The Democratic-controlled House approved a measure that combined two voting bills: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. It will next be sent to the Senate where a high-profile fight awaits amid Republican opposition and resistance among some Democrats to changing Senate rules.
Biden is expected to attend the Senate Democratic caucus lunch on Thursday to discuss the effort to pass voting bills and potential changes to Senate rules, a senior Democratic aide told CNN.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later confirmed that Biden will attend the Democratic Senate lunch, saying he will go to make the case directly to members for the new voting legislation.
“This is a defining moment that will divide everything before and everything after when the most fundamental American right that all others flow from, the right to vote and have your vote counted, is at risk,” Psaki said on Wednesday. “He’s heading up to the Hill tomorrow to speak to the caucus and make the strong case that you’ve heard him make publicly directly to members.”
Despite that, Democrats are gearing up to implement a plan where the House will first pass voting legislation and then send it to the Senate. Democrats would then need 60 votes to break a filibuster to move to final passage, setting the stage for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, to try to force a vote to change the rules.
Democrats are under intense pressure from grassroots activists and their voters to pass legislation to safeguard voting access but have continually hit a wall in the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans would need to join with all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to pass voting legislation in order to overcome a filibuster. Most Senate Republicans have dismissed attempts by Democrats to pass voting bills as reckless partisan overreach.
Biden’s decision to make a high-profile push on voting rights comes as a major pillar of his domestic agenda has stalled out, raising questions over what Democrats will be able to accomplish now, while they still control the White House and narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Thursday.
House passes voting legislation ahead of Biden’s visit to the Hill