Durbin says Biden may have gone 'a little too far' in Georgia speech

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Wednesday that President BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE may have gone "a little too far" with his rhetoric during a speech in Georgia the previous day advocating voting rights legislation.

During his speech, Biden called for the Senate to pass several pieces of legislation, including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John LewisJohn LewisIt's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act, while endorsing changes to the Senate filibuster in order to advance the bills.

The president put pressure on lawmakers who have opposed making changes to the Senate rules, suggesting they had a choice to side either with advocates for voting rights or historical figures who backed segregation and the Confederacy.


"Do you want to be ... on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Biden said in Georgia.

“It is stark, and I will concede that point," Durbin said during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Wednesday after the host noted the comparison made by Biden.

Still, the Senate majority whip argued that "there are parallels there" in what Biden had referenced, arguing Republicans have tried to make it harder for Americans to vote and suggesting a parallel with past historical attempts to keep Black Americans from voting.

"Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric. Some of us do, but the fundamental principles and values at stake are very, very similar,” Durbin said.

"[D]on't overlook the reality that in 20 different states governed and led by Republicans in legislature and the governorship ... each and every one of them — they are taking step by weary step to make sure that Americans, fewer Americans are going to vote," he added in the interview. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: I'm going to give Biden's Supreme Court nominee 'a fair look' Progressive millionaire group backs Cisneros, McBath in first public endorsements Clyburn calls for full-court press on voting rights MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blasted Biden over his speech, likening his remarks to a "rant," which he panned as "incoherent, incorrect and beneath his office."

Biden has stepped up pressure on Senate Democrats to pass voting rights legislation, but two key holdouts, Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Health Care — ObamaCare gets record numbers On The Money — Economy had post-recession growth in 2021 Progressives apply pressure on Biden, Senate to pass Build Back Better MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaClyburn calls for full-court press on voting rights Swing-state voters concerned about Build Back Better's impact on inflation: poll Voto Latino CEO: Sinema will have a 'very difficult pathway' in 2024 reelection MORE (Ariz.), have maintained they do not want to get rid of the chamber's filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation.