President Joe Biden says that he supports changing Senate rules in order to pass voting rights legislation, declaring that changing the rules would be to protect the “heart and soul of our democracy”.
Mr Biden told a crowd in Atlanta that he had been having quiet conversations with Senators for months over the two bills up for debate, stalled because there are not enough Republican votes to move them past filibuster to votes.
“I’m tired of being quiet,” he said, emphatically pounding the podium. “I will not yield. I will not flinch,” in the effort to protect democracy.
Current rules require 60 votes to advance most legislation — a threshold that Senate Democrats cannot meet alone because they only have a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties. Republicans unanimously oppose the voting rights measures.
Not all Democrats are on board with changing the filibuster rules. Conservative West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin threw cold water on the idea on Tuesday, saying he believes any changes should be made with substantial Republican buy-in.
And even if Democrats clear the obstacles to passage of the voting rights laws, it could be too late to counter widespread voting restrictions passed in 19 states following former president Donald Trump’s 2020 loss and his lies – embraced by many in the GOP – that the election was stolen through voter fraud.