‘We have no option’: Biden calls for changing Senate rules to pass voting rights laws.

   < < Go Back
from New York Times,

President Biden endorsed changing Senate rules to pass new voting rights legislation during a speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, warning of a grave threat to American democracy if lawmakers did not act to “protect the heart and soul” of the country.

Mr. Biden did not go so far as to call for full-scale elimination of the filibuster, a Senate tradition that allows the minority party to block legislation that fails to garner 60 votes, but said he supported “getting rid of” it in the case of voting rights legislation. Such a change in Senate procedures has only the slimmest of chances of winning the support of all 50 senators who caucus with the Democrats, which is needed to overcome universal Republican opposition.

Mr. Biden, a former senator and an institutionalist who had long been leery of whittling away at the filibuster, said such Senate traditions had been “abused.”

“I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered?” Mr. Biden said.

“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?” he asked

One bill introduced by Democrats, the Freedom to Vote Act, would, among other provisions, block efforts to restrict mail-in or absentee voting, make Election Day a holiday, and stop state legislators from redrawing districts in a way that activists say denies representation to minority voters. Another, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would restore anti-discrimination components of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The reality remains: Even with Mr. Biden’s new call for a filibuster exception, changing Senate rules would require the support of the entire Democratic caucus and the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie and pass the legislation.

Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats, have expressed strong public opposition to changing filibuster rules. A handful of others have more quietly voiced concerns with the changes.

More From New York Times: