Sunday, January 23, 2022

Biden Will Directly Challenge Senators In Atlanta Voting Rights Speech

President Joe Biden, in his Atlanta speech Tuesday, will directly challenge the “United States Senate institution” in support of voting rights by backing two major pieces of legislation and removing the 60-vote exception from the Senate requirement.

In the week leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden’s speech at the University Center Atlanta Consortium on Tuesday afternoon will follow up on a speech he gave last week on the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riots. He will argue that two pieces of legislation – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – are critical to ensuring that the January 6, 2021 riots bring about a resurgence of American democracy, not its decline.

“The next few days, when these bills go to the vote, will be a turning point in this country,” Biden said, according to prepared comments circulated by the White House. “Will we choose democracy instead of autocracy, light instead of shadow, justice instead of injustice? I know where I stand. I will not give in. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy from all enemies, external and internal. And so the question arises: where will the institution of the United States Senate stand? “

Biden, who served as Senator from 1973 to 2009, will also argue that the abuse of filibuster – a cryptic rule requiring 60 senatorial votes to pass most laws – damaged the Senate as an institution and that creating an exception to voting rights is the best way to protect the reputation and functionality of the upper house of Congress.

President Joe Biden is due to fly to Atlanta on Tuesday to deliver a speech on voting rights.

The Senate will vote on both voting rights bills this week. While all 50 Democrats are expected to support the bill, Republicans are expected to maintain unity in opposition and block consideration – as they had three times earlier, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had tried to call for a Freedom to Vote Bill.

This combined opposition from the GOP will almost certainly lead to a vote on whether the filibuster should be significantly weakened. But it is unlikely that Democrats will be able to collect the 50 votes needed to change the rules. Senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Kirsten Cinema (Arizona) and other moderates do not want to change the rules of the body.

White House aides pointed out that Biden’s speech would point to Georgia as the reason it needed voting rights legislation, highlighting how the GOP-controlled state legislature passed laws making it difficult to vote after Democrats won the presidential race and secured two seats in the Senate in 2020.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a compromise version of radical Democratic voting rights legislation, and it repeals many of the restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans since the 2020 elections and requires early voting and voter registration on the same day. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act will restore sections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, which Conservatives in the Supreme Court voted to abolish in 2013.

Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have long supported the expansion of the Voting Rights Act, but stopped following a Supreme Court decision.

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