President Joe Biden spoke in Atlanta on Tuesday in favor of voting rights legislation blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
After President Joe Biden spoke Tuesday evening in favor of legislation to protect voter rights, Republicans in Congress are angrily attacking him.
Speaking in Atlanta, Georgia, Biden called for the Senate to pass federal voting rights legislation that has passed the House but faces Republican opposition in the upper chamber. The Freedom to Vote Act would enact laws expanding voting access, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore gutted provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required states with a history of voting discrimination to submit any planned changes to voting laws for federal scrutiny before enacting them. In the past, Republicans overwhelmingly supported the Voting Rights Act, but that support has evaporated in recent years.
Will you stand against voter suppression? Yes or no? That's the question they’ll answer. Will you stand against election subversion? Yes or no? Will you stand for democracy? Yes or no?
And here’s one thing every senator and every American should remember: History has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters' rights. And it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion.
Biden put his support behind changing Senate filibuster rules so that the legislation could pass with a 51-vote majority.
Criticizing recently passed state legislation supported by Republicans that restricts voting access, Biden contrasted historical figures who have supported voting rights with those who have opposed it, the latter frequently in service to white supremacy.
"At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?" Biden said.
In 2021 Republicans were behind the passage of at least 34 laws in 19 states making it more difficult to vote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell angrily denounced the comparison in a Senate speech on Wednesday, mischaracterizing what Biden had said.
"If you don't pass the laws he wants, you're Bull Connor," said McConnell. "To demonize Americans who disagree with him, he compared — listen to this — a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors. How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential."
Other congressional Republicans similarly distorted Biden's words to attack the speech.
"Yesterday, President Biden described the millions of Americans who support voter-ID requirements as domestic enemies," wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) wrote a similar comment on Twitter: "Joe Biden is a FRAUD! He now says you're on the side of George Wallace if you don't support a federal overhaul of elections."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed on Tuesday that voting rights are "the most hyped, manufactured issue in a long time. ... It's not a problem in search of a solution, it's a manufactured problem."
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), in a Senate speech on Tuesday, said Biden had gone down "the same tragic road taken by President Trump, casting doubt on the reliability of American elections."
But Biden did not do that. Biden expressed support for electoral participation, contrasting Republican attempts to curtail voting with the efforts made in Georgia over the years to register voters and build coalitions, including in the successful election of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate in the last cycle.
Polling has shown that a majority of Americans back Biden and Democratic lawmakers on the issue of expanding voting access, ranking the issue as "important" or a "top priority."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.