Joe Biden assigns Kamala Harris one other troublesome position: Protecting voting rights

President Joe Biden mentioned on Tuesday that he had directed Vice President Kamala Harris to guide Democrats in a sweeping legislative effort to guard voting rights, a difficulty that’s important to his legacy however one which faces more and more daunting odds in a divided Senate.

“Today, I’m asking Vice President Harris to assist these efforts, and lead them, amongst her many different obligations,” Biden mentioned throughout a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma. “With her management and your help, we’re going to beat once more, I promise you, nevertheless it’s going to take a hell of a variety of work.”

The president was in Oklahoma to commemorate the a hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa bloodbath, when a white mob destroyed a vibrant Black enterprise district and killed as many as 300 folks. The bloodbath was one of many worst outbreaks of racist violence in American historical past, and it has gone largely ignored in historical past books.

Biden informed the gang that he noticed the safety of voting rights as one of the vital elementary — and most endangered — pathways to make sure racial fairness.

But his choice to put in Harris because the chief of an effort to beat again payments in states nationwide which might be making an attempt to tighten voting guidelines — “a very unprecedented assault on our democracy, ” Biden informed the gang — added one other politically thorny downside to the vp’s coverage portfolio.

Harris has already been tasked with main the administration’s efforts to discourage migration to the southwestern border by working to enhance circumstances within the Northern Triangle nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The vp — who will go to Mexico and Guatemala subsequent week — and her employees have labored to reframe expectations round her position, stressing that she is going to study the basis causes of migration, not single-handedly cease the circulation of migrants to the United States.

Her Northern Triangle work comes along with a bunch of different engagements, together with however not restricted to: promoting the “American Rescue Plan,” advocating Biden’s infrastructure bundle, representing girls within the workforce, highlighting the Black maternal mortality charge, helping small companies, assessing water coverage, selling racial fairness, combating vaccine hesitancy, and combating for a policing overhaul.

For her half, Harris embraced the task in an announcement issued shortly after Biden’s announcement in Tulsa.

“In the times and weeks forward, I’ll interact the American folks, and I’ll work with voting rights organizations, group organizations, and the non-public sector to assist strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide,” the vp mentioned. “And we may even work with members of Congress to assist advance these payments.”

Biden has targeted on points associated to voting rights for a lot of his profession, however the Senate now bears little resemblance to the deal-making chamber he remembers. He faces particularly wrenching selections in the case of the voting rights laws he has requested Harris to assist shepherd by Congress.

Known because the “For the People Act,” the invoice is the professed No. 1 precedence of Democrats this yr. It would overhaul the nation’s elections system, rein in marketing campaign donations and restrict partisan gerrymandering. But after passing the House, it hit a wall of Republican opposition within the Senate.

One possibility for Democrats could be to ram the invoice by on a partisan vote by additional rolling again one of many foundations of Senate custom: the filibuster. But a minimum of one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, stays against the concept, probably scuttling it.

In Tulsa, Biden appeared to precise open frustration on the odds dealing with the invoice — and on the Democratic lawmakers who could stand in the best way of its success.

“I hear all the parents on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this completed’?” the president mentioned. “Well, as a result of Biden solely has a majority of successfully 4 votes within the House and a tie within the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote extra with my Republican pals,” a probable swipe at Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, one other average Democrat.

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