Thursday, February 2, 2023

Biden to Back Filbuster Changes to Advance Voting Rights Bill | Nation World News

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to support changing Senate filibuster rules who blocked the voting rights law, saying that the time has come to choose “democracy over autocracy”. But some civil rights groups will not be there, protesting what they say is the administration’s inaction.

Biden will pay tribute to civil rights fighting past on Tuesday – visits Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once stepped out of the pulpit, and laid a wreath at the crypt of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, before turning to today’s challenge.

With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the deadline for passing voting legislation or considering revising the rulesBiden is expected to evoke memories of US Capitol riots In aligning myself with the effort more strongly than a year ago.

Biden plans to tell his audience, “The next few days, when these bills are voted on, will be a turning point in this country.”

“Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not bow. I will not budge,” he would say according to prepared remarks. “I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is, where will the institution of the United States Senate stand? ,

A White House official previewing the speech on condition of anonymity said Biden would support changing the Senate filibuster rules only to defend the right to vote — a strategy Democrats are looking to embrace the president. are. Filibuster rules require 60 votes to move most of the legislation forward – a limit Senate Democrats with their slim, 50-50 Senate majority can’t meet on their own. Republicans unanimously oppose voting rights measures.

Some voting rights advocates planned to boycott the speech. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey AbramsKnown for her tireless voting rights work, was also skipping this event. The aide said Abrams had a conflict, but did not explain further, although he did tweet in support of the president.

“We are beyond speeches. At this point, all we need is federal law,” said Black Votes Matter co-founder Latosha Brown. And it can’t happen too soon, she said.

So far, Democrats have not been able to agree among themselves to allow action on voting rights over potential changes to Senate filibuster rules, despite months of private negotiations.

Biden has waded more carefully into the debate in the past – he is a former longtime senator who largely stands by the current rules but is also under heavy political pressure to achieve a breakthrough.

Voting rights advocates in Georgia and across the country are concerned about what could happen in 2022 and beyond, following the enactment of Republican-pushing laws that make it harder to vote. Recovering from the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020 And his subsequent push to reverse the results, despite no evidence of widespread fraud,

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is the church’s senior pastor, will visit Biden and who made history as the first black senator elected in GeorgiaThe speech further added that “anything that may happen is important that will continue to shine a bright light on the urgency of the issue.”

Warnock is among senators who are scheduled to accompany Biden to Georgia in Air Force One. He said he believes Biden understands that “democracy itself is under threat from this all-out attack that we are witnessing by state legislatures across the country, and this is a moral moment. Everyone should come to the fore.” “

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed complaints from some activists that Biden has not been a strong enough advocate.

“I think we would dispute the notion that the president is not proactive or outspoken. He made a variety of speeches, he advocated for the right to vote,” she said. “We understand the frustration of many advocates that this is not the case right now. has not yet been passed into law. He himself would love to sign it into law.”

But laws have already been passed in at least 19 states, making voting more difficult. voting rights group View the change as a subtle form of ballot restrictions, such as literacy tests and election taxes, that were once used to deny suffrage to black voters in what is now a major Democratic constituency.

And the Republicans who have fallen behind Trump’s election misinformation Separately promoting efforts to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local election positions and support for electoral office who participated in the January 6 violent riots at the US Capitol a year earlier Was.

Georgia is at the center of it all, one of the key battlefield states in the 2020 election, After the votes were counted and recounted, Trump told a top state election official that he wanted officials to “find” enough votes to make up for his loss. The state vote nonetheless went to Biden, and both Senate seats went to the Democrats as well.

Then last year, the Republican governor signed a sweeping rewrite of election rules that, among other things, gives state election boards new powers to interfere with county election offices and remove and replace local election officials. This has raised concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of the election, including the certification of county results.

Georgia polling activists said they worked tirelessly to give Democrats control of the Senate and White House, and it is time for Washington to step up.

Congressional Democrats, for their part, have written voting legislation that would herald the biggest change to American elections in a generation, by lowering the odds of voting in the name of electoral security, reducing the influence of big money in politics and will limit partisan influence. On the picture of Congress districts.

The package would create national election standards that would trump state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the Justice Department’s ability to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

But for the law to pass – which Republicans have outright rejected – Democrats say they must change Senate rules that allow a minority of 41 senators to block a bill.

Schumer wrote to his colleagues, “The battle for the ballot is as old as the Republic.” “In the coming weeks, the Senate will consider once again how to perfect this union and address the historic challenges facing our democracy.”


Amy reported from Atlanta. Associated Press Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.


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