ATLANTA (AP) – President Joe Biden is using the speech in Georgia to endorse a change in Senate rule that stalled voting rights legislation, saying it’s time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some human rights groups will not be there to protest what they call administration inaction.
The event is scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm ET. Look in the player above.
Addressing his current challenge, Biden also pays tribute to past civil rights battles on Tuesday by visiting the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the late Reverend Martin Luther King once spoke from the pulpit, and placing a wreath at the crypt of King and his wife Coretta Scott. King.
With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is setting Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday as the deadline for either passing a ballot law or considering a revision of the House Lockout Rules for the pirates, Biden is expected to evoke memories of the US Capitol Riot a year ago in a more decisive alignment with the suffrage efforts.
Biden plans to tell his audience, “The next few days when these bills go to the vote will be a turning point in this country.”
“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, ”he will say according to the prepared remarks. “I will defend your right to vote and our democracy from all enemies, external and internal. And so the question is, where will the United States Senate institution be? “
The current rules require 60 votes to push most bills – a threshold that Senate Democrats cannot cross alone because they only have 50-50 votes with Vice President Kamala Harris to cut ties. Republicans are unanimously opposed to voting rights measures.
Biden has entered debates more cautiously in the past. He is under tremendous political pressure to achieve a breakthrough, although it is unclear what practical effect this might have.
Not all Democrats agree with the change in anti-pirate rules. Even if Democrats remove obstacles to voting rights laws, it may be too late to resist widespread voting restrictions enacted in 19 states following the defeat of former President Donald Trump in 2020 and his lies, backed by many in the GOP, about that the elections were stolen by electoral fraud.
Some voice advocates planned to boycott Biden’s speech. Georgia Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams, known for her tireless work with suffrage, also skipped the event. Meanwhile, the White House sent out an unusually long list of participants in the speech.
Aides said Abrams had a conflict but did not explain anything, although she tweeted her support for the president.
Biden said that before the trip they had a confusion about the schedule, but they talked and were “all on the same wavelength.”
When asked what he risks politically speaking out when there are not enough votes to change the rules, he said: “I risk not saying what I believe in. Here’s what I’m at risk. This is one of the defining moments. This is indeed the case. People will be judged by where they were before and where they were after the vote. History will judge us. “
Voting rights advocates in Georgia and across the country are increasingly worried about what could happen in 2022 and beyond. They view the changes in many states as a more subtle form of voting restrictions, such as literacy tests and electoral taxes, which were once used to disenfranchise black voters, a key Democratic district.
“We are beyond speech. At the moment we need, what we demand is federal legislation, ”said Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Votes Matter. And it can’t happen soon enough, she said.
Republicans, who supported Trump’s electoral disinformation, are separately promoting efforts to influence future elections by appointing sympathetic leaders to local elections and supporting some of those who participated in the U.S. Capitol riots a year ago in elected office.
Georgia Democrat Senator Rafael Warnock, senior pastor of the church that Biden will visit and who went down in history as the first black senator elected in Georgia, said that “anything that can happen will continue to shine a bright light on the urgency, this matter is important.” …
Warnock, who accompanied Biden to Georgia aboard Air Force One, said he believes Biden understands that “democracy itself is under threat from this all-out assault that we are seeing from state legislatures across the country. and this is a moral point. Everyone must appear. “
White House spokesman Jen Psaki has denied complaints from some activists that Biden was not a strong enough advocate.
“We understand the disappointment of many supporters that this has not yet been passed into law. He would like to sign this law himself, ”she said.
At the center of it all is Georgia, one of the key states on the battlefield in the 2020 elections. After the votes were counted and recounted, Trump told a senior state election official that he wanted the official to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat. Nonetheless, the state votes went to Biden, and both of his Senate seats went to Democrats.
However, last year the Republican governor signed a sweeping change to the election rules that, among other things, gives the State Board of Elections new powers to intervene in DECs and to remove and replace local electoral boards. This raised concerns that the Republican-controlled state council could have greater influence over the conduct of elections, including the confirmation of the county’s results.
An election commission spokesman who rejected Trump’s vote change proposals, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, said during a news conference on Tuesday that the policies promoted by Biden and the vice president “will undermine the integrity of our election.”
He said the couple “will insist on trying to change long-standing rules so they can push through a party bill that rigs election rules in favor of Democrats.
Make no mistake, this is an attempt to weaken election security under the guise of voting rights. ”
Democrats in Congress have written a voting bill that will kick-start the largest electoral restructuring in the United States in a generation, removing voting barriers imposed in the name of electoral security, reducing the influence of big money on politics, and limiting party influence in congressional elections. areas.
The package will create national electoral standards that surpass GOP laws at the state level. It will also restore the Department of Justice’s ability to oversee election laws in states where previously there was discrimination.
Amy reported from Atlanta. AP’s Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.