Biden Gives Big Speech on Filibuster and Voting Rights But Black Activists Are Skeptical Anything Gets Done

President Joe Biden on Tuesday gave a major speech in Georgia backing filibuster changes to pass voting rights legislation but advocates are skeptical after months of inaction, The Washington Post reports.

“The battle for the soul of America is not over,” Biden said, vowing to counter Republican efforts to restrict ballot access in GOP-led states across the country. “They want chaos to reign; we want the people to rule.”

For Republicans, he said, “too many people voting in a democracy is a problem. So they are putting up obstacles.”

Biden said he supports filibuster changes to pass voting rights legislation over Republican objections.

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand,” Biden said. “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?”

Voting groups boycott:

Some voting rights groups boycotted the speech in protest of the administration’s inaction.

"We don't need even more photo ops. We need action, and that action is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights (Advancement) Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act, and we need that immediately," Cliff Albright, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told reporters.

While many prominent voting rights advocates attended the event, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams did not, citing scheduling conflicts.

“What we need is a plan,” Nsé Ufot, the chief executive of the New Georgia Project, told the Post. “What we need are marching orders. How are we headed into the midterms? What posture will we have to adopt? And is it worth it to continue to seek federal protections for voting rights? Or do we need to acknowledge that the Republican crime caucus is so effective . . . that there‘s nothing that our president and vice president or Democrats in the Senate can do and we just need to focus on turnout?”

Advocates want more from Biden:

The filibuster changes are opposed by Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“I don‘t think they’re up there twiddling their thumbs and not taking it seriously,” Aimy Steele, executive director of the New North Carolina Project, told the Post. “But the same way they’ve negotiated with Manchin on other bills, the infrastructure bill being the most prominent one, is the same way they need to negotiate to figure out what we can do to get some of these things passed like the Voting Rights Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed. They need to demonstrate to our community that they are taking our issues seriously.”


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