Biden to call expected Senate action on voting bills a ‘turning point’

President Joe Biden gives remarks in Statuary Hall of the U.S Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, January 6, 2022 to mark the one year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.
Greg Nash

President Biden on Tuesday will describe looming Senate action on a pair of voting rights bills as a “turning point” for the country, describing the fight for ballot access as a pivotal moment in protecting democracy in the United States.

Biden will speak in Georgia to urge passage of two pieces of legislation: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to force votes this week on both bills, though Republicans are set to use the 60-vote legislative filibuster to block them from advancing.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden will say in Georgia, according to excerpts shared by the White House. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden will use the speech to discuss potential alterations to the Senate filibuster, which requires that a bill get 60 votes to advance in the chamber. She said Biden would seek to underscore the stakes at a time when GOP-held state legislatures are advancing bills to make it harder for some groups to vote.

He will also tie his remarks to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol to try to thwart the counting of Electoral College votes by Congress. In a speech last week marking the anniversary of the attack, Biden spoke of the importance of passing voting rights legislation. 

Schumer has vowed to bring up changing the legislative filibuster by Jan. 17 without movement on voting rights legislation as activists, civil rights groups and some Democrats have called for, at minimum, a carveout to the filibuster to pass voting rights bills.

To change the rules, Democrats need total unity from all 50 of their caucus members, something they don’t yet have. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) both support a supermajority requirement for legislation, while others, including Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), haven’t yet taken a position.

Tags Charles Schumer Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Lewis Kyrsten Sinema Mark Kelly voting rights

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