President Joe Biden will visit the state that the White House considers the “ground zero” for Republican-led voter suppression operations.
In Georgia on Tuesday, Biden In his speech, he is anticipated to expound on his support for a filibuster carveout to pass voting rights legislation in the Senate.
It’s part of the administration’s drive to counter GOP efforts to restrict voting access and sow doubt about America’s political system.
In the words of Cedric Richmond, White House senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement, “we are going directly to the belly of the beast” or “ground zero” for voting suppression, subversion and obstruction.
Biden’s trip comes as Senate Democrats prepare to debate and vote on rules changes to advance voting rights and elections legislation. Aides said Biden will explicitly support the effort in his address, building on his recent ABC News interview in which he advocated a filibuster exemption for voting rights legislation.
“It’s really about the upcoming vote,” Richmond remarked. “The Senate leader has spoken. We backed his idea and would utilise the White House to rally support.”
Despite the White House’s increased campaign, fundamental obstacles remain in the shape of Senate Democrats unwilling to amend filibuster rules. Richmond said Biden is still meeting with lawmakers one-on-one and with the senators leading the charge on voting and election reform. “He’s been calling about voting rights,” he said.
Voting rights advocates and allies have urged Biden to be more aggressive and consistent.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has expressed his desire for both Biden and Harris to “speak firmly about the need for filibuster reform” to the White House. Johnson said he expects Biden to be straightforward in his statements about the need to change the filibuster.
Johnson said Biden’s anniversary speech “didn’t pull any punches.” “I expect him to be as plain, forthright, and unequivocal about filibuster reform in his speech in Atlanta next week as he was about the insurrection…and who was responsible for it.”
This week, Biden began laying out his argument for saving a democracy threatened by Trump and GOP allies who spread myths about electoral fraud and try to install loyalists in critical positions of authority overseeing elections.
So far, the president has been able to convince the public that the country’s democratic roots are in jeopardy.
Biden has already called on Congress to approve similar legislation. Last June, on the anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, he pledged to “fight like hell” against GOP-led state legislatures passing voting restrictions. A month later, he declared at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center that “the 21st century Jim Crow onslaught is genuine.”
Despite repeated attempts, the Senate has failed to move either the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which both enhance voting rights and protect election officials.
“Every time it doesn’t happen, we accentuate it,” Richmond said of lobbying for Senate action.
Voting rights are swiftly filling the legislative “vacuum” left by Biden’s other major agenda item, a large social spending and climate plan.
None of us Democrats wanted Build Back Better to pass by Christmas more than Casey. “But voting rights now have to trump everything else we do. We learned towards the end of the year that having two parallel pathways to two major concerns is tough. And you have to prioritise and sequence.”
“It’s as essential a collection of work as any of us will ever do,” Casey said.
Senators led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signalled willingness to amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs the mechanism for certification of presidential elections.
Delegates from all parties said the narrower focus was inadequate and a diversion from more fundamental reforms. The legislative filibuster will not be eliminated or limited in any way, says Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin is also meeting with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss ways to strengthen the Electoral Count Act.
“We just don’t have enough Democrats who are in touch with the history of this country, or they’d stop spouting some of this foolishness,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a White House confidant and the third-ranking House Democrat.
“I am, as you know, a Black person descended from folks who got the vote thanks to the 15th Amendment. “The 15th Amendment gave Black people the right to vote, but it was not a bipartisan vote,” Clyburn remarked. “Manchin and others need to stop saying that because it pains me to hear that the 15th Amendment is invalid because it lacks bipartisan support.”
If some Democrats like Manchin and Sinema want cross-party support, Richmond says they shouldn’t expect Republicans to do so when they’ve voted no on the bills.
This was done on a partisan basis, with Republican-only votes, Richmond claimed. “It may not be realistic to expect the same party to come to Congress and vote to protect them.”
Manchin’s office stated he supports voting rights. Sen. Manchin thinks that every American of voting age has the right and responsibility to vote, and that this right must be safeguarded by legislation. According to a Manchin official, he is working on protecting this right.
For Georgia Democrats, the argument over election reforms is particularly poignant as Republicans have implemented numerous changes. The new political landscape – dual Senate victories last year, a day before the Capitol rebellion in Washington — has raised the stakes.
Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA), who has been in communication with the White House, anticipates Biden to elaborate on his plans.
“I believe I am sitting in the seat once held by Congressman John Lewis,” Williams stated. “We birthed the civil rights movement.” You don’t come to Atlanta for speeches. It’s about doing.”
It was long overdue for her state’s Democrats. This includes restricting absentee voting drop boxes to early voting sites, requiring more ID to vote by mail, and allowing state takeover of county elections.
Now, GOP legislators in Georgia want to ban touchscreen voting devices and extend voter fraud investigations, among other things.
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) said GOP-led modifications to the voting registers harmed her own races. In 2018, Gwinnett County, a suburb northeast of Atlanta, threw out one-third of the state’s absentee ballots. Bourdeaux launched litigation around concerns that led to statewide legal challenges, and she made voter protection a campaign issue.
The president should commit to making a carve out in the filibuster for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Bourdeaux added. She emphasised that only Biden’s complete support could make that happen.
He has many levers. And I think his publicly stating his support for it is a big step,” Bourdeaux said. “But he’ll have to depend on the senators to overcome the filibuster this way. Step one is to commit fully to that action.”