Dec 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Harris: U.S. democracy role model status at risk over voting rights law

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the 2021 Freedman’s Bank Forum event at the U.S. Treasury Department on December 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Vice President Kamala Harris during an event at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., this month. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris told CBS News in an interview broadcast Sunday that the U.S. standing as a global role model would be under threat if voting rights legislation failed to pass.

What she's saying: "[P]eople around the world watch what we do as America, because we have held ourselves out to be a model of the efficacy of the ability of a democracy to coexist with an economic strength and power," Harris told CBS' "Face the Nation."

  • "We have been a role model saying, you can see this and aspire to this and reject autocracies and autocratic leadership," she added in her interview with CBS' Margaret Brennan.
  • "And right now, we're about to take ourselves off the map as a role model, if we let ... people destroy one of the most important pillars of a democracy, which is free and fair elections."

Worth noting: Harris acknowledged that "given the daily grind that people are facing," voting rights "may not feel like an immediate or urgent matter, when in fact it is."

  • "[T]he more we have the opportunity to talk about it, the more I think people will see .... 'I don't want an America of the future for my kids to be in an America where we are suppressing the right of the American people to vote.'"

The big picture: The House passed voting rights and election reform bills, but the legislation has for months stalled in the Senate for months, Axios' Alexi McCammond notes.

  • Democratic calls to pass federal voting legislation have in recent weeks strengthened, with President Biden saying he's willing to support "whatever it takes" — including working around the Senate's filibuster rule, per Axios' Emma Hurt.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to his colleagues last week saying the Senate would consider voting rights legislation in January.

Yes, but: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have indicated their opposition to reforming the filibuster.

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