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Biden and Harris to hold events promoting voting rights

▶ Watch Video: NAACP president weighs in on voting rights fight

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to hold private and public events on Thursday to highlight their administration’s push to expand voting rights, multiple people familiar with the plans tell CBS News. The events are occurring as efforts to expand voting rights have sputtered in Congress

The president is set to meet with leaders of national civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Urban League and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights to discuss how the Biden administration and Democrats nationwide are pushing to preserve voting rights for minorities, according to people familiar with the scheduled meeting. 

National Action Network President Reverend Al Sharpton and National Urban League President Marc Morial will attend in person while NAACP President Derrick Johnson is expected to participate virtually, according to aides.

“I look forward to a robust and productive conversation with President Biden,” Johnson said in a statement. “Democracy is under attack in states across the nation, and we must act with great urgency to protect the American people’s most fundamental and sacred right, the right to vote.”

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program as Vice President Kamala Harris listens in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Mr. Biden’s meeting with civil rights leaders is part of a campaign promise to meet quarterly with them to discuss civil rights and related matters, a person familiar with the early planning for the meetings told CBS News. Thursday’s meeting is designed specifically to “update and let them know we’re in the game on voting,” said this person, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly about the events.

The White House is “trying to give some relief to the pressure out there about getting a bill” passed, the person added. The events are designed to encourage “yelling about places where there is agreement among Democrats and whispering about the disagreements.”

Publicly, the vice president is set to hold an event Thursday to help the Democratic National Committee announce an expansion of its “I Will Vote” campaign that focuses on promoting voter registration and participation among minorities. The project launched during the 2020 cycle to help Democratic voters register, track their registration status; and determine where and when to vote. 

Harris is expected to announce plans for the DNC to invest more money in the project and to focus on Republican lawmakers at the federal and state level who are passing changes to elections laws that are now the subject of lawsuits. The work is set to complement her official focus on voting rights policy, aides said. 

The public and private events come as Democrats are struggling to move forward with legislation designed to establish uniform national standards for elections and reverse recent changes enacted by GOP-controlled state legislatures. While voting rights legislation easily passed the Democratic-controlled House earlier this year, it has stalled in the Senate amid GOP and some Democratic opposition. Other proposals are set to for votes in the House, but not until the fall, at the earliest, while bipartisan talks in the Senate on a potential legislative solution have not progressed so far.

The Biden administration has also filed suit against Georgia and is preparing to mount legal challenges to other states for recently passed GOP-backed legislation to revamp voting laws, including changes to absentee ballots; early voting; and the use of ballot drop boxes. 

News of the events was first reported by CNN


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