Vice President Kamala Harris said she was busy lobbying lawmakers on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday to rescue Democrats’ bills on voting rights, ahead of planned Senate action this week.
“I’m making calls. I’m meeting with folks,” Ms. Harris said at a service event at a nonprofit organization in Washington. “We’re not going to give up.”
The two measures appear headed for defeat, in part because holdout Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are resisting President Biden’s call to kill the Senate’s filibuster rule, which would allow Democrats to pass the legislation without any Republican votes.
Asked whether she has a message for Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin, the vice president replied, “I’m not going to absolve — nor should any of us absolve — any member of the United States Senate from taking on the responsibility to follow through on the oath that they all took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“Right now, we have bills before us,” she said. “The United States Senate has the opportunity and, I daresay, the responsibility to pass these bills through Congress so the president can sign them. And the resistance to doing that will not deter us from our commitment to getting it done.”
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer expected to move to end debate on the monthlong push to approve Democrats’ election-year priority.
The legislation combines the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set national standards on elections, with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Justice Department’s oversight of election law changes in states with a history of discrimination.
A Senate vote is expected Wednesday. If the legislation doesn’t receive the support of at least 10 Republicans, Mr. Schumer has said he will then bring up an effort to change the Senate’s 60-vote rule that’s required for most legislation.
Earlier Monday, Ms. Harris said at the White House that Martin Luther King Jr. “pushed for racial justice, for economic justice, and for the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote.”
“Today, our freedom to vote is under assault,” she said. “In Georgia and across our nation, anti-voter laws are being passed that could make it more difficult for as many as 55 million Americans to vote.”
She said supporters of the state laws “are not only putting in place obstacles to the ballot box. They are also working to interfere with our elections to get the outcomes they want and to discredit those they do not. That is not how democracies work.”
“We know the threat we face. We know that this assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American, in every community, in every political party,” Ms. Harris said. “We know that if we stand idly by, our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come.”
She said of King, “To truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for freedom for all.”