This week on News in Motion, daily news with relevant commentary and a call to action mixed with an inspirational message, I presented analysis regarding President Joe Biden and his address during the 100th anniversary of Tulsa’s race massacre.

Is it me, or do you find yourself asking, “Why is it that in 2021, the United States of America does not have voting rights for all people?” 

Human Rights are voting rights, yes? 

I promise you, every year since I have been a registered voter, I hear candidates touting the famous line, “I will make sure you have voting rights! I will pass voting rights into law.” However, here we are in 2021 with a newly elected president and vice president in the White House, with Congress running around trying to determine what’s on the table and what they will tackle. 

I cannot help but ask, “Are Black people being used by Congress as a bargaining chip when it comes to passing legislation? Have voting rights for Black people become the leverage that is used to pass other bills, but this one?” 

For The People Act

H.R. 1

John Lewis Voting Rights Act

Before you say it, yes, in 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. It was a significant victory and the most important civil rights statutes adopted in American history. However, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or against a certain language minority group, and lawsuits can be brought to challenge state or local actions that are alleged to violate Section 2. Yet, both the Fourteenth Amendment’s and the Fifteenth Amendment or Section 2 requires proof of discriminatory intent. Here lies the problem. Section 5 was invalidated by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013. It was a clever way to shackle Black and other marginalized people from voting or making it very difficult to vote in elections. 

Just look at the recent laws signed by GOP governors. 

What’s the hold up in Congress for getting this passed? Oh, that’s right—the filibuster. Sixty votes are needed for passage. 

Here are the cliff notes.

The Senate has a cloture rule—which requires 60 members to end debate on most topics and move to a vote. It is possible that each president’s policy agenda could hit a roadblock, and things may never get accomplished. Yes, there is partisan gridlock in Congress, and the dynamics in the Senate create a battleground that is difficult for either side to come out victorious. 

Oh, if you think this is new, think again. The filibuster has been going on since 1806. Having the power to block the opposite party, the filibuster became a part of the main stage in 1917. That’s right; the filibuster became the thing to opponents on the motion to ban the filibuster. 

There’s a system problem. This makes absolutely zero sense. As an outsider looking in, nothing, absolutely nothing, can happen in the Senate with this rule in play. 

With the Democrats having a slight majority, Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, could kill the filibuster by having V.P. Kamala Harris break a tie vote. Not that fast. Remember, you need sixty votes. That would require all of the Democrats to vote in favor and ten Republicans. It is not happening with the division the country is currently experiencing. 

AP reported on June 2, 2021, the following, 

“President Joe Biden used the 100th anniversary of Tulsa’s race massacre to make a plea for sweeping legislation in Congress to protect the right to vote as Republican-led governments in Texas and other states pass new restrictions making it tougher to cast ballots.”

The AP writers Alexandra Jaffe and Lisa Mascaro continues by saying, 

“It appeared to be a veiled reference to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have frustrated Democrats with their defense of the filibuster. The rule requires most legislation to win 60 votes to pass, making many of Democrats’ biggest priorities like voting rights and gun control dead on arrival in the 50-50 Senate. While Sinema is a sponsor of the voting rights bill that passed the House, known as the For the People Act, Manchin has refused to sign on, calling the measure “too broad.”

But it’s not just Manchin and Sinema who oppose doing away with the filibuster — as many as 10 Democratic senators are reluctant to change the rules even for must-pass legislation like the voting rights bill. Biden himself has not said he wants to end the filibuster.”

And if that makes your head spin, I might as well give you more to chew on. Let’s not forget about the Byrd Rule, a feature of the budget reconciliation process. The Byrd Rule limits the contents of the bill and requires 60 votes to set aside. And guess who controls that narrative? The Senate’s non-partisan parliamentarian. They hold power in many cases by advising whether provisions comply with the Byrd Rule.

Yes, the filibuster is making it difficult and, to some degree stopping Black people and others from having a right to vote, and laws are being written and signed by GOP governors based upon the “Big Lie.” 

Honestly, I’m over both parties. The Republicans have their narrative. The Democrats have theirs. One has power one term, and the power flips to the next the following term. What’s really happening inside those walls? 

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Let’s talk. What are your thoughts on the filibuster? Should Congress finally get rid of it? Also, weigh in on voting rights. I would love to read and reply to your comments.

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