In SummaryThe president gave an impassioned speech about passing voting rights, but some Democrats feel he hasn’t done enough.
President Joe Biden took a forceful stand on Tuesday in his continued efforts to pass voting rights legislation, comparing its opposition to “Jim Crow 2.0,” according to the Associated Press.
Biden urged senators to “stand against voter suppression” and called for a change in the Senate’s rules to get legislation through.
“I’m tired of being quiet!” a passionate Biden told the crowd in Atlanta. “Today, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge. Pass the Freedom to Vote Act.”
Biden said he’s spoken to senators over the pair of voting rights bills, both being opposed by Republicans. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, said he won’t support voting rights legislation without GOP support.
Current rules in the Senate call for bills to pass with 60 votes; Democrats don’t have the numbers even if Manchin were to come on board.
Biden supports ending the filibuster, particularly for voting rights, which would allow it to pass with just 51 votes. The Senate is evenly divided 50-50, but Democrats have a slight majority because Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote.
“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.”
The president compared today’s efforts to squash voting rights to civil rights fights in the 1960s, AP reported.
Biden has faced criticism from the left for not being able to pass voting rights legislation as of yet. The two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would expand voting rights access to millions of Americans.
Voting rights groups in Georgia, including Black Voters Matter, boycotted the president’s speech, saying that the administration doesn’t have a concrete plan to pass the legislation, CNN reported.
“We don’t need even more photo ops. We need action, and that action is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights (Advancement) Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act, and we need that immediately,” Black Voters Matter co-founder Cliff Albright told reporters on Monday, according to CNN.
According to reports, the Asian American Advocacy Fund, GALEO Impact Fund Inc. and New Georgia Project Action Fund didn’t attend the event.
Stacey Abrams, a key figure in the fight for voting rights, also didn’t attend Biden’s speech in Atlanta. Both Biden and Abrams said she didn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict.
“I look forward to continuing to work with them to make progress for Georgians,” Abrams said in her statement about supporting Biden and Harris in ending the filibuster.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family said lawmakers should not celebrate MLK Day until voting rights legislation is passed, according to New York Amsterdam News.
Martin Luther King III hosted Biden at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church later in the day, but still pushed the president to do something regarding voting rights, which impacts Black and Brown communities the most.
“We’ve seen what’s possible when President Biden uses the full weight of his office to deliver for bridges,” he said, according to AP. “And now we need to see him do the same for voting rights.”