Will you stand for democracy?': Biden makes his case for stalled voting rights bills


NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD EVER HEAR 

OUR ALLIES SAY SOMETHING LIKE 

THAT.

OVER THE PAST YEAR I'VE DIRECTED

FEDERAL AGENCIES TO PROMOTE 

ACCESS TO VOTING.

LED BY THE VICE PRESIDENT.

WE'VE APPOINTED TOP CIVIL RIGHTS

ADVOCATES TO HELP THE U.S. 

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WHICH HAS

DOUBLED ITS VOTING RIGHTS 

ENFORCEMENT STAFF.

TODAY WE CALL ON CONGRESS TO GET

DONE WHAT HISTORY WILL JUDGE -- 

PASS THE FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT.

PASS IT NOW!

WHICH WOULD PREVENT VOTER 

SUPPRESSION.

SO HERE IN GEORGIA, THERE'S FULL

ACCESS TO VOTING BY MAIL.

THERE ARE ENOUGH DROP BOXES 

DURING ENOUGH HOURS SO YOU CAN 

BRING FOOD AND WATER AS WELL TO 

PEOPLE WAITING IN LINE.

THE FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT TAKES ON

ELECTION SUBVERSION TO PROTECT 

NONPARTISAN ELECTORS, OFFICIALS 

WHO DURING THEIR JOB FROM 

INTIMIDATION AND INTERFERENCE.

IT WOULD GET DARK MONEY OUT OF 

POLITICS, CREATE FAIR DISTRICT 

MAPS AND ENDING PARTISAN 

GERRYMANDERING.

LOOK, IT'S ALSO TIME TO PASS THE

JOHN LEWIS VOTING RIGHTS 

ADVANCEMENT ACT.

I HAVE BEEN HAVING THESE QUIET 

CONVERSATIONS WITH MEMBERS OF 

CONGRESS FOR THE LAST TWO 

MONTHS.

I'M TIRED OF BEING QUIET!

FOLKS, IT WILL RESTORE THE 

STRENGTH OF THE VOTING RIGHTS 

ACT OF '65, THE ONE PRESIDENT 

JOHNSON SIGNED AFTER JOHN LEWIS 

WAS BEATEN, NEARLY KILLED ON 

BLOODY SUNDAY.

ONLY TO HAVE THE SUPREME COURT 

WEAKEN IT MULTIPLE TIMES OVER 

THE PAST DECADE.

RESTORING THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT 

WOULD MEAN THE JUSTICE 

DEPARTMENT CAN STOP 

DISCRIMINATORY LAWS BEFORE THEY 

GO INTO EFFECT.

BEFORE THEY GO INTO EFFECT.

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND I HAVE 

SUPPORTED VOTING RIGHTS BILLS 

SINCE DAY ONE OF THIS 

ADMINISTRATION, BUT EACH AND 

EVERY TIME SENATE REPUBLICANS 

HAVE BLOCKED THE WAY.

REPUBLICANS OPPOSE EVEN DEBATING

THE ISSUE.

YOU HEAR ME?

I HAVE BEEN AROUND THE SENATE A 

LONG TIME.

I WAS VICE PRESIDENT FOR EIGHT 

YEARS.

I'VE NEVER SEEN A CIRCUMSTANCES 

WHERE NOT ONE SINGLE REPUBLICAN 

HAS A VOICE THAT'S READY TO 

SPEAK FOR JUSTICE NOW.

WHEN I WAS A SENATOR, INCLUDING 

WHEN I HEADED UP THE JUDICIARY 

COMMITTEE, I HELPED REAUTHORIZE 

THE VOTING ACT THREE TIMES.

WE HELD HEARINGS, DEBATED, WE 

VOTED.

WAS ABLE TO EXTEND THE VOTING 

RIGHTS ACT FOR 25 YEARS.

IN 2006, THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT 

PASSED 300-33 IN THE HOUSE OF 

REPRESENTATIVES AND 98-0 IN THE 

SENATE.

WITH VOTES FROM 16 CURRENT 

SITTING REPUBLICANS IN THIS 

UNITED STATES SENATE.

16 OF THEM VOTED TO EXTEND IT.

LAST YEAR I WAS CHAIRMAN, SOME 

OF MY FRIENDS SITTING DOWN HERE 

WILL TELL YOU, STROM THURMOND 

VOTED TO EXTEND THE VOTING 

RIGHTS ACT.

STROM THURMOND.

YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN, WOW.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW DAMN -- 

DARN HARD I WORKED ON THAT ONE.

BUT FOLKS, THEN IT WAS SIGNED 

INTO LAW THE LAST TIME BY 

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH.

YOU KNOW, WHEN WE GET VOTING 

RIGHTS EXTENDED IN 1980, AS I 

SAID, EVEN THURMOND SUPPORTED 

IT.

THINK ABOUT THAT -- THE MAN WHO 

LED ONE OF THE LONGEST 

FILIBUSTERS IN HISTORY IN THE 

UNITED STATES SENATE, 1957 

AGAINST THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT.

THE MAN WHO LED AND SIDED WITH 

OLD SOUTHERN BULLS IN THE UNITED

STATES SENATE TO PERPETUATE 

SEGREGATION IN THIS NATION, EVEN

STROM THURMOND CAME TO SUPPORT 

VOTING RIGHTS.

BUT REPUBLICANS TODAY CAN'T AND 

WON'T.

NOT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN HAS 

DISPLAYED THE COURAGE TO STAND 

UP TO A DEFEATED PRESIDENT TO 

PROTECT AMERICA'S RIGHT TO VOTE.

NOT ONE.

NOT ONE.

WE HAVE 50/50 IN THE UNITED 

STATES SENATE.

THAT MEANS WE HAVE 51 

PRESIDENTS.

YOU ALL THINK I'M KIDDING.

I HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD AT 

WORKING WITH SENATORS MY CAREER,

BUT MAN, WHEN YOU GOT 51 

PRESIDENTS, IT GETS HARDER.

ANY ONE CAN CHANGE THE OUTCOME.

SADLY, THE UNITED STATES SENATE 

DESIGNED TO BE THE WORLD'S 

GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY, HAS 

BEEN RENDERED A SHELL OF ITS 

FORMER SELF.

GIVES ME NO SATISFACTION IN 

SAYING THAT, AS AN 

INSTITUTIONALIST, AS A MAN WHO 

WAS HONORED TO SERVE IN THE 

SENATE.

BUT AS AN INSTITUTIONALIST, I 

BELIEVE THE THREAT TO DEMOCRACY 

IS SO GREY THAT WE MUST FIND A 

WAY TO PASS THESE VOTING RIGHTS 

BILLS.

DEBATE THEM, VOTE, LET THE 

MAJORITY PREVAIL.

AND AT THAT VERY MINUTE IT WAS 

BLOCKED, WE HAD NO OPTION BUT TO

CHANGE THE SENATE RULES, 

INCLUDING GETTING RID OF THE 

FILIBUSTER FOR THIS.

YOU KNOW, LAST YEAR, IF I'M NOT 

MISTAKEN, THE FILIBUSTER WAS 

USED 154 TIMES.

THE FILIBUSTER HAS BEEN USED TO 

GENERATE COMPROMISE IN THE PAST,

PROMOTE OF BIPARTISAN, BUT IT'S 

ALSO USED TO OBSTRUCT, INCLUDING

ESPECIALLY TO OBSTRUCT CIVIL 

RIGHTS AND VOTING RIGHTS.

AND WHEN IT WAS USED, SENATORS 

USED TO TRADITIONALLY HAVE TO 

STAND AND SPEAK AT THEIR DESK 

FOR HOWEVER LONG IT TOOK.

SOMETIMES FOR HOURS.

WHENEVER THEY SAT DOWN, IF 

NOBODY IMMEDIATELY STOOD UP, 

ANYONE COULD CALL FOR A VOTE, TO

HAVE DEBATE ENDED.

BUT THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN TODAY.

SENATORS NO LONGER EVEN HAVE TO 

SPEAK ONE WORD.

FILIBUSTER'S NOT USED BY 

REPUBLICANS TO BRING THE SENATE 

TOGETHER, BUT TO PULL IT FURTHER

APART.

FILIBUSTER'S BEEN WEAPONIZED AND

ABUSED WHILE THE STATE

LEGISLATOR'S VAULT ON VOTES 

RIGHTS IS SIMPLE, ALL YOU NEED 

IN YOUR HOUSE IS A MAJORITY.

IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE IT 

TAKES A SUPER MAJORITY.

60 VOTES EVEN TO GET A VOTE.

STATE LEGISLATURES CAN PASS 

ANTI-VOTING RIGHTS LAWS WITH 

SIMPLE MAJORITIES.

IF THEY CAN DO THAT, THE UNITED 

STATES SENATE SHOULD BE ABLE TO 

CHECK BY A SIMPLE MAJORITY.

TODAY 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

SENATES FROM BLOCKING ACTION ON 

VOTING RIGHTS.

WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING 

MAJORITY RULE IN AMERICA, THE 

MAJORITY SHOULD RULE IN THE 

UNITED STATES SENATE.

I MAKE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WITH 

CAREFUL DELIBERATION, 

RECOGNIZING THE FUNDAMENTAL 

RIGHT TO VOTE IS A RIGHT FROM 

WHICH ALL OTHER RIGHTS FLOW.

AND I MAKE IT WITH AN APPEAL TO 

MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES, TO 

THOSE REPUBLICANS WHO BELIEVE IN

THE RULE OF LAW, RESTORE THE 

BIPARTISAN TRADITION OF VOTING 

RIGHTS.

PEOPLE WHO RESTORED IT -- WHO 

ABIDED BY IT IN THE PAST WERE 

RICHARD NIXON, GERALD FORD, 

RONALD REAGAN, GEORGE H.W. BUSH,

GEORGE W. BUSH.

THEY ALL SUPPORTED THE VOTING 

RIGHTS ACT.

DON'T LET THE REPUBLICAN PARTY 

MORPH INTO SOMETHING ELSE.

RESTORE THE SENATE TO THE WAY IT

WAS DESIGNED TO BE.

SENATE RULES WERE CHANGED TO -- 

THE DEBT CEILING SO WE WOULDN'T 

RENEGE ON OUR DEBT FOR THE FIRST

TIME, CREATE AN ECONOMIC CRISIS.

THAT WAS DONE BY SIMPLE 

MAJORITY.

SENATOR WARNOCK SAID A FEW WEEKS

AGO IN A POPULAR SPEECH, IF WE 

CHANGE THE RULES TO PROTECT 

THE -- WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO 

CHANGE THE RULES TO PROTECT THE 

HEART AND SOUL OF OUR DEMOCRACY.

IN THE DAYS THAT FOLLOWED, JOHN 

LEWIS AT THE DEATH, THERE WAS AN

OUTPOURING OF PRAISE ACROSS THE 

POLITICAL SPECTRUM.

BUT AS WE STAND HERE TODAY, IT 

ISN'T ENOUGH TO PRAISE, WE MUST 

TRANSLATE.

WE NEED TO FOLLOW JOHN LEWIS' 

FOOTSTEPS.

WE NEED TO SUPPORT THE BILL IN 

HIS NAME.

JUST A FEW DAYS AGO WE TALKED 

ABOUT -- UP IN THE CONGRESS AND 

THE WHITE HOUSE, THE EVENT 

COMING UP SHORTLY TO CELEBRATE 

DR. KING'S BIRTHDAY.

AND AMERICANS OF ALL STRIPES 

WILL PRAISE HIM FOR THE CONTENT 

OF HIS CHARACTER.

BUT AS DR. KING'S FAMILY SAID 

BEFORE IT'S NOT NOW HAVE PRAISE 

THEIR FATHER.

THEY EVEN SAID, ON THIS HOLIDAY,

DON'T CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY 

UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO SUPPORT

WHAT HE LIVED FOR AND WHAT HE 

DIED FOR.

THE NEXT FEW DAYS, WHEN THESE 

BILLS COME TO A VOTE, WILL MARK 

A TURNING POINT IN THIS NATION'S

HISTORY.

WE WILL CHOOSE.

THE ISSUE, WILL WE CHOOSE 

DEMOCRACY OVER AUTOCRACY, LIGHT 

OVER SHADOWS, JUSTICE OVER 

INJUSTICE?

I KNOW WHERE I STAND.

I WILL NOT YIELD.

I WILL NOT FLINCH.

I WILL DEFEND THE RIGHT TO VOTE 

OUR DEMOCRACY AGAINST ALL 

ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND, YES, 

DOMESTIC.

THE QUESTION IS, WHERE WILL WILL

INSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

SENATE STAND?

EVERY SENATOR -- DEMOCRAT, 

REPUBLICAN, AND INDEPENDENT -- 

WILL HAVE TO DECLARE WHERE THEY 

STAND.

NOT JUST FOR THE MOMENT BUT FOR 

THE AGES.

WILL YOU STAND AGAINST VOTER 

SUPPRESSION?

YES OR NO.

THAT'S THE QUESTION THEY'LL 

ANSWER.

WILL YOU STAND AGAINST ELECTIO



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