Jun 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Obama cites Capitol riot in backing voting rights compromise

Former President Barack Obama speaks in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a drive-in rally at the Florida International University on November 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Former President Obama during a November rally in Miami, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Obama cited Monday the U.S. Capitol insurrection as a reason for supporting a voting rights proposal by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Why it matters: The Senate is due to vote Tuesday on the Democrats' sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act.

  • Obama noted on a conference call for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee that he'd tried "not to weigh in on the day-to-day scrum in Washington" since leaving office in 2017, but the legislation "is more than just a particular bill coming up or not coming up to a vote," per Yahoo News.

What he's saying: "The violence that occurred in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, just a few months ago, should remind us that we can't take our democracy for granted," Obama said during the grassroots conference call, according to CNN.

  • "Around the world, we have seen once vibrant democracies go into reverse, locking in power for a small group of powerful autocrats and business interests and locking out of the political process dissidents and protestors and opposition parties and the voices of ordinary people," he added.
  • "It is happening in other places around the world and these impulses have crept into the United States. We are not immune from some of these efforts to weaken our democracy."
  • Obama accused Senate Republicans of "lining up to try to use the filibuster to stop the For the People Act" from being debated.
"In the aftermath of an insurrection, with our democracy on the line, and many of these same Republican senators going along with the notion that somehow there were [irregularities] and problems with legitimately in our most recent election. They are suddenly afraid to even talk about these issues and figures out solutions on the floor of the Senate. They don't even want to talk about voting. And that is not acceptable."

What to watch: The Democrats' voting rights legislation is unlikely to pass in the Senate unless it receives the required 60 votes or more, so it'll likely fail without Republican support.

Go deeper: Voting rights — and filibuster — in spotlight Tuesday

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