Biden Endorses Filibuster Rule Changes if Necessary to Pass Voting Legislation

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President addresses Atlanta on election laws, Democrats to replace filibuster with lack of votes in Senate

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While House and Senate Democrats support the proposals, the bills require 60 votes to advance 50-50 in the Senate. Both are expected to fall far short of that mark due to opposition from GOP lawmakers, prompting a parallel effort by Democrats to change the filibuster process to ease their path. But two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, have opposed such an approach, leaving any progress uncertain.

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Appearing in a consortium of historically black schools including Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Biden argued in the case of the Democrats that new federal laws are needed to counter the recent Republican-backed state measures, which have led to the Democratic Lawmakers say there is a threat to access to them. Voting exclusively for minority voters. Republicans characterize the proposals as federal redundancies and say Democrats are painting a distorted picture of states’ efforts to bolster electoral integrity.

The vote “will be a turning point in the history of this country,” Mr Biden said. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand… The question is, where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”

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Mr Biden, who reiterated the themes of his speech delivered by supporters of former Republican President Donald Trump on the anniversary of the Capitol riot on 6 January, said the Senate had the power to change rules if necessary to pass legislation related to the election. The time has come. “We have no choice,” he said with applause.

“To protect our democracy, I support changing Senate rules the way they are needed to prevent a minority of senators from taking action on voting rights,” he said. “This is the moment to decide. To protect our election. To protect our democracy.”

Mr Biden turned to voting legislation during a rough stretch in his presidency, with his broader healthcare, education and climate-change agenda on hold, leading to rising Covid-19 cases and lowering public approval numbers. happened. He has been under pressure from some progressives and Democratic activists to do more on electoral issues. Some in the party see the voting law as a way to energize their base, as do Republicans, who say their change will make the election more secure.

Mr Biden on Tuesday focused most of his attention on Republicans and did not name sans manchines or cinema. He said history will judge the way senators vote.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said after the speech that voting should be the administration’s top priority. “When President Biden delivered an encouraging speech today, it is time for this administration to mix its words with actions and do its job for Congress,” he said in a statement.

Mitt Romney (R, Utah) said on the Senate floor after the speech that Biden was skeptical of the US elections. “It’s a sad, sad day,” he said, adding that he expected more from the president.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) has set a January 17 deadline for the Senate to act on election legislation before a possible Senate rule change. He has admitted that the gambler faces an uphill battle.

A bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, would make election day a national holiday, mandate 15-day early voting and require all states to allow mail-in voting, among other changes. The second, named after the late Representative John Lewis (D., Ga.), would give the federal government more control over state voting processes after Supreme Court decisions weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed Washington to rule out Control over change. States with a history of racial discrimination.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has said that Democrats are using election bills as an excuse to undermine filibuster, which has also blocked other Democratic laws.

“A bunch of politicians are trying to set aside election results, rule and break the American electorate, break our institutions, get political results,” McConnell said in the Senate on Tuesday.

The presidential address comes less than a week after he delivered a groundbreaking speech on the anniversary of the Capitol riots, in which he blamed Trump for creating a “web of lies” with his false claims of election fraud. Mr Biden and other Democrats have tried to draw a straight line between the false claims of fraud, the January 6 riots, the need for new state laws and new federal election laws.

“I think they need to tell the American people that the filibuster has its place with respect to policy, but it has no place on constitutional issues,” said Rep. James Clyburn (D., SC). 3 House Democrat and a top Biden ally. Mr Clyburn began urging a carving out for the voting-rights law last summer.

Republicans, who have repeatedly blocked election-related legislation, said Democrats were playing their hand over.

“Democrats’ so-called election reform is not about protecting the right to vote,” said Florida Sen. Rick Scott, leader of the Senate Republican campaign arm. “It’s about making sure they win the election.”

Georgia, where Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the 2020 election, is among a group of states where GOP lawmakers have pushed for more restrictive voting laws since the election, partly due to tighter elections. Citing the need for security. Following an increase in voting by mail during the pandemic, laws include limits on mail ballots and drop boxes. In Georgia, Texas and Florida, Republican lawmakers added new ID requirements to vote by mail, among other changes.

New law in Georgia enables state election boards to remove and replace local election superintendents under certain conditions. Republicans say this would require obvious wrongdoing or incompetence in a county. Opponents worry that such a change could make it easier for partisan officials to intervene.

Activists and Democratic leaders said they were encouraged by the tone and urgency that Mr Biden displayed in his January 6 speech, but some want the president to adopt a more belligerent style ahead of the midterm election.

Cliff Albright, executive director of Black Voters Matter, said: “His speech gives a signal that maybe he’s getting it, but I still don’t think he or his White House team fully recognized the threat to democracy.” Is.” The group that signed a letter saying Mr Biden should not come without a specific plan to enact voting law in Georgia should not.

Some of those groups, including Mr Albright, boycotted the Biden program, calling for action in Washington instead.

Despite the boycott, activist groups praised Mr Biden for raising the issue on Tuesday night and focused the Senate. “It is time for Senator Munchkin and Cinema to step up, do their job and do whatever it takes to get these important bills passed,” he said in a statement, adding that “the clock is ticking.” “

In addition, Stacey Abrams, a voting-rights activist and former Georgia Democratic minority leader, was now running for governor, whose aides cited a conflict. “He refused to bow down until the job is done,” he tweeted thanking Mr Biden. Mr Biden said he spoke with Ms Abrams on Tuesday morning. “We have a good relationship,” he said, attributing it to the scheduling mix-up.

Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on separate planes with a contingent of Democratic lawmakers, including censors Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Jeff Merkle (D.) .) Ore.) Before the speech, he attended the wreath-laying at the crypt of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and then visited the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King once preached.

Outside the church, Mr Biden was asked to deliver his message to workers on Tuesday. “Keep faith,” he said, pulling down his mask to listen.

Republicans and other defenders of the filibuster say the rule encourages bipartisan cooperation and limits policy swings from one Congress to the next when power changes hands.

Mr Biden, who served in the Senate for decades, has been reluctant to call on pessimistic progressives to change. But late last year, he said he was prepared to make an exception to the 60-vote limit for voting-rights bills. To change Senate rules, Democrats would need the support of 50 Democrats, with Ms Harris breaking any ties.

Other floated changes include putting more responsibility on the minority party to block a bill that requires 41 senators to be present and no vote instead of 60 senators being present and voting yes. Democrats are considering eliminating the filibuster threshold for a motion to move forward on a bill, allowing debate and amendment, but leaving the second filibuster threshold in place.

To get 50 votes, party leaders must bring together both Mr. Manchin and Ms. Cinema. Mr Manchin says any change must involve a buy-in of Republicans, which is unlikely. Ms. Cinema has said

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