Biden’s agenda enters crucial week on Capitol Hill before Senate recess

The July 4 recess in the Senate is more than just deliberations, which begin at the end of the week and can encourage real momentum as easily as it can disrupt it.

The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on whether to move the so-called For the People Act, a sweeping election bill that currently lacks Republican support.

But Democrats are seeing the vote as an opportunity to show unified support within their party and to create a clear contrast with Republicans on the issue of voting access in America.

As a result all eyes are on sen jo munchkin.

Last week, the West Virginia Democrat left the option open to support an amended bill after opposing previously drafted legislation. He said he stands ready for the people to support a number of provisions in the act, including declaring election day a public holiday, extending early voting by at least 15 consecutive days, and banning partisan gerrymandering.

But in return for his significant support, Manchin requires identification to vote, which many progressives see as discriminatory towards racial minorities, but Republicans see necessary to prevent potential voter fraud.

Still, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said he liked the house-passed HR1, signaled an openness to Manchin’s proposed changes.

“I think I’m prepared to do everything I possibly can to protect American democracy,” Sanders, an independent from Vermont with Democrats, said when asked about “State of the Union” by CNN’s Dana Bash. He was pressurized if he supported Munchkin’s proposal. .

Compromise effort by voting rights champion also praised Stacy Abrams.

But even if enough Democrats rally around Munchkin’s counter proposal, he has long said he believes any change of this magnitude should have the support of Republicans—a very unlikely prospect.

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamFox News Sunday, calling the “For the People Act” the “greatest power grab in the country’s history” and calling Munchkin’s proposal still too ambitious.

“Well, one, I like Joe Manchin a lot, but we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States and the states are in charge of voting. So I don’t like the idea of ​​redistributing power in the state. from the legislators. You’re taking people from red-blue states to red states,” the South Carolina Republican said.

“Under this proposal, you would have some kind of commission, redraw new districts, and I don’t like that. I want states where people can control how new Congress seats are allocated. “

“So, as much as I like Joe Manchin, the answer would be no,” he said.

The Sweeping for the People Act, which was passed by the House in March, prevent states from limiting voting by mail, require prepaid mail on absentee ballots, and mandate voter registration on the same day of the election. It would also effectively overturn voter ID laws by requiring states to allow voters to present affidavits in lieu of identification.
The law is negotiated as 14 states have already enacted at least 22 new laws restricting voting this year, according to Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

And more Republican-controlled state legislatures have joined the march to limit access to ballot boxes, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that voter fraud contributed to his White House loss in 2020.

After record numbers of Americans voted by mail in November, most new laws make it harder to vote in absentia and by mail.

infrastructure at a crossroads

Democrats have for weeks taken two tracks in negotiations on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal – a bipartisan route and a more partisan route that would potentially allow them Pass Bills With Only Democratic Votes through the budgeting process known as reconciliation.

The champions of each have grown louder in recent times along with the urgency to make some progress.

Sanders said on Sunday that it is imperative that Democrats work toward an infrastructure package with a large price tag that addresses climate change and other related issues. “I sometimes think we’re stuck in numbers and that’s important, but we have to look at what the needs of the American people are, what’s going on right now,” he told CNN.

Asked if he had Biden’s blessing to pursue a separate $6 trillion reconciliation plan, Sanders said the president provided a “serious and comprehensive blueprint.”

But some moderate Democrats, including Manchin of New Hampshire and Sen. Jean Shaheen, are concerned about the large price tag of Sanders’ plan and some have indicated they will not support it.

A bipartisan group of 58 moderate House members proposed a $1.25 trillion infrastructure package earlier this month. The bill proposes $761.8 billion in new infrastructure spending over eight years, but Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate are still negotiating how to pay for the new spending.

Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus, expressed optimism in a joint interview on Sunday To the bipartisan infrastructure proposal, also acknowledging that some members of Congress would not support the package.

“It’s about physical infrastructure and that’s something that needs to be done and we’ve got bipartisan support for that. … I believe we can get it done,” Gottheimer said. “You’ll always have some who disagree, but that’s what keeps working about it.”

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick said negotiators should consider all possibilities of paying the bill, including an increase in the gas tax – which the White House has refused to support.

“Should everything be on the table? Of course it should be, because it’s part of the agreement,” Fitzpatrick said. “No one will absolutely love the plan but everyone will be fine with it.”

What is clear is that where Biden comes down matters, something Graham suggested in his Fox News interview as he pushed Biden to take the lead on the infrastructure package.

“I think the difference between this conversation and the earlier talks is that we are willing to add more money to the infrastructure in this package, and I hope that if the White House and Joe Biden stay involved, we can get there,” he said. . “I’ll just say, ‘President Biden, if you want a trillion dollar infrastructure bill, this is the one to take. You just need to get in and take the lead.'” “

‘June or bust’ for the success of police reform?

Republican Sen. Tim Scott told reporters last month that it’s “June or bust” when it comes to bipartisan effort To prepare a legislative overhaul of policing.

This Scott and the other two key negotiators — Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Democratic Rep. Karen leaves a small window for Bass – to strike a deal that will satisfy both sides.

The conversation at this point is defined by a cycle of promising momentum before a long holdup as the group Democrats works to combine the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with the Senate Republican Justice Act.

Booker said earlier this month there was “a lot of work to be done” but added that the parties could still reach an agreement by the end of the month.

“I think we are days, but it could be 30 days or 25 days, who knows, and there’s a lot of work to be done in a very short amount of time,” the New Jersey Democrat told reporters. There are days away or far away from reaching a deal.

One of the toughest issues has been “qualified immunity,” a controversial federal doctrine that protects officers accused of violating the Constitution while on duty.

Established by the Supreme Court in 1967, qualified immunity effectively protects state and local officials from personal liability, including police officers, unless they violate a person’s “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights” defined by the court. are not determined for. The doctrine can only be used in civil cases, not criminal, and allows the authorities to prosecute the victims for damages only in those circumstances.

In April, Scott compromised Which would shift the burden of responsibility from individual police officers to their employers: the police department. He said the idea of ​​allowing police departments to be taken to court was in his talks with both Democrats and Republicans at the time, but “does not resonate” to individual officers.

“I think my convention understands where I am, and I’m hopeful and optimistic about their support,” Scott said of the other 49 Senate Republicans.

But as recently as this month, Scott described clear differences between negotiators on qualified immunity.

while Biden He said he supports the George Floyd Act, Some leaders say that if Congress doesn’t act, they want to see the White House revive an Obama-era panel to review policing practices and investigations into police agencies in more cities.

However, other civil rights activists say the country needs a police reform law more than anything else and they hope Congress will pass it and Biden will sign it.

CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Daniela Diaz, Alex Rogers and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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