Biden to make ‘moral case’ for voting rights in Tuesday speech

President Biden touts his infrastructure proposal during a trip to Illinois
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President Biden will use a speech on voting rights on Tuesday to make the “moral case” for passing legislation to protect access to the ballot amid a flurry of new laws in GOP-led states that critics argue will make it more difficult to vote, the White House said on Monday.

Biden will condemn the rhetoric from former President Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was stolen, a claim that has been rejected by dozens of judges and state-level officials, and he will push for Congress to pass voting rights legislation, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

“He’ll lay out the moral case for why denying the right to vote is a form of suppression and a form of silencing and … he will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws based on a dangerous and discredited conspiracy theory that culminated in an assault on our Capitol,” Psaki said, referencing the Jan. 6 riot.

“He’ll call out the greatest irony of the big lie — that no election in our history has met such a high standard, with over 80 judges, including those appointed by his predecessor, throwing out all challenges,” Psaki added. “He’ll also decry efforts to strip the right to vote as authoritarian and anti-American and stand up against the notion that politicians should be allowed to choose their voters or subvert our system by replacing independent election authorities with partisan ones.”

But Biden, making his first major address on the issue since the For the People Act stalled in the Senate and the Supreme Court upheld new voting regulations in Arizona, is not expected to reveal any new policy proposals or shift his position on the filibuster. 

The For The People Act, a sweeping elections reform bill Democrats have talked up as a top legislative priority, failed to garner a single GOP vote in the Senate and does not appear to have a path to passage.

Biden is facing immense pressure from progressives and voting rights advocates to do more to push Congress to pass voting rights protections. 

Many progressives have called for Biden and other Democratic holdouts to support altering or abolishing the legislative filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes for a piece of legislation to advance.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close Biden ally, said Sunday he would like to see an exemption to the filibuster for an issue like voting rights.

The White House is not expected to shift its position on the issue, however, with Psaki saying Monday there are any number of policy areas where lawmakers could argue an exemption is warranted.

“In terms of how this works, the filibuster is a legislative process tool, an important one, that warrants debate,” Psaki said. “But determination about making changes will be made by members of the Senate. Not by this president, or by any president, frankly, moving forward.”

Biden’s speech follows multiple meetings with civil rights leaders and voting rights groups at the White House. The president previously signed an executive order directing agencies to increase access to voter registration materials and reduce barriers to voting for certain groups, such as military members and people with disabilities.

Tags Donald Trump Filibuster For the People Act Jen Psaki Joe Biden voting rights

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