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GOP Senator says Barack Obama, Kamala Harris' election victories reason for opposition to voting rights bill
Voting rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers have been pushing to get voting rights bills passed amidst unanimous opposition from Republicans. GOP Senator Bill Cassidy was pressed on the party’s opposition, citing the election victories of former President Barack Obama and vice president Kamala Harris as the reasons.
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” over the weekend, host Jake Tapper pressed Cassidy on the voting rights bills that are set to be taken up in the evenly divided Senate. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is one of the bills that are set to be taken up at the upper chamber. The bill would restore the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act against discriminatory election laws.
Tapper noted that at the time, the law was passed unanimously in the Senate. The CNN host then proceeded to press Cassidy why the Republicans are against restoring the protections now. Cassidy said that the environment at the time is different from the environment now.
“We’ve had an African-American elected president of the United States, and an African-American elected to the vice presidency and African-American elected to the Senate in South Carolina. If anyone can’t see the circumstances have changed, they’re just not believing their lying eyes,” said Cassidy.
“The reality is that in Louisiana, we have the highest percentage of African-American officials in the nation,” Cassidy continued. “We’ve had a white mayor of a predominantly Black city and a Black mayor of a predominantly white city. There’s been incredible progress in our country.”
Cassidy, however, admitted that more work has to be done, but maintained that the times have changed since 1965.
Republicans in the Senate have blocked debate on the voting rights bills four times through the use of the filibuster. While most Democratic Senators have argued to carve out the filibuster to pass voting rights, two lawmakers from the party – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – have staunchly defended keeping the senate tradition.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed his last-ditch effort to force the Senate to go into a debate on voting rights, temporarily evading the filibuster. In an internal memo to congressional Democrats, Schumer’s plan involves making several obscure maneuvers that already started Wednesday night last week in the House. The text from an unrelated NASA bill would be replaced with the text from the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The legislation would then be brought to the Senate as a “message” that allows Democrats to open a debate on the measure without the need for 60 votes.