Biden: Georgia law is 'Jim Crow in the 21st century'

President BidenJoe BidenBiden nominates Mark Brzezinski to be U.S. ambassador to Poland 10 dead after overloaded van crashes in south Texas Majority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP MORE on Friday sharply criticized a new restrictive voting law passed in Georgia, accusing the state's Republicans of rushing to enact an “un-American law to deny people the right to vote.”

“This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House Friday afternoon.

“This is Jim Crow in the 21st century. It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act,” he continued.

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The president urged Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats barrel toward August voting rights deadline The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, which he said would make it easier for Americans to vote and protect voting rights.

Biden further commented on the law in a brief exchange with reporters Friday afternoon before departing the White House for his home in Wilmington, Del. He called the law an “atrocity” and particularly criticized a provision barring volunteers from giving food and water to voters.

"If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can't provide water to people standing in line while they're waiting to vote?” Biden said. “You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can't provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break.”

The law enacted by Georgia on Thursday evening imposes a raft of new voting restrictions, including limits on the use of ballot drop boxes, photo identification requirements for absentee voting and a shortened time frame for runoff elections. It also gives state lawmakers more control over elections.

Voting rights groups quickly challenged it in court hours after it was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian KempBrian KempFDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report New spotlight on secretaries of state as electoral battlegrounds Georgia Gov. Kemp says FDA needs to upgrade its authorization for vaccines MORE.

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The Republican-led law follows negative results for the GOP in the November general election and two January Senate runoffs in the Peach State. Georgia is the first battleground state to overhaul its voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election.   

Just last week, Biden visited Atlanta and met with Georgia officials including Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsAn exhausting year takes toll on nation's mayors Why won't the national media cover the story Americans care about most? Students sue Atlanta police after being shocked with a stun gun, pulled from car MORE and newly-elected Democratic Sens. Jon OssoffJon OssoffObamaCare 2.0 is a big funding deal Senate Democrats call for Medicaid-like plan to cover non-expansion states Stacey Abrams PAC tops 0 million raised MORE and Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDemocrats barrel toward August voting rights deadline Jesse Jackson arrested with voting rights protesters at Capitol Harris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries MORE. The group discussed voting rights and barriers to the ballot box, including restrictive voting legislation being enacted by state officials across the country.

House Democrats earlier this month passed the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights and election reform bill that would make it easier to vote by requiring states to offer mail-in ballots, enact same-day voter registration and expand early voting. Republicans have denounced the legislation as an overreach of states’ rights.

The law faces an uphill battle in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republicans to join with them in ending debate on the legislation.

—Updated at 3:33 p.m.