In an early fall keynote address at South Carolina State University, Biden denounced the erosion of voting rights at the hands of Republican leaders. “It’s not who we are. It’s a minority, but if the majority don’t speak up, it has a big impact, as we’ve seen in recent years,” he told the graduates and their families of the historically black university.
Speaking of past advances in civil rights, he said, “I thought we had some of those big wins. Finally, we crossed the threshold. […] But what I didn’t realize is that you can defeat hate, but you can’t eliminate it.” He continued: “And when oxygen is given by political leaders, it comes out ugly and mean as it was before. We can’t oxygenate it.” We have to step on it. We have to respond to that.”
“It’s not who we are,” he said. “It’s a minority, but if the majority doesn’t speak up, it has a big impact, as we’ve seen in recent years.” He also became partisan, for almost the first time, and called on Republicans to block the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Acts.
“Every time it comes up, that other team blocks the opportunity to even bring it up,” Biden said. “The team used to be called the Republican Party.”
Thursday’s announcement that he is now in favor of ending that blockade is helping. In Monday’s letter, Schumer told Democrats that he will bring the escrow bills forward and that the Senate would “consider changes to all rules that prevent us from debating and drawing firm conclusions on important legislation” when Republicans pass these rules. inevitably block.
“I would like to ask you to think about this question,” he wrote. “If the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, how can we conscientiously allow a situation where the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority of votes, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?”
He also added a clear message to both Senator Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — and to all the anti-reform Democrats hiding behind them. “I believe our voters deserve to know which senators choose to hide behind ill-conceived and abused rules and which senators would rather reinstate Senate floor procedures to better align with the founders’ intentions,” Schumer wrote. He also pointed out that respected former Senator Robert Byrd, whose seat Manchin now holds, said in 1979 that Senate rules that seemed appropriate sometimes “need to be changed to reflect changed circumstances.”
Whether the vote can actually take place as early as the first week of January – the Senate is scheduled to come back on Monday, January 3 – is not clear. A third Democrat, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Democrats Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Cory Booker (NJ) both said they tested positive on Sunday. That follows a marathon late last week in which the Senate stayed into the early hours of Saturday to pass a series of nominations.