Nov 21, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Rep. Jeffries demands filibuster reform to pass voting rights bill

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is seen during an interview with "Axios on HBO."
Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told “Axios on HBO" that the “integrity of our democracy” is at stake without federal voting rights legislation, and the Senate must seriously consider filibuster reform if it can’t get 60 votes to pass it next year.

What they’re saying: “It's an open question as to whether we can get to 60 votes in the Senate on voting. And if we can't, then the Senate is going to have to make some decisions as it relates to filibuster reform,”Jeffries said.

  • “The integrity of our democracy hangs in the balance,” he added.

Why it matters: Democrats control the House, Senate and White House but their ability to deliver federal voting rights legislation, which President Biden could actually sign into law next year, remains uncertain.

  • This year alone, 19 states have enacted restrictive voting laws across the country — largely in response to the 2020 presidential election.
  • Democratic activists continue to sound the alarm on voting rights — Joe Madison, a prominent Black radio host, recently announced his intention to go on a hunger strike until Congress passes legislation to protect the right to vote.

The big picture: Jeffries chairs the House Democratic Caucus, the No. 5 position in the House. It puts him in charge of informing and spreading the party’s message.

  • But the congressman didn’t have much in the way of reassuring messaging to Democratic base voters wondering why his party hasn’t passed voting rights legislation.
  • “What do you say to Democratic voters in the 2022 midterms and Democrats weren't able to deliver on voting rights when you have control of the House, Senate, and the White House?” Axios asked Jeffries.
  • “Is that a hypothetical question? … Well, there's no message to communicate to Democratic voters now,” he said.
  • Jeffries also told Axios he considers “the undermining of the fundamental right to vote” as the greatest threat to democracy right now.

Go deeper: The House passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in August, but it's languished in the Senate.

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