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Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). Photo: Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Raphael Warnock tells Axios he won't let the Senate's fixation on passing a pair of infrastructure bills prevent it from also protecting the voting system that narrowly allowed him to win his new job.

What they're saying: "We can walk and chew gum at the same time," the Georgia Democrat said. "Voting rights is bigger than the filibuster. And shame on us if we're more committed to a Senate rule (preserving it) than we are to the principles of democracy."

  • "I am not going to allow (voting rights) to get pushed aside," the freshman said.
  • President Biden was seen walking with Warnock, arm on his shoulder, as he concluded a visit to the Senate Democratic lunch at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

Warnock's not alone on either front.

  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he and several of his colleagues "feel like we're on a mission after Jan. 6."
  • "We don't view this as just like any other issue. We view this as like, 'I will support and defend the Constitution,'" he said.
  • He reiterated he thinks the only way they'll be successful in passing voting rights legislation is by finding some sort of workaround to the filibuster: “It just strikes me as unlikely that we'll get their help in trying to protect the right to vote."

Between the lines: Democrats set the bar far too high with the "For the People Act," which was always too ambitious to have a real shot at passing. Now, those who care about it are desperately trying to keep the issue relevant as it takes a backseat to infrastructure.

  • The problem is — and like most things in Congress — the more time that passes the less political will there is to do anything.
  • Texas lawmakers flew to Washington and held a series of news conferences — including another Wednesday — about their effort to block the Republican-controlled legislature in their state from passing a voting reform bill.
  • Biden also delivered a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday lambasting efforts to curb voting rights.

The big picture: The concern voiced by Warnock, Kaine and other Democrats is rooted in the jam-packed agenda that senators confront through the end of the year.

  • Leaders see August recess as a deadline to ensure their highest priority agenda items see progress.
  • As of now, infrastructure is dominating this period, and police reform — if negotiators can produce legislative text — sounds like the closest second.
  • Once the Senate returns in September, it will have to deal with revising the debt limit and extending government funding.

Be smart: That leaves little time to haggle over other massive legislation, with preserving or restoring voting rights potentially left out of the discussion.

Go deeper

Biden: Jan. 6 Capitol riot "was about white supremacy"

President Biden speaks during the 10th anniversary celebration of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with Vice President Harris in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 21. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday that white supremacy motivated rioters who carried out the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: "The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago, it was about white supremacy, in my opinion," Biden said at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.