President Biden took a moment to attack efforts by GOP-led states to restrict voting as he arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on the eve of his highly anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We’re seeing a coordinated attack on voting rights in this country. It’s Jim Crow in the 21st century, and it must end,” Biden tweeted. “Congress must enact legislation to make it easier for all eligible Americans to access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the sacred right to vote.”
Republicans and Democrats have generally observed a tradition that “politics stops at the water’s edge,” avoiding partisan attacks while overseas. Biden’s campaign criticized former President Donald Trump when he attacked Biden while overseas in 2019.
Biden has been in Europe since last Wednesday meeting with world leaders.
At the same time, a group of Texas Democrats headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with congressional Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris as part of a pitch for Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation. The group of Texas lawmakers staged a dramatic walkout back at home just before midnight on May 31.
The lawmakers met with the staff of Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic opponent of the For the People Act, but did not meet with the senator himself. They called the meeting “extremely productive.”
The Texas Democrats walked out of the state’s House chamber in order to deny Republicans the quorum needed to pass their voting restrictions bill, effectively killing it in regular session.
The bill would ban drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting and would require voters to request absentee ballots rather than allowing election officials to send applications to all voters, and curtail the use of drop boxes. It sets early voting hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who supports the bill, said he will call for a special session to bring it back.
Texas would have joined at least 14 states in enacting new restrictions since the 2020 election, including most notably Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Iowa.
The For the People Act is all but sure to fail without Manchin’s vote and that of 10 Republicans. Manchin instead supports restoring the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore a provision of the struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 that required jurisdictions with a record of racial discrimination to receive approval from the federal government before altering voting laws.
The John Lewis bill, named after the late Georgia Democrat, could garner support from Republicans, though Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remains opposed.