Speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden decried his predecessor’s allegations of misconduct in the 2020 election after Donald Trump’s defeat.
Biden called state efforts to curtail voting accessibility “un-American” and “un-democratic” and called passage of congressional proposals to override new state voting restrictions and to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act that were curbed in recent years by the Supreme Court “a national imperative.”
“We have to prepare now,” the president said.
Biden’s sharp rhetoric drew praise from progressive groups in his party but did little to assuage the mounting pressure on him to throw his weight behind replacing the filibuster.
Biden’s remarks came a day after Texas Democrats decamped for Washington in an effort to deny their GOP-controlled Legislature the necessary quorum to pass a bill placing new restrictions on voting in the state.
Standing near the steps of the U.S. Capitol for a news conference ahead of a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democrats promised to “stay out and kill this bill.”
However, state Rep. Chris Turner, “We can’t hold this tide back forever. We’re buying some time. We need Congress and all of our federal leaders to use that time wisely”.
“No other election has ever been held under such scrutiny, such high standards,” Biden said of the 2020 race.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he would keep calling special sessions through next year if necessary to pass his state’s legislation, and raised the possibility of Democrats facing arrest upon returning home.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the administration’s efforts on voting rights, praised the Texas legislators during a meeting with them in Washington.
“Defending the right of the American people to vote is as American as apple pie,” she told the lawmakers, comparing their actions to women’s suffrage and civil rights marches.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who attended Biden’s address, called it a “good speech,” but also said, “I told him that I was going to stay on him about the filibuster.” He described Biden as noncommittal on the issue.
“Administrative action, litigation, and organizing are critical to combat this, but these tactics are not a substitute for congressional action on the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Karen Hobert Flynn, president of the group Common Cause, said on Tuesday.
“As the president ramps up his use of the bully pulpit and engages with senators, we urge him to make clear that the Senate minority’s use of the filibuster—a Jim Crow relic, in the words of former President Obama—must never stand in the way of the freedom to vote.”
Officials concede, though, that turning out voters is always harder in a nonpresidential election year.