- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2021

President Biden on Friday closed out his virtual Summit for Democracy by urging Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation, strictly partisan measures that are stuck in the evenly split Senate.

In his closing remarks at the end of the two-day event, Mr. Biden said the bills which would substantially overhaul how America carries out its federal elections would protect the right to vote.

“The United States is committed to strengthening our democracy at home and working with parties around the globe to prove that democracies can deliver for people on issues that matter most to them,” Mr. Biden said.

“Here at home, that means working to make real the full promise of America, including by enacting the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” he said. “ Because what’s true around the world is also true in the United States. The sacred right to vote, to vote freely, the right to have your vote counted is the threshold liberty for every democracy.”

Addressing the scores of world leaders participating in the summit, Mr. Biden vowed that his administration would continue to fight for those bills to clear Congress.

The two proposals face stiff opposition from Republicans and remain stalled in the Senate.

Republicans claim the bills are an attempt to nationalize election laws and give Democrats an edge with provisions such as expanded mail-in voting, which facilitates ballot harvesting practices dominated by Democrats.

Supporters say the aim of the bills is to make it easier to vote and undercut laws in GOP-run states that disenfranchise Black voters, such as voter ID laws.

Mr. Biden said Friday that the bills remain among his top priorities.

“So we have to get it done and we will,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden also highlighted his work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering vaccines to nations across the globe. He said the administration is working with international partners, including the Group of Seven, a coalition of the world’s seven largest economies.

He said the partnerships “amplify our shared capacity to produce and deliver vaccines and help get shots in arms for everyone and everywhere.”

Mr. Biden’s speech marked the fulfillment of a 2020 campaign promise to host a global Summit for Democracy within his first year in office. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back those plans, forcing the White House to host a virtual summit.

Mr. Biden has scheduled a second, in-person summit next year.

Roughly 110 world leaders participated in the summit along with human rights activists, private businesses and government institutions.

Mr. Biden was widely criticized for including countries that are far from Democratic. More than 30% of the 110 invited countries were classified by the non-profit think tank Freedom House as “partly free” and three were labeled “not free” at all. 

Sweden’s V-Dem Institute, an independent democracy research center, labeled more than a dozen counties as “electoral autocracies.” 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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