WASHINGTON – Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked President Joe Biden Wednesday. He accused him of widening America’s political divide by pushing for voting rights reform and calling for changes to the Senate rules.
McConnell made a ferocious speech on the Senate floor, in which he stated that “Yesterday, he poured a giant can of gasoline on the fire.” “Yesterday, the he poured an enormous can of gasoline on to the fire.”
In a speech delivered in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, Biden called for a break from the Senate’s supermajority rule to allow Democrats to override Republican opposition voting rights reforms, which he called vital to saving US democracy.
Biden said Republicans are passing local laws “designed to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections.”
The Democratic president stated that history has not been kind to those who supported voter suppression over voting rights. “I ask every elected official in America: how do you want to be remembered?”
Biden will meet with Democrats Thursday to discuss voting rights, changing the rules of Senate and avoiding Republican opposition .
The White House announced that Biden will be attending the Senate Democratic Caucus luncheon to discuss the “urgent necessity to pass legislation to preserve the constitutional right to vote.”
Biden challenged Democrats in Senate to support two bills passed by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives. These would allow for more access to the polls, and stop practices that he claimed were used to suppress black voters and other Democratic-leaning ones.
Although the 50 Democrats of the 100-member Senate are in favor of the bills, 60 votes will be required to bring them before the floor under the supermajority requirement.
Biden stated that if Republicans refuse to cooperate, then the supermajority requirement (called the filibuster) should be removed in order to pass the voting rights act.
He stated that “we have no choice but to modify the Senate rules, including getting rid of filibuster,”
McConnell, a conservative senator from Kentucky who was majority leader of the Senate until the 2020 election saw a furious reaction to Biden’s speech.
“The president’s rant was incorrect, incoherent yesterday and beneath his office,” McConnell said, calling it “pure demagoguery.”
Biden said that he delivered a “deliberately divisive talk that was intended to pull our nation further apart.”
McConnell stated, “To demonize Americans that disagree with him… he compared…a bipartisan majority of Senators to literal traitors.” “How profoundly — profoundly — unpresidential.”
McConnell said he personally likes and respects Biden, who spent decades in the Senate, but “I did not recognize the man at the podium yesterday
Biden, asked about McConnell’s remarks, said “I like Mitch McConnell, he’s a friend.”
Shortly after, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed criticism of Biden’s Tuesday speech as “hilarious.”
She said, “What is more offensive is the attempt to suppress people’s basic right exercise…who they want to vote for,
Democrats accuse Republican state legislatures in their attempt to suppress Democratic support of passing laws that restrict voting rights for minorities, curtail early voting and prevent mail-in voting.
Republicans warn that a supposedly single maneuver could lead to the opening of floodgates for lifting the filibuster on any number of issues. This would end any chance of bipartisanship within the chamber.
To be successful, the move will need unanimous Democratic support. That’s not possible with at least two conservative Democratic senators, Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Silena of Arizona, clearly skeptical.
Biden will be trying to convince Sinema and Manchin at Thursday’s Senate lunch.
“Freedom to Vote Act” was created to make it easier to vote in America by expanding mail-in voting, and declaring Election Day an official holiday.
It also targets voting restrictions in many Republican-led states that were imposed after Donald Trump’s defeat at the 2020 presidential elections.
Another bill, named after John Lewis, a civil rights icon, would restore the anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Bill, which was revoked by the Supreme Court in 2013..
On Wednesday, fifteen black elected officials pleaded with the Senate to approve the voting bills that would protect the minority rights.
“It is the most fundamental, sacred thing that I can think of,” said Joyce Beatty, Ohio Representative, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.
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