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White House plans to do more for voting rights even if federal bill passes

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House will pursue other initiatives to boost voting rights even if a contentious federal bill to counter state voting restrictions passes the Senate, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Democrats in the Senate this week will try to advance legislation setting new national election standards, seeking to counter voting-rights rollbacks at the state level. Republican-controlled legislatures are pursuing these in presidential election swing states liked Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.

“Even if the voting rights bill was sailing across the finish line with support of every member of Congress, there would still be more to be done,” Psaki said. “So again this is not the end of our effort, this in some ways is the beginning.”

Senate Democrats spent the weekend trying to finalize a bill that could win the support of all 50 Democrats and independents in the 100-member chamber. Republicans showed no signs of joining an effort that would expand voting by mail and change the way congressional districts are drawn in an effort to prevent them from being defined along partisan lines.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a procedural vote for Tuesday to let the Senate begin debating an election reform bill.

President Joe Biden is appreciative of the efforts by Senator Joe Manchin to push the voting rights bill forward, Psaki said.

Manchin, a moderate Democratic senator, opposes a broader bill passed by the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives in March and offered his own election reform ideas last week.

Psaki said failure to pass the voting rights legislation would prompt new consideration of the legislative “filibuster” rule, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation.

Democrats could try to scrap or modify the rule, leaving Republicans powerless if the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independents stick together.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Cynthia Osterman)

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