Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
President Joe Biden is expected to use a speech in Georgia to throw the weight of his office behind changing Senate rules to break a Republican blockade that has prevented the passage of sweeping new elections laws.
According to the Associated Press, which obtained an advance copy of a speech President Biden will give at a Civil Rights service in Atlanta, Biden will draw on memories of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and call for “democracy over autocracy.”
It is unclear if the president will explain how circumventing Constitutionally allocated processes equals democracy. Rather, it seems he will argue that deviating from normal practice is necessary to protect voting rights.
He is also expected to suggest that Republicans in the Senate are agents of darkness.
“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” the Biden speech reads. “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?”
The speech will be given at Ebenezer Baptist Church, best known as the church of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. The symbolic nature of the speech will carry both historical and contemporary significance.
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that voting rights legislation would be passed by Martin Luther King Day, which is Jan. 17.
While the president’s speech will almost certainly be met with a polarized response, and no doubt many will fear that the removal of the filibuster would open the door to even more law being forced through by Democrats, it is important to note that Biden’s support does not necessarily mean that anything will change.
All 50 non-Republican senators – 49 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – would have to vote to approve a rule change in order to allow Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tiebreaking vote.
However, moderate Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have been resistant to filibuster rule changes, and neither showed any willingness to succumb to pressure from Biden on the Build Back Better Act.
Both Manchin and Sinema want to send a bipartisan election reform bill to the President’s desk, and a sliver of hope has emerged that this is now possible. Sinema is part of a bipartisan group of senators currently crafting an election reform bill.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that he, and by extension other Republicans, were willing to negotiate on legislation that would modernize the counting of Electoral College votes.
While Manchin responded favorably, McConnell’s remarks were widely panned by most Democrats, who are more interested in passing the John Lewis Voting Rights and For the People acts.
These acts would, among other things, grant Congress additional power to approve or reject state election processes and force states to offer mail-in voting options and same-day voter registration.
On Sunday, FISM offered a more detailed exploration of the various voting acts currently being considered by Congress.
Biden is set to give his remarks at 3:50 pm today.