Battles that will define US elections in 2022, 2024 and beyond are already here

This was excerpted from the March 3 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

Battles that will define elections in 2022, 2024 and beyond are already here.

Democrats have brought up the most sweeping electoral overhaul in a generation in the House. At the same time, Republicans in multiple states are writing laws making it harder to vote — for instance by cutting mail-in and early balloting. Republicans justify their move by saying tens of millions of Americans have lost confidence in the electoral system — hardly surprising as Donald Trump’s lies that he was cheated loop on conservative media.
The Democratic “For the People Act” mandates mail-in voting options in all states, designates Election Day as a federal holiday and forces political organizations to reveal their biggest financial donors. It moves the District of Columbia closer to statehood — a step that would give Democrats two new Senate seats, since Washington is one of the most liberal spots in the country. It would also stop the practice of partisan “gerrymandering” — drawing congressional seats to ensure a pre-ordained election result — and would restore racial safeguards ripped out of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court.
    To pass the bill in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats would probably have to cause a political earthquake by abolishing the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority for major bills. That’s a move that could come back to haunt them next time Republicans control all the levers of Washington government.
      In opposing the bill, some Republicans make good points on the perennial tussle between federal and state power and on the question of whether curbing campaign spending infringes on freedom of speech. And there’s something to their complaints that Democrats are writing rules that benefit themselves most. But many in the GOP have lost the presumption of sincerity after fanning the conspiracy theories of a demagogue.
        The future of American democracy was not decided when Trump left the White House six weeks ago. It is up for grabs right now.

        ‘We’re not keeping up’

          A growing number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone is posing one of the biggest challenges yet for the Biden administration, which aims to take a more humanitarian approach toward migration than its predecessor.
          In recent days, officials have scrambled to find shelter space for unaccompanied children after the coronavirus pandemic led to a reduction in the number of beds that could be used to comply with health guidelines.
          “We’re not keeping up,” said a Department of Health and Human Services official, referring to the department’s capacity to care for children.
          Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this week that the administration is working to manage the flow of migrants across the US southern border, as it tries to put new policies in place.
          “It is a stressful challenge. That’s why, quite frankly, we’re working as hard as we are, not only in addressing the urgency of the challenge but also in building the capacity to manage it,” Mayorkas said from the White House briefing room, adding that the Trump administration had “gutted” the US immigration system.
            Unaccompanied children are among the most vulnerable populations encountered at the border. There were more than 1,300 children in Border Patrol custody waiting for placement by HHS on Tuesday, a source tells CNN. — CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez writes to Meanwhile from Washington

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