Jan 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Top Democrats call for voting rights legislation on Jan. 6 anniversary

President Joe Biden speaks to the media as he departs with Vice President Kamala Harris after they spoke at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2022 in Washington, DC
President Biden speaks to the media as he departs with Vice President Kamala Harris after they spoke at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2022, in Washington, DC. Photo: Ken Cedeno-Pool/Getty Images

Top Democrats are calling for expanding voting rights on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Democrats, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, seek to build momentum for sweeping voting rights legislation on the anniversary of the deadly day.

Driving the news: "The lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated," Biden said Thursday on the floor of the U.S. Capitol.

  • "So we have to be firm, resolute and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and have that vote counted," Biden said.
  • Calls for expanding voting rights reverberated throughout the morning, with Harris saying: "We must pass the voting rights bills that are now before the Senate. We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy."
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) invoked a similar sentiment, saying, "We must pass legislation, effective legislation to defend our democracy, to protect the right to vote."

State of play: The remarks come as Senate Republicans consider the possibility of reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887, while broader federal voting rights legislation remains blocked in the Senate, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.

  • Meanwhile, Schumer has vowed to hold a vote on Senate rules changes by Jan. 17. Schumer seeks to bypass Republican obstruction and pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

What they're saying: Schumer slammed the efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act, calling them "insufficient" and "offensive," in a speech on the Senate floor.

  • "Senator McConnell's plan to reform the Electoral Count Act would do nothing more than codify the vice president's ceremonial role in counting of the Electoral College votes, effectively guaranteeing that partisan state legislatures could overturn the elections without fear of recourse," Schumer said.
  • "This cannot be, this should not be, about one party versus another. Voting rights has always been bipartisan ... passing this chamber with large votes from both sides of the aisle."

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