Following Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) warning that the changes might “suppress the voices of millions” of Americans, President Biden declared on Tuesday that Democrats had “no choice” but to modify filibuster rules to pass a pair of voting measures. This threat to our democracy is so severe that we must find a way to pass these voting rights laws. Debate them, vote and allow the majority to prevail,” Biden said in a lecture at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Changing Senate rules, including eliminating the filibuster, is the only option if the bare minimum is blocked.
Democratic voting legislation was derided by Republicans for being a federal takeover of election systems, while Biden compared those opposed to the plan to southern segregationists. “George Wallace or Dr. Martin Luther King, which do you prefer?” Biden commented. Our democracy and our elections are at stake at this critical juncture.
McConnell made a statement on the Senate floor earlier today warning of the consequences if the Senate were to waive the filibuster to pass the voting reforms. According to McConnell, the Democratic leader “wants to silence the voices of millions of Americans” by breaking the Senate. “A post-nuclear Senate would be neither more efficient nor more productive. I can assure you of that because I guarantee it,” the minority leader later remarked.
Biden prioritized the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would reinstate a component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires districts with a history of racial discrimination to get Justice Department clearance before revising local election rules.
A 15-day minimum early voting period and the ability to sue state legislatures over redistricting issues were also on Biden’s wish list for the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set national standards for voter ID by allowing a wide range of documentation and make it easier for state residents to sue their legislatures.