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Biden urges Republicans to support legislation to protect voting right

President Joe Biden. File Photo

Washington, U.S. | Xinhua | U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on Republican lawmakers to join Democrats in passing the federal legislation that will protect Americans’ right to vote, given a cascade of restrictive voting laws have been enacted in Republican-controlled states.

Delivering an impassioned speech in Philadelphia, the president ripped into Republican lawmakers in red states for their efforts to push for or enact laws that are intended to make it harder to vote, saying the nation is “facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War” while calling for a “coalition of Americans of every background and political party” to protect the right to vote.

“We’ll be asking my Republican friends in Congress and states and cities and counties to stand up for God’s sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote,” Biden said.

He accused the Republicans of distorting facts and failing to uphold the Constitution, with a thinly veiled pointing at former President Donald Trump.

“In America, if you lose, you accept the results,” Biden said inside the atrium of the National Constitution Center. “You don’t call facts ‘fake’ and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you’re unhappy. That’s not statesmanship. That’s selfishness.”

Still trying every means to convince Americans that the 2020 elections were stolen from him, Trump said in a statement issued hours ahead of Biden’s speech that Biden should let a Republican-led audit in Pennsylvania “go forward.”

While singling out Philadelphia as “one of the most corrupt cities in the Country,” Trump in the statement also mentioned a number of cities where Democrats have a historical tradition of prevailing over Republicans in elections, saying “corruption has gone for years” in those places, but “reached new levels” in the 2020 presidential elections.

Trump lost almost all of the legal proceedings that he and his allies initiated in the aftermath of the 2020 elections trying to overturn the results. Judges across the country by and large had not found enough evidence to change the outcomes.

State lawmakers in 17 states have enacted 28 laws since the 2020 elections that restrict ballot access, according to a new tally as of June 21 by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, marking a new record for restrictive voting laws since 2011, when the Brennan Center’s statistics showed 19 laws were enacted in 14 state legislatures.

Biden in his speech vowed to continue fighting for the passage of two pieces of Democratic-sponsored voting rights legislation in Congress.

“As soon as Congress passes the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, I will sign it and let the whole world see it,” he said. Both of the bills have been approved by the Democratic-controlled House, but are stalled in the Senate.

Without changing the filibuster, a congressional rule that requires a 60-vote threshold to pass most bills, it would be impossible for Democrats to advance any voting rights legislation in the currently evenly-divided Senate.

After Biden wrapped up his speech, reporters seeking answer to why Biden in his speech did not raise the filibuster issue were only told by the president: “I’m not filibustering now.”

That Biden, a moderate Democrat, still appeared unwilling to face calls for getting rid of the filibuster disappointed some voting rights activists.

While applauding Biden’s speech, Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement that the Biden administration “must do everything possible to ensure” legislation protecting the right to vote can be passed by Congress, “even if that means supporting the change of archaic Senate rules.”



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