Biden Taps Harris to Protect Voting Rights, Dems Hold Onto House With NM Win

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President Joe Biden has named Kamala Harris to lead his administration’s effort to protect voting rights, while Democrat Melanie Stansberry wins special election in New Mexico to maintain majority in the U.S. House. All this and more top stories and Democratic politics.

Biden Names Harris To Lead Effort in Protecting Voting Rights

President Biden has tasked Vice President Harris to lead his administration’s efforts in protecting voting rights. The move comes as federal election reform legislation is expected to face a steep hurdle in the closely divided Senate, NBC reported.

Biden made the announcement while giving remarks commemorating the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, race massacre. “With her [Harris’] leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again,” Biden said.

“In the days and weeks ahead, I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide,” Harris said in a statement.

“We will also work with members of Congress to help advance these bills,” she said. “Our Administration will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting.”

Democrat Stansberry Wins in New Mexico To Maintain Slim Majority in U.S. House

Representative Melanie Stansberry, a former aide to President Barack Obama, took victory in a four-way race in a New Mexico special election, allowing Democrats to hold onto its narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, 219-211 ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

The special election fills the seat formerly held by Deb Haaland, who is now the Biden administration’s interior secretary.

Stansberry fended off Republican challenger Mark Morres in a largely Democratic district. Stansberry campaigned in support of major initiatives of the Biden administration, NBC reported. She was endorsed by Haaland, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), and First Lady Jill Biden.

Biden Administration Freezes Oil and Gas Drilling Leases in Alaska, Halting Trump Policy

The Biden administration has suspended all gas and oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending a review of the environmental impacts of drilling in the sensitive region, the Interior Department announced on Tuesday.

The suspension follows an executive order issued by Biden on January 20 that identified “alleged legal deficiencies” in the original leasing program. The order put a temporary moratorium on any gas- and oil-related activities in the refuge.

The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is a 1.6 million-acre stretch of tundra on Alaska’s North Slope. A Trump administration opened the region to oil and gas development as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It followed a nearly 4-decade-long effort by the oil industry to gain access to the refuge.