Biden Will Endorse Changing Senate Rules to Pass Voting Rights Legislation


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.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden will lean on the power of symbolism when he travels to Georgia. He and Ms. Harris will visit the crypt of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. They will visit the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Dr. King and Mr. Lewis, the Georgia congressman and civil rights icon for whom the legislation is named, 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.

Georgia, a state Mr. Biden won by only 11,779 votes, has also seen some of the most sweeping attempts by Republicans to assert partisan power in elections, particularly through restricting mail-in, absentee or early voting. Critics say similar laws have spread around the country in response to false claims by former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters that the 2020 election was rigged. Last week, observing the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Mr. Biden denounced those theories: “You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”


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