“I’ve been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I’m tired of being quiet,” screeched the commander-in-chief, pounding his hand on the lectern. The president did not call for the total elimination of the Senate rule allowing the minority to block legislation short of 60 votes, but urged Senate Democrats to amend the minority lever with an exception afforded to the party’s “voting rights” bill.
Biden cloaked his calls for change in the upper chamber under the umbrella of civil rights, claiming Republicans have sought to strip voting rights by virtue of primarily voter ID laws. No American citizen, however, has been fundamentally disenfranchised by a single law passed by Republicans to enhance election integrity.
“As an institutionalist, I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills,” Biden said at a consortium of historically black colleges in reference to a series of packaged reforms by Democrats to federalize elections ahead of a hostile midterm cycle. Biden called on the Democrats’ 50-50 “majority to prevail” in the passage of broad radical legislation with the Democrats’ upper hand only secured through a tie-breaking vote by the vice president.
Biden opposed changing the filibuster rule throughout the Democrat primary but signaled his willingness to call for its elimination after clinching the nomination.
“If that bare minimum is blocked,” Biden added, “we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”
Biden pivoted back to the “Freedom to Vote Act” in December as a top priority for the administration after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin successfully blocked the president’s prohibitively expensive signature “Build Back Better” bill. The legislation eliminates safeguards for election integrity by banning witness signature validation on absentee ballots and preventing election officials from independently verifying voter eligibility. The bill also requires states to offer same-day registration, which enhances the likelihood of fraud as officials lack sufficient time to ensure the accuracy of information provided.
The Senate filibuster rule is the only institutional lever standing in the way of Democrats federalizing elections by a narrow one-vote majority secured only by control of the White House. Successful passage, however, would require support from both Manchin and Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who have not endorsed changing the filibuster.
At the end of his speech in Georgia, Biden compared those opposed to the Democrats’ rules change for the sake of Pelosi’s elections takeover as complicit with the same racism espoused by mid-20th century segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
Biden had previously praised Wallace as “one of the outstanding young politicians of America.” ✪