Biden backs filibuster workaround to get voting rights bills passed
President Biden today endorsed changing Senate rules to allow for passage of voting rights reform, which, good luck with that.
Not only are Republicans aligned against the reform effort, Biden almost certainly faces blowback from his own party.
“I ask every elected official in America,” Biden said in a speech delivered in Atlanta. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace. Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis, or Bull Connor?”
Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are likely to side with Wallace and Connor on the two signature voting rights bills – the Freedom to Vote Act, which would protect mail-in and absentee voting, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore anti-discrimination components of the Voting Rights Act stripped by a Supreme Court decision in 2013.
Biden in the speech backed carving out an exception to the Senate’s rule allowing filibusters on matters involving voting rights.
The carve-out would, and this is a novel idea, allowing voting rights bills to pass with a bare majority of votes, instead of the 60 required to defeat a filibuster.
Virginia’s two Democrats in the U.S. Senate, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, issued statements ahead of Biden’s speech. Neither directly addressed his call for a workaround on the filibuster to get the voting rights bills passed.
“As a member of the greatest deliberative body in the world, I continue to believe that we must preserve the Senate’s ability to debate contrasting viewpoints on matters of public policy,” Warner said. “However, voting is the bedrock of our democracy, and it is a right that should never be up for contention. As President Biden doubles down on his efforts to safeguard democracy from the barrage of attacks by state legislatures, Virginians can be sure that I’ll be working in the Senate to do whatever it takes to protect Americans’ access to the ballot.”
“Throughout our history, we’ve made a lot of mistakes. One of the ways we’ve tried to protect against mistakes is broadening those who could participate,” Kaine said. “A functioning democracy gives you the ability to correct mistakes. Shrinking who can participate, putting burdens and obstacles in folks’ way – it’s not only harmful to those individuals whose rights are being taken away, but it dramatically weakens the ability of a functioning electorate to correct mistakes and change courses. And that is what is going on in these jurisdictions all over the country.”
Story by Chris Graham