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Hundreds of faith leaders ask Biden and other Democrats to do more to mak

“We couldn’t have been clearer: you must act now to protect the right of every American to freely vote without interference and have confidence that their vote will be counted and honored.” leaders said in a letter was obtained by CNN and then released to the public on Thursday. “Passing comprehensive voting rights legislation should be the number one priority of the administration and Congress.”

The letter, which was initially addressed only to Senate Democrats and Biden but was later expanded to become a full conference call, came as civil rights leaders and members of the Black Congress is increasing pressure on the Biden administration to pass voting rights legislation. after Republicans blocked two Democratic-led measures.

Representative Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, returned to Washington on Wednesday to hold an emergency meeting with caucus members, a source familiar with the planning of the meeting said. meeting told CNN.

The push from faith leaders comes a week after the family of Martin Luther King Jr. call for “not celebrating” MLK . Day – a federal holiday on the third Monday in January to celebrate the birth of the civil rights icon – without which voting rights legislation was passed. It also follows another attempt by a group of young Americans on a 15-day hunger strike to demand action on the issue that ended earlier this week.

Martin Luther King III and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, organized the letter together with several faith organizations. African-American Christian Clergy, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and Belief in Public Life are among the organizers.

Faith leaders who signed the letter came from Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions, including Bishop Canon Leonard L. Hamlin Sr. of the Washington National Church, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg of the National Council of Jewish Women, and Rabbi Charles Kroloff, past president of the General Conference of American Clergy.

“We should be in a phase of expanding, protecting and preserving the right to vote, and that’s why it’s up to the federal government to settle,” Martin Luther King III told CNN. more than 30 bills restricting voting rights was filed in the state legislatures.
The Poor People's Campaign rallied and marched in Washington DC, where faith leaders, low-wage workers, and the poor from across the country demonstrated to demand that the US Senate end the suffrage, protect voting rights and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.  Hundreds of people were arrested in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience outside the Hart Senate building.

‘This monument must go’

Leaders also urged adoption John Lewis Voting Rights Promotion Act and Freedom of Voting Act, two bills that Senate Republicans have blocked, writing that “nothing – including movies” will stand in the way of the measures.

King told CNN: “We believe it’s necessary to cancel the filming and add that it was used to prevent important measures such as the fight against the virus.lynching law and civil rights law. “This relic must go. It’s a pity that we have to discuss this time… This should have been done.”

Democrats have been frustrated with the lack of progress on certain measures, including voting rights legislation, and many have called for its removal or change. cartoon. But they do not have the votes to end the rule amid a slim majority and opposition in their party. The Senate Filtering Rules required 60 votes to advance most of the legislation, and Democratic Secretary Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona opposed changing the rule to pass voting rights legislation.

Sinema, who said she supported both bills, also supported the rule “to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy that would reinforce uncertainty, deepening deepen divisions and further erode Americans’ trust in our government,” her spokesman John LaBombard said in the statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York talked about passing the voting rights bill next year while on a closed-door call with Democrats on Tuesday night and said that “the platform of our democracy – free and fair elections – are at stake. a Democratic source told CNN.

“We have to – for our democracy – do it so the Senate can debate and reach a final conclusion on voting rights legislation in this Congress. And soon,” Schumer said, according to a statement. information resource.

That same night, Beatty appeal to the Senate, taking a break for the holidays, to reconvene to “send meaningful voting rights” to Biden’s desk.
Biden, who said he was open to change filter to pass legislation on voting rights, also promised last week that he would continue to fight for voting rights, telling graduates at South Carolina State University that “the fight is not over” and urging lawmakers to pass two bills. Voting rights legislation was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.

“We’re going to keep fighting until we’re done, and you’re going to keep fighting, and we desperately need your help,” he said at the opening ceremony at historic Black College. .

A message deeper than voting rights

As Biden and other Democrats vowed to continue fighting for the right to vote, faith leaders say lawmakers must do more than deliver on promises. The Kings believed that the President and Congress must make every effort to win the voting law.

“We’ve seen what happens when the White House and Congress focus all of their power and efforts behind something they support. We’ve seen that with the infrastructure bill. “, Arndrea Waters King told CNN, adding that’s why they and other activists will cross the iconic bridges over MLK Day weekend. “We crossed these bridges physically to say you stood for the bridges, now it’s time to side with the people.”

Dr. Stephany Spaulding, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said the letter sent another message besides defending the right to vote.

“Beyond that is the fact that we can no longer continue to exploit the lives and pain of our community,” Spaulding told CNN. “Every two to four years, we see politicians coming to our sacred space, coming to our congregation, making promises to our members and saying life in this world is going to be fine.” And then we end up in moments like this, where we’re on the brink of enormous failure.”

She continued, “Our faith in them as well as politicians, is also sacred to them in maintaining the correctness of what they say.”

This story has been updated to reflect the release of the letter and its distribution to the entire United States Senate.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Sam Fossum, Eva McKend, Lauren Fox and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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