications, even to those over the age of 65, who are immediately eligible to vote-by-mail, per law.  The rules include restrictions for those who previously helped persons with disabilities and enables partisan poll watching, a tactic long used by republicans and white supremacists to intimidate Black people from voting.

 

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Could Make History Succeeding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

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Democrats expect Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to take the esteemed role of Speaker of the House if Nancy Pelosi steps down in 2022.

What We Know:

  • The information comes after a profile from The Atlantic reported Pelosi might step down after next year’s midterm elections. The House Speaker returned to her position earlier this year after an immense amount of support. However, she announced she would not hold that role past 2022.
  • The Atlantic declares if the Democratic Party continues holding the House of Representative’s majority, they most likely will choose Jeffries to lead them. The 51-year-old currently is the Democratic caucus chair, and many consider him a conduit to Pelosi. Although Jeffries usually silently agrees with policies, he recently became more vocal on topics such as police reform and the Jan. 6 Insurrections.
  • In addition, Jeffries intends on aligning Democrats. He declared his party has “failed repeatedly” because they get caught up in “litigating details and nuances” and are afraid to assert themselves. In fact, he wants the party to learn from the Republicans; the opposing party “speaks in headlines” and better “packages” their ideas. Alongside this, he would like to focus on fighting the systemic racism on which he built his career.
  • Despite his potential, he may face opposition from other House leaders. For example, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reluctantly waited until the last minute to cast their votes for Pelosi and may do the same with Jeffries; the House progressives dislike Jeffries because he tends to disagree with their policies, especially the Green New Deal. Regardless of the backlash, he faces from The Squad, Jeffries intends to try working with them to move the Democrats forward.

If Democrats continue running the House in 2022, Jeffries will also make history with his new role, as he will be the first African-American Speaker of the House.

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Senate to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

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The legislation moved forward with a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats.

What We Know:

  • Supporters of the infrastructure bill believe it will boost the economy and create jobs. The bill’s creators, such as Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), released a statement on Tuesday in which they wrote the bill will “create jobs, increase productivity, and pave the way for decades of economic growth and prosperity – all without raising taxes on everyday Americans or increasing inflation.”
  • After the vote concluded, Senators proceeded to a budget resolution that would permit Democrats to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package without Republican votes.
  • The bipartisan infrastructure bill will now go to the House of Representatives, but it may not be passed quickly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said she will not review either bill until the Senate passes both legislations. The House of Representatives also does not return from recess until September 20.
  • Despite this, the approval marks a victory for President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. It ends the White House and Congress’ month-long battle of negotiating a plan to fix American roads, railways, public transit, water systems, power grids, and broadband. It also lets Democrats begin to focus on their $3.5 trillion package that will provide more funding for child care, paid leave, and climate policy.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to begin a “vote-a-rama” to consider amendments to the resolution as soon as Tuesday. Once the Senate passes the budget measure, it may start its recess; Senate will return from its break in mid-September.

Schumer would like the committees to complete writing their portions of the final legislation by Sept. 15. After this, both chambers of Congress will review the bill. Black News Alerts will continue updating readers on the status of the infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution.

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