In the fall of 2020, members of the Biden-Harris campaign team were open about their appreciation for Black voters and often discussed how the election of President Joe Biden wouldn't have been possible without Black voters. To earn the respect of many Black Americans, Biden pledged financial support for HBCUs, police reform and the passage of voting legislation. Nine months after his inauguration, many activists and public leaders are questioning if Biden has made any real progress toward fulfilling his promises.
The amount of funding for HBCUs in the Biden administration's latest spending proposal has dipped significantly. Meanwhile, the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act has stalled and appears to be an afterthought on Capitol Hill as police budgets rise in several major cities. Most recently, discussions regarding the Freedom To Vote Act were shot down in the Senate on Thursday. Not to mention, the For The People Act does not appear to be in any better shape as it enters the Senate. Despite a lack of tangible results, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre maintains that the Biden Administration is taking steps toward advancing causes that are important to Black Americans.
“Our agenda for the Black community is not about one or two bills. Clearly, those bills are critical and important, and we’re going to continue to work very hard towards them, but it is weaved throughout numerous policy initiatives, executive orders, legislation,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing, according to The Hill.
Critics of the Biden administration have argued that those "critical and important" bills could have passed through the Senate if the filibuster was removed. The filibuster is a long-standing procedural rule that requires 60 votes for a bill to pass through the Senate, but Democrats and the Biden Administration have the power to get rid of it if they so choose. Unfortunately, several Democratic leaders have yet to come out and emphatically express their displeasure for it.
“If, in fact, I get myself into at this moment a debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, foreign policy side of the equation,” Biden said during a CNN Town Hall on Thursday.
“You either mean it or you don’t. If you mean it, then you've got to end or modify the filibuster in order to advance this legislation that you’re so busy telling us is so important. We believe it’s important, but their actions aren't demonstrating that,” Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Cliff Albright told The Hill.
“Everything that we've seen and heard from the administration tells us that it simply is not a priority for them, and they don't think it's important. They think that we'll just be able to out-organize [voter suppression], and they're not willing to spend the political capital on getting it passed.”
Ultimately, political strategists believe that the inability to pass key pieces of legislation will lead to a drop-off in Black voter turnout.
“I absolutely promise you that there's going to be a drop in Black turnout — and not just the regular drop that you see going from a presidential year to the midterms,” Albright explained.
“You will see an even more precipitous drop because Black folks are dissatisfied with the ways that we have been taken for granted.”