President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to endorse changing Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, saying it’s time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some civil rights groups won’t be there, in protest of what they say is administration inaction.
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, receiving a warm applause from the crowd. “Today, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge,” Biden said. “Pass the freedom to vote act.”
Current rules require 60 votes to advance the majority of legislation, a threshold that Senate Democrats can’t meet alone because they have just a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. Republicans have unanimously opposed the voting rights measures.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has also opposed the idea. He has stated a desire to move forward with “more Republican buy-in.”
“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.”
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.
This is coming from “a sitting president of the United States who pledged to lower the temperature and unite America,” McConnell said.