Tue, Jan 11, 2022 2:42 PM
By Casey Harper | The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden stepped into the national debate over a flurry of voter legislation in a speech Tuesday where he chided Republicans over the violent protests of Jan. 6, 2021, and called for a federal takeover of state elections.
Biden spoke from Atlanta, Georgia, which has been at the forefront of the fight over election integrity legislation. The president called for changes to U.S. Senate rules to push through federal election legislation, “including getting rid of the filibuster,” which currently requires 60 votes to end blocking tactics in the evenly divided 100-member chamber.
“They want chaos to reign,” Biden said of Republicans. “We want the people to rule. The battle for the soul of America is not over.”
Critics pushed back on this, pointing out that Biden opposed efforts to remove the filibuster in the past, calling it a "power grab."
"Joe Biden said eliminating the filibuster would 'throw the entire Congress into chaos,'" Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. said after the speech. "Chuck Schumer said it would make the Senate a 'rubber stamp of dictatorship.'"
"Now that their agenda has stalled, they’re all in on throwing the rule book out the window to get their way," Scott added.
After scrutiny over the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, Republican legislatures around the country passed laws to reduce the possibility of voter fraud. In Georgia, lawmakers enacted voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, extra security for ballot drop-off locations, and other measures.
“The votes for nearly 5 million Georgians will be up for grabs if that law holds,” Biden said.
Democrats have pushed back sharply on that law with legal challenges and new federal legislation to allow a takeover of state elections.
Democratic leadership has threatened to oust the filibuster, which allows the minority party to block votes on certain legislation, to pass the voting law. Even some Democrats, though, have expressed reservations about changing the filibuster.
On Tuesday, Biden defended the effort, called for action, and claimed his opponents want to disenfranchise minority voters.
“Their end game is to turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion…” Biden said. “The facts won’t matter. Your vote won’t matter. They’ll just decide what they want, and do it. That’s the kind of power they have in totalitarian states, not democracies.
Critics pushed back on the speech, arguing Democrats are using accusations of racism to disguise their political motives.
“Democrats’ proposals have nothing to do with the right to vote, and everything to do with the kinds of rules they think will keep them in power,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Tuesday.