“For the last two months, I’ve been having quiet talks with members of Congress in their offices. Tired of being quiet: “Mr. Biden slammed his hand on the lectern.
Without changing the rules, it’s not clear how either of the two bills Biden wants to pass, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, will be passed.
After giving a speech at Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College, Mr. Biden said that the rules should be changed. He had said in the past that he would support making an exception to the filibuster rules in order to pass voting rights legislation. On Tuesday, he said that he would be more flexible.
He said the Senate rules need to be changed so that no senator can stop voting rights actions from being taken.
There is a good chance that the Senate will talk about voting rights in the next few days. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set a deadline of January 17 for the Senate to vote on a rules change if Republicans keep blocking voting rights legislation. This is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is on January 17.
President Obama told people in Atlanta that “the fight for the soul of the United States is not over,” and he made a direct connection between the passage of voting rights legislation and the January 6 protests.
In 2021, Mr. Biden talked about the “violent mob” that stormed the US Capitol and former President Trump, who he said tried to get what he lost in the election by “winning thru violence what he lost thru the ballot box.” He also said that, for the first time in American history, he tried to stop peaceful power changes.
It’s now or never.
Mr. Biden said in Atlanta that there are people in the United States who value power more than principle. He was giving a speech there “to stand up against the forces in America that value power more than principle, forces that try to overthrow the will of the people.”
He said he was angry that no Republicans had come around to supporting the voting rights bill, which he said was a break from the past when both parties worked together to support the issue.
It has been a long time since he and the vice president have been for voting rights bills, but every time Senate Republicans have blocked them, he said. “Republicans don’t want to even debate the issue.” Can you hear me? Because I’ve been to the Senate many times, I know what it looks like. I worked as vice president for eight years, but I didn’t get to be president. As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen a situation where not one single Republican has a voice that’s ready to speak for justice right now. ”
The President talked about how he worked with Strom Thurmond, a senator who was against voting rights. He said that Thurmond eventually changed his mind and supported voting rights bills.
“There hasn’t been a single Republican who has shown the courage to stand up to a defeated president in order to protect the right to vote in the United States. There isn’t one. Not one, not one, “Mr. Biden said that.
He said that the small majority Democrats have in the US Senate makes it more difficult for them to do anything, but that this moment, like other important times in history, gives politicians a choice: They can stand with civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King or with segregationists like former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, or they can stand with neither.
“To be on the side of George Wallace or on the side of Dr. King is your choice. You have to choose: Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Lincoln or of Jefferson Davis? ” Mr. Biden said that he wanted to know what he could do because “we have to make a decision now.” We have to fight for our elections and democracy. That way, you won’t be alone. ”
The President slammed states that made it hard for people to vote, like Georgia. He said that Georgia’s new election law was fueled by the “big lie.” It was “designed to keep you from voting and to change our elections,” he said.
Before Mr. Biden speech, Kemp said that the Biden administration had lied about the state’s 2021 new voting law, which he said “makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat.” The voting law that was passed in Georgia does add new restrictions that make it more difficult to vote.
“Make no mistake about it, Georgia is the epicenter of the Biden-Harris attack on election integrity,” Kemp told the crowd. From the start, this administration has lied about Georgia’s Election Integrity Act to try to force their unconstitutional, federal takeover of elections on the American people. They have ignored facts and evidence to do this.
When Vice President Kamala Harris went on the trip with Biden, he named her to be in charge of the administration’s work on voting rights, so she went with him.
In her speech before the President in Atlanta, Harris said that Republicans have used filibuster rules to stop voting rights legislation.
People in Congress can pass new laws because “the Constitution of the United States gives them that power.” “And the Constitution doesn’t give a small group of people the power to block legislation on their own. The American people have had enough. ”
Harris also said that if the U.S. isn’t careful about how restrictive voting laws are being put in place in different states, such as Georgia, it could have very bad consequences.
“Our right to vote will be hurt by the attack on our right to vote. Every American will feel it in every community and in every party. If we don’t do anything, our whole country will have to pay for it for years to come. “She said. ”
It was a group trip with a lot of people from Congress, as well as local officials and civil rights leaders.
While in Atlanta, the President and Vice President laid a wreath at the crypt of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. They also went to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was built in the 1800s.
Pressure from voting rights groups
Mr. Biden trip to the Peach state, which comes less than a week before MLK Jr. Day, comes with a lot of pressure from groups that want him to lay out a clearer path for the voting rights bills to pass.
A statement made by NAACP President Derrick Johnson after Biden’s speech said that “unless President Biden applies the same urgency around voting rights as he did for (Build Back Better) and infrastructure, America may not look like the country it used to be.”
“Mr. Biden gave a powerful speech today. It’s time for this administration to back up their words with actions and for Congress to do what they were meant to do. Having the right to vote should not just be a priority-it should be the most important one, “Johnson said.
He said in a statement that he told the President that he had made a “historical speech.” Even tho Sharpton had been asking Biden for months to be more open, it was better to meet with him after his speech than not at all.
People who are Democrats should support the current Democratic President, Sharpton said. “If they don’t do this, it will show that they’ve betrayed their party and the American people, ” he said.
In a letter, many voting rights groups said Mr. Biden and Harris should not come to Atlanta without a plan to pass voting rights bills into law right away. On Monday, a group of voting rights groups in Georgia said they wouldn’t be going to any events related to Biden’s visit.
We don’t need to hear another speech. We don’t want him to come to Georgia and use us as a prop. We don’t need him to come to Georgia. A co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” that what we need is “work.” It was Tuesday morning.
Albright said he would like to see the president do the same thing he did to get a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed: personally talk to senators and try to get them to vote for the bill.
He needs to fully engage after he gives the speech, having the kinds of meetings, finding out from West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin what it will take, and being as direct and forceful as he has been on infrastructure and other issues, Albright said. “Just like he has been on infrastructure and some other issues,” he said.
There’s no point in having 40 years of experience in the Senate and then telling us that you can’t get two votes to change their minds.
Stacey Abrams, a well-known Georgia politician who lost the governor’s race to a Republican last year, is a strong advocate for voting rights. She didn’t go to Biden’s speech. After the election, Abrams started a group called Fair Fight, which fights for voting rights across the country. This year, she’s running for governor again.
The President said Tuesday that he had talked to Abrams “for a long time,” and that he blamed her absence from his next speech on a scheduling issue. He said that they have a “great relationship.”
He said, “We’re all on the same page, and everything is fine.”
Vice President Biden gave a speech, and afterward, Abrams released a statement praising the President and Vice President. “They made it clear again today that they are committed, once again, to restoring the Senate to protect our democracy,” she said.
She also paid attention to the voting rights activists who said they wouldn’t come to the event because they didn’t want speeches.
“Activists in Georgia have worked hard to protect the right to vote across the country and give more power to a more diverse electorate in our state. Thanks to them, Georgians of all races have been registered, engaged, and inspired to use their voting power. This has led to a political change in our state, “she said.”
She said she is “cautiously optimistic” about Joe Biden’s speech, but that she sees it as a first step.
Morgan said, “We’re going to keep an eye on these remarks to see if there is any follow up on them.” She leads a group of groups that are working to improve voting rights.
Her goal is to get voting rights legislation passed by having the President personally ask senators for their votes.
“He has said that this is the biggest test our country has faced since the Civil War. I think he’s right because our democracy is under attack. To show that these strong words were put into action, we wanted to see them in real life. ” Morgan: I said the same thing.
Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Biden is frustrated with voting rights activists because there has been no progress on voting rights.
“He wants to finish this. Because it’s not done yet, he feels the same way “Psaki said that, and I agree with her.