President Joe Biden will deliver his long-anticipated speech on voting rights in Philadelphia on Tuesday, making the ‘moral case’ for the right to vote.
His remarks, to be delivered at the National Constitution Center, are intended to ramp up public pressure on the issue as several Republican-led states pass legislation aimed at restricting voting rights.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the speech as ‘one that he himself wanted to deliver.’
‘He’ll lay out the moral case for why denying the right to vote is a form of suppression and a form of silencing,’ she said at her press briefing on Monday.
In his remarks, Biden will call the new state laws ‘the most egregious attempts to harm the integrity of our democracy since the Civil War – while observing that the Confederates never breached the Capitol,’ a White House official said.
He will also call for a new coalition – made up of advocates, activists, students, faith leaders, labor leaders, and business executives – to help voter turnout.
Democrats fear the new spate of voting rights laws will harm them at the voting booth in next year’s midterm election, costing them control of the House and Senate.
Biden will warn that the new laws, ‘which could allow partisans to throw out the votes of anyone for made up reasons – 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,’ the official said.
President Joe Biden will deliver his long-anticipated speech on voting rights in Philadelphia, making the ‘morale case’ for the right to vote
Biden, in his speech, will attack a series of new voting laws in states that critics say will make it harder for black Americans to vote; above people wait in line in Greenville, S.C., to vote in the 2020 election
When it comes to voting rights, Biden is fighting a two-prong battle: on the state level where Republican-controlled legislatures are passing restrictive measures and on a national level, where he doesn’t have the numbers in the Senate to pass federal legislation.
As of June 21, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to right to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Many of those states passed the measures after Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, when former President Donald Trump falsely claimed he won and was the victim of voter fraud.
Psaki called the new voting laws ‘the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.’
The location of Biden’s speech on Tuesday has deep symbolic meaning. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed at Independence Hall, just steps away from the National Constitution Center.
The center is also the location of where Barack Obama gave his famous ‘A More Perfect Union’ speech during his 2008 campaign, where he tackled the issue of race, America and a ‘more perfect union.’
On voting rights, Biden is balancing his struggle with the states with his own limitations in passing legislation on a national level.
His administration is using other tools at its disposal. The Justice Department is suing Georgia for its new voting rights law, which critics say makes it harder for black people to vote. Attorney General Merrick Garland has hinted there may be more action to come.
House Democrats, meanwhile, passed a sweeping voting rights bill in June but it failed in the 50-50 Senate, where all Republicans united to block it from moving forward.
The massive election overhaul bill was aimed at protecting and expanding voting rights and reforming campaign finance laws.
That June failure increased focus on the Senate filibuster, which requires any legislation to have 60 votes in order to move forward. If left in place, odds of the Democrats’ two voting rights measures – For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – becoming law are slim.
Many Democrats, including some Biden allies, have expressed frustration with the lack of White House push to reform the filibuster.
And some Biden supporters point out he was elected with broad support from black voters, who are at most risk from the new state voting restrictions.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a longtime Biden ally, urged this week that the filibuster be modified for voting rights legislation.
Clyburn told Politico if the Democrats’ two voting laws don’t pass Congress: ‘Democrats can kiss the majority goodbye.’
Biden met with civil rights activists at the White House last week but his focus has been on fighting the COVID pandemic, increasing the vaccination rate and passing a massive infrastructure bill.
Donald Trump continues to push the false claim he won the election and sow seeds of doubt about election integrity in the United States
Texas House Democrats are seen on Monday night at a news conference on the tarmac at Dulles airport in Washington DC after they fled Austin to keep the state legislature from passing new restrictive voting laws
In his remarks in Philadelphia, Psaki hinted President Biden may attack Trump, who continues to push false claims about the election. On Monday, Trump sowed doubts about Virginia’s gubernatorial election, putting out a statement where he urged to ‘watch the ‘vote counters’ in Virginia.’
It was the latest latest move in a wide-reaching campaign by the former president to undermine public trust in elections.
Trump also blasted Biden’s Philadelphia trip in a bizarrely worded statement on Tuesday where he focused on an attempt by a lone Republican state lawmaker in Pennsylvania who is trying to audit the 2020 election.
‘Philadelphia was a cesspool of corruption, which will soon be revealed by the audit. Why are they so concerned that a President, who never goes anywhere, would hop onto beautiful Air Force One and head to Philadelphia if it were an honest election?,’ Trump said.
Multiple audits in multiple states have confirmed Biden’s election victory and shown no evidence of voter fraud.
Psaki indicated Biden could fire back.
‘He will redouble his commitment to using every tool at his disposal to continue to fight to protect the fundamental right of Americans to vote against the onslaught of voter suppression laws based on a dangerous and discredited conspiracy theory that culminated in assault on our Capitol,’ she said on Monday, referring to the January 6th MAGA riot where Trump supporters tried to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election.
She then referred to the ‘big lie’ – a term Democrats have used to refer to the false election claims made by Trump and some other Republicans. The use of the phrase is a strike at Trump, who calls Biden’s election victory ‘The Big Lie.’
‘He’ll call out the greatest irony of ‘the big lie’ – that no election in our history has met such a high standard with over 80 judges, including those appointed by his predecessor, throwing out all challenges,’ Psaki said. ‘He’ll also decry efforts to strip the right to vote as authoritarian and anti American and stand up against the notion that politicians should be allowed to choose their voters.’
While Biden pushing the issue in Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, he’ll have help in his public pressure campaign from a group of Texas Democrats, who fled their state on private jets Monday to keep the state legislature from passing new restrictive voting laws.
The group of Texans will be on Capitol Hill to lobby for national voting legislation.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, demanded the Democrats show up to work and ‘put aside partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do.’
‘Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve,’ he said in a Monday statement on them fleeing the state. ‘As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.’