Klobuchar: Infrastructure Bill Could Include Voting Measures | Your money
ATLANTA (AP) – Democrats in Congress are exploring ways to include financial incentives for states to expand voting access on a massive infrastructure bill, a key senator said on Sunday.
Democrats are struggling to get their high-profile electoral reform bill passed in an equally divided Senate, where Republicans remain united in their opposition and the rules require 60 votes to move most bills forward.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, said in an interview that the priority continued to be passing legislation known as the For the People Act, which would usher in standards. minimum voting requirements in the United States such as automatic and same-day registration, early voting, and postal voting without excuse.
But Klobuchar noted that Democrats could also use the process known as reconciliation to push states through certain reforms. Electoral systems have been designated critical infrastructure along with the country’s power plants, banks and dams.
“You can create an electoral infrastructure there because it’s part of the infrastructure,” Klobuchar said. “It is not a substitute for the For the People Act, but it is something that we can start working on immediately and that we are working on right now.”
Introducing election-related measures into the infrastructure bill would be a high-stakes bet with no guarantee of success.
As part of the Congressional budget process, certain measures regarding income, expenditure and debt may be approved with a threshold of 51 votes, which is why Democrats are suing it. The process allows them to bypass an almost certain obstruction of the Republicans.
But there is a catch: the non-partisan parliamentarian in the Senate can rule on the deletion of any provision that is not directly related to the budget, or of items whose budgetary impact is “simply incidental” to the policy changes envisaged. .
Ultimately, Democrats would not achieve their goal of federal standards through the infrastructure bill alone, but could push some states to move in that direction.
“The money with incentives has already passed. So let’s see what we can get approved, ”Klobuchar said. “But again, this is only part. Listen, that’s not all, is it? But it’s a tool you don’t want to let go.
President Joe Biden’s big infrastructure proposals move through Congress down different paths, each potentially complementing or torpedoing the other. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a nearly $ 1 trillion package of traditional infrastructure for roads, bridges, broadband and some climate change investments. The rest of Biden’s ideas are pulled together in the much larger, multibillion-dollar package that Democrats could endorse themselves.
Republicans are united against the bigger infrastructure package and the electoral bill. The saying that the latter represents a democratic takeover that is tantamount to a federal takeover of the elections, which are administered at state and local levels.
Last month, Republicans blocked an effort to debate the bill, and Democrats will have to decide whether they want to change Senate rules to ultimately pass the bill. At least two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have said they oppose the elimination of the filibuster rule.
Klobuchar was in Georgia ahead of a rare Senate Rules Committee field hearing, to be held Monday at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The hearing is part of a sustained push by Klobuchar and his fellow Democrats to pass their election bill. They say federal voting standards are needed to counter a slew of new laws pushed by GOP lawmakers in several states, including Georgia, to tighten voting rules.
Her visit also included a Sunday event with voting rights lawyer Stacey Abrams. The two were scheduled to meet at a polling station in suburban Atlanta, where voters lined up during early voting last year.
Georgia Republicans rebuffed claims that their bill, known as SB 202, removes voters, noting that the state is proposing many measures Democrats are seeking in the federal bill, such as the advance voting, postal voting without excuse and automatic registration.
A campaign spokesperson for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is running for re-election next year, called Sunday’s event and Monday’s hearing “nothing more than political theater.”
“After dramatically failing to pass an unconstitutional federal takeover of the Washington election, Democrats are now using one publicity stunt after another to rally support for their extremely unpopular far-left agenda,” he said. Kemp spokesperson Tate Mitchell said. “SB 202 led the country to pass common sense electoral reforms, and any honest examination of the bill reveals it. “
While some of the most controversial aspects of the Georgian bill were dropped during the legislative process, what was adopted is remarkable for its reach and the newly extended powers granted to the state over local election offices.
Bill also adds voter identification requirement for mail-in ballots, shortens time to apply for mail-in ballot, reduces number of ballot boxes available in metro Atlanta and banned the distribution of food and water by various groups and organizations to queuing voters. to vote. Several lawsuits have been filed about the law, including one by the US Department of Justice.
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