Biden Plans Controversial Move on Voting Rights Bill

President will endorse filibuster 'carve-out' on the issue
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2022 6:42 AM CST
Biden Backs Major Rule Change for Voting Rights Bill
President Biden speaks during a memorial service for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the Smith Center in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

(Newser) – President Biden travels to Georgia on Tuesday to speak about voting rights, and the New York Times reports he will back a controversial change in Senate rules to try to get legislation passed. The president will call for the Senate to ditch the usual filibuster rules on this issue alone to allow Democrats to pass a bill with a bare minimum 50 votes instead of 60. (Fifty votes would work because VP Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaker.) However, getting such a filibuster "carve-out" in place is much easier said than done. All 50 Democrats would have to go along with the change, and familiar standouts Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema oppose the idea of ditching the 60-vote threshold, notes the Washington Post. The Post thinks the prospect of the tactic working is "unlikely."

Biden will cite "repeated obstruction" by Republicans in justifying his support of the rule change. “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden will say, per remarks released in advance by the White House. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand.” White House press chief Jenn Psaski confirmed Biden will address the filibuster issue, reports Reuters, though the specifics of what he will endorse remain under wraps. (There's a few different ways the rule could change, as explained by Politico.)

The AP reports the issue will come to a head on Monday, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to vote on the filibuster carve-out that day if Republicans don't drop their objections to voting rights legislation before then. That showdown seems assured: Mitch McConnell has accused Democrats of pushing a "Big Lie"—the notion that “there is some evil anti-voting conspiracy sweeping America," per the Hill. (Read more President Biden stories.)

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