Updated Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden backs filibuster changes to pass voting rights bill

President Joe Biden waves while walking on the South Lawn of the White House after arriving on Marine One.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday threw his support behind changing the Senate's filibuster rules in an effort to pass voting rights legislation.

Driving the news: "I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass the voting rights bill, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail," Biden said in a major speech in Atlanta. "And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rule, including getting rid of the filibuster for this."

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that the Senate will vote on rules changes to the filibuster by Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17.

What they're saying: "Today I’m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights," President Biden said.

  • "Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice?" he added. The "next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation."
  • "I know where I stand. 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?"
  • "We have seen so many anti-voter laws, that there is a danger of becoming accustomed to these laws ... as though they are normal," Vice President Kamala Harris said in her own remarks at the event.

Top Democrats, including Biden and Harris, called for expanding voting rights on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

  • Some civil rights activists will skip the speech, saying that they're more interested in legislation than political rhetoric, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

Yes, but: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) remain big obstacles to lowering the 60-vote threshold.

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