By ALEXANDRA JAFFE, COLLEEN LONG and JEFF AMY
ATLANTA (AP) — Pounding his hand for emphasis, President Joe Biden challenged senators Tuesday to “stand against voter suppression” by changing Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation that Republicans are blocking from debate and votes.
Biden told a crowd in Atlanta gathered on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University that he’d been having quiet conversations with senators for months over the two bills — a lack of progress that has brought him criticism from activists in his own party.
“I’m tired of being quiet!” he shouted to cheers from the crowd.
In his remarks, Biden invoked the civil rights battles of the 1960s. He likened the wrongs of the past to modern-day efforts to subvert elections through the Capitol riot a year ago and a series of GOP-backed laws passed after former President Donald Trump lost in 2020 and then falsely claimed widespread voter fraud. Biden chastised Republicans for falling in line behind Trump’s election lies.
“Today, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge,” Biden said. “Pass the freedom to vote act.”
Biden’s speech was forceful, blunt and explicit, referring to new efforts to limit voting access as “Jim Crow 2.0.” For the first time, he directly advocated eliminating the Senate’s vote-blocking device called the filibuster in order to debate and vote on election and voting rights legislation. Though his focus brings more national attention to the debate ahead, it’s not clear what impact his newfound fire will have.
Current rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation — a threshold that Senate Democrats can’t meet alone because they have just a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. Republicans unanimously oppose the voting rights measures.
There also aren’t enough Democratic votes to change the Senate rule. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin threw more cold water on the idea Tuesday, saying he believes any changes should be made with substantial Republican buy-in. And there aren’t any Republican senators willing to sign on.
“Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect Americans’ right to vote,” Biden said. “Not one. Not one.”
Congressional Democrats have written voting legislation that would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections in a generation by striking down hurdles to voting enacted in the name of election security. The legislation also would reduce the influence of big money in politics and limit partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts.
The package would create national election standards that would trump state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the ability of the Justice Department to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.
Republicans say the changes are not aimed at fairness but at giving Democrats an advantage in elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused Biden of invoking “the brutal racial hatred of Jim Crow Segregation to smear states’” new voting laws.
And it is coming from “a sitting president of the United States who pledged to lower …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News
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