Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Sunday called Texas’ proposed new voting restrictions "shameful," instead expressing support for Democrats’ proposed sweeping voting rights overhaul.
The Texas Senate on Sunday passed one of the most restrictive voting laws in the U.S. along party lines. The bill includes provisions that would make it easier for a judge to overturn an election, ban drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling centers and push back the start of Sunday voting, a time frame during which many Black churchgoers vote. While the bill still awaits a final vote in the House, Democrats have virtually no way to block it, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has indicated he will sign it.
"The Texas law is shameful," Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "And Republicans, clearly, in Texas and throughout the country want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election. That is the only way that I can interpret the voter suppression epidemic that we see working its way from one state, Georgia, to Arizona, to Texas, and all across the country in so many different ways."
Republicans in many state legislatures have introduced bills to tighten voting laws, making use of rhetoric based on former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants to bring up Democrats’ voting rights legislation, the For the People Act, for a vote, but that it lacks the 60 votes necessary to pass in the Senate. The bill, which the House has passed, would reform ballot access and campaign finance, and would require states to have two weeks of early voting.
Jeffries, the House Democratic Caucus chair, said he supported passage of the voting rights bill to increase access to the polls. "Fundamental to our democracy is the right to vote, self-government, that the American people get to decide and work for a democracy that reflects the voices of all Americans, not just a certain segment, not just conservatives, not just Republicans, not just people in certain parts of the country, all Americans," Jeffries said.
"We will have to see what occurs in the Senate in terms of whether they can get to the 60-vote threshold," he added. "And the Senate is going to have some decisions to make in terms of reviewing their arcane procedures that traditionally have been used to uphold institutions like slavery and Jim Crow."
"To translate for the people at home, Congressman Jeffries opposes the filibuster and he’s hoping there can be filibuster reform," host Jake Tapper said. Jeffries has in the past come out against the filibuster, saying it causes gridlock and was used to support anti-civil rights legislation.
President Joe Biden on Saturday also criticized the Texas bill, calling it "wrong and un-American," while calling on Congress to reinstate Voting Rights Act protections that the Supreme Court dismantled.
“In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” Biden said Saturday.