In a visit to Georgia Tuesday, President Joe Biden supported filibuster reform in the hopes of pushing forward previously-stalled voting legislation in Congress. He said accomplishing both of those things would protect the “heart and soul of our democracy.”
“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” President Biden is expected to say in prepared remarks, according to the official. “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?”
So far, Democrats have been unable to come to an agreement on what that filibuster reform would look like, despite months of private negotiations. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has set Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the deadline to either pass voting legislation or start considering filibuster reform. Before Tuesday’s speech, Biden is expected to visit Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he will place a wreath at the crypt of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.
While Biden is facing near universal opposition from Republicans regarding his push to pass voting legislation, he’s also beginning to receive criticism from voting rights activists who say he isn’t doing enough. Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D-GA), who was noted for her work getting out the vote in Georgia for the 2020 election, skipped Tuesday’s events. Her aides cited a scheduling conflict. Other advocates boycotted the speech.
“We’re beyond speeches,” Black Lives Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown said. “At this point, what we need, what we are demanding, is federal legislation.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the criticism at her daily briefing Monday.
“I think we would dispute the notion that the President hasn’t been active or vocal,” Psaki said. “He’s given a range of speeches. He’s advocated for voting rights to pass. He said it is a fundamental priority for his presidency. And he has agreed with his Vice President that she would lead this effort. We understand the frustration by many advocates that this is not passed into law yet. He would love to have signed this into law himself.”