President Joe Biden said this week that Vice President Kamala Harris would be taking point on voting rights for his administration.
The move, announced during remarks at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, Okla., to recognize the 100th anniversary of the city’s race massacre, puts into Harris’ portfolio a policy issue that might involve her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
“In the last election, more people voted than ever before. Since then, more than 380 bills have been introduced across the country that would make it harder for Americans to vote,” Harris said in a statement after Biden’s speech. “Our administration will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting.”
Biden referenced the House passage of an elections and campaign finance overhaul that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will force a procedural vote on later this month, even though an evenly divided committee deadlocked on the bill in May. The president also referenced a bill named for the late Rep. John Lewis, to reauthorize and restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
“June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill. I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’ Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” Biden said.
Those comments appeared to reference Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two Democratic senators who oppose changing chamber rules to eliminate the ability of a minority of senators to block legislation through filibusters.
For her part, Vice President Harris is said to have asked to take the lead on voting rights, as it is an important issue for her.
“In the days and weeks ahead, I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide. And we will also work with members of Congress to help advance these bills,” Harris said in her statement.