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Watch: Biden delivers remarks on voting rights

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) – President Joe Biden plans to use a speech in Georgia on Tuesday to lend his support, for the first time, to changing Senate filibuster rules to allow action on legislation on the right to vote, calling at a time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some civil rights activists, claiming to be more interested in action than speeches, say they plan to stay away .

Biden will pay homage to past civil rights battles on Tuesday – by visiting Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once appeared in the pulpit and laying a wreath in King’s crypt and from his wife, Coretta Scott King – before moving on to Tuesday’s challenge.

NewsNation will broadcast Biden’s remarks live on Tuesday afternoon in the above player.

With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. setting Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the deadline to pass a voting law or consider revising the rules, Biden is expected to bring up memories of the riot. from the United States Capitol a year ago to lining up with more force on the effort.

Biden plans to tell his audience, “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will be a turning point in this nation.”

“Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I am. I will not give in. I will not flinch, “he said, according to prepared remarks. “I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all foreign and domestic enemies. And so the question is, where will the institution of the United States Senate be? “

A White House official, previewing the speech on condition of anonymity, said Biden would express his support for changing Senate obstruction rules to ensure voting rights are defended – a strategy Democrats expect from the president . The LA Times reports that Biden’s move underlines pressure on the president from his base to do something about Republican-backed state laws that restrict access to the ballot boxes ahead of the November midterm election.

Some voting rights advocates were planning to boycott the speech and spend the day working. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, known for her tireless work on voting rights, also skipped the event.

So far, Democrats have failed to come to an agreement among themselves on potential changes to Senate filibuster rules to allow action on voting rights, despite months of private negotiations. The Hill reports to change the rules, Democrats need full unity from their 50 members, something they don’t yet have. Senators Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) both support a qualified majority requirement for the legislation, while others, including Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), have not yet taken a position.

Many Democrats say the rule change would only apply to constitutional rights-based issues such as voting, but Republicans and others say it would inevitably be extended to other laws, diminishing power. global obstruction, according to the New York Times.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed complaints from some activists that Biden had not been a strong enough advocate.

“I think we would challenge the idea that the president was not active or vocal. He gave a series of speeches, he pleaded for the right to vote to be adopted, ”she declared. “We understand the frustration of many advocates that this has not yet passed into law. He would have loved to have signed this into law himself.

But laws have already been passed in at least 19 states, making voting more difficult. Voting rights groups see the changes as a more subtle form of voting restrictions such as literacy tests and voting taxes once used to deny black voters the right to vote, now a key Democratic constituency.

And Republicans who have lined up behind Trump’s election misinformation are separately promoting efforts to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local election posts and supporting some of those who participated in the violent January 6 at the United States Capitol one year. There are.

Central to it all, Georgia is one of the main states in the 2020 election battleground. As the votes recounted, Trump told a senior state election official that he wanted the official “finds” enough votes to reverse his loss. The state’s votes went to Biden nonetheless, and his two Senate seats also went to Democrats.

Then last year, the Republican governor signed a radical rewrite of electoral rules that, among other things, gives the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. This has led to concerns that the Republican-controlled state council might exert more influence over the administration of the elections, including the certification of the county’s results.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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