Biden calls for repeal of Senate filibuster to pass Voter Rights Act
President Joe Biden spoke in Atlanta on Tuesday about the passage of stalled voter rights legislation in Congress, saying Democratic lawmakers must make major changes to the rules of the Senate. Calling the passage of the bill a “battle for America’s soul,” Biden put the defense of voting rights on par with the fight waged against racial segregation by legendary American civil rights activist Martin Luther King.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited the grave of Luther King, a ceremony attended by the family of the human rights activist killed in 1968 in Memphis. The president and vice president then addressed students at Clark University and Morehouse College, two institutions with historically African-American student populations. Biden and Harris urged lawmakers to pass the Voter Rights Act.
“Not a single Republican has shown the courage to stand up to a losing president to protect Americans’ right to vote. Not one of them,” Biden said, referring to Donald Trump.
The president said that if the Democrats failed to get the bill passed, Democratic senators would have to “change the rules, including getting rid of the filibuster.”
A filibuster is a Senate voting rule that requires a qualified majority of 60 out of 100 votes instead of a simple majority (at least 51 out of 100 votes) to pass most bills.
“Unfortunately, the United States Senate, conceived as the greatest deliberative body, has become a shell of itself,” Biden said.
This is the first time the president has so unequivocally and directly demanded a change in the rules of the Senate, though he has also previously voiced support for repealing the filibuster to implement several points of his campaign.
“Listen to me carefully,” Biden said, “The battle for America’s soul is not over. We must be strong and stick together so that January 6 will not mark the end of our democracy, but the beginning of its rebirth.”
“Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass it now to prevent voter suppression,” Biden said.