During a speech on Tuesday (June 1) commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, President Joe Biden called on Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the fight for federal voting rights legislation. Biden vowed to fight an “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” tapping Harris to get HR 1 or the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed by Congress.
“We’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again,” Biden said in his remarks. “I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal.”
After Biden’s speech, Harris released a statement, promising to work with “voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide.” The statement added that the VP will work with the House and Senate “to help advance these bills.”
“Our Administration will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting,” Harris said.
Cliff Albright, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, told The Huffington Post that getting Harris in charge of these efforts is “a step forward” but more needs to be done. “Any time you actually designate somebody in your administration to be the liaison, the czar, or whatever you want to call it, that’s a step in the right direction, because it is adding a level of responsibility and accountability, and elevating the importance.”
In his speech, Biden called out reluctant Democrats in the Senate who “vote more with our Republican friends” and essentially have made this push to pass HR 1 or other voting reform legislation difficult.
Albright says it’s time for Biden to put his nearly 50 years of Senate experience to use. “You can’t have 47 years of experience in the Senate and not know how to wrangle two votes within your caucus,” Albright told the outlet. “You’ve got to be able to figure that out. Chuck Schumer has got to be able to figure that out. And now, apparently, Kamala Harris has got to be able to figure that out.”
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