clearn.png
Monday November 29th, 2021 1:04AM

Democrats plan Senate action on hate crimes, voting rights

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are vowing action on several of their top priorities in April, including strengthening hate crime laws to include Asian Americans and restoring voting rights protections to combat minority voter suppression.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday announced steps the chamber will take after a two-week break, starting with a Senate vote on hate crimes legislation to give local law enforcement more resources to prosecute crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who have faced racist attacks during the coronavirus pandemic. Schumer also said the Senate “must take action” on gun control legislation after two mass shootings this month, including one in Georgia that left six Asian American women dead.

He said the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a voting rights bill named after the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis — a companion to broad legislation Democrats are considering that would be the largest overhaul of U.S. election policy in a generation. The narrower bill would seek to restore elements of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, a decision that Democrats say left minority voters vulnerable to disenfranchisement.

Conspicuously absent from the spring agenda is immigration legislation, reflecting how movement on the issue has slowed in Congress in the face of Republican opposition. Democratic momentum has also been hurt by the Biden administration’s struggle to handle the large and growing numbers of unaccompanied minors seeking to enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Schumer says he believes the American people are ready for “big, bold comprehensive change.” But the prospects of the bills he promoted Thursday becoming law is distant, for now, as Republicans are broadly opposed to most of them and the Senate is narrowly divided 50-50. Lacking the 60 votes needed on most legislation, Schumer is planning to put legislation on the floor anyway and let Republicans go on record opposing it.

Democrats have discussed lowering that 60-vote threshold to get the legislation passed and some are pushing for it to happen now. While Schumer reiterated Thursday that “everything is on the table,” such a decision is likely months away.

If Republicans won’t work with Democrats, Schumer said, “our caucus will come together, and we will discuss the best way to produce that big, bold action.”

Senate Democrats also want to pass broader legislation on immigration, raising the minimum wage and strengthening background checks for gun purchases. But Schumer did not offer a timeline on any of those priorities, as lawmakers search for consensus on the details. Senators are expected to huddle privately in the coming weeks to work through those issues.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing this week on the gun legislation, and two bills that would expand background checks have already passed the House. Schumer said Democrats “want to pass the strongest bill that we can pass.”

While strengthening background checks is broadly popular among the American public, Senate Republicans have said they oppose the two House bills.

Casting forward, Schumer promised that the Senate will also act on a litany of other priorities, including fixing the country’s infrastructure, boosting broadband internet, combating climate change and reforming the U.S. Postal Service.

On the broad voting rights legislation — and on a series of other issues — Democrats are not only facing opposition from Republicans but also from one member in their own ranks, threatening their ability to pass it even with changes to the filibuster. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that while he agrees with many parts of the voting rights bill, he believes Democrats must focus on the parts of the legislation where they can work with Republicans.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government,” Manchin said in a statement.

The massive voting rights bill is a top priority for President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress, who see it as a forceful response to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country. It could shape election outcomes for years to come, striking down hurdles to voting, requiring more disclosure from political donors, restricting partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts and bolstering election security and ethics laws.

Republicans are strongly opposed to the bill, arguing that it would tilt elections toward Democrats and take control of elections away from the states.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Biden doubles goal of COVID vaccines to 200 million doses
President Joe Biden has opened his first formal news conference with a nod toward the improving picture on battling the coronavirus
1:31PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Buttigieg pitches infrastructure needs to divided Congress
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and improvements to roads, bridges and highways can no longer ignore the reality of climate change
1:30PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Democrats plan Senate action on hate crimes, voting rights
Democrats are vowing action on several of their top priorities in April
1:28PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Wyoming election changes pushed by Donald Trump Jr. fail
Wyoming lawmakers have rejected a measure requiring candidates to win a majority of votes in primaries to avoid runoff elections
12:54PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Amid growing challenges, Biden to hold 1st news conference
The White House is hoping to use President Joe Biden's first news conference since taking office to celebrate passage of the giant COVID-19 relief package
12:44PM ( 54 minutes ago )
US general: Afghans need US troops to counter Taliban
The top general for U.S. Special Operations Command has told Congress that Afghanistan’s military forces need U.S. assistance to successfully counter the Taliban
12:43PM ( 55 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Merkel: EU needs to redouble vaccine production
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union’s problems with getting coronavirus vaccines have underscored the need for the bloc to redouble its vaccine production efforts
10:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
Venezuelan COVID patients increasingly seeking in-home care
In Venezuela's capital, Caracas, and other cities, it is challenging to find a bed at a public hospital because of a spike in coronavirus cases and chronic understaffing
10:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
Germany's Merkel: EU needs to increase vaccine production
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union's problems with getting coronavirus vaccines have underscored the need for the bloc to redouble its vaccine production efforts
9:26AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Biden doubles goal of COVID vaccines to 200 million doses
President Joe Biden has opened his first formal news conference with a nod toward the improving picture on battling the coronavirus
1:31PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Buttigieg pitches infrastructure needs to divided Congress
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and improvements to roads, bridges and highways can no longer ignore the reality of climate change
1:30PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Shipping losses mount from cargo vessel stuck in Suez Canal
Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe have failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal as the number of stacked-up vessels unable to pass through the vital waterway climbed to 150 and losses to global shipping mounted
1:25PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden pledging 200 million doses in 1st 100 days
President Joe Biden is pledging to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by the end of his first 100 days in office
1:24PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Spielberg donates Genesis Prize money to justice nonprofits
Steven Spielberg said Thursday that he will donate his $1 million Genesis Prize to ten nonprofits working for racial and economic justice
1:15PM ( 22 minutes ago )