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In his first major voting rights speech, Biden to denounce GOP’s bills as ‘un-American’ restrictions ‘grounded in autocracy’

  • Biden will call voting laws ‘grounded in autocracy’ and ‘un-American’ in a Tuesday address.
  • The president’s planned address in Philadelphia is his first major voting rights speech. 
  • Biden is facing mounting pressure from voting rights activists to take more forceful action. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden will forcefully denounce GOP-backed voting bills as “grounded in autocracy, un-democratic, un-American, and un-patriotic” and make “the moral case” for voting rights in his first major speech on the matter, Politico and CNN report. 

Biden will speak at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon as the White House and Biden administration face mounting pressure to adopt a more forceful stance on voter suppression with his bully pulpit. 

“In the birthplace of American Democracy, President Biden will articulate how to meet the greatest threat to the right to vote and the integrity of our elections since the Civil War, renew his call for vital legislation— to overcome the rash of anti-voter laws motivated by the Big Lie, and underline the all-of-government effort the Biden-Harris Administration launched to use the powers of the executive branch to protect and advance the sacred, constitutional right to vote,” a White House official told CNN. 

Republican lawmakers in 17 states have passed over 28 bills with provisions that tighten voting access as of June 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, after former President Donald Trump and his allies waged an unprecedented campaign to try to overturn the 2020 election results based on false claims of fraud.  

And in recent remarks, Biden has also highlighted the growing trend of legislatures also passing provisions that add potential criminal penalties for election officials and give partisan state lawmakers more control over who runs elections and more power to overturn election results. 

Biden will say that “these new insidious moves to empower partisans over independent election authorities in terms of who counts the votes are new and extremely dangerous,” and “are the most significant threat today to the integrity of our elections, and to the security of the right to vote for people of all races and backgrounds,” White House officials told CNN and Politico. 

Read more: Justice Stephen Breyer’s former clerks want him to retire from the Supreme Court ASAP to open a seat for Biden

Biden’s speech also comes as a group of dozens of Democratic state lawmakers from Texas left the state in droves to deny the quorum necessary to pass election legislation during a special legislative session set to last until August 6. 

Those lawmakers are set to come to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby lawmakers on passing federal legislation to protect voting rights.

But from the federal level, the White House faces down the problem of a Senate filibuster rule that requires a three-fifths majority for most legislation and no room for error in a Senate split 50-50. 

Republicans in the US Senate filibustered the For The People Act, Democrats’ wide-ranging voting rights and democracy reform legislation, on June 22, leaving that bill’s chances dead for now. 

Biden, to the chagrin of many activists, has been unwilling to call for major changes to the Senate filibuster that requires 60 votes to advance to debate on and pass most legislation. 

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the decision over whether to make changes to the filibuster “will be made by members of the Senate, not by this president or any president, frankly, moving forward.” 

“If it were waving a magic wand to get voting rights legislation on his desk through any means, he would do that,” Psaki said. “But it requires the majority of members in the Senate to support changes to the filibuster.”

Instead, Politico reported, Biden will call for a “new coalition” on voting rights to work at the grassroots level. 

Psaki said Monday that Biden will “continue to lift up, elevate, advocate, engage, [and] empower people across the country,” calling it “the most instructive” thing he can do. 

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