President Joe Biden's call for changes in U.S. Senate rules to try to pass voting rights legislation is teeing up a fight in Washington, D.C. that could impact voters across the country.
The bills would strike down state-level laws being put in place by many GOP-led states, ostensibly designed to enhance election security, but experts said they will simply make it harder for some people to vote.
Biden's speech was forceful, blunt and explicit, referring to new efforts to limit voting access as "Jim Crow 2.0." For the first time, he directly advocated eliminating the Senate's vote-blocking device called the filibuster in order to debate and vote on election and voting rights legislation. Though his focus brings more national attention to the debate ahead, it's not clear what impact his newfound fire will have.
Republicans said it's really about giving Democrats a voting advantage.
"He compared, listen to this, a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors. How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Hearst Television's Chief National Investigative Correspondent Mark Albert took the issue to the White House briefing room Wednesday, asking White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki if the president feels "powerless" to stop additional voting restrictions from passing this year in state and local communities while his federal effort to prevent such measures is stalled.
"Well, I think we have to take, the president believes we have to take a multifaceted approach, and no he doesn't feel powerless, but he thinks one of the most effective roles he can play now is by advocating for Congress to pass two pieces of voting rights legislation that will help put in place a baseline of protections for states across the country," Psaki said.
Watch the full exchange below:
Since the 2020 election, the Hearst National Investigative Unit has interviewed secretaries of state and chief election officials from both parties, and none said there was any fraud that would have overturned the result. Every audit, even those run by Republicans, found the same thing.
The voting rights legislation also would reduce the influence of big money in politics and limit partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts.