Former President Barack Obama is urging Congress to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping election reform bill, before the 2022 midterm elections and warning there could be long-term damage to American democracy if they do not.
During a call with grassroots supporters on Monday, Obama warned, “We can’t wait until the next election because if we have the same kinds of shenanigans that brought about January 6, if we have that for a couple more election cycles, we’re going to have real problems in terms of our democracy [in the] long term.”
“Since I left office I’ve tried to make a policy not to weigh in on the day-to-day scrum in Washington,” he continued. “But what’s happening this week is more than just a partisan bill coming up or not coming up to a vote.”
His comments come as the Senate is expected to consider the For the People Act. However, the bill appears to be stalled as Democrats would have to overcome the 60 vote threshold for it to pass the chamber — meaning Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to vote for it.
So far, Republicans have come out strongly against the bill claiming it is a “power grab.”
According to the Brennan Center, the For the People Act would “make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, strengthen government ethics rules, and more.”
It would also require states to automatically register voters for federal elections, offer same-day registration, require states to send out mail-in ballots to voters at least 60 days before Election Day, and requires states with voter identification requirements to let people cast ballots if “they complete a sworn written statement attesting to their identity.”
However, he laid out a series of changes he said he could support including making Election Day a public holiday, providing 15 consecutive days of early voting, and automatic voter registration. Additionally, the lawmaker said he would back requiring voter identification but added that he would support letting voters use alternative forms of identification such as a utility bill.
As The Hill notes, Democrats are moving forward with the process to “highlight Republican opposition despite changes made to the bill at the bequest of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), the most conservative member of the Democratic Caucus.”
Obama said the changes were “made by “the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, or maybe in Congress — Joe Manchin of West Virginia — to come up with common-sense reforms that a majority of Americans agree with, that Democrats and Republicans can agree with.”
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