ATLANTA (Fwrd Axis) — A fired-up President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for an end to the filibuster to allow federal voting rights legislation to pass through Congress that Republicans have continued to block from being debated and voted on.
Speaking from Atlanta University Center Consortium on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on the importance of getting these bills passed and signed into law.
The speech was long-awaited as Democrats have privately been pushing Biden to come out with more force the issue as he did with his bipartisan infrastructure bill. Biden pounded his fist and said he has been having quiet conversations with senators for months over the two bills.
“I’m tired of being quiet!” he shouted. “I will not yield. I will not flinch.”
With Republicans unanimously opposing the voting rights legislation, Democrats can’t meet the 60 vote threshold to pass the bills because they only have a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. Democratic senators Manchin, Sinema, Kelly, and Tester have all said they are opposed to changing the filibuster to pass the bills.
“Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote, not one,” Biden said. “Not one.”
However, Biden said for the first time publicly that he’s in support of changing the filibuster to pass the voting legislation.
“I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail,” he said. “And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”
“I’m making it clear to protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules,” he continued. “Whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.”
In order to apply changes to the filibuster rule, it would require half of the Senate to support doing so, putting the passage of Biden’s bills in serious doubt.
Voting rights advocates expressed frustration with the President for not prioritizing legislation on the issue earlier on in his administration.
“While President Biden delivered a stirring speech today, it’s time for this administration to match their words with actions, and for Congress to do their job,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said in a statement after the speech. “Voting rights should not simply be a priority — it must be THE priority.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has set Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a deadline to either pass voting legislation or consider revising the filibuster rules. Biden began his remarks by reminding Americans that last year’s deadly insurrection in the U.S. Capitol was an attempt to overthrow democracy.
“Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light overshadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch,” he said. “I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign, yes, and domestic! And so the question is where will the institution of the United States Senate stand?”
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke before Biden Tuesday, warning of the danger to democracy if the bills are not passed.
“If we stand idly by, our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come,” she said.