Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Detroit on Monday to touch on two issues crucial to the White House: Voting rights and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Harris first hosted a voting rights listening session at the TCF Center alongside Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, where the vice president pledged that both the White House and Democrats in Congress will work with state-level leaders to protect Michiganders’ right to vote.
“I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie,” Harris said in part.
The vice president also went on to praise a group of Democrats in the Texas Legislature, who on Monday were planning to leave the state in a second revolt against a GOP overhaul of election laws.
Harris said the lawmakers displayed “extraordinary courage and commitment” in their protest, adding: “I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans, and all Texans, to express their voice through their vote unencumbered.”
Voting rights are a central issue for the administration, as the topic that once drew compromise has become an increasingly partisan flashpoint.
In recent months, several GOP-led states have sought to enact a string of new and increasingly restrictive voting legislation, seizing on former President Donald Trump’s false claims of “voter fraud” in the 2020 election in an attempt to justify the new restrictions.
Sparring in Congress has focused on a Democratic bill overhauling elections, known as the For the People Act, which Republican senators blocked from debate on the chamber’s floor last month.
Separately, however, Democrats have held a marathon series of low-key “field hearings” to prepare for votes on a second measure, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which could come to the House floor for a vote in September. The bill would allow courts and the Department of Justice to once again police changes to voting rules in places with a history of electoral discrimination against minorities, a practice the Supreme Court put on hold in 2013.
President Joe Biden is expected to deliver an address from Pennsylvania on Tuesday, which White House press secretary Jen Psaki described on Friday as “an opportunity to go to the birthplace of democracy to make the case for the moral imperative of making voting more accessible to people across the country.”
Harris also touched on the need to keep getting Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, saying that most of the recent hospitalizations and deaths from the virus have been among the unvaccinated population.
The vice president doubled down on the need for community engagement as it relates to vaccine administration, encouraging Michiganders to reach out to friends and neighbors to make sure they get their jab.
“We have volunteers who are going door to door to give people information about the vaccines,” Harris said Monday. “Why? Because we shouldn't require that people knock on our door to figure out what’s going on. Let’s take it to the streets, take it to the people.”
Last week, some GOP officials criticized President Joe Biden after he called for a door-to-door campaign to spread information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines in hopes it would encourage more people to get vaccinated.
The grassroots component of the vaccination campaign has been in operation since April, when supplies of shots began outpacing demand. It was outlined and funded by Congress in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed in March and overwhelmingly is carried out by local officials and private sector workers and volunteers.
But some in the GOP saw a political opening, catering to the party’s small-government roots and libertarian wing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.