In long-awaited speech, Biden to denounce voting restrictions


WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden to present the ‘moral case’ of the right to vote as he faces increasing pressure from civil rights activists and other Democrats to fight efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to the ballot.

Biden has said protecting voting rights is the central cause of his presidency, but the White House has received strong criticism from allies for not doing more while facing political headwinds and calculations. obstinate Senate. which severely restricted its ability to act.

Biden’s speech on Tuesday in Philadelphia, which will be delivered at the National Constitution Center, is intended to be the opening salvo of a public pressure campaign, White House advisers said, even as legislative options to block elections. voting restrictions. face significant obstacles.

“He will set out the moral reasons why denying the right to vote is a form of repression and a form of silence,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday as she planned the speech. “He will redouble his commitment to use all the tools at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws.”

Several states have passed voting restrictions, and others are debating them, as Republicans seized on former President Donald Trump’s false claim of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election as a pretext to restrict access ballots.

Psaki said Monday that Biden pledged to “overcome the worst challenge for our democracy since the Civil War.” But collaborators suggested that his speech would not contain many new proposals.

Capitol Hill Democrats have previously attempted to respond with a sweeping voting and election bill that Senate Republicans have united to block. Most Republicans also rejected a separate bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reinstate sections of the voting rights law that the Supreme Court had previously weakened.

These roadblocks have put more emphasis on filibustering the Senate, which, if left in place, would appear to be an insurmountable obstacle to the pair of voting rights review measures pending in Congress. Republicans were unanimous in their opposition, and the filibuster would need to be eliminated or at least amended for the bills to have any chance of passage.

Moderate Democrats like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema have so far expressed reluctance to change the tradition of the Senate. Voting bills stand little chance of passing in a body that is at a 50-50 deadlock with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

Biden’s long-awaited speech was due just hours after a group of Democratic Texas lawmakers arrived in the nation’s capital after fleeing their state in an attempt to kill a Republican bill making it harder to vote in Texas. Lawmakers have said they are prepared to stay in Washington for weeks, forcing another dramatic showdown over voting rights in America.

Private planes transported a large group of Democrats from Austin to Washington, lawmakers who left the city just days before Texas House was supposed to quickly approve new voting restrictions in a special legislative session. They hoped to deprive the legislature of a quorum – the minimum number of representatives that must be present for the body to function.

Hours later, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he would continue to call special sessions until next year if needed, and raised the possibility that Democrats would be arrested when they returned home.

Many Democrats have expressed frustration at the lack of pressure from the White House to reform the filibuster, with civil rights activists pointing out that Biden was elected with broad support from blacks whose votes are often threatened by restrictions on vote. Majority House Whip Jim Clyburn, a longtime ally of Biden, this week urged amending the filibuster for voting rights legislation.

Biden, a Senate veteran, has offered some support for the obstruction changes but has not put his political weight behind the issue. He and Harris, who are leading the administration’s efforts on voting rights, met with some of the civil rights leaders last week, who made it clear they were waiting for a legislative solution.

“We are back to the wall. It’s time. We’re out of time, ”said Sherrilyn Ifill, chair of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, after the meeting. “I said to the president: we will not be able to get out of this threat to black citizenship.”

While not giving up hope for a legislative solution, the West Wing has focused on other measures to protect the vote, including legal remedies pursued by the Justice Department and in individual states. , according to officials. The focus will also be on increasing voter turnout, with assistants highlighting the success Democrats had in securing votes last year at the height of the pandemic.

Officials concede, however, that voter turnout is always more difficult in a non-presidential election year. Some frustrated aides, seeing the reality in the Senate, believe too much attention has been paid to federal legislation and believe civic and business groups can also play a role in tackling voting restrictions, noting that a Outrage in Georgia has helped water some of the plans proposed by the GOP.

Many Republicans continue to question the outcome of the 2020 election, despite the lack of evidence of fraud. Republican elected officials in a number of states have responded by passing restrictions on early voting and postal ballots, as well as stricter voter identification laws, prompting some liberals to demand that Biden do so. more.

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