Speed Reads

'democracy's threshold liberty'

Biden: We must 'find a way' to pass voting protections, even if that's changing the filibuster

President Biden called for the passage of major voting rights and election reform bills during a highly-anticipated speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, even going so far as to endorse altering Senate rules if it meant new protections would pass.

"Today, we call on Congress to get done what history will judge. Pass the Freedom to Vote Act! Pass it now!" he said, urging lawmakers to do the same with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. As he pounded the podium, Biden proclaimed, "I'm tired of being quiet!"

"[W]e must find a way to pass these voting rights bills," he continued, "debate them, vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules — including getting rid of the filibuster for this." 

Biden has before supported a so-called filibuster carveout for the advancement of voting protections, but "Tuesday's remarks were his most extensive on the issue and aimed at not only an audience of voters and disenchanted activists but at lawmakers who will determine the fate of such legislation," writes The Washington Post.

The president also lamented the perils of navigating a 50-50 Senate, which he described as the country having "51 presidents."

"When you got 51 presidents, it gets harder," he said. "Any one can change the outcome." (Ironically, that has been Democrats' exact problem.)

"Today we come to Atlanta, the cradle of civil rights, to make clear what must come after that dreadful day when a dagger was literally held at the throat of American democracy," Biden said, referencing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. "The right to vote and have that vote count, it is democracy's threshold liberty. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible."