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Biden backs changes to filibuster to pass voting rights legislation

President Joe Biden
Posted at 7:30 AM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 16:59:59-05

WASHINGTON — In a forceful speech about voting rights Tuesday, President Joe Biden endorsed changing Senate filibuster rules to pass legislation, saying it's time to choose "democracy over autocracy."

Biden noted that he had been having "quiet conversations" with lawmakers for the past two months.

“I’m tired of being quiet," said Biden, who had previously not endorsed getting rid of the filibuster.

The two voting rights bills introduced by Democrats in the past year are the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Accountability Act.

The Freedom to Vote Act is a more broad piece of legislation that would take steps to prevent gerrymandering, expand access to voting by mail and expand voter ID laws so that more forms of ID — not just driver's licenses — are accepted.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Accountability Act focuses on racial discrimination in Congressional redistricting. That law would force any proposed Congressional redistricting to be "precleared" to ensure they're drawn equitably.

Republicans have outright rejected the Democrats' voting rights legislation.

"I'm making it clear, to protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights," Biden said in the speech in Atlanta on the campus of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.

Georgia is one of several states where Republicans last year passed legislation that severely limits access to the polls, particularly for people of color.

Often, Republicans pushed those bills in the name of election security as misinformation about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election spread through the party.