Biden to Endorse Changing Filibuster to Pass Voting Rights Laws

Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said Republicans could have until Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to drop their opposition to debate and votes on the issue, or face the prospect of overhauling filibuster rules.

Many Democrats say such a carve-out would apply only to issues grounded in constitutional rights such as voting. But Republicans and others say it would inevitably be extended to other legislation, diminishing the overall power of the filibuster.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, promised a scorched-earth response should Democrats go that route: “Since Senator Schumer is hellbent on trying to break the Senate, Republicans will show how this reckless action would have immediate consequences,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement on Monday.

Republicans have argued that Democrats are using the voting rights legislation to try to gain partisan advantage by seeking to impose their preferred rules on states that have long regulated their own elections. But activists say that critique ignores glaring examples of voter suppression. Voting rights groups in Georgia have already filed a federal lawsuit that accuses legislators of redrawing a congressional district to benefit Republican candidates and deny representation to Black voters.

In Georgia, Mr. Biden leaned heavily on the power of symbolism as he traveled to the former district of Mr. Lewis, the Georgia congressman and civil rights icon for whom the legislation is named. Mr. Lewis, a sharecropper’s son, was bloodied in the Jim Crow South as he championed racial equity and the right to vote.

He and Ms. Harris visited the crypt of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Also on the agenda was a visit to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Dr. King and Mr. Lewis were eulogized. Senator Raphael Warnock, the state’s first Black senator and a Democrat who is seeking a full term this year after a runoff victory, is a senior pastor there.

In the afternoon, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will speak at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, a consortium of four historically Black colleges and universities. On Monday evening, the vice president’s office said that Ms. Harris, whom Mr. Biden had asked to lead on voting rights, “will reaffirm that securing the right to vote is essential to safeguarding and strengthening our democracy” in her remarks.

Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics

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