White House officials tell civil rights leaders they can 'out-organize voter suppression' as voting rights bills stall: report

·2 min read
Evan Vucci/AP
  • White House officials told civil rights leaders that they could "out-organized voter suppression"

  • 150 civil rights organizations signed a letter Thursday pressuring Biden to do more on voting rights

  • Biden last week called the wave of new voting legislation a "21st century Jim Crow assault."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

White House officials have told voting rights groups and civil rights leaders that they believe it's possible to "out-organize voter suppression," sources familiar with the conversations told the New York Times.

The report comes as two key voting rights bills -- the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act -- have stalled in Congress. On Thursday, a group of 150 organizations signed onto a letter spearheaded by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights urging the President to do more to ensure the passage of both bills.

Advocates have reportedly become frustrated with the White House, pointing to a perceived lack of involvement by Biden and his insistence on maintaining the "filibuster," a Senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation in the Senate.

The letter comes amid a wave of bills in state legislatures around the country aimed at restricting access to voting. Last week, Biden delivered a speech on voting rights at the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia, where he called the wave of legislation a "21st century Jim Crow assault."

The groups call out the filibuster as a key obstacle to passing voting rights legislation. "We certainly cannot allow an arcane Senate procedural rule to derail efforts that a majority of Americans support," reads the letter, citing a poll that shows that roughly 70% of Americans support both bills.

But on Wednesday, President Biden said at a CNN Town Hall that eliminating the filibuster would "throw the entire Congress into chaos."

Some Democratic members of Congress reacted negatively to the New York Times report. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) -- who was reportedly met with an "awkward silence" in June after urging Biden to get more involved in pushing voting rights legislation -- tweeted that the White House was taking "for granted the black and brown communities that bear the brunt of voter suppression."

And Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), while acknowledging that it may be possible to overcome voter suppression measures through organizing, tweeted "we can't out-organize gerrymandering."

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