‘I’m tired of being quiet!’ – Wed News

by Alexandra Jeffs, Colleen Long and Jeff Amy

ATLANTA (AP) – President Joe Biden says he supports changing the Senate’s rules to pass voting rights legislation, declaring that changing the rules must protect “the heart and soul of our democracy.” .

Biden told a crowd in Atlanta that he had been in quiet talks with senators for months on two bills up for debate, stalled because they don’t have enough Republican votes to move past filibuster to vote.

“I’m tired of being silent!” He said, patting the podium loudly. “I will not bow down. I will not bow down,” in an effort to protect democracy.

Current rules require 60 votes to pass most legislation – a threshold that Senate Democrats alone cannot meet because they have only a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. Republicans unanimously oppose voting rights measures.

Not all Democrats are on board with changing the filibuster rules. Conservative West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on the idea Tuesday, saying he believed any change should be made with enough Republican buyouts.

And even if Democrats remove the odds of passing voting rights laws, it’s too late to counter the sweeping voting restrictions passed in 19 states after the 2020 loss of former President Donald Trump and his lies. May be – embraced by many in the GOP – that the election was plagiarized through voter fraud

This is a breaking news update. Below is an earlier story from AP.

ATLANTA (AP) – President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to support changing Senate rules that have blocked voting rights legislation, saying it is time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some civil rights groups will not be there, protesting what they say is the administration’s inaction.

As he turns to his current challenge, Biden is also paying tribute to the civil rights fight on Tuesday—visiting Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was once ahead of the pulpit. . When Martin Luther King III laid a wreath at the tomb of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, he also stood silent.

In remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Vice President Kamala Harris, who spoke before Biden on Tuesday, warned that a barrage of laws making voting difficult could mean “getting accustomed to these laws.” There is danger, there is danger. To adjust these laws as if they were normal. ,

“There is nothing out of the ordinary about a law that makes it illegal to give water or food to people standing in tall voter laws,” she said, to cheers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with D.N.Y., set next Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the deadline for either passing voting legislation or revising the rules surrounding the chamber’s filibuster blocking devices. Considering doing, Biden is expected to evoke those memories of the US Capitol riot in aligning himself more strongly with the voting rights effort a year ago.

Biden plans to tell his audience, “The next few days, when these bills are voted on, will be a turning point in this country.”

“Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not bow. I will not budge,” he would say according to prepared remarks. “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 the United States Senate stand? ,

Current rules require 60 votes to move forward with most of the legislation – a threshold that Senate Democrats alone can’t meet because they only have a 50-50 majority to break ties with Harris. Republicans unanimously oppose voting rights measures.

Biden has landed more carefully in the debate than in the past. He is under heavy political pressure to achieve a breakthrough, although it is not clear what practical effect he might have.

Underscoring that pressure, King said in a statement that he was pleased to meet Biden, but he also supported those who chose to skip the speech.

“We’ve seen what’s possible when President Biden uses the full weight of his office to deliver bridges,” he said, referring to Biden’s successful push for a $1 trillion infrastructure spending deal. Happened. “And now we need to see him do it for the right to vote.”

Not all Democrats are on board with changing the filibuster rules. Conservative West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on the idea Tuesday, saying he believed any change should be made with enough Republican buyouts.

And even if Democrats remove the odds of passing voting rights laws, it’s too late to counter the sweeping voting restrictions passed in 19 states after the 2020 loss of former President Donald Trump and his lies. May be – embraced by many in the GOP – that the election was plagiarized through voter fraud

Some voting rights advocates plan to boycott Biden’s speech. Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, known for her tireless voting rights work, was also skipping the event. Meanwhile, the White House sent an unusually long list of attendees to the speech. The aide said Abrams had a conflict, but did not explain further, although he did tweet in support of the president.

Biden said there was a scheduling mix-up between the two prior to their visit, but they had spoken and “everyone was on the same page.”

Asked what risk he was taking politically by speaking out if there weren’t enough votes to change the rules, he said: “I risk saying no to what I believe. That’s the risk I take. It’s those defined. One of the moments. It’s true. People will be judged on the basis of where they were before the vote and where they were after the vote. History will judge us.”

Voting rights advocates in Georgia and across the country are concerned about what could happen in 2022 and beyond. They see the changes in many states as a subtle form of ballot restrictions such as literacy tests and election taxes, which were once a major Democratic constituency, used to disenfranchise black voters.

“We are beyond speeches. At this point, all we need is federal law,” said Black Votes Matter co-founder Latosha Brown. And it can’t happen too soon, she said.

Republicans who have fallen behind Trump’s election misinformation are trying to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local election positions and supporting alternative office to some of those who participated in the riots at the US Capitol a year ago. separately promoting the efforts of

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist and made history as the first black senator elected in Georgia, said that “whatever that may be is going to shine a bright light on the urgency of the issue.” Will continue is important.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed complaints from some activists that Biden has not been a strong enough advocate.

“We understand the dismay of many advocates that this has not yet been passed into law. He himself would prefer to sign it into law,” she said.

Georgia is at the center of it all, one of the major battleground states in the 2020 election. After the votes were counted and recounted, Trump told a top state election official that he wanted officials to “find” enough votes to make up for his loss. The state vote nonetheless went to Biden, and both Senate seats went to the Democrats as well.

Last year, the Republican governor signed a sweeping rewrite of election rules that, among other things, gives state election boards new powers to interfere with county election offices and remove and replace local election officials. This has given rise to concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of the election, including the certification of county results.

Congressional Democrats have written voting legislation that would herald the biggest change in US elections in a generation, by removing barriers to voting in the name of electoral security, reducing the influence of big money in politics and the partisan influence on Congress’s portrayal. will limit. districts.

The package would create national election standards that would trump state-level GOP laws. It would also restore the Justice Department’s ability to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

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Amy reported from Atlanta. AP Congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.