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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Election Day should be a holiday for workers in the United States, President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
“If I had my way, and I think it is really important, every Election Day would be a day off,” he said because people who work certain shifts can’t make it to the polls.
Biden told reporters he plans to travel the country to push voting rights, after remarks at the White House about a bipartisan infrastructure agreement.
“You’re going to hear a lot more from the president next week on voting rights,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later on MSNBC. “He’s going to deliver some remarks to the American people and talk a lot more about what he wants to do.”
How and when U.S. citizens can vote has become a political battleground, as Republicans issue new bills that restrict voting hours, vote-by-mail and other measures designed to bring more people to the polls.
A sweeping Democratic bill to expand voting hours and methods failed to pass Congress this week. Making Election Day a federal holiday was proposed in at least one of version of the legislation.
Biden has not given up on federal legislation, Psaki said, and will work with Democratic leaders in Congress on next steps.
“There’s also work that needs to be done out in states with activists, empowering, engaging and standing by their sides and he’s going to do that,” Psaki said.
Election Day, traditionally the second Tuesday in November in the United States, is not a federal holiday, although some states require employers to give workers time off to vote.
Federal holidays are created through congressional legislation; last week Biden signed a bill to make June 19 a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans.
Biden had sharp words for state Republicans who he said are pushing for vote recounts when they don’t like how the vote turned out. “Who in God’s name, as my mother would say, died and left them boss?” Biden asked. “Your vote has to count when you cast it.”
(Reporting by Heather Timmons and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Aurora Ellis)