Senate Democrats say they’re undeterred by the setbacks that have thwarted them from passing voting rights legislation. Meeting with a number of Black journalists from the Black press and mainstream media companies alike, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and nearly half of the Senate Democrats talked at length about issues important to Black Americans.
The voting rights issue, which is a large part of the reason then-Senator Joe Biden was able to garner Black votes, was supposed to have gone smoother. The president’s promise to Black voters that the issue would be settled in the House and the Senate has been repeatedly stymied. The Biden/Harris Administration has taken heat over what some have charged is a promise Biden won’t be able to deliver upon. The Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, will have any tie votes broken by Vice President Kamala Harris.
However, the Democratic senators from Arizona and West Virginia do not always vote as a block with other democrats. When bills on voting rights came before the Senate, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin sided with republicans. This allowed the GOP to block the bills that would have restored provisions in the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of voting discrimination to obtain federal approval before making changes to their election processes.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota became emotional when talking about the frustration over getting the voting rights measure passed. She said she and the remaining democrats are underrated, “It’s the final thing we will be never giving up on in the long term, which is the freedom to vote. We didn't sit in that room all summer just to let that die on the vine!”
Majority Leader Schumer says that the senate democrats will revisit the racial justice issue of student loan forgiveness with the president. He pointed out that the Democrats won’t need GOP backing to pass a law, unlike the voting rights issue. He explained that beyond being the right thing to do, just as the president can delay the payback of debt, he can also cancel the debt. “Twenty-eight percent of the wealth gap between Black and white is caused by student loans. Twenty-five and a half percent of the wealth gap between white and brown is caused by student loans.”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren brought her trademark researched take to the discussion to illustrate how essential she believes in student loan forgiveness. She explained that most people understand that Black college attendees borrow more money to attend college and have a more challenging time paying it off when they leave school.
She said people may not know the financial burden continues, “Twenty years out after people have left school, 20 years out the medium white borrower owes 6% of what they originally borrowed can still pay in twenty years later, but the end is in sight. The median Black borrower owes 95% of what they borrowed 20 years ago.” Warren says the president could narrow the racial wealth gap by some twenty-eight points with student loan forgiveness.
The Democrats explained that they are looking at bills with the understanding that the voice of all Americans should be heard, and they’re hoping to help bring greater equity and justice to the people living and voting in the country.