President Joe Biden called a restrictive Texas voting bill edging closer toward passage “wrong and un-American” Saturday as he pressed Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation that has very little chance of passing in the evenly divided Senate.
His plea for Americans to choose country over party and find consensus on bedrock principles of democracy was just the latest reminder of how far apart the two parties now are in the nation’s Capital — and how naïve Biden’s campaign promise that he could restore bipartisanship in Washington now appears.
At almost the same time that Biden was reminiscing about how the two sides used to be able to work together in the US Senate during an event in Virginia on Friday, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to launch a bipartisan commission to explore the origins of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Biden’s hopes of passing legislation to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, reduce the scourge of gun violence, overhaul policing and halt the attack on voting rights all face long odds in the 50-50 Senate.
The major hurdle is the difficulty of skirting that body’s filibuster rules — which some Democrats would like to jettison so that they could put their majority to better use.
And yet Biden, the eternal optimist, soldiers on in search of that elusive spirit of compromise, which he touched on in his Saturday statement at the same time that he scolded Texas legislators for joining Georgia and Florida in advancing “a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote” and is “part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year.”
“In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” the President said in his statement, urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that would counter the GOP assault on voting rights happening in the states. “I call again on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And I continue to call on all Americans, of every party and persuasion, to stand up for our democracy and protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections.”